[this week’s post comes from Unrestricted Interest teaching-writer Aviv Nisinzweig, an educator, writer, and artist]
Light that shines in
is how Kani Krishnan had ended a poem the day before. I read the words aloud to him now over zoom, and ask if he'd like to use it as a prompt. Into our shared Google doc, he types back: "Sure." I ask: "What would a poem look like if it acted only as an invitation? If it could let everything in?"
Kani starts immediately, in his characteristic way, typing with crisp and flowering energy, his eyes following the letters along the screen, his finger and wrist tapping and curling, his line breaks pressing each idea and image downward and across in the buoyant motion where his poems live. And because an invitation in, when taken to its logical conclusion, is also an invitation out, Kani follows it there, letting light pour through, with and "away and away." From the smallest entrance comes something enormous.
When he finishes, I read the poem aloud to him. We sit in a kind of hush afterwards. I ask Kani how he's feeling. "The flow happens at times and it is really important that mom is available."
Kani knows, like all writers, that words come and go. But it is a continual pain for him that many of his poems never make it to the page. Every writer is interdependent with the world that makes them and the world they make. And for Kani, much depends on whether he has a communication partner nearby to set up his iPad and Google doc, to help him find focus and coordination, and to give him the proprioceptive feedback he needs to move with measure. For Kani, this partner is usually his deeply perceptive mother, Vidyul, who is always finding more time and more space for his words. He types another poem: "Lost poems / Lost in a mind river / Not sure when / It will surface or / Will it?" And continues: "Lack of voice / Dissolves mighty / Words in / Mind river."
We talk and type about new ways to accommodate his writing life, finding balance with the busy life of his family. And then I ask Kani what relation he sees (if any) between these "lost poems" and the "infinite hands / ready to grasp / and send it all / back to the buzzing / light where it began."
He begins typing immediately:
The words echo on the screen, in our minds, in the space between us, and again I read the poem aloud. It taps and registers. We wait in it.
There are only a couple minutes left in our session, so I ask Kani if he'd like to write a short poem, three lines, simplest of prompts: from here to the other end of the cosmos.
I read aloud now the thread of poems Kani has written. He types: "Very pleased with my work today." I ask him how he is feeling. He types: "I feel like I am everywhere."
In buzzing light,