Duff ’n Stuff, Aug. 7, 2012
This week I welcome my first guest blogger, local poet and friend Joni Takanikos, who has given her poetry blog the title of “In Search of Truth and Beauty.”
It seems appropriate that a poet should ever be a seeker of both the truth of things, and all things beautiful. I can honestly say that Joni is one of those persons who practices such a search each day of her life. Not everyone can get away with such a thing without seeming pretentious, but she does. Perhaps I’m biased being her friend, but I think it is true that Joni is one of those people for whom words follow a through-line of love. Needless to say, where love is sincere, truth and beauty are probably not far behind.
From the heart,
In Search of Truth and Beauty
BY JONI TAKANIKOS
In the realm of poetry, Truth and Beauty are the major characters. If they are present in a poem, the air is rarefied and pure. Because of this, I always invite them in as honored guests. This does not always insure a great poem, but it keeps a poet humble and questing after the elusive nature of the quotient, Truth and Beauty.
Li Young Lee, one of my favorite poets, says that the job of a poet is not to be published, but instead to “chart the invisible.”
In 2011, I took a three month sabbatical to Ireland. Many island folks were curious why I chose Ireland for such a trip. As a writer, poet and musician, I was drawn to a land steeped in those traditions, and I was not disappointed. I even developed an obsession with William Butler Yeats that occupies a large portion of my poet’s inner map.
I love this Yeats poem; it makes my heart soar.
A Crazed Girl
THAT crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,
Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling She knew not where,
Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.
No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, ‘O sea-starved, hungry sea.’
I was fortunate to see the Yeats exhibit at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin. It is one of the most lovingly curated exhibits I have seen, and I came away with a greater understanding of “the man,” as many Irish refer to Yeats. He did so much to shape the country both as a senator and as a poet.
Poems often sound like dreams, and often what the reader thinks is a metaphor in a poem is instead more of a concrete pillar. I wrote the following poem based on one of my daughter Jasmine’s experiences growing up here on our lovely Whidbey Island.
Richard Hugo, one of our great Northwest poets, once said, “You found the town, now write the poem.” Here goes…
She woke you at dawn,
Silently led you outside
to witness her stand on
the beach with a fish in her
hand, her eyes gazing upward,
Waiting under the silver orange sky
for the eagle to drop down—
Gracefully pluck the fish from
This is not a fairy tale
about a young girl growing up
on an island in the Puget Sound.
This is you, a young woman
just cresting the hill of
being schooled by your friend’s
Grandmother on how to awaken,
Whom to feed, and how to
Catch the silent dawn
In your hands.