Poets.org sent me an e-mail the other day announcing Marvin Bell as the selected judge of the 2010 Walt Whitman Award. From there I began reading about Mr. Bell. Born in 1937 in NYC, he holds a B.A. from Alfred University, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He's an intelligent man, there's no doubt about that. I went on to read a brief write-up of his accomplishments, but then moved on to getting into what it was that really interests me: His writing. One particular poem I took note of was Around Us (below). I read it. Enjoyed it. Reread it. Enjoyed it even more. And I'm sure I'll read it many times over, each time picking up some slight nuance that went undetected before.
We need some pines to assuage the darkness
when it blankets the mind,
we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly
as a plane's wing, and a worn bed of
needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,
and a blur or two of a wild thing
that sees and is not seen. We need these things
between appointments, after work,
and, if we keep them, then someone someday,
lying down after a walk
and supper, with the fire hole wet down,
the whole night sky set at a particular
time, without numbers or hours, will cause
a little sound of thanks--a zipper or a snap--
to close round the moment and the thought
of whatever good we did.
Now, I don't consider myself a writer. I write. But I am not a writer. "Remember, a writer writes, always," is a memorable quote from the movie Throw Mama from the Train. It's true. I write. But I don't write every single day. (Okay, well I do, but not in the same capacity as a writer.) Anyway, I do share some similarities with those who label themselves as writers, so I found a particular piece written by Bell to be one I could relate to, i.e., that the quasi writer in me could relate to: The 'Technique' of Rereading.
"God knows, there exist more techniques for writing than are usually acknowledged...You smoke or drink coffee. You don't smoke or drink coffee. Like Hart Crane, you drink cheap wine and play Ravel's "Bolero" on the phonograph. You walk about. You pull your hair. You eat your beard."
This particular piece is directed to the poet; however, a poet is a writer too, no? Either way, whether you consider yourself a poet, a writer or whether you fall somewhere in between or even off to the side, I think you'll be sure to get something from reading it. For me, I'll be reading it over again shortly. Without rereading, and once again, rereading, one is bound to miss something. Quite possibly even the most profound lesson to be learned.