Travel, poetry, and place

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It’s been a full summer and August was heavy with travel, a weekend at the Newport Jazz Festival, and a trip to Bremerton and Seattle, WA. I had not been to Rhode Island or Washington state before, so they were fun firsts. I’ll write more about Bremerton and Bainbridge in a future post.

Last week, I went to hear Tracy K. Smith, US Poet Laureate, read and give a talk at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN. I have always been impressed by this small college, which has invited so many amazing women over the years. It was at Saint Mary’s that I first saw actress Cicely Tyson, and I can still remember her entrance on the stage, she wore winter white and was positively regal.

Ms. Smith won the Pulitzer Prize and I am a fan of her memoir Ordinary Light but have come to enjoy her poetry too. She spoke about understanding poetry, writing it, and also considers poetry a form of activism. She spoke about the “impossible resilience of black people despite attempts to annihilate us,” and many in the auditorium seemed to understand how these are challenging times. I love how poetry can convey a feeling or emotion or experience with its use of rhythm and imagery, and Smith left us feeling that poetry should not be inaccessible, it is for everyone.

I love summer but I am going to embrace the fall weather that is only a week or so away. On my nightstand is the book Poets on Place by W.T. Pfefferle, and I want to read it to learn how poetry and other writing can be used to express the heart of a place.

Until the next time…

My Favorite Love Poem


Last week I was walking along the St. Joe River; it was early morning and the day was not yet too hot. My walks are restorative and invigorating and I always come away with ideas, things about which I would like to write, or a general plan for what I want to do when I get back home.

Some mornings I prefer to walk in silence, with only the sound of the occasional passing car, a cyclist alerting me, “On the left!” or the squawking geese that make their home on the river’s banks. This morning I listened to Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast. Gretchen is a happiness and habits expert; you may have read her books, The Happiness Project or Better Than Before. Her podcasts, which she hosts with her sister Elizabeth Craft, share tips on how to create habits that foster happiness. They also take listener calls.

A woman called in because she wanted suggestions for a reading for her upcoming wedding and she was willing to take ideas from Gretchen or her listeners. Her request took me back to my wedding 10 years ago. I was excited because as I planned the wedding, I remembered a poem that I had always loved. I shared it with Tony before we were married, decided to use it in the ceremony, and asked my father to read it for us.

I don’t know what reading or poem the listener will use for her ceremony—I hope she finds something that she will remember for all the days of her marriage. I wanted to share the poem I selected with you. Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) wrote the poem; he was a poet, lyricist, and wrote short stories and novels. He was a black man, born in Dayton, Ohio and unfortunately, died much too young. Here is his poem, Invitation to Love.


Invitation to Love

Come when the nights are bright with stars

Or when the moon is mellow;

Come when the sun his golden bars

Drops on the hayfield yellow.

Come in the twilight soft and gray,

Come in the night or come in the day,

Come , O love, when’er you may,

And you are welcome, welcome.


You are sweet, O love, dear love

You are soft as the nesting dove.

Come to my heart and bring it rest

As the bird flies home to its welcomenest.


Come when my heart is full of grief

Or when my heart is merry;

Come with the falling of the leaf

Or with the redd’ning cherry.

Come when the year’s first blossom blows

Come when the summer gleams and glows;

Come with the winter’s drifting snows,

And you are welcome, welcome.


– Paul Laurence Dunbar