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Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

self portrait by nina alvarez“Are real people fictions? We mostly understand ourselves through an endless series of stories told to ourselves by ourselves and others. The so-called facts of our individual worlds are highly coloured and arbitrary, facts that fit whatever fiction we have chosen to believe in. It is necessary to have a story, an alibi that gets us through the day, but what happens when the story becomes a scripture? When we can no longer recognise anything outside our own reality? We have to be careful not to live in a state of constant self-censorship, where whatever conflicts with our world-view is dismissed or diluted until it ceases to be a bother. Struggling against the limitations we place upon our minds is our own imaginative capacity, a recognition of an inner life often at odds with the external figurings we spend so much energy supporting. When we let ourselves respond to poetry, to music, to pictures, we are clearing a space where new stories can root, in effect we are clearing a space for new stories about ourselves.”

-from Art Objects by Jeanette Winterson

Photo: Girlfriend Photographer by Nina Alvarez

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reachtree.jpgThough I gave up the teaching game two years ago, I am still in contact with some of the students I felt most connected to. Recently, one of them sent me an email, asking about what jobs there are out there for English majors, besides teaching. I have done almost everything you can do with an English degree: taught, tutored, wrote for a newspaper, published my own work, worked for a publishing company, edited, copywrote, and proofread. But it has been a long haul. I graduated with no real sense of how to get my foot in the door to any of these areas. Below is my response to her. I hope it will helpful to college students with similar questions.

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Today’s submission is by the photographer and poet Rick Wright.

The Song

The song
wouldn’t come out
from under
the soul’s wall

Notes have lept over
some nights

But, it is held
fast
and down

And those notes I heard
brief words
those nights
writing life

Make me think it will.

-Rick Wright

And the why:

I love the poem for its sense of longing and optimism. That we might
see our loved ones become fully conscioius of their own power. The
child about to walk. We watch and root them on.

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A child said, What is the grass?

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner’s name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the
same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother’s laps,
And here you are the mother’s laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
luckier.

-Walt Whitman

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