oh!

Time for an intermission from all the seriousness.

Dispatch from the Department of Mischief:

In which the writer and producer Sarah Lybrand introduces me to the device known as the Head Tickler.

 

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Hunger for Salt (Review Series)

Each month I review a new book for ImageUpdate, which is put out by the fabulous people at IMAGE Journal. Here’s the latest.

And I didn’t plan it this way, but it’s oddly synchronous with these posts I’ve been writing on empty space (read them here: part 1, part 2, and part 3)…

Hunger for Salt

Poetry for the End of Seasons
Hunger for Salt, Elaine Fletcher Chapman

Autumn-summer cusp—a breath—a good moment to read “September Begins,” from Elaine Fletcher Chapman’s debut collection, Hunger for Salt. “[O]ne psalm, picked randomly / this morning, one hundred and thirty one: / O, lord, my heart is not lifted up… / I have calmed and quieted my soul/ one poem, not random / Whitman: observing a spear of summer grass / at summer’s end…” This is a collection full of cusps, “iridescent silence” poems, as Chapman writes in “Another Attempt at Silence.” Sometimes it is the silence after loss, after “the violent haze of sea-torched marsh…months after the hurricane.” When the poet calls these pauses “alone but not lonely,” the statement feels earned; even as many of them express yearning, hunger, they feel like the product of a soul “calmed and quieted” with steady intention. The one-room studio apartment in the wake of a divorce, for example, rechristened “Holy place of contemplation.” These are poems, too, for deciphering meaning in the end of seasons, looking at and asking questions of the artifacts (or absences) left behind.

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empty space, part 3.

Further thoughts on the territory of hunger and ache. (For part 1, see “Empty Space”: the sometimes-painful act of letting go, and being willing to sit with our hungers.) I didn’t plan to write any more on the subject, but then there was a confluence of events: A podcast. A performance. A pastoral pondering. So I guess I’ll be doing a little series on grief, hunger and ache. In Part 2 I wrote about the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking. This time…

 

The performance

It was an odd, 30-year sequence of events.

It began with my childhood terror of nuclear war;
it continued with me at age 22 chauffeuring a Hiroshima survivor around New England;
and it resulted in me writing a long essay about nuclear weapons and children for Consequence Magazine

…which resulted in an invitation, and my meeting Jay Moad.

 jen_hinst_white_j_moad

J. A. Moad II is a former Air Force pilot (whose father also served in Vietnam). He started an effort called Veteran Voices so that civilians could begin to hear the real stories of veterans, and begin to understand “the moral burden of war” in a way our culture rarely discusses. And he also wrote (and is now performing) a new play called Outside Paducah, a one-man show about the toll of war on veterans and their families

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empty space, part 2.

Further thoughts on the territory of hunger and ache. (For part 1, see “Empty Space”: the sometimes-painful act of letting go, and being willing to sit with our hungers.) I didn’t plan to write any more on the subject, but then there was a confluence of events: A podcast. A performance. A pastoral pondering. So I guess I’ll be doing a little series on grief, hunger and ache.

The podcast

Around the time I wrote that entry on empty space, my husband surprised me with a sojourn to NOW HEAR THIS, a podcast festival in Manhattan. Attendees got to sit in on the recording of several podcasts that are kinda hot right now (Lavar Burton Reads, Lovett or Leave It) and as we were walking out of one particular taping, I heard a voice say “JEN AND ROB?” 

It was Mr. Hans Buetow—one of my best friends from college, whom I haven’t seen in a decade.

hans_buetow_jen_hinst-white

He’d flown out from Minnesota, where he produces the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking.

I’d heard of the show, but after that chance encounter, I began listening in earnest. And Terrible, Thanks for Asking has become my new favorite thing.

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