Poem of the Week, by Gibran Kahlil Gibran

IMG_2158In the lobby of the Minnesota Public Radio headquarters are three white egg-shaped chairs. Whenever I’m there I crawl into one of them, sit cross-legged, and close my eyes. Sitting in one is like wearing a warm sweatshirt with the hood pulled entirely over your head. My love for those chairs is inordinate. When I picture a safe place to comfort myself when sad or troubled, those egg-shaped chairs come to mind. 

When I was a little girl, the poems in The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, used to bring me the same kind of solace. A few days ago I stood in a museum in Mexico City admiring some beautiful paintings by an artist named Gibran Kahlil Gibran, the similarity of whose name to the poet made me happy. A display case was filled with handwritten letters by the artist and I read each one out loud to myself. The fact that the painter wondered about the same things I do, love and longing and sadness, was as inexpressibly comforting to me as the egg-shaped chairs. It turns out that the painter and my poet are the same man. His words from a hundred years ago, found in an unfamiliar museum in an unfamiliar city in a country not my own, go straight to my heart.

 

Found poem, by Gibran Kahlil Gibran (lines from his handwritten letters, arranged by Alison McGhee)

Are you unhappy, my beloved?
I, too, am unhappy sometimes.
There are days when
bitterness mingles itself with life—
days when my dreams are
dreams of hunger and
my songs are sighs, and the
things I try to create are
sad, so very sad.

And there are days when I
want to be nothing but a
shepherd somewhere on a
faraway mountain, or an
unthought-of brother in an
unknown convent, or an
outcast on a lonely,
undiscovered island.

I have journeyed twenty-five
times around the sun—and
do not know how
many times the moon has
sailed around me—and I have
not solved the
mystery of light yet.

For more information about the painter and poet Gibran Kahlil Gibran, please click here.​

 

 

Public radio interview

Poetry hut, flowersFor anyone interested, here is the link to the public radio interview I did this morning. The thoughtful and talented Kerri Miller and I talked about poetry, my poetry hut (pictured to the left there), teaching, writing, the making of Firefly Hollow, the inner lives of children (and grownups), what it means to be a lifelong adventurer, the freedom that comes when you stop caring what others think of you in favor of resting with your own intentions, how the death of someone you loved when you were young affects you then and forever, how a book can momentarily take the poverty and pain out of a child’s life, a novel I feared and hated as a teenager but never forgot, the enormous usefulness of waiting instead of acting, Galway Kinnell, teaching at my beloved Metropolitan State University, school bus bullies, and a whole bunch of other things.