This morning, I turned on the television to watch the news, like I do on a lot of mornings. I caught an interview with one of the students returning to Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida; it brought me to tears. That happens all the time now. News. Tears. Then a story came on about Jared Kushner and his downgraded security clearance, with CBS correspondent Major Garrett on the story. Between the little smile on Garrett’s face before he began to speak and the image of Kushner at his preppy finest, I laughed out loud.
We live in a ridiculous world.
And I was trying to think of what to write about today, wondering whether being a poet, a lit mag editor, and a blogger is valuable at all given all the violence and knee-jerk behavior that fills the news and our social media feeds, given all the things that make anyone with an ounce of compassion cry. There are more days lately when I think about a different line of work that puts me on the front lines of issues and problems that need a solution.
And then I thought about how often I read poetry, novels, and the newspaper comics. I go there precisely to take a breath from whatever the day’s reality is. I go there to allow time to process the latest shooting, car bombing, debate in which no one reaches out to the other side, or the newest round of Trump tweets. I’m not the only one. At Gyroscope Review, where I’m an editor, and other lit mags out there, we keep seeing poetry about love, nature, childhood, fond memories. People keep adding pretty things to their Pinterest boards. People keep going to movies, out to eat, cheering on their sports teams. They keep showing up around their own neighborhoods, walking their dogs and giving rides to the neighbors’ kids when their parents are at work, not on the so-called front line, but being present in other ways.
It’s so easy to forget that we need all the other occupations that don’t have a direct connection to cleaning up the latest tragedy. We need them to hold together the refuges that make this time in history bearable.
It isn’t lost on me that this kind of refuge I talk about above and the much larger idea of refuge offered to victims of war are entirely different. We need both kinds. Those of us who are lucky enough to live where we don’t have to flee to save our own lives might be better able to offer that kind of necessary refuge to others if we keep ourselves healthy with our own smaller refuges. It’s all connected.
One Minnesota Writer hopes to offer a small refuge. That’s a pretty good reason to keep going.