“Ass in the chair is the only rule of art.” Donald Murray

Ernest Hemingway and Donald Murray

What I continue to learn! Why I am inspired by these giants of writing.
I have experienced 6 weeks of Monday night classes at Donald Murray’s home in Durham. I sat in as a want to be writer with writers of varied experience in his living room. I worked on a Friday night deadline for 6 weeks and held to it. The secret Don said was to write. He did not believe in writers block. He said to start with a word and go from there.

I have experienced 7 weeks of a class: Ernest Heming way: The Paris Years. It has been an ever changing and interesting experience. I only knew of Hemingway from his book The Old Man and the Sea and the short stories The Hills of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. I was amazed and inspired by all three works.

So I have gone from The Paris Years to the Portsmouth Ideas and enjoyed the ride. As Sir Robert said on the first night of class, that it is ‘’Like a river ever flowing, ever changing.” I have discovered that the more I read of EH and DM the faster the river flows, quickening the pace of change. There is so much to learn so much to mine for the craft of writing.
Mr. Wheeler also quoted Donald Murray, “I have to fight the tendency to think I know the subject I teach.” Ernest and Donald were now forever intertwined in supplying inspiration after that first night of class. I left that night enthused and looking forward to my readings and the next class.
I read of generations passing and searching for meaning in “The Sun Also Rises” and immediately realized a connection between EH and DM. They were both great observers of what is happening all around them. Murray had said in class that to be a writer one must see what others do not and craft a way to let them see what they missed.
I learned that there have been countless biographies on EH since his untimely 1961 death and that as a Journalist, Travel Writer, Short Story Writer and Writer of novels that he had squirreled away lots of writing. He did this despite being a womanizer, a drinker, a sportsman and a husband and father.

As a Journalist Hemingway covered stories for the Kansas City Star and then as an expatriate freelance writer covering post war Europe. I found that he learned valuable lessons there about writing in a concise manner. From the 1954 book, The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway the Early Years by Charles A. Fenton much was gleaned. Ernest Hemingway was a working newspaperman both intermittently and for long intervals during the years Oct. 1916 and Dec. 1923. Other influences were War, Travel, and Sport. His work habits were extensive, sustained and purposeful. He wrote expatriate fiction in 1922-3. In a very real sense his apprenticeship never ended. Hemingway had durability, he was demanding, always growing and had rigid discipline when it came to writing. He said to a friend in 1949, “I’m apprenticed out at it until I die. Dopes can say you mastered it. But I don’t know nobody ever mastered it, nor could not have done better.” [At it]
Hemingway only worked at the Kansas City Star for 7 months but the rules from the papers style sheet book had 110 rules which stayed with him for live. Language and words could never from this point be lightly regarded (pg. 32). In 1940 Hemingway said, “I’ve never forgotten them, no man with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the thing he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides by them (pg. 34). Some rules were simple; like never use old slang, avoid use of adjectives, and use short sentences. The only way to improve your writing is to write. The English language yields to simplicity through brevity (pg. 43). Charles Fenton an English Instructor at Yale said, “It wasn’t the literary hothouse of Paris in the 20’s that shaped Hemingway so much as fledgling High school journalism in Oak Park, Ill. and the newsrooms of Kansas City and Toronto.”
Journalism was writing for the moment; as such it was doomed to the death of topicality but the fiction writer by adding invention to experience gave his work the possibility of enduring life. Hemingway granted that it was okay to begin in journalism because it lumbers you up and gives you a command of the language, it was good practice. [Read Paragraphs pg. 232 and 225]

Notes:
Hemingway peaked early, burned out early, copped out and exited early missing a head, yet left a body of work. He lived his time fully but not a full life because you must finish the journey and he up and quit. He left a mess for others to decipher. He was another casualty of another lost and searching generation.
“Old’ man take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you. I need someone to love me the whole day thru. Ah! One look at my eyes and you can tell that’s true” (Neil Young). I am not Hemingway but I do write. I am only alive because I put up a fight to survive. I mine for the words and a heart of gold. Pray I do not lose the spontaneity. Did EH become so tough because his name was Ernest or because he was? EH and DM were both bears of a man. Their paths may have crossed. DM knew of EH’s work and work habits and quoted them in his writing notes. DM went out with his writing boots on dying a day after submitting his last column for the Boston Globe. EH left us too early after burning out. Both lived full and humanly complete lives of observing and learning and writing it all out. Each part of the story gleaned from focused observation and from attempts at learning lessons. The jumbled beginnings of a journey jotted down from viewing another lost generation. From Donald Murray, “Ass in the Chair is the only rule of Art.”

Works Referenced:
(Weber) (Fenton) (Phillips) (Murray)
Fenton, Charles A. The Apprenticeship of Ernest Hemingway-the Early Years. NY: Viking Press, 1954.
Murray, Donald M. Welcolm to the Writer’s Craft. Writing Guide. Durham, NH: Donald M Murray, 2006.
Phillips, Larry W. Ernest Hemingway on Writing. NY: Scribner, 1984, 2004.
Weber, Ronald. Hemingway’s Art of Non-Fiction. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

Ray Lamontagne–Till The Sun Turns Black–CD Review

Till The Sun Turns Black–Review of the Music and Wisdom

Of RAY LAMONTAGNE

By Ken Pothier–Southern New Hampshire

It is not often that a work of music captures your ears and then steals your heart in touching emotions and feelings on first listen.

Ray Lamontagne with his CD Till The Sun Turns Black drew me in on the first song and I found myself sitting up to hear the wisdom of the lyrics in this work by an artist that is a Wizard of Words, capturing deep feelings and channeling them thru music.

Music that is haunting, ambient and tranquil at times and rises when needed as high as the depth of this mans feelings. This is a man who captures the singer songwriter musicianship that Jackson Browne and Dan Fogelberg did on their breakthrough albums years ago. I also felt the depth that the Beatle’s Rubber Soul and Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water made me feel on first listens to those works of art and music. This is Enya on testosterone with real musicians capturing lyrics and feelings that take balls to touch.

Drawn in on first listen, better and more nuanced each time. It is good as background or as a place to tap feelings and emotions. Ray goes deep in palpating words and music perfectly blended as if channeled from the wisdom of the ancestors.

From BE HERE NOW

“Don’t let your mind get weary and confused- your will be still don’t try”

“Don’t let your heart get heavy- child inside you there is strength that lies”

“Don’t let your soul get lonely- child its only time it will go by”

“Don’t look for love in faces places- it’s in you that’s where you’ll find (it)

“Be here now- here now- Be here now- hear now”

Writer and musician–lyrical art study that helped me touch feelings of my own.

From EMPTY: “I never learned to count my blessings- I choose instead to dwell in my disasters”

“Somehow it’s still hard to let go of my pain- will I always feel this way so empty so estranged”

“of these cutthroat busted sunsets cold and damp white mornings I have grown weary”

“If thru cracked and dusty dime store lips I spoke these words would no one hear me”

And how about these killer lines from the same song: “Well I looked my demons in the eyes laid bare my chest said do your best to destroy me- said I’ve been to hell and back so many times I must admit you kind of bore me”

The real musicians including Ray play; acoustic guitar, piano, strings, violins, celli, bowed bass, percussion, viola, B3, Wurlitzer, electric piano, electric guitar, trumpet, sax, dobro, flute, uke, acoustic bass, mellophone, euphonium, Spanish guitar, French horn, reed organ,

See if such strength in word and music draws you in and hauntingly channels wisdom while touching your feelings.

Someday Cafe

Blank Canvas of paper

Frosty early December Day

Sun is out

Shines light without warmth

Like emotion without thought

Jazzy tune on the sound system

Female vocalist Marisa Monte

Emoting warmth and joy

Song and coffee

Wake and Warm

A Weary soul with Wounded Spirit

Davis Square busies with Everyday People

On missions and quests of their own

Bundled against cold, eyes blinded by morning light

Lost in thought without emotion

Caps, Lids, Hats, Covers, Hoods, Scarf

A Bad Hair Day for all

In the eyes of a follacly challenged man

They are fortunate to have a hair day at all

Any Port in a storm, Hat in cold weather

All is relative in the missions of people everyday

Warmth on this side of the window glass

Looking glass on the world

Seen behind Blue Eyes

That have already viewed

A lifetime never imagined

We dream of how it would be

Take Paths from the Crossroads of Time

People passing the looking glass

May never cross paths again

Tufts University Student 22 will never see 23, never be fabulous again

Yesterday was his last

A fifth year Liberal Arts Student, heading for educated unemployment

Would welcome: a cold sun, light of day, emotion

With or without thought

Warmth, coffee, joy, song.

Blank canvas of paper

A Frosty December Day

Sun is out

Siren sounds piercing the cold

No one looks up

The Rescue crosses their path

But does not stop at their door today… sanctuary found

they raise their cups

Safe at the Someday Cafe

Pawtuckaway Wetland Beavers

All pictures taken with a NIKON D50 digital camera

Pawtuckaway Wetland Beavers

I am aware of our mortality and strive to make the most of each day. We can’t take it with us so we must walk our paths with love, hope and understanding.

The paths taken on walks in differing season give me pause to take in the lives of some of my natural neighbors. The Beaver population in the wetland system of Pawtuckaway State Park has fascinated me for the years lived in its midst.

Enjoy the simple things and you can feel the grand connection to it all. The old stone walls seen all thru New Hampshire and New England were put in place slowly, stone by stone walls were made day by day.

They framed old forest and field, stream river and lake shores.

The stone walls were made with great effort and persistence. They held the makers hopes and framed their dreams. The walls are not unlike the beavers den and winter food supply, it was all part of survival.

We can’t take it with us, but just as the ancestors we can leave our focus.

Whether framed in stone or words or decisions it remains after us,

Weathered by wind, water and time

With stones added and landscape shaped by those who cross this path.

This den is downlake from where I live. The branches you see sticking up are the tips of a winter food supply that is reached underwater, OUCH!

2Pawtuckaway Wetland Beaver Work and Dwellings

A one foot radius tree that the beaver is working on in an attempt to get at the rest of the tree. If only they could climb it would be easier.

3Pawtuckaway Wetland Beaver Work and Dwellings

Closeup of the tooth marks and work that goes into downing a tree with your teeth. I get tired of chewing downing a large meal!

4Pawtuckaway Wetland Beaver Work and Dwellings

The beaver has cut all of these sections in an attempt to down one tree which is still hung up in another tree. This shows the persistence and determination to survive which is inate in nature.

5Pawtuckaway Wetland Beaver Work and Dwellings

A closeup of the beaver den and the nights snack material.

6Pawtuckaway Wetland Beaver Work and Dwellings

I leave you on this path with the stream that fills the pond. This beaver has built a house with running water! Peace to all!

7Pawtuckaway Wetland Beaver Work and Dwellings

Frigid Footprints Etched in Time

Frigid Footprints Etched in Time

Time to reflect find meaning

Ready and gather strength for future seasons

Time to live in a present moment built on the past

To find bliss each day in just being

In feeling hoping loving

In gently holding to patience and faith

Touching natures surround unbound

Time is infinite change in an expanding universe

Like the lake surface blanketed in snow from transient storm

Change in flakes and crystals of water mixing moving gathering

Little twisters of white move in gusty gestations

Infinite equations of changing destination and motion

Eyes watery and face worn with lines of season old and the days cold

Manmade mirror of glass in shore side ice rink

Altered the blanket by pulling it back for gliding space

Tuck in the edges to border and shape

Sore eyes gaze in wonder from weathered countenance

Great spirit of nature and all uses a whisk brush of gust

A vehicle of wind and a wispy medium of snow

To draw-paint a picture in the tenor of the season and flux of time

Transposing a lake shore rink into an ever changing etch a sketch image of life

Shaken by wintry blast infinite design is cast

Daily Prompt: Back to School , A post to the SNHU school newspaper

In 2008 I returned to University and majored in English Language and Creative Writing. I joined the school newspaper (the old elephant in the room.) This is one of my posts published in the newspaper.

Pothier_Creative_Story-telling Dream Free write

Ken Pothier_11/26/2009

A Story-telling Dream

I had a storytelling dream. In it I was camping on mother earth with father sky above me. Alone, but for the spirit of the ancestors surrounding me North, South, East, West, Above and Below. Felt in the knowledge and magic of medicine animals. I wanted to write, but there wasn’t a way. I was consumed with the need to get my feelings and observations recorded, to tell a story.
I then proceeded to observe, read, feel all of the great spirit in nature around me. Dusk came over the dream and I could not record what was felt in the subtle and palpable lessons of the land. I spent last light organizing the campsite getting ready for the night.

Alone, but for want of a way to write,
But for want of a fire to light,
But for want of a means to share,
It could have been a good dream.

I awoke with longing and frustration in my being. In a life tinged with sorrow I could not shake the feeling of the dream.
If I could not write:
I could live with it, carry it, carry on, and not put the heavy load of feeling down.
I could make a blanket of my tears for they roll down and carry salt of the earth.
I could leave signs, in the bank of streams and water’s edge of lake and ocean, where waves of wind, water, and time could wear them away.
I could etch my life sketch in stone, but there is too much to say, and words alone would consume the day.
I could read signs of nature and learn to live in wilderness on my own.
I could watch the seasons pass never knowing when it’s my last.
Could I not write?
Feelings, emotion, experience, knowledge, and lessons learned, would stay lost in time.
Though experienced and felt, never seen, not thought out, and only mine.
Dark and lost in shadow, never letting in the light of memory and time perspective,
Never leaving a clue to how I found my way as pathfinder.

Out on the lake appeared a lone snowmobiler, having a day with some time and a fresh coat of snow to play on. He circled the lake in an outline of the shore. Curved in at coves around the circumference and out where the land reaches to meet the snow covered ice.
A sixty acre oval repeated counterclockwise over and over and over, until it began to look like the concentric rings in the wood of a tree.
Carefully the task was completed, parallel journeys in time, close but never the same, he marked his time on the lake while I fashioned a dreamed story.

One man found a good rhythm in space and time, and beat out a path for all to see, until waves of wind, warmth, water, and time slowly take it all away.
Could I not write…? The day would be held only in memories, of the one who felt it, of the one who observed, and gone forever as they fade away.

Could I be a storyteller…?
Last light of sun’s rays break the clouds, and spotlight one man’s circles of time in motion…
As a work of art, in a rhyme of time, space, light, and words.

Dreams and signs can show the way…
See them, feel them, and own them-live as a warrior, storyteller, and pathfinder.
Tell the tales…etched in time…Hanta Yo…Go Forward…

© Ken Pothier

### 593 words

Poem–A Search for Healing in So Much Sorrow: Writing 201:Poetry: Future

A Search for Healing in So Much Sorrow

The light both rises and falls on hopes horizon

So much sorrow and too little truth,

Need with so much greed

Sometimes I mourn for these sad days. These troubled times and the human race

My Big Dawg ‘Bruce Springsteen’ playing on the radio

Singing about ‘Devils and Dust.’

I write of broken hearted rust

In a search for healing I

Find revival in songwriters’ words we are

‘Born to Run’ from ‘Devils and Dust’

Find spark from song and the

Common ground of the common man

With a ‘Boss’ who lives truth from ‘E Street’

To Main Street

In stories of real people,  the

Heart of a country

So far removed from mindless spin of zombies

The right that is wrong

Sometimes you must mourn for the people of this world

All alone together

‘Devils and Dust’ filling our souls

Tough to breath and to know your roles

Dream our dreams and fulfill our goals

Come together, communicate and connect

A day at a time one step forward, two back

Dreams held and drifting we must

Resist, believe and persist in clouds and blue sky and in Shadows and light

Souls in danger with spiritual cost

Lives at risk with spirit lost

Strive to maintain faith and learn to love as we touch each day

The Shadow of our dreams, those we love and those whose love has touched us

Sadness of our own and those we wish to reach

We give our all each day alive but alone

To go down in dreams each night

Awake looking for the morning light

Cherished grace of charity and compassion

Quiet in our desperation

Energy spent with little residual

Sore wounded scorched spirit

Soul searching

Heavy load train of thought and emotion

Going too fast to just stay on track

We move up the next hill just to see hopes horizon

Hold on

How much sorrow can we bear?

Before doing determined best

Yielding we just put it down

Where the light both rises and falls

“God bless us and save us”

Grandfather said through Two World Wars

And through a grandson

“Great Spirit of all bless us and save us” from the greed and hypocrisy

So much sorrow

Help us to resist, believe and persist

Strive to maintain faith and search for healing

Learn to love as we live

Cherish grace of compassion and charity

Come together, Communicate and connect

Find the courage to believe in yourself and in others

On common ground

Where irreconcilable differences

Diminish, disperse and disappear

On hopes horizon

The place where the light both rises and falls

{Attribute: spark to years of listening to the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band and the rest to the genes inherited from the ancestors}

Hard Wood Writing–Poem

Hard Wood Writing

Feeling lucid under pressure
Moments of sheer horror and panic do pass
Drawn on ousted emotions to draw-paint words to paper
Form scenes opened felt by me
Acts of art for others to observe-see
A word play called ‘New Hope Spring’
On a clean cool clear and cloudy canvass of Papyrus
Framed pages with words
Book cover borders
Times Temperaments Torments Trusts
Loss and Rebirth
Felt and Palpable on written page
Hopes spring grows and flows
Words in mahogany and oak
A writer’s true rings of hard growth memory
True to a vision of what has come to pass
Hard Wood Writing on soft textured page of one person’s past
Written Word Etched for Eternity by Scribed Survivor
Mahogany Voice Rises from Oaken Experience
From scribbler to Scribe the Survivor Crafts
The soft subtle textured pages of a life’s
Lessons Learned and Shared
Now and Then

The Exothermic Energy of Seasons

Days of Spring Rain End

Hampton Beach Sunrise

Great Blue Herons Wings span the seasons

The Exothermic Energy of Seasons

Sunshine start to another day

Evening last lit with burning branches, glowing embers, music and moonlight
A fire of our own

Embrace the light of soul spirit rising

Glow meets rays expanding
Convergence of energy in the present, the gift

Synergy promises potential for another day

Warmth of nature and love intertwined
Wisteria vines enhanced in a mix of Spring and Summers

Soul spirit rising

A Fathers Love of his children is unconditional

Letter to Heidi on her Birthday

Written if not sent, felt if not touched, communicated if not received

Years ago you had a dream and though I did not know what was going on it was the start of your mother putting an end to my dreams of having loving, caring daughters as part of my life.

I reach out now because I have given up on waiting for you girls to realize that I never left but that I was threatened and forced away with no way to communicate and no due process to get my truth out to the light of day. I lost you because I was in the dream of an out of control thirteen year old girl who had acted out in multiple harmful behaviors after I was separated from your mother. I never wanted to leave our home. I left because your mother could not hear or see the real me. She was weak emotionally from a past which occurred long before I met her.

Heidi when you had your dream you were institutionalized. You were psychotic and put on medications immediately after I brought you to the hospital. You were anorexic and bulimic with ketones showing in your blood. The doctors said you were a couple of weeks from the chance of death. You had experimented with both illegal and prescription drugs and alcohol, and were acting out in many other destructive ways. After I left the house your mother did her best to keep us apart no matter how much I wished to keep a connection. In June I set up the apartment to stay close and have a place for you and your sisters to visit or stay over.

Your mother also kept me out of the loop and in the dark about you acting out in an unreasoned adolescence and abusive behavior. I only got clues and pieces when I started talking to Aerial after your mother had lost control and it was too late. All I could do was to bring you to appointments. It broke my heart. All of this was not fair to you or me and if I had any idea that all this would happen I would have stayed in the house to keep a connection to you girls alive and watch over you.

I firmly believe that my leaving followed by Heather a month later was the root cause of your problems. I also know from DSS reports that your mother had not told me about much of her past and had not dealt with it. As you girls reached the age when her problems began she started to transfer the feelings to our family. In her mind if it could happen to her and her sisters it could happen to you.

I fought as hard as I could when you had the dream to stop the legal threats and restraining orders which prevented me seeing you at your time of greatest need. It tore me up. I wanted so much to keep connection and communication alive. I have never done anything to hurt or harm you Heidi. I tried to teach you right from wrong but once you girls reached adolescence my voice was silenced and I could only set an example by being a good hardworking father who lived to help others and support you. I firmly believe that you needed a strong fathers influence to teach and communicate with. It has always been my dream to watch over and help you grow, learn, and find your way in life, to see you find joy and contentment. Unconditional love is what a father feels for his daughters. No matter what you did or went through I would have and will be there for you. Since I left the house my dream has been denied. I was made a scapegoat and victim of separation, divorce, and the unreasoned action of an emotionally damaged partner. I have never been listened to only shunned. I am so sorry for and hurt by what you had to go through. I wish I had been allowed to be there for you. To protect, console and guide you. You and your sisters are in my thoughts each day. Each day I miss you and am concerned for your welfare. It is not an easy world to grow up in and survive. A part of me will always be lost without you in my life.

I am proud of you. You have not only survived that unreasoned adolescence but moved on and restructured your life. I have learned from internet searches that you graduated with distinction in Criminal Justice from UMass Boston. I wish I could have been there. I have been forced to miss so many occasions and milestones in your life. I always think of you on your birthday with both joy and sadness. Joy at being the first to hold you and in watching you grow. Joy in remembering the good and simple days like driving you to preschool in Waltham and walking you to the bus stop at the Fulton School. A couple of weeks ago I went down to Falmouth for your great Aunt Paula’s funeral (grandma’s sister) and passed by the “Bay View Campground.” We camped there both as a family and with just you. We had time together and you wanted me to swim in all four pools and walk the whole campground. I teared up when I saw the sign in Bourne. It is difficult not having you in my life, it is my greatest tragedy and it is wrong. It never should have been this way and I only survived it because of a true love and relationship. I wish you could have seen a real loving, caring, true relationship growing up. I can only hope that you have found one.

I do not know if this letter will get to you. I hope and pray that this is not the end of hope but the beginning of a healing that only connection, communication and the truth can bring.

The Unconditional Love of your DAD always

Happy Birthday May 23, 2013