Thursday, September 19, 2013



by Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

I've shared the Kinnell poem ages ago, but when I came across it, it reminded me of a couple of people I know. Thought they might like it. And I think they're some of the ones who read this blog at times. Can't be sure, of course.

I was thinking that 'wait' can sometimes be the best advice we are given. There are those times when, for whatever reason, things stop being interesting, they stop being beautiful. Even flowers are dull. The days are hard on us. We're exhausted. Wait. Trust the days. Yes.

An unconnected thought, I guess. I've been reading The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem and in the notes to the title essay (the one made up of cobblings, borrowings, paraphrases, thefts) quotes Dizzy Gillespie defending a player who's been accused of copying Charlie Parker's style:

"You can't steal a gift. Bird gave the world his music, and if you can hear it you can have it."

As writers, artists, photographers, we are all influenced. I think maybe we talk about it often in terms of 'inspiration' these days. Who are you inspired by? This is a question that is similar, though slightly  different, to Who are you influenced by?

When I start writing a new book or even just thinking of what it could be, one of the first things I do is begin to gather the books I want to be in the vicinity of while writing. And I think I've been using Pinterest subconsciously to begin gathering certain things, images I want to have floating around in my mind. I was a bit worried that Pinterest would be a bit of a time waster for me but I have to admit that I love it. When I want to go back to an image, it's easy to find. Sometimes I pin something and forget about it, and when I come back to it, it reminds me of something.

Anyway. Reading the Lethem essay had me thinking about all the ways we 'steal' stuff on the internet. I really believe it's important to acknowledge our borrowings, to attribute the author or artist, to say when we are indebted to another author, to talk about who influences us, and who we're inspired by. I also think it's important to share our own work. Which can be a strange thing to do at times. But I've been thinking about all the Mary Oliver poems on the internet, for example. She's obviously freely allowing this. And I can't help but think it only increases her sales, though they're being passed around by others as a gift, right?

The economy of the gift and art. I think about that a lot too. Most people have read The Gift by Lewis Hyde by now. (It's somewhere on my recommended shelf). Here is Lethem stealing from Hyde in his essay:

"Art that matters to us - which moves the heart, or revives the soul, or delights the senses, or offers courage for living, however we choose to describe the experience - is received as a gift is received. Even if we've paid a fee at the door of the museum or concert hall, when we are touched by a work of art something comes to us that has nothing to do with the price. The daily commerce of our lives proceeds at its own constant level, but a gift conveys an uncommodifiable surplus of inspiration."

Whenever I begin to think of what I'm writing next I feel like I need to think about this gift economy, about what matters in art to me. Those things that move the heart, revive the soul, and offers courage for living.

So that was a rather long ramble. Ooops.

These flowers are from our garden. Rob photographed them all individually and then put them in this stemless wine glass. I've been watching them for a couple of days. I photographed them one morning in a clear and lovely light. Quite soft, but still, clear.

And then, later that evening.

And then the next morning, quite early.

And a little later the same morning....


  1. Interesting how you gather for your writing process- I never realized how authors get inspiration?
    The grey neutral against the beautiful roses, love.
    The light...and sweet Buddha
    Beautiful all.

  2. I so appreciate you sharing your writing experience Shawna. It connects. And as for waiting, is it not a critical spiritual and gardening discipline?

  3. That's also what I thought: how interesting that you gather books when you embark upon one of your own. The presence keeps it in mind -- especially your perceptions from each together with how it reaches you. I like that.

    Lovely photos, lovely thoughts, and I always appreciate the sharing and I always give credit to anyone whose work I share whether it's words, images, even ideas.

  4. Thank you all - your comments mean so much. xo


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