A Year of Dewdrops – What We Loved in 2020

If there was a silver lining to this otherwise grim year, it was that it proved to be a time of introspection and reassessment for many; a period of being with ourselves and sifting our priorities. Here at The Dewdrop, there has been more time to reflect and cast wide the net of reading: it was the year that Tria Chang’s poem I Was Once in Love launched a new series of Featured Poetry, which was followed by other original sections: Way-Seeking Mind, All About Love and the Micro Gallery. In March, The Dewdrop set up Isolation Shorts as a platform for readers to publish flash essays and poems about their experiences of lockdown during the pandemic and so this little website suddenly accrued a lot more contributors and the community has started to flourish.

I love to look back on what has caught readers’ attention this year: from Lucille Clifton, Mary Oliver and David Whyte‘s timeless poems to Rebecca Solnit, Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s essay excerpts; from the ancient wisdom of Du Fu and Zhuangzi to the more contemporary spiritual writings of Brian Doyle and Pema Chodron. Original poetry on The Dewdrop has also been a favorite, including work by Nicholas Trandahl, Caroline Goodwin, Bradley Samore and Matthew Kohut, as well as Samia Singh‘s beautiful etchings.

Lucille Clifton – why some people be mad at me sometimes

Poet Lucille Clifton once said, ‘writing is a way of continuing to hope,’ adding, ‘perhaps for me it is a way of remembering I am not alone.’ This powerful poem of hers resonates through its brevity and sparing use of language, which she was otherwise known for.

Mary Oliver – When Death Comes

Mary Oliver’s poem When Death Comes is a meditation on death and an uplifting reminder of the joy and importance of a life well-lived.

Rebecca Solnit’s Blue of Distance

Solnit pays tribute to the color that fills the space between herself and the object of her longing, and reflects on how this blue can in some ways be understood as love itself.

Tria Chang – I Was Once in Love

Tria Chang’s poem, I Was Once in Love, talks about the possibilities and pitfalls of relationships and how things can so easily slip out of balance.

Du Fu – Dreaming of Li Bai

‘This parting from the living brings constant pain,’ wrote eighth-century Chinese poet Du Fu in an ode to friendship about his separation from Li Bai, who was in exile in the south of the country.

David Whyte – The Bell and the Blackbird

The call of awakening can come in any form, even from something as simple as the voice of a blackbird, in David Whyte’s poem, The Bell and the Blackbird.

The Dexterous Butcher – Zhuangzi

Zhuangzi’s story of the dexterous Cook Ding who teaches a lord a profound life lesson through the workings of his knife.

The Absolute Nature of Suffering

Zadie Smith asks whether the discourse about privilege still applies in the same way when we consider the suffering of individuals.

Margaret Atwood – Habitation

Using the stark language of cold glaciers and barren deserts, Margaret Atwood paints a picture of marriage as something that survives on the very peripheries of primitive forces and natural epics. Not a house or even a tent, it’s a place where we are ‘learning to make fire’, as though we are still in the very first and most primal stages of the endeavor. 

The Danger of the Single Story – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie argues that which stories get to be told and how they are told essentially depends on who is telling them, and that the privilege of storytelling usually lies with the person with power. In a pluralistic and diverse society, it’s important that storytellers from every perspective be heard, in order to reflect the truth of that society and its multi-faceted nature.

Bradley Samore – There Was Never a Door

There Never Was a Door was composed at Hokyoji, a Zen Practice Community in Minnesota. The passage to the abandoned shed without a door echoes Nicholas Trandahl’s pilgrimage to the hidden Chapel as well as Shitou’s Song of the Grass Roof Hermitage. There Was Never a DoorFor Dokai Minutes before the opening actof the play of duskthe windlifts the overcast curtainand the sundescending into the treeslances lightthrough…

William Stafford – A Ritual to Read to Each Other

We must endeavor to rise above the patterns set out for us by others, according to Stafford, and not follow in a line like elephants holding each other’s tails; it is imperative, he writes, that ‘awake people be awake’ since ‘the darkness around us is deep’.

Matthew Kohut – I Me Mine

The germ of the poem I Me Mine came to Matthew Kohut when he startled awake on a train that was passing through the area where he grew up.

Samia Singh – The Storms Within

The Storms Within is a series of etchings created by Punjab-based Samia Singh during a residency in Florence.

Caroline Goodwin – Not, I’ll Not

‘Not, I’ll Not’ takes its title from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ sonnet about meeting suffering, ‘Carrion Comfort’ and explores some of the ideas in the psychedelic rock group Heron Oblivion’s song, ‘Beneath Fields’.

Alice Walker – Be Nobody’s Darling

In an echo of the defiance of Wendell Berry’s ‘Do Not Be Ashamed’, Alice Walker draws up the image of an outcast to underline the importance of tenaciousness and standing one’s ground in the midst of madness.

Brian Doyle’s Uncommon Prayers

Brian Doyle’s essays are accessible and uplifting to people of all and no faith inclinations. His humorous and poignant prayers touch the details of our lives and the beings that we often overlook: in this case, shop cashiers, herons and international terrorists, but also sunscreen, chess and the state of Iowa. 

Nicholas Trandahl – The Chapel

In his poem, The Chapel, Nicholas Trandahl sets out what he looks for when it comes to faith and spirituality. A lifelong seeker of truth and inner peace, he imagines a fictional space deep in the heart of the wilderness, where pilgrims and seekers can finally rest after their journeys.

The Ground is Always Shifting – Pema Chodron

The acceptance of the fundamental changing, impermanent nature of the world is at the heart of Buddhist philosophy and is a constant theme through Pema Chodron’s teachings. When things fall apart, when the ground is pulled out from under us, it is not a cause for panic, but rather a cause for celebration.