I Keen :: I Am

I am republishing this because Tanya Lau couldn’t bring it up. She found it in my other blog, but I am republishing anyway. Lord knows why.

Playing the game alone

My wife and I often take field walks on Sunday to assess the state of the pasture, the grass, the woods, the water–in other words the full catastrophe that has been this winter.  And, of course, we wanted to hear the peepers at the Gates of Dawn.


In the wetlands by Bacon Creek we muck about in our boots, drawn toward the keening of the peepers.



Yet…you cannot see a single one even though you hear them all about.  You cannot see a peep.  Hence the quote above from James Carse.

Here is the paradox.  Most of the time online,  I feel both utterly alone and surrounded just like I do when I visit the peepers in the spring.  I cannot see my ‘peeps’ yet I can hear them singing.  But it is confounding.  I want to hold both in my heart simultaneously, but can’t.  I cycle between desolation and habitation much like the  move from winter to spring.  I understand this in the natural world.  I do not understand this online.

Can I have faith that the peepers are there and lifting me up even though I cannot see them ?  Is Carse right in saying that “we cannot relate to anyone who is not also relating to us” ?  Are my peeps relating to me and I know it not?

This is not a trivial matter.  It applies to all communities.  It just seems particularly apt to my digital ones right now.  If I hear them keening, is that enough to be in communion.  Sometimes yes, other times no.  I am alternating current seeking the ground of community be that natural or home-made.

Right now, I ain’t feelin’ it.  But not to worry.  The infinite game abounds.  Keening and caring and connected  even though I cannot see it.  The peepers at the Gates of Dawn abide with me.

Screw it, let’s go on another feldgang



Translation with Another Tongue: Blackout Poems

I saw Xiaogao Neil Zhou‘s Google Plus text and could not resist it.  Like a block of maple it beckoned, shining and smooth, but along its face I could see grains of fracture and shape.  

Here is the source, what he calls his dismemberment, a collection of extremities from other writings.



The vining of English and Chinese drew me into it.  And I thought that since this was a dismemberment that I would carry that forward.  In many ways we are always dismembering, misremembering, unhearing, and otherwise shorting out the wiring and rewiring of language.  So why not.  Forgive me Zhou, but we are each other’s grist.  This is what I did first, a blackout poem

found poem clmooc


Using the desktop program, SnagIt, I blacked out words and phrases that I didn’t want . Sometimes I start with the words I do want.  Whim or unconscious  choice, matters not.  I was left with the image above.  I exported it to Google Drive (very handily done in SnagIt) and once there I opened it up again in Pixlr.

Why?  Because it seemed like it needed rococo of some kind, perhaps a frame and perhaps some fireworks filligree?  Here is the result.

a blackout poem2


Yeah, that’s more like it, blackout poem as Space Invaders.

All that I have described here is a fairly simple matter of layering and delayering, but as a writing instructor I cannot help but think of it as close reading where each delayering is a consideration of author and of creator.  I have to consider and reconsider words, not only what they mean but how they mean.  And the layering?  Much the same consideration.  For example, the idea that instead of blacking out the words I thought that shooting them out old skool was ever so much cooler, evoking a more explosive view of editing. (Lord knows I would have loved to have done more than edit some of the words I have inspired in student essays. Gives me some neat ideas of using a squirt gun and paint a la Jackson Pollack.)

From here it is back to the #CLMOOC Community to beg forbearance from the source and see what folks think about this.

Thanks to Xiaogao Neil Zhou and his untroduction.  Thanks to #CLMOOC for opening this door to the adjacent possible. Thanks to all who read and try to follow my halting post.  Thanks to my future commenters, few but fine they are.  This is my lesson in the power of complexity, oddly variable initial conditions, unintended consequence and all the circumstances that created this particular crossroads.