“They don’t have to be good,” said my friend, Rosemerry, “but they do need to be true.”
This is the bar my friend, the poet, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer set for herself when she set out to write and publish a poem a day in 2011, which was 12 years, and roughly 4000 poems ago.
They don’t have to be good, but they do need to be true.
Before that, if Rosemerry’s work wasn’t good, she wouldn’t publish it because why would she want to put out anything into the world that wasn’t good? She used to be like that. But since making the commitment to write and publish one poem a day, she had to change the bar to make it happen.
She had to hone for the truth.
That changed a lot for her. The perfectionism, for starters, and allowing herself to be seen publicly in a less than perfect manner. That alone. Huge.
And since she had to come up with something to write about every day, she found herself moving through her days with her eyes and ears peeled for anything that might speak to her. And that became a noticing practice, which slowed her down and made her more present and aware of where she was. And the more present she became, the more the world spoke to her, and the hungrier she became for that conversation with the world.
So what started as a need to write a poem, became a practice in staying present, and the poem was more of a byproduct of that; icing, but not the main meal.
I know it wasn’t easy, and the changes didn’t happen immediately – that’s what Rosemerry told me. But over 4000 poems later there is more freedom in her writing and in the ways she shows up.
Presence over performance.
I don’t think of myself as a performer, per se, but I think anytime you get up in front of people and lead something, as I do, or anytime you put work out in a more public venue – like a blog – there is a performance-like aspect to it.
What I’ve noticed about myself in the last many months is the way I’ve felt held back. I’ve felt tight, uncertain, scared. I’ll start a blog post, then abandon it, not sure what I’m writing about or whether it’s valuable or important to me. I never want to take up space just to make noise.
And sometimes, the night before a live event online I dream the entire teaching – which sometimes helps me say what I mean to say in a more intuitive, dreamy way – but can also be because I’m super wound up, because I want to do be good – like really good – like out of the park good, and which has the effect of grabbing me by the neck and choking all the wild sweetness out of me.
In the Wild Family, I tell people we already love you as a way to help them to relax into the sound of their own ordinary, beautiful voice. A way to remind them to stop aiming for the gold ring, and stay present to where they are and to write from that place – which is always where the truth lives.
And so it’s time for mama to take her own medicine – again – I bet this is going to be a lifelong practice – and to remember Rosemerry’s courage to allow her work out in the world each day, unchoked, unsupervised, wild.
Listen to Laurie read the piece here …
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