Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Breaking Free...

For National Poetry Month, a poem that reminds me of the power of the mind, of the inner self, of the ability to travel mentally, when I am trapped inside my house in this season of isolation:

"The Poem that Took the Place of a Mountain"
by Wallace Stevens

There it was, word for word,
The poem that took the place of a mountain.

He breathed its oxygen,
Even when the book lay turned in the dust of his table.

It reminded him how he had needed
A place to go to in his own direction,

How he had recomposed the pines,
Shifted the rocks and picked his way among clouds,

For the outlook that would be right,
Where he would be complete in an unexplained completion:

The exact rock where his inexactnesses
Would discover, at last, the view toward which they had edged,

Where he could lie and, gazing down at the sea,
Recognize his unique and solitary home.

Friday, April 17, 2020

In Solitude...

I suppose quarantine is a good excuse to take care of the undone things:  fixing the drippy faucet, planting that herb garden, remembering that one has a talent with a paintbrush or a typewriter, knocking out a few volumes on the to-read list ... maybe actually getting some rest.

Reflect, recenter, re-purpose.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Celebrating Haiku

In honor of National Poetry Month ... the haiku. The poem perfect for today's short attention span.

A definition we probably remember from lit class:

Haiku = "A haiku is an unrhymed Japanese poetic form that consists of 17 syllables arranged in three lines containing five, seven, and five syllables, respectively. A haiku expresses much and suggests more in the fewest possible words."

Some examples:

Friday, April 10, 2020

In Times of Trouble

As tempting as it is to hunker down and hoard the necessities while waiting for the all-clear to sound, let us not neglect kindness, compassion, and generosity. A squirrel hoards for winter, but if we were meant to behave like squirrels, we'd still be living in trees. Remembering our humanity in a time of fear and extending compassion in spite of instinct is what elevates us above rodents fleeing a sinking ship.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

National Poetry Month: A Poem for Spring

"Springtime Near Vetheuil" by Monet


By William Wordsworth

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

Friday, April 3, 2020

More To Life

In this season of fear and isolation, may we take the time to breathe, to take stock, and to appreciate our loved ones. Being forced to re-prioritize a few things may not be a bad thing.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Celebrating National Poetry Month, 2020

My favorite literary celebration of the year begins today! Grab your nearest poet and give them a hug to celebrate them and their efforts to express all things humanity.

The best of poems require our full attention, a moment's lingering devotion. They do not give up all their gems at once, but a little at a time. After a little effort from us, the facets are uncovered, and the beauty and value of the jewel before us takes our breath away.

So to kick things off, a stunning, challenging poem by one of my all-time favorite poets:

"Crow Song"
by Margaret Atwood

In the arid sun, over the field
where the corn has rotted and then
dried up, you flock and squabble.
Not much here for you, my people,
but there would be

In my austere black uniform
I raised the banner
which decreed Hope
and which did not succeed
and which is not allowed.
Now I must confront the angel
who says Win,
who tells me to wave any banner
that you will follow

for you ignore me, my
baffled people, you have been through
too many theories
too many stray bullets
your eyes are gravel, skeptical,

in this hard field
you pay attention only
to the rhetoric of seed
fruit stomach elbow.

You have too many leaders
you have too many wars,
all of them pompous and small,
you resist only when you feel
like dressing up,
you forget the sane corpses...

I know you would like a god
to come down and feed you
and punish you. That overcoat
on sticks is not alive
                                 there are no angels,
but the angels of hunger,
prehensile and soft as gullets
                                 Watching you
my people, I become cynical,
you have defrauded me of hope
and left me alone with politics...

(published in Poetry, February 1974)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Isolation and Research

Well, it's clear that I took another hiatus from journaling, blogging, and all social media. How zen and de-stressed life has been because of it. Now to take up a little word-crafting again. (In fact, I haven't written in so long that it feels awkward to do so.)

SO! What's been going on since last September?

* I completed my first paid editing job. A lovely client and a wonderful learning experience.
* Pottery has flourished. Sold nearly all my stock, plus a few commissions.
* Got a cold and bronchitis at Christmas, which lasted for nearly a month.
* Learned to ski. Proof:
Yep, that's me, trying not to be terrified of ski class.
* Caught some weird fever/cough when we got home from ski trip.
* Watched the world go mad.
* Freaked out at the grocery store when shelves were empty.
* Meanwhile, researching for novel continues.

Given that my husband and myself work from home on a daily basis, being on lockdown amid the pandemic hasn't shaken us too much. It just feels like doubling down on routine. Plus, I'm such a successfully functioning introvert that being ordered to stay away from humans sounds too good to be true. My mom told me that whenever I got into trouble as a kiddo, it didn't do any good to "send me to my room" because I loved being alone in my room. It's beyond my comprehension that extroverts are having trouble staying at home in the stillness and quiet, alone. Alone, alone.

Still, even for introverts like myself, I've appreciated the little contact I've had. A walk around the park with a friend. Chatting and gaming with friends online. So the isolation diminishes.

Rehearsals for the apocalypse aside, what am I researching? I mentioned (somewhere?) that I'm moving the setting of a novel (still languishing in rough draft form) from a conventional English countryside to the Nile and the ruins of Egypt. This massive change in setting has induced major changes in the core characters as well, and certainly in the side plots surrounding the main plot.

Here's a few tantalizing clues of my research topics in the form of pics:

Hypostyle Hall, Karnak


(sketch by Brierly, 1869)

Unknown beauty
The best thing about forced isolation is that I have no excuse not to make massive progress on renovating this novel. I guess we'll see what good comes of it.