Something Slower, But More Tangible

From the introduction to Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners by Naomi Shihab Nye:

"Recently, when I had the honor of visiting Yokohama International School in Japan to conduct poetry workshops, student Juna Hewitt taught me an important word—Yutori—'life-space.' 

She listed various interpretations for its meaning—arriving early, so you don't have to rush. 

Giving yourself room to make a mistake. 

Starting a diet, but not beating yourself up if you eat a cookie after you started it. 

Giving yourself the possibility of succeeding. 

(Several boys in another class defined the word as when the cord for your phone is long enough to reach the wall socket.)

Juna said she felt that reading and writing poetry gives us more yutori—a place to stand back to contemplate what we are living and experiencing. More spaciousness in being, more room in which to listen. 

I love this, it was the best word I learned all year… 

Perhaps we have more voices in the air now—on TV, in our phones and computers and little saved videos—but are we able to hear them as well? 

Are these the voices we really need? 

Is our listening life-space deep enough? 

Can we tell ourselves when we need to walk away from chatter, turn it off entirely for half a day, or a full day, or a whole weekend, ease into a realm of something slower, but more tangible? 

Can we go outside and listen?"



Nye, N. S. (2018). Voices in the air: Poems for listeners. New York: Greenwillow Books. (publisher, library)

Header photo: Ben Waardenburg on Unsplash