miscellany

I have had a troublesome relationship with time. The past I cannot trust because it could be tainted by my memory. The future is hypothetical and is to be treated with caution. The present, what is the present but a constant test: in this muddled in-between one struggles to understand what about oneself has to be changed, what to be accepted, what to be preserved; unless the right actions are taken one seems never to pass the test to reach the after.
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life— Yiyun Li (via This Is A Public Space)
(via Milky Way photo: The galactic center by Robert Gendler.)

"The sheer scale of space is overwhelming. Oh, sure, we have words to make it more palatable, like “light-years”—as if a distance of 10 trillion kilometers is graspable by our puny simian brains.

…

"And that’s when I can’t do it any more. The numbers I understand, but the reality of them is too huge.

"When I was a kid—this is true—I used to look up at the sky and fear that some day we’d explore everything and run out of things to discover.

"I was completely wrong. We’ll never run out of sky. Just look at it."

Writing challenge: Focus on an issue, theme or natural phenomena that dwarfs you. Something so large that you lose any sense of individual self whenever you attempt to approach it. Explore it in the body of a piece of writing— more for the feel of it than the facts. How do you communicate and detail the sheer mass of what you’re faced by? The sense of mortal scale? And how, in the resolution of the piece, can you focus down to a single digestible detail?

(via Milky Way photo: The galactic center by Robert Gendler.)

"The sheer scale of space is overwhelming. Oh, sure, we have words to make it more palatable, like “light-years”—as if a distance of 10 trillion kilometers is graspable by our puny simian brains.

"And that’s when I can’t do it any more. The numbers I understand, but the reality of them is too huge.

"When I was a kid—this is true—I used to look up at the sky and fear that some day we’d explore everything and run out of things to discover.

"I was completely wrong. We’ll never run out of sky. Just look at it."

Writing challenge: Focus on an issue, theme or natural phenomena that dwarfs you. Something so large that you lose any sense of individual self whenever you attempt to approach it. Explore it in the body of a piece of writing— more for the feel of it than the facts. How do you communicate and detail the sheer mass of what you’re faced by? The sense of mortal scale? And how, in the resolution of the piece, can you focus down to a single digestible detail?

Ah— on the road. This is specifically about driving, but I think it goes without saying that there’s something appealing about being in the road in the wider sense, travelling beyond the context of the everyday, connecting with parts of yourself that are quietened or subsumed by the demands of the life you settle into…

(Source: youtube.com)

There are still hurdles, still misconceptions and instances of dilution where a poet of colour perceives the need to culturally sanitise one’s self to be published. The challenge for young poets then is the exercise of balance and the further grounding and scrutiny of one’s poetics. Who exactly are you? Why do you write the way you write? What is it doing within the contemporary canon?
Poetic Movements: An Interview with Inua Ellams | Don’t Do It
When you are very young, you think old people must feel inside as old as they appear on the outside. But as you move towards agedness yourself, you realise that this is entirely wrong. People remain young on the inside, no matter how old they appear. The idea of ‘old’ people is therefore a misapprehension of our culture, which sees the split instant of a human lifetime as something elongated, divided into decades and years, persistently defined by a number. But there are no ‘old people’. Everyone is young. The only clue you have about this is your own journey as a subjective intelligence looking out. You wait for a change to descend, some radical shift of thinking which will fit with your balding head or wrinkling face. But it doesn’t come: you get giddier and more childish. I had this insight very strongly at Mount Melleray, when I realised that all these men, like myself, were teenagers, or maybe children, in their heads.
Inside Mount Melleray: ‘The world as you know it is passing away’. I don’t think this misperception is something that only the “very young” have: people of forty or more years tend to believe that somehow, as you age, your inner life comes to match your outward appearance. But as Waters, says, it’s not true. It’s not true at all. (via ayjay)

(via ayjay)

Every keystroke you type is one stroke closer to your last. And because every keystroke counts the same, why spend so many of those keystrokes answering emails that 1 person will read and then never look at again, when you could be using those same keystrokes to write an article that will help a thousand people? Or a blog comment that 10 people will read? Or a poem that 25 people will enjoy?
"Email is Where Keystrokes Go to Die." - James Clear
The black poet who writes about his or her own daily experiences – some of them negative – faces this constant risk, of being nervously applauded but silently dismissed. This is part of the anxiety of being a black poet in Britain. Yeah yeah yeah – the black poet imagines the audience saying — we’ve heard this song and dance already. Boohoo! Grow up! Get over yourself! The anxiety is sometimes a quite useful one, for every poem has its world and its history of clichés that must be recognized, avoided, and then made new.
Kei Miller— The Anxieties of Being a Black Poet in Britain | Under the Saltire Flag
The power of a classroom should never [be] that kids walk away thinking about how smart their teacher is… the power of a classroom is best when the students walk away with the confidence of knowing how smart and capable they — and all their classmates — are.
The Kids Are As Smart As You | Practical Theory

It is being written in kitchens. It is being written in the limp light of cheap 40-watt bulbs, while beside you, slouched in a chair or marooned on the couch your lover or your mother sleeps. There is the smell of liver and onions in the air. Waves of garlic descend upon the paper as you write. It is being written beside cat boxes or with old black-painted typewriters whose keys continually jam. It is being written while hamsters breed, where cockatoos work their beaks against the cage. It is morning in Alsace, Louisiana. Two poets arrive in an old black car which diesels after the motor is shut off. They step out off towards the lawn and there are greeted by a third, who is very excited, and wants to show them something. It is being written in tiny cabins up near the Arctic Circle where were it not for the ambivalent howling of the wind one could conceivably hear and be frightened by and take for one’s subject the ambivalent howling of the wolves. It is being written by men who no longer love their wives, who hate their fathers-in-law, by women who cheat on their husbands, by thousands of people old and young who feel molested by life, or cheated by the past, or crippled in the present. It is being written by young girls whose feet have ungainly long second toes, by young men with brains instead of muscles, and whose faces are moon scapes of acne, by young men whose parents cannot even read the labels off soup cans. People walk up and down the aisles of groceries and eye the soup cans. Housewives in put-up hair, in beige, shapeless and wrinkled raincoats shift in their choices between this kind of cracker or that bread, their eyes dull and glassy or ferocious with unacknowledged passion. A boy is stooping to line up bottles of fabric softener, self-conscious and hot around the collar. And he is a poet. Women stand pounding the check-out registers, from soup to nuts, free dog bones, mastocelli noodles, and all with migraines. And they are poets. The manager sits in his tiny booth and counts receipts, now and then staring out over the vast panorama which is this voiceless, heartless, mute and lonely humanity, robot-like as they, passing, push their wire carts. Someday, he will write the great poem of their souls.

It is everywhere this poetry. It is the sacred name of every place, it is the nut and bolt, the bleeder valve, the kite string of reality. It is the deep end of the pool, whose water shivers, whose bottom backs off into blue. It is the unsung, the unsaid, it is the uttered and the barely felt, the blue bird, the red. It is the ache at midnight, the slap in the face, the letter, neglected for so long, we were meaning to write to that which within us has waited, aching for so long.

Greg Kuzma, from an introductory note in What Poetry Is All About. This isn’t even the introduction. This is from a note preceding the introduction and the subsequent updated introductions, one for each edition of the text, up until an introduction to the fifth edition, which is the one I found in a treasure trove of secondhand books in Philadelphia. It was near closing, clean on the other side of Philly from where I was staying, and I was travelling out of the city the following morning. And I’m so glad I made the effort to get there. Because I found this.

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