Mary Oliver’s instructions for living a life.
Two or three times in my life I discovered love.
Each time it seemed to solve everything.
Each time it solved a great many things
but not everything.
Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and
thoroughly, solved everything.
Filed under: Mary Oliver
“Writing for pleasure, like reading for pleasure, is essentially volitional, intrinsically motivated, writer-directed and choice-led; it has meaning making at its core. Writing that we require from children that is formally assessed is not child-led and may well have the reverse effect, such that the major purpose becomes pleasing the teacher and passing tests, and a preoccupation with form rather than substance. There is a pressing need to attend to children’s ideas, their generation, incubation and contemplation, as well as to appropriate grammatical knowledge.”
– Tessa Cremin, via Writing for pleasure? – Teachers as Writers
“More and more I find that salvation lives in that small space between what happens to me and how I react.”
– (via howitzerliterarysociety)
1: If you don’t know Shantell Martin, go find out more.
2: I’ve been clearing through my Pocket and Instapaper archives. On the one hand, the amount I’ve mindlessly accumulated in both accounts is daunting. Dear past self— why hoard so!? Infomania much? On the other hand, the ability to dive in and pull out a random gem is quite beautiful. Dear past self— thank you.
3: I’ve found it interesting to export an archive of saved web content and take a look at my fascinations, obsessions and curious interests. A 10,000 foot view of my drivers. Poetry, technology, pedagogy, the impacts of social media and new technology on consumption and creativity… analog photography, digital photography, sci-fi, cyberpunk, fitness, cycling, and more… If I were a true Quantified Selfer, maybe I’d extract meaning from my Instapaper CSV file in some visually stunning way. A heat map of interests, perhaps. A timeline of keywords. Barcharts of the sites I tend to grab content from (NYTimes, 99u, Poetry Foundation, to name a few). The idea of such visualised data is appealing (to me at least), but don’t hold your breath.
4: I love Shantell Martin’s presentation style here. Beyond the “gimmick” (and I don’t use that word pejoratively) of working with a tablet in this way to move around a single document and zoom in on specific parts of it to interactively hook into whatever she’s saying at any point in her presentation, it strikes me that she’s managed to find a way of bringing her tools and processes to a ubiquitous task (presentation), offering meaning and value while staying true to her idiosyncracies and practices. Her presentation style seems to be very much a natural extension of what she does as an artist. Keywords/hashtags: integrity, authenticity.
“This is an age of divorce. Things that belong together have been taken apart. And you can’t put it all back together again. What you do is the only thing that you can do: you take two things that ought to be together and you put them back together. Two things, not all things! That’s the way the work has to go. You make connections in your work… That’s what we do, we people who make things. If it’s a stool or a film or a poem or an essay or a novel or a musical composition, it’s all about that. Finding how it fits together and fitting it together.”
– Wendell Berry, via (Austin Kleon)
I cried reading this, because this is how I read poetry.
“The self-critical part of ourselves that Freud calls the super-ego is remarkably narrow minded. It has an unusually impoverished vocabulary. And it is, like all propagandists, relentlessly repetitive. It doesn’t, as they say, do us justice. “It is cruelly intimidating,” Lacan writes of the obscene super-ego, “and it never brings us any news about ourselves.” There are only ever two or three things we are endlessly accusing ourselves of, and they are all too familiar— a stuck record, as we say, but in both senses. The super-ego is reiterative. It is the stuck record of the past.”
– Adam Philips, Against Self-Criticism, via the London Review of Books Podcast
This is the part of the job that doesn’t get talked about a lot, not least because it’s hard to talk about, but also because it doesn’t involve Productivity and Goals and The Magic Of Writering and The Grand Statement and all that good stuff in interviews. Sure, we all talk about the important Staring At The Wall And Farting Around time, but it’s also about sifting through the shitpile at the back of your head and deciding if you actually have anything to say. Any idiot can recycle the monomyth and plug in a setting and a handful of blank characters, but that’s not the same as having something to say: about the world, life, a thing, even yourself. I have a whole folder of loose ideas that dried up and got thrown in the folder because they and I turned out to have nothing to say about anything – they were just collections of cogs and levers. And by that, I mean probably eight to ten dead ideas, written up and filed, for every one that gets published.
It’s a moronic way to work. Some of my books only speak to me, I’m sure. It’s just the only way to work that I know.
– Warren Ellis (via Orbital Operations)
“There is a moment in Alice Fulton’s Feeling as a Foreign Language: The Good Strangeness of Poetry that’s been going off in my skull like a flare. In it, she suggests: ‘Each poet creates an expatriate space, a slightly skewed domain where things are freshly felt because they are freshly said.’ And right before that, Fulton muses: ‘Of course, the impulse to create language commensurate to – and transcendent of – meaning is the driving force of poetry.’”
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
– André Gide (via kathleenjoy)
“Your life’s work begins when your great joy meets the world’s great hunger.”
– Kate Bornstein (via kathleenjoy)
Tadeusz Dąbrowski: Does your poetry arise from an excess or a lack, from a glut or from famine?
D. A. Powell: I think a bit of both: an excess of emotion, certainly, and of thought and language—that feeling of “I simply cannot contain all of this feeling and perception in any other way except to create a kind of external hard drive, a place to record and store all of this information.” But also a craving, a longing, a desire to bring back experiences, ideas, people…. To call the lost world back into being.
“I find that often if I’m having a rough go of writing it’s probably a sign that I need to get back to reading or I’m not reading widely enough. That last part is key. Don’t just read contemporary poets. Don’t just read American poets. Don’t just read poetry. Read fiction, essays, graphic novels, history, science articles, fashion magazines, blogs—the world is so vast. Read widely but be discerning. Find what feeds you.”
– Derrick Austin via Burrow Press
“Balance your image systems: An image system is the set of images we create in a poem to make our argument. A good image system coheres, but also makes an idea new. The elements of the image system should be clear and lucid and dynamic.”
“Our capacity for what psychoanalyst Adam Phillips has termed “fertile solitude” is absolutely essential not only for our creativity but for the basic fabric of our happiness — without time and space unburdened from external input and social strain, we’d be unable to fully inhabit our interior life, which is the raw material of all art.”
“When I speak of poetry I am not thinking of it as a genre. Poetry is an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality. So poetry becomes a philosophy to guide a man throughout his life…. [With poetry, one] is capable of going beyond the limitations of coherent logic, and conveying the deep complexity and truth of the impalpable connections and hidden phenomena of life.”
– Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair (1987)
Hello. I’m Jacob Sam-La Rose. I’m the author of Breaking Silence and Communion. My working hours are distributed between poetry, literature in education, experiments with creative technology and community architecture. I exist in a number of different places online— this site serves as an aggregator, an overview of the various different strands of my web-based activity. Get in touch if you’d like to know more about any of my work.
“In my mind the text is the greatest teacher. That’s how I teach classes. Good poetry is the greatest revelation. I guess what you can teach largely is a love of poetry, not only a love of poetry but a trust of poetry. One thing that keeps people from writing well or that closes people down is actually a fear of poetry, a fear of the freedom it constitutes. We all have internal censors so one thing a teacher can do is try to help a student contend with internal censors. Aside from teaching the craft which I believe in entirely you have to go easy in teaching, you have to judge how much a person is ready for and that calls for constant ability to read people that no one has all the time.”
– William Olsen, from Poets on Pedagogy
“The future is a weatherfront, and attempting to predict single lightning strikes is stupid and wasteful. Understand the future as weather, and yourself as standing on the shore looking out to the horizon. Breathe the air and watch the water. There are dozens of different systems acting on the approach of the future. In order to get a handle on what’s coming, you need to be talking to and working with and keeping an eye on many different fields. Not just “technology.” The future is also always social, and economic, and political, and many other things besides, and those things act on the path of the storm. And, if you’re standing on the shore, you know that there are a lot of storms out there, and any one of them could hit like a hurricane. If this sounds good to you, then, please, get to it. Because we’re running out of reliable early-warning stations.”
– Warren Ellis, via Orbital Operations