Agate just published this poem I wrote about the loss of a treasured tree and the new life that enters through the void of loss. Please take the extra step to hop on out to Agate to read this piece. Agate, where I interned this past spring, is doing a terrific job bringing together the arts and science to promote ecological stability and environmental protection (and respect) in Minnesota and the greater Great Lakes area. While you’re there, check out the fantastic fungi photo by my brother, Scott Fettig!
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.
“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…
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.
The process of transformation (my own and others) fascinates me. Never is one more in the business of transformation than when faced with loss or life-altering change (they typically come hand-in-hand). Not unlike death, divorce blows both loss and change straight into the center of one’s life. There’s no place to find cover during the storm; one can only surrender to the experience and patiently await the day when she, finally, realizes she’s found her way to the other side.
Loss takes time; it will not be hurried.
It is how people move along in life, in spite of loss, that amazes me.
As some point, the day comes when wild flowers (perhaps nourished through tears) bloom on the grave of all that has been lost; and, suddenly, we emerge from our cocoons to see how the soft tipped-brush of loss has colored our life with a fragile and delicate beauty.