June 19, 2008

Wisdom from Wendell Berry

I found what's below in an interview with Wendell Berry in the July 2008 issue of The Sun magazine. It is something to take to heart, those of who have privileged the writer's life over other paths and journeys:

Berry says:

"You need to realize...: you can lead a perfectly good and satisfactory life even if you're NOT a writer. When I figured out I could be perfectly happy and not be a writer, I became a BETTER writer...I don't think you ought to let your happiness depend on writing...The unhappiest people in the world may be the ones who think their happiness depends on artistic success."

Well said.

June 17, 2008

What is it to be human?

This stanza from Waldo Williams' poem, What is it to be human? spoke to me earlier today:

What is it to sing? To receive breath
From the genius of creation.
What's work but humming a song
From wood and wheat.

This translation from the Welsh by Menna Elfyn was in Poetry magazine in April 2008.

May 21, 2008

It's Been A While...

But here's something worth posting for posterity, I think.

Back Talk: Tod Papageorge

Well, photographers and poets, their glory and their shame--that's a quote from Auden, the glory and the shame--is that a poet has to depend upon words, these words. "Cup"--it's so mundane and common--but Robert Frost would say, "fill a cup up/Up to the brim, and even above the brim." The word becomes transformed, ideally. So the curse of the poet is, he has to use all of this pain quotidien to make magic. And it's the same with the photographer. He's stuck with the things of the world to transform. What you must understand is that the effort involved here in making these pictures or any that I've made is to make visual poetry. In other words, to use the material of the world as the stuff of transformation into meaning. So whether those facts or those pieces of material bear any kind of conclusive or direct line of connection to the truth is totally irrelevant to me. This has nothing to do with the truth! This is a book of poetry. Whether you respond to it that way is something I can't be concerned with. But that's the ambition.

January 18, 2008

Forgetting the Words?

The purpose of a fish trap is to catch fish. When the fish are caught, the trap is forgotten.
The purpose of a rabbit snare is to catch rabbits. When the rabbits are caught, the snare is forgotten.
The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped, the ideas are forgotten.
Where can I find a person who has forgotten words? That person is the one I would like to talk to.
- Chuang-Tzu

November 26, 2007

NaNo Days 22, 23, 24, & 25

Day #22:
Thanksgiving Day Off! The day started slow and distracted by this and that. Feeding cats. Drinking coffee. Reading the newspaper and electronic mail. Deciding on paper stock for my poetry chapbook. Getting the priority mail packet ready for sending tomorrow. Stripping the bed sheets. Retrieving bowls and ingredients so J. can make cornbread for the turkey stuffing and Bourbon Spiked Yams we are taking to our Thanksgiving dinner later today. So, I gave myself to have a NaNo day off since I'm close to the word count goal anyway and, truth to tell, novel machinations and logic and plots twists and turns and a conclusion are not really on my mind today. Holiday mode I guess. And the Bob-fest continues: John Wesley Harding and now Time Out of Mind this morning.

Day #23:
J's home from work today so I think this will be another holiday. While the crazy people raise their stress levels with shopping, I'm looking forward to a very calm day. We have errands including sending my manuscript off to the publisher and getting a new battery for the truck. I should have anticipated this novel writing derailment because of holiday energy. It really doesn't matter since I'm far ahead on my word count, basically done if I want to not finesse some kind of respectable ending. No big deal either way. Sun's out, cold, great day for a walk, and taking the bus downtown to see the Bob Dylan movie.

Day #24
More novel shirking. Today was huddling by the gas fireplace, re-reading Bob Dylan's Chronicles: Volume One, before going downtown to meet friends at South Park (restaurant not the T.V. show) for happy hour. And having AAA jump-start the truck and install a new battery. And a nap. And watching the naughty backyard squirrel taunting and teasing my cats. And reading the New Yorker. And a few essays about poetry and poetics. I guess that is the point: it's easy to lose the novel-writing thread when you take a few days off. Maybe Sunday I'll feel like being back in a groove.

Day #25
One more day to not write on the novel project. I'm nearly done so it's been good to let myself take the break. It was sunny and the day got a late start and I'm on the edge of getting a cold or something and it was a good day for a long walk and wrapping white twinkling lights into the rhododendron trees in front of the house. Not inhabiting the minds of imaginary characters. Monday I'll be back "on it" to quote Margene on Big Love.