Events are all on hold, the air is hesitation and anxiety, and my natural fear of entrapment is a very realized state of caginess. Seclusion has forced me to do my job and so I’ve been writing and reading a bit lately. I found something particularly poignant in an essay by Louise Gluck, from her Baccalaureate address to Williams College in 1993...
“It is very strange to stand here, wishing you desolation, like the bad fairy at the cradle. You have, all of you, a vocation for learning. And you have been will taught here. Realize, then, that impoverishment is also a teacher, unique in its capacity to renew, and that its yield, when it ends, is a passionate openness which in turn re-invests the world with meaning. What I remember for such moments is gratitude: the fact fo being born immerses us in the world without conveying the daily intensity of that gift. To live in the world in the absence of such knowledge may not be tragic: I don’t know; I have no prolonged experience of such a life. But I think some intensity of awareness must be lost, since it depends on contrast. And that intensity is impoverishment’s aftermath, and blessing: what succeeds temporary darkness, what succeeds the void or the desert, is not the primary gift of the world but the essential secondary gift of knowledge, a sense of the significance of the original gift, the scale of our privilege."
While everything we are experiencing right now feels new, fear and loss and struggle are old. Leaf litter in the landscape of human condition. (Also, it’s amazing how much punctuation has fallen out of favor in 27 years… look at all those colons and semicolons and the cacophony of commas! It was an intellectually humbling joy to read her book Proofs & Theories.)
I’ve worked a bit on a final version of the latest chapbook and sent it off to the publisher. And I am finding it easier to focus on writing (not necessarily refining the work, but at least getting words on paper). In the coming weeks, expect to see some on-line events. And updates on the chapbook.
In the meantime, be kind and safe and do good!