Dear Anne Waldman,
Hello, my name is Michael. I am twelve, in the sixth grade and I play the Saxophone. I have recently read your poem “Battery,” and it increased my love of music and science.
It has inspired me to learn even more. Some of the literary devices that I noticed you used were: Hyperbole when you talked about being an entire symphony. And rhyming when you say “& above your feet the grasses the watercress to fine to eat.”
Your poem has lots of ways to interpret it, I thought it was saying that you should cherish life, science and the Earth. It really made me want to live life to the fullest and make a change. The imagery you used made me ponder everything in the world and then you got to the earth part and it made me realize that climate change and all the things we are doing to the earth are killing it more faster than we can fix it, and if we don’t do it soon our descendants might not even know what a tree is.
Also, all the times you talked about music made me love music more and more and I am really excited for my next concert after reading your poem. In addition to that I am really interested in science and this poem completely spoke to me and made me ponder science more and to question everything. But really my interpretation does not seem that right (seeing that you recite it on Valentine’s Day) it made me think about another interpretation, love. My whole life I have believed that it is a distraction, but maybe not, maybe I will regret it before I die. Because of my earlier interpretation about living life to the fullest I realize after looking at it from a different angle that to live life to the fullest you need to love, maybe just maybe you have changed my perspective (probably yes).
I also have some questions: Where did you get the idea to write this poem, what drove you to keep writing and what some good tips are.
How wonderful you are a musician. And a lover of science too. I would hope that no matter where your life takes you or demands of you, you can keep on with your music.
I live with musicians and am surrounded by music and grew up in New York City’s Greenwich Village on jazz. My nephew Devin Brahja Waldman plays sax and accompanies me quite often. My son Ambrose is a musician as well- piano and keyboard—and also works in production—editing, mixing etc. We work together as a band sometimes, calling ourselves Fast Speaking Music and produce albums of poets and musicians. I think working with others is important. There is a particular kind of love in collaboration and feeling one is part of something greater than one’s self alone. The creative impulse is a kind of love, I believe.
The idea for the poem “Battery” is simple—it arose as a kind of wash or swell of words, sounds, images… It was written for others, out of empathy and love that extends to the natural world, and is meant to be oral. Good tips are to read voraciously—all kinds of poems from all times and cultures. Go to concerts and poetry events. Ask a poet (whose work you admire) to read while you play. I recommend an anthology entitled Technicians of The Sacred (University of California Press). The technicians are the “shamans.” It is a very oral book.
Please try to stay focused on the climate change issues. That and nuclear war I think are the most urgent issues of our time. I go for reliable information to 350.org .
Your art will keep you from getting cynical. I believe the purpose of art and poetry is to “help wake the world up to itself." Also finding artistic communities helps and developing them in your own school or town. I helped create the Poetry Project in NYC (at St Marks ) and also the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University in Boulder with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg(author of “Howl”) in the seventies… Both these programs continue…
Good luck with your music, your sax, your life….
Most warm wishes,