Thursday, November 19, 2009


William Carlos Williams had a thing for red wheelbarrows. He didn't use a lot of words, but flung it out there as a symbol of everything being tied together, interconnected, if you will. And whether a wheelbarrow, red or otherwise, a farmer, or a pot of flowers, things that Williams experienced is what made itself onto the page. Objects and direct experience influenced his writing. How could they not, eh?

I, too, have been under the influence. Of the stuff I run into on a walk, or a run, or subjects or thoughts that come up in conversation. Of music, sometimes new-to-me stuff like Langhorne Slim or Blind Pilot, other times stuff I am coming back to, like Bob Marley, Mingus, or Hendrix.

I've been heavily influenced by Mr. Williams' notion and example that poetry, or writing, for him focused on the local, what's right around you, rather than having to fly off across the (big) pond. I've been pulled by what has put itself in front of the camera lens, or in some cases, what has turned up as the image later.

I've been inspired by a poet named Frank O'Hara, whose book "Lunch Poems," has served as a guide, a call to action, and an inspiration, for the 30 Days Project I'm in the midst of. O'Hara's book was largely written on his daily lunch breaks as he walked around New York. And it fits well in a pocket, so it sometimes accompanies me on my lunch break and/or walk up town into St. Michaels. The other folks I'm reading, from Gary Snyder to Robert Hass, from C.D. Wright to Tony Hoagland, are all taking root in one way or another.

And I've been vibing on the local, the people around me. By two teachers, who make the time to write and play music and recently threw their new CD my way, which makes my mind cruise along with it, as well as kicks me in the arse to question how productive I am with my own free time. By an artist friend and several year source of pants-kicking, Rob Brownlee-Tomasso, who makes a commitment to spend time in his studio each night working on a new painting or series of paintings. By a cat who Mike Keene and I had a chance (loaded word) encounter with on the Appalachian Trail, who ended up moving to the Eastern Shore for a time, buying a sailboat from Mike, has fixed it up, and is neck-deep in his dream to spend time sailing it all over the place (currently cruising down the intercoastal to South Carolina, I believe). You can follow Woody's saga here (any blog called "The Peanut Butter Diet" is worth something!) And by other writers in the round, including another now Easton writer/blogger, whose frequent soulful posts and tip on Gary Snyder's book, "The Real Work," has opened up some new avenues, or country roads, or singletrack trails of thought.

This influence is a funny thing. It's what I encounter, it's what I read, it's who I run into, it's who I run with, it's what I do with my time, it's being present and mindful around our girls, to hear the endless creativity they employ not just daily, but minute to minute. It's all connected. And because we're all in different places and the culmination of own points influence and experiences, it's all unique. Uh-oh. The same, all connected, but all unique. Well, that sounds like a paradox to me...


Picknhand said...

you're an inspiration sir valliant. looking forward to a run and conversation.

Kelly said...

Mike how do I follow you?

Kelly said...

umm, nevermind!!