Category Archives: Love Notes

New Poetry

Hi Hart Beat. How are you? I’m sitting in my perfect little studio that Matt and I called “our little Scandinavian getaway” all winter long. It felt just like that, with the snow coming down softly on the roof, my fairy lights twinkling outside on the balcony. Now that spring is here and summer is coming fast, we rearranged the furniture to make room for a little sitting table and couch. I think we’re going to need another nickname soon.

Anyway, this month is National Poetry. I’ve written about poetry I love so much here on Hart Beat over the years. One of my favorite emails I get every morning is a poem of the day from the National Poetry Foundation. It took me a while to figure out I actually liked poetry though, Hart Beat. It wasn’t until I figured out that for me at least, liking a poem doesn’t mean understanding it or even loving it, it means I get a feeling from it. It doesn’t matter what the feeling is and half the time I couldn’t even name the feeling if I tried. It’s a low bar and for that, the world of poetry is now huge and I am grateful to know it.

This month the Pulitzer Prizes in Literature were announced. The winner for poetry is Forrest Gander’s, Be With. A few days after the announcement I saw a list float around on Twitter with all the other books that were under final consideration for the category.

I’m sorry to say that the only book I was already familiar with was Mary Karr’s. So, I did what any other aspiring writer who likes poetry would do, I requested the rest of them on inter-library loan. Most of them have come in since then. I loved The Carrying, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl, and Blue Rose. I’m still waiting for a few more, including the winner.

The full list is below if you’re interested in reading any of them. And if you’re not and just curious, here’s one of my favorites so far. Of course it’s one of Karr’s and even though I know it’s about God and religion, it makes me feel something and for that, I like it.

VI. Wisdom: The Voice of God
by Mary Karr

Ninety percent of what’s wrong with you
could be cured with a hot bath,
says God through the manhole covers,
but you want magic, to win
the lottery you never bought a ticket for.
(Tenderly, the monks chant,
embrace the suffering.) The voice never
panders, offers no five-year plan,
no long-term solution, no edicts from a cloudy
white beard hooked over ears.
It is small and fond and local. Don’t look for
your initials in the geese honking
overhead or to see through the glass even
darkly. It says the most obvious shit,
i.e. Put down that gun, you need a sandwich.


Full List of the runners up for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry 2019:

Ada Limón, The Carrying
Forrest Gander, Be With
Kevin Prufer, How He Loved Them
Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
Max Ritvo, The Final Voicemails
Kyle Dargan, Anagnorisis
Diane Seuss, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl
jos charles, feeld
Chelsey Minnis, Baby I Don’t Care
Diana Khoi Nguyen, Ghost Of
J. Michael Martinez, Museum of the Americas
A. E. Stallings, Like
Carol Muske-Dukes, Blue Rose
Mary Karr, Tropic of Squalor
Sherwin Bitsu, Dissolve

Thankfulness

Hi Hart Beat. How are you? How was yesterday? How is today? I’m thinking about you and thought it might be time for a little note to you, my Hart, on this cold Berkshire afternoon.

This time of year always makes us all think, doesn’t it? Thankfulness, gratefulness, happiness, all the ness’s really. I’m thankful for so many things; my family, my health, Teo, this beautiful land, this forgiving Universe.

But this year, in particular, I’m thankful for so much more. If I look back at what I was doing on this day just two years ago I can’t believe how different everything is. If you had asked me then what the chances are I would be happy living with my parents in Stockbridge, dating someone I’ve known since I was four, and finishing a full-length memoir I would have told you to get your head checked by a professional.  Like asap. Like yesterday.

“It feels like we’re becoming the women we always dreamed we would be,” my sister Samantha said to me after seeing her on her twenty-eight birthday last month. It’s stayed with me since then and every day I think to her words and realize how true they are. 

The next four months prove that to me. This December I’m pitching my fully finished memoir to agents. In January and February, I’m traveling to France and Spain on a grant I was awarded this fall to start working on a second book. My boyfriend Matt, who I started dating in July (!!) is coming with me. In March I will be up at the Vermont Studio Center for a month-long writer in residence program—something I’ve dreamed about since 2012 when my mom was a painter in residence there.

This life, Hart Beat. “We are becoming the woman we always dreamed we would be.” There’s not much more I can think of that can make this life any beautiful. For that, and for everything else, I am thankful today, tomorrow, and ever and ever.

Sending you love, Hart Beat. Always.

Hannah Hart Beat

Certain Things

Hannah Hart Beat

Hi Hart Beat. How’s you’re freezing January? It’s been hovering around negative four for the past few days and it’s starting to get to me. Thank god I’m going somewhere warm soon or I would be planning my escape from the Berkshires earlier rather than later. Yesterday was a Day, if you can say that as a descriptor. I read a poem that shook me and had me thinking about it all day. Then later last night Oprah gave a speech that gave me the same feeling of empowerment and overwhelming want of the universe.

Here’s the poem that shook me. It’s from the amazing Boneshaker by Jan Beatty which I picked up at my favorite used bookstore in the Berkshires. I had seen it around and am so grateful the universe put it in front of me right now. The poem has now become my New Year’s resolution, and maybe late twenties resolution at that. Don’t skip this poem Hart Beat, get to the last section and then we can talk.

Certain Things
by Jan Beatty

We were looking for kicks between
Pittsburg and L.A.—rolling down
Will Rogers Turnpike in my ’73
metallic blue Chevy Malibu—
when we heard “Kansas City” on the radio
and knew it was a sign. Bobbie and me
shot back up the 69 to Kansas City—Kansas,
not Missouri—so we could sing
Goin to Kansas City… and mean it.
It was the song we wanted, not some
crazy little women, just drinking
and dancing, a way to forget
how scared we were. We ended up
at the Pink Corral with wild cowboys
who two-stepped us, swung us around
until my lucky mother-of-pearl flew
right off my finger and I knew that meant
it was time to go. Three days later
we hit Utah’s saintly boulders and
salty hard ground where I learned
the true nature of Bobbie—she begged
the universe for a rest stop—no answer—
so we stopped by huge rocks and she said:
I can’t pee outside. I shot a look at her
to see if this was real, and she had no clue
about how to, where to—right then I knew
it was over—I instructed: Get up on a slant,
one foot forward, one foot back, and
let it rip—make sure you leave room
for the pee to cut a path between your feet—
how did you get this far not knowing this?

This explained the over-reliance on friends,
the long tearful phone calls—this was a woman
who hadn’t yet felt her own soul
in the foothills of a desert—and liked it.
There’s certain things you’ve got to know:
how to use jumper cables, drive a stick,
never fight with a drunk; you’ve got to speak
from your heart, walk with an attitude, know
the words to “Gimme Shelter”: change a tire on
a dark, rainy highway, say when you’re wrong,
and slam down a shot; you’ve just got to know
how to look someone dead straight in the eye
and tell them to fuck off, stride across the room
and dance hard, want hard, throw down,
wear your jeans low and tight, you’ve got to
send long hot kisses until further notice, in short—
you’ve got to deliver—and you’ve got to pee outside.

Hannah Hart Beat

Love, Dating & A Few Other Things

Hannah Hart Beat

Hi Hart Beat. How are you? How was your Thanksgiving? Did you do anything fun? Is anyone reading this? Hello? Are you there? Jkjk, I know there are a few of you out there and you have no idea how much I appreciate you. My book is coming along and I’m so used to writing to a readerless void right now that it’s hard to imagine you, a physical, thinking being, sitting there on the subway, or drinking your coffee, or sneaking a break at work, or lying in bed with your phone hovered over your squinting eyes, reading these words that I’m typing right now. Hi.

What’s new enough with me to warrant a post instead of another thousand words to my manuscript? Other than the fact that I miss writing to you, it’s also because I’ve been thinking of things that I thought maybe others in the internet world could relate to. That sticky wicket that I know you can relate to is love. Dating, relationships, and love. As I write this now I’ve been single for over six months. Back in May, I decided that I would intentionally not date until Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. On Thanksgiving day last week, I oscillated back and forth between which date I had actually said and about if I am ready or even want to date now. I mean, I like dating. I like going out for dinner and flirting. Actually, I love flirting. Which begs the question, why not date?

Why not. If you were sitting here with me you would have just heard an earth-shatteringly deep sigh. The truth Hart Beat? I’m happy single. I like that I don’t have to have an excuse to be selfish. I like that I don’t have to text anyone goodnight. I like that I can wear whatever I want and watch whatever I want on Netflix. I like that when I got a dog I could name him whatever I wanted, even if it was a rediculous name like Mateo. I like not compromising. How long do I want to be single? I guess it depends. It depends on life and the universe and fate and reality. What I do know is that the most important thing to me in the entire universe right now is the G.D. book that begs to be poured out of me every day. That has priority. That’s the thing that keeps me up at night. Not some guy.

Is this all TMI? IDK. Probs. (My bff Jill?) If it’s too much just file it under “this is a blog I’ll never read again” and I’ll see you some other place Hart Beat. If not, see you back here in a couple of weeks.

And p.s., because I like you and I do want you to come back, here are a few other things on my mind lately:

This cover of Capital Cities song Safe and Sound in an acoustic version that makes my heart swell. I know a few of you out there in the internet world get a little aroused when listening to these kinds of covers. You’re welcome.

This 2007 essay by Zadie Smith about writing. Fail Better is just the kind of thing that I’ve needed to read this week.

This post from NYMag. I love that it’s not photoshopped, click the little arrow on the right to see how it was made.

The movie Lady Bird. Which I LOVED SO MUCH. I’m also excited to see a few other movies in the next few weeks (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name, The Post). It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

The Scandinavian Spa in Montreal that my mom and I went to on Thanksgiving day. It’s silent and has three hot and cold areas. The idea is to go from one to the other. Hands down one of the best things I’ve done in a while.

The photo up top posted by Sézane on Instagram.

Hannah Hart Beat - Five Languages of Love

The Five Languages of Love

Hannah Hart Beat - Five Languages of Love

Hola, Hart Beat. How’s your week going? I was in Vermont earlier this week and am back in Massachusettes now. I’m looking forward to getting a few things from my summer bucket list checked off. I think swimming and reading are in order this weekend. Plus, I just finished my book of the week and need to start a new one. 🙄

Meanwhile, in the land of the internet, I’ve been mulling over a conversation I had with two of my best childhood friends earlier this summer. Have you heard of the five languages of love? My friend Alli told us about the theory and we talked about it for a while over some wine.

The theory is based on a book written by Gary Chapman that argues there are five “love languages” that we, as humans, use to communicate love to each other. According to Chapman, each person has one primary and one secondary love language. The five languages are:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Receiving gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

Furthermore, Chapman says that people usually look for love in the same “language” that they themselves give love. For example, if I’m a person that shows my love by words of affirmation then I look for love in words of affirmation back to me. It makes sense, right? We look for love in the same ways that we naturally give it.

When I was talking with my girlfriends it was so amazing to hear about the different ways we all crave love. One person’s “I love you” face to face is another person’s act of washing the dishes without having been asked or bringing flowers home. It’s an interesting idea. And, it might help in relationships, even if you’re not cut and dry one of the five. The chances of us finding a partner who expresses love in the same way we do is rare which means that you might have to look hard for someone’s signs of affection. Your partner might be telling you they love you in a different language and maybe with this idea, it could be easier totell.

P.S. Love in (literal) other languages and how to say sweetheart in seven more.

Photo from Lost in Translation.

Hannah Hart Beat - Poetry

Three Love Poems for You

Hannah Hart Beat - Poetry

Hi, Hart Beat. Sorry it’s been a few days. The last week in the Berkshires has been a whirlwind, a great whirlwind, with friends, family, outdoor concerts, cookouts, afternoon naps, and swimming at the lake. I’ve also been busy working on my writing project and I’ve found, sadly for both you and me, that I can’t be in the Hart Beat and the other writing mode at the same time. While my other project has grown you have been waiting here! As an apology here are three love poems that I’ve come across in the last month or so that I’ve loved. I hope you love them too, Hart Beat. Summer nights are something magical and maybe you can share one of these with someone you love.

______

The Kiss, by Stephen Dunn, 1939

She pressed her lips to mind.
—a typo.

How many years I must have yearned
for someone’s lips against mind.
Pheromones, newly born, were floating
between us. There was hardly any air.

She kissed me again, reaching that place
that sends messages to toes and fingertips,
then all the way to something like home.
Some music was playing on its own.

Nothing like a woman who knows
to kiss the right thing at the right time,
then kisses the things she’s missed.
How had I ever settled for less?

I was thinking this is intelligence,
this is the wisest tonge
since the Oracle got into a Greek’s ear,
speaking sense. It’s the Good,

defining itself. I was out of my mind.
She was in. We married as soon as we could.

______

Love at First Sight, by Wislawa Szymborska, 1923 – 2012

They’re both convinced
that a sudden passion joined them.
Such certainty is beautiful,
But uncertainty is more beautiful still.

Since they’d never met before, they’re sure
that there’d been nothing between them.
But what’s the word from the streets, staircases, hallways—
perhaps they’ve passed by each other a million times?

I want to ask them
if they don’t remember—
a moment far to face
in some revolving door?
perhaps a “sorry” muttered in a crowd?
a curt “wrong number” caught in the receiver?—
but I know the answer.
No, they don’t remember.

They’d be amazed to hear
that Chance has been toying with them
now for years.

Not quite ready yet
to become their Destiny,
it pushed them close, drove them apart,
it barred their path,
stifling a laugh,
and then leaped aside.

There were signs and signals,
even if they couldn’t read them yet.
Perhaps three years ago
or just last Tuesday
a certain left fluttered
from one shoulder to another?
Something was dropped and then picked up.
Who knows, maybe the ball that vanished
into childhood’s thicket?

There were doorknobs and doorbells
where one touch and covered another
beforehand.
Suitcases checked and standing side by side.
One night, perhaps, the same dream,
grown hazy by morning.

Every beginning
is only a sequel, after all,
and the book of events
is always halfway through.

______

Galaxy Love, by Gerald Stern, 1925

There’s too little time left to measure
the space between us for that was
long ago—that time—so just lie
under the dark blue quilt and put
the fat pillows with the blue slips
on the great windowsill so we can
look over them and down there
while I turn the light off with the right
hand and gather you in close with the wrong.

   

Ballet and Love from Diana Vishneva

Hannah Hart Beat - Ballet with Diana Vishneva

Morning, Hart Beat. Happy Friday! How is your day going? Last night I was scrolling through my newsfeed and found a video and interview that made me stop and just stare for three minutes and twenty seconds. And then three minutes and twenty seconds more again and again until I had watched the entire thing four or five times.

I grew up dancing and ballet was always my favorite. I sometimes wish I could go back to it but it’s not a physically easy thing to do. When I was living in New York I did try to go see a live ballet once a year with some of my friends and it was always a highlight. Being in Western Massachusetts for part of the summer I’m hoping to get to Jacob’s Pillow at least a few times to see the dance.

The video, which you can watch here below, comes via The New Yorker‘s Facebook page. According to the magazine, “To witness what’s so good about Russian ballerinas, one only has to watch Diana Vishneva rehearse ‘Onegin.’ The principal dancer leaves American Ballet Theatre tomorrow, after thirteen years, with a performance of the John Cranko ballet.”

 

What did you think of the video, Hart Beat? It’s arresting to watch, isn’t it? There’s something about the body movement and Diana’s words brought such emotion to me. Here is transcribed one of the things that she said near the end of the video. For me, what she says about dance expressing things that nothing else can is often how I feel about poetry or novels. I love hearing someone else’s thoughts on seeing the world this way.

I have always had some kind of idea of what I want, where I’m going. At this point I want to be more than a performer. The world is different now. Every artistic statement is a statement of the present moment.

The moment when the performance unfolds is when life and time stop for me.

Why do I dance? The things that dance can express are almost impossible to express by any other means. What it is that tugs at the human heartstrings, the delicate edge of your soul. This became my path, my life. I have found meaning in it.

— Diana Vishneva

Hannah Hart Beat - Ballet with Diana Vishneva

Photos, video, and quote all via The New Yorker Facebook.

Hannah Hart Beat - Friday

Friday, As Planned

Hannah Hart Beat - Friday

Hiya Hart Beat! Happy Friday! I won’t pretend that I am living a hard life up here in Maine but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a good Friday like the rest of the world. To celebrate, let’s turn to Frank O’Hara and see what he has to say about drinking, writing, and life in general. I particularly love the last line of this poem. Get out there dancing tonight, okay Hart Beat?

As Planned by Frank O’Hara

After the first glass of vodka
you can accept just about anything
of life even your own mysteriousness
you think it is nice that a box
of matches is purple and brown and is called
La Petite and comes from Sweden
for they are words that you know and that
is all you know words not their feelings
or what they mean and you write because
you know them not because you understand them
because you don’t you are stupid and lazy
and will never be great but you do
what you know because what else is there?

P.S. Another poem by Frank O’Hara that I love.

Photo of Jade Jagger and Kate Moss.

Hannah Hart Beat

A Poem for You this June Saturday

Eugenia Loli - Hannah Hart Beat

Afternoon, Hart Beat. How’s your day going? It’s rainy here on the Island so I’ve spent the morning writing up a storm. As a distraction, I decided to do some catching up on my emails from The Poetry Foundation. I’ve written about it here on Hart Beat before but if you’re new, The Poetry Foundation sends a daily newsletter that you can sign up for where a poem a day is emailed to you. The poems are usually seasonally appropriate and I love finding time in my busy day to sit down and read them. If I don’t like them I usually archive the email but, if the poem does hit me, I’ll save it and re-read them throughout the week.

This morning, this poem by Carmen Ginénez Smith came into my inbox and I knew I wanted to share it here with you, Hart Beat. The poem is from 2009 and, as usual, is about this month. I love it. What do you think, Hart Beat?

Photo of a Girl on a Beach
By Carmen Ginénez Smith

Once when I was harmless
and didn’t know any better,

a mirror to the front of me
and an ocean behind,

I lay wedged in the middle of daylight,
paper-doll thin, dreaming,

then I vanished, I gave the day a fingerprint,
then forgot.

I sat naked on a towel
on a hot June Monday.

The sun etched the inside of my eyelids,
while a boy dozed at my side.

The smell of all oceans was around us—
steamy salt, shell, and sweat,

but I reached for the distant one.
A tide rose while I slept,

and soon I was alone. Try being
a figure in memory. It’s hollow there.

For truth’s sake. I’ll say she was on a beach
and her eyes were closed.

She was bare in the sand, long,
and the hour took her bit by bit.

//

The illustration above is by I think Eugenia Loli. She’s been featured on Hart Beat before and you can read more here.

HannHart Beat - Wilderness

Life Advice

HannHart Beat - Wilderness

Hi Hart Beat. How’s your afternoon going? It’s dark and rainy here in Brooklyn and it’s hard to have a cheery demeanor on days like this. Browsing some of my favorite sites for inspiration today I came across this great post on goop. In the post, the advice given is from a friend of goop who wrote a letter from a mother to her about to go to college daughter. The thing about the letter though is that it can apply to anyone durring a time of change. Read it and let me know what you think, Hart Beat.

______

My Dear,

This is a big day and while I know I’ve been peppering our time together with tidbits of unsolicited advice and truisms, I feel the need to send you just one more big one (for now). I’ve had 18 years to teach you what I know about life—and now have this feeling that I’ve got to get in my last few drops of whatever wisdom I’ve garnered in my 44 years on the planet. So here you go:

There is one certainty in life. It’s universal and mathematical, it’s spiritual and it’s true: Things go up and they go down. They wax and wane. They rise and fall. That is life.

There is no straight line, Joni Mitchell was right. Nothing stays good forever, and it always gets better when it’s bad. You will undoubtedly get knocked down a few notches now and then. The trick, and I’m not saying it’s easy, is to truly enjoy the moments when you feel good, the sun is shining and your ideas are flowing, the world is smiling at you, and things are going your way. The other part of the trick? The hard part? To hold on to the knowledge that when it’s dark and the air is heavy and everyone else feels just beyond your ability to reach them, it will pass. You will shake the little cloud above your head; you just have to let the wind do its thing and blow it away.

It will pass, because it always does.

The goal isn’t to never feel pain. That’s actually where most of us make the mistake. Most of the ways we humans choose to not feel pain make things a whole lot worse. We drown it out, we medicate it, and we do stupid stuff that causes ourselves and others more pain. That’s not the goal. The goal is to feel the pain, try to understand it; process it by talking it out or writing it down, boosting our serotonin with exercise or kindness, or plain old sleeping it off. Our paramount job is function through it: keep moving and doing what we need to do. The goal is not being disabled by the pain. And here’s the great news: the difference is your thoughts.

There won’t be a warning, or sometimes there will be and you will choose to ignore it. You will be striding down the street feeling strong and clean, well-liked and solid, and a car will whiz by and splatter you with mud. At that moment you have a choice: “I am covered with mud. It is wet and goopy and it has made me late for my appointment and ridiculous looking. I am upset and this sucks.” And you choose to keep walking. The other option goes along the lines of: “Why is my life so shitty that I always get covered with mud? No one else got splattered. Everyone’s looking at me. I can’t handle this.” And stopping. The difference is the way you think about it. You get to decide.

You are strong and capable and you know what you need. You always have. When the the first day of school felt overwhelming to you, do you remember what you did? Nursery school was big and new and separating was scary. But you figured it out. You, decided to be a bunny. You looked at me, announced you were a rabbit, and then you got down on the floor and you HOPPED into class. That was that and you haven’t looked back for 16 years.

You have always been self-aware and known what you need for your well being—and it hasn’t been easy. I know you know what you need, so please, keep a strong eye on that as you enter this new phase of life. Stay connected to yourself and keep yourself strong and healthy and well rested so your body is able and your mind is clear. Listen to the part of you that says “slow down,” or “get up,” or “ask for help.” There is a voice that will ring clearer than the others and that is the one you should heed. And if that voice tells you to be a bunny, then hop—and don’t let anyone tell you not to.

I love you so much, more than you feel, I can promise you that. And even though “it’s not my proud it’s your proud,” I am SO SO SO very proud of you.

xoxo,
me

Letter via goop and photo via The Modern Day Explorers.

P.S. Other love advice from Dear Sugar.