Friday, May 29, 2015

Working on Moleskine Exchange

I still have Mike's Mole.  I have painted an envelope for it and am including 2 of my first-ever woodblock prints as "pocket items."  Sorry these are kind of crappy cell phone pix--may later post scans.   Also, I will have to send my own Mole back to Mike to finish up.

Click images to view larger.  Also, note that my gmail account is all full and I cannot send or receive messages!  :(

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Trying not to try and Writing

Trees at Night, Edsel Ford, by Mary Taitt
click image to view larger.

            At the suggestion of my therapist, I am reading a book called Trying Not to Try, by Edward Slingerland.  I was just thinking about how it applies writing.  Early in the book, there is a story about a butcher who carves up an ox with a flash of knives. In a very short time, he reduced this huge living animal into a pile of choice cuts for the emperor.  (Sorry if you are a vegetarian!).  The he tells about being in the "zone" or what he calls wu-wei (ooo-way) and how he got there.  When he first apprenticed to be a butcher, an ox was a huge animal and cutting it up was difficult and challenging.  But the more he learned and the more he practiced, the easier it got, until he could almost do it in his sleep.
            It is like the sculptor who looks for the tree or piece of wood that already had the sculpture inside it, say of a bird or a maiden and all he has to do is remove all that is not the bird or maiden. 
            It happens like that.
            It happens like that for me, when I am writing, sometimes.  Sometimes I craft poem, word-by-word, sound by sound, image by image. Sometimes it flows out of me as if written by the hand of God, or the Goddess. 
            This poetry mooc (massive open online course) has reminded me of that, because my life has been so full and so busy, between my mother-in law's health issues and my own health issues, and the novel group and novel writing and the Japanese woodblock printing course I am taking etc.  ((terns making a raucous buzzing alarm call) that I have yet to have time to work in my preferred method, which is to start at least  week or more early, write a poem with care, revisit it daily, and craft and polish it.  Instead, I keep finding myself with an hour or two or even less to write and post my course poems which are Thursday nights at midnight (11:59 PM) and the assignments aren't given until Monday afternoon (but Tuesdays, I have another class etc.). 
            Anyway, the thing is, I am still able to write a poem, and often a poem that pleases me.  I feel like the butcher cutting up the ox or the sculptor finding the bird, maiden (or poem) already taking wing inside the wood (or the words).  

            Marvin Bell says, "A poem listens to itself as it goes."  That seems, somehow, related to being in "the zone," or wu-wei.  Because, by listening to itself, and responding to what it hears, it creates itself by having an internal dialogue, all without “effort” from the poet.  I can see where the idea of divine inspiration comes from. 

            Don't get me wrong.  I am not saying that any poem I write is a masterpiece, far from it.  What I am saying instead is that I am living the creative life, a life that offers joy, understanding and insights.  Peace and a measure of contentment and satisfaction.
            And it wu-wei applies to writing stories and novels, too.  Or making art, or cooking, or playing the clarinet.  Or making love.

Written at Pier Park.  

The class is available here: