Marilyn Nelson Communal Pondering in a Noisy World
Maryland Nelson is a storytelling poet. She gives winsome voice forgotten people from history and from her own family. She shines a light on the complicated ancestry. We have in common and can help us in the work we have to together. Now she's written for both adults and children. She's taught poetry and contemporary practice to West, point cadets, and alongside the gentle, but mighty steam. Maryland Nelson Commands in the communion of modern poets. She's a voice for all of us in the work in the privilege of what she calls communal pondering to sit with her is to gain a newly spacious perspective on what that might mean and on why people young and old are turning to poetry with urgency. Poetry consists of. Words and phrases and sentences that emerge like something coming out of water. They emerge before us and they call up something in us, but then they turn. US back into our own silence, and that's why reading poetry reading it. Alone silently. Takes us some place where we can't get ordinarily poetry. Opens us to this otherness that exists within us. Don't. You think we read a poem and you say. And you listen to what it brings out inside of you, and what it is, is not words, it's silence. I'm Krista Tippett, and this is on being. Maryland Nelson is professor emeritus of English at the University of Connecticut and a former Chancellor of the Academy of American poets. I interviewed her at the University of North Carolina Asheville in two, thousand sixteen. So, here we are and I'm just delighted to be here with Marilyn. Nelson. It's been such a treat to be reading your poetry these last few days. missed. You were born in Cleveland of a teacher mother. And a father who was a member of the last graduating class of the tyskie airman. I wonder any, we're moving around a lot a lot. Yeah. You and your sisters always imagined that when you left each place. Disappeared cease to exist. And you did. This book how I discovered poetry. It's a memoir in poems a and I just wondered. So I WANNA say I said to Maryland I have a few books here and I have some. We'll read some poetry throughout I'm going to ask her to read some things. We'll read some at the end, but I also said to her that if she just feels called to grab one of these books and read she can. But I wondered if you would just read the last poem in this in this collection how I discovered poetry. Yes. Okay. This one is called thirteen year old American Negro girl. On each of these poems has a little byline of choir. We were at the time. This we were on an air force base in Oklahoma in nineteen, fifty, nine, thirteen year, old American Negro girl. My face as foreign to me as a mask allows people to believe they know me. Thirteen year old American. Negro girl headlines would read if I was newsworthy. But that's just the top of the iceberg me. I could spend hours searching the mirror for clues to my truer identity. If someone didn't pound the bathroom door. You can't see what the mirror doesn't show. For instance, that after I closed my book and turn off my lamp, I, say to the dark, give me a message. I can give the world. Afraid. There's a poet behind my face. I beg until I've cried myself to sleep. Thank you. That's my sister banging on the bathroom. And I don't know what me to talk about it. I for me. The. The. Crux of this poem is the fact that I really did pray. Give me a message that I can give the world. If you give me a message that I can give the world I promise, I'll be true to it. I'll be honest to it. That was. That was my thirteen year old. Prayer. Let me be a poet. Give me something to share. So.