Poem for today: “Toward you, I thistle and I climb.”

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Reader unmov’d and Reader unshaken, Reader unseduc’d
and unterrified, through the long-loud and the sweet-still
I creep toward you. Toward you, I thistle and I climb.
I crawl, Reader, servile and cervine, through this blank
season, counting—I sleep and I sleep. I sleep,
Reader, toward you, loud as a cloud and deaf, Reader, deaf
as a leaf. Reader: Why don’t you turn
pale? and, Why don’t you tremble? Jaded, staid
Reader, You—who can read this and not even
flinch.

Excerpt from the beautiful, strange poem “sweet reader, flanneled and tulled” by Olena Kalytiak Davis, found via an article on The Poetry Foundation, which suggests an alternative reading: swap “reader” for “lover” for a new perspective on this strange and seductive poem. And a word of advice: you really should read it aloud. It rolls around in your mouth, sometimes fluid and smooth, sometimes twisty and thorny, words running together and hard to get out. Reading poetry is the perfect activity for a rainy Sunday. Take a moment and savor it.

Image: Embroidery and drawing by Spanish artist Ana Teresa Barboza. I’ve featured her art on my blog before, but I couldn’t find a better image for this poem—the lion-girl just fits the scary seduction theme so well, I think.

Why I read, why I write: Kurt Vonnegut edition.

ann teresa barboza embroidery artist

Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

Kurt Vonnegut is such a boss. Here are his eight tips of writing short stories, a list that includes “be a sadist” and “every character should want something.” But the above quote is my favorite. Write to please one person. When I’m teaching writing to kids, I call this their “dream reader” or “fantasy reader.” Who is a person who you admire, who you most want to read your work? When I write, I think about a professor I studied with at Bard. I write for him, because writing for everyone is exhausting and impossible. A fools errand, just like trying to be liked by every person at the party.

Image by Ana Teresa Barboza, who creates amazing embroideries of plants and bodies and other natural things. Check out her website here.