Thursday, November 16, 2017
A Place for Words
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.
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