Saturday, April 4, 2020

Art Hides - Finding Poetry in the Moments

"So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide.
In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them."
                                        -- Naomi Nye

"It can be tough" I shared with my students yesterday (remotely, of course) "to see the art and beauty in the dailiness of a world turned upside down. But I wanted to end the week with a cool piece of poetry about finding art in the world. Normally, I would be doing more creative pieces, like this poem, through the spring as a sort of balance to the rigors of prepping for the exam." 

But, alas, I will have fewer opportunities to directly share these glimpses of artistic wisdom with my students, as we are only communicating via the internet, and will (heavy sigh) finish the year doing so so after our school district made the difficult decision to not return to classrooms this spring. So, I simply posted the text of this poem called "A Valentine for Ernest Mann" by Naomi Nye, as well as a blog entry with a video of her reading it. And I asked them to consider taking some time this weekend to simply notice and appreciate the poetry hiding in plain sight.

The idea of the art all around us has been on my mind lately, as I force myself to regularly get up from the desk, where I seem to be endlessly sitting through a schedule of Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings in between trying to plan a quarter worth of learning about rhetoric into a couple accessible online assignments a week, and I wander the house and the perimeter of the yard. There is art everywhere. It's in the workouts we are doing, the mind-boggling math equations my son leaves scribbled on papers strewn across the coffee table, the snippets of FaceTime conversations I hear my wife and daughter having with friends, the books on the shelves that I haven't noticed for years but now spend an inordinate amount of time browsing, the lazily graceful movements of our betta fish flitting through the plants in his bowl, ... even the strange and surreal newscasts we occasionally (or habitually) succumb to.

Thinking about that beautiful poem from Naomi Nye has reminded me to look back to the poetry of William Carlos Williams who dared us to Dance Russe, or to perhaps find a bit of art in a note left on the kitchen table with some pondering about someone's intention to eat some plums. Williams and his style of Objectivism (which might perhaps simply be an extension of Pound's Imagism) seemed to find the poetry in the natural cadence of our lives, much as Walt Whitman had done fifty or so years before. The artists have always sought to bring our attention to that which we might naturally overlook, even if it's something as simple as how colors and textures work with and against each other in a really funky and cool piece of abstract art.

Art hides. 

But since you might have some extra time on your hands, look for it.

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