I got an email the other day, out of the blue.
Dear Joanna, it said,
We would like to ask your permission to use your piece “Why We Need Poetry” in an English school text book to be published in South Africa.
Would you be happy to agree to this?
Er, let me think about this for a moment. Would I be happy for my words to have legs in this way. To grow wings.
Would I be happy to close my eyes and think of the possibility of one person, just one person, in another part of the world, reading my words, and feeling a spark of energy, of possibility, of pulse, of poetry,
feeling the spark of belief that words can make a difference, can change things, can change us,
sensing, even just for a moment, that poetry can make a difference, the reading of it, the writing of it, the telling about it.
Yes, I would be happy.
Happy because it reminds me:
Your words change things in ways you cannot imagine at the time of writing, or at the time of publishing.
However much the web seems to move on, endlessly feeding the new, something else is also going on.
The material you have written and previously shared is still there, forming your backlist, to be found, to be read, to make a spark.
It reminds me: the web is not linear (that’s why it’s called a web!).
It is circles and loops, patterns and connects, it is emails out of the blue, it is children in a classroom, it is poetry with a pulse.
It is rippling effect.
And yes: that makes me happy. And yes, of course, I said yes.