Sunday, July 26, 2009

See it! Write it! It is what it is.

I just finished reading Lynda Barry's latest book What It Is. Part memoir, part creative writing text, part sketchbook/doodle pad, all awesome. Lynda focuses on the importance of image in writing, something I, too, focus on with my students, both in my creative writing and composition classes.

Barry uses a recurring image of a zen monkey throughout the book (like on p. 8, featured here). Also making an appearance is the Nearsighted Monkey, who, I am excited to find out, is the subject of Barry's next book due out in September by Drawn and Quarterly.

Proving once again that monkeys and poetry are never far apart from one another, Barry quotes William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence" on p. 28 ("Every night and every morn Some to misery are born. Every morn and every night Some are born to sweet delight. Some are born to sweet delight, Some are born to endless night"). On p. 84 she quotes Emily Dickinson's Poem 937, (a.k.a. "I felt a Cleaving in my Mind"):
I felt a Cleaving in my Mind --
As if my Brain had split --
I tried to match it -- Seam by Seam --
But could not make it fit.

The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before --
But Sequence ravelled out of Sound
Like Balls -- upon a Floor.
NPR's Talk of the Nation did a great interview with Barry last June. In it she discusses going into a "cereal trance" as a kid: "Do you remember going into a cereal trance where you'd just look at the side of a box of cereal and every word on it looked like poetry? Like, 'Dextrose. I'm gonna name my first baby Dextrose'."

The awesomeness of Lynda Barry cannot be overstated. Neither can the feeling of having my 6 day old son sleeping in my arms even if that does mean I am typing this one handed and am not sleeping myself.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I was looking through this at your house one of the nights I went to let Henri out and was really surprised by how awesome it is. It probably makes me a hippie to say it, but I'd love to see this used in schools as a legit text book.