And I wish I had the presence of mind to write a poem every day for National Poetry Month. Instead, I'm posting my favorites on Instagram (@laurenkrauze).
Posting text on Instagram poses an interesting challenge because Instagram is primarily a visual medium. Typography is important, as is the background I select. Here's an example—closing lines from David Whyte's "Sweet Darkness." This is rather clean, but still powerful.
I want to make a strong visual impression when posting poems on Instagram. For a long time I wrote and published/posted Short Sweet Poems (@shortsweetpoems), which were haiku/senryu that I handwrote on textured paper.
This month's effort is a spin-off of that. I have been posting excerpts from poems—titles, closing lines, pieces from the middle. Pieces of poems are sometimes just as telling or meaningful as the whole poem.
Instagram also allows for video, audio. Maybe I'll record myself reading a poem—a skill I'm trying to hone.
More on that soon.
Last year, I had the opportunity and privilege to interview Gabrielle Prisco, the Executive Director of Lineage Project, for Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Lineage Project is a nonprofit organization that offers mindful movement, secular meditation, breathwork, and conscious conversations to vulnerable young people in New York City.
The conversation was extremely meaningful to me, both professionally and personally. I encourage you to read our conversation. Below are some words from Prisco, excerpted from the interview:
"There is this discussion happening in mindfulness spaces that asks: Is mindfulness teaching people to accept the unacceptable? I don’t think that’s what we’re doing. I do not believe that the conditions or situations that many of these kids are in are acceptable. We can offer these tools that help reduce trauma, give kids healing and embodied experiences, and help them learn different ways of regulating, coping, and feeling empowered. We can also hold the fact that we need to work on issues of mass incarceration and the racism that drives mass incarceration. To me, those can coexist. Facilitating these tools is not accepting structural inequality, racism, mass incarceration, and homelessness. We have to work to change systemic inequity—like the racism, trauma, and harm done to people—and we need to promote tools for people to use to help them heal when they are actively in these situations in this moment."
Find the full interview here: How New York City's Lineage Project Introduces Mindfulness to Vulnerable Youth
Late last year, on a whim of frustration and anger, I wrote and submitted a nonfiction piece about my dating history to an online essay contest. The contest was sponsored by a literary website called DontTalkToMeAboutLove. The website title itself resonated with me in a tremendous way. (I think I've said that exact phrase out loud many times. As in no, really, don't even talk to me about love!)
Something happened when I was notified that my essay was selected as a finalist. I was standing on the subway platform waiting for the train—the downtown D—when I got the email. I had the sudden realization, which hadn't at all occurred to me at any point in the submission process, that the most intimate details of my dating life would be published online and available for all to read. For a split second I wondered if stepping casually in front of the oncoming train would remedy the complete embarrassment and shame of feeling so exposed by my piece being published online.
Of course I know better.
Of course I know that vulnerability paves a path to truth.
Of course I know that openness and honesty are all we can really ask of each other.
Of course I know that whoever reads this piece will form an opinion of me—whether they know me or not—and I have little to no control over what that opinion is.
There's hurt and pain in this essay. And utter humiliation. And also delight, joy, surprise. The full spectrum of emotion. I offered the best of myself in this piece and was rewarded.
Thank you to the editors at DontTalkToMeAboutLove for offering a platform for truth.
Here it is—it's called "Giving Myself To It." Enjoy.
At the still point of the dream, I try to move my body, but it has already dissolved.
At the still point of the dream, I hold my breath, fill up, and stay.
At the still point of the dream, I notice the car in the breakdown lane burst into fire and speed up.
At the still point of the dream, I hear the sound that fills the air after a gust of wind scatters a pile of loose garbage across the sidewalk.
The still point of the dream is the center at the edge.
The still point of the dream folds yesterday into what tomorrow might be like: cold and golden.
In the still point of the dream, I watch the tower bells collide, but hear nothing.
In the still point of the dream, I hear desperate gasps of breath, but see nothing.
In the still point of the dream, I am myself (in pieces).
(...Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse....)
I shall part my hair behind.
I shall dare to eat a peach.
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
(sound is the last sense that remains with us before we die)
i grew to appreciate sounds that were once new:
your bare feet on the hardwood floor,
your knuckles cracking as you finish the crossword puzzle,
your and abby's footsteps on the wooden stairs,
your hand sliding along the banister,
the shower as heard from the kitchen,
you switching on the reading light over the chair,
you saying, "ah, the bulb's out. I'll get a new one tomorrow,"
you peeling carrots,
you dropping a glass on the floor,
you smoothing the placemat on the table,
you opening the window,
you clearing your voice in another room,
you talking into the buzzer, "I'll be right down,"
you humming a slow tune I don't know,
you singing the words when I ask you to,
you saying, "knock knock" to V
your heart thumping into my ear on your chest,
your quick inhale before "I'll call you back" on your voicemail recording,
your slow exhale that is very, very, close to me.
1. you weave my long hair into a loose braid. slowly, and with great care and patience.
2. you slip a thick sweater over my head, then hug me for as long as it takes to share and seal in your warmth.
3. we step outside. the grass is wet. I follow you as we step from one stone to the next, down this new path to the ocean.
4. we do not speak. we are practicing loving in silence.
5. we stand in front of the ocean, side by side. the waves are roaring, like we have been all this time.
6. i start to cry. hard. you reach for my hand, find it, and hold tight.
7. you wrap your arms around me and pull me even closer, in front of everything that's roaring and spraying everywhere. we both feel it within us, around us.
8. we scream together. not at each other, but together, at everything.
9. i fall soundly asleep. you carry me home.