About 2 weeks ago, I wanted to read a book on van Gogh, but got stuck on one painting, “Ward in the Hospital in Arles.” I wrote a post which I hope to expand into something much larger. Please do take a look at it, or at least the painting. I can’t really do justice to the depth of van Gogh’s vision. He understands how our very vision has no neutrality: it sees hope or terror almost immediately.
I also spent a lot of time with Jane Hirshfield’s poem guide, “Spiritual Poetry.” I don’t think I’m done with it yet. She not only picked excellent poems, but she commented on them in ways designed to get the reader thinking. From her short essay, I wrote on Izumi Shikibu’s description of a house battered by frightening sounds, Li Po’s famous “Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain,” and, my most recent entry, Cavafy’s “Che Fece… Il Gran Refiuto.” I don’t know that I’ve written anything particularly good, but I’m happy I’m open to inspiration. Maybe these thoughts will become something good someday.
I covered two topics through Dickinson. First, erotic love — as one enthusiastic Twitter user said, a “thirsty” Dickinson. See: Emily Dickinson, “My River runs to thee” (162) & “Distance — is not the Realm of Fox” (1155). Then I moved to the problem of bad memories, which Dickinson treats through a description of sunlight granting darkness a variety of light and colors as it fades away. See: Emily Dickinson, “Fairer through Fading — as the Day” (938).
Finally, I am trying to work on craft. I’d like every word, sentence, paragraph to be carefully chosen and meaningful. A prompt I encountered asked pretty bluntly “Why do you write?” and I realized I could give that question a lot more thought: Why I Write.
My thanks to all of you for your readership and support. More of you are sharing these posts and reaching out to me, and that feels really good.