Friday, August 28, 2015

Tu Fu readers: You have, as far as I know, been reading poems XIII-XXIII. Many of you tell me that  you don't consider yourselves to be poets, and I know that some of you who do think of yourselves as writers work more often in prose than in poetry. Yet as a novelist friend was reminding me last week, reading poems can spark other forms of writing, just as (for me) reading prose often sparks poetry.

So I'd like you to choose a line from one of these poems, a line that speaks to you, and let it become the trigger for a few paragraphs of prose. Your prose can be fiction or nonfiction, memoir or criticism, journalism or scholarship, whatever you like. But let your relationship with the line drive your exploration. Let your emotional and visceral reactions lead you into your sentences.

As you did with your poem drafts, post your results here or email them to me privately.


Carlene said...

Inspired by Tu Fu's "Loneliness" (XIV)
CM Gadapee

"Soaring with the wind, it is easy" to gain perspective. At least, that is what I imagine. The bird's eye view of things might lend itself to a wider sense of clarity. Or not; perhaps birds don't bother really looking at the "big picture" and, instead, they focus on the little things--mostly edible--in a way that seems much like my own habit of cluttering up my life with minutiae and petty non-emergencies. Take, for example, my average day. Why do I get flustered when I have to wait for road paving? Or when someone drives several miles with his blinker on? Pet hair on furniture is not a crisis, yet, if one gauges the enormity of the situation from my usual reaction, one would think there was a gouge in the cushion, not just stray hairs scattered around.

Soaring: this suggests letting the wind do most of the work, allowing for smoother gliding, little flapping about, and an innate acceptance that the wind will hold one up. Perhaps that would be the key to gaining a modicum of peace, of balance and perspective. Let things go and allow the wind to hold you. Surrender the constant need to flap and flail, and grace will come.

The wind: clearly, some agent to propel oneself must exist outside of oneself. What --or who--is my agent? I am eternally wrapped up in my own busy-ness, hustling about from here to there, from this project to that chore, and it feels like flailing. Which, in turn, feels a whole lot like falling and wailing. To let go of the means of propulsion is a risky thing. To allow an outside agent to not only move me, but also to sustain the movement creates a sort of spiritual panic. But isn't that what faith is? Allow the wind to carry me, and perhaps I will go places I had not dared to explore. I may also fall, but isn't that just about what I'm doing already?

Easy: this is deceptive. What makes things easy? Is easy really the goal? Or is it the appearance of ease that is the desired objective? If one is truly adept, then what one does is filled with grace, with ease. Things that take a long, hard amount of effort and practice will eventually look easy to the rest of the world.

It would be useful to learn to soar; not depend solely on my own efforts, but to allow for outside help, for the sustaining wind of family, friends, and unplanned-for circumstance. I wonder if I can allow grace to enter my life through unexpected ways, through unfamiliar agents. If I can soar with the wind, as Tu Fu says, I may achieve clarity and understanding.

Ruth said...

"We are our own audience." XIII To Pi SSU Yao

As a little girl, I was so shy that I hide behind my mom, barely spoke above a whisper and wanted my dad to tell the waitress what I'd like to eat. I am fairly sure that friends who know me now cannot believe that. As a teacher and a singer, I am at ease speaking or performing in front of an audience. I often telling people, "I am fairly fearless!" Performers and yes, that does include teachers, who are often way more comfortable IN their classrooms, rather than out in public, have all the same doubts as do the reticent and the introverts. WE tend to psych ourselves up for each event.Few who knew me then would believe what I do now and few know me now believe what I was. Yet, I have not changed.

There are two types of introverts. Some are always quiet, hardly looking up, resembling a comma or a question mark, if tall (!) and some are like me. We are the surprise introverts; the ones who are very social and at ease in small or large groups. Yet, we desperately need our alone time; in order, to regroup, regenerate and center. Otherwise, it is not pretty! We are snarky and petty and all sorts of other less than attractive traits.

I am a singer, a solo a cappella singer. Please imagine THAT in a pub or blue-collar bar setting. Of course I love the applause and the shouts of approval. However, one time, I was featured while the Women's Cup Soccer finals were broadcast!! I just watched it too and treated that performance as a rehearsal.

So, ultimately, I am my own audience because I am the only one I have to please.

Dawn Potter said...

Carlene and Ruth: Do you hear a kind of call-and-response between your two short essays? This is amazing me. Carlene's questions juxtapose with Ruth's firm "I am" constructions. You are talking to yourselves but talking to each other. I think this is fascinating.

Carlene said...

I wonder if this is a result of responding to a shared text/series of texts. Clearly, Tu Fu is also struggling with some of the same things: identity, posterity, daily disappointments, loss, etc. It makes me think that the thread throughout the works is a common one; yes, location and specific situations are not ours, but the human issues are definitely universal. I think it's interesting, too, that Ruth has some "answers" (maybe it's a function of experience, of bravery, of inner peacefulness?) that align themselves with some of my questions. It is fascinating!

Ruth said...

Dawn and Carlene, I believe this is in part because we are responding to the same texts. Carlene, yes, I have worked through a few issues, know where I am comfortable, and I am brave. While I still have many more to tackle, that is called living. It is especially interesting that the I am construction stood out. I shall send you both the poem I created from this summer's "homework" assignment from Baron. David as read the draft. I fell rather natgurally into the I am.