untitled shoot-1260By his word the heavens were made, by the breath of his mouth all the stars. (Psalm 33)

From Lauds, Week I Tuesday.

I’ve always been a fan of poetry.  As a child, I once received a book of poetry – because I had asked for it for my birthday.  Yes, this is the same child who was also thrilled to receive a machine gun for his birthday.  (That statement may say more about me than I wish to know.)

I read and re-read that book of poems, and really fell in love with the idea of expressing myself through the rhythm and imagery of words.  I would occasionally write poetry as a teenager when I couldn’t express my emotions any other way, and it was a good release for me.  Lousy poetry, but a good release.

At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, my alma mater, I took a creative writing class taught by the chancellor, Warren Carrier.  Chancellor Carrier was an outstanding published poet and author, and I thought this would be an interesting class.  The first class was held in a traditional classroom, but he suggested that, because it was a small class of just 10 students, we hold our sessions in his office.  We all agreed that was a good idea, and from then on we met at his big office in the administration building, complete with a conference table, comfortable chairs, couches, coffee and tea. It really was a great atmosphere, and certainly the most unique class I ever took.

We would write each week, make copies of what we had written and then share them with Chancellor Carrier and the other students for critique.  He would change the topic and genre, and we would produce.  It was much more workshop than class, and it created some interesting results.

We had one young man, Harley Didrickson, who was a wonderful poet, displaying strong emotions and imagery in his work even though he was really kind of goofy.  He went on to get his degree in English, but I lost track of him following graduation. I loved reading his work, and Chancellor Carrier was very supportive of Harley’s efforts.

One student was not such a good writer, and Chancellor Carrier told her so in no uncertain terms.  She reacted as any 19 year old who had just had her dreams crushed and feelings bruised might react – she called him a “pompous ass” and left the room, never to return.  As the door slammed when she exited, it became very uncomfortable and the Chancellor was visibly disturbed, and hurt.

As for me, I wrote some humorous short stories and verse – really can’t call it poetry – and got some good reviews from my classmates and the Chancellor.  Then the assignment was for something serious to be written, and I went in whole hog.  I was a sophomore, 20 years old, full of angst and laid it all out in this short story.  Chancellor Carrier said, “You write humor very well. Why don’t you stick to that?”

I still love the imagery in poetry.  The verse from the 33rd Psalm at the beginning of this post has become my very favorite verse in ALL poetry.  I picture God, as in Michelangelo’s God, speaking, just willing it,  and the heavens came into existence, but without any light. Then he simply blew out his breath, and all those points of light pierced the darkness.  Even writing that, I get tears in my eyes thinking about the sheer beauty of God’s creation. God can make light out of any darkness.

By his word the heavens were made, by the breath of his mouth all the stars.



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