When I told my older cousin about this piece I was writing he said, “Emily Dickinson, she was quite a recluse,” but that is not why I decided upon her for my piece.
Emily Dickinson – the now well known American Poet, was not well known in her time, and yet she created anyway. She had to, because writing was clearly one of the biggest parts of her purpose here on earth, to communicate these words in such a unique form that they now impact our lives today.
The week is nearly over though I’m convinced it just started.
It’s funny how much quicker time seems to go by as we get older. Our days are so packed to the brim with appointments and deadlines and all that other boring adult stuff that we don’t have the time to stop and take note of the tiny, wonderful moments in our lives.
I was that odd, artsy girl in high school who sat cross-legged in the poetry section of Barnes and Noble. I’d grab a few of the best looking covers and pour over the words. Something in my chest would flicker like a lighter before the flame.
I can remember the first time I bought a Mary Oliver book at a little bookstore in San Francisco. I was 18 and read it cover to cover on my bed that night. It rattled my insides and verbalized truths I needed to hear. Since then I have reread Oliver’s books dozens of times, I have gifted them to countless friends, and quoted her on Instagram at a shockingly high volume. Most people don’t read poetry these days, but Mary Oliver seems to attract an audience that touches every diversity. Her deep sense of wonder, natural imagery, and accessible language invite readers from all walks of life to enter in.
I can clearly remember the day I recited a Maya Angelou poem in front of my church. I was a young girl, and had been assigned to read “Still I Rise” as a part of a summer camp program. I had always been a shy child who feared any unwanted attention. Having to stand up, front and center, before a large group of people was something I feared. Here I was, having to live one of my worst nightmares.
I stood on stage, my legs wobbling beneath me uncontrollably. As I started the first line, my voice wavered. I’ll rise. I couldn’t believe I was doing it; speaking in front of a group of people. I focused on a spot on the back wall as the words flowed from my memory. I’ll rise. For a brief second I looked away from the spot, and discovered many faces smiling back at me encouragingly. I’ll rise. I pushed through the poem, my voice getting stronger and more confident line by line. Even though at that time I didn’t understand every part of poem, I could feel the power of the words pulsing through me. I rise, I rise, I rise.