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Poetry > Feb 21 - Instructions - Sheri Hostetler

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message 1: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 8851 comments

Sheri Hostetler was born in Berlin, Ohio, one of the largest Amish settlements in the world.
Hostetler began writing poetry and creative nonfiction at the age of 28, after she received her MA in theology. She has published poetry and essays in 13th Moon, Paterson Literary Review and The Writing on the Wall (A Cappella 123). Her work can be viewed in these periodicals, as well as in Mennonot.
Currently, Hostetler is the pastor of First Mennonite Church of San Francisco and lives in Oakland, California. She is not planning to publish anything in the near future, since her focus is mostly on her church and her child.

"Instructions" by Sheri Hostetler, from the anthology A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry ©

Instructions

Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
what your heart beats loudly for
what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.



message 2: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 5280 comments Oh my, I will never live up to this, but what a remarkable set of goals. She even pares the poem down as it continues or is this a form that I don't recognize?

In any case, I am printing this out as a reminder in the future.


message 3: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 88 comments Ruth - Thank you for this. It's absolutely terrific. This year I am collecting a poem a day for a gift book for my daughter which I will give her next Christmas. This one will be going into that book. Examine all you have with a loving and critical eye, and then throw away some more. Indeed. I hope she does return to poetry because she does have a givt.




message 4: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 856 comments What a great idea, Bruce! I may try that for my daughter. I'm constantly interrupting her life with "You have to listen to this one!"

I will think of this poem as I unpack boxes. There is a lot that I didn't even remember that I had, let alone need.


message 5: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 548 comments I like this, though like many contemporary poems it feels more like a lined comment than a poem to me. I guess I have an internalized idea of poetry as something which requires that one give some thought to the words/connections/images - in my mind this is a good thing, thought it may be a reason that many profess a dislike for poetry. Of course, I seldom read poetry myself, but when I do I tend to want to have to parse it out.

What really prompted this note is that this poem immediately brought to my mind a poem by Molly Peacock that Dale Short "gave" us eons ago. I think they make a nice contrast.

Why I Am Not A Buddhist

I love desire, the state of want and thought
of how to get; building a kingdom in a soul
requires desire. I love the things I've sought-
you in your beltless bathrobe, tongues of cash that loll
from my billfold- and love what I want: clothes,
houses, redemption. Can a new mauve suit
equal God? Oh no, desire is ranked. To lose
a loved pen is not like losing faith. Acute
desire for nut gateau is driven out by death,
but the cake on its plate has meaning,
even when love is endangered and nothing matters.
For my mother, health; for my sister, bereft,
wholeness. But why is desire suffering?
Because want leaves a world in tatters?
How else but in tatters should a world be?
A columned porch set high above a lake.
Here, take my money. A loved face in agony,
the spirit gone. Here, use my rags of love.

Molly Peacock

Theresa


message 6: by Philip (new)

Philip | 1271 comments Thank you, Theresa, that's a very powerful poem.

Here, use my rags of love.

Amazing.


message 7: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 88 comments Theresa, thanks for this. I love Molly's work and I love how these two poems play off of each other. They are the yin and yang of the subject.


message 8: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 5280 comments I sent this poem to some of my family and got this interesting observation back from my sister-in-law:

"That is a wonderful poem. I like how "repeat repeat" is like the heart beating in one of the following lines."


message 9: by Felix (new)

Felix (felix_g_miller) | 58 comments I love the closing lines:

There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.


This poem reminds me of the Shaker hymn, "Simple Gifts" in its seeking for the trimmed-down core of life.



message 10: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina Jenkins | 856 comments I thought of "Simple Gifts" immediately also, Felix.


message 11: by Al (new)

Al (AllysonSmith) | 1101 comments both these poems are great. And I love the idea of a homemade poem a day book.


message 12: by Bruce (new)

Bruce | 88 comments I have to say I'm having a wonderful time putting it together. I got the idea after a conversation with Andre Dubus III who was in my town for a reading. He spoke about starting every day with poetry, and how important he found it to keeping himself centered.

I decided to do the same, then started thinking about a way to structure it, and make sure that I actually kept to it. Since I was thinking about it on Christmas Day, the idea of making a book to give to my kids next Christmas seemed a natural one. I'm sure they already think I'm a little loony in this area - I'm always coming up with poems to read on special occaisons - so this will just confirm their view of their old man!

In any case, its given me a place to save a lot of my favorites and its opened a door to a world of new work and new poets. I highly recommend the process.


message 13: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 8851 comments Bruce wrote: "I have to say I'm having a wonderful time putting it together. I got the idea after a conversation with Andre Dubus III who was in my town for a reading. He spoke about starting every day with po..."

I think it's a lovely idea. I itch to do it myself, but I probably lack the discipline.

Probably? Did I say probably?




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