Thanks, Florence Sage!

Jan 25, 2021 | 0 comments

There are probably different kinds of poetry.  I might have known once but now I don’t.  I’ve always felt at two with poetry.  Or maybe more like six or seven.  Until yesterday. I was catching up on back issues of the paper and I happened upon an article that included poet Florence Sage.  It was about her new book:  The Man Who Whistled – The Woman Who Wished: A Polish-Canadian Story.

I know Florence.  I met her here at a poetry gathering for Bob Pyle and Jim Bertolino clear back in October 2014.  When it comes right down to it, I know quite a few poets, including good friends Pat Thomas and Cate Gable and Oysterville neighbor Erin Malone.  And while I’ve spoken to a few of them about their work, their process, their understanding of the differences between poetry and prose… I have never conquered my fear of poetry.  I’ve written a blog or two that might be thought of as poetry by some —  but I can’t say I’ve ever thought to myself, “Self, today we are going to write a poem.”

Poet Florence Sage, Courtesy Astoria Library

Then yesterday, I read an article in the December 17th Coast Weekend, “A Wave of Creativity” and it included a piece about Florence written by Briana Alzola.  It might have changed my life.  Honestly.  For sure it has changed my thinking about poetry.  “I write poems that are stories — just tiny, little stories,” Florence said.  And, “I like that poetry has line breaks and that each line has its own integrity… You get that little bit of a picture and…”

But those are things I’ve said about writing history!! Put the story back in history, I say.  Don’t call me a historian, I say, call me a storyteller.  “Just like any art, each poem is a problem to solve,” Florence said.  But that’s what writing history is, too.  Find the facts to solve a problem and writing them to tell a story.  In a nutshell!  Florence’s description of writing poetry is exactly the way I feel about writing history!   Wow!  My understanding of writing history and my fear of writing poetry just met at an intersection.

Thanks, so much, Florence!  Suddenly, I’m not so fearful of poetry. Certainly not of reading it.  And who knows?  I might even try writing a little bit now and again…

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