Photo of a strangely beautiful abandoned country farmhouse, Norwood, Virginia. Taken Nov. 2017.
I attended a couple of powerful lectures this week at Duke University. Wednesday night I saw Natasha Trethewey, our former US Poet Laureate. Last night I saw Richard Rodriguez, memoirist and essayist. They touched on similar themes and both have me thinking more about history, trauma, loss, geography, longing, wounds, exile, and survival. These are some of my personal writing themes, as well. I don’t see these things as completely negative, although we have assigned a negative connotation to a few of them in our common language. There is something beautiful about these words to me. Maybe not in and of themselves, but the beauty that comes from them, or can, if allowed. Maybe it is better to say the beauty that comes through them, not from them. Perhaps, strange beauty? I don’t know. I’m still thinking about all of this myself. And I know I’m not the only one, I have notebooks full of quotes from others who have contemplated these themes. I’ve included a few that are dancing in my brain today. What are some of your writing themes? What tends to come up often in your writing?
“To me, poetry is about survival first of all.
Survival of the individual self, survival of the emotional life.”
“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”
~Edgar Allan Poe
“The duende delights in struggling freely with the creator on the edge of the pit… the duende wounds, and in trying to heal that wound that never heals, lies the strangeness, the inventiveness of a man’s work.”
~Federico García Lorca
“Maybe it was always simple:
Loss surrounds us.
Who would deny it?
We ourselves are loss, are lost.”