Imagination and the Loss of Words — Uma Krishnaswami

This year, in between deadlines, I’ve returned to a work in progress. It was orginally sparked by a place and fueled by drawing a map of an imagined version of that place. All this in response to a lecture on maps and imaginary worlds by the wonderful Julie Larios. So I’ve been thinking about the imagination and what it is. This sometimes leads me back to the fascinating series run for a time by the Philoctetes Center. The center itself is alas no more, but the video archive still exists on YouTube.

And then I found this in a post to the Hamline MFA faculty blog (now with alum and student contributors as well), The Storyteller’s Inkpot: Jackie Briggs Martin on the story of poet Marie Ponsot.

Snippet from Jackie’s post:

There is so much that I love about this story. The lifetime of writing because it gave her pleasure, the acclaim that eventually came, the persistence–sheer determination– after the ransacking. It stiffens my spine.

Snippet from the NYT article on Marie Ponsot’s struggle with aphasia:

Even so, she was able to accurately repeat a piece of advice that she had passed on for decades: anyone who wants to write should find 10 minutes a day.

What strange and terrible landscapes the body can produce in the mind.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Imagination and the Loss of Words — Uma Krishnaswami

  1. Uma, when Marie Ponsot came to the University of Washington about ten years ago to read and speak to students as part of the Counterbalance series, I was asked by the faculty to introduce her – possibly because I was the oldest of all the students in the program and my story was more similar to hers (in terms of returning to poetry after many years away) than many of the young undergraduates around us. She was so delightful!! At lunch together before the reading, she spoke with amazement to me about a 3,000-year-old bowl she had seen the day before at the Seattle Art Museum – I'll never forget her description of it nor the look on her face as she talked about it – full of wonder! I urge everyone to read her beautiful books of poetry (and her translations of de La Fontaine and Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales.)

  2. I love her book on teaching writing as well, written with Rosemary Deen. Beat Not the Poor Desk (Writing: what to teach, how to teach it, and why)

  3. Inspiring and moving post, Uma. No more whining. Butt in chair. And as Jackie mentioned on the Hamline blog, I love the idea of cross polination–like two great coffee shops on the same corner. We students and alums have access to such incredible information. Thank you!Kari

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