beginnings

so today i got handed a book. it’s carol lynn pearson’s “beginnings,” dated 1967. this copy is the 5th printing, which i know because i try to read all the pages of a book usually, starting with the first couple. šŸ™‚ this is gospel-themed poetry, latter-day saint poetry i guess i could say, and while i am not a fan of religious verse, this is not bad. now, i myself wrote some pretty bad, bad, bad religious poetry at one point in my life and am glad to say all evidence has been destroyed, except for one poem, and if you can actually find that i will have the excuse that it was years ago and i was a missionary at the time. (chuckle) in any case, i started reading as soon as i was on the train, and have to say i am positively impressed with the lack of tackiness thereof. no bleeding hearts, no snow white lambs in the warm arms of the Shepherd, she manages to steer clear of all that. here is a sample of what you would find, were you holding this book in your hands now:

FROM A WRITER OF PLEASANT THINGS

You must forgive
This tendency of mine
To believe
The world holds
Something good,
Something fine.

The habit
Has troubled me
From childhood –
When I even
Preferred to
Build a snowman
Than to take
A romp through
The garbage can.

now, what she does here is a difficult little trick that can all to easily go very wrong. what is that trick? it is writing about one’s own writing. self-referential writing, poorly done, can be a pain to read. how important am i, the writer? how important am i to the text? to the reader? how important is my attitude, my way of life, does it matter, does it need justification, explanation?

anyway. in some poems she does go places that, writing as the person i am and living in the time and world i live in i would put differently or not touch with a seven foot pole, but this was 1967, my mother was 17 years old and i was not even thought of. a very different time, in a different place. pearson’s poems about baptism as rebirth seem tame to me, a little worn, after these decades, a little saggy with cliche expression. at the same time i have to admit i shy away from the idea of writing a poem about my own baptism, or baptism per se. i guess if i were to write one, the burial and birth metaphors would have to be earthier and more physical, soil and clay and blood, i don’t know. i try to avoid the overtly religious in my writing, but do use allusions and try to give new twists to old metaphors. how do you handle this aspect of life? i would not want to dismiss spirituality from my life, it has always been a part of me, no matter what denomination i belonged to at the time, and i believe it is part of what makes us human (in the good sense of the word), some innate spark of divinity, – i suspect these stories will keep being told, in one form or other, until the end of mankind. some will tell the story better, in a more exciting or touching or memorable way than others, but in the end, the story will continue.

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About annette.c.boehm

words escape me.

2 comments

  1. “Queen of all the me, Radiant Light,life-giving woman…”…!?…salut!

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