writing the body of the world

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“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir, American environmentalist


This week we both wrote and drew into the spaces created by what ever came before. The opening poem describes green vines growing into the cracks in the walls made by both love letters and bullet holes. The whole range of human experience however beautiful or violent created space to grow. Through their work as artists and writers, each inmate explored that while they do not wish a repeat of some of their past experiences, they recognize that something else can grown from them.

In the pieces below, you will read an account of these experiences and the writing process each writer engaged in to explore each experience.


It doesn’t matter what came to pass.
More often than not life has put me right on my ass.
There have been times I worked so hard, only to fall harder
like a candle in the wind/trying to withstand the pressure.
A children learning to ride a bicycle/truth be known
You need to fall in order to gain some balance.
Have you ever blown out a candle to relight it?
The flame travels down the smoke to be greater than
the one your breath lost.
I personally believe everything comes with a cost.
We don’t know what kind of pain to anticipate
until we are burned.
It doesn’t matter what came to pass.
If you prepare today, tomorrow will be easy.
I don’t mean to sound cheesy.
Leave the past where it is/gone by too fast.
One thing I learned, hard as a stone.
Everyone has a sad story/ I used to tell
mine all the time/thinking about all
the tears, pain, how gory.
My daddy taught me everyone’s lives vary.
Sympathy lies between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.
It’s not what it was.
It is and always has been what you make it.


to awaken for no good reason… Continue reading

the coming light


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We sit in darkness until light enters … the flame of hope renewing land and peoples. We give ourselves to her transformative fire… turning scarcity into abundance.
– Rose Flint, 2013

How do we keep our inner fire alive? … Every day it’s important to ask and answer these questions: “What’s good in my life?” and “What needs to be done?” – Nathaniel Branden, Passion and Soulfulness

…Deep within every life … there is something eternal happening. This is the secret way that change and possibility conspire with growth… – John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

In honor of the season – it being midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox, for one thing; and in some parts of the country, signs of spring emerging (although in northern Vermont winter itself, if not the darkness, seems to have passed us by) – we wrote about the coming light. Change. The inner fire. Partly in response to the epigraphs, above; and to our opening poem by Miriam Dyak, ‘Imbolc.’ 

But also because I had promised the inside writers an opportunity to write to a single shared visual prompt (see image, above). This exercise is always beyond powerful. The eye sees, first, with past experience that might tend to turn away, turn inward, refuse engagement. But a second, longer look almost always brings the writer, without realizing it, to something deeper and completely real.

Our collective experience last week was no exception. The writings were so rich and so varied, I have elected to share snippets from several rather than one or two in their entirety. Continue reading