My family, previous girlfriends, and my wife will tell you I am not very good at communicating. This is true. I spend more time thinking through what I will say than I do saying it. This has the added quality that once I have thought something through, I express myself as economically as possible. My vocalizations usually come in the form of “Yes,” “No,” or “I don’t know,” leaving little for a conversation partner to grasp upon. So I have found that writing is both a way to think through things, but also a better way for me to communicate. There is something about the physicality of writing—whether by keyboard or by pen and paper—which allows a better expression for me than what seems to be an ephemeral act of speaking. Emotions, thoughts, reasoning become more readily accessible. Continue reading →
This is not a very good explanation. It strikes a true chord. I am/We are continually exiting Plato’s cave into the light. Better still, we have the capability to shine light inside that cave. I have a capability to shine a light. A little light, and a small corner of the cave, but so what? While I might have been raised in the evangelical sense of the children’s song, there is—and always has been—a greater sense of humanity, a greater sense of the cave. Sometimes there is a sense of being overwhelmed—such a little light, such an awesome cave. As Impossible Mike puts it, “an excessive pointlessness beyond terror and despair.” You are being too generous.
I write because I know there is no success in my genre. The challenges I face—the darknesses I dare—are the ones I determine to confront. Am I blind to those I choose not to? Yes. And no. Self-doubt creeps in at those blind spots. So, again, why should I choose to write, to expose myself to the self-doubt, the known shortcomings, the fears and loathings? Is it pointless to place new little lights into the world?
The Creative Writing program at ODU brings in a visiting writer each semester. This semester it’s Dorianne Laux (who you should definitely read, if you haven’t), and on Thusday she gave her craft lecture titled “The Marriage of Music and Meaning”.
This of course made me go back to my thesis and wonder whether I’m spending too much time in my head dealing with conceptualisms instead of the very real task of making music. Of course, the last poem that got published was written more in attention to sound than anything else: “god, you choke old stones down” has a great music (to me, at least).
At the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, a group of us poets decided to challenge each other with writing prompts for the rest of the summer. I’m going to include the prompts and my responses here on the blog, and I invite you to play along. Continue reading →
It begins, often, as a sort of unspeakable knowingness. The kind of inability to articulate that drives one mad. How to convey the love? For lack of a better word, love stands in for that need. And it is a sort of love, a desire to share. Continue reading →
Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.
– Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Beyond the Big Bang”, The Universe, The History Channel, 2007
It is hard, if not impossible, to describe things objectively. And objective description isn’t the task of poets. We aren’t surveyors, measuring the terrain and reporting numbers. We’re looking for the essence of the land.