Where Writing Hides
Valentine for Earnest Mann
You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.
Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you as secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.
Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked the skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.
Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give usNaomi Shihab Nye
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.
Many of us grew up thinking that ideas for writing come form the fascinating and adventurous lives of writers. What I love about theis poem is that it dispels that myth and reminds us that poems, all writing, are hiding in the most ordinary and familiar places -- if we can only change our way of looking at them.
At a recent workshop I asked people to list where poems hide in their lives. Here are some are the places they named in my father's chair, in spider webs attached to the walls of the garage, in the taste of spinach in my mouth, in my mother's silence. Their catalogue itself sounded like a poem, it was so vivid and surprising.
Write about all the places where writing might hide for you.
Welcome to the Torch
Welcome to the Saints Torch. As Saint Helena High School reveals its own renaissance with the opening of the new agricultural facilities and additional projects on the drawing board awaiting the passage of Measure C in November, we in Mr. Conlon's Creative Writing class thought that the writers and artists on campus also deserved a new structure to house their best efforts. Thus, the idea of a monthly literary publication to showcase the creativity and insight of the student body and staff was born. Each month we will be publishing works that embody the creative spirit of the Saints. This will give you the opportunity to participate by submitting your own work for publication or to simply offer an opinion or suggestion on what you read here. Our writers, and by that we mean all of you — have the option of responding to assignments posted here from of our teachers or to provide an example of their own inspired work. Teachers will have not only the opportunity to post their most creative assignments but also to showcase their best student responses.