Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Camping, Mary Oliver, and Personification

A blogger today reminded me of Bernd Heinrich’s work, which sparked some motivation to get back to writing. After having AnnaCaroline (who is now 9 ½ months) I haven’t gotten out as much as I used to, and haven’t written as much either. Corey, AnnaCaroline and I are going camping this weekend—our first time really out, and I’m so excited, although nervous that I’m so out of shape I might not be much of a cross-country skier any more. But it will be good to get a nature shot straight to the heart.

In class this week I’m teaching personification and reading Mary Oliver (my favorite poet) and thinking about how personification can really work. I fear I’ve been using it poorly—objectifying objects to serve a larger thematic purpose. Oliver reminds me that when personifying, we have to let the objects move as they would in the natural world, and then look at how what they do informs our own lives. This seems important because it allows for the possibility that we’ll make real discoveries through observation and research, rather than falling on old ideas about natural objects.

Maybe I’ll take Heinrich’s book Mind of the Raven out with me, and reread some of it as inspiration. And who knows, maybe a few Ravens will teach me a thing or two about how to move gracefully through a February rainforest.


Janice said...


If you haven't read it, I like Heinrich's "A Year in the Maine Woods" even better than "Mind of the Raven."

Enjoy your time out this weekend!


Emily said...

Thanks for the suggestions Jan--I'll see if I can find it. I hope you have a good weekend too. Write a poem if you find a quiet corner of time!