feb 4/RUN

4 miles
trestle turn around
10 degrees/ feels like 3
100% clear path!

Sun. Some wind. A clear path. Hardly anyone out in the cold, which is how I like it. The river was brown. The path was partly white, stained from salt. The sky, blue. I saw my shadow running ahead of me. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker twice. Felt a bit sluggish in the first half–my legs are tired and sore from last night’s run. Heard some crows, a skein of geese, some other type of chirping spring-sounding bird. Don’t remember counting my breaths or chanting any fun, random phrases. Thought a trashcan was an approaching walker. Not just in a quick mistaken glance, but for several minutes as I slowly approached the object.

Happy to be out by the gorge unclenching my jaw from a slightly stressful morning of waiting to get a girl to go to school. No big problems getting her to go, just delay and irritation. So glad running helps.

Read through my old doctoral exams and thought about redefining and reclaiming space and time. bell hooks and radical openness on the margins, Trinh T. Minh-ha and storytelling time as not linear but cyclical and not shaped by past, present, and future. I’m thinking about how these ideas are influencing how I understand and experience my beside/s space by the gorge and my running time. The gorge on the edge of “wilderness”/the river/ city limits between St. Paul and Minneapolis/ threshold between forest and neighborhood + running time as not easily measured, not a line from beginning to end but a dripping present (if that makes sense?).

Speaking of influences, I wrote another one of my exams on feminist theory and writing style, including difficult writing style as a way to force people to not easily consume ideas–when you can’t easily or quickly understand what you are reading, you are forced to stop and think more about it which might lead to being more critical of what you are merely supposed to accept and believe. I have always like the idea of rumination and ideas that are “chewy bagels” (must be chewed up, can’t quickly be swallowed and accepted). The main goal? Slow down. Read carefully. Really think about what the author is saying and how it makes you feel. Queer feminist thinkers like Judith Butler have framed this in terms of using languages to forcibly disrupt–we are no longer able to make sense of what we are reading, it is too complicated and confusing. Today, I read an interview with Arthur Sze and I like how he describes how poetry enables us to slow down, not by force but by helping/encouraging us to listen to the sounds of words, the rhythm of language. It’s a invitation, not a demand. Does this make sense? Not sure. I’m trying to figure out why poetry matters to me.

Interview with Arthur Sze

Poetry has a crucial role to play in our lives, society, and the world. It helps us slow down, hear clearly, see deeply, and envision what matters most in our lives. When one reads a poem, one has to pay attention to the sounds of words, to the rhythm of language, experience the dance and tension between sound and silence. A good poem communicates viscerally in the body before it’s fully understood in the mind, and, in that experience, complexities of feeling and thought can sometimes only be conveyed through poetry. I forget which Zen monk wrote,

what comes from brightness, I strike with brightness;
what comes from darkness, I strike with darkness

but here’s an example of emotional and imaginative insight, and how to proceed in the world, compressed into a few words, where each word matters. [The quote comes from 9th century Chinese master Linji Yixuan (Jp. Rinzai).] Prose can explain and lengthily articulate the meaning in those two lines, but only poetry, I think, can capture and embody the experience.

Our world today is built on various assumptions—“time is money,” for example—and we live in an age that although globally connected is not necessarily humanly connected. People work endless hours buying and selling stocks and bonds—“buy silk, sell steel”—for instance. Poetry stands in resistance to this commercial culture. It is not about acquiring material wealth; instead, it’s about human insight, genuine human connectivity, and promotes mindfulness and awakening. In that way, poetry is priceless. And, in that way, I have devoted my life to poetry for over 50 years. Poetry, for me, is about discovery, renewal, awakening, and affirming a way of living that is profound, humbling, and meaningful.