The News That Keeps You Alive


American poet William Carlos Williams wrote: “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”

We mulled this statement during a fiction class by The Mill, a place for writers in Appleton, Wisconsin. For weeks in the evening as the cold Spring turned warmer, six or seven of us gathered in a church schoolroom under the direction of author Steve Polansky to examine the basics of fiction, from the history of words to something bigger, like the stanza above.

Telling the news, we decided, is the whole point of our creative work. It is on us to tell the news of what it means to be human. On us to explore what it means to exist.

I found the news early in Anne Shirley, L.M. Montgomery’s beloved fictional character, who taught me that we all dream and long for love and make mistakes.

I found it in folk music at my wedding as we danced hand-in-hand, compelled by the art of music to move and smile.

I found it in a painting, The Old Guitarist, which was created during Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period. His painting reminded me that suffering and struggle are part of this life, which is important to notice because I might be able to help.

In Arrows, I told the news that love is respect. That true love empowers us to become our best self.

I told the news because someone might lack it, and be brave.