Today is the last day of this writing conference.
I will share some photos with you, just because I am rather speechless…not wordless…but considering it all, listening to Barbra Streisand and Tom Waits, eating popcorn in my empty dorm room, the windows open to the rain…just sitting here.
Praise Song by Suzi Banks Baum after Barbara Crooker June 25, 2012
Praise lumps of clay pinched in to breasts and dimpled thighs.
Praise teeth and the yielding fuzz of peach.
Praise all dogs for I love them not, but praise them anyway because others do.
Praise the praying mantis, dervish, scribe and washerwoman.
Praise all bricklayers and meiofauna.
Praise grit and grime and grease.
Praise me for getting myself here and listening for what I love.
Praise Jonathan for doing all he does in our attic to make it better for us at home.
Praise the pallid death mask of my mother, hidden in my files, reminding me of a life I’d rather not repeat.
Praise every tower, every tree, every stick and the boys on the other ends of them for even they can be turned round to peace.
Praise the shaky ground of understanding between us but the gathering anyway, bless polar bears on shrinking ice and bromeliads rare in crotches of towering ecosystems I will never glimpse.
Praise you for leaning over to look me in the eye and say yes. Yes, I will.
Praise Lake Superior for coasting all that ice and laden canoes and northern light.
Praise violet, red, purple and pink, praise labia and flushing skin blushed with lust.
Praise instinct and Obama, Michelle and Barack.
Praise and praise again and my brain will illuminate like a Ferris wheel.
Praise IWWG and the women in it.
Praise all who hold the vision of what it was.
Praise all who hold the vision of what it could be.
Praise all who, like me, arrived only recently and quite love it just like this.
Praise all with far seeing gazes and for the microscopic ones.
Praise me for just showing up to play, really play full out with each of my beloved teachers- Judy Adourian, Eunice Scarfe, Jan Phillips, June Gould, Susan Tiberghien, Lynne Barrett, Zita Christian and Myra Shapiro.
Praise Marj Hahne because I love her so.
Praise Sandy for pinching me every time we heard something that resonated. I have a bruise on my arm from her.
Praise be all the women who donned their name-tags and crossed the quad, the four directions, and the four walls of their entanglements to be here, this weekend at Yale.
Praise the Beinecke Library, right there down the street with marble plates in the walls to protect those books, protecting those live things.
Praise the huge trees, and Alethea’s Copper Beech for sheltering me from the rain and the sun and offering us each the perspective of time and long growth and the goodness of branching out.
Praise and praise again.
Though darkness gathers I reach my strong arms, praising fireflies and dragonflies and zippers, and step in to this river of living.
There is the sense here of the Wizard of Oz and Glinda.
These teachers are each Glinda in her magnificent glowy gown, tipping her head and pointing with her wand indicating the place for us to set our feet upon the yellow brick road of our creative expression, in this case, writing and begin.
Really. It happens like that.
There is so much writing to support the act of beginning and carrying on with it. Eunice kept pressing us to use the resources at our fingertips to learn from those who have gone before us. From her and June and Jan, I have a syllabus of reading for the whole next year. I will share with you some of what they suggested.
So, I leave you with Louise Erdrich and her poem. Jan read this to us at the end of our session with her. Then we took these photos.
Advice to Myself
By Louise Erdrich
Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another.
Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator.
Accept new forms of life and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.
~From: “Original Fire: New and Selected Poems”,2003, by Louise Erdrich, page 149
I do ask you, what can you begin today, that you have put off for so long?
Tell me here.
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