Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Readers: On Writing

My wife and I spend every evening in our "library". The TV is never on. Okay, I did watch the Super Bowl and the Final Four (MSU should have been there). If I get up to make some after dinner peach tea, I often stop to admire our books on the shelves. While the tea is steeping, maybe I'll pull down a book I read years ago, look over my notes in the back, or dwell on some excerpts I've underlined. Last night I rediscovered a book that people who fly fish would like, but it's also about writing. I picked it up at Schuler Books, in 1990, here in Grand Rapids. This is a superb, independent book store. So few of them left.

The book is What the River Knows - An Angler in Midstream, by Wayne Fields c 1990. (Wayne Fields) Listen to the accuracy as he describes the struggle to transfer our sensory input into mere words:

"Even as I take in this place, delight in its patterns and colors, I despair of ever being able to recompose it... I am not so arrogant that I write to tell some great truth, that I think the world has much to gain from my undersized hands; I write in the hope of crafting a page, a paragraph, even a line that is filled with the grace I lack, that sings with a voice beyond mine. I write in the hope of forgiveness, in the hope of making something better than myself. What I have seen can never make it from my mind to the page with the lyric power of this landscape..."

Whew! That is a keeper of an excerpt for Nature Writers, but I will follow the catch and release rule.

As I was scanning Wayne Fields' book, I recalled a piece I wrote in 1994 while with fellow teachers at a Peninsula Writers (Peninsula Writers) retreat on Glen Lake. This is very near Michigan's famous Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Sleeping Bear). This is an essay called Receiving a River with two poems placed within it, like boulders in midstream. The essay is too long for now, but here are the two poems:

Boardman River

Swift, flat surface
rich in texture.
Your water wrinkles.
folding upon yourself
while flowing.

Like lines on topographic maps,
curving while parallel,
edge over edge
water upon water.
Forming, re-forming.
Appearing, disappearing.

Magic water.
Art in motion.
Swirling with poetry
gliding among the Alders
like time flowing forward.

I would like to share the essays in the future. They are about a few of our local streams; Flat River, and Honey Creek. You must eat at Honey Creek Inn, (Honey Creek Inn) here in Cannonsburg. Tell Don "Hi"for me. Here comes the other poem, which could be experienced at all of Michigan's 12,000 lakes and along our thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

Reading a River
(Great Blue Heron)

on legs
yellow scaled
stiff as sticks.

with neck
gray feathered
supple as a snake.

through eyes
stone hard
fixed as the stars.

 I want to thank Linda Rief for publishing my essay/poems in WORKSHOP 6 by and for teachers:
The Teacher As Writer, edited by Maureen Barbieri & Linda Rief, c 1994. (Linda Rief) Linda has worked at U. New Hampshire, and Oyster Creek Middle School. Linda, we need to reconnect.

No Photographs today, but thanks for reading.