March 11, 2011

Poets and Writers

I started subscribing to Poets and Writers I think when I was an undergraduate.  I really have no idea--maybe I read it in the library?  Or maybe someone connected to my dreams suggested it?  I think somewhere I have this issue with Anne Lamott's face on it, but I know I have the issue with an excerpt from Harriet Doerr's book Stones for Ibarra.  I remember being excited not only by the beautiful writing, but also the fact that she was nearly 70 when her first book was published.
This newest issue--this month's--is the first one I've read in more than three years.  Five years?  Sometime after grad school.  The magazines would come every month, and I would write the yearly check for renewal and send it off.  It was like my one tenuous connection to the Writing Life with a capital W, capital L.  If I stopped subscribing it would mean giving up on that idea, that dream.  So they came, piling up.  Sometimes I'd look at the cover and think: I really need to stop this nonsense--or, on better days--I really need to read about this--or--I should write something.  Yeah.  I'll write something.  Then the lesson plan would be due, or a child's child would be due or bills would be due and I'd let myself be distracted.  

The first article in this month's issue caught my eye, about the reverence with which we hold writers' houses.  Mark Twain's home.  Emily Dickinson's home.  I remember touring Beatrix Potter's home with my mother and father when I went with them to England.  The article, with quotes from A. N. Devers who runs the Web site,  gives us insight as to our fixation with these places, and it also sheds light on the writing task:

" 'Writers often do a complicated dance around sitting down and writing, ' says Devers about why she started the project. 'We are obsessed with other writers' processes and behaviors--with a writer's space: The room, the desk, the tools are all a part of the equation.  Seeing the place where a successful author created her work can be encouraging and grounding.  The writer's space is proof it can be done.' "

So is this March Madness of Slicing.  Carry on!


  1. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote here in my community. Her home sits on the perimeter of Bowdoin College. As I drive or walk by I always look at that house in awe but I have never been in. Your piece pushes me to make my way there just to see the home where her words poured out.

  2. I liked your reasoning for keeping Poets and Writers coming. We all have to keep the dream alive somewhere, somehow!

    Happy Writing

  3. Interesting perspective on this whole writing thing! I guess I had never thought about my own habits as a writer in that way.

  4. Hey, that's me too! I have a stack of P & W and The Sun as well... And yes, I do left through one every now and again and there's always something to pause for. I am obsessed with how writers write. That informs the work of our writing project- writing process and reflection...
    I'm with you,

  5. The Magic. What a great slice you shared. I was thinking about Ruth's piece about her couch. Its the same yet different. Thanks for sharing.

  6. So interesting how we hold on to 'things'; as if by us continuing to do some action, or collect this item our superstitious gods/goddesses will be pleased and bless us with whatever it is we are seeking. I can imagine everyone has been in this boat at some point. Well written slice. Providing the background made it that much more meaningful when you reached the meat of your message.

  7. It is inevitable that humans hold onto their mantras, for sure. You made such a great connection for us, for me. Thank you!