On Carolyn Porter and Marcel’s Letters

I am so happy to have crossed paths with Carolyn Porter a few years back. The journey that unfolds in Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate, is an amazing tale. For more, see Brevity’s Blog, Of Fonts, and Fate, and Marcel’s Letters.

Marcels-Letters-MOCKUP

Now I Can See

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I live across from a cemetery now; the neighbors are rather quiet.

The corners of the sky glow pink and red as the last of this New Year’s daylight slips away.

I’ve just come through one of the more difficult parenting months of my life. The months ahead do not look less difficult, but perhaps unknown light will emerge around the edges of the darkness. There is, in any situation, always room for hope.

Last night, I journaled about the low lights and highlights of 2017, a practice I learned from Sister Karol Jackowski. I was blessed to take both Spiritual Writing and Nature Writing from “Karol” during my MFA program. From Karol, I not only learned to write better, I learned to live better.

In accessing my low and highlights, I recognized (which I think is the point of this exercise) the kernels of grace that exist in each down turn, each dark path. Many of the seeds of my highlights were germinated in the low lights.

Whether fortune or foe, who is to say, goes a familiar Buddhist teaching.

“Barn burned down, now I can see the moon.”  Mizuta Masahide

Now I can see.

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And sometimes, the barn can be salvaged.

My Essay Featured on Agate Magazine

One of the many rewards that flowed from my yearlong training to become a master steward of the St. Croix Watershed is the connection I made with Sharon Day, an Ojibwe water protector and leader of Nibi “Water” Walks. I joined Day on her Kettle River walk; you can read about it here on Agate magazine.

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Source of the Kettle River in northern Minnesota. Photo credit: Heidi Fettig Parton.

The Work of Adulting . . .

never ends. I’m so pleased and proud to have an essay publish on Grown and Flown this week. The essay explores a few difficult junctures of letting go as my oldest–my daughter–has spread her wings in life. Please check it out!

H teaching her little brother Japanese quite a few years ago now.

#AWP17 Conference Report — Heidi Fettig Parton on “The Craft of Empathy”

So grateful for the opportunity to guest blog over at Assay Journal about an excellent panel discussion that I attended at #AWP17 on The Craft of Empathy.

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I’ve been spending lots of time over at the web page of Ana Maria Spagna, panel moderator, reading her essays; she’s is my new writer hero!

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies

awp#AWP17 Panel Report: F151 The Craft of Empathy

Description: Writing with empathy in mind, especially in nonfiction, can create texture in our work and be transformative for both writer and reader. On this panel we explore various angles of perspective: scenes where narrators show empathy toward other characters—especially ones who are unlikeable—and vice versa, reflections that suggest empathy of a memoirist for a younger self, as well as techniques for showing empathy, as a writer, for the reader, and from both reader and writer for the nonhuman world.

Panelists: (moderator), , ,

Conference Report

“Empathy is the deeper understanding that we’re all working towards as readers and writers,” Ana Maria Spagna told the audience of the #AWP17 Friday morning panel she moderated. Spagna referenced a 2013 study, which revealed that those who read fiction are more empathetic than those who don’t…

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A Rilke Sonnet in a Month of Dental Pain

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. And as you ring,
what batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, this intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world shall cease to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
And to the rushing water speak, I am.

Rainer Maria Rilke

The Challenge

The challenge now seems to be to hold our hearts open wide, in a continuous grieving for the victims of violence, some of it loud and dramatic, some silent and almost escaping notice; to feel how we breathe the same air, drink from the same well, look to the same fields for sustenance. The challenge in all of this collective heartache, is to remain soft enough inside to hold onto the kind of love that keeps us fighting for better days for all of humanity.

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