Sitting in my Panera – 4/18/2008

Last summer, when I first came to Grand Rapids, I found a Panera Bread near my apartment, and adopted it. I would go twice a week, or so, get a bagel for breakfast, or perhaps a bowl of soup for lunch, and then sit and work, writing in this very blog, or on this or that short story.

At least one person behind the counter recognized me when I cam in by the end of the summer, and I was lonesome over the summer, so I appreciated that. The fact that she was a cutie had absolutely nothing to do with it, I swear.

In coming back here, I was hoping for more nostalgia than I found. Perhaps some warm welcome or something. They did ask me if I wanted my bagel toasted, but they do that to everyone. It feels like a Panera: familiar, but not special. But then, I’ve never been one for longlasting-profound feelings of anything. I get glimpses of them here and there, but any more than that and I feel melodramatic.

I do enjoy Panera, though. It has a nice, coffeeshop-like feel, that quiets me down. For those that don’t know me personally, I’m a loud person who talks too much, and so quieting me is a big thing.

Plus, just as I started that sentence, a lady walked by and asked me if I’d like a free sample of Panera’s new egg sandwich. It had bacon, and was very good. The girl might well have been the one who recognized me last summer—I can’t remember what she looked like, so it’s possible. I’d like to think it’s true: it’s the sort of thing that happens in novels all the time, but not real life.

I turned my ankle last night. I’ve got ice against it right now, and it’s starting to feel better. The irony, of course, was that I turned it while walking down steps, thinking how cool it was that humans were able to attain the engineering knowledge to be able to make things like elevators, wheel-chairs, etc. I’m not even close to needing any of those, mind: just hobbling a little, and that should go away by tomorrow. But it’s a funny story, non-the-less.

It’s 8:28, and the first session at Calvin starts in two minutes. I was planning on going to a poetry reading by Thom Satterlee and Paul WIllis. We’re featuring them in the next issue of Stonework, and I’d like to meat them in person. But I’m still in Panera, and I think I might sit for a while longer yet. The ice on my ankle feels good, and the drain of being at a conference, constantly getting academic input, is draining.

I have an idea for an essay. Perhaps I’ll start on that, now.


Hullo From the Grand Rapids (Redux)

Hullo everyone.

Sorry it’s been so long. I haven’t posted anything for about two weeks now. Been real busy.

So, when we last left off, I was planning the Houghton College Writer’s retreat. It went really well, and I got some good connections, but perhaps not as much discussion on the topics I would like. Mostly about the duality of the writer’s call to social action and the call to contemplation. I’ve already got my eggs all in a basket on that point, and thus it wasn’t as interesting to me as other topics might have been. A good time was had by all.

The reason I couldn’t post after was because my academic life was just one big sprint from then to the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, which is where I am right now. So, I’m back in Grand Rapids (for those that haven’t read from the beginning and don’t know me, I did an internship here last summer). It feels good to be back: not quite like coming home, but more like visiting a well-liked relative who has fun toys.

The discussion happening here is much more to my liking. There’s great variety, here, lots of topics to choose from. Plus, it seems I’ll be able to find time to write in the middle of it all. That’s a good thing. I find that if I don’t do any wordcraft for much more than a week, it’s hard to start up again.

Hoping to be able to write some reflections on some of the discussions that happen this week. On the table: genre fiction, and why it’s looked down upon; the publishing industry, and why writers should treat their art economically; joining into community the right way, or, shake a friend’s hand shake a hand next to ya.

So, yeah, those are things to look for. And more updates for Artifice. Eventually.

P.S. The Woven Thread now has it’s own website, which you can check out here.

The Woven Thread, Issue 2

Hullo all: just a quick post today.

The second issue of The Woven Thread was just sent out. It’s a good issue this time, with some very good poets writing for it.  Some shameless advertisement: if you’re interested in receiving The Woven Thread, just email or leave a comment on this post with an e-mail address, and I’ll make sure you’re added to the distribution list.

If you’re too ambivalent to click the link on your left to get to the actual page, The Woven Thread is a monthly newsletter and poetry anthology, aimed at a workshop setting. You can submit one poem a month, and it will get in to the Anthology automatically. You’re only obligation afterwards is to choose two other poets from the issue and respond to their poems via e-mail, thus establishing not only a good anthology of poetry but a dialog about the poetry as well. How delightful.

I like to point out that, because of the nature of the newsletter, it’s great for writers who aren’t necessarily full time poets, but just like to putter around with the art. You can get and give feedback, and it’s a place to get published without having to worry about impressing anyone. If you yourself are thinking of giving poetry a try, go ahead and sign up. If you don’t like poetry, but you might be interested in seeing what we’re doing, there is going to be material for non-poets as well (editorials, writing resources, and the like). If you don’t want anything to do with us, but have a friend who might, point them in our direction.

And now that the shameless plug is out of the way, I’ll go to sleep.

Thanks everyone,


The Bluff

Ideal, for a kid,
About a mile back in the forest.
Easy to find, if you know the way,
Impossible, if you don’t.

It’s along the trails, out in the woods across the house.
Past the ropes course, and past the lean-tos.
The forest opens up, along the east side of the trail,
And there used to be a dropoff there, probably 10 feet
Shows off the opposite side of the valley,
Green or flaming or bone-white, depending on season,
And the cracked ribbon of road, Rt. 19,
Where everyone has to drive to get in and out of town,
Unless they know the back roads.

Place’s got a fire-pit already made,
Don’t have to search for stones,
And there’s logs already around it,
Starting to rot a little, but
I don’t mind dirty jeans.

And spots for tents,
So that in the summer we’d come up
With hot dogs and sausages and mallows
And stay up all night, pretending to sleep,
And when the sun would come up,
We’d all sit on the ledge of the dropoff, wait until
The sun rose from the opposite side of the trees,
And then all burst, and the top of our lungs,
The opening of the Lion King,
Spouting our own Swahili mumbo-jumbo
Cause we couldn’t remember the right words
And wouldn’t know what the meant even if we could.

Each year, I’d go back, there was a little less of the Bluff there,
Rain and animals and stupid kids like us kicking at the ledge,
Didn’t realize that the dirt that fell down wouldn’t come back up.

Some years come by, whole trees had slid down the hill
(It’s a hill now, the cliff crumbled away)
Roots and all, taking little islands of dirt with them,
Clutching at anything to help them stay upright,
As their foundation crumbles from underneath them.

And we’ll still go camping—come by with sausages and
Mallows and chocolate,
Pitch our tents about ten feet further back than we used to
Because where we used to isn’t there anymore,
And spend the night pretending to sleep,
(Thinking about the years, sliding away like the trees).

And then, we would go out,
Sit on the ledge, which is more like a steep slope
And as the smallest sliver of tomorrow slipped over the valley walls,
We would breath and sing at that fiercely rising sun:

Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!
Here comes a Lion, Father!