Poetry is just the evidence of life – Leonard Cohen
“I just don’t read poetry!” the young mother said, as she watched her toddler drawing in the shade of a tree with obvious delight.
After a moment’s reflection, she continued, “There was some poetry in a high school class – but I didn’t get it.
It was too hard to understand!”
I thought of the OWLS**, a group of women in their seventies, and their poetry teacher, Oshea Luja. How they all revel in poetry! And I silently wished something similar for the mother when she reached “retirement age”.
One of an enthralled audience last weekend, I watched the OWLS speaking their poetry with tenderness, passion and joy. It was the long-awaited launch of their exciting first anthology “Singing Ink”.
Every Wednesday, in the library of their senior apartment building, they meet with their guides and teachers, Oshea and Melanie Luja. Oshea and his Muse, Melanie, are talented and acclaimed Spoken Word Artists (Food4Thot and Queen Socks) and to this community of poets, they are also gently encouraging and greatly inspiring guides.
What does poetry mean to the OWLs? Obviously discipline, but also commitment, and community, — yet there’s more! In their own words from “Singing Ink “:
Kit, who never ever seems to stop writing, “Poetry is my bliss/The cosmos whirling inside my bones/The hard work of plucking the miraculous/ From thistles”
Dolly, who now laughs at how often she has incredulously asked if her writing is poetry, answers “Translucence of words/becomes a mirror reflecting my life/embodying forgotten memories”
Felicia, who asks many questions in her poems, including those about the process of poetry “What walls have I hit?/ What is standing in my way?/ I see my shadow standing in my way./Dare I push her aside to meet my creative needs?”
Abigail writes “To my surprise/ I bleed joy/ I was waiting for pain and sorrow and rage/and here is joy.”
Jo-Lynda, after a lifetime of writing, affirms that “a poem/will gush forth/becoming a stream/a river, the sea/pressed down/and overflowing/covering the planet/with verse.”
Oshea describes the meetings where “a word orchestra took place. Readings were shared and the fabric of this group’s melody began to sing beautiful ink across the fabric of these pages…..while we’re here, we have decided to play every note, every sound, chord, piano key, and sing our beautiful song like no one’s listening, watching or judging.”
For my part, I see you, poets!
I believe in you!
And I gratefully hold you as inspiration to create fulfilling lives as you age.
(Who knows, I may even write a poem or two one day! Until then, yours is there to savor.)
Singing Ink by Felicia Soissons-Segal, Kit Harper, Dolly Brittan, Abigail Howard and Jo Lynda Blake is available on Amazon Books.
(** as you will discover in the introduction, OWLS initially called themselves “Old White Women” but, after processing in their group some of the racial divisiveness afflicting the country, and experiencing together the universality of being human, they are now Oshea’s Wise Ladies.)