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Writing into the Catastrophic*
(as Scryers** of the Possible***) :
*from Latin catastropha,
from Greek katastrophē ‘overturning, sudden turn,’ from kata- ‘down’ + strophē ‘turning’ (from strephein ‘to turn’).
—The stars, it’s said, will sometimes turn a larger expression of their light toward earth, and can offer insight as all good oracles might (though how one interprets any oracle is not simple). Etymologically speaking, such insight arrival (from wherever we find it) is catastropha which, while not necessarily able to avert imminent disaster, can awaken us to responding with creative natural intelligence to its call.
**to scry: (skries, scrying, skried)
to foretell the future with the aid of some object, entity; early 16th century shortening of descry; Middle English: obsolete: descry ‘describe,’ variant of obsolete descrive (via Old French from Latin describere ‘write down’), which also had the meaning ‘perceive.’
*** the possible: its provocative potencies:
full-spectrum visioning of future(s): allowing the present moment its very read despairs and fears and forebodings, while not being overwhelmed or consumed by them
—We live in crisis-times: a truism. As a truism, it is a tired descriptor, and tiring to all who hear it.
—How to not be enervated, but, instead, find access in what any given event might ask of us, might offer us?
—How, and to what degree, can a writer be a sensate tuning-rod (radio receiver) to potential, while allowing feelings of foreboding, even hopelessness yet not to be subsumed by them?
—I’m interested in pursuing these questions actively,
• individually, each of us in our unique resonances & in conversations together
• finding ground and sky for the talk & in our writing
—Whether the event(s) at issue occur at the very personal level, &/or in the deep past, &/or in the cultural or familial past of our lineage and remain a mark, a wound for us, &/or at the local, national, &/or global level.
We see much excellent work today in which writers engage these issues (as Pound suggests in his two often-quoted alternatives):
• poem of diagnosis
• poems of cure
And we see some authors offering their own expression of what I will call a third way to write:
—a way that is both beyond, encompasses, embraces ,and incorporates Pound’s two ways.
—A way, too, to surprise one’s self with what comes of the need arising from the catastrophic as one observes it, whether, personal, cultural, global.
This is the kind of writing that I’m interested in pursuing (in all its possible variants, in what we might call ‘poems’ or hybrid work that ‘expresses an alertness to the turnings’). Through the writing’s senses, let’s view the catastrophic, its suddenly-sighted down-turn of “stars,” as our imaginal state of rises to explore the writing’s dimensions. I hope you’ll join me. ~Rusty Morrison
Rusty Morrison’s poems recently appeared in Colorado Review, Fence, Iowa Review; creative nonfiction at Entropy, Harriet. Her five books include After Urgency (Tupelo’s Dorset Prize) and the true keeps calm biding its story (Ahsahta’s Sawtooth Prize, Academy of American Poet’s James Laughlin, Northern California Book Award, & PSA’s DiCastagnola Award ). Her recent Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta) was finalist for NCIB Award & NCB Award in Poetry). She’s co-founder and has been co-publisher of Omnidawn (www.omnidawn.com) since 2001. She has taught in MFA
programs, been a visiting poet at colleges, and teaches workshops through Omnidawn and elsewhere. She offers private consultations. For more info on that and more, see her website: www.rustymorrison.com