Are you the poetry lady (or man)?

Sage CohenThe life poetic16 Comments

As my dog, Hamachi, and I descended our front steps into the well-worn rhythm of our morning walk, a car pulled into the space behind my own at the curb. Machi and I both pricked our ears in anticipation as the man behind the wheel got out and strode toward us. Was he delivering a package? Did he need help with something?

“Hi!” he glimmered, face open and friendly, curly hair tinged pink. “Are you the poetry lady?”

I paused for a beat, trying to make sense of what this man was asking me. I looked at the wooden box facing the sidewalk in which I display and share poems by my favorite poets every week—and understood his question to mean, “Are you the lady who puts out the poems?”

“Yes, I suppose I am the poetry lady,” I smiled.

“I was just coming by to see your latest. I used to live in the neighborhood, and for two years I’d collect each new poem on my daily dog runs. They were all uncannily relevant to my life. And now I’m in town visiting and wanted to see what you had out today.”

This man was so excited about the poems I share that he’d driven to my house from wherever he was staying to collect one. Such an act was beyond my imagination.

“I’m so happy I bumped into you today,” he beamed. “I want you to know how much your poems have meant to me over the years. Can I hug you?

For years, I’d been printing 15 copies of the poem I needed most each week and making them available in the small poetry box in front of my home. These poems disappeared every week into strangers’ hands, but I never though much about that part. Schooled by Rumi’s “Love Dogs,” I wasn’t seeking feedback. It was in making my offering that I felt aligned with the divine.

And now the divine was sending a message back, through this man.

We hugged, he got into his car with my very last copy of John O’Donohue’s “May the Light of Your Soul Guide You,” and Machi and I shuffled off to our slow loop.

I’ve had poems torn up, others rewritten; even strange, angry notes left for me. And now, I had a single, known reader who had gratefully received what I offered from my deepest well of self. Making this connection with another lover of poems felt better than any news of publication or notification of award I’ve ever received.

I was reminded that when we offer what we love to the world, when we risk making ourselves visible, we have the opportunity to authentically connect with people. We have the privilege of inviting them to connect with themselves. And whether anyone likes what we have to share or not, taking this kind of risk brings us closer to ourselves.

Are you the poetry lady (or man)? To what name or title will you answer this year? What will you offer to the world in 2017 that is so essential to who you are that the risk of exposure is overshadowed by the enormity of joy in simply making yourself visible? {tweet it} Whatever it may be, I believe there is someone out there poised to drive across town to receive it.

May bravery be the path to inheriting yourself—and connecting with your true tribe—in 2017 and always.

16 Comments on “Are you the poetry lady (or man)?”

  1. Hello Sage:

    Today I gave my book of poems and short plays, SINS and WORDS From the World, to Terrance at the Sacred Well on SE 13th in Sellwood. It is down the block from the Blue Kangaroo coffee roasters where I found your new book on the big coffee table last fall. I got your book myself after flipping through it at the Blue Kangaroo one morning.

    My partner and I, Bill Johnson, former Office Manager at Willamette Writers, are poised to do a reading at the Sacred Well sometime in late winter or early spring of 2017. If all goes well, I will have a show of my mixed media artwork and drawings at the Sacred Well, and Bill and I will do a reading event.

    Keep your fingers crossed for us and thank you for all your energy, love, and intelligence and for your willings to connect with your writing public. I loved your story about meeting the man who wanted to know if you were the poetry lady…

    Best regards,

    Lisa Parsons

    1. Hi Lisa, Congratulations on making your work visible in the world!! My fingers are crossed for your Sacred Well event! Please let me know when a date has been set — I’d love to try to attend your reading. Thanks for letting me know how our orbits overlapped. I am delighted that Blue Kangaroo brought us a bit closer… I will be wishing you a fierce 2017!!

  2. What a wonderful story and a perfect “Thank you” from the Multiverse!
    I’m so happy for you. It does feel good to make an offering, but it’s also nice to get a physical hug for it as well.

    I just put out my YA fantasy novel, Forging the Blade, that I’ve been working on for the past 12 years. No agent would touch it (75 queries) because I’m an unpublished writer with an MS, not an MFA, no previous publications, and it’s sort of a niche book. I never would have thought to self publish if if Jessica Morrell hadn’t told me it was worth it–she’d edited it twice.

    It’s out in Kindle and paperback on Amazon.

    1. Chrissy! So exciting! I’m thrilled to hear that you’ve had Jessica Morrell’s support and editing and encouragement — and now your book is in the world! Congratulations!!

  3. HI Sage:

    In response to your question: I’m working with Stan. We are courageously creating High Performing Teams. Our focus is leaders and their teams. We hope that we can help employees be happier to go to work each day. We spend so many hours at work. It might as well be an inspiring place. This is my contribution to the world. My calling. Stan is someone who has helped create “The Falling Awake Workshop,” something I know you are familiar with. I think I met you at a Falling Awake workshop. I do write but it isn’t something that I feel gifted in. However, I do like writing thank you notes. Does that count? Smile. I purchased your book for myself and for a writer friend. I write everyday. Your words were teachers for me. I especially enjoyed your blog today and your powerful question. I imagined seeing your poetry on the whiteboard. I’d be inspired too. I’d be like the guy who came up to you, hugging you for your daily contribution. Keep writing on the whiteboard and everywhere you write. ~ Cheri

    1. Sounds like an epic contribution you are making, Cheri! Thank you so much for loving what you do — and for sharing where you’re headed with me. Writing thank you notes ALWAYS counts! 🙂 That’s one of my favorite practices!! I wonder where that daily writing practice will lead you?! oxo

  4. Just wanted to say I loved this post and have shared it on Twitter and Facebook and already had a friend re-share. I am finding so many nuggets of great wisdom in Fierce on the Page! Today I wrote a bit of my own take on writing–culled from 18 years as a writing instructor–that’s been stewing in my head for ages. Thank you for your courage and honesty!

    1. I’m so thrilled and grateful that my work is meaningful to you, Alyssa! May your writing take you wherever you most want to go this year–and always!!

  5. I’m not sure my sharing on Jan. 1st was for others as much as for myself, but it was cetainly opening myself to share in a vulnerable way. For the last month, I have been ill with a blood disorder and requiring blood transfusions, but without a diagnosis, I was in fear. While I thought I was posting my own thoughts and feelings, this poem did touch many of my friends, both face-to-face ones and virtual ones. I wanted to share it here. I do have a potential diagnosis as of yesterday, and hope soon to see my nephrologist for her assessment (and, I hope, a treatment plan!)

    No Promises

    Today, I find no poem of promises
    in these grey skies, dark at the window,
    nor in this chill wind that brushes through the trees,
    then dies to a memory of air.

    Today, I look to the inner self for strength,
    face the year uncertain, seek the healing light.
    Some days it streams through a break in the clouds,
    others, it finds only a sliver of doorway to pour through.

    Today, the year begins. Today, I seek my inner light,
    wish to hold it fast, to keep it close inside until the Earth
    tilts back toward the Sun. Today, no poem of promises, just this:
    that somewhere inside the light, new cells are forming in the blood.

    Carol A. Stephen,
    January 1, 2017

    1. Holding you close in this time of uncertainty, dear Carol. Thank you for sharing your beautiful poem and exquisite vulnerability here, with us. May your diagnosis lead you to treatment that leads you to restorative well being. xxox

  6. Oh my gosh! I hope it’s okay that I share every single piece you write with my creative writing students. This one is so meaningful, touching and reflective. =)

    1. I’m honored that you share my work with your students, Patricia! Thanks so much for your kind words!!

  7. Sage, I will offer more of my poetry inspired by the photographs I take. I will offer more family history articles. I will return to writing short stories. All of these I know will find their audience, so that is not what I’m even thinking about right now.
    Thank you for the encouragement you give!

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