“Our work for the day is done,” I said to Jon as Ian’s car clunked down the driveway on his way home.
That’s how I felt, like we had done good work.
It was Jon who first saw the creative in our shearer Ian. Then Ian told Jon that he wrote poetry. Jon wasn’t surprised and gave Ian the Creative Spark talk. The one that says it amounts to a sin to waste the creativity we’ve been given.
Today Ian came to the farm with copies of his poems (he has a computer but writes on a typewriter). It was the first time he showed them to anyone other than his own family.
Ian was nervous, he wanted to know if his poetry was good.
Jon told him that he couldn’t judge Ian’s poetry in that way. He could tell Ian what he liked, but ultimately, it was Ian who had to believe in his own work. Jon also talked a lot about what it’s like to be a creative person and live a creative life.
Then Jon gave Ian the names of a few local poetry groups he found online. That’s the next step for Ian, to show his work to other poets and find his creative community.
I sat on the rocker in the living room reading through Ian’s poems. One jumped out at me and I interrupted their conversation to let Ian know. I read it out loud…
“I cannot feel with calloused hands
my eyes have been blinded by welders
my ears still listen to my machine, so
I rub my cheek gently along
the beauty of the world”
(untitled poem By Ian McRae)
After that, I found another that clicked. “I don’t know what this poem is about I told Ian, but I like it. I like the way it feels.”
And then, being very deliberate in his choice of words, Ian explained what he was thinking about when he wrote the poem.
And I thought, “He’s got it”. He’s smart and thoughtful and really wants to be a poet, is a poet. He wasn’t making excuses when he said he liked his full-time job at the slate mine because it gave him time to think. Ian writes poems while his hands are doing busy work.
When Ian left Jon and I both felt we had, each in our own way, done our best to encourage him. “Someday we’ll be going to one of his poetry readings,” Jon said. And I was thinking the same thing.