Sunday, January 14, 2018

Red Rooster Farm
Photo P.Tonery

Writing from Place:

Looking out any window in this farmhouse, I find another point of view that contradicts the previous views; and so, my thoughts on nature and human nature are constantly changing. Poetry here surprises me.  What I am wrestling with, that is, trying to come to terms with in order to live well, without fear of some pending doom is a constant challenge.  Imagination is necessary for a writer,  and I admit that I'm daydreaming a lot,but sometimes it's a runaway horse, and I worry a bit too much.   Take, for example, the winter weather.  I have lived here my whole life; I know what to expect, how to drive, what to do in a snowstorm.  Why, then, does the weather report send me into a panic?  It's true, I'm not a big fan of the below zero temperatures.  It's been extremely cold here; much like the winter of 2013, just as I predicted.  I keep saying the chant, Spring is coming, Spring is coming -- a prayer of sorts; inevitable, too.

 Meanwhile, what am I doing?  I'm writing a lot, both poetry and prose.  The 100 word stories are challenging and so unlike my poems.  The stories remind me of making a pop-up card.  With the launch of a word, the landscape of the story finds its way  to be 3D, and while reading the story, you can peer around corners and see what isn't said, but implied. Like poetry, every word counts in a 100 word story. Characters and situations test our  reading strengths and weaknesses.  Last semester, a visiting writer, told the audience that "empathy is overrated."  As you can imagine, this bit of glib frosting  wasn't  what I was expecting (read: immediate sinking feeling) because I believe in empathy, I promote empathy, and I knew, my very literal students would take this young writer's word as gospel, whereas I knew he was just being flip. You have to have life experience to be truly cynical, and I personally think that this young writer was given success on a platter. So his ennui was facade.  I get it.  We all wear masks.    He even confessed to wishing he were marginalized.  He felt he should be writing about that. But to write about that, I think you need to have lived the experience, right? Of course, all of this plays into stereotypes, which seems to be my battleground-- to help my students, family, friends see that our culture reinforces stereotypes in our everyday life.  Now, more than ever, we need to question authority.  Authority. Just look at that word, with "author "big as life itself.  Is the author reliable? Do we believe what we are reading, hearing?  I think this is the challenge nowadays, trying to figure out what is the truth.  To think we're all living in a pop-up book.


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