Friday, April 08, 2016

norwegian wood

Make a "k" shaped assembly of wood.
I am reading Lars Mytting's book Norwegian Wood, translated from Norwegian and published in the US. It is a lovely book about firewood, forests, and the human connection to the forest, and like all knowledge that comes in book form it is only a sampling of the depth of the relationship we have with trees. They say about movies, "you should have read the book."

Books usually offer interesting details that the movies leave out.  When it comes to books, might I humbly suggest real life? There are subtleties that are always left out in the telling, that books cannot convey. But for a culture that's losing touch, that thinks a fireplace is where a fake fire burns gas; for a culture that needs to reconnect with some level of romance, Norwegian Wood might be a good place to begin a process of reconnecting life to the real world. The book begins with a poem by Hans Børli, a Norwegian who was lumberjack by day and poet by night.
The scent of fresh wood
is among the last things you will forget
     when the veil falls.
the scent of fresh white wood
in the spring sap time:
as though life itself walked by you,
with dew in its hair.
That sweet and naked smell
kneeling woman-soft and blond
in the silence inside you,
using your bones for
a willow flute.
With the hard frost beneath your tongue
you look for the fire to light a word,
and know, mild as southern wind in the mind,
there is still one thing in the world
you can trust. — Hans Børli
Ah, the scent of real wood.We can speak of it, but if a person has not split a birch log or an oak,  or whittled a stick, how can he or she know what anyone's writing about in that regard? Even the movie won't do it for you. For if all the senses are not engaged, how can you say you were there or that you learned something real.

Yesterday I found myself in a conversation among writers. Good ones know that real life is our most important resource and it's easiest to write with certainty and clarity about what we know. So it is best to do first, and then write. And if doing,  edit your efforts. It's best to do difficult and demanding things that command interest in those you hope will read your work. Lumberjack poet? Would that not be easier to relate to and more necessary to human culture than the purely academic?

Today one of those writers from yesterday's conversation took her students for a walking/writing exercise in which they were led out of the classroom and onto the streets.

Today I had a talk with one of my publishers about what will become my 11th book, and I'm making a k-body guitar for one of my students to paint for a benefit auction for a friend of Clear Spring School who's ill and in need of help. I am very proud to live in a community that's generous, and am particularly proud to live in a community so focused on the arts, as artists tend to arise generously to each occasion.

There are five regions in Arkansas noted by the Arkansas Community Foundation which held a state-wide online fund raising event yesterday. For 12 hours people got online and made contributions to their favorite non-profit organizations. Mine were the Clear Spring School and the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. It is interesting to compare the results, region by region. While Northwest and Central Arkansas have lots of money to give to favorite causes, Southeast Arkansas has long faced extreme poverty, a situation that should remind us that some of the problems we face are national in scope and cannot be easily fixed by a few folks donating a few bucks.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the chance of learning likewise.

1 comment:

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