Dear Ms. Waldman,
When I saw you reading your poem I instantly felt compelled to write you a letter. You were so animated and excited that I found myself smiling while watching. None of the other poets seemed as enthused as you were. I was also excited by your poem. When I read your poem I felt like it was a song. No rhyming or structure, just a flow of beautiful thoughts. There is so much energy and life within your poem. I loved the incorporation of earth, music and energy. Was there a personal reason you decided to incorporate earth, music and energy into your poem? I have a personal interest in space and nature. I think both are equally fascinating and I spent a long time wondering about space and nature after the poem.
After reading I had some questions for you. I would like to know what you intended the meaning of the poem to be? I was wondering also whether or not this was written for someone? This poem is interesting in that when I read it I thought of a certain person, and when my friend read it she thought of a different person. Everyone thinks of a special person and I think that is a particularly special aspect of this poem. It’s a unique experience for everyone that reads it.
The poem feels like a song to me. It doesn’t rhyme but the way it flows seems like a symphony. When reading it in my head I found myself tapping my foot and putting emphasis on certain words. Then when I watched you read it aloud I noticed that you put emphasis on different words than I did. I put emphasis on the words that were the most meaningful to me. I think we all interpret art in the way we need to hear it. We all understand it in our own ways. I’m glad you decided to share your art with us, as you truly write beautifully and “Battery” is a fantastic example of that.
Thank you for your letter and response to “Battery”. The poem started with thinking about my family but as it went on the whole range of possible people in mind widened. I am happy to hear your friend could identify with that possibility.
Ultimately I wanted to write an inspired passionate positive poem for the world! and include the natural world and also appreciate of the smaller things—the “minute particulars” of our existence—the modest grasses,” watercress so good to eat” … and I wanted to capture the energy, the force of a battery, of a symphony. I wanted it to be a spoke- oral- poem- that was important too. And that it could extend around the room, and beyond.
I am not much of a Valentine’s person in terms of sending out sentimental cards and buying a lot of roses (although I love flowers!) but a poem can be a gift for the world… So there was to be a Valentine’s Day Poetry Reading with a group of writers in NYC and that was the original impetus. I was thinking “cosmically" as I read it aloud, sort of in the tradition of American poet Walt Whitman. I wanted to create a poem that tries to catch a whole emotional framework of inclusivity …and expressed empathy for others and the non-human elementals as well, as he does in his poem “Leaves of Grass.”
One is free to put emphasis on different words as you did…That makes it more your own poem too. No rules! I explore this kind of energy and investigation further in a book entitled Manatee/Humanity which includes endangered species and various philosophical ideas inspired by Buddhism.
Your letter inspires me! Thank you.
Most warm wishes,