Monday, May 18, 2015

want ad

That to have the eyes of an artist,
That can be enough,
The ear of a poet,
That can be enough.
The soul of a human
just pointed
in the direction of the divine,
that can be more than enough.
I tell you this to remind myself.
Every gesture is an act of creation.
Even empty spaces and silence
can be the wings and voices of angels.

- Michele Linfante

“The poet's job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.”

- Jane Kenyon

“I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget….

I write because I believe in words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness….

I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine….

I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are. I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love.” 

- Terry Tempest Williams, from Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert

Immediately after reading the above, I thought that there must be many writings that are something like this, because as writers we often need to clarify for ourselves why we are doing this often crazy seeming thing we do. Sure enough, I found "The I Write Because Project" blog. A very cool idea for a project.

Maybe this is a useful exercise for almost anyone, though, to remember why you're doing what you're doing. I knit because, or, I work at the library because, etc.

I have not always loved mornings. But mornings are now when I do most of my writing. (In my younger days I preferred to 'ignite the midnight petroleum' as Data on Star Trek once said).

A couple of poems by Denise Levertov about mornings:

The May Mornings 

by Denise Levertov

May mornings wear
light cashmere shawls of quietness,
brush back waterfalls of
burnished silk from
clear and round brows.
When we see them approaching
over lawns, trailing
dewdark shadows and footprints,
we remember, ah
yes, the May mornings,
how could we have forgotten,
what solace
it would be in the bitter violence
of fire then ice again we
apprehend – but
it seems the May mornings
are a presence known
only as they pass
light stepped, seriously smiling, bearing
each a leaflined basket
of wakening flowers.

The Love of Morning

by Denise Levertov

It is hard sometimes to drag ourselves
back to the love of morning
after we've lain in the dark crying out
O God, save us from the horror . . . .

God has saved the world one more day
even with its leaden burden of human evil;
we wake to birdsong.
And if sunlight's gossamer lifts in its net
the weight of all that is solid,
our hearts, too, are lifted,
swung like laughing infants;

but on gray mornings,
all incident - our own hunger,
the dear tasks of continuance,
the footsteps before us in the earth's
beloved dust, leading the way - all,
is hard to love again
for we resent a summons
that disregards our sloth, and this
calls us, calls us.

“Is it possible to make a living by simply watching light? Monet did. Vermeer did. I believe Vincent did too. They painted light in order to witness the dance between revelation and concealment, exposure and darkness. Perhaps this is what I desire most, to sit and watch the shifting shadows cross the cliff face of sandstone or simply to walk parallel with a path of liquid light called the Colorado River. In the canyon country of southern Utah, these acts of attention are not merely the pastimes of artists, but daily work, work that matters to the whole community.

This living would include becoming a caretaker of silence, a connoisseur of stillness, a listener of wind where each dialect is not only heard but understood.”

- Terry Tempest Williams

How happy I would be if this were a job posting: wanted: caretaker of silence, connoisseur of stillness, observer of light.

Perhaps the ad would go on: lover of mornings, soul pointed in the direction of the divine, must be sensitive, enjoys solitude, meditation, looking at things, and long walks.

And in fact, I think the world would be a much better place if these jobs existed.

So, last week snow, and this week: blossoms.

Of course, along with new green leaves, lovely blossoms, come dandelions. Which I find quite cheering.

A couple of shots of the suburbs, above and below. 

And now it must be time for a little virtual teatime. I recently splurged on one of those 14 dollar milk frothing devices which has made my matcha tea ritual all that much nicer. 

So if we were drinking matcha tea together, I'd tell you that the cover for my novel coming out this fall, Rumi and the Red Handbag, is in the process of being finalized. The final edits are in, and next there will be a proofing, and after that the ARCs (advanced reader copies) will at some point magically appear. It's really quite an amazing process that a novel goes through to get to the moment when it's available in a bookstore. It's different from a book of poetry in a few ways, most notably in that a book of poetry would rarely be made into an ARC. (Maybe the super famous poets receive this treatment, I don't know). Probably this is obvious, but everything takes longer. Writing the book took longer, finding a publisher took longer, editing it, same. I'd written most of the book by the time we visited Amsterdam and the Museum of Bags and Purses in 2011. After I wrote the book I had a complete crisis of confidence or something, and just let it sit there for about a year before doing one last edit and sending it out. In the end, I suppose it's all unfolded as it should. I've found the perfect publisher (Palimpsest Press) for it, the perfect editor, and the book is going to be stunning. 

If we were having tea together, perhaps I'd show off these new bracelets I ordered from Modern Flower Child and which I'm crazy in love with.

I would also tell you about watching Mr. Turner. From a review in the Globe and Mail:

‘The man must be loved for his works; for his person is not striking nor his conversation brilliant,” the artist Edward Dayes said of his contemporary, J.M.W. Turner. Even his biographer, A.J. Finberg, writing in the 1930s, complained: “Turner is a very uninteresting man to write about.”

The acting was wonderful - Mr. Turner has not at all been portrayed as a Mr. Darcy, or a romantic figure in any way. (Nothing against Mr. Darcy of course). Refreshing though to see someone portrayed sympathetically enough but without varnish. Well worth watching.

This past week I think I deleted more photos than I've ever deleted in a week. Just couldn't quite get the feeling right, the light right. I kept returning to these mock plum blossoms, never completely satisfied. Last year's photos seem better. And yet, they're what I was able to capture.

These next two amused me - different settings on the camera showing Ace and his two toys - duck and fox. It's probably random, but it does seem as though he set them in the light, just so.

Lastly, some photos of the nature walk we took on mother's day, at Whitemud Creek, Rob, Chloe and me. The last one is me with my favourite type of tree - birch. 


  1. Good morning! Thinking about that quote from Jane Kenyon, I want to replace "poet" with "photographer". And yes, lately I've been giving a lot of thought to why I do what I do...would love to have a job as a light watcher, how perfect would that be? Thank you for that delicious matcha tea. So excited for your new book and I have no doubt that it will be stunning. Your bracelets are stunning too, they remind me of the forest with those beautiful earthy colors.

    I can't imagine a more glorious spring than what I see in your photos today. Seems Ace is a light chaser too! Always a pleasure to start my week with your Monday post...hope the rest of your week is fabulous. xo

    1. Thanks so much Susan. I suppose you could say we have jobs as light watchers...just not paid ones....too bad! Wishing you a fabulous week too!

  2. That last pic of you is absolutely wonderful.
    I recently saw Mr. Turner and enjoyed it also.
    I was such a visual feast.

    1. Oh, and thank you for including the bangles by Modern Flower Child! They're amazing. I would like to order some, but she is trying to fill orders it seems. :)

    2. Did you send her an email Sandra? That's what I did. :) Mr. Turner really was a visual feast. Nicely put!

  3. There was so much I wanted to say about this post last week and I ended up saying nothing. Now, I think it's enough for me to say: I want that job too. XO


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