When We Are Asked About Our Poetry (Part 1)
Recently our Suite T publisher asked me to select one of my published poems and write about what inspired me to pen that particular one. This caused me to stop and think about my poetry in a little bit of a different way. I didn’t want to create a brain cramp by struggling to decide which was my favorite poem, but I did want to choose one that affected me in several directions. So, I have picked two poems from my book, Needville, and I will include them here with my thoughts.
The morning the first hole was blasted
dust was blown into the air
& a thousand bats were hurled
awake, thrown out of the dark.
A million squeals we heard. In their
jammed radar they rushed into
trees dump trucks coal haulers
before to the ground, stunned.
Like soldiers trying to make it back
to safety, they struggled & dragged
broken arms & torn skin, never to fly.
A scooper came along, picked them up
in three moves & dumped all
into a trash bin. No one said a word.
Like no one speaks when they see lesser evil
trample over perceived great good.
This poem is one of witness to what happens when coal mining takes over. My whole book is about the effects of coal mining on SW Virginia, and by implication, anywhere else mining takes place. Poets write about nature and how we feel when it is harmed. So this poem for me spoke volumes about what mankind is doing to nature. Someday maybe we will think more strongly and actively about saving our planet. This is how poetry also helps us toward a greater understanding of living.
Another thing I witnessed was the terrible drug addiction problem in that same region. And again this problem was mightily influenced by coal mining. Life can be short and painful for coal miners.
Life and Death
My feet stay cold
in black water
like some blood’s trickling
in hard rock veins
I’ll die too young
to see my age
In Part 2, I’ll explore other thoughts about “our” poetry
Until next time…
Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).