Ellen Bass has been a strong supporter of THIS! Is What We Did since we started. Her exquisite poems have graced this newsletter before. On May 10, 2022, Ellen spoke with Jim Thompson at the May Climate Conversation Corps (CCC) Meeting about the connection between poetry and fighting for the planet.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
- “You really can’t rush through a poem, whether you’re writing it or whether you’re reading it. It’s an opportunity to slow down and pay attention to what’s here…many people have talked about attention as the real basis of prayer. I think that when we’re paying attention, we are more capable of loving and cherishing what’s here…and also of being able to notice, what if anything, in any situation, we can do.”
- “James Baldwin said, ‘Literature is indispensable to the world — the world changes according to the way people see it. And if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way a person looks at reality, then you can change it.'”
- “Poetry is a conversation…I’ve been thinking about conversation, and how influenced we are…I think there’s this way in which it must be very, very deep in ourselves…maybe it’s like…a baby cow, and there’s a noise, and the calf looks to the mother, like, do we run? Do we do something?…we’ve always lived in groups as humans, we look to each other to make decisions. So I think these conversations are crucial. And they do change minds. They absolutely do!”
- I think that waking up to this climate crisis and finding constructive ways for us to respond is the most important thing that any of us could possibly be doing at this time. And I so greatly appreciate your work and this kind of conversation, and it’s just a privilege to be part of it.”
Jim Thompson ended the interview thanking Ellen: “If a poem inspires us to keep fighting, that’s a big thing!” And Ellen provides a lot of inspiration!
The entire interview can be enjoyed below: