As happens often in our residency lectures, this July several of us brought up the idea of love’s relationship to our work. We considered how love for our stories, our characters, ourselves as writers, and our readers are essential to what we do. My own lecture, on Pedagogy, wouldn’t seem to have a natural connection, but, of course, it did. I had chosen as examples of metaphor several quotes about love. Here’s a sampling:
Oh, love is a journey with water and stars,
with drowning air and storms of flour;
love is a clash of lightnings,
two bodies subdued by one honey.
(Pablo Neruda, Sonnet 12, translated by Stephen Tapscott, 1960/1986)
Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke.
Some say love, it is a river
that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
an endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
and you its only seed.
(Amanda McBroom, “The Rose,” 1979)
Teaching has become for me one of the outlets of my creativity and one of my ways of acting with love in the world outside of the written word. I love reading the stories that come from my students’ minds and hearts, hearing the voices that call to them, and watching them and their stories grow together, preparing to enter the conversation of literature in the world. I teach as a job, yes, but I do it for the love of stories and for their writers, the storytellers. I played Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose” before I started my lecture and used many quotes about love because love is a great motivator and I know that writers for children are motivated by love and intend to help build an honest experience for children and young adults through the action of their words in the world. It may be an easy metaphor, but it’s true for me: You, each one of you, are growing into your flowering and I say love is that flower and you the only seed.
My friends, my colleagues, my students-as-teachers and teachers-as-students, I say, go forth and flower.