The morning is the best time

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The dirt resists you.  It is very hard to make the earth your own.  I’ve done much less to try to make it mine.  All my association with it is a kind of freedom.  Yet it’s hard to live at the ranch.  When I first came here I had to go 70 miles on a dirt road for supplies.  Nobody would go by in two weeks.  I thought the ranch would be good for me because nothing can grow here and I wouldn’t be able to use up my time gardening.  But I got tired of canned vegetables so now I grow everything I need for the year at Abiquiu.  I like to get up when the dawn comes.  The dogs start talking to me and I like to make a fire and maybe some tea and then sit in bed and watch the sun come up.  The morning is the best time, there are no people around.  My pleasant disposition likes the world with nobody in it.

~ Georgia O’Keeffe


Credits: Quote – Thank you Rob Firchau @ The Hammock Papers. Image: Sky Above The Clouds IV by Georgia O’Keeffe from mbell

What a gift: being able to disappear without going anywhere at all.

Jones-Saeed-headshot

The process of writing poems felt like a reprieve. Concentrating so intensely on one word and then another and another took me away; so far away, in fact, that sometimes after I finished a poem, I’d sit up at my desk, a bit dizzy. It’d been a blur. What a gift: being able to disappear without going anywhere at all.

~ Saeed Jones, A Poet’s Boyhood at the Burning Crossroads


Saeed Jones was born in Memphis, TN and raised in Lewisville, Texas. He received his MFA in Creative Writing at Rutgers University – Newark. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Western Kentucky University where he won the Jim Wayne Miller Award for Poetry. Recently, his poems “Body & Kentucky Bourbon” and “After the First Shot” were nominated for Pushcart Prizes. His chapbook When the Only Light is Fire is available from Sibling Rivalry Press. He has studied with writers like Tom Hunley, Dale Rigby, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Rachel Hadas, and Tayari Jones. He currently lives and writes in New York City. (Source: For Southern Boy Who Consider Poetry)


Notes: photo credit.  Quote – Boston Poetry Slam

The Proper Way

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The proper way
to thank someone is:
a note written by hand.
To me, that’s special.
And I write spontaneously —
not too thought out.
Maybe it will just be the person’s name
and three words
I feel in the moment.

~ Alessandro Sartori, Berluti Menswear Designer in 20 Odd Questions


Image Source: sallymankus.com

MMM*: Their hope is so bright I can almost see it.

hope-faith-light-bright-sun-woman-portrait

My students still don’t know what they will never be. Their hope is so bright I can almost see it. I used to value the truth of whether this student or that one would achieve the desired thing. I don’t value that truth anymore as much as I value their unrest hope. I don’t care that one in two hundred of them will ever become what they feel they must become. I care only that I am able to witness their faith in what’s coming next.

~ Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary


Notes: MMM* = Monday Morning Mantra. Photograph: in-constancy. Related Manguso posts: Manguso @ Live & Learn

Floated down the milk river

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For months the baby woke at seven, fed, fell asleep at eight thirty, woke at ten, fed, fell asleep at eleven thirty, and so on for the rest of the day. I’d made him into a milk clock. Every hour was part of a ritualized ceremony of adding or subtracting milk. A river of milk flowed in and out and around him. He floated down the milk river toward the rest of life.

~ Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary


Notes:

More Manguso Memories

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After yesterday’s post introducing Sarah Manguso in Manguso Magnificent, we’re back with more.

Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary:

I assumed that maximizing the breadth and depth of my autobiographical memory would be good for me, force me to write and live with greater care, but in the last thing one writer ever published, when he was almost ninety years old, he wrote a terrible warning. He said he’d liked remembering almost as much as he’d liked living but that in his old age , if he indulged in certain nostalgias, he would get lost in his memories. He’d have to wander them all night until morning. He responded to my fan letter when he was ninety. When he was ninety-one, he died. I just wanted to retain the whole memory of my life, to control the itinerary of my visitations , and to forget what I wanted to forget. Good luck with that, whispered the dead. 

And here:

The least contaminated memory might exist in the brain of a patient with amnesia— in the brain of someone who cannot contaminate it by remembering it. With each recollection, the memory of it further degrades. The memory and maybe the fact of every kiss start disappearing the moment the two mouths part.

[Read more…]

You pages — ten of you — you are the dribble cup — you are the cloth to wipe up the vomit.

John-Steinbeck

We read many books.

Some stand out, way ahead from the others.

I listed my Top 11 in a posted titled Books, Books, Books back in 2012. Is it possible to even have a Top 5, or a Top 10 or Top 100 top books list?

Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Grapes of Wrath, was #1 on my short list.

Steinbeck kept a diary while he wrote The Grapes of Wrath. It was published as “Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath.”

Maria Popova wrote a must-read post yesterday titled: How Steinbeck Used The Diary as a Tool of Discipline where she describes the book as a “remarkable living record of his creative journey, in which this extraordinary writer tussles with excruciating self-doubt but plows forward anyway, with equal parts gusto and grist, driven by the dogged determination to do his best…his daily journaling becomes a practice both redemptive and transcendent.”  Here’s a Steinbeck quote from the post:

I don’t know whether I could write a decent book now. That is the greatest fear of all. I’m working at it but I can’t tell. Something is poisoned in me. You pages — ten of you — you are the dribble cup — you are the cloth to wipe up the vomit. Maybe I can get these fears and disgusts on you and then burn you up. Then maybe I won’t be so haunted. Have to pretend it’s that way anyhow.

I reflected on Steinbeck’s thoughts. Two conclusions came to mind.

1) Steinbeck had doubt. Me and Steinbeck. SympaticoMisery loves company.

2) Steinbeck had doubt. Steinbeck, STEINBECK, had doubt. I don’t stand a chance.

If you are writing, building or creating anything and have doubts, this post is worth your time: Don’t miss: How Steinbeck Used TheDiary as a Tool of Discipline.

And yes, I bought the book.


Photo: Vivandlarry.com

MMM*: And you say, what?

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Poets must read and study, but also they must learn to tilt and whisper, shout, or dance, each in his or her own way, or we might just as well copy the old books. But, no, that would never do, for always the new self swimming around in the old world feels itself uniquely verbal. And that is just the point: how the world, moist and bountiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?” This book is my comment.

~ Mary Oliver, Long Life: Essays and Other Writings


Notes: 1) MMM* = Monday Morning Mantra. 2) Turned Sheet (1965) by Gerhard Richter via vjeranski

David Carr: Try harder. Create something with your own dirty little hands.

david-carr

David Carr died last week. He overcame drug addiction, survived cancer and struggled with alcoholism. He was a best selling author, a top media columnist at The New York Times and a member of the faculty at Boston University’s communications school.  He was a “mentor to young reports and a blunt critic of those who didn’t measure up.” Here’s a excerpt from today’s paper:

NY Times: David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students:

David was interested in people, not their résumés. He didn’t care where someone went to college or who their parents were. So instead of giving his students a standard biographical blurb…David told them this, under the heading “Not need to know, but nice to know”:

“Your professor is a terrible singer and a decent dancer. He is a movie crier but stone-faced in real life. He never laughs even when he is actually amused. He hates suck-ups, people who treat waitresses and cab drivers poorly and anybody who thinks diversity is just an academic conceit. He is a big sucker for the hard worker and is rarely dazzled by brilliance. He has little patience for people who pretend to ask questions when all they really want to do is make a speech…Your professor is fair, fundamentally friendly, a little odd, but not very mysterious. If you want to know where you stand, just ask.”

He encouraged teamwork. “While writing, shooting, and editing are often solitary activities, great work emerges in the spaces between people,” David wrote, adding, “Evaluations will be based not just on your efforts, but on your ability to bring excellence out of the people around you…”

Mikaela Lefrak, 26, was his teaching assistant his first semester. “He didn’t want us to sound like everyone else,” she wrote in an email. “He wanted us to sound better. Extended metaphors should be indulged and encouraged — the stranger, the better. And clichés were poison. ‘Try harder,’ he told me constantly. ‘Create something with your own dirty little hands…’ ”

David warned there would be a heavy reading list. “I’m not sliming you with a bunch of textbooks, so please know I am dead serious about these readings,” he wrote. “Skip or skim at your peril.”

I encourage you to read the entire article. You can find it here:  David Carr’s Last Word on Journalism, Aimed at Students.

His best selling book, “The Night of the Gun,” is a memoir of addiction and recovery. I highly recommend it.  Maria Popova at Brain Pickings shared some excellent excerpts from the book in her post: Addiction to Truth.

And here are links to some of my favorite quotes by Carr:

Carr lived in New Jersey with Jill Rooney Carr and their three children. He was 58. As Scott Peck would say, he took the road less traveled and many of us are better for it.

RIP.


Credits: Photograph of David Carr in 2008 –  NY Times

 

Cold stove of 4:00 a.m., black iron

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Cold stove of 4:00 a.m., black iron, the lids in place on everyone but me, and down the chimney, through the damper’s pinch, the distant hoo-hoo-hooing of an owl. And soon, among the sticks of kindling in the box of words, the mouselike scritching of my pen.

~ Ted Kooser, February. The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book


Photo Credit: The Wild Free Spirit