“A poem is the record of a discovery, either the discovery of something in the world, or within one’s self, or perhaps the discovery of something through the juxtaposition of sounds and sense within our language. Our job as poets is to set down the record of those discoveries in such a way that our readers will make the discoveries theirs and will delight in them.” - Former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser
What I love about Kooser’s quote is the concept of discovery. Whose discovery? Is it that of the poet, recording the details in a manner to delight or is that of the reader, discovering the poem and becoming delighted? Let’s assume it is both.
Natalie Goldberg suggests that young writers plant themselves in public and generate poems upon demand. This requires a certain poetic confidence that I don’t possess. Hence my admiration for Billy Marie at Typewriter Poetry where she churns out turns of phrase on her retro machine on sidewalks and at festivals.
One early morning at the market, I had my own poetic discovery; typewriter planted firmly in his lap and a small sign requesting donations.
As you can see from this link, Zach is another well known street poet. He sets up his chair on a street or at a market and, there, he has The Poem Store. I was fortunate to run into him and as you can see above, he caught the spirit of Agrigirl – food and community and built it into poetry.
With or without a street poet, the Farmers’ Market becomes a laboratory of the humanities. According to the internationally known environmental psychologist, Robert Sommer, people who shop at farmers markets have four-and-a-half times more social interactions per visit than they would have per visit to a grocery store. Other evidence from John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago and coauthor of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection shares that individuals with more social interactions are healthier.
Dare we connect them? Recall that during a heat wave, individuals with more social interactions, contrived mainly because of the proximity to small merchants, had a stronger chance of survival. In fact, Cacioppo tells us that we should all play with the idea of trying to get small doses of good social interactions daily. Just calling out to someone, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” or “I loved that poem!” can bring a friendly response that makes us feel better and consequently, healthier.
We walk though life, and seldom meet another
With whom we share a selfsame thought or tone.
And yet in you, there resonates the other;
A half unheard for years, the sound of bone
That hides behind the bolder sounds of blood
The beating drum by which we mark our days
Together once again we sing of God
In each flat step, in every common phrase.
This is true Zen: two friends who walk together
And give each other cause to listen close,
As well as means to satisfy the whether,
To dwell within in satisfied repose.
We’ll meet and meet again, in each a bell
Ringing, remembered — none but both can tell.
It’s National Poetry Month. Celebrate Poetry.