in memoriam: Toni Morrison

If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the the one to write it.

Something that is loved is never lost.

(I am still working on this one.)

We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.

“Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio,” by James Wright

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home,
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Therefore,
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.

(from the Poetry Foundation.)

In honor of James Wright, I drove through Martins Ferry as I headed west from Pittsburgh.

trees

In his acknowledgements section at the front of the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of A River Runs Through It and Other stories, Norman Maclean writes of his difficulties getting published. “To add further to their literary handicaps, these stories turned out to be Western stories – as one publisher said in returning them, ‘These stories have trees in them.'” Some of us, of course, appreciate trees.

I found this great article from Garden & Gun: “Ten Storied Southern Trees.” I was hopeful that I might have visited one or two, and indeed I have; another is on my list for the next week or so, and a few more I’ve added. (Note the tag on this post: “significant trees.)

The Angel Oak is coming right up (thanks Pops for putting that one on my list); I’ve been to the Big Tree on Texas’s Gulf Coast and the Tree That Owns Itself in Athens. I’ve also visited Austin’s Treaty Oak, but before Foxy and before this blog, and I have no pictures (sad face). I was a little offended that that one didn’t make this list! They do list another Treaty Oak in Florida, whose story is apparently apocryphal. Think I’ll skip that one; but I added Virginia’s Emancipation Oak to the itinerary. Thanks, G&G! I love trees.

And then, before I could even get this post published (because this is how the world works), I saw this post from a Facebook page I follow called Traces of Texas. I hope you can follow those links okay! I won’t copy the text here, nor the picture, because I don’t wish to offend. But it’s about another tree in Texas I’ll have to find one of these years…

an announcement

And now time for the big news! I got word recently that I am the recipient of one of two Irene McKinney Fellowships for the 2019-2020 school year. I will begin teaching writing composition classes this fall (with the possible addition of a literature section in the spring) as part of a nine-month teaching appointment at my MFA alma mater, West Virginia Wesleyan College.

there will be winter!

Because I was already slated to serve as residency advisor there in July (within the low-residency MFA program I’ve recently graduated from), my van travels will be pausing in July to get moved in and ready for this next adventure. I say pausing, because the fellowship lasts just nine months, and I imagine I’ll be restarting again in May of 2020 when my West Virginia sojourn adjourns. Things could always change.

I am already, in April, mourning the end of the traveling life; but teaching will be a great challenge and adventure that I am looking forward to. And I guess it gives me some peace to know the shape of things. I can now see my next few months forming: I know there are a few places I need to see before July, so my itinerary starts to round out in my head. And I’m already thinking about what I may have to offer my students in August. It’s an exciting world.

For now, nothing much changes in the day-to-day, except that I have textbook selection to do! I’ll still be posting pictures of breweries, trails and vistas, reading books and visiting friends. For now: onward down the road.

flashback to Padre Island, last December