Today I’m sharing a new video of me reading one of my earliest poems. It’s titled “Say Yes” and was published in my book, “Pole Dancing To Gospel Hymns.” If you’d like access to all of my latest video recordings of poems both old and new, be sure to sign up for a premium subscription to this newsletter.
I don’t always write where I am. I often write where I want to be, and try to follow the poem in light’s direction. I wrote “Say Yes” so long ago––a week after George W. Bush Jr. was elected for a second term. Everyone in my close circle was ringing with despair. I was too. This poem, however, is one of the more uplifting pieces that’s ever made its way out of my pen.
The beginning lines in this piece are as follows: “When two violins are placed in a room, if a chord on one violin is struck, the other violin will sound that same note.” I learned that fact at the same time I learned that when two babies are resting beside one another in incubators, their hearts will beat at the same time. Additionally, if you hug someone close for more than a few seconds, your hearts will begin to synchronize. What’s even more incredible is this: If one person in the hug is calm and one person is anxious, the anxious heart will synchronize to the calm heart until both people are relaxed.
All of these facts have greatly influenced how I think about our world and our place in it. They are proof that we are far more connected and far more powerful than we know. We have so much influence on the people around us, and tapping into that, I believe, is the key to changing our communities for the better.
[click image above to view the video]
There is another part of the poem where I write, “The hardest thing about having nothing is having nothing to give.” That line was written after Tony, an elderly man who’d been living on the streets for decades, asked me if I wanted to share his french fries when I walked by him downtown. I was twenty-three years old. We had lunch together that day and it was one of the more impactful meals of my life. It helped me understand the importance of saying yes to other people’s generosity which is as vital, I believe, as being generous ourselves.
The final note I want to add is that there are several lines in the version of the poem I’m sharing today that are different from the original text. The poem was written many years ago and there are moments in the first draft that work against my intention and could potentially be hurtful to people. For example, there were ideas in the poem’s first publication I later recognized were classist. Missteps such as this have been a common experience for me throughout my writing life, and for most writers I know who have been creating for a long time. Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Excited to share my “do better” version of “Say Yes” with you today.
Love, Andrea 🖤
PS. I recorded this video soon after making the decision to write a newsletter, and shortly before my cancer diagnosis. Thus you will notice I still have my incredible, magnificent, mind-boggling-beautiful head of hair. Enjoy the view.
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