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Archive for November, 2007

Several months ago, one of the nuns asked me to type in her journal. For some reason I put this off but recently pulled out the envelope. These are daily meditations done through a Benedictine style of reading called lexio divina.

As I type these in, the room always fills with the scent of sweet smelling flowers. I’ve never thought of Sister M. as a spiritual person. I realize she’s a nun, but she’s my friend, and we rarely have deep spiritual talks. We laugh more than anything. We seem to bring out each other’s impish natures.

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At the Movie: Virginia, 1956

This is how it was:
they had their own churches, their own schools,
schoolbuses, football teams, bands and majorettes,
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Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, “The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.”

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

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At Donald Justice’s (1925-2004) reading, he was asked about the difficulties of rhyming and writing in forms. He laughed and said it was more difficult for him not to rhyme and not to use forms.

Another American poet, Mark Strand (born 1934), said about Justice, “From the very beginning Justice has fashioned his poems, honed them down, freed them of rhetorical excess and the weight (however gracefully sustained) of an elaborate diction. His self-indulgence, then, has been with the possibilities of plain statement. His refusal to adopt any other mode but that which his subject demands — minimal, narcissist, negating — has nourished him.”

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23 Nov. 2006 (12:30 p.m.) Big Sur, Calif., Thanksgiving Day

I’m looking out again over the ocean. We climbed up on a trail through some thick brush to a cliff. I can see the curve of the world from here, and the haze makes the ocean look flat and blue.

The forest we climbed in was cool and moist and full of peppermint vines. Breathing in the cool air and peppermint was nice. We found a wonderful sand beach in a cove to spend the day on. I didn’t take off my hiking boots and socks, and now they are soaking wet. The dogs have been running and playing in the sand. And as I stand here writing this, S. takes my photo (snap).

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I don’t remember much about my workshop with Mona Van Duyn (1921-2004). She told us a story about applying for her driver’s license and being laughed at by the people at the license bureau when she filled in her profession as “poet.”

Aside from being the first woman poet laureate of the U.S., she won three major awards in poetry, the Bollingen Prize, the National Book Award and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She also received the Pulitzer in 1991.

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James Merrill (1926-1995) is a poet I feel like I know but never actually met. I worked for his nephew F. for seven years at a sports magazine. In the non-literary world the name Merrill is associated with Merrill Lynch, the company James Merrill’s father founded.

But in the literary world, James Merrill is associated with something completely different, the Ouija board. In his last books, he used a Ouija board to write his poems. Poets use many different mediums to translate their work onto the written page, but this is one of the most famous.

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