Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Dawn of a New Pearl

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Today I experienced a "first"--probably a first, or second or third that would be meaningless to the majority of you readers, but to me it had great meaning. It touched me, plucked a personal heart string, and carved itself into my memory.

Today I was asked for my autograph.

Sure enough, I've signed my autograph many a days gone by. In the autograph books of classmates and later in the high school yearbooks.

And of course, I "autograph" each and every birthday card or condolence card or simcha card or general personal note that I write.

But today, at the launch of the Canadian Jewish annual literary journal, someone approached me with a copy of last year's -- not even this year's -- journal and asked if I wouldn't mind autographing it.

Over the years, I've practiced my signature -- first name, maiden name and married name. As a published writer, I try to use all three, and want to transfer it onto someone else's page. Today, I could do just that!

And I didn't sign a copy for just a simple person who came out to the book launch; this woman, to whom I was briefly introduced as a "poetess" by a common acquaintance, is a well-established poet herself who has a city-wide poetry group that does events annually throughout the city. When she went on to invite me to join a session in my area, I had to decline and say, "I'm just a fringe poet...a dabbler...I don't really qualify." She looked puzzled because she knew that my poetry had appeared in two previous editions, and now the current issue, so I MUST qualify as a poet. But the truth is that I don't work very hard at this craft; it works very hard through me. The inspirations rear their heads, wait for me to catch on and then disappear as quickly as they appear. I'm left on my own to work through and mold these inspirations into my free-form poems. Sometimes they work for me, other times not.

Poetry is a very personal thing, much more so than blogging or writing fiction. And so, today, when I looked at my own issue of the journal and saw that my poem, carved from my heart, had been edited/distorted, I was disappointed. Maybe a line or two were stronger, but cuts had been made, messages that I'd wanted to relay.

And so, when the editor called my name (much to my surprise) to do a reading of my poem, I pulled out from my purse a copy of the poem...a copy of the poem as I'd sent it to the journal. It was my personal retort. Yes, you can have my poetry, but I will read it the way it was meant to be read. And I did. And people came up to me afterward and told me how much more they'd enjoyed the original version. And this woman came up to me afterward and asked me for my autograph. And another woman, the editor's wife, came up with a personalized card she'd autographed, a card that had her own pen-and-ink artwork displayed on it, a card whose drawing actually reflected the message of "Soul Light."

And this sometimes-poet found inspirations for future poems throughout the rest of the day.