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Poetry Makes Nothing Happen

03 April, 2015: Poetry Makes Nothing Happen


by Sarah Gridley 
Poetry Makes Nothing Happen  
Ill at ease interposes a preposition into malaise as if to point to an actual place in the mind of translation. Lu Chi in his Fu of 303 A.D. put the waiting this way: We knock upon silence for an answering music. Everything starts out kicking. Everything dies inside some kind of song. Different musics respond to knocked-on silences: boats in loose percussion with docks – wings that whistle without the form of melody. What if knocking itself could answer knocking. Even the gods had need of a physician. We called the peony after him. 

“Poetry Makes Nothing Happen” by Sarah Gridley, from Loom. Omnidawn, 2013. Used by permission of the author.

Sarah Gridley is an associate professor of English at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She is the author of three books of poetry: Weather Eye Open (University of California Press, 2005), Green Is the Orator (University of California Press, 2010), and Loom (Omnidawn, 2013).


Open yourself up to the subtle music around you.

Gridley’s poem says, “Different musics respond to knocked-on silences” and she describes two – boats and wings. Begin with her quote and describe a list of such musics. Here are a few starters: twigs, keyboards, tambourines, claves, door jambs, ice.

Chantelle Brady
The rain on the window at night.
A beautiful thunderstorm watching from inside;
thunder beating its drums and lighting giving a light show.
The sound my Rice Krispy's make after I pour milk on them.
The slight sound of boiling water.
The dial tone when I call a friend.
A chipmunk barking on the porch.
The sound of a shower raining down a cleansing water.
The click click of my typing keyboard.
The sound of my phone waking me up in the morning.
The birds tweeting with the sun shining.
The hum of a laptop fan.
The creak of my household stairs.
The bubbling of my water bottle when I take a drink.
The squirrels playing around the trees,
or the munching of them eating acorns or pine cones.
The sound my mom makes when she falls asleep.
The sound of traffic swooshing by.
The trees blowing in the wind.
Hearing is wonderful;
a sense I do not know if I could go without,
but could learn the sound of sign language if I tried.
4/18/2015 8:29:34 PM

READ + WRITE: 30 Days of Poetry is a collaboration between Cuyahoga County Public Library and poet Diane Kendig. Our thanks go to Diane and the poets of Northeast Ohio who allowed us to share their poetry.