August 21, 2012 In an essay for the Potomac Review called “One Thing I’ve Learned,” Nashville poet Bill Brown explains the spiritual value of keeping an open heart, of remaining tuned to wonder:
With so much cynicism in the world today, one thing I’ve learned is the writer can’t afford to lose contact with the child inside. If the poet is not amazed at the world, how can she convince her readers to be? This is not an easy task. The rush of news in a media driven society—drones kill innocent citizens while attempting to wipe out terrorists, suicide bombers murder pilgrims in Mosques, middle class Americans, armed with attack weapons, kill fellow citizens on college campuses, in movie theaters and at a Sikh House of Worship. All of these reports grouped together with who got kicked off Dancing with the Stars. How do we, how do our children, process this information?
For Brown, the answer can be found in poetry. Or, rather, the answer can be found in the world; it’s just that our poets give voice to that answer in a language more easily conveyed by literary magazines. Quoting Kunitz, Rumi, Frost, and others, Brown reminds readers of how, even
in this broken human world,
small miracles still emerge before us,
even amidst the quicksand of vanity,
all is vanity, even cynicism, even sorrow.
Read the rest of the essay–and the lovely poem by Brown embedded in it–here.
To read Chapter 16‘s Q&A with Bill Brown, click here.