Reading “The Search Engine,” a story in Sherman Alexie’s Ten Little Indians, I am fascinated by two powerfully drawn and unique characters who demonstrate the anguish, the calling, the questioning and the imagination of poetry. The world of poetry has many pitfalls, and Alexie highlights the ups and downs in his startling, harsh, fearless and heart wrenching story telling. I am brought to serious reflection about my own journeys in the arena of poetry writing, and I can only hope I have the courage to continue the endeavor and answer the call when it arises.
Category: Journal Entry
April 21, 2017
I have been editing a nonfiction manuscript that I wrote before the death of my mother. I just recently took it up again after more than a decade. I began with some optimism and ease, expecting quick completion. (I was eager to move on to new ideas for another project.)
However, as I found myself in the midst of unresolved emotions, my efforts slowed down. Difficulties seemed to arise out of nowhere as judgments threatened. I wished I had never begun. I had to remind myself as a student and teacher of yoga, this situation, most likely, was the perfect opportunity for growth.
Deciding not to reside in emotional turmoil, I rededicated myself to be the neutral witness. I set aside my desire to rework the last chapter, returned to the beginning and am happy, for now on page 16, to pursue ongoing resolution.
April 23, 2017
I have been contemplating the concept that objectivity is not neutral as an extension of my recent return to neutral attention. Still, there is more. I have also been remembering things.
After reading poetry (on a university radio station) with a friend and fellow poet, my friend said to me: “Unfortunately, no one will know what a great writer you are until after you are dead.” This happened in the 1980’s. I also remember a barely concealed sneer by the radio interviewer regarding “women poets writing about their cats.”
Why did he ask us to come on his show? Had he not “read” our proposed selections ahead of time? Having written on the death of our family cat as a metaphor for something else, unfortunately, I allowed this experience to have a dampening effect on my writing life.
Now I write, because it is the song I have to offer. And every once in a while, I am reminded how women have not come as far as we sometimes like to think we have.
Gudrun Mouw (c)
Today is another anomaly, different from the general, coastal patterns of wet, windy winters and scorching, dry summers. The hills and meadows have greened. There is still rainwater in various containers, but it has been sunny for a few days with unusually cold mornings. Supposedly, it was 28 degrees earlier and by noon, 79 degrees, with 80 degrees anticipated.
This last Monday, I was startled awake, in the dark except for my cell phone which seemed to be going crazy. I jumped up too quickly and triggered an old injury. We were given tornado warning.
Last year, there was no warning, and we got hit. We are still looking at the impact. This year, we escaped the tornado landing by 2 miles.
Even more troubling, is that the national conscience seems to be having a panic attack. I am adapting in various ways and for more than one reason. For example, upon special request, I’ve scheduled next month’s meditation group to do some healing work. Hopefully, this will help. I need to find my teacher’s chant on the subject and refresh my Sanskrit pronunciation.
Today, I would still like to work on the current manuscript. Those first few drafts, done so many years ago, set me up for a personal yoga journey around parental skepticism and initial disapproval. With both parents gone, do I have enough distance? Or is it yet too painful? So far, the work has been emotionally challenging. Also, I’ve been merciless in my deletions.
Gudrun Mouw (c)
I had written a poem there, dated 4.21.1991, and there was also a revision on the facing page, dated 5.28.2002. I smile thinking of that saying, “A Poem is Never Finished, Only Abandoned.” Since I don’t much like the word abandoned, I reconsider.
This poem will not be abandoned, because I find myself working on another revision as my memory of that long ago day becomes vivid:
The Santa Barbara Bird Refuge
A goose stands on one leg at water’s edge;
it’s long neck stretches over a glassy sheen,
and a squat duck on one leg,
pecks under its wings.
Similarities and differences jostle
to make an imprint on my perception.
Feathers ruffle in the wind.
A silver cloud floats across the sky
like a large, slow barge.
The carnival of my mind
And the longing for which I yearn,
bursts into into light
like a golden swan rising up.
In the article, “My name is Abran Lopez,” I was impressed by the author’s comment, “I don’t think we survived on excess. I think we survived on diversity.” I was once again reminded of the powerful gift of diversity–how freeing and creative it is, for example, not to get locked down on a narrow perception of how something should be.
I was shocked by the article, “The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code,” by Sheldon Wolfchild. I had not realized that the Doctrine of Discovery, based on the fifteenth century papal bull, “Inter caetera,” which called for the subjugation and conversion of non-Christian nations, has not yet been officially revoked.
On a lighter note, I enjoyed “Kale Yeah!” This “Salmon and Kale Stir Fry” recipe by Meagan Baldy sounds really good. Can’t wait for the completion of our kitchen post-wind-sheer repairs to try this out.
(C) Gudrun Mouw, a.k.a. Krishnaprema Jyothi August 13, 2016
June 4 and and Beyond….
The journey south continues through San Francisco, and more memories return–when I brought my daughter and her friend, David Ray, (who became one of my best Poet-in-the-Schools students) to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park in the early 1980’s for a nostalgic feast of music, dancing, jokes and giggles. I am reminded that David, sadly, passed away at an early age. I feel a deep loss, my own and my daughter’s.
This morning, my driving companion and I search out a San Francisco Trader Joe’s to buy something for our later lunch. The parking lot looks packed, so I hop out to find a bathroom. I go down the escalator. A guard stands watch at the bottom.
People come and go. The San Franciscans move quickly, look self-assured, crisp, with contained, intelligent looks. When I see my friend, she is clothed differently than the others I’ve been watching, and I realize, as we go through the store, that we are both, quite obviously, not big-city residents. We dress more casually. We move more slowly. It takes a while for us to search for what we want; then, we have a leisurely conversation with our check-out person (after I check to see that there is, surprisingly, no one waiting behind us). He looks mildly astonished as he picks up our goods one by one. His smile seems to say, these two are definitely from somewhere else.
We drive on towards Highway 280 which brings back my younger days–where my daughter was born and where I worked as a columnist. I share stories about our home near Stanford University. We discuss the possibility of a side-trip to investigate further but decide not on this trip and find a park where we enjoy a brief lunch break.
Our conversation changes driving through the drier counties. As landscapes appear closer to what is familiar for both of us, our driving discourse becomes more personal; perhaps, because we are aware that very soon we won’t see each other again for at least a month. We make frequent stops, then, dive into conversation once more.
For the rest of the journey, I experience intense currents brewing inside, and I continue to vibrate with an energy that goes beyond the residue of continuous vehicular movement. Perhaps, there is more to investigate, more to understand. At one stop, I watch my friend share a portion of her cooler’s food to someone who was checking a store front’s garbage can. I appreciate her quick and kind response.
Since returning home, I have come to see how fortunate I was to participate in a celebration of something that’s often truncated by our modern digital advancements. We are frequently circumscribed by a world of incomplete sentences, of unique abbreviations and spellings, of emojis. This can be both cute and convenient; however, such modern communication can sometimes become substitutes for comprehensive, nurturing talk that helps to embrace diversity, grow our compassion and add to our knowledge of essential matters. I have come to understand how nourishing it is to give each other the time and space to fully express what we mean.
I have a deeper appreciation for how deeply illuminating our face-to-face human connection can be when it is not delineated by the limitations of our devices. I am deeply thankful for the insight and strength given to me for this recent undertaking.