Sunday, November 22, 2015

Words, white space and spirituality - the landscape of music, mathematics and language

A Poem
is not words
but spaces soaring
inwards in between.
is numbers heard
equations sung aloud
word patterns
soft or bright
the topography of sound
A poem is as numbers are
determined by mutual distance
stop-start-pause rhythms
of speech, sound, hearts.
A poem is faith
in blank spaces
where God unbounded
by religion abides.
A poem is trust
in emptiness growing
revealing infinity
within the confines
of a line segment.

 Thanks so much to Steven Bickmore, Kelly Bully, Evelyn Spratt for inviting me and Dana Walrath to do the keynote; to my brilliant editor Nancy Paulsen and the team at Penguin, Alexis, Venessa, Carmela, Talia, and Julie and everyone else for their support.  I found this 2-3 year old poem draft and thought it captured some of what I said about wordlessness in verse being especially suitable for spirituality not confined to any particular religion yesterday morning at NCTE. Much of this I'd said before as well, in many other places where I've spoken ever since I started writing a time to dance. Yesterday, I also mentioned the magical duality of difference and universality that a good book encompasses, and of my realization several years ago of the connection between words and numbers: Mathematics, everyone acknowledges is music. And language, at its best, sings. I will say, in the poem above, if you are an atheist, do feel free to spell God with two O's - God to me is the power of Goodness as much as it is anything else. How wonderful to be invited to speak at NCTE about A TIME TO DANCE!