Sunday, September 5, 2010

What the Sign Says

Passing through the town of Hamlin, the sign in front of the VFW says:

Fish Fry WTF


I'm savoring the cooler weather this morning. Peter made a fire in the kitchen's wood stove, which took the chill off. The ritual of making the morning fire signals a turn of season-- the calendar's steady march towards less and less daylight. Yesterday's sky was full of billowy clouds and sunlight. It did rain in the late afternoon. It was cold gathering tomatoes for dinner last night. I must be getting into better shape because I was able to clear the garden fences gracefully, without fear of falling. It's literally high kicking over the fences, without anything to keep me steady, or keep my heels from getting hung up on the fence. I guess the constant practice has made me more agile. But, because the roving chickens are so crafty, I have to do this without them watching. Chickens are not stupid. They size things up, whereas the ducks
are secretive and constantly moving together. There are a lot of tomatoes that need to be gathered. Today is the day.


I've been thinking about what triggers inspiration. Is it reading, or looking at the natural world, or paying attention to the absurd, to the mundane, to the sublime, and knowing the difference?

I think I'm constantly absorbing everything around me, and slowly (sometimes painfully slow) or quite quickly images/ideas/situations start to scaffold into poems or prose. I do so much long-distance driving, I know I'm pre-writing in the car. So when I get settled at my desk, the work comes out fluently. Years ago, when we lived in the city, this wasn't so. I worked for hours upon hours, trying to get a poem just right. I used to have "dial a poem" poet friends, who would just listen to the latest version, give a verdict, which was usually, "No, the end isn't there yet-- keep working." And I did. I owe so much to these poets, who were willing to listen while stirring the pot of tomato sauce, or soup, or chopping vegetables for salad, or whatever. We were really good at doing many things at once. I remember getting my latest baby up from a nap, changing, cuddling, and feeding while listening to a friend's poem. All of this made possible by the cordless phone. Strange, how things change. Now I rarely speak on the phone. A chat with someone is most often face to face. Perhaps that's the richer experience, spending time with someone; discussing our art and lives.

On the other hand, the long-distance writing community is blogville, or the neighborhood I selected in blogville. So many of you post thought-provoking reviews, poetics, commentary on writer's craft, and I have valued all that you have said. My own blog was created to keep track of my daily living, but also promote and attend local art events. I think I have been faithful to that endeavor. I wanted to be able to look back over time. I've been thinking a lot about then and now. I think I'm trying to figure out what's next. I don't want to be guilty of merely shaking the bird cage, because it looks like the right thing to do. It's true, the birds flutter in a panic, but settle back down-- often in the same arrangement. I think this is why I want to be experiencing others' art-- different ways of seeing.

Tell me, what inspires you?

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