My January notebook is painted and awaiting the scribed words for the cover – ones from the poet Hazel Hall that wish to be my guide throughout the month of January.
Let me tell you about some of my writerly rituals for the beginning of a new month.
My notebooks are these pink leatherettes from Walmart. I do love them and fill one notebook each month. They are cheap and sturdy, with paper thick enough to resist the bleeding of any pen. My only angst is that I can only find them in the color of pink. It didn’t used to be this way. Walmart used to carry them in a variety of colors – but no more. Only pink they offer. So, I started painting them. A lovely color of the month adorns each notebook, along with some artful designs. A wide open space is left in the center for the poetic words chosen from my poet guide of the month. I often don’t know what those words are until mid-month – the words that keep appearing in my days become the chosen words.
A couple of years ago, I read a post by Austin Kleon about how he starts his notebooks. What stood out specifically was his ritual of adopting a guardian spirit over the notebook. I tucked this idea away to let it marinate for awhile and this year poets began waving their hands at me, asking to be personal guides for my writing and my living. I remembered Austin’s ritual and decided I would choose one poet each month as a guide for my writing, notebook and living to see what would evolve.
I hold an audition the first day of January inviting a few poets that might fit the job description for the month as Poet Guide. Auditioning this month were four poets I’ve had my eye on. January’s preferred requirements: give insight to my ancestry (great grandmothers), poet’s subjects speak to my January themes, poet’s work has craft that is admirable AND within my reach (so I might try it out in my own poems).
Here’s who have appeared:
1. Ted Kooser/ I bought his book Winter Morning Walks and so want to explore it deeply. As a Winter Walker, I’m already seeing with new eyes because of his words;
2. Willa Cather/a female poet from the early 20th century (and there are so few), who writes of the prairie and nature;
3. Julia Hartwig/a Polish poet, again female who wrote a book of poems titled In Praise of the Unfinished, and I think she may know me;
4. and finally Hazel Hall/ because I’ve been saving and admiring her poem “Mending” for months and a seasonal theme for January is mending. She writes of sewing, loneliness and being lost and I intend to begin two quilts this month. She’s an overlooked poet and is said to be the utmost poet of observation.
*****Hazel Hall was my chosen guide.
Just look at her and her poems! How could I pass her by?
After a little play in my notebook, adding her images in dedication to this notebook honoring her words as guidance, and making a little book to fill as I learn more about the life of this lovely human being, I glue an old envelope in (this one, an old birthday card from my mother – see her beautiful handwriting with my name?). Then, I do some googling and search for poems and I fill the envelope with Hazel’s poems, keeping them at the ready for the days of January.
The notebook is ready. And my guide awaits her role as daily mentor, wise way-shower and poetic hand-holder.
Not every day, but many days out of the month, I reach for a poem after my daily entry. Magically, the words resonate with the words I’ve scribed on the pages of my notebook for that day. And, I feel enveloped in compassion, knowing another soul understands my angst. Gratitude is given for her gift in stringing together letters, words and phrases to meet me here.
Closing my notebook, I say thank you. Thank you to Hazel, to the moment of connection, to the words captured in my notebook for safe-keeping of who I was on this day. And, I await for the next time we are to meet – here – in this space I’ve carved for us each day.
I am participating in today’s twowritingteachers Tuesday Slice of Life. Please head over to their page to read the smallish stories that describe the moments of of other slicers. They are delightful.
Or, add your own.