Poems by Joanna

Still: A Poem About Writing, and Home

I had lots of fun in Sardinia with poems that popped into my head, seemingly of their own accord. It was one of the many spin-off benefits of working with creative prompts and writing as part of a group.

I wrote a couple of poems on the first day about trying to settle into the new environment, and find my writing voice. Or even, just write anything at all.

I think I had the words of Sage Cohen still running through my head:

The next time you feel discomfort, poetry can help you find someplace to go with it.

The poems I wrote when I was away haven’t been edited.  I’m not really intending to do anything serious with them, and they’re really for my own pleasure and enjoyment. I was however (gently) challenged by Davina to publish a poem here… and she’s right.  I should.  And here it is.

Still

Still
She sat, waiting
For the words to come
Listening to the stillness
Of the air and the
Quiet whispered conversations
Still
Not yet adjusted
To the light and the heat
And the clear hot brightness
And the
Still,
Quiet calm of the warm
Sunshine air
The breath of early summer
And the dog, barking still.

She wished she was home
By the river
With the blue hills beyond
The highland air on a
May day morning
Still
With the promise of discovery, and love.

“Still,” she said,
“I’m here, and will learn as I go
It’s a place you can stop,
For a while,
And allow yourself,
Maybe,
If you dare,
To be
Still.”

Still,
She felt the disconnect
The brightness of the light
And the warmth of the air
The promise of the day
Discordant with the
Moods of her body,
Missing, homesick,
Still wishing she were
Smiling with the
Kiss of Scottish springtime,
The rhythm of the river
And the ferries crossing, still.

Still, the quiet
Of the air and
The movement
Of the pen
Allowed her even so
Despite the brightness of the day
And the glare of expectations,
Allowed her mind to settle
And be still.

To let her speak her mind,
Of where she’d left her thoughts,
Of where her heart was lying,
Of where her words were,
Still.

Joanna Young, May 2009

I’ve taken a double dose of confidence pills and recorded myself reading it too.  Well, I did tell you I’d discovered how much fun it was to read my work out loud.  The sound quality isn’t brilliant between a few technical hitches and my voice being hoarse with a cold… but I thought it was worth an experiment with anyway.

Just click the play button in the screen below to hear the poem (RSS and e-mail readers, you might need to click through to the site to play it.)

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35 Responses to “Still: A Poem About Writing, and Home”

  1. On May 22, 2009 at 8:31 am Ulla Hennig responded with... #

    Joanna,
    this is a beautiful poem! I can see you before my eyes, sitting there, feeling a bit homesick and trying to adjust. I am glad you decided to publish it here!

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..At the Roadside

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  2. On May 22, 2009 at 10:48 am Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Hi Joanna, A marvelous poem, and giving us a multi-media presentation is a real treat. I hope you keep writing poetry.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..SEO Content Competence Quiz Recap

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  3. On May 22, 2009 at 12:29 pm Robert Hruzek responded with... #

    Joanna, I’ll be the first to admit to a general lack of appreciation for poetry. But - still - your poem moved me in a sortof indefinable way. I’ve been there, I think, and have felt what you described. Thanks for the morning thought!

    Robert Hruzeks last blog post..Write a Guest Post for the Middle Zone!

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  4. On May 22, 2009 at 5:03 pm Paul responded with... #

    Hi Joanna,

    Can you lend me some of those confidence pills? ;)

    Your poem is wonderful. As you sometimes say to me, “I can really hear your voice” and that is the best compliment I can offer.

    I hope you take the time to celebrate what is a real milestone. In my opinion you should celebrate these 3 things at least:

    1. Writing the poem.
    2. Publishing it here and all the bravery that took.
    3. The record you have created of your feelings at the time of writing and how that will serve as a physical, emotional and technical marker for your continued growth as a writer and poet.

    Congrats Joanna, I’m raising a glass to you right now! :)

    All my best

    Paul

    Pauls last blog post..Me, We

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  5. On May 22, 2009 at 6:01 pm Shari Smothers responded with... #

    Hi Joanna:
    I really enjoyed your poem and reading of it. Like Robert, I can relate to the sentiment you expressed. Well said! I’m sure I’ll be keeping too the quote from Sage Cohen. Thanks for sharing it.

    Shari

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  6. On May 22, 2009 at 6:49 pm Janice Cartier responded with... #

    That was ….so lovely. Speechless. I am. It brought a small tear to my eyes.

    Just letting it waft over me and be enjoyed. Huge smiles.

    It’s about the moments, the very moment of engagement.. owning them so imperfectly and beautifully. Maybe that’s grace after all.

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Improvisation And Structure

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  7. On May 22, 2009 at 7:19 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Ulla, thank you so much… it’s lovely to know our words can create those feelings of connection

    Brad thanks. I feel I’ve got the bug now so I probably will… it was good to share a first one here with you all though

    Robert I know poetry isn’t really your thing… thanks for taking the time to comment anyway. What a good friend you are.

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  8. On May 22, 2009 at 7:20 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Paul thank you so much for these words. Yes, I will follow your advice and celebrate those 3 things. Thanks.

    Joanna

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  9. On May 22, 2009 at 7:25 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Shari thank you for the feedback. The quote from Sage is a good one isn’t it? There are other sources of inspiration for me to write and share poetry though too, including that piece of yours I read many moons ago.

    Janice ‘the very moment of engagement’… how often you manage to put the finger on things that for me are just slightly out of reach. Thanks.

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  10. On May 22, 2009 at 11:06 pm Lori Hoeck responded with... #

    The voice, the accent, the words, the emotions, the relationship to nature — they all carried me along with their rhythm. How fun!

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  11. On May 23, 2009 at 12:55 am Meghna responded with... #

    Joanna, that was a beautiful poem, meaningful, rhythmic and expressive. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Meghnas last blog post..How’s Life?

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  12. On May 23, 2009 at 1:42 am karoli responded with... #

    This is a beautiful poem. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    karolis last blog post..home in the sky

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  13. On May 23, 2009 at 8:18 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Lori thank you… I’m so enjoying learning about how we tap into and express that rhythm… thanks

    Meghna glad you enjoyed it… you might all just be giving me enough confidence to share some more some day :-)

    Karoli hi, and thank you. I’m glad I shared it… good way to connect up with people, and meet some new folk like yourself. That’s one of the best things about words and writing after all…

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  14. On May 23, 2009 at 10:36 am Ken Allan responded with... #

    Kia ora Joanna!

    Good one! I like this poem.

    You said you’re “not really intending to do anything serious with” the poems you wrote. Some years ago a writing friend, Alistair Clark, suggested I review my own verse. He suggested that I revisit verse that I’d shut the book on. There were a number of reasons he gave me why I should do this:

    1 many celebrated poets/writiers were known to do this (a good enough reason I guess, but . . .)

    2 unless the verse is critiqued/reviewed by another reader, who is going to review it?

    3 a fresh eye/mind cast on what’s been written removes the writer sufficient from the first felt emotion that spawned the verse and from this new perspective the eye/mind can be more critical,

    4 redundancy (an element in some verse he said was damaging) can often be spotted when reviewing,

    5 reviewing line-breaks is often better done some time after the verse is written.

    Alistair held great store in the reviewing processes 4 and 5. I was grateful to him for pushing me to review my own verse. He claimed, and I agreed, that reviewing in this way is an important part of the writing process.

    Catchya later
    from Middle-earth

    Ken Allans last blog post..Matalearning and Other Ghastly Words

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  15. On May 23, 2009 at 12:50 pm Conor
    Twitter: ebbstachio
    responded with... #

    Hi Joanna,

    That is really beautiful, I can relate to so many of those feelings.

    Lovely to hear you read it too. Keep taking those confidence pills :)

    Conor

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  16. On May 23, 2009 at 3:47 pm Bo responded with... #

    I applaud your posting of your poem. And a lovely poem, filled with questioning and then a settling in. But I loved it most when I listened to your voice. I don’t want this to sound trite, but the bit of Scot in your voice was very endearing-I hope that doesn’t sound like a crazy American thing to say.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Bos last blog post..Blossoms and Branches

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  17. On May 23, 2009 at 6:21 pm Karen Chaffee responded with... #

    Joanna, what a beautiful and poignant poem. I love writing, reading, hearing poetry. Yours has such wonderful flow and rhythm. The repeated use of “still” fits in so naturally, a theme woven seamlessly throughtout this write. Kudos!

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  18. On May 23, 2009 at 10:52 pm amypalko responded with... #

    Well done you! I know how much courage this must have taken to share your poem, but I just wanted to let you know that I’m so glad you did - it’s beautiful!
    Thank you, not only for the poem, but also for being an inspiration as a brave soul who dared to share.
    Amy
    xx

    amypalkos last blog post..Review: Do You Poken?

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  19. On May 24, 2009 at 3:49 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Ken thanks for calling me out on that one. You’re right. I didn’t want to edit the piece before I published it (because otherwise I’d have started procrastinating about doing it), but I think I will come back to them in some months’ time, and rework, not least to get the rhythm right. Plus as I want to keep writing more it would be good to have a means of reviewing and improving as a process over time.

    Thanks for your encouragement and support, it means a good deal to me.

    Conor thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I will keep taking the confidence pills. I’ll need to if I’m going to stay the author and editor of this blog!

    Bo it doesn’t sound crazy or trite at all, I really appreciate and value the feedback. Especially from a poet :-)

    Karen thank you so much. I’m in a real poetry phase at the moment too… there’s nothing quite like it when you’re seeing, hearing, feeling the world poetically, is there?

    Amy thank you :-) Including thank you for teaching me that voicethread is an easy and painless way to share our voices on line. Amazing where technology can take us, isn’t it?

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  20. On May 26, 2009 at 8:09 am wilson responded with... #

    “Still, I felt lonely, even though I’m situated in the crowd; I wandering like a tiny boat who lose it direction, where’s my final destination?”

    Joanna, I loved this poem! Still, I have no more words to describe it, how much I felt in love with this lovely poem… :)

    wilsons last blog post..Just Put Your Vegetables and Fruits Straight Into The Refrigerator!

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  21. On May 26, 2009 at 12:54 pm Karen Swim responded with... #

    Joanna, it is beautiful! I am so glad you took the dip and shared it in writing and voice. Good on you!I am just catching up here after a few days away but somehow your confidence must have rubbed off for I published a bit of poetic musing today too. Of course I hit publish and then ran for the hills, lol, but it is a step. It’s so interesting how poetry seems to flow so effortlessly, completely unbidden when the mind and spirit are at rest. Perhaps that is its beauty, it is borne of those quiet, reflective moments.

    Karen Swims last blog post..Authenticity, Transparency and Poetic Musings

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  22. On May 27, 2009 at 5:40 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    wilson goodness, how often have I felt like that too? I’m glad you loved the poem. That makes me feel good.

    Karen hi! Glad you enjoyed it, and good for you for publishing some of your own. One of these days you won’t run for the hills too :-) I’m not sure if it’s at rest… for me it’s more like open and receptive. Because poetry often arrives with me at times of turmoil, and is there to help me through it.

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  23. On May 28, 2009 at 6:52 am Davina responded with... #

    Hi Joanna.
    Oh my gosh, I love this! Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem. It was such a special treat to hear you read it too. The listening gave me chills. The mood was solemn and introspective, and yet I was smiling while I read, imagining how triumphant writing it was for you, and feeling the unfolding of your process. Brilliant! And thanks for the link too.

    Davinas last blog post..Positively Breathing — The Significant Victim

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  24. On May 28, 2009 at 10:11 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Davina I’m so glad you enjoyed it. It was quite a strange feeling - your challenge / encouragement to me definitely travelled with me to Sardinia, and helped these words (and several other poems) to bubble up. I’m very grateful to you for giving me the nudge I needed.

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  25. On May 29, 2009 at 4:53 am Sean McRoy responded with... #

    That was incredible. I am so happy I found your blog. It is hard to describe the feelings that emerge hearing something like that, but I guess that is what makes art…. well, art. The same power that guides us to create works such as that, is the same power that we hope will engulf the person experiencing it. Let me tell you, that it did. At least for me.

    Sean McRoys last blog post..Employer Resume

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  26. On May 29, 2009 at 3:00 pm Janice Cartier responded with... #

    (Artist smiles at that last comment .. Joanna, now aren’t you glad you posted the poem? )

    Janice Cartiers last blog post..Snail Mail Art Stamps and Margaritas

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  27. On May 30, 2009 at 6:04 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Sean hello, and thanks so much for sharing that response to my poem. It means a great deal to me. And yes, I think that is what makes art… well, art.

    As spotted by our resident artist Janice :-) Yes, thank you Janice.

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  28. On June 2, 2009 at 5:41 pm Alexander responded with... #

    I know you are a good writer , but after reading this poem I think you might be hiding your talent as a poet. Great poem! I love every word on this piece.

    Alexanders last blog post..Thoughts on the Death Penalty: Why I do not support it, Part 1

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  29. On June 2, 2009 at 11:15 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Alexander thank you so much. Poetry certainly seems to be very important to me just now, and it makes me smile, a lot, to hear your words. Thanks.

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  30. On June 26, 2009 at 5:15 pm Alexander responded with... #

    I had read this poem a number of time and the more I read it the more I get inspired to write. I think I will make this poem my inspirational piece when I have writer’s block.

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  31. On June 26, 2009 at 5:31 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Well Alexander, thanks very much. I appreciate your comments.

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  32. On September 7, 2009 at 2:47 pm Ben responded with... #

    Very cool poem. I love the imagery, the Scottish springtime and the rhythm of the river. I want to go traveling!

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  33. On September 9, 2009 at 2:34 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Ben I’m glad you enjoyed the poem, thanks for reminding me about it, sitting there quietly in my archives :-) Travelling is good for the writer’s soul, most definitely!

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