When a book is translated, the words are new. The thoughts are also, in a way, new. They bridge two languages — standing partway in one, and partway in the other. The words, like the image at left, are busy looking both ways.
The poem has followed a path to you, so you can understand it fully, or at all, in the language you speak and read. Continue reading
Poet Maxine Kumin
This getting older is not for sissies. Every few days, it seems, someone is dropping into a new reality that I will no longer share. We won’t breathe the same earth dust, won’t see the same moon. I’m missing the musicians that have checked out (Pete Seeger, Donald Byrd, Lou Reed, Richie Havens…), the artists (Nancy Holt, most recently), and the poets (Seamus Heaney, Wanda Coleman, Kofi Awoonor…). I didn’t know a one of them, but needed them in this dimension, nonetheless.
U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner Maxine Kumin died last week at 88. She spent her life expressing the natural world in her no-nonsense way. Here’s a poem from her: Continue reading
Let me repeat what I said last time: The clock is not all for using.
I mentioned Wendell Berry in the last post, and now I want to show you how this man, who farms and writes, manages to also find time to slow and attend. The poem below is from his 35-year effort at documenting the days of rest.
Cats know all about relaxing. Here’s Buster, one of my three darlings, in his favorite sun spot.
We each need a gentle interior space in which to be nothing — as Wendell Berry says, to write “slowly, and with more patience than effort.”
Rilke said we need time of “being inactive with confidence.”
I catch myself looking out the window a lot without even realizing. I’m watching the birds, the light, my favorite cats. How about you… do you surrender to moments of fallowness, of wise inactivity, time that refills rather than drains?
The clock is not all for using. Sometimes you have to let minutes and hours pass without consuming them, without pushing them into place. I am notoriously bad about this, but whether or not we encourage — or even allow it, I’ve learned that the subconscious grabs at the time that it needs, and holds it solemnly until we listen.
“Affluence” by Jean Dubuffet, 1961
“Art doesn’t go to sleep in the bed made for it. It would sooner run away than say its own name: what it likes is to be incognito. Its best moments are when it forgets what its own name is.”
Such are the thoughts of Jean Dubuffet, designer and headmaster of the Art Brut movement. He invented from impulse, something that many adults are afraid to do. Look at that image above. No one teaches another person to draw or paint like that. That is his unique expression.
We all need to forget the audience sometimes, to forget that we are writing – and just write. Continue reading