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Filtering by Tag: 7-1 authors

Writing and Seeing | 7.1 Poet Elizabeth Harlan-Ferlo

Trevor Sutton

wrist 7.1 Poet Elizabeth Harlan-Ferlo writes about a broken wrist and the ritual of seeing.

A few weeks ago, I broke my right wrist, the one I use to write. It’s currently immobilized—under the skin, with metal plate and screws, and over the skin, with a cast of purple fiberglass.  This has disturbed my regular rituals and rhythms of writing.

After more than twelve years of writing poetry regularly, I have developed more than a few. Some have to do with time of day, and others with how I set up my laptop or tracking system.  But the most important practice of what makes the poetry happen is opening the poetic eye. Not unlike Emerson’s transparent eyeball, it creates a kind of mystical awareness of the world.  But in true twenty-first century form, my poetic ‘eyeball’ doesn’t always let the self drop away.  It is a net in which ideas can be caught and held up to the light.  My juxtapositions are often between the sacred and the profane—a news report, a piece of art, commercial detritus, a personal experience--in the same field of vision as a religious idea or image.

The profane is everywhere, but connecting the sacred takes practice. Sometimes the sight of an unfamiliar object, or a snatch of conversation, reminds me of a particular theological idea, frequently one that I have sought to explain to students in my Hinduism or Judaism classes. A hesitant churchgoer, (I practice a kind of attendio divina), my beloved Episcopal Eucharist can also provide another sight of the liturgical God. Just reading scripture is not enough; the poems require the physical engagement of religious practice.

Close attention—visual, tactile, aural—requires practice too. It is symbiotic with the discipline of writing. Otherwise, what I notice can just pile up and rust into a poetic junkyard. I must keep writing to keep seeing.

Right now, I am watching for the purple cast’s reflection--what opens into the world (and in scripture) when life gets broken. And I’m learning to type with one hand.

Elizabeth Harlan-Ferlo is author of "Flies" and "In Which Buddah Reads Aloud Firecracker Instructions"  in issue 7.1 of Relief.

Wanting Freedom | 7.1 Poet Joel Fry

Trevor Sutton

free 7.1 Poet Joel Fry talks about being free.

I hardly ever remember writing first drafts, unless they are connected to a specific event, and most of my work is not.  My poem "Such a Bright Future" describes my varied thought life, in which I attempt to get at the meat of my existence, but ultimately I realize Jesus Christ is my refuge, and like Paul, I feel that I am being poured out in a sense, and that God is pleased with me.

My life entails defining my existence in a way that makes sense to me.  I can do what I want, but that soon leads to addiction.  I am even addicted to Facebook.  So true freedom (or at least the highest form of freedom) seems to be the liberation from selfish desires, not so much the ability to do whatever I want.  I like what the Lord says: "If you drink of this water you will never thirst again."  This is also like the 23rd Psalm: "The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want."  Everyone is free to be included with God in Christ.  That is the ultimate, and very simple, revelation.

Joel Fry's poem "Such a Bright Future" appears in issue 7.1 of Relief.

The Liturgy of Listening | 7.1 Poet Kerri Snell

Trevor Sutton

7.1 Poet Kerri Snell tells about the importance of listening for writing poetry.

listenA poem that “works” for an audience is at once both personal and universal. It is still a mystery to me how some of my poems transcend ambiguity and self-consciousness and become living works. I write to understand, and yet my poetry usually provides me with more questions than answers about God, about Nature, about relationships.

Why do I write poetry? I think it is because reading and writing poetry comforts me in a mothering sort of way. I can bed down with my own lack of knowledge and feel that through creation of a poem, I can accept, as I believe God accepts, my glaring limitations. Poetry is for me an experience of Grace.

I have immersed myself in the poetry of Maurice Manning of late, stunned to discover the form he has mastered in capturing old ways and old voices. His poems are linguistic artifacts described through one of the purest voices I have encountered. Like Manning, I write from a distinct geographical landscape. His is Kentucky and mine is Oklahoma. Nurturing my poetic landscape is my personal window into the heterocosm of a poem and it is for me worship. My landscape requests certain liturgical activities more in keeping with Emily Dickinson’s concept of the Sabbath than with the Evangelical Church.

In order to enjoy a successful day of writing, I must get outside every day, usually for a walk or a run. I have to engage in some form of physical exertion in order to slow down my thought processes so that I can record them. Creating on optimal environment for poetry to happen is integral to my success as a writer. I seek light, open, minimally-cluttered space, and of course, solitude. My writing process involves engaging the works of other poets, remembering old hymns, reading the Bible, reading a ton of nonfiction, and then writing, writing, writing. It is remembering loved ones. It is reading history. It is contemplating the future. Mostly, it is prayerfully working to respect the perspectives of others. Poetry requires courage, as does faith. In the midst of doubt, we must create a fluid knowing.  When we begin to see everything as a possible prayer, we begin to learn to listen. Listening is the pivotal liturgical act of poetry.

Kerri Vinson Snell's poems ""Freedom", "The Well", and "Bride"" appear in issue 7.1 of Relief.