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Poetry Friday: Perspective & Pansies

 It's been a busy couple of months, with several writing deadlines. Now, with deadlines met, I'm embracing the pause that follows the busyness of this spring. 

When I think of pauses, my mind immediately goes to music. In musical notation, the symbols for pauses are called are rests. To me, rests are the punctuation of music - periods at the ends of phrases, breaks that allow us to process what we've just heard and to anticipate what might be coming next. 

Pauses - rests - are full of potential. Like neurons, even at rest we are full of potential energy. Ideas hums and buzz beneath the surface. In the pauses, we can hear our own voice more clearly, and we can adjust our focus - zooming out or in on our life for a change of perspective.

As I'm enjoying this pause, I'm also enjoying the new anthology edited by Tabatha Yeatts: Imperfect II poems about perspective: an anthology for middle schoolers. I'm honored that my poem "To the Pansy by the Front Door" is included alongside so many other poets whose work I admire.

Book Cover: Imperfect II - poems about perspective: an anthology for middle schoolers. Poem: To the Pansy by the Front Door © 2002 by Elisabeth Norton I guess no one  told you  that you’re an annual, because every spring  your velvety-purple faces tell me “Spring is here.” Or maybe the other pansies did  tell you “You’re not winter hardy in this temperate zone.” But you just ignored them,  hugging the foundation by the front door. Hibernating  through the cold, dark Alaskan winter, until the last muddy remnants  of winter’s snow  have melted.  Then, you emerge.  Your velvety-purple faces tell me that I don’t have to listen  to what other people  tell me.

The pansy in the the poem was real. It grew next to the front door of our house in Alaska and returned year after year, throughout my middle school and high school years. Perhaps it's the reason I am always delighted to see flowers like this one thriving in unexpected places.

flower growing the crack between the sidewalk and a concrete wall

You can buy your copy of the Imperfect II anthology here, and if you'd like to learn more about how some of the poets featured in the Imperfect II anthology gain perspective in their own lives, check out the Imperfect II blog.

This week Poetry Friday is hosted by Buffy Silverman. Thank you Buffy for hosting us this week! You'll find poetic inspiration a-plenty here.


  1. What a wonderful post! First, to know you are getting a break after meeting deadlines is fabulous. And, I love that photo and idea of the pansy surviving despite all oddsl I too sing the praises of Imperfect II. It's a great collection. It's nice to be tucked in there with so many beloved poets.

  2. I love "pauses are full of potential"! Yes! (At first I typed it "poet-ential" which is true too :)) Thanks for being a part of IMPERFECT II!

  3. I so enjoyed your introduction, Elisabeth, and then the poem connecting so beautifully to life itself. That ending is so good for middle schoolers, I guess for all of us, too! Thanks!

  4. I love learning the backstory of your pansy poem--and especially the permission the narrator takes from those velvety purple faces. Great advice for middle schoolers and the rest of us!

  5. Hooray for flowers (and people) who bloom in spite of expectations!

  6. Elisabeth, I love, love, love your poem. We are told such deflating things by the world--your ode to thriving in spite of expectations really touches me.

  7. And to think pansies get a bad rap! Your poem (and pansies!) is a life lesson for all of us. :)

  8. I love this line in your post: "In the pauses, we can hear our own voice more clearly, and we can adjust our focus - zooming out or in on our life for a change of perspective." Congrats on the publication of your poem!

  9. Such resilience in that pansy! And what a great model for all of us - defy expectations and listen to your own heart. Thank you for sharing your poem and for the reminder that there is potential in pauses.

  10. Nothing more beautiful than the miracle of plant life pushing through cement cracks. Thank you!


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