The Nature of Words

The Nature of Words is a week long literary event held in Bend, Oregon every November; Focusing on the West, and the creative expression of writers and poets who embrace the lay of the land and the stories of its inhabitants. Everything holds a story; from the horse carcass lying in the desert to the City of Roses and Japanese Internment Camps.
I was able to attend one night of Readings, featuring 4 writers sharing their work. What a delight. It is a great pleasure to listen to a writer read their own words with the tone and inflection in which it was written. Sharp, bright, witty, morose, dull, twisted, vibrant….all within the phrasing of the author; Masters at their work:
Robert Michael Pyle

Robert Wrigley

Linda Hussa

David Guterson

…leaving me hungry for more… “Please sir, can I have some more?” Can I bask a bit longer in the sublime luxury of words? May I extol the brilliance of phrasing? May I move through the strata of layer upon layer of clean lines and precise placement? May I fall in love all over again with the written and spoken word?

Oh to be in the company of those who hone their craft. Who jot down lines in a worn notebook while rounding up cattle on horseback; see the beginning line of a haiku form as they swat the seventh mosquito off their arm in as many seconds; interpret the translation of pictures into words while sitting on the reservation drinking coffee as the Annual Salmon Ceremony Celebration sign is hung under the blinking glitter of a Casino marquee. Aaahh, the beauty of it all; raw and naked, polished and pristine and everything in between; the beauty, the beauty of words.

Immortality by Robert Wrigley

Consider the blind tribes of the rain,
those artless factota scribing hips
and flanks in mineral formations.
And think of the careless kissing lips

of wind come nightly, until this tree
at timberline turns a dancer’s twist
too slow for the human eye to see,
though in its stillness constantly kissed.

Stalagmites, stalactites grown like bones
to columns, a portico of cave,
proscenium arches waterfalls foam
over: no human hand will ever have

rendered their flutes and icy laces;
no one’s eye has imagined them there.
The maker wears her many faces,
she is ocean and snow and the air,

and no one believes her product art.
After all, wind blows and water perks.
A man feels dominion in his heart,
though in the end he’s just one of her works.


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