Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Place for Words

https://hugohouse.org/
Language may be one of our most reassuring proofs against solipsism: the conviction that everything beyond ourselves is suspect and perhaps not even real. But then again, I just summarized that for you and if you can read English as it is currently transcribed in the early 21st Century, then you must have learned it from someone else.

You could disagree with me (and with Ludwig Wittgenstein) but you would still need to understand what I’ve written; you would have learned how to understand what I wrote in order to disagree with the statement.

Maybe it’s because we take language for granted. We can all think and speak. Most of us can write something, even it’s a text.

But there are many of us who have this unfortunate affliction where we simply must write. We write narratives, we write poetry, we write our guts, our butts and our brains out all over blank pages, Google docs, Moleskines and copier paper pinched from work because we can’t afford Moleskines.

Note the Writer. She’s agitated, most by the world but also by her own mind which is constantly reforming it into different words. Note the poet. The language of his Oakland childhood and a logic proof are synthesizing their sounds, quite naturally, into a personal explication that discloses the systemic racism surrounding him since birth.

The memoirist is coming to understand her husband’s silent post-traumatic stress from the bodies he silenced in the Second World War and his own silence in life and the grave. The entomologist erases Robert Browning to recover the social life of bees.

You. What are you writing?
All of this blatant scorn against solipsism, in words beautiful and coarse, allows writers to reforge themselves as they deliver these intimacies to us: gifts to strangers that we may grow and change. As Richard Hugo said, Writing is a Lonely Business. Writers need some place to gather, to learn, and to teach. They need some place to know “I belong there. There are other writers.”

As a writer myself, it’s not an exaggeration to say that I owe my existence to Richard Hugo House. So at the end of the year, and during this crucial time of structural revision I would ask you to remember Hugo House in donations and in communication with your legislative representatives. We all want to matter. An easy way to do so is let your state reps and senators know that Hugo House matters.

I’m not being metaphorical: Hugo House itself is being physically transformed into a place writers can call their home for many years to come and that miracle of language can continue to bring our hearts and minds together in dialogue, love, and exploration. It needs our help, our love and the attention that gives life to the words we write and read.

Support Hugo House

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November

In the months before you died, I began to question, when had you stopped walking in front of me? Perhaps you had stopped to smell something, some new scent. And neither of us noticed that I walked on, oblivious of the watershed. I think it was when our ages shifted places in the relative terms of our years. I was middle aged at 43 and you were old at 13.

I remember the rhythm of our steps through the leaves when you followed me. I abandoned the rush of youth in that strolling, gregarious dark of Fall.

In the tempo, and chromatic scale of yellow to orange, red and brown the Autumn owns, you taught me that each leaf was a note, and unique in scent and tone: because of where it was and when it was.

You taught me that even in the most iterative of days, each smelled different, was different, just as the nights deepened and stretched the call for comfort within the sarabande of November.

And then you were gone. Perhaps just over there where I could not see you. You always liked to slip away. But the old pathways aren't the same, because you are with me on them all

-Part of the Ramble Calendar this was originally published as Autumnal Sarabande in D-Minor.