David Whyte ( @poetdavidwhyte ) defines poetry as “Language against which we have no defenses.” His post from today, January 5, 2017, is a beautiful example. This poem, Start Close In, crushes me and inspires me. Reading it aloud I recall my first attempts at teaching to the eyes, my struggles understanding why I shouldn’t compare and contrast ‘to be’ verbs, my late nights obsessing over what to do the next day or how to describe my new approach to my supervisor. But simultaneously I’m inspired. I know that any new endeavor starts with the first step, that silence and focus must come from within me and that trusting my intuition will ultimately lead to developing my own voice.

This poem is perfect for, as he says, “a New Year and mid-winter poem combined”. But it’s enduring. If you are striking out on a new adventure by trying new techniques in the classroom, exploring ideas about language acquisition that challenge what you’ve believed in the past or pondering how to channel the energy of a colleague or presenter you’ve observed, START CLOSE IN.

START CLOSE IN
Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way to begin
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something
simple.

To hear
another’s voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice

becomes an
intimate
private ear
that can
really listen
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start Close In: A Poem (and Call to Action) by David Whyte

3 thoughts on “Start Close In: A Poem (and Call to Action) by David Whyte

  • January 5, 2017 at 2:35 pm
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    Inspiring. This works with every new endeavor. We have to keep growing and learning to keep living. One step. Take the step. Love it. Thanks, Grant.

    Reply
    • January 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm
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      I love it! That’s exactly how you have to enter the DOiNG stage. No more turning comments or ideas over in your mind; just “Nike” DO it! Do it close to reach all those eyes, trusting in your capability, fearless. And above all, sparkle your eyes with fun. It won’t take long for the sparkle to jump to those close eyes, like a sparkle of electricity.

      Reply
  • March 15, 2017 at 2:24 pm
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    As I work towards incorporating the CI approach to my curriculum, I constantly feel overwhelmed with the options. Overwhelmed with all the possibilities. It often makes me stop. People are asking for details, answers, specific designs that I have trouble explaining. I went to step 4. I need to go back to step one. Get close in. Thank you for sharing! I’m feeling inspired to simplify, back up, begin again and simply to begin!

    Reply

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