KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!


The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

Seeing and Saying

Fog-lacquered,

varnished in thin

pearl glaze,

 

the high dunes unfold,

a smudged sketch . . .

-Mark Doty, “Fog Suite”

 

Lately I have been considering my work.  What do I most need to be doing?  What are my priorities?  Oh, I do the daily tasks that come with keeping a place pleasant enough to nourish my spirit, interesting enough that I am always provoked to thought, and clean enough that I can be at ease there.  And I have other jobs as well — or possibly they’re roles: mother, sister, grandmother, wife.  Each has its delicious duties; each makes its demands.  But my work shapes my life as much as any of these do.

 

The passionate avocation which I am lucky enough to practice as a vocation  for years that work has been two-fold:  writing and teaching.  Artist’s work, each of them — asking from me flexibility and curiosity, patience and steadiness, imagination and presence.  The medium for my art is words.  My materials?  Ideas, insights, observation, the daily walk, my commute, my “down time” reading, knitting.  Nothing less than everything I have learned or wonder about about.  What I am able to take in, to truly see and ponder and then translate onto the page or into that evening’s class.

My job boils down to seeing and saying.

It seems to me that in all arts no matter what their medium — words, paint, lines in pencil or ink, photographs, symphonies, choral music, rap, stone, wood, metal — artists create in order to convey something they have observed.  A photographer takes in her surroundings, alert for shape and light and shadow.  Having seen something she wants to capture and share, she takes aim and uses her tools (not only the camera but everything she has learned about photography) and makes a piece of art.

 

The art I admire and try to emulate observes something closely and renders it vividly.  Ordinary things like the fog along a coast in Mark Doty’s poem.  He likens the fog to “damp scarves/(unhemmed, like petals/of a white peony)” and I know I have seen that very aspect of fog and failed to notice it or to find the words that would (like Doty’s) make it unmistakable.

 

Doty’s poem is partly about this “seeing and saying” I’ve been pondering lately:

 

What I’m trying to do

is fix this impossible

shift and flux, and say

 

how this fog-fired

green’s intensified

by sunlight filtered

 

through the atmosphere’s

wet linens–

 

He says what I have felt on mornings in eastern Kentucky when the fog both veiled and sharpened the colors on the hills.  And he goes on with lines that I have written toward (and never quite reached):

 

Do we love more

what we can’t say?

 

As if what we wanted

were to be brought

that much closer

 

to words’ failure

where desire begins?

 

That edge where my desire to express what I have seen meets my words’ failure draws me on.  It is my work — noticing, trying to say what I have seen.  My work as a teacher.  My work as a writer.

 

“Fog Suite,” by Mark Doty, from Sweet Machine (1998), collected in Fire to Fire, New and Selected Poems (Harper Perennial, 2009)