Poetry Northwest & The Gift

Delayed as ever, but I have three oceanic poems at Poetry Northwest!

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Unrelated: I’ve been reading very slowly and in circular motions The Gift, thinking about the deep desire to be free of ego-driven, exchange-structured interactions…how the ritual of freely giving/receiving “gifts” binds and bonds a community together, how this require a transcendent space beyond that is mysterious, into which and from which all “gifts” move. There’s something compelling to me in the necessity of a “sense of imbalance, of shifting weight.”

The book is ultimately about artistic practice, but I’ve also been thinking lately about community and how to navigate relationships poetically, about how I tend to keep smaller circles because I’m wary of transactionally driven interactions, seeking instead relationships built on vulnerability, bewilderment, non-conditional generosity. I suppose I’m protective of myself, which limits me, but I’m also in search of something rather specific. Anyway, some passages:

“A market exchange has an equilibrium or stasis: you pay to balance the scale. But when you give a gift there is momentum, and the weight shifts from body to body.”

“For we are only alive to the degree that we can let ourselves be moved.”

This one is specifically about artmaking and speaks to that space beyond: “If, when we work, we can look once a day upon the face of mystery, then our labor satisfies. We are lightened when our gifts rise from pools we cannot fathom. Then we know they are not a solitary egotism and they are inexhaustible.”

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