Listen now again

I hope you are thriving wherever this dispatch finds you. This week, Lisa writes about the small worlds where our passions are found.

Every small world has its own idols. Whether you belong to the realm of artisan cheese makers or vintage bottle collectors, synchronized swimmers or flash fiction writers, even the most obscure circles of interest or industry have their gods and demigods whose names, when invoked, inspire fear, admiration, awe.

In the corner of my desk, a tiny clip holds two tickets to an upcoming poetry reading by Seamus Heaney. I won’t hold it against you if his name doesn’t ring a bell—in some ways poetry has a far reach, and in other ways, it is a small world of its own. But there are the things you love, and then there are the things you’re darn near religious about. I wouldn’t trade these tickets for Super Bowl or World Series seats, so I guess you can imagine that, for me, poetry is the latter.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard Heaney read, and I hope it won’t be the last. There are just some experiences of sheer delight that never get old, no matter how many times you repeat them. Heaney describes this phenomenon so well in the last lines of his poem, “The Rain Stick,” in The Spirit Level:

Who cares if all the music that transpires<br><br>Is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?<br>You are like a rich man entering heaven<br>Through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.


Last week's dispatch asked, What is your funniest first date memory?

Kathy wrote:

I suppose my funniest first date story is that my husband I have never agreed on which of two "meetings" was the REAL first date. He thinks our first date was when we did the "meet for coffee in a bookstore", but I still call that a meeting. I think our first date was the one AFTER that, when it was clear that the meeting went well and we both had a romantic interest there... :). It persists as our longest-running argument today -- whether the first meeting was a DATE (his claim) or a simply a meeting.

Stephen wrote:

Last summer, my date introduced herself to me in a hoarse voice. "Oh no! We don't have to do this today if you're under the weather," I commented, immediately feeling guilty. "Oh, this is just my voice," she responded cheerfully, as if for the thousandth time. Embarassed, confused, and emasculated, I proceeded to have one of the most frank and enjoyable first dates of my life. We broke up two weeks later. Her voice never changed.

Erin wrote:

I once had what started out as the best first date in history. We met at the boat docks in Seattle, prepped and ready to take his little boat out into the Puget Sound and collect the crab pots he had out. He was very sweet and packed a picnic with strawberries, crackers, cheese, and chocolate. Once we collected the crabs and were sufficiently cold and wet, we headed back to his house to feast! It was so much fun, eating delicious crab meat, talking, laughing, and eventually tucked in the couch watching a movie. Little did I know, it was about to turn south. I excused myself, hoping that I could find a bathroom far, far away. I'm fairly certain I was in there the better part of an hour, painfully wishing he could not hear me and my troubles. When I returned, I found him asleep on the couch. I woke him, told him I was sick and had to go home. I never heard from him again, which was for the better since I ended up marrying the best man ever!

Adam wrote:

I actually met my wife on a blind date. We went out with her roommate, who brought along her boyfriend. During dinner, someone asked me what the last cd/album I had purchased was. Instant panic! For reasons unexplainable now, my answer was... Jessica Simpson. I had also (thankfully!) purchased a Sister Hazel album, so I decided to omit the former and only share the latter. At some future point in our relationship, I fessed up - to which she said, "If you would have told me that, there's no way there would have been a second date." So I'm not saying lying is a good thing, but I am saying that it is entirely indefensible to buy a Jessica Simpson album - no matter the reason.

Mona wrote:

My first date story has a small connection to one of my all time favourite comedies, Best in Show. About 10 years ago, I met up with a man I had connected with on an online dating website. We met at the Starbucks in Vancouver that happened to have another Starbucks directly across the street as mentioned in the movie. The man's online profile seemed to indicate he was a good fit for me. He seemed smart and started his own technology company. However, during the hour get together, I couldn't stop noticing his oversized black and orange abstract patterned sweater. It was bulky and (to me) really ugly. And this was 10 years before ugly sweaters became trendy. We didn't hit it off and I'm sure it was just a personality thing but that sweater really set the tone for me and I think I couldn't get past it.

Uncommon reads

Wilson Miner writing for The Pastry Box:

It’s OK to revisit things. It’s OK to compete with established players, and to try again where we — and others — have failed. It’s OK to build “yet another” solution to the same problem. If we’re lucky enough to find a few questions that matter to us, we should follow them ruthlessly.

The Importance of a Stop Day, an interview with Dr. Matthew Sleeth:

Even if on Monday I'm very, very busy -- and that proceeds throughout the week -- if you know you have a habit of a weekly day of rest, of stopping, then you always know that's out in front of you. A lot of people "go" and never know when it is that they're going to come to rest.

Your turn

What is one of your memorable encounters with poetry? It could be a note from a friend, a sign in an artsy cafe, a treasured book, a favorite class, or something else entirely.