dont worry yr hair

bill bissett

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             dont worry yr eyes

         dont worry yr brain man th snow is

    cummin th bright burds flyin highr, th

sun is already all ovr yu,

 

              all th words all th mony all th unnecessary

         changes, a tree grows inside yu, let it and th bird

     red with blue circles, a white arrow on its side, sings

within yr breast, near yr spine, let its wings

    spread, yr arms

 

          each day probably sumhow yul get th watr

 

                                                                            grow out to sum

          piece a land away from th bad business, th amerikan

              takeover,to

    ward, into th earth yu cum from, have none of

th bargain with th tanks,th war heads

 

                       each day th pebble is more stone,

     ium dreaming now of th place that will

soon have me, find me

 

                                        moving into th dark,it

       is like going into a soft jewel. and being ther what at

first yu cud see nothing totally dark, only

       th feel of yr feet on th ground guides yu,

 

being ther, light apears here and ther,flashing,

 

yr head especially around th back breathes unfolds

opens like a flowr all around yu,

 

                                                to th light

bill bissett, “dont worry yr hair” from Nobody Owns Th Earth. Copyright © 1971 by bill bissett. Printed by permission of the author.

Source: The New Oxford Book of Canadian Verse in English (Oxford University Press, 1983). 

Dive in: 
  1. This poem lists many of the everyday anxieties people worry about. Which of these worries usually concern you most? Did the poem help you feel better about them?
  2. The author writes this poem in the second person, addressing the reader directly as “you.” How does that affect your reading of it? Does it make it feel more immediate and direct?
  3. The poet writes “a tree grows inside yu”. What do you think the tree represents? If you had a tree growing inside you, what would it look like?
  4. This poem, like most of bill bissett's work, uses unconvential syntax and spelling. Why do you think the author spells words like this? What might he be trying to say about language and convention?
  5. This poem often uses repetition to increase the urgency of the poem. How might you relay this urgency with your voice and body when reciting it?
  6. Write a poem meant to inspire people. Address it directly to the reader. Tell them what you think they should he hopeful about. What you think is beautiful about the world, or about people. Challenge yourself to be optimistic about the world.

 

Useful Links

 

Here is a profile on Bill Bissett in The Toronto Star, which discusses his inspirations and his literary legacy: https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/books/2019/04/26/poet-bill-bissett...

 

Watch this video of bill bissett reading his own work. How does he use his body and vocal intonations to enliven his reading of the poem? Even more importantly, how does he use pauses? How does silence increase the poignancy of some moments? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwPDJgmOAmw 

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