thinking about writing


Eileen and I slept in the master bedroom last night for the first time in over a year. Our second family unit has sought other digs. We are still early in the process of getting the house back into shape for two old people to live together in. But we have never slept in the bed that Eileen ordered and installed until last night. Such luxury.

Elizabeth and Alex will be here tomorrow since Alex has a check up scheduled. I don’t think they will spend the night, but we try to be as flexible as possible to help out.

I have been thinking about writing. George Saunders is teaching me to read better. I am enjoying going back and forth between Russian stories and Saunders explications in A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In which four Russians give a master class on writing, reading, and life. 

Saunders has some clear insights in how a writer becomes present in his/her work. In a little chapter called Afterthought #3, he uses the analogy of going out on a date with someone to talk about writing as conversation. What could go wrong in a piece of prose?  He asks. Quite a lot. To emphasize this, he imagines taking along 3 x 5 cards to remind oneself of good ideas to remember during a date. “You know: ‘7:00 P.M. inquire re childhood memories’: ‘7:15 Praise her outfit.'”

He points out how this over thinking leaves the other person out of the process. The cards are the “conversational equivalent of a plan.” He quotes Donald Barthelme: “The writer is one who embarking upon a task, does not know what to do.”

And he comes up with a lovely quote from Gerald Stern: “If you start out to write a poem about two dogs fucking, and you write a poem about two dogs fucking—then you wrote a poem about two dogs fucking.”

I quite like that.

Honest writing and revision can be understood as “a way of practicing relationship; seeing what, when we do it, improves the relationship between ourselves and the reader. ”

Winter Stars (Pitt Poetry Series): Levis, Larry: 9780822953685:  Books

I continue to read a decent amount of poetry.  I finished two books of poetry today: Winter Stars by Larry Levis and Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey by Hayden Carruth.

Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey: Poems, 1991-1995: Carruth, Hayden: 9781556591105: Books

Both books are by dead white guys. I have two more titles by Levis and plan to read them. I started his posthumous Elegy.\

Elegy (Pitt Poetry Series): Levis, Larry: 9780822956488: Books

I requested another book by Carruth from the library.

Childhood Ideogram by Larry Levis | Poetry Foundation

This poem is in Winter Stars. 

The Two Trees by Larry Levis

This is in Elegy.

Dog playing piano - GIF on Imgur

The prelude and postlude were improvisations today at church. i should probably schedule something besides improv for next Sunday. I made the prelude rhythmic and the postlude thoughtful just for the heck of it. It seemed to work fine. I resisted basing them on hymn tunes. But I did end the thoughtful one with a very small quote from today’s hymn, “Savior, like a shepherd lead us.”




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