Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 1, 2011

Listening, Inspiration, and Terry Tempest Williams

The latest issue of Poets & Writers  has a great interview with Terry Tempest Williams.  Among other things, she speaks of having lost her sense of poetry after September 11, 2001. So at high tide on the Maine coast, she “said to the sea, ‘Give me one wild word, and I promise I will follow.’ I listened for some time.”

A word did roll back, which we learn about in the interview, as well as how she followed up on it with research, and with her hands as well as her head. This work led her to write Finding Beauty in a Broken World.

I don’t have what it takes to start a book by calling into the wind for one word, but I’m willing to try for a poem or, well, a line. And couldn’t an imagined ocean, or trees, or snowfall speak back, too? If one listens very hard.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Terry T is one of my heroes. If you ever get the chance to hear her speak…oh my. She has such deep sympathy for the Earth and all its residents.
    I’ll definitely look for the article!

  2. Believe it or not the idea of listening very hard is a new one to me, but it resonates. Usually my ideas holler at me and I run with them or don’t. Since Christmas, I’ve been “waiting” for an idea, and only in the last few days have I realized that the ideas are there, but they are being very quiet, whispering like a breeze through a shrub as they wait for me to come to them. Like I said, this is new to me, and I really appreciate your post as a reinforcement of sorts — yes, listen! Listen hard!

  3. I’ve read her work with great respect, and I’m sure to hear her would be amazing. I’m just glad to know she stopped by the rocky Maine coast.

  4. At least that didn’t happen IN grad school where I think it’s pretty common. But, yes, scary, and yay for whatever pulls us back.

  5. I think some of those ideas that are quietest are the best. Best wishes for your close listening — and it is so cool when you find reinforcement in unexpected places!
    Thanks for coming by!

  6. Well, it did have its roots there. I started out studying the Victorian novel, figuring on 4 years. Cut it short for an MA, and the last semester I wrote my (very short) thesis and took a class on British drama (very, VERY short plays.) And I read Barbara Pym, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, and that was it. 🙂

  7. Well, it did have its roots there. I started out studying the Victorian novel, figuring on 4 years. Cut it short for an MA, and the last semester I wrote my (very short) thesis and took a class on British drama (very, VERY short plays.) And I read Barbara Pym, Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, and that was it. 🙂
    Which took me, honestly, in a whole new wonderful direction of reading & writing. So it’s all good.

  8. I’ve put this book on hold.
    ‘Give me one wild word, and I promise I will follow.’
    How could I not follow that?
    Thanks Jeannine!

  9. A wild word–great quote and post.
    Much of writing is really listening, as I think about it.

  10. Oh, good! I think my favorite of her books is Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, which traces the environment’s link to cancer. I know that doesn’t sound inspiring, but there are a lot of very strong women in the book.
    Finding Beauty is a good book to bounce around in. There were parts that didn’t engage me as much, but then there are also jewels.

  11. Look. Listen. And maybe the hardest?: Wait.

  12. Beautiful post, Jeannine.
    Couldn’t an imagined ocean, or trees, or snowfall speak back, too? If one listens very hard.
    Once during a long desert of a year, visits to an imaginary ocean sustained me. And they kept a book alive inside me as well. So I would say YES.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: