Posts made in January, 2012

Be Brave, Write Clearly

Posted by on Jan 31, 2012 in Archive | 8 comments

Be Brave, Write Clearly

There’s a lot of space within the word “clarity.”  I’m thinking about how poets work for or work against clarity as they write. There’s a certain kind of clarity that seems imperative to me. Here’s something from an article by Matthew Zapruder in The Poet. He’s writing in praise of W.S.Merwin’s The Vixen:  “without clarity, it is not possible to have true mystery. By clarity, I mean a sense in the reader that what is being said on the surface of the poem is not a scrim or a veil deliberately hiding some other hidden inaccessible certainty. Clarity for me in poetry is a...

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I Am in Love with Houses

Posted by on Jan 28, 2012 in Archive | 0 comments

I’ve been in love with houses, even those I hated, which of course were the ones with all the possibilities. My grandparents lived next door to each other on South Garth Avenue—a settled and tree-lined neighborhood. One set of grandparents lived in House Beautiful (405 S. Garth) and the other in a beautiful house (403 S. Garth):  both craftsman-style with front porches and glassed-in “sleeping porches” above. Both with glorious secret places. The Browns’ house had beveled glass windows in the dining room. The stairs rose gracefully up two landings. The Simpiches’ house featured...

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What Food Means

Posted by on Jan 18, 2012 in Archive | 2 comments

What Food Means

My mother would throw hunks of roast beef in the new-fangled pressure cooker and let the cap rock back and forth until the meat was pale and stringy. She would fry liver to leather, and produce slabs of round steak that required zealous chewing. We had frozen peas, frozen mixed vegetables, plain as God made them. Sometimes my father would get a bug for cooking, always in an effort to save money. He bought cow’s tongue because it was cheap, and, not knowing what else to do with it or caring about anything other than getting it cooked, he threw it in the pressure cooker. The result was a...

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Constantly Losing Everything

Posted by on Jan 13, 2012 in Archive | 0 comments

Constantly Losing Everything

There’s been so little snow this winter. At last it’s coming down now, but in previous years we would’ve had the plows out every day for the last month or two. Here is a photo of me on the beach just two days ago. I was missing the snow and thinking about loss, about what it is and how it registers in us. Two observations: (1) I think it never comes on quickly; it always sneaks up; and (2) everything is loss. When it comes on quickly–lightning hitting a huge old pine in front of the cottage–it’s not yet loss. It’s shock. If your mother suddenly dies, for...

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I’m Thinking about Meditaton and Art

Posted by on Jan 9, 2012 in Archive | 0 comments

I’m Thinking about Meditaton and Art

As a long-time Buddhist practitioner, I’ve particularly liked teaching Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” I get to ask, “Is it true? Is ‘beauty truth, truth beauty’? Is that really ‘all we know and all we need to know’? If they have all their cylinders firing, students get curious about what Keats means by truth, where it can be seen, what it has to do with beauty, and what beauty might mean.  Buddhists, of course, have been asking such questions for over 2500 years. If I take Keats’s assertion and question it from a Buddhist perspective, I get something like: Are there...

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