friday roundup: wide open spaces, the age of the brain, and every blade of grass

who could resist?

Happy Friday, Reader. Here we are again. I have done my bare minimum of housework and the kids are off at school. I’m looking forward to spending the next several hours as a working mother.

wide open spaces  Yesterday I spent the morning at the wee, small house. She’s looking much more herself these days — she lost the tent dress and is all deloused. I brought my writing stuff over and waited for the PG&E guy to come and turn the gas back on (wisely, they turn it off during fumigation). I looked around the empty family/dining/living room (it’s all one room actually) thought of all the boxes I need to pack, etc., etc., etc., when it hit me that I was staring at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So, I sez to myself I sez, “Self, do you see what I see? I see a wide open space. I see the perfect place to lay all your poems out and start putting them into stout little piles that belong together, without having to yell, STOP! DON’T TOUCH THOSE PAPERS! at anyone. I see a chance to physically move through your work, to find new connections, to gain perspective.” Boxes, shmoxes! After I post this, I’m going over there with a huge stack of poems and I’m going to lay ’em all out there and see what happens. Which reminds me of this post that Sandra Beasley (of I Was the Jukebox fame) wrote recently on the visual and physical aspect of ordering poems. Good stuff for anyone who’s putting together a manuscript, or even a grant proposal or a submission strategy — things to think about when you’re ordering poems.

(is it just  me or do we now all have the Dixie Chicks going through our heads?

the age of the brain  Last night at my writing group, we talked a bit about all the fascinating research on the brain that has been published lately. One member of the group declared that we’re now entering “the age of the brain,” and what we’ll learn about how our brains operate will change everything we thought we knew. People made several recommendations for learning more, and I’ll share them now with you. The first is Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. The second is The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. The last is a series on the brain by Charlie Rose of PBS. Personally, I’m both curious about what we’ve learned, and hesitant to know too much. Part of what I love about my creative life is the element of mystery at play in how a poem happens. I don’t want my tendency toward over-analysis to devour that mystery. Still this is a fascinating topic, and one that we’re just beginning to crack open.

every blade of grass  Here is one of my all-time favorite poems by Laura Fargas (more about this poet here). I first came across this poem in the anthology Poet’s Choice by Robert Hass, a book compiled from Hass’s syndicated column on poetry during his tenure as Poet Laureate. The title, Kuan Yin, is the name of the Chinese goddess of mercy. We could all use a little mercy every now and then, no?

Kuan Yin

Of the many buddhas I love best the girl
who will not leave the cycle of pain before anyone else.
It is not the captain declining to be saved
on the sinking ship, who may just want to ride his shame
out of sight. She is at the brink of never being hurt again
but pauses to say, All of us. Every blade of grass.
She chooses to live in the tumble of souls through time.
Perhaps she sees spring in every country,
talks quietly with farm women while helping to lay seed.
Our hearts are a storm she trebles at. I picture her
leaning on a tree or humming or joining a volleyball game
on Santa Monica beach. Her skin shines with sweat.
The others may not know how to notice what she does to them.
She is not a fish or a bee; it is not pity or thirst;
she could go, but here she is.

–Laura Fargas

Well, Reader, that’s it for this week. May mercy be upon you all weekend. Thanks for reading.

9 thoughts on “friday roundup: wide open spaces, the age of the brain, and every blade of grass

  1. Okay, so now I want to buy a house with an extra room in which I would put NO THINGS. It would be reserved exclusively for poems. Barring that, I want one solid wall of cork, large enough to pin the poems of a collection to it, a la the picture in Beasely’s post.

    Finally, your plea for mercy connects with my recent music obsession Mary Gauthier’s Mercy Now. You should give it a listen if you don’t already now it.

    Happy manuscript making!

    • Sandy, I know! — I was like: Why haven’t I thought of this before!? The empty, extra room! And yet, I know that’s definitely not in my near or intermediate future. However…. the wall of cork…. yes ma’am! (but, well, I haven’t broken it to Husband yet). Thanks for the music recommendation. Have a great weekend!

      • So I was just gazing at this one wall in my writing room. It’s currently covered in National Poetry Month posters, broadsheets, and art prints. I’m seriously considering looking into what kind of cork is available to cover that space instead.

        Sadly, I’d bet that the empty, extra room is not a luxury any poet could afford. 😦

    • A bonsai tree….. well, it ended up being more like a snowstorm today, but I think I can get it to the bonsai tree eventually 🙂

  2. Okay, that poem…. that poem…I love it so much. Thanks for a new poem (and poet) to tuck in my precious things pocket.

  3. Pingback: the great poem sort of 2012 | the stanza

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