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The Emergent Novelty of Spring By Neil Anderson

May 1, 2022
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With the nascent signs of Spring being visible and fresh, there’s hardly anyone who isn’t filled with a sense of hope and renewal. All around us signs of new life are breathing pushing and pulsing their way into new space as the grip of Winter loosens. It’s important for us to pull our senses from the data overload and the tasks of quotidian everyday life and take notice. It’s a subtle and willed shift in perception and priorities for just a moment, and it can often be its own reward.


I recently had the good fortune to sit in on a poetry reading and lecture by the internationally known author, poet and humanitarian Nikki Giovanni. For one so practiced in her craft, the flow of ideas, imagery, emotive content and wordplay seemed to come so easily, belying the fact that it was the culmination and expression of much labor and experience, but one thing stood out that likely makes poetry what it is – it’s beautiful emergent novelty. We simply can’t predict what comes next in a poem. With every living phrase, it dismantles our structured expectations as we are seduced along its course.


If we hear a speech by a politician or say, the chairperson of an organization, there’s generally very little we find that we can say is truly novel. From past speeches, we’re familiar with the structure, cadence and body of the presentation sometimes to the point of boredom. Not so with poetry. It surprises us. It tickles a much different aspect of our being than a stale speech. Quite simply we find that the not knowing of what’s next is what makes its emergence more gratifying, pleasurable and fun as the doors of emotion are pried open in unexpected ways.


The experience allows imaginal muscles to be flexed and massaged even if the poem or subject is dark or foreboding. Our inherent capacity for allowance keeps things fresh and new, and this is the very apprehension of beauty, fullness and renewal we feel so strongly with the coming of Spring. It’s not something enjoyed by the eye alone but saturates the very space we inhabit. It is new life every moment literally boiling and roiling its way into existence moment to moment. Spring reminds us that we are in the poem, not as a passive passenger but as an active participant navigating the changes, turns of phrase and unexpected twists.


Spring can be a personal reminder of the perennial invitation to come back to this way of perception and living that puts the lie to the belief that life is linear and to metabolize experiences with fresh filters unclogged by areas of the past that no longer serve our process.


Can the tender, irrepressible sprouts of Spring serve as our teachers as their searching roots provide and purchase permission for the blooms that catch our eye and fill our noses with fragrance? With a small, willful shift in perception, I say yes.