Friday, April 26, 2013

Writing from the wounds

by Margaret Swedish
"’s becoming harder and harder not to see pain as a necessity for creating truth with words..."

That was written by Luke Reynolds for an article in The Writers Magazine back in 2011. The magazine's home is outside Boston and re-posting it was a way to express something of what they were feeling in the wake of the marathon bombings. The article is entitled, "Why We Need Pain to Write."

Yeah, I know. I feel the resistance, too. And the truth of it.

Reynolds reminds us of the John Gardner quote: "Art begins in a wound."

Is that true?

I sat for a long while on a bench at the lake shore this morning just after sunrise. The sky was so soft, gentle oranges and grays, rays appearing here and there through the clouds just above the horizon where the sun could find openings, the water still, glowing silver and sparkling, the ducks and gulls busy with life. 
Rays appearing here and there through the clouds where the sun could find openings...

Lake Superior - Photo: Margaret Swedish
Is that what we're trying to do? But to find the openings, we have to observe the clouds, the places blocking out the light. Naming them is part of what it means to be a writer. And then to remember that all of it was what gave beauty to the morning, the contrasts in color and light, the struggle of life as the new day begins.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Our urgent mission to 'gentle the human'

I'm a little surprised to see how long it's been since I've posted here. Many excuses - a conference in Kentucky celebrating the work of Wendell Berry (which I wrote about on my project blog), finishing up the first set of revisions of the memoir (exhausting internal work), fundraising for my project, and then this week...

...this awful week.

Something surreal about watching things unfold this morning. CNN and MSNBC ought to be embarrassed for much of their coverage. On some of the alternative media websites and Facebook pages, there are thoughtful, disturbing, careful back stories to all this that challenge the tendency to knee-jerk responses, automatic stereotyping, and rush to judgment. What cable TV wants is to be there for the shootout, and waiting for that means filling a lot of empty airspace with nonsense. Watching these reporters being semi-hysterical amidst the police presence in Watertown reminds me of the guys who stand in their hip boots and raincoats while being battered by hurricane winds and rain shouting into their microphones, "The wind is really blowing now...!"

Hey, guys, we get it. There's a big storm going on.

Monday, April 1, 2013

National Poetry Month

Well, I certainly didn't start out the writer part of my life writing poetry. It took me decades to even venture into it seriously. But since I have, and since a few poems were published on Verse Wisconsin's online edition last year, and since I will have one or two in a poetry collection from Orbis Books later this year (info to come), and since I have started submitting elsewhere, I have to begin telling myself that I have finally come to poetry and it has sort of welcomed me.

As I have written here before, poetry may have more to say to us than any straight on prose because it touches resonances in the heart and soul that wake up those parts of us that might save us, dominated as we have been trained to be by the rational, logical, understanding mind.

We understand so little, actually, that tapping into these other experiences of knowledge, wisdom, insight, intuitiveness feels crucial to me as we continue our wayward path towards ecological and cultural collapses of various kinds.

Something has gone so wrong with the whole human project on this planet, enormous miscalculations about who we are and our place within life and the universe.