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!


Kristin Russo said...

What a beautiful poem, Padma! Truly lovely and powerful sentiments here about the power of words. Thank you so much for sharing.

Jeannine Atkins said...

Thank you, always, for making me think and broadening all kinds of possibilities!

Unknown said...

Beautiful poem! We need more words like these to fill our hearts with peace. Thank you, Padma! Lesléa

Didem Kokturk said...

Love this poem Padma ... Especially the line
"...A poem is faith in blank spaces where God unbounded by religion abides"

Didem Kokturk said...

The beauty of a poem so eloquently expressed!

Floyd Cooper said...

Padma, you have revealed the art which lies in the unseen, the dark matter, that which requires faith... the spiritual synapse of consciousness. Quite lovely!

Unknown said...

Padma, I wish I had a chance to hear you speak at the NCTE in Minneapolis. This poem is as lovely as it is spiritual. Thanks for sharing it. Kashmira

Tanuja Desai Hidier said...

Wonderful words, Padma! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

So perfect, Padma. The white spaces. God without religion. Goodness. Such important things, once again, so well said. Thank you.

Dogtrax said...

Space soaring
the place roaring
we leap into the unknown,
this poem
merely an echo of your
know you are not

PS -- I like to line lift and build poems as comments. I hope you find my poem honors yours.

Padma Venkatraman said...

Thanks so much, Kevin, loved the poem. Dear Tanuja, Floyd, Didem, Leslea, Jeannine, Kristin, thanks so much for your kind comments. Deeply appreciated!

Padma Venkatraman said...

Just got a note with this comment, from Jerry Spinelli, who couldn't leave a comment on the blog - probably because I am too stupid to have set it up right. But here it is:
Wonderful poem, Padma! The connections you make. One could base a class--a course--on your insightful thoughts. You invite the reader to be a teabag and steep in the warm water of your words and spaces. Mother--scientist--writer: the life you are composing is your best poem of all.
--Jerry Spinelli

Unknown said...

Made me think about the world in a new way, which is just what a great poem should do!
Thank you!

Kathi Fisler said...

Thanks for taking me out of my usual thoughts for the day with this!

Rebecca Schilke said...

Beautiful poem Padma! I'm sorry I missed you at NCTE! Will you be at ILA in Boston? I am co-presenting with a student of mine and I am beyond excited. Hope to see you there my friend!


Kathy said...

Padma, Thank you for sharing. I'm carrying the poem with me today. The last sentence, in particular, has evoked a strong emotional response/remembrance.

Anjali Ram said...

Dear Padama
I read your poem as I was sipping my morning coffee. I savored the words as I let them sink in slowly into my emerging, awakening self. It was a beautifully sensory experience. I could imagine your poem visually like a dynamic and exquisite fractal. You are truly gifted and I am grateful for your evocative words.