Just Read, Crazy Horse, Derrick Jensen, Rumi, turbans, Sufi, Third Coast   3 comments


Death, worrying about my children, rattlesnakes, and having a grown-up sleepover, where I’m not sure I’d be invited if I didn’t know someone who knew someone else, finally got the best of me and I got sick, which is not a big deal, but I “never” get sick. But the deal is that death happens to old people and others, children still worry their parents at any age, rattlesnake’s bite, and staying at other’s  homes is not my favorite thing to do, but I survived. The good thing about this  “sick” week is allowing myself to be still and listen to some interesting people, and read a new literary journal that I received just for sending my poetry and a fee to a contest I did not win, but I am still a winner because the paid-for-gift that all those who enter, including losers, inspired me to add a new post to this blog even though my head is fuzzy with cold medicine.

The journal “Third Coast” is from the Department of English, Western Michigan University. On a side note, did you know that Michigan has the highest number of Arab American citizens in the country. I spoke to a very nice Arab American woman in Michigan while helping my daughter research a topic recently. Arab American is like saying Native American, it does not tell you what country/tribe and so lumps a lot of people into one group, but what a nice chat I had with a helpful Arab American lady in Michigan. In “Third Coast” the poet Alicia Ostriker is interview by the editors. Ms Ostriker’s most recent book is The Book Of Seventy, which she says was esthetically inspired by the artist Willem de Kooning and the paintings he did late in life when he had Alzheimer’s. She says that de Kooning’s work is stark, simple magnificence. “Brush in hand no ego there he went. No more neurosis, no more rage. Pure color, pure line, pure play. I wish I could do that.” Ms Ostriker writes that de Kooning painting when he had Alzheimer’s is  “like an infant/that can only  cry/ and suckle, and shit, and sleep.” Inspiration is “a cold hissing tide,” and writing is feeding “word meat” to skeletons. Our relation to the planet is that we are “the killer species/that uses its intelligence to be/the world’s butchers and poisoner.”

I want to feed some skeletons “word meat.” I have been working on a book, that, of course, I have no idea if it might ever get published, yet have dedicated my time of unemployment to doing it. But I miss writing poetry, and it seems that my brain has been re-directed with another kind of writing that I don’t even know if it is good or bad or has possibility. When I returned to school at the ripe old age of 42, algebra terrified me. I dreamt about it, ate tuna and listened to Mozart before exams because I read it would help. One of the biggest fears was that I wouldn’t write while taking math classes, because they would suck the energy and creativity from me with their right and wrong way of being, with their black or white deductions. But I still wrote, and I have written  a few poems while working on the book. Metaphors in poetry take my mind somewhere else and my mind is missing that elsewhere place. I’ve been working hard to get the information down for this book, thinking that when I have to return to regular paying work,  and have less time, then I can add the good stuff, the richness to the manuscript that will have the essential pieces or skeleton  completed, and then I’ll return to it and feed it “word meat.”  I don’t know if this is a good process or if there is a “good” process. Or if the skeleton will accept my food after having gone so long without nourishment.  Reading the “Third Coast” journal excited me in the way that doing something you love excites. It reminded me that I should continue to do what I love even when it seems like I’m on a deserted island called Mary’s house and everyone around me works toward a comfortable retirement, or next year’s vacation, and even when the chance of making money doing this is slight, it must be done, and it must be done by me.
“We cannot hope to create a sustainable culture with any but sustainable souls, ” is something Derrick Jensen wrote. He was interviewed this week by Amy Goodman. I had never heard of this poet/philosopher/environmental activist, but I like what he said in the short interview, and I plan to read some of his work. He has written many books. I must sustain my soul and forego what others believe to be necessary and important.

Ms. Ostrikcr gives readers a great line from poet Ross Gay who writes about other ways of viewing masculinity. The opening poem from his book Against Which describes the poet gawking at two men in motorcycle jackets  fiercely embracing on the street, “as if we had nothing/to blow up, as if we had nothing to kill.” Ahh what word meat that is.

“Literature makes us more fully human” this from writer Kelcey Ervick Parker, but she was not the first to recognize this. We are reading less, children are reading less. What’s to become of us? When we read, we learn how other people bake their bread, where their dead go, and we discover that they sorrow and love the same way as people across an ocean or desert, but if we don’t read, it is easier  demonize our enemies and justify any actions against them.  We can believe sound bites and bumper stickers without question. Director Werner Herzog says of his style of filmmaking, “It’s more a different spirit, a rogue, guerrilla style of filmmaking, including the notion that as a filmmaker you have to read, read, read.”

My mother read. My mother, an extraordinary Christian, loved that we had a new doctor in our small town who practiced Sufism, and wore a turban. My mother had nothing to fear from diversity, because she was secure in her beliefs and practiced loving kindness, curiosity, tolerance and the path of Jesus which is love. If she had never picked up a book, she might have been filled with terror as so many Americans seem to be these days, maybe they should read some books, like “Roots” “Crazy Horse”  “Three Cups of Tea” or the poems of the great Persian poet Rumi and they might be less fearful of the “other people” in this great shrinking world.

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Posted November 5, 2010 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Just Read, Crazy Horse, Derrick Jensen, Rumi, turbans, Sufi, Third Coast

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  1. I like sampling your fine wares, your fine words. Thank you for inspiring me with your ideas. Jw

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    • Thank you Ma’am. Isn’t it cool how inspiration flows from one person’s words or art and causes another person to be sparked in some way and then write or create something completely different yet inspired by what they saw or heard from another.

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  2. Love the blog but this one especially caught my attention. I have such fond memories of your mom. Ruth was an extraordinary person. She exuded kindness. I will never forget how great she was to my family and me. 🙂

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