Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


Sixth & Last Week of Clarion 2002

I wish so much that I had been writing about this week as it went along, because so much of it is already gone from my worn-out memory. I'm tired.

Sunday afternoon with Leslie and I trying to get organized and meet with John Crowley was kind of a comedy of errors. I couldn't get the sorted out what we were doing. I talked to him. I talked to Leslie. We were all over the map. Sigh.

When he asked what the students needed now, I said inspiration. Doors to open in their minds to take with them out into their real lives. And they definitely got that.

John Crowley is an amazing, inspirational teacher. Perfect as the person to send the students out in the real world--except some of them were so tired they felt they had trouble taking it all in. Some of them felt this strongly, but still turned in their best work so far.

What can I say about this week? I wish I were more coherent, but I have clearly hit the wall. I miss the students terrifically. I want to go attend Yale so I can sit in on John Crowley's fiction workshop.

Monday evening we did the unreal thing of shopping at Costco. Tamar joined us to make it more real.

The reading on Tuesday was fun. Jim and I sat next to John's wife, and exchanged quips and looks. He read from The Translator, a book I adored, and a funny, touching section. He reads so well. I wish the mike had been better.

In class the next morning we got our copy of it signed. And my copy of Little Big, which I discover I have the first paperback edition of. I just got it when I first saw it, and his previous books then, too.

In class all four mornings that I was there I listened to John with awe and admiration.

Thursday night Adrian, Diana, and I read a few of our poems in round robin, and talked poetry a lot. Other students drifted in and out as they could. It was fun. Bert read one of the poems from Jim's book, and then Lyn read another. An interesting experience to hear these poems I know so well read in another voice.

Friday was such an odd day. My car was sick and ill all week, and just before going to the poetry group I saw that it was leaking oil, so Thursday night, late, I dropped it off at the repair place and got Jim to meet me there to take me home. Friday I then had to get up with Jim at 5:00 a.m., had a shower, then tried to put in a fresh set of contacts from a new shipment, and it took me forever to figure out something was wrong--they had sent me the wrong prescription. Just to add to my morning disorientation. Then we started to head out the door and there was a TV news truck out there--a house under construction down the street had been torched and we slept through it (for the second time, as someone had torched the house next to it over Memorial Day weekend--all in a perverse kind of protest against infill). I was amazed. We raced to the car before the news crew could ask us for comments, dropped a couple of things off at the classroom, then Jim dropped me out at the dorm, and I talked to the early-rising students and turned on the TV there to immediately see a report on the fire. Ye gods. I hung around, surprising students to see me there, and so early. I walked with two of them to the classroom. Then there was the class and Leslie and Karen and I were there. Then it was over. The last story was critiqued. Then graduation. They got their decoder rings and certificates and we had a party then tidied everything. Then Karen and Lyn and I had a wonderful long talky and free lunch together because our order didn't get through to the kitchen and it was terribly late. I wanted to keep Lyn forever. Heck, I wanted to keep them all.

I finally got home. Then there was the final party and all the thank yous and the students were so sad that it was over. I was so sad that it was over. It couldn't be over. We (Jim and I) gave John Crowley and Droog a ride home from the party to the dorms. They got out of the car and I realized that yes Clarion West 2002 really was over. Unbelievably.

Then Saturday we got up and headed over the dorms to pack everything up but the students had done a lot of it--wonderful folk. We did a run to the airport. I drove Liz and I didn't want to let her out of the car. I wanted to keep her, too. And Adrian and Wendy. So what were we doing taking them to the airport? Facilitating their departure. Crazy.

I got back to the dorm and was useless as Kate and Glenn and Jim moved stuff around and packed stuff up. I hovered near the remaining students, unable to let them go. This was crazy. They packed up Kate and Glenn's van and we packed up our car, and I had to say goodbye to all the students again and had to mean it this time. We unloaded everything into the shelves in the office.

I got home and was useless. Couldn't read much, caught up a little with my email. Watched our taped episode of Farscape. Nothing else worth watching on TV but I still went to bed too late.

Drifted through Sunday, getting up late, eating slowly, managing to have my shower before the afternoon was too far along. And to make it to the Clarion West board meeting on time, where we talked about the workshop's end and wrapped things up and talked about the future we need to plan for.

Ai yi yi.

I couldn't leave Karen and Barry's either, and talked their ears off for a couple of hours and left late enough that Jim phoned them to find out where I was. I had left the cellphone at home. From now on.

I have no memory, and I must sleep.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


No time to listen more than cursorily to anything. But I put on the demo Kym Brown sent of her ep several times. Damn it's good.

last week's listening § next week's listening


Goodness. I guess I didn't finish anything this week. Can it be? What happened? Did I read something and I've already forgotten what it was?

last week's reading § next week's reading


No actual words added to any projects. Additional scenes for the first four chapters of Gypsy Davey are accumulating in my mind, though.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

December 1984 - February 1985

1380. cat's eyes open to the inner milky eyelids
December 26, 1984

we love like animals, what is small enough to handle.
     Wednesday afternoon, this fifth day of the holiday break, then two days on, four off, then back to the regular, miserable rhythm of work and no time, late letters and being unprepared with everything, all the time. Ah, this winter, what a strange time enough it is. My one day alone.
     --Reading a book in a Western Town
     --Ordinary Lives
     Miscellaneous titles for dreams to dream
     It's never dark on the mountain in winter.
     The snow reflects the moon reflects the sun
     holds in the light that is cold, clear, no
     accident that ice is invisible and
     shines. It's a different kind of drought
     from summer, a different kind of drawing in.
     The fire is all interior; we draw to it like
     cats curling in. There isn't much time for
     speaking sharing the labyrinth of our thoughts
     and time. We are so solitary now in our
     separate beds, sleeping the clarity awake, the
     cold wind that fires our cheeks.
     We are young and the lonely ones, in our dreams
     we meditate on words like right and love. [1]

1381. Epic
December 20, 1984

Conditions Pound told his mother were necessary for an epic:
     (1) a beautiful tradition
     (2) a unity in the outline of that tradition
     (3) a Hero, mythical or historical
     (4) a 'damn long time for the story to lose its garish detail and get encrusted with a bunch of beautiful lies.' [2]

     "...it is the same in the dream where I touch you" Hass [3]

Somewhere, hidden in my head is a long poem for H.D. It's something I have wanted to write for a long time [4]. Bryer knows it. My cat has a profile like Nefertiti. She is black.

1382. Beginning a Year
January 8, 1985

I am trying to do everything or be perfect. Catch up on my correspondence, write, put out applications for jobs, do well at my present job, sew, socialize, keep the house clean, keep my marriage sane, entertain the cat, change my eating habits, exercise. O dear. Bryer is whining. Whine whine.

1380. Giono
January 13, 1985

I am reading Giono's Joy of Man's Desiring, slowly, because it is so beautiful I can hardly stand it. Lessons about how to live. I have not, of course, done well at trying to be perfect. I'll have to try harder. I am human. Beside me I have Rilke's New Poems [1907], From the Country of Eight Islands, Twentieth Century French Poetry. It's 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon, having let the weekend slip like sand through our fingers we continue. I am sewing a second prairie dress (after the first lost its print). I am very prosaic. Not a bone of lifted language in me at all. I will read Rilke. And Char.

"I went walking on the edge of madness" à René Char

--Je me suis promenée au bord de la Folie--

on one side plains of white sands
on the other torn, grasping hands
but far below me, so I
could barely see. And I sat,
letting my feet
     boring...death to this mess

Words to write on a whitened skull

Morning on the first day
Bare wind through the birches, stirring,
what might have been rustling leaves
but wasn't there. Besides, it would have
torn them leaf from limb. In any case, it found
my face which I had carefully hidden
all night. It was restless. It was still dark
But I got up and shook the blown snow
from my clothes, and some melted against me
running down my breasts until it was
absorbed by my clothes and stopped there.
I could think of no reason for being up,
no reason why I shouldn't have frozen there
in my sleep, but I was warm.
I went indoors. Don't wonder why
I had been outside before. Nothing
was happening. I put more wood
in the stove and filled a pan
with snow to melt there. [5]

Giono (Bobi) "It would be worth something to go toward a star that is a lamp in the mountains" said Bobi, "that's all." [6]

1384. Birthplace quote
February 3, 1985

"Sometimes I wish someone reliable would tuck me into bed and tell me the story of my life." [7]


1. I think I did eventually use a couple of scraps of this in poems. Or echoes thereof.

2. Cool. But his mother? Where did I read this?

3. Robert Hass. From one of the poems in Praise, which is a wonderful book that I found enormously influential in the early '80s. I am too lazy to look up which poem this is in, but I'm sure it's a good one. Read the book.

4. I never did write it. Damn.

5. Some bits of this poem got incorporated eventually into "Fool's Gold on the Snow" in Spells for Clear Vision.

6. I sued this as a quote for a section of Spells for Clear Vision.

7. And this one, too.

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