Read a lot.
Read until you find the things you love, because you will find them.
When you find the things you love to read, look at them closely to see how they’re put together.
And when you encounter discouragement, because you will, keep going
This was Charles Baxter’s reply to the last question of the night--from a group of young writers in the back row--when he read at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor the other week.
Actually, it’s not quite right to say he read.
The other day I got to sit at a large round table on the campus of Michigan State University with nine other thinkers/doers/makers to talk together about “Art, Ecology, and the Great Lakes.” Dylan Miner, creative fellow at MSU Global, served as our eloquent, soulful pivot point. Some of his artwork illuminated the space around us. How interesting to learn that the ink used in his violet relief prints of medicinal plants is made with blackberry juice and that the low-rider bikes—literal bikes—are
I stumbled upon this chalk-art-in-progress yesterday evening at the northeast corner of E. Liberty St. and S. Fifth Ave., in downtown Ann Arbor. I'm glad I stopped and spent some time with it because after twenty-four hours of rain, there's no sign of this little stripy-capped, purple guy with blue arms, elf ears, a dragon's tail, and a dog's smile. I just checked.
That's artist David Zinn. Look closely and you'll see the clever visual trick he's played by incorporating the
I photographed these flowers on Lillian Ridge in Washington state’s Olympic Mountains a couple of weeks ago, a place that remains buried, at least partially in snow, well into July. In fact, this trail crossed melting snow. I was able to scoop some up and make a soggy snowball. Glacier-draped Mt. Olympus looms large and Port Angeles, the nearest city--any city--feels nonexistent.
On Lillian Ridge, high alpine country closed by federal law to mechanical transport (It is dedicated wilderness—the
Can a nature-loving woman, with a penchant for getting grumpy about misguided land use, enter an abandoned fire station on West Lafayette, Detroit, and feel—happy expectation?
This might be one of my best Forage discoveries yet: an organization called Ponyride organizes Clandestine Dinners (yes, that's a proper name) in Detroit's abandoned buildings. Part performance art, part old-school fundraising, they provide an excellent example of imagination at work where imagination is sorely needed.
There's nostalgia, which serious writers regularly lampoon, for good reasons, I suppose--'though I'm not, you'll notice, one-hundred-percent certain of this. There's also affectionately-clear-eyed-looking-back, an as yet unnamed but regular feature of poems that engage me on first encounter. This sort of looking back might flirt with nostalgia, but it's not interested in a serious relationship. It also acknowledges with full immersive pleasure that each one of us has been somewhere.
I don't think
Anthologies, like art galleries and wooded trails, invite exploration. I rarely read them front to back. Instead, I meander. And that's how I discovered this exquisite watercolor and ink study in Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry (a 2014 Michigan Notable Book from New Issues Press). It felt at once familiar and foreign. At first the long bruise across the top half of the watercolor paper was clouds, the ink wash below it, a shoreline of trees, shadowed and lit, and then the black rectangle seemed
I am fascinated by the wild world. I'm referring to the more-than-human parts of this planet we share, the places and things that would (probably) keep on keeping on whether or not humans were here or not. They connect me with resilience and endurance in ways I continue to try to articulate.
Artist/illustrator, Nigel Peake, whose work I admire so much I mention it on this website's welcome page, seems to love instead—or perhaps also—the marks that humans make. His debut book, In the Wilds,
(After you've read my list, please add your own items as comments.)
Freshly fallen snow has a fragrance brighter than summer.
New snowflakes cut into the trail's icy hardpack under your boots, providing a pretty good grip.
Deer, fox, bird, and squirrel tracks are more numerous than human and dog tracks.
Till the big lake freezes, it's voice is omnipresent, no matter how tucked into the trees you are.
Unless the dunes are buried deeply with snow, sand moves, sometimes hundreds of yards
I'd been to the woods for my daily hike. Back behind the wheel of the car, my body felt strong and capable—I can climb hills in the sand, quickly. I know these unmapped trails as well as—no, better—than the back of either hand. Flooded with fresh oxygen and touched on all sides by whatever it is that leaves release, I was hardly winded and not sore at all. I was, as they say, in the zone: high on endorphins and good air.
Perhaps because I'd carried a bit of my woods habit of attentiveness