New York poet laureate Marie Howe speaks with Krista Tippett about her poetry on the NPR show, On Being. Closing the interview, The Poetry of Ordinary Time, recorded In The Room, April 2013, Howe reads a poem in the voice of Mary, mother of Jesus, describing the Annunciation, which, her friend and mentor, Stanley Kunitz, said no one had ever gotten right. She wrote several versions, tore them up, and then this final one came through her.
Marie Howe said it had nothing to do with her. It just came through her, a reminder that the best poetry comes through us when we get out of the way. When we are emptied of our small self, “by being no one,” transcend our senses and turn within and are open to the higher Self, then that great creative force of Love within us creates, and the miracle of life, of poetry, happens. You can hear “Annunciation” by Marie Howe on SoundCloud.
Thought this screen save from the video is most appropriate with the poster of Mother Mary holding the infant Jesus!
Even if I don’t see it again—nor ever feel it
I know it is—and that if once it hailed me
it ever does—
And so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as towards a place, but it was a tilting
as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn’t—I was blinded like that—and swam
in what shone at me
only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.
This amazingly beautiful and profound poem can be found at 1:36:02 at the end of the interview, but she starts talking about it at 1:34:45. There are more audio clips of Howe reading her poems posted at the On Being blog. They are also available on their SoundCloud, with other audio clips. Here is the complete unedited audio interview recorded on March 16, 2003, at the College of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph Minnesota.