Recently I had a wonderful chat with a fellow writer who has moved to the area, and it turned to an article (on the front page of the Muscatine Journal, no less) on writing, Muscatine, and why the world needs literature. Let us save for another time and place a meditation on the precise blend of feelings that strikes one upon picking up the morning paper from one’s stoop to see one’s own name emblazoned at the top, and one’s picture (looking a bit more haggard than one tends to notice in the daily glance into the mirror) leaping out from an inner page. Let us also pass over the exact kind of embarrassment that comes from seeing one’s own rambling, periodic, highly associative sentences rendered in their natural, ever-expanding rhythms. No wonder my students tune me out after 90 seconds.
Instead, let us contemplate the beauty and fineness of a local newspaper that will make a front-page story out of talk with a member of the local literati (for that is how I like to style myself, thanks). Let us appreciate a publication, and the readers of a such a publication, who may take interest in talk of local writing groups and activities and events. Let us marvel, briefly, at the meandering paths one might take on the journey to achieve one’s dreams. (AM I achieving them? I think so. I never had “make the front page” on my bucket list, but I can scratch that one off nonetheless, and that pleases me.)
And let us hope that I am not the only Renaissance-style humanist still out there lurking in modern attire, waving feminist flags, but with my heart still firmly in the medieval period and its associations with words and magic. Maybe someone else read this and agreed with me:
“People have different ideas what’s wrong with the world today. There are economic explanations and there are environmental explanations and there are scientific explanations, but, what helps us find our shared humanity? What helps us connect to one another? What helps us feel like we belong to something? What helps us explain our experience? What helps us articulate our feelings? What helps us feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves?”
Literature. Great literature. Of course.