Thursday, September 24, 2020

Poetry on Thursday

The poem I'm sharing today is one that I stumbled upon and it surprised me. The author is Barbara Kingsolver, and though I've read and enjoyed many of her novels and non-fiction, I never knew she wrote poetry. She has indeed and has published two volumes of poetry that I have somehow missed, including How to Fly, published just two days ago. It may be time for another covert mission to the library so I can read more of her poetry.

Beating Time
Barbara Kingsolver

Commemorating the removal of poetry as a requirement in Arizona's schools, August 1997

The Governor interdicted: poetry is evicted
from our curricula,
for metaphor and rhyme take time
from science. Our children's self-reliance rests
upon the things we count on. The laws
of engineering. Poeteering squanders time, and time
is money. He said: let the chips fall where they may.

The Governor's voice fell down through quicksilver
microchip song hummed along and the law
was delivered to its hearing. The students
of engineering bent to their numbers in silent
classrooms, where the fans overhead
whispered "I am I am" in iambic pentameter.
Unruly and fractious numbers were discarded at the bell.
In the crumpled, cast-off equations,
small black figures shaped like tadpoles
formed a nation, unobserved, in the wastepaper basket.

Outside, a storm is about to crack the sky.
Lightning will score dry riverbeds, peeling back the mud
like a plow, bellowing, taking out bridges,
completely unexpectedly.

The children too young to have heard
of poetry's demise turn their eyes
to the windows, to see what they can count on.
They will rise and dance to the iamb of the fans,
whispering illicit rhymes,
watching the sky for a sign
while the rain beats time.

Kingsolver, Barbara. "Beating Time." Another America, Seal Press, 1998.  
You can read an intriguing piece written by Kingsolver entitled "How Poems Happen" here.

I wish you mindfulness, peace, some magic, lots of attention, and lots of poetry as this week winds down.


  1. I had no idea she wrote poetry, either -- what a welcome bit of new knowledge to start my day!

  2. I don't think I was aware of her poetry either! Thanks for sharing Bonny.

  3. Love, love, love this! Thank-you Bonny!

  4. What an excellent poem, Bonny! I always find it strangely jarring to discover that a favorite author (Kingsolver or Margaret Atwood, for example) writes poetry, too. I don't know why that is, but there's something about it. . . like gifted prose writers shouldn't also be gifted poets? Silly me! Anyway. What a great find! XO

  5. Thanks, Bonny! I was not aware she wrote poetry either. I wish for you all the good things this Thursday.

  6. I have an autographed copy of Another America from when I met her years ago (I have met her 2-3 times). I'm also on the list to get a copy (via Goodreads) of How to Fly. I hope it comes soon!

  7. Thank you for sharing this wonderful poem! I was not aware that Barbara Kingsolver wrote poetry and I look forward to reading more of her poems.

    1. I'm glad I was not the only one! I just bought How to Fly on Kindle, and while I've only read a couple of her poems in this volume, I think they are stunning.

  8. That's a great poem about a monstrously bad decision!

  9. Agree with Carole's comment! I loved the stories of lil Turtle being raised by a young girl whose goal was not to get pregnant in high school! Great books . Not surprised she can cross to poetry,delighted by it

  10. Wow! and wow... how unbelievable. But thinking back on my education, there was little poetry at all... so maybe my school was under a similar edict.

    Thank you for sharing another new-to-me poet!

  11. I do enjoy Barbara Kingsolver. I saw an ad for her newest volume of poetry. My two favorites of her work are a book of essays called Small Wonders (at least I think that is the name - I'm too tired to get up and look) and the novel Prodigal Summer. Might be time to reread them.


Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment! :-)