January Poem: i am running into a new year


I have a fond and ongoing relationship with this poem. Every New Year’s Day since I saw Lucille Clifton perform as keynote poet at some long-ago NAPT conference, I’ve read this poem and written about it. I invite you into my annual ritual.


i am running into a new year

and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises and
it will be hard to let go
of what I said to myself
about myself
when i was sixteen
and twentysix and thirtysix
even thirtysix but
i am running into a new year
and i beg what i love and
i leave to forgive me

(c) material used for educational purposes

Journal Prompts

  • Start a write, “I am (verb)ing into a new year….” If running fits, use it. But if that isn’t the best description of how you’re approaching 2018, what are you doing? marching? crawling? floating? dancing? tiptoeing? being dragged?
  • Think of a time in your past when you were struggling with a life issue that by now may have resolved itself, at least sufficiently. What did you tell yourself about yourself then? What does your current self want to tell that earlier self now?
  • What are you called to leave behind from 2017 (or 2007, or 1987)? Do you need to ask forgiveness of anyone or anything? Try that on in your journal.
  • What do you bring forward from 2017 into the New Year?


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