Tuesday, July 25

entitled to the work

One of my professors always used to say "you are entitled to the work, but not to the reward," meaning that, in our profession, where outcomes are rarely tangible or financial, the process itself has to be loved.

cushion fabric closeup

I remember falling in love with poetry, just like with a human being. It was my senior year of college. Late February, maybe early March. It was snowing, it was late. My friend and I walked from the University to the Sculpture Garden through the thick snow. Of course there is the beauty of snow late at night, the shape of hundreds of crows high in the trees, the way it wasn't cold at all because we were having so much fun. But what I remember best is that while we walked we were reading to one another, or reciting. Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, W.C. Williams, Louise Gl├╝ck, Shakespeare. I loved their words with the kind of radiant excitement of an intense crush. I loved what they did to and for me. Poetry meant hope, and it still means it. It enforces my optimism and my belief in the good.

World's Fair Mural

And I try to extend the idea of work-as-end (rather than simply means) throughout my life. It's why I enjoy printing so much, I think: because, like poetry, it is really tied to process. And making clothing, too--because there is so much space for thinking in it, and because it requires joy in detail or in process (lest everything begin to feel like a task).

embroidery

Still in residence until the weekend. I'm writing, making skirts and zakkabags, setting type and printing. And sleeping, reading, watching movies. Today I went to the juvenile correctional facility here and taught a class for some of the boys there. It was an amazing experience. I feel really lucky to have been able to visit them and talk about poetry with them. They were so attentive and interested and willing to ask, which was wonderful. I would like to go back and do more work there.

Also the mayflies hatched last night and today they are dying everywhere in huge numbers.

grove

12 Comments:

Blogger sarah said...

so wonderful to hear more about your work x

6:06 PM  
Blogger lisa s said...

beautiful post.... amazing words.... thank you

1:16 AM  
Anonymous blair said...

this is a wonderful post, and such a lesson for us all to remember.

8:56 AM  
Blogger LALA dex press said...

I went to school for art ed. and my prof. liked to have us teach in "nontraditional" settings. We did some teaching in a juvenile detention center and an alternative school for kids whose only chance was to get a GED, not a diploma. It was an amazing experience + I definitely learned more from the students than they learned from my lessons. ~Shona

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Jane said...

What a beautifully written post.

I wish I'd been able to share poetry more outside the classroom. I love poetry but so often forget it (both the words and the fact that it is there). There's something about poetry which makes it so much better anywhere other than a stuffy place of learning - on a train, in a park, at the beach or in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil. Your epiphanic moment sounds quite magical.

1:25 PM  
Blogger molly said...

lovely words today. I love hearing about how your passion for poetry developed. your time "in residence" sounds refreshing.
my husband loves gerard manley hopkins, and reads him often.
looking forward to seeing your work when you return...

2:05 PM  
Anonymous vegasandvenice said...

absolutely inspiring. i am on a new journey of contemplation after reading todays post!

2:57 PM  
Blogger floresita said...

Your writing is just as beautiful as the things you make! This was so wonderful to read... :)

4:19 PM  
Anonymous kristin said...

what a lovely, peaceful post... wise words from your professor

1:23 AM  
Blogger h&b said...

"you are entitled to the work, but not to the reward"

How true is that ?
I haven't heard that one before, but I might well adopt it.

This post was lovely to read and to take me to a higher level - thankyou.

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Luisa said...

such a lovely post! it inspired my day. Thank you!

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Maitreya said...

I might have to embroider that on a sampler.

8:07 PM  

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