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Nov 9

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into…”

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

- Martha Graham on the Hidden Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others | James Clear
Nov 9

One day, we had a family photoshoot…













One day, we had a family photoshoot…

Nov 8

A Map of the Border Between Nebraska and Iowa at Carter Lake (by…



A Map of the Border Between Nebraska and Iowa at Carter Lake (by amproehl)

WRITING PROMPT: write a poem inspired by one of the images in the collection “Maps of Strange Borders”.

Nov 8

“Try to meet a poem on its terms not yours. If you have to “relate” to a poem in order to understand…”

“Try to meet a poem on its terms not yours. If you have to “relate” to a poem in order to understand it, you aren’t reading it sufficiently. In other words, don’t try to fit the poem into your life. Try to see what world the poem creates. Then, if you are lucky, its world will help you re-see your own.”

- Reading a Poem: 20 Strategies - The Atlantic
Nov 7

“I always think about synthesis. Putting things together. Placement. Fitting. This is ‘thinking like…”

  1. I always think about synthesis. Putting things together. Placement. Fitting. This is ‘thinking like a writer’ to me.


- This Modern Writer: 100 Facts About Brian Oliu (by Brian Oliu, of course) | [PANK]
Nov 6

New form: reminder for the gogyohshi-ku and the specular…



New form: reminder for the gogyohshi-ku and the specular gogyohshi-ku. This specular gogyohshi-ku is mirrored in structure, not necessarily in content— i.e. you don’t strictly have to reverse the lines (though extra points if you do). Note: in the specular, the form begins with a reverse gogyohshi-ku, in order to begin and end with haiku.

Oct 28

“I remember that the writing of these poems was driven by some kind of dynamic source—intellectual,…”

“I remember that the writing of these poems was driven by some kind of dynamic source—intellectual, emotional, physical. If I remember that, it animates the poems, even the quieter ones. Going to hear a reader read a poem is simply not the same thing as reading it yourself. So as a poet giving a reading, I see no point in being absent from the work while presenting it live (reading in Times New Roman, I call it). That’s what the book is for. That does not mean that you have to shout, switch accents, and sing (though that’s often an honest part of the composition for me and many others)—but I think being present is necessary and audiences can tell, even when your version of present is to read without much affect.”

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Douglas Kearney Raps, Scats, and Grows Beautiful, Thorny Horns | Poets and Writers

Note: Kearney studies “comedians to work out timing, cringe humor, and audience interaction.”

Oct 27

“Examine the lives of the best and most fruitful people and peoples and ask yourselves whether a tree…”

“Examine the lives of the best and most fruitful people and peoples and ask yourselves whether a tree that is supposed to grow to a proud height can dispense with bad weather and storms; whether misfortune and external resistance, some kinds of hatred, jealousy, stubbornness, mistrust, hardness, avarice, and violence do not belong among the favorable conditions without which any great growth even of virtue is scarcely possible.”

- Nietzsche, via Brain Pickings
Oct 26

(via We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind – but…



(via We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind - but does it float)

Writing prompt: write a poem that involves or arises from a bus journey. The poem should remain rooted in that journey, but can use that journey as a lens through to make comment on some larger experience.

(follow the link for further inspiration)

Oct 25

This is my iPhone. There are many like it, but this one is…



This is my iPhone. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Dead iPhone day, today. It’s been acting up for a while— crashing and rebooting itself a good few times a day. Yesterday it got into some kind of reboot loop where it would restart every 5 minutes or so. Lovely. This morning, I managed to keep it alive for long enough to see that iOS8.1 had been released, and even long enough to download the update, hoping that would fix my ills. But I fell foul of the update process, and ended up having to “restore” — return to factory defaults.

Last backup? About a month ago. Any way to recover without restoring? Possibly, but the pain it would take… I decided it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to wipe the slate clean and start again. Set the thing up as a brand new iPhone.

It’s amazing how much we come to depend on these tools, these devices. My phone is a communication device (text, audio, video, still image), it’s my primary camera, my health/fitness tracker, my mindfulness buddy, my “first-in-hand” information access point…

I’ve already installed the apps that were instantly conspicuous by their absence: Fantastical, Accompli, Drafts, Soundcloud, Casts, Google Now, Google Maps, Reporter, Moves, Up, Daily Tracker, Instagram, VSCOcam, Pocket, Evernote, Dropbox, 1Password, TextExpander, Blinkist, Buffer and Evershaker (and yes, that list doesn’t cover even half of what I had on the phone before now). Most of these apps have some kind of “back up to cloud” capability built in (it’s one of the criteria I consider for apps that I really depend on). That said, I know I’ve got a period of inconvenience ahead— half-remembered passwords to reset, settings to tweak and all those myriad other adjustments that make this particular iPhone 5 mine. But you know what? It’s okay. It’s easy to get to a point where you take your gear for granted.

Funny how these devices are so ubiquitous now— the way you might reach for someone else’s phone until you thumb it to life and realise, by the image you’ve chosen to display on the lock screen, that it’s not yours. Most of the people I work with are Apple users— but I’m so used to my own rig that there’s always a slightly dizzying period of adjustment when I have to sit down in front of someone else’s machine. That’s not necessarily a comment on the contemporary condition. I’m a “power user”. I know my tools inside out, and I’ve fine-tuned them for my own quirks and biases. But, seen from the outside at least, I own the same hunks or slabs of metal, glass or aluminium as anyone else.

15 years ago, my peers were all aspiring to the same beige boxes. To be fair, it’s a wider field now. But just the same as any other instrument, it’s what we do with them that counts.

Oct 24

“A poem is something that happens. It is not words or characters on a page, and it is not a…”

“A poem is something that happens. It is not words or characters on a page, and it is not a performance by the artist: the artist makes the means or occasion for the poem to happen in the reader, an action spirited into being. This process from maker to work to recipient, a process so ancient it seems natural, is itself a human creation, like any other social form.”

- Robert Pinsky, via Paris Review
Oct 24

“For the perfect accomplishment of any art, you must get this feeling of the eternal present into…”

“For the perfect accomplishment of any art, you must get this feeling of the eternal present into your bones — for it is the secret of proper timing. No rush. No dawdle. Just the sense of flowing with the course of events in the same way that you dance to music, neither trying to outpace it nor lagging behind. Hurrying and delaying are alike ways of trying to resist the present.”

- Alan Watts in Does It Matter? Essays on Man’s Relation to Materiality (via Literary Jukebox)
Oct 23

“If you’re a black person who has ever visited a place where there aren’t many other black people,…”

“If you’re a black person who has ever visited a place where there aren’t many other black people, then you will be familiar with The Nod. The Nod is just that: An almost imperceptible lowering of the head toward any other black person you might encounter on your travels through, say, Slovakia or Russia. Yet The Nod is also so much more than that: It’s a swift yet intimate statement of ethnic solidarity. The Nod is saying, “Wow, well, I really didn’t expect to see another one of us out here, but you seem to be doing your thing just fine. More power to you, and all the very best.””

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The Nod: A Subtle Lowering of the Head to Another Black Person in an Overwhelmingly White Place — Musa Okwonga

I know this nod.

And I find some of the comments here fascinating— those that seek to claim the “nod” as a universal gesture that doesn’t depend on race or culture, as if to challenge Musa’s authority on his own experience, or to somehow assert how good the commenter is in not seeing race or being affected by associated concerns and considerations.

Maybe this nod is not the nod you know. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that.

Oct 22

“It’s possible to bend language to your will, to invest extraordinary amounts of effort and…”

It’s possible to bend language to your will, to invest extraordinary amounts of effort and care to make words do what you want them to do.

Our culture celebrates athletes that shape their bodies, and chieftains who build organizations. Lesser known, but more available, is the ability to work on our words until they succeed in transmitting our ideas and causing action.

Here’s the thing: you may not have the resources or the physique or the connections that people who do other sorts of work have. But you do have precisely the same keyboard as everyone else. It’s the most level playing field we’ve got.



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Seth Godin on doing the word.

To do it well, bookmark this evolving library of notable advice on writing from celebrated authors, then revisit Steven Pinker on the art and cognitive science of effective writing.

(via explore-blog)

Oct 22

forthenandevermore Tumblr says that my photoblog turned five…



forthenandevermore

Tumblr says that my photoblog turned five yesterday. Five years old. Wow. Does that make me a Tumblr OG?* To scroll back through five years of random capture is not only homage to the things I’ve seen in that time, but also the tools I’ve used to shoot over the years. Most of the early images were shot via Hipstamatic (aka what we did for Instagram before Instagram came on the scene) on an iPhone 3G. Then there’s a medium format phase, where I shot with with a Yashica 124G and a Bronica ETRS-i, before going back to an iPhone for a bit, and a Sony NEX 5N. Most of the recent captures come from VSCO cam, via my iPhone 5, but there’s a new camera in the family (the Sony A7) that I’m itching to get something more exciting that pictures of my living room floor and other lens tests with. There’s a memory card of recent shots that I need to make some time to flick through…

Of course, the accepted wisdom of the day is that the tools don’t really matter, it’s how you use them that counts. The above is one of my favourite images from FTAEM. Carnival, a few years back, a couple kissing in the middle of the crowd. And although there are those out there who’ll sigh for me fawning over kit, I got this picture with a Yashica 124G— it didn’t feel as solid in the hand as the Bronica, but it was capable of some gorgeous images.

*Speaking of Tumblr-OGism— turns out that Miscellany (the very same blog you’re reading right now) turned 7 earlier this month. Tumblr launched in February 2007. Miscellany started a mere 8 months after. I’ll hold my breath for a certificate of early adoption…

Oct 21

“I have had a troublesome relationship with time. The past I cannot trust because it could be tainted…”

“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)
Oct 20

(via Milky Way photo: The galactic center by Robert…



(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?

Oct 14

explore-blog: Rebecca Solnit on the solitary intimacy of…



explore-blog:

Rebecca Solnit on the solitary intimacy of reading and writing – so beautiful.

Oct 14

Ah— on the road. This is specifically about driving, but I think…



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…

Oct 11