Saturday, May 11, 2013

Place, poetry, responsibility

Well, we've made it to fishing opener, even if Mille Lacs and other northern walleye factories are still ice covered. Thanks for stopping by. Have you noticed that the roadsides and ditches have really started to green up in the past few days? We've been talking about place the past few days. (At least I've been talking about it, I hope you've been reading.) I should probably have mentioned the upcoming Poetry of Place workshop on May 18 with Dr. Joyce Sutphen and Emily Brisse. As you probably know, Dr. Sutphen is Minnesota's current poet laureate. You probably don't know, however, that Emily is one of those who inspired me to start this blog. Think about going and hearing what they have to say. Another writer who has some definite ideas on place is Eudora Welty. Here's a paragraph from her book On Writing:
...It is by knowing where you stand that you grow able to judge where you are. Place absorbs our earliest notice and attention, it bestows on us our original awareness; and our critical powers spring up from the study of it and the growth of experience inside it. It perseveres in bringing us back to earth when we fly too high. It never really stops informing us, for it is forever astir, alive, changing, reflecting, like the mind of man itself. One place comprehended can make us understand other places better. Sense of place gives equilibrium; extended, it is sense of direction too. Carried off we might be in spirit, and should be, when we are reading or writing something good, but it is the sense of place going with us still that is the ball of golden thread to carry us there and back and in every sense of the word to bring us home.
Did you notice that what she says here could apply to urban or country places? What she doesn't touch on is what about place or which place "absorbs our earliest notice and attention." That suggests to me that, perhaps, Welty shares a perception with Gary Snyder who has famously said "Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there." Some of us love urban places. Others the wild. Most of us love home but could stand to do a better job of taking responsibility for it. Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served daily here at My Minnesota.