There is sun in the morning and so I walk. Gulls flwap-peel their webbed feet on the cobble-pave promenade and I see, for the first time, a large land jut into the ocean. It cannot be more than one mile in the distance, but after four days here this is the best visibility we’ve had. By mid-morning another storm has rolled in, wind howls through odd slits in the building, it’s voice detectable audibly though a physical draft is not present. “It sounds like there are babies in the walls,” I confess to a friend. Later, MB uses that in our improv poetry workshop, and even later than that, brave students get up do-do-do-wap their thing with co-host GM, a well-known jazz musician.
All of which is to say that today was the first day I felt a real rhythm to it all. I woke up tired from staying out too late, but I woke up smiling – and I mean that literally. It’s a good way to start the day and it’s also that kind of feeling I could write an elegy for once this residency is over. It’s so hard to explain this little dream we live in for eleven days, as fellow student BA (book forthcoming – Jesus, they’re unstobbable!) said to me last night on the balcony of room 501: “We get to live like artists for almost two weeks. There’s no way to bring this back with us to the real world in any sense that other people can understand. I’ve seen four marriages fall apart here at the residencies alone. Things break apart and we’re here with friends to use our words and put them back together. The closeness we gain is real, but it’s also blinding.”
And since I’m quoting people, I’ll wrap up with words from JR’s craft talk this morning, Fishing for Leviathan: Suffering, Depth, and the Writer:
“Going deeper means understanding that the deep is all around you. It’s just beneath your feet. It’s a condition and not a direction. It involves seeing that the metaphor you cherish is usually false. It involves leaving what you expected to see on the cutting room floor. It involves the courage to challenge the fucked up way the world is put together and the realization that if anybody’s going to be conscious and self-conscious and honest and courageous around here, it’s going to be you…When we are writing or painting or fishing at the level that my [friend] brought to it, we are single mindedly creating a world, and for a moment, the energy we spend trying not to think about our death is free to serve the cause of creation.”