Monday, September 27, 2010

Fresh Art Tour Oct. 1-3, 2010

This weekend, starting on Friday, I will be happily working away in a barn.

Barbara McIlrath, a wonderful painter, has invited my sister Dodie, and friends Harriet LeVian, Holly Swift, all three painters, and my lucky self to sell our work in the main part of her barn on the Fresh Art Tour. This tour has been going on for many years and circles around Stockholm, Durand and Pepin, featuring numberous artists who make baskets and bowls, spoons and books.

I will demonstrating rug hooking and selling the natural-dyed scarves I make with my niece Juliet Morris, who will also be there, helping us all.

And then there's the barn. It is a work of art, with hand-hewn beams and enormous sliding doors. Just spending time in this space will feel like a gift.

The weather is supposed to be perfect, the leaves are starting to turn and might well be in full flush, and as an extrovert, I probably won't get tired of talking until well into Saturday. We're saving the wine until Sunday afternoon.

Come join us if you can!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Re-viewing the Loft

Friday night I gave a presentation with Pete Hautman (my guy), Deborah Keenan (poet/friend), and Mary Rockcastle (dean/novelist/buddy) at Hamline University for the publication of Views from the Loft. This is wonderful compilation of essays that was written over the last thirty-plus years for the newsletter of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, called, you might have guessed: A View from the Loft.

Besides reading other essays by some of my favorite writers, including Yehuda Amichai, Larry Sutin, Kate DiCamillo, and Jim Moore, I re-read my old essay: "Writing about the Mysteries of Life." I wrote this essay a good seventeen years ago and it was better than I thought it might be. It's a story that I've told many times and will probably continue to tell until I bite the big one—how I've come to write mysteries.

And so I thought I'd quote a bit of it in this blog:

" It flabbergasts me that some people disdain mysteries. But then, I'm also amazed when some writers think they've accomplished something by writing a complicated, erudite sentence that no one understands. Good writing is about telling stories, and confusion is not the same as mystery. Mystery is when everything is painfully clear: the sky is immensely blue, the land is covered with hills and valleys, and the person you most love in the world is dead at your feet. How could this have happened? Mysteries are not meant to be solved but explored—just as when someone dies, we are meant to feel it, not get over it."

The line I keep in my back pocket and pull out whenever there's a need for it is: Confusion is not the same as mystery.

Blessings to the Loft for creating a community of writers that is still thriving today.

Friday, September 10, 2010

School Starts

I taught my first class of the fall semester last night. When I left school at nine o'clock, it was dark outside. I walked across the Hamline campus feeling the new energy as students ran past me on their way to somewhere.

The longer I teach, the more I realize how important and fun it should be, the more I think about teaching. I've taught for many years and never gave it much thought. That doesn't mean that I didn't put a great deal of effort into my teaching. It's just that I never thought much about what it means to be a teacher. How I'm meant to gently poke my students. Make them go further than they think they can.

This morning, I taught a swimming class of 3- to 6-year olds. For the first time a tiny dark-haired three-year-old boy jumped into the deep end of the pool all by himself. He bobbed up in the water puffed up with pride for what he had done.

Last night we started out the class writing a scene in which our main characters realize they want something--desperately.

Curl your toes over the edge of the pool and jump. The water is deep and full of wonder.