I am a poet from the Boston-area and work in outreach and advocacy for the homeless. This residency gave me culture shock in such a beautiful, profound way. The culture of place lives livelier down there. At Rensing, it’s about being a part of a community in a moments time. I lived a whole new life for three weeks, realizing my fears, judgements, loves and responses to the utterly new world I had been accepted into. I didn’t realize I would be so much a part of a community of landscapers, mechanics, historians, transplants, locals, farmers, black smithers, soap makers, quilters, banjo pickers. What I loved was I didn’t just meet artists, but a whole community of Upcountry. Everyone willing to show me their world and so interested in getting to know mine. Amazing how welcome I was, how welcomed I felt, how self-realized I can become.
I never thought of myself as a nature poet. More in search of the nature of people. The ecology of humans is what I try to articulate. But here I felt the way nature heals—I found out I should be a goat rather than a sheep. I used a pitchfork and hay and watched fresh carrot tops turn back into the earth. Here, I came to realize that my nature mirrors nature itself. I loved how my poet plans were upended. My purpose and intention were ever-shifting—I had the freedom to consider why I came. And I spent my whole residency trying to answer what this place means and what this place means to me as a poet, collector, outreach worker. And here I am now still searching for an answer. That is what’ll make these poems break-my-heart poems—not the knowledge, but the wonderment