January 22nd, Gloucester Writers Center

by Gabrielle Barzaghi
pastel
12 X 12 inches

I want to say something briefly about my poems, Gabrielle’s drawings, and why we are putting them together tonight.

There are the fragile, doomed arrangements of everything, despite intuitions of another, everlasting world that touches this one, that enfolds us and extends beyond our knowing: as in my or anyone’s words of lives in houses and on the forest floor; as in Gabrielle’s woods and rocks and people.

There is a closeness in space and time, in place and era, which are holders of importance in my imagination and in Gabrielle’s, but it is not just the temporary qualities that we live by, as we must, in our temporary bodies, that brings our work together.

As a poem is not merely about something, a drawing is not merely depiction. A work of art emerges from and has its being in places that are both inside and outside the artist; places that are inside and outside simultaneously. Places where living images grow, coming again and again to the artist, once imagination finds them. This view of art reflects the view that our being extends beyond our selves, and the being of others extends into our selves, and that what we call the self is a tangle of shared being.

Gabrielle’s being is strewn with wild care through her drawings, together with the being of others, of otherness that is not so other as we might think.

Currently popular, the comedy music video “What Does the Fox Say?” perhaps unintentionally attacks this view, mocking those who understand that there is a tie of body, soul and spirit between what is human and what is not.

But the fox asks the little prince to tame him. Gerrit Lansing’s fox is heard laughing in the woods, and the poem shares in that laughter. Tornonk, the half-fox half-man of the world of my novels, is the child of a fox who never read a book and an imagination that has been with many. The fox that is me is also an other.

As with distinctions between self and other, distinctions between humankind and all that is not human are, by nature, always as clear as they can be, and energy spent trying to make them clearer is spent at a loss to what we know of how the human reaches through the nonhuman and the nonhuman reaches through the human; to what we know of how our other selves make us.

Along the way, in the growth of that knowing─a knowing which love is one word for─a fox sits a flowering vortex of green otherness.

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