I have been bestowed with the pleasure and special grace of corresponding with a few people in my life. Email is the the wrong medium; although, that’s the form it takes. How is it that the same inbox contains a thousand advertisements, a few tedious meetings being scheduled, a steady supply of rejections, and very occasionally a letter from a friend that must have taken hours in the composition and a lifetime for the understanding (but also, beautifully, a schedule for a meeting)?
One man’s attention to the world around him conveyed in the grammar of his note begs me to raise my attention. I cannot write rote sentences in reply; it would be an ingratitude for the gift. The proper register is not a missive, but poetry. If, in the infinite variables of time and taste, there are people who read what I write, I’d lay these letters next to anything else I’ve written. If, as the canon of Scripture maintains, that letters written between people could be the breathed Word of God, then I’d hope that these letters last forever.
Each click that tosses an email into the virtual trash robs me of time to respond in kind to my friend, but I suppose I have all the time there is.
Hello all that may be reading this on a social media outlet. In 2020, I’ll take time off from the normal social media retinue. There are reasons which are well documented by everyone who decides to take time off from social media.
I’ll write more at this website, which will post to those accounts, but I will not be checking Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Right now, those accounts exist to point people back here where I hope to write longer thoughts.
If you’d like to get in contact with me, then please reach out to sethwieck (at) gmail (dot) com.
For an art scene to flourish, there have to be good critics. I’d bank that they’re as vital to local art thriving as the artists. They criticize when work comes up short and call the artists to better realize their ideas. They also understand the context in which art was created, so the work can be exported to an audience that wouldn’t have otherwise appreciated it.
I don’t know what Tom Mooney thinks of my stories, but I’m glad he has a copy.
— Thomas D. Mooney (@_NewSlang) August 5, 2019
…People are accustomed to regard anything as vulgar that overreaches their own attempts at self-justification.
– Robert Penn Warren, Band of Angels
I had the chance to go on the radio and talk about writing and my upcoming reading at the Burrowing Owl in Canyon this week.
The fine folks at Fathom magazine published my interview with Nathan Poole. I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.
The wind started blowing again last night. Noise you just can’t get away from. I got up for my usual routine this morning. I stretched. My joints are expressing their age. I drank coffee and read Isaiah 11 aloud. I’m not sure there’s a more beautiful stretch of words in the whole Bible. It’s been hard to believe it lately. That passage. The beauty is something which makes it feel more sad. In the fireplace flue, the wind was blowing. Noise you can’t escape. I used newspaper as tinder. I read Isaiah again and wondered if I ought to get a different translation. Make it new again. A novelty of words.
Once when I was younger, my granny complained that strawberries had lost their flavor. Last summer we grew some and I realized strawberries had never had taste before.
The wind whistles through the windows. We vacuum dust from the sills once a week. Noise.
I was going to mow. I was going to transplant rose bushes for my wife. I was going to write. I write wind. All writing is wind. I got in bed this afternoon. I haven’t taken a nap since my body tried to make me while driving home from work. The rumble strip on the shoulder woke me up. Before that, I don’t remember. Guilt, obligations, promises to keep, wind but not a gentle sweep.
Why write? I’ve read writers who broke something open in me, besides ambition and besides guilt, scratched the germ and set me growing. Isaiah. Why did he write? I’m not sure I get to claim his same inspiration.
Mary Oliver is on my nightstand.
So many notions fill the day! I give them
gowns of words, sometimes I give them
little shoes that rhyme.
What an elite life!
While somewhere someone is kissing a face that is crying.
While somewhere women are walking out, at two in the morning—many miles to find water.
While somewhere a bomb is getting ready to explode.
Notions. Wind. She feels it, too? I guess she solved it. She kept writing.
that the clouds travel, as they do,
like the long dresses of the angels
of our imagination,…
…and how good…and how good…and how good…and how good…
and so on, and so on.
List the good. At least that. She ends it there: and so on. There’s too much good to list. There is, I know. But there’s so much wind. The clouds travel like bombs getting ready to explode. I can dress them in gowns, but can my imagination make them angels?
Actual angels visited Isaiah. Angels with live coals seared the buds of his tongue. Did he ever taste strawberries again?
He kept writing. Faith in his hands though he was sawn in two. None of that “heads of characters hammer through daisies” resurrection-as-organic-process noise. Dylan Thomas makes me sing but the song dies windily. The beauty makes it more sad for what he says.
Up the coast of Wales, and Thomas’s own influence:
High there, how he hung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! Then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding,
Stirred for a bird…
Hopkins, teach me to windhover. For whom did you write?
When I was a kid, someone wrote a book about my hometown of Umbarger, Texas. It was a big to-do because no one writes books about Umbarger. I read the book and learned a little about my grandparents as young people. It all became the milieu of my growing up.
When I was 30, I read a poem by a teacher down in Lubbock. I liked the poem, then drove down to Lubbock to have coffee with him. He told me to look up Don Williams because he lives in my area. I said, “I read his book when I was a kid.”
Tonight, I had to pleasure of hearing him read. He’s 90 in October. He quoted Robert Frost from memory, then Beowulf in Old English, gave us a clinic in translating Rilke from German. He’s translated all of Beowulf, and he has an adaptation of it set in West Texas that’s written in couplets that’s an exciting adventure and a statement on man’s encroachment into nature.
When I hear people say there’s no culture in Amarillo, I think “Where the hell do you live?”
He sat leaning forward in the seat with his elbows on the empty seatback in front of him and his chin on his forearms and he watched the play with great intensity. He’d the notion that there would be something in the story itself to tell him about the way the world was or was becoming but there was not. There was nothing in it at all.McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. Vintage International. Pg 21.
I get stumped each time I read this.
- Is John Grady Cole just lacking the critical faculty to understand?
- Is his mother (an actress in the play) pursuing something that makes no sense to him, therefore showing the chasm that’s formed between them?
- Does Cormac, a playwright himself, think that plays (and other literature) don’t really say anything about the world (because the world is meaningless matter in motion and there is nothing to be found in it and therefore nothing we say actually means anything)?
- It was a bad play?
I like option 4 the best.