Senin, 30 Juli 2012

Emily Dickinson Visits Mackinac Island

Last weekend I visited Mackinac Island and found Emily Dickinson! It was lovely timing: near perfect, because I didn't know Emily was going to be there and I was giddy to discover her presence.

Here's the news: On July 28, from 7 a.m - 7 p.m., many people representing several organizations collaborated to present a 12-hour reading on Mackinac Island of Emily Dickinson's 1,789 poems. As I understand it, The Emily Dickinson Museum organized much of this.  I stopped by the Little Stone Church in the afternoon, where someone read aloud to me.  Then I walked down to Mission Church, where (later) a reproduction of Emily's white dress would be on display for a candlelight reading. I arrived there before the dress, before the people who brought the dress, and before anyone else was there.

Mission church was built in 1829 by a flock of Presbyterians. It was quiet and cool when I stepped inside, and I sat for several minutes soaking up silence and old Presbyterian austerity. I was a little sorry to have that silence interrupted when a few people arrived to set up for the evening, but I was glad to have a chance to see the dress and the candles, and to have that brief preview of what a candlelight reading in Mission Church might be like. I was sorry I could not stay for the real event.

Here's a little corner in the front of the church. I suppose it's what we call a narthex today, but "narthex" has too much high-church in it for this simple meeting house.

It was hard to walk out of that church, away from the dress and the candles and the promise of poetry, but almost as soon as I stepped outside I saw this:

Jumat, 20 Juli 2012

Rain: Live and Acoustic

Last night before I fell asleep -- and, even better, as I fell asleep -- I listened to rain. The windows were open, I had a roof over my head, and the world felt lovely and right. Rain is a sort of music, and the pleasure of it comes, in part, from long drought and unexpected arrival. It has occurred to me -- on other, different nights when sleep will not come -- that I could listen to a recording of rain. It's easier now than ever... as near as a free app on the iPhone. And yet. Something would be lost. What would happen to the sound of real rain if I supplemented dry, sleepless nights with moist recordings of autumn storms? What would happen to my experience of rain? I won't risk that, not for a hundred nights of good sleep induced by recorded drips and drops.

People used to wait for things all year: a Christmas orange! And then there's Wallace Stegner's beautiful, agonizing story, "Goin' To Town," about a boy waiting for a trip over the mountains on the Fourth of July (for a band and lemonade stands and a crowd and a parade and a ball game and fireworks), only to have his trip canceled because the family Ford won't start. That story sticks with me: it stains my bones, so purely, so viscerally does it share childhood anticipation and disappointment.

So much is available to us now so quickly. Want an orange? They're everywhere, every day. Want lemonade? It's everywhere. Want something different? Want to hear Beethoven? Spotify! (Which sounds like a spell taught at Hogwarts, doesn't it? Accio! Here is your music, like magic!) As a poet, I dwell in imaginary places, and my world is richer for that. But to wait for rain, real rain, is to know the pleasure of something real, something of this earth, something that sounds as a Christmas orange might once have tasted.

Rabu, 04 Juli 2012

Independence Day

Ours began as it usually does each year on this day, with coffee and music from "1776." This year, thanks to a transcription set in Imperial typeface and printed on the back page of The New York Times, I read the entire Declaration of Independence. It's quite fantastic, and easy to read when one is not trying to decipher 18th-century handwriting.

Have a happy day!

                    (Pictures from a trip to Charlevoix, taken last weekend.)