This year’s Poetry of Love judge is Lindsay Rice of Kansas City.
Regarding how the challenges of 2020 have impacted poets, she writes:
When things get rough, is it the poets who are listening? Are they the ones who are peering into the corners of what is and isn’t true? Are they the ones quietly stirring the feelings, the reactions, the heartbreaks, the frustrations? Are the poets silently dropping words into simmering pots in hopes that a stew will emerge to feed us all? I’d like to think so, and if it is true, this year has more than enough ingredients to serve.
With so many challenges, the role of the poet becomes more important. In some ways the role of the poet has been rife with opportunity this year to speak out, to step up, and to express what needs to be expressed.
In my own writing in 2020, I find myself both leaning towards and shying away from poetry. The imagery in some of the poems I wrote before the third month of this year recount travel, and lighthearted longing. They bounce frivolously from bright colors to road signs to simple problems and cares. They are enmeshed in the metaphors of the equine. Through those poems, I wrote with an abandon that counted on the carefree, that captured my heart’s desire.
Then, in the middle of this pandemic, I moved to the top of a mountain, to a place that I’ve always said my heart resides. Little did I know that the land that held my childhood memories and wishes, would scorch in a massive wildfire. Little did I know that disruption of safety would wreak such havoc on my heart.
Yet, as snow began to fall, I somehow felt safe up here. I am away from society, away from people. But also, up here, I am alone, away from the people I love. Little did I know that being in my own company day after day would get so tiring. And then I leaned into poetry, taking solace again in the poems of Hafiz and Mary Oliver.
My older Pony Poems shied back to the barn and what emerged was a quieter conversation with nature. As my main companion, I seek life near the trees, in the sky and anyplace I can safely walk. My personal role as a poet nearing the end of the year is more insular. It is more about treasuring very small things like the glimpse of an animal or the way the light shines in the afternoon. I’m grateful, as a poet, to find love in this way.
Lindsay has this poem to share with us:
It’s Like Wildlife
Quiet are the woods, when I
step out to walk.
Pines and aspens flutter greeting.
Clouds billow against blue
and the breeze flush-blushes by.
Wildlife might be all around me
when I move on
these mountain roads.
I know the tan fur of deer is near,
the white-tipped tail of fox might appear.
I can still smell the bear
from its linger
near the trash can.
I search the bumps and ridges of sage,
I scan the hillsides behind evergreens,
but creatures elude me.
It’s just like wildlife to be
on its own terms, its own tracks—
living parallel to mine
in the dark, in the dawn
wherever attention goes.
And when I wish for something to love,
for someone who breathes, who
whispers into the ear of night.
It, or he, doesn’t come—
not anyway I expect, at least.
It’s only when I glance
sideways across the lawn, that
I see fox race to her den.
It’s only when I turn back
up the drive, that deer is there.
It’s only when I least expect everything,
that it arrives like nature, like gentle eyes,
like bear lumbering across the way.
I’d have to have binoculars
to see the silk strands that connect it all.
And even then, it’s like wildlife to
dip and turn behind trees,
to disappear in evening light.
Lindsay Rice is a writer, tutor and creative individual who loves to share the joy and challenges of writing. Lindsay has been writing poetry and prose since middle school and won a National Scholastic Writing Award at a young age. Her poem, “Elementals I” was recently published in the Green Hills Literary Lantern. Lindsay studied poetry and fiction at The University of Iowa and draws inspiration from her international and domestic travels. She has just completed her first novel, Birdenwheel, that encompasses magical realism and historical fiction. Lindsay is currently the president of Whispering Prairie Press in Kansas City, MO.