Uncategorized

Love Series: “On Love”

I’ve been thinking about a way to conceptualize love. It is tricky because it is both something that is and something that you do. It is a culmination of feelings that you have for other people, for yourself, and for some things. We receive it, give it, and are compelled by it.

Alongside this blog, I have a journal that I am using to help keep track of my thoughts about the topic. I am not wrestling with a solution; to come to some kind of fixed definition about love is to tame it in some way, and that does not seem like the right thing to do. I am much more interested in living in it, with it, and through it. To be clear, this is not about loving someone although relationships are often a consequence of love. This is about trying to reach a higher self. For this reason, I have decided to go with Khalil Gibran’s writings on love from his legendary book, The Prophet.

There is not much to be said here, but there is much to think about, so I will let Gibran do the rest of the “talking:”

On Love
Then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love.
And he raised his head and looked upon
the people, and there fell a stillness upon them
And with a great voice he said:
When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he
crucify you. Even as he is for your growth
so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and
caresses your tenderest branches that quiver
in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and
shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto
himself.
He thrashes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred
fire, that you may become sacred bread for
God’s sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you
that you may know the secrets of your
heart, and in that knowledge become a
fragment of Life’s heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only
love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover
your nakedness and pass out of love’s
threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes
naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be
possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say
“God is in my heart,” but rather, “I am
in the heart of God.”
And think not you can direct the course
of love, for love, if it finds you worthy,
directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfil
itself.
But if you love and must needs have
desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook
that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding
of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart
and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate
love’s ecstasy.
To return home at eventide with gratitiude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the
beloved in your heart and a song of praise
upon your lips.

blog, Uncategorized, Writing

It’s A New Semester

…And so far, things are going great. I could not sleep at all, so I am operating on less than 3 hours of sleep. I get to class and realize I have no dry-erase markers (ladies and gentlemen, the professor is unprepared for class!), so I run to the store to get some. Then, I get to class, and bring up my Canvas course page and — dun, dun, dun — it’s empty. I put all of the right content in the wrong class. I spent all week doing the wrong thing.

—sigh—

In any case, I have four classes I am teaching — two writing for engineers courses, one strategic communications (writing in advertising and public relations) course, and one traditional rhetoric, research, and writing course. I am excited about all of these course in their own way, but I am most excited about the strategic communications course because it is new. While I have done a bit of freelance copywriting (not much to write home about), it will be interesting to see what I can bring to this course and what I can learn from teaching it.

Onward and forward,

-K

Literature

Love Series: “The Shirt”

When was the last time you appreciated the physical appeal of your significant other? It is one thing to appreciate someone’s beauty or sexiness when they are dressed and intending to impress; it is another thing to see them in those moments when they are in jeans and a t-shirt or sweatpants, meandering around the house. 

It’s the little things that create the big feelings.

It’s amazing that the smallest thing can turn into something wonderful and consequential when it is connected to someone you love or admire. This poem, “The Shirt,” by Jane Kenyon looks at a little thing like a shirt, and she sees life and poetry in that shirt because it is connected to the man she loves. She sees the shirt in the way that only Jane Kenyon can.

She was a fantastic poet who could see the poetry in a pot of buttered grits. Through her poetry, she reminds us that so much about loving is about seeing, sensing, and experiencing. Note the details she adds about the shirt, but also note the details that she leaves out.  

I have taught this poem a few times, and it is a great poem to use to teach poetry writing; it uses very few words to create a powerful impact and impression; also, there is something of the poet in there that remains, her sense of humor, sexiness, and love. The man wearing the shirt, most likely her husband Donald Hall, who is a respected poet in his own right, has her complete attention, in the only way that a lover can.

The Shirt
This shirt touches his neck
and smooths over his back.
It slides down his sides.
It even goes down below his belt—
down into his pants.
Lucky shirt.

Jane Kenyon, OtherWise. Graywolf press, 1996, p.41

Literature

The Love Series: “We Real Cool”

When you think about poems that talk about love, I am sure this Gwendolyn Brooks poem is not the one that comes to mind. It is more rhythmic, jazz-inspired, and atmospheric. It does not make you think about intimate love; it makes you think of hanging with your very best friends being cool. That is precisely why I think it is a love poem.

I am especially interested in the subject ‘We’ in this poem. The ‘We’ provides the atmosphere, the rhythm, the pacing of the experience. 

I like this unifying idea of an ‘us.’ What is it about ‘us’ being together that makes it cool? Are we cool all on our own? Does getting together make a particular rhythm and establish a certain atmosphere that is cool?

The thing about love is that it involves two selves who become a ‘We.’ Most importantly, ‘We’ does not only mean our sexual selves. Sisters, brothers, friends, parents, family, and so on can compose a ‘We.’ Anyone you see as a part of your unit, someone that composes you and your experience in this world, is the ‘We’ that is cool.

I think it is a love poem about finding that unit, a group of people whom you can freely experience life with. 

Here is the poem:

We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We

Sing sin. We
Thin grin. We

Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Gwendolyn Brooks. Blacks. Third World Chicago Press, Chicago, ILL. 1987. pp. 331
Books, Writing

What is Your Theme for 2019?

I have a theme for the year, something that I will work on as the year progresses. I decided on “love” as a theme. This may seem hokey, but I spend a lot of time alone and largely invisible to most people; however, I think about relations and relationships quite a bit, including the relationship that I have with myself.

So, my exploration of love means finding ways to love life and work even when I feel completely over it all. Finding ways to love people is, of course, at the top of the list, but also finding a way to love change, uncertainty, and weakness.

I have decided to do this by increasing my reading, or rather, changing what I read on a regular basis. As an English professor who primarily works in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory, most of my reading is historical, philosophical, and theoretical in nature. I rarely have time for fiction. Yet, I have a bookcase full of fiction books, so I have decided to give them my full attention.

Fiction can teach us a lot about love. Of course, experience is the best teacher, but I am more interested in how we conceive of love. How do we understand it, talk about it, or think about it?

And from love, especially self-love, what makes a relationship? From there, what makes a community, a region, a society, and so on. Books can be very instructive here.

My first book of choice: Thomas Moore’s Utopia. I have not finished it yet, but so far I can say that the man was a master of the dependent clause. His sentences are long, really long. However, the book is really short, about 80 or so pages. I will do a write up on it later.

Another thing I would like to do, specifically with this blog, is include poetry. Since my theme is love, I thought it would be fun to go on a love journey through poetry. I will post daily poems that make me think of love or demonstrate love in some way.

If you have any recommendations, send them my way!

-K