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Inspired to dance [work in progress]

October 22, 2010

This has been a busy week for poetry. I had the opportunity to hear four talented poets read their work at a local venue last Thursday—an unusual event in northwest Montana, where I’m often the only person sharing spoken word from a stage filled with instruments, amplifiers, and percussion toys. These four poets are among those published in the recently released New Poets of the American West, an anthology holding 550 pages of poems culled from more than 12,000 submissions and released by the local Many Voices Press. The press is aptly named for this volume, with poets from high deserts, crowded cities, tiny beach towns, and reservation communities sharing views of their world.

The reading was a small but inspirational gathering—so inspirational that I was able to make final tweaks to a handful of pieces and submit them this week for publication. I was also invited to present some of my work to the community college creative writing class, giving me an opportunity for feedback and the students a chance to hear and question a new voice. I plan to do so once I can ditch my crutches and drive a car!

With those things in mind, here’s a work in progress that was inspired by the work of Leonard Cohen and my recovery from two foot surgeries this year. Cohen’s poem “You’d sing too” gave me the title, but it was his songwriting had the most influence on this piece and its tempo. I’m not accustomed to writing something so structured, so I’m not sure the result is quite what I was after. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You’d dance too

If you awoke
to endless pain
body broken
and made lame
you would not dance, my love
you would not dance

If you had cried
through sleepless nights
waiting for that
next sunrise
you would not dance, my love
you would not dance

If you had spent
two months propped up
on pillows and
matching canes
you’d want to dance, my love
you’d want to dance

If you stood tall
against the sky
amid a garden
green with life
you too would dance, my love
you too would dance

If you then took
your first free step
supported by
feet made whole
you too would dance, my love
you too would dance

Now you can see
me tap my feet
sway to the tune
swing the beat
Come dance with me, my love
come on: let’s dance

—Julie Laing


You can hear me read this poem at the Kalispell Get Poetry Open Mic, thanks to the work of Mat Lee and The Jamhole. My reading starts around minute 11, but be sure to check out some of the other fabulous poets who were at this event. My other poem in this reading is “morning”; I also share a piece by the talented Leonard Cohen.

40 Comments leave one →
  1. Sam373 permalink
    November 8, 2010 5:24 am

    i see the struggle. Body aches with pain should I wake another day, I should dance.


  2. November 8, 2010 4:13 am

    Love the song. Come join the dance! Glad you are once again on your feet!


    • November 8, 2010 1:38 pm

      Thanks! It’s been a rough year for my feet, but it will be so much better when I’m fully healed–and dancing regularly again!


  3. October 31, 2010 1:39 pm

    Happy Halloween to you.
    Hope to see you at our poetry potluck Halloween party tonight. Post a poem on Halloween, or share an old poem unrelated to the theme, link in as soon as we are open, that’s how you get the best result of feedback.
    Feel free to take any awards from this post, enjoy!

    I wish you well.


  4. danroberson permalink
    October 29, 2010 3:31 pm

    Your heart dances even when your feet can’t. Beautiful poem.


  5. belladonna23 permalink
    October 29, 2010 7:20 am

    lovely, i hope your dancing Juile, i really do =)


    • November 5, 2010 10:45 am

      Thanks! I’m still a couple of days away from ditching the crutches, but I’ll be back at it soon!


  6. October 25, 2010 8:40 pm

    Reminded me of the time when I dance with my guy.. 🙂 But I just sprained my right ankle last evening.. 😦 😦 Anyway, glad to made you 15th on my list.. A different feel altogether.. A lighter note yet it brings back many fond memories of mine.. Thanks! *Hug*


    • October 27, 2010 11:38 am

      Thanks so much for reading! I’m sorry to hear you’re laid up, too. Here’s to a quick recovery that gets you back in your dancing shoes soon!


  7. Kick Out The Jams permalink
    October 25, 2010 3:59 pm

    Hi Julie, what a lovely piece! The pain and the longing to dance really come through – Cohen would have been proud of this…


    • October 25, 2010 4:16 pm

      Thanks so much for reading–and your kind words! I hope the piece would have made Cohen dance.


  8. October 24, 2010 10:48 pm

    I feel like dancing now, after reading this poem. Your words are both inviting and inspiring. 🙂


    • October 25, 2010 3:46 pm

      Thanks–I’m always happy when I help inspire others to dance! I hope you followed through on that feeling.


  9. October 24, 2010 9:58 pm

    I could clearly feel the angst and frustration of not being able to use feet that had become disabled–and then the subsequent joy when you were able to freely move, tap and finally–dance.

    You so beautifully captured this scenario, Julie.



  10. October 24, 2010 3:18 pm

    I would want to dance as well after enduring such pain…thank you for sharing this.


  11. October 24, 2010 8:50 am

    …Love the invitation to dance to life…and love…



  12. October 23, 2010 6:38 pm

    poets rally participation awards.

    let me know after you are done 18 visiting..


  13. October 23, 2010 5:26 pm

    love your wordplay, and the story told; i can definitely hear the musical foundation of this, and i’m not sure i’m crazy either about the structure. it does read like it needs a melody with it.


  14. October 23, 2010 2:12 pm

    I love how you showed the progression of recovery. It made me want to dance, nice rythmn.


  15. October 23, 2010 12:33 pm

    Beautiful and inspirational


  16. October 23, 2010 7:05 am

    Superb piece and nice journey from pain to dance.
    Well Done.


  17. October 23, 2010 4:19 am

    wow. that’s some word play.. let’s dance.. loved it.. I’ve two left feet that don’t do it right though! 🙂

    My Rally Entry is here:


  18. missbrittab permalink
    October 23, 2010 12:03 am

    Very creative.. I can see this being a song. Or at least having music in the background in some poetic way. Regardless, I feel like getting up to dance now!

    Here’s my post for week 31


  19. October 22, 2010 11:28 pm

    great use of repetition, your poem carries conviction which is hard to do, i enjoyed it =]


  20. October 22, 2010 7:41 pm

    Nice….smooth flow… started wiggling my feet to shake the pain


  21. October 22, 2010 7:40 pm

    I like this form. I think I will soon try it 🙂


  22. October 22, 2010 6:24 pm

    Glad for your achievement…
    keep writing,
    keep rocking.
    keep shining…

    Smiles at you.


    • October 24, 2010 6:13 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Jingle! I’m still working on reading through this week’s rally, but I’ll let you know when I’m done. Do you need nominations for this week?


  23. October 22, 2010 6:23 pm

    love your beautiful imagination,
    let’s dance,
    what a pleasant read.



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