Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT June 3rd 2020

We welcomed participants from Chile, Morocco, India, the UK, the Netherlands, and all over the U.S. for this session, during which we shared the poem “Possibilities,” by the Nobel Prize-winning Polish writer Waclava Szymborska as  translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh, posted below. As an exercise in approaching the poem with an open mind, we began with just the poem itself, without a title or author name, and we invited two volunteers to read the poem aloud.

Discussants recognized the poem’s form (a list, like a multiple-choice test, a comforting coping mechanism or uncannily settling, open to vagaries, as a reader I sought order, seems based on contingency, a mix of thoughts without coherence, reflects what we choose to carry and bear) and debated whether the poem belied a lack or excess of agency. One participant said she loved the way the narrator’s specificity suggested self-knowledge; another abhorred the poem’s insistent centering of the self. The proliferation of I’s was noted in contrast to the single line describing the narrator’s eyes.

After disclosing the poem’s title and thinking about whether it changed our reading, we offered as a prompt an invitation to “write about a possibility.” Five participants read their writing. The range of responses was — as always — inspiring. One writer shared a fully formed piece that wrote of not one possibility but many, including the possibility of loving. Another writer balanced the possibility of bad outcomes against good, and wondered if the pain of our world in this moment can end. 

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Please join us for our next session Saturday, June 6th at 2pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

By Wisława Szymborska

I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

From Nothing Twice, 1997. Wydawnctwo Literackie.
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh. 
Copyright © Wislawa Szymborska, S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh

7 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT June 3rd 2020

  1. CS

    A possibility is better than no possibility.
    Sometimes it feels like there is no possibility, like now.
    What will end the fighting?
    Can anything, or anyone ever be enough? Say enough? Do enough?
    We cannot undo history, we can only move forward.
    There has to be a possibility,
    maybe even two,
    but how can we pause, and listen, to hear what that is?
    Is this possible?
    I have to believe it is,
    I have to have some hope,
    but I do not feel hope in my bones.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Khaliqa Baqi

    It starts inside, deep down a movement in my belly, rising toward my heart and when it gets to my heart there is a leaping feeling. I am open, excited, light, young, energized, a little nervous maybe? There is hope, there are illusions of grandeur, there is a jumping ahead to the satisfaction of accomplishment, or fulfillment. I notice that possibility is positive for me, realizing now that there is an equal chance that there is the possibility of something terrible happening, of sadness, tragedy, loss, failure…. But I prefer to think of possibility as the hope of something good to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia D.

    It is possible to let go of I Me and Mine so as to realize how much more exists outside the narrow confines imposed by such an approach to life. It is possible to discover that once dissolved (I Me and Mine, that is) a lightness of Being can emerge. It is possible to be contented with life, just as it is, when unburdened by the self (with a little “s”, that is). It is possible to love others fully when you don’t get in the way. Then happiness is possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Communicating Possibilities

    Yellow, Green, and Red lights blink all at the same time. After a while they take turns to light up, partly consciously, and partly technologically maneuvered. A 7 year old second hand car stands staring at the light show. Each light conducts a luminiscent, brief conversation with the chauffeur facillitating an opportunity to choose. Each light is a possibility to move or not to move. And the car continues to stand still staring at the lights blinking all at once all over again.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The fields are a lush green, as blades bend in the wind.
    A warm breeze brushes across my cheek and my mind wanders as I gaze upward…
    To dream of possibilities brings me comfort, brings hope to my troubled heart, to a time when…

    there is equality among all who travel this journey of life.
    there is enough food for all who are hungry.
    all have a voice and more importantly, are heard.
    there is education for all, through learning comes understanding.
    our leaders truly have their citizenry at the forefront rather than political gain.
    the ill can seek treatment without insurmountable barriers.
    the pronoun “we” becomes more important than the word “I”.
    we are truly our “brother’s keeper”.

    If only wishes would come true, if only someone, somewhere was listening…


    • al3793

      Michele, “the pronoun “we” becomes more important that the word “i”. I see an idyllic image as the narrative opens,but a troubled heart is left wishing that someone would listen. The list of wishes are not particularly extraordinary. What is extraordinary is that someone must continue to wish for basic life needs to be met. Fortunately, in this space the speaker can be heard. Andre

      Liked by 1 person

  6. al3793

    Prompt: Write about a possibility.

    I prefer to believe it is possible to dismantle the structures in society
    that keep others othered in their place.

    We have experienced the hell of chaos in the past two weeks;
    any sense of order held together by a thread.

    The rhetoric of cunning politicians polarizing these that are supposed to be United
    as smoke fills the air choking leaves and flowers amidst

    Very specific anniversaries that we mourn…
    how long before we can stop mourning?

    Yet, I still prefer to believe that many are contemplating the possibility of an existence in a space
    where humanity can meet humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

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