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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

The words we read

Yesterday I was telling a friend about The Faraway Nearby, by Rebecca Solnit. The language is so rich and the content so layered that it is, for me, poetry in the guise of essay. As I related what I had been reading I felt my body shift, my breath slow, I leaned back in the chair, I found that just talking  about what I was reading changed me.

In the moments I cannot bear the events of the day it is poetry I turn to most often, not because it makes me forget but because it makes me remember. Whether it is, Naomi Shihab Nye, Li Young Lee, Marge Piercy, Carolyn Forche, Marie Howe, all those books other books that remain closest to my desk or bed. Tt is the way they turn of the world on its head, the delayering of sky, a moment held in time and amplified that helps me make sense of the world. Or if I can’t make any sense of it at least it helps me to breathe.

The Faraway Nearby has a second story that runs the length of the book at the bottom of the page in the form of a single line made of multiple sentences and beginning with the fact that some moths sip the tears of sleeping birds. Notions of symbiosis, of how we feed each other, even in our sleep. Our tears, the memory of our words, those we shared and those we are still holding on our tongues.

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