Sunday, November 08, 2009

Are we listening?


My wife was visiting my daughters in Arizona this past week and I got this test from her and as I read it come across my phone I was nodding my head… “yes, yes!” I acknowledged her message and she said what she sent me she was a quote on a poster at ASU. She said she knew I would appreciate it. She knows me well.

What she sent me was a quote from Alberto Alvaro Rios – poet and professor of English at ASU [pictured here left] and it’s a poignant expressing of the task of writing.  What she texted me follows:

“The public job of a writer is to write. But the private and secret job of the writer is to listen. Writing itself is finally clerical but listening is a life’s work. By listening we must include the sweetwork of the eye the skin the tongue the nose. This then is the true  language of writers. The language of listening.” ~Alberto Alvaro Rios.

A life’s work… This is so very much related to what my conception of being a poet is about. Listening, observing, seeing things that you might otherwise miss. Seeing things in a variety of perspectives. Searching the natural world, your own soul and the history of the human experience. Putting this all together and recording it. This is to me what being a poet is all about.  Listening and letting what you hear inform what you write.

We all have heard the mantra, Read, write, re-write..  I believe listen needs to be a part of that cycle of process.


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