Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"The Dancing Lyric that Sings as it Blooms" by Elizabeth Kirschner

Today's forecast for St. Peters, MO: Mostly sunny, high 81 degrees. The kiddos are heading for Six Flags this afternoon, so they should have good weather for that.

It's such an honor to have as my guest blogger memoirist and poet Elizabeth Kirschner, who wrote MY LIFE AS A DOLL.
Elizabeth has published three collections of poetry with Carnegie-Mellon University Press, Twenty Colors, Postal Routes and Slow Risen Among the Smoke Trees as well as a chapbook, The Red Dragon, with Permafrost. Her latest book of poetry, My Life as a Doll, which is a memoir in verse, was published by Autumn House Press and a fifth volume, Surrender to Light, is due out from Cherry Grove Editions this August.

Today Elizabeth shares with us her essay, "The Dancing Lyric that Sings as it Blooms":

Every morning I pick up my pen. Sometimes it’s a leaden pen. Most often it’s light as a feather that moves across the page till the words take flight. Even if the flight is a downward one as was writing my latest collection of poems, My Life as a Doll, surely was, I have learned there are four ways of flying—up, down, across and out. Writing involves all forms of flying as does dance and writing lyrics for composers of classical music.

I have been creating poetry for thirty-five years and my passion for it only grows larger in the fullness of time. Every morning I wake up eager to get to work. I come home from my morning walk by the sea which is my matins prayer, my walking meditation, my preparation for the making of poems.

I have been dancing just as long knowing it, like poetry, takes practice, practice, practice. Each involves the sculpting of lines—the poetic line verses the balletic one. For me, dance is the counter-balance to the writing cadence, a physical embodiment of poetry. Both set me in motion, gracefully so. Then there’s all that music. Music of the word, music the body dances to and the lyric that leaps into song. Thus my first two disciplines have been plaited into a third—the creating of poetry meant to be set to music. Three marriages, then, and me the happy, if aging bride.

I sang before I started writing, but it is ballet that truly fostered my love for classical music. It taught me how to take music into my body and turn it into a tool meant to express, like poetry, one of the highest forms of beauty. Body as tool, voice as tool. Often I think I should write my poems on blank sheets of music, graced by grace notes.

Whether I’m in my study, the ballet studio, the concert hall and yes, my garden too, I am in nirvana. I love the god of dirt as much as the god of poesy and the lyre. Hence the dancing lyric that sings as it blossoms. Anna Ahkmatova once wrote, “And the miraculous comes so close.” Isn’t that what art tries to do? Am I alone in believing that nirvana is here, as I read long ago, nine times out of ten? I wonder how others create their own nirvana, turn the little miracles into big ones till each an everyone of us is truly a miracle worker, a maker who makes the magic happen.

Elizabeth Kirschner

Wow! How is that for inspiration. Thank you, Elizabeth for such an insightful post. Anyone who leaves a question or comment for Elizabeth is eligible to win her book, My Life as a Doll. One name will be selected at random, and the winner will be announced next week.


  1. The ability to capture the imagination of others (whether through written word, theatre, music, dance, or art) and to transport them to another reality is indeed magic. Thanks for expressing that magic so beautifully.


  2. Thanks for sharing your reflections on art and writing. May we all be so present in the moment of creation.

  3. Yes, Pat, the capacity that any form of art has to transport, trascend or transform is at the heart, the big heart of creation. All we have to do is to tap into it, then the magic truly begins. You are right, Tricia, about being fully present to what comes. For me, this comes from daily practice, practice, practice be it the iamb or the plie. Thanks for writing and special thanks to Donna for inspirinbg me to write about my varied experiences as an artist. May all our work be blessed!

  4. My daughter is a dancer and put it aside when she started college, studying for a math/physics degree. BIG mistake. Now, she's majoring in dance, too. I know it sounds corny, but dance completed her.

    So enjoyed this post, Elizabeth!

  5. Elizabeth,
    Your post on Donna's blog (and sorry to be late commenting) is so beautiful that I'm sure your poetry is even more so. How wonderful to have such a positive outlook on everything--even working in the garden. :) Sometimes the weeds get me down. Thanks again for sharing.
    Margo Dill

  6. Thank you for writing, Margo. Today is my birthday and I can actually see blue sky which has been rare indeed in this past month of cold rainy days. In my garden, it's not the weeds, but the slugs, but I've even written a poem about them--everything, it seems, is begging to be written about from the high to the lowly. My appearance here has been a gift, so thank you, Donna. Sending wishes, birthday or not, to all of you!


Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V - Interviews with Lonnie Whitaker and Dr. Barri Bumgarner

Here is the second installment of interviews with contributors who have stories in Mysteries of the Ozarks, Volume V , from Ozark Writers, I...