Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Here are three pictures after the weekend storms; the whole island was wrapped in what my mother calls sea smoke.  It was truly beautiful in a Mists of Avalon sort of way.  Even for all that beauty, what I wish I could do is show you images of the Leonid meteor showers we watched last night from our deck.  At two a.m. there we were, wrapped in jackets and scarves and blankets, clutching mugs of chamomile tea and shouting at the sky as streaks of white, green, and gold flashed by.  I had to turn my back on Portland and on the lighthouses across the harbor so I could fix my gaze on the darkest parts of the sky, east of the island, where it's open ocean.

Yes, I wish I could show you gorgeous photos of comet particles falling from the heavens, but I have neither the camera nor the talent for capturing that particular kind of magic.  I do have words, and I am writing a poem, but that must wait, too.  I revise and revise and revise, for that is what I love best about my training as a poet: the process of revision.  Inspiration, that initial rush of writing, is the fun, sexy, and relatively easy part of writing.  I always tell my students (and they groan--oh, do they groan) that the real work, the real craft comes through re-vision, through re-seeing the poem as a whole and as its parts, each line, whether endstopped or enjambed, each metaphor, each slant rhyme.

What poetry students eventually find, the serious ones at least, is a kind of joy in that work as the poem reveals itself anew with each revision.  The process becomes one of discovery and revelation.  Writing well is like reading well, and I think that both are like living well, although it is easier, of course, for me to write and read well than to live well.  I am working at it.  What does Samuel Beckett say?  "Try.  Fail.  No matter.  Try again.  Fail better."  What I wish for tonight is a willingness and an ability to try again.  I wish to see the world around me clearly--people, their fears and joys, and to accept them for who they are.  I also wish to be a little braver.  My whole life feels on the brink of changes, some good, many hard, but nearly all tinged with risk, so I need to pack some courage in my rucksack.  I think of the Leonids; they blaze and burn out, rushing off into their own oblivion no matter what I do down here on earth, a fact which I find oddly comforting.  Archibald MacLeish wrote in "Ars Poetica" that "a poem must not mean but be."  I often think the same of life.

Here is a moment.  We are alive.  We are.    


  1. Ah, the Leonids! The last time I saw them, I was living on the Chesapeake Bay and I also watched them over the water,though I was in so small a place there was no need to turn away from lights.

    I miss the East Coast.

  2. Gigi, You've captured the magic in the photos...and as for tomorrow, I shall 'fail better' yet again! Love that line~

  3. PS: Congrats on the winning entry on Collete's site as well darling!

  4. Such beautiful words, Gigi.....I am in such awe of your writing - very thought provoking as I sit here smiling reading your words over and over again...!! You, my wonderful friend are a true inspiration! xxoo

  5. Gigi,
    I want to be one of your students! Seriously!
    I hope they realize how lucky they are to be taught by someone who has such a way with sharing such beauty through her words and a passion for capturing emotions with her pen.
    Beautiful post...

  6. Ahh Gigi, you take me away. I love your words and view of things. Your students are lucky to have you.

    Oh it must have been amazing ~ early in the morning seeing Leonid meteor showers.

    Look forward one day to reading your poem my friend.

    xoxox DJ

  7. Congratulations! How beautiful is that shot with the water on those twigs! x

  8. Beautiful photographs, Gigi and wonderful words. You are an inspiration to us all and, even more, to your students.....and how fantastic to see such a spectacle in the skies....we don't see a lot of that on the outskirts of London !!
    .... and if we fail better tomorrow, I must be failing with a first class honors degree by now !!!!
    Lots of love to you Gigi. XXXX

  9. On of my favorite quotes of all is one by Thich Nhat Hanh.."Breathe--you are alive!" I think of this one everyday... Your musing on trying...seizing the moment ring so true, Gigi. I always come away from here with much to think about and try. :o) And you photos are very magical already, I think! They are very much the work and celebration of the moment... Happy Day ((HUGS))

  10. I wish I had a teacher like you. You have made me feel more with this post than most essays have in some time. The images are achingly beautiful.

  11. your photography is quite beautiful as are your words. i hate that the clouds here prevented our viewing of the showers - i will enjoy them through your poetry.

  12. Gigi, you have done justice to the beauty of the falling meteors. I got goosebumps reading your description. And I can't wait to read your poem about it. I believe poets to be the most talented and truest of all writers. I could never do it, no matter how I try.

  13. It sounds like quite a sight to see, I hope you will share your poem when it is finished. The photos are lovely as have wonderful surroundings to photograph.


  14. In NYC, on a wall in a Walker Evans exhibit at the Met, I found these words of his...

    "Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. die knowing something. You aren't here long."

    And neither are the things we need to see.....

    I enjoy seeing through your eyes, Gigi.

  15. I've read nothing more true...
    then i hold my breath for about a minute, realizing i have poured my heart into each word.
    : )
    I so badly want to be one of your students.

  16. Hello!Just dropped by to say what a lovely blog!

  17. Hi Gigi,
    I do love your name; just discovered you. Beautiful pictures and your words touched me.

  18. "Try. Fail. No matter. Try again. Fail better." - S. Beckett's words speak to my heart. Your writing is always an inspiration to me. (I could use a little courage in my rucksack, too!) I feel like I am one of your students... Oh-so-lovely post. xo, GG

  19. I envy people who never give up not matter how many bad things come their way. It's so easy to be overwhelmed by fear and hopelessness. If only we could be more like the Leonids and burn bright and free for our time here. As usual, beautiful words and photos. Leigh

  20. Glad I could make you smile... :) Thank you for being you! Hope you are having a great week dear friend. I will have to check out the novelette 'Gigi' ;) Hope the writing is going well, and the November mood is turning around, it is my neck of the woods!

    xoxo, nicolette

  21. Seeing beneath, or past, what is visible...that is what reading, and writing, and life are all about. Wonderful reminder!

  22. I feel on the brink of change too...but then again, isn't our inner and outer world always in the process of change? Sometimes more than othertimes, I suppose.
    Oh how I would so very much love to read some of your poetry.

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