“The state of birth, suffering, love, and death are extreme states-extreme, universal, and inescapable. We all know this, but would rather not know it.”-James Baldwin-The Creative Process from Creative America, Ridge Press, 1962.
My author love of the day goes out to James Baldwin. I’ve been on a bit of a Baldwin kick of late. His writing is accessible and heady all at once. I enjoy the truths he exposes and lays bare for all of us to examine. As he states in his essay The Creative Process, “The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate the darkness, blaze roads through the vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.”
Give Baldwin a chance if you haven’t before, you won’t be sorry. Whether its his semi-autobiographical novel “Go Tell It on the Mountain” or his short story “Sonny’s Blues” let this 20th Century intellectual take up some of that headspace that you’re using to cruise the internets. I do believe that he adhered to his ideal of making the world a more human dwelling place by sharing his mind with us and challenging us to honestly consider social issues that plague our society and keep us all from moving forward together.
My author/poet love of the day goes out to Seamus Heaney, Irish poet, playwright, translator, Nobel Laureate in Literature.
A fixture in my heart and mind in recent years, Seamus Heaney offers a full experience of living in the exceptional world of ordinary words and circumstances. He dresses his poems quite nicely, and makes them accessible in a way that belies their sheer power to spark familiarity without the consciousness of realizing the discovery as it unfolds. Seek his words out and let them buzz around your brain. Although, many may have pints in their fists on this day of days, I propose that you can get equally intoxicated drinking from this man’s artful lines.
“When all the others were away at Mass”
by Seamus Heaney
When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives–
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.
My author/poet love of the day goes out to Langston Hughes. One of my favorite poets, Langston Hughes was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance of the early twentieth century. His poems inspire me because they work so well on many levels and transcend cultural and societal boundaries. Langston’s voice is a human voice that convinces us that although we are at times stuck within viewing the world from our own perspective, when we seek common threads of our humanity we can tap into a grander view of shared universal experience.
My ProCrasstheNation “Author Love of the Day” goes out to Charles Bukowski.
Hank found me at a time in my life when I needed him most. His gut-punching prose guided me through a pretty harrowing period of disillusionment. He made me feel that it was okay to throw your hands in the air and just launch a big ol’ bird at life.
Bukowski’s “Post Office” was gifted to me by a great friend, a best friend. He knew me well enough to know that I needed a post in the road, a distraction, some sage advice. Ever since that time, Bukowski has been a welcome voice in my head as well as a witness of the suffering that can be endured in this life.
He’s a hard man for many to love. His shortcomings, which are many, alienate those who can’t think critically in the knee jerk reality of a politically correct driven universe. However, if you can sit back and allow him to invade your space, Bukowski shows an adept ability to grab you with his words and make you realize that when you’re dealing with life there is no politics, just what exists despite our best efforts to contort what comes our way into mind-numbing saccharin delusions.
Below is a poem, that has always spoken to me. It is especially apropos in light of the shitshow currently surrounding us on many levels. Give Bukowski a chance. You won’t be sorry. There is integrity and compassion in the suffering he painted in his words, and there is nothing more gratifying to me than in finding a soul in this world that can articulate how I feel, even though I didn’t know I felt that way to begin with.
by Charles Bukowski
Born like this
As the chalk faces smile
As Mrs. Death laughs
As the elevators break
As political landscapes dissolve
As the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree
As the oily fish spit out their oily prey
As the sun is masked
Born like this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes
Born into this
Walking and living through this
Dying because of this
Muted because of this
Because of this
Fooled by this
Used by this
Pissed on by this
Made crazy and sick by this
The heart is blackened
The fingers reach for the throat
The fingers reach toward an unresponsive god
The fingers reach for the bottle
We are born into this sorrowful deadliness
We are born into a government 60 years in debt
That soon will be unable to even pay the interest on that debt
And the banks will burn
Money will be useless
There will be open and unpunished murder in the streets
It will be guns and roving mobs
Land will be useless
Food will become a diminishing return
Nuclear power will be taken over by the many
Explosions will continually shake the earth
Radiated robot men will stalk each other
The rich and the chosen will watch from space platforms
Dante’s Inferno will be made to look like a children’s playground
The sun will not be seen and it will always be night
Trees will die
All vegetation will die
Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men
The sea will be poisoned
The lakes and rivers will vanish
Rain will be the new gold
The rotting bodies of men and animals will stink in the dark wind
The last few survivors will be overtaken by new and hideous diseases
And the space platforms will be destroyed by attrition
The petering out of supplies
The natural effect of general decay
And there will be the most beautiful silence never heard
Born out of that.
The sun still hidden there
Awaiting the next chapter.
My ProCrasstheNation “Author Love of the Day” goes out to Margaret Atwood.
Most folks are likely familiar with her dystopian novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” However, it was a recent reading of her short story, “The Man from Mars,” that reminded me of her adept skill at hooking readers into uncomfortable situations and lending us some insights about the vagaries of life. This story is especially relevant to current readers because it challenges us to an honest self-examination of the prejudices and xenophobia that have permeated our lives as we navigate the social institutions that detract from the cultural experiences that many immigrants face as they try to maintain their cultural identity while trying to assimilate into a new community.
Well known for her takes on feminism as articulated in her work, Atwood is a wonderful read, and is a fine addition to the pantheon of modern fiction authors.
Give her your undivided attention, you won’t be disappointed.