Julian of Norwich (anchoress, mystic, writer of the first book by a woman) received fever visions, or “showings,” of God when she was 30 and a half years old. I wrote a triptych of poems in her voice when I was 30 and a half years old, now published in The Cincinnati Review‘s fine summer 2018 edition. Here’s the first:
Endless love for the little things.
When I was only starting to understand that my parents had whole lives before they had my brother and me, my dad had heart surgery. Of course the surgeon couldn’t see his dreams that didn’t come to fruition; that would be impossible. I guess that’s the point of this poem in Cold Mountain Review‘s spring issue — gratitude for de-cisions and in-cisions that mean my dad and I are both alive.
I’m reading my poems tomorrow, Saturday 5/5 @ 3:30, at the History Center in Ithaca as part of Spring Writes Literary Festival. Come hear about Julian of Norwich, tornadoes, quadruple bypasses, and the Salem Witch Trials (probably). I would love to see you!
I am so honored to be in Ecotone‘s Craft Issue, hot off the letterpress. Please buy a copy, subscribe, or have your library subscribe because it’s wonderful. The issue features Martha Park’s illustrated “Portrait of a Vacant Lot,” Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s reflections on color with embroidery by Humayrah Poppins, and my humble lyric essay about cello lessons, among other wonders.
Not last spring, but the spring before last, I took up cello lessons. I promptly fell in love with my teacher and her way of teaching. She gave me charming metaphors to help me visualize myself moving in the right ways. They worked, magically.
I also fell in love with a recording of Jacqueline du Pre playing Elgar’s cello concerto. She moved me, the images my teacher gave me moved me, and I moved with my cello in hopes that we might play something beautiful eventually. But to be honest, I also fell in love with beginning: being an amateur discovering the simplest things, attempting and hoping and imagining myself into something new. Even playing one right note thrilled me.
My essay troubles the ease of the maxim to visualize success. The body and the mind do not always match. But how beautiful I find our legacies of trying. How inspiring we can be to each other even so.
I’ll be editing poetry with the bright Anna Mullen at The Hopper literary magazine this season. Our spring print issue theme is Ecesis. Get out your OED, your ecology textbook, or just follow our prompt below.
Follow this link to send us your work (writing, art) by January 1st.
Image above by Anna Martin.
A mentor showed me this film last February, and I spent that spring falling in love with Alexander Calder. I read and watched and looked and wondered and then wrote too many poems about him, especially his circus. New Orleans Review features two: “Cirque Calder Encore, 1970” and “Curiosities of Cirque Calder, 1927 on.”
If you’d like to fall in love too (and haven’t already), I’d suggest visiting the Whitney Museum’s Calder page.
Susan J. Erickson has red cowboy boots and impeccable diction. She’s a poet hero of mine who I met back in the land of Douglas fir, though we’re both ladies of the 10,000 lakes.
Sue won the Brick Road Poetry Press prize last year, and her book, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, is out now. Her collection of lady persona poems is tonally diverse, smart, and powerful.
Sue asked me to make a book trailer for her. We chose to work with her poem “Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower” partially because I now live near a giant bell tower and tracts of forest, but mostly because this poem is a linchpin poem. Rapunzel is trying to “relinquish the rib of victimhood.” She pushes back against the story we tell about her. She tells her class “your voices are searchlights that can sweep the horizon to reveal fault lines and illuminate passage.” What a good lesson.