Monday, December 17, 2012
A Poem for Writers (and a mini-break)
The holidays are upon us! After contemplating an in-depth post on filmic structure for novel writing today, I realized I'm all wound up in holiday planning already instead. I'm guessing most of you are, too, so maybe we all need a little less intensity and a little more ahhhh to ease us into the holiday spirit. I discovered some of that feeling in a wonderful book I found as a Christmas gift for a friend.
Did you know that Ursula K. Le Guin, whose name is tops in the world of science fiction writing, is a poet? I did not. People who've never read science fiction but are interested (like me) are often told to start with Le Guin because she's such a fabulous writer.
It turns out she's always been a poet. That was her first love. She started writing fiction—short stories—many years ago, and was submitting them absolutely everywhere after much trial and tribulation trying to get them published. She got scooped up by a magazine that was publishing science fiction. She's reported to have been stunned, because she never ever thought of her work as science fiction. That, apparently, was the beginning of what became her fabled career as a novelist in the male-dominated science fiction field.
Okay, that's the background as I know it. Those of you who know more about Ursula K. Le Guin, please chime in and add on or correct me if I've gone askew.
To get back to the writers' poem, I was in Barnes & Noble the other day, perusing various shelves for Christmas gifts. (I love brick-and-mortar bookstores.) Le Guin's name caught my eye on an attractive book of poetry. I picked it up, opened it randomly and read, and knew I had to have that book. It's called Finding My Elegy. (I'm keeping this copy . . . will have to get another for my friend.)
Here, from this volume (p. 113), is a poem written for and about us.
Fortunate those who fill their hands
with stuff of the imagined thing
to shape the cup, the carven bird;
whose fingers strike from key or string
the ringing, single-complex chord,
A writer's work
is with the insubstantial word,
the image that can only find
its being in another's mind.
We work with water, with the wind,
we make and hold no thing at all.
All we can ever shape or sing
the tremor of an untouched string,
a shift of shadows on the wall.
Happy Holidays, everyone. I'll be taking a mini-break from blogging this coming three weeks. See you back here the week of January 7!