Notes & marginalia…..

Taos is very beautiful, infused with an ancient Indian heritage and the spirits of 20th century writers & artists. In an Anglo-centric literary fashion it was always DH Lawrence who drew me there. On my recent visit I was therefore staying at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House……….

Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, NM.

Mabel Dodge Luhan committed huge amounts of time to persuading Lawrence (and other writers, artists and thinkers) to go to Taos; when he did they had a very stormy relationship. The house is now an inn and hosts writers and writing workshops (which gives me an idea for next year…..).

I was also appropriately reading Joseph Foster’s D.H.Lawrence in Taos which gives an interesting perspective from someone who knew, observed and admired him but was not blind to his peculiarities.

It was a library book which, as with second hand books, sometimes brings you more than just the author’s words, more often an added bonus than an irritation, wouldn’t you say?

On page 57 the occasional pencil underlinings suddenly become personal, become words, develop character. I reproduce here the underlining and  the pencil margin notes which make a great Journal Prompt.

Foster wrote:

What does one expect of a great man, such as Lawrence in one’s life?

Perhaps only contact. Reassurance that because of him life is worthwhile. Lawrence was a presence in our lives even before we met him. Someone who stirred the highest things in us. (p57)

Someone underlined the last sentence above and wrote in the margin:

Who stirs the highest things in you? what?

I would describe this as “A Found Journal Prompt”.

Taos Pueblo

And finally….

Do you like to read geographically relevant books? What combinations of place & book have you found?

My next trip is to Alaska – any reading suggestions?

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Writing in the wild………..

At the weekend Mary Reynolds Thompson and I facilitated our Wild Places Lost & Found writing workshops.

On Saturday the participants came up the winding road to the top of Flagstaff, to the views of the Continental Divide, to sit and write in forest and mountain.

On Sunday, people found places under trees, in sunshine, on grass.

They were seeking the wild places outside and inside themselves and came together to write and to share.

Saturday began with a visit from 3 coyotes. As we drove to Lakewood on Sunday for the second workshop a coyote crossed the road in front of us.

In Native American lore, a coyote is a trickster, a creature of duality and paradox, a creative figure, a creator of culture and a breaker of taboos.

Their appearance seemed to invite us into the wild.

Writing took people into their wild imagination.

We looked at archetypal landscapes: Mountain, Forest, Water, Grassland, Desert. Mary brought us images from her Reclaiming the Wild Soul work to look at, to choose from, to enter, to write about.

Journal Prompt

Which landscape are you most drawn to? What does it mean to you? What are the feelings it evokes in you?

What is that landscape in you?

One participant said she had always found writing outside too distracting, she preferred to have a ceiling – but on this occasion her written words belied her spoken words.

Writing in the wild

How is writing outside in nature, in a garden, different from writing inside, in a coffee shop?

What do you experience when you write outside?

What are your favourite places to write?

This I will Remember

This I will remember,

Everyone’s sharing,

The courage it sometimes takes to read out loud.

This I will remember:

How a child touches your soul,

The distance and closeness of stories.

This I will remember:

Beautiful are the hearts of the people

Who shared this workshop,

And the profound beauty of this place.

By the participants at the Wild Places Lost & Found workshop, facilitated by Kate Thompson & Mary Reynolds Thompson. Boulder, Colorado, 21st April, 2012 

Note from Mary and Kate: Saturday and Sunday’s workshops brought together an amazing group of men and women thirsty to explore the wild places within and without. Their only complaint–we need more time. To that end, please look for an upcoming October 2012 “Wild Places” weekend workshop in California, details to come.

Too many books….

This week I’m reading too many books.

It’s all the fault of Boulder Public Library. Suddenly a large number of the books I’d requested over the last few weeks/months arrived, all at once. There were books read about (in The New York Times, London Review of Books etc), heard about (on NPR, recommended by friends & colleagues), remembered from some distant time. They all go on my “Holds” list, and eventually they all turn up. Books borrowed, unlike books bought, have to be read on some kind of realistic timescale which is why this week I find myself simultaneously reading:

Katherine Boo – behind the beautiful forevers: life, death & hope in a mumbai undercity

Because I know Mumbai and I like non-fiction that reads like a novel and was wonderfully reviewed everywhere.

J-P Sartre – What is Literature?

For something I’m writing on Existential thought & journal therapy

Ellen Ullman – By Blood

A novel in which a professor eavesdrops on his psychoanalyst neighbour and her client. It turns out to be a search for birth mother narrative & a holocaust narrative… and identity & SanFrancisco

Virginia WoolfMoments of Being

Because I thought I remembered something but I haven’t found it yet.

Elizabeth Weil – No cheating, no dying; I had a good marriage. Then I tried to make it better.

Because it sounded interesting on NPR…….It turns out to be an Eat Pray Love kind of book where the author undertakes various experiences in order to write a book.

So many books (and that’s not counting the ones I was reading before) – I wonder how they’ll all end (or if I’ll find out before they have to be returned). And I need to get on before the next lot of requests arrive…..

What are you reading that you recommend I add to my list?

Thank you, libraries, I couldn’t have supported my lifelong reading habit without you.  That’s something I got from my father.

Here’s a journal prompt I’ve adapted from one or more of the books above:

My parents had given me what they’d known to give: eight weeks of summer overnight camp, a good education, unconditional love and trust.

What did you get from your parents?

Write it in the form of an unsent letter. [What’s the First rule of Unsent Letters? That’s right, they never-ever get sent.]

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