Literary Hook: ‘Rekindling zest’—a commitment to the art of poetry

By Christine Swanberg

Author and Poet

The Centrum Center for the Arts in Port Townsend, Wash., offers residencies for writers and artists who qualify with their proposals and sample portfolios.

The center, at Fort Warden State Park— where An Officer and a Gentleman was filmed—offers a week-long stay. In January 2009, I experienced my first Centrum residency, which coincided with the inauguration of President Barack Obama. I have shared a couple of those poems in this column.

I recently returned from a second residency, during which I worked on poetry, revision, music theory and piano. Here is the final version of a poem begun there in January. It uses the repetition of the prefix “re” throughout the piece.

Sometimes, artists create work about the art itself or the artistic process. This is one of those poems. In the next column, we’ll also take a look at Cleo Johnson’s poem about why she writes. But for now, here is my poem:


Renewed and refreshed, I promise to take

this energy with me through the new year.

I solemnly swear to write the poetry

I am called to write,

and when those Elysian fields

fold fallow beneath the snow,

turn my ear and eye to revision.

Replenished and reanimated, I promise

to play the piano regularly,

to relearn all I can about resolution

and recapitulation in music and in life

from this day forth. Restored

and reinvigorated, I elect to live with

good coffee and wine, savory winter soups,

more fruit, and learn the art of ginger.

Re-opened, re-fired, I return with clarity

to my good life and my good home,

and resolve: to have the piano re-tuned,

to re-paint and re-wire the garage,

re-conquer the leaking skylight.

Re-surfacing, I promise to take care

of my health, re-appear at the health club,

re-stock my wardrobe with brighter colors,

re-sort and refine my scarf collection.

I will redefine myself as one with a smile

that puts others at ease.

I will reserve judgments, allowing them

to reincarnate in dreams and poems.

I release all wrong done to me

into the mighty cauldron of the past,

rejoicing in each daily movement

wherever it may lead. Rekindling zest,

I will fervently try to resent or regret nothing,

reclaiming: health, style, standing,

creativity, discipline, abundance,

contentment, and the joy of reinvention.

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet who has written several books of poetry and formerly wrote a column called “The Writer’s Garret” for this newspaper.

From the October 21-27, 2009 issue

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