Monday, March 31, 2014

Afterthought #26 - New Poetic Voice

Earlier this month (March 15) I wrote about my introduction to poet KevinYoung through his anthology,  The Hungry Ear. In response to that post, a friend and fellow blogger (thank you Lopez Island Kitchen Gardens) sent me a link to Young’s interview with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air". It’s a moving conversation in which Young talks about Book of Hours, his newest collection of poems about the death of his father alongside poems about the birth of his son.  

Now I have another book to add to my reading list, 
and another poetic voice to listen to.

             is my blog version of a practice followed in some Quaker meetings. After meeting for worship ends, people continue in silence for a few more minutes during which they’re invited to share thoughts or reflect on the mornings worship. I’ve adopted the form here for last-day-of-the-month brief reflections on headlines, quotes, comments overheard, maybe even bumper stickers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quakers Speaking

Modern day Quakers have a lot to talk about it, and now they’re doing just that on YouTube.

The last day of 2013 I posted an afterthought that included a link to a video teaser about QuakerSpeak. The trailer announced that QuakerSpeak “seeks to give viewers worldwide an experience that is entertaining, informative, inspiring, challenging, inviting, unifying and collaborative,” so it’s no surprise that it’s made possible through a collaboration of Friends Journal, Quaker Voluntary Service and Friends General Conference, and is directed by Quaker songwriter Jon Watts.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing what this team would put together, and I’m impressed with the first three of the weekly interviews. Appropriately, the first video is titled “How Quakerism Began.”  In fewer than five minutes, Guildford College professor Max Carter summarizes the beginnings of Quakerism in 1640. Max’s mini-history lesson reminds us that Quakerism emerged out of the chaos in England that was trying to address disparities in English society.

Any concerns I had that George Fox, one of the founders of Quakerism, wouldn’t approve of QuakerSpeak if he were here today were squelched by Max’s portrait of this man. At age19, Fox left the Church of England seeking a direct spiritual experience. After his own mystical encounter with the Divine, Fox shared his message of relying on the inner teacher instead of outward leaders. In Fox’s day, spiritual and religious messages were spread by word of mouth, one by one, two by two, or occasionally when a charismatic speaker gathered a curious crowd. Perhaps YouTube is the 21st Century equivalent.

After that first offering of QuakerSpeak, I was delighted with the second video of Traci Hjelt Sullivan’s “The Faithfulness Lecture.” Traci shares from her own experience of being faithful, especially to a leading to speak in worship.

If you access the videos through the QuakerSpeak website, you’ll find a transcript of the video, additional resources about the topic, queries, and a place to add your own comments. With Traci’s “The Faithfulness Lecture,” the site offered links to information about Quaker weddings as well as how to find the nearest Friends meeting. And the questions following Traci’s video have stimulated my own thoughts about being faithful to a leading:

1. What are some of the most daunting leadings that you’ve gotten? What was your reaction to receiving a nudge that would take some courage?
2. What are some excuses that you come up with when you are feeling resistant to the leadings of the Spirit?
3. What are some tools that you have developed or could develop as a reminder to “live up to the Light that thou hast?”

Last week, former Earlham College teacher Trayce Peterson talked about how to support young people find their voices and speak truth in her segment, “Student Activism as Prophetic Ministry.”  Her message is particularly relevant on the heels of Max Carter’s discussion about the young George Fox finding his voice and speaking truth in the 1600s.

I hope you’ll become a regular viewer. QuakerSpeak makes it easy; you can “subscribe” for free and receive e-mail notices when each video is available. I can’t wait to see which Quaker speaks next.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Indulging in Words and Food

Days like this don’t come along very often—an unscheduled Saturday to myself, at home, alone. My husband, a sign language interpreter at a high school, left for the mainland on an early ferry and will return on the last boat tonight after interpreting for some students participating in a regional robotics competition.  I lounged in bed awhile, reading the first few chapters of The View from Casa Chepitos, a new memoir by Judith Gille. Gille’s descriptions of the flowers, food, architecture, and culture of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico gave an intermission to the gusting wind and the sun struggling to break through the morning gray—two of the very things that had nudged Gille to San Miguel a decade ago. There was one thing on my schedule for today—a run to Barn Bread Bakery—and  that nudged me to hold my place with a bookmark and set the memoir aside. 

Today’s offering included an assortment of breads baked in the wood-fired oven (see Saturday Breads).

This week’s bake included scones (apple spice, hazelnut/dried plum/orange zest) and cinnamon rolls, too.

I nestled goodies into a canvas bag to take home, brewed a cup of coffee, and savored a plum scone. To go with my little feast, another treasure I recently discovered—a poetry anthology edited by Kevin Young called The Hungry Ear - Poems of Food and Drink. Young describes food “as both an everyday and extraordinary festivity—which is where, alongside poetry, it belongs.”

I’ve been gorging on this collection ever since I discovered it at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company; I ordered two more copies for gifts from my local bookseller, Lopez Bookshop.   

This morning, William Carlos Williams’s “This Is Just to Say” was the perfect accompaniment to Barn Bread’s extraordinary plum scone:

    I have eaten
    the plums
    that were in
   the icebox…

The Hungry Ear follows the seasons with its sections Harvest Moon, Wintering, Spring Rain, and Sweet Summer and offers a full menu that includes fruit and vegetables, beer and bacon, short orders, dinner for two, and giving thanks. The index of contributors is as extensive as a fine dining wine list with poems by Wendell Berry, Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Jane Kenyon, Ted Kooser, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich and a couple dozen more.

The sun brightened the sky on and off all morning, and I chastised myself for not using this open-ended day to hike among the firs at Iceberg Point or amble the beach along Swift’s Bay.  But to be honest, I share Kevin Young’s view that “there is nothing like food and drink to remind us of life’s pleasures, sating far more than hunger…. Food transports us to another place like little else, even if it’s just the couch after Thanksgiving turkey.” Words transport us, too, and today I’m indulging in them as well.

After my morning scone and coffee, some reading and a little writing, my unscheduled Saturday included another trip to Barn Bread. This time I arrived just as Nathan pulled a pizza from the oven—sizzling with locally-raised sausage and kale—and slid in another one, topped with caramelized onions and delicate squash.

A few minutes later, he rolled out a gluten-free crust for another with sausage and veggies.

There aren’t any poems in The Hungry Ear about pizza (though there is an entire section devoted to pork, including Young’s own, “Ode to Pork”). Tomorrow, my husband will have a much-needed day off, too, and you can guess what we’ll have for dinner. Maybe it will inspire a poem or two.