Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Arrangement of Ancient Thrones

A friend of ours, Bryan Thao Worra, who is a poet active around Minnesota's Twin Cities, wrote the other day asking how the new book was coming -- just out of curiosity. That there is to be another McFarland book from me is a matter of record; so it seems just as well to munder and wonder about it publicly, as privately. I tend not to talk about works in progress ... but I talk about wines in progress, yes? What harm ... so long as I am speaking of nuts and bolts -- of grapes and wire-bending pliers.

Bryan's question came about when the realization struck me that I had put aside all work on the book a week before the recent family visit, to have time to rearrange the house; and that I had failed to return the book to its somewhat central place in my life since then. The manuscript was supposedly due for delivery (for an already-deferred deadline) around the time of that visit; so I had obtained another extension, giving me a few months more. I will need them -- especially since these are heavy gardening-and-auctioning months.

My typewriters were stashed here and there: that was part of the problem. Finally this week I dedicated a few days to wrestling furniture around, rethinking my main workspace arrangement; and I brought back into the study necessary tools -- the books, the notebooks, the typewriters, even the typing paper.

Early in our time in Cashton, at an auction in a downpour, we paid a fair dollar for an old kitchen table that has crackled white paint on the underparts and a top of bare boards joined in the manner of narrow floorboards. This attractive, somewhat weatherbeaten piece has moved off our front porch and into active use, at last. Somehow its height -- a bit lower than most desks -- suits me: I am writing at it now ... sitting on a wonderful old glass-ball clawfoot organ stool that still has much of its original finish ... with spiral-bound notebook upon the bare boards, which are dark-cedar hue ... and in being here I feel utterly at home. A phrase comes to mind -- "A writing serf who feels like a king." Being surrounded by simple old things aids the flow of thoughts -- while the sterile products of our Age of the Masses global mega-industry tend to steer mental flows toward conformity and imitation.

The genuine creativity found in writings by some literary figures of past centuries flowed not only from their minds and heads. The writer's spirit is a spirit of exteriors as much as it is a spirit of interiors.

Cheers ...

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