Friday, November 6, 2009

Poetry Friday: Rick Barot

This one has been in my files since it was first posted at How a Poem Happens. I'm choosing it today because whatever else the poem may evoke---love or stories---it describes the writing process, too: from the initial moment you are roused by details like "hearts penknifed" on windows through the long creative metamorphosis of drafts that are "questions on the floor" until the day "you begin to sense a use for them."  As writers, this is what salvation looks like.

by Rick Barot

I think about the mornings it saved me
to look at the hearts penknifed on the windows
of the bus, or at the initials scratched

into the plastic partition, in front of which
a cabbie went on about bread his father
would make, so hard you broke teeth on it,

or told one more story about the plumbing
in New Delhi buildings, villages to each floor,
his whole childhood in a building, nothing to

love but how much now he missed it, even
Read the rest here

I also like the interview accompanying the poem, in which Barot gives this answer to a question about inspiration:
I do believe in “inspiration,” but not in the struck-by-lightning, perhaps facile connotation that surrounds the word these days. I realize that the etymology of the word comes from a spiritual register: that one is breathed on by a sort of influence, and one is then moved. But I want to imagine that one isn’t given the gift of that breath without having prepared for it, even if inadvertently.
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Elaine at Wild Rose Reader. Thanks for stepping up, Elaine!


  1. There are so many little places where this poem and I intersect; I love the phrase,

    each heart
    and name a kind of ditty of hopefulness
    because there was one you or another I

    I also like what the author says about inspiration. It's not a lightning bolt, at least not usually, typically -- we are breathed on, influenced, moved. The "soul's plumage is fostered." Lovely, lovely.

  2. "...a poem is a performance of the truth." (from his comments after the poem)

    That reminds me SO much of Operation YES!!!

  3. Also love what he says about inspiration. A lovely poem and it was great reading about his process.

  4. Sara,

    I couldn't find out where the Poetry Friday Roundup was this week. I'll do it at Wild Rose Reader.

  5. Utterly sublime. The poem AND the passage that inspired it.

    AND what he says about the spiritual aspect of inspiration.

    Blissful sigh.

  6. Loved this poem!! Really touched me.


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