Thank You to the MacDowell Colony

 

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In nine days I will pack up my dirty laundry and go home, after a glorious five weeks at the oldest residential arts colony in the United States. I have spent my time writing both poetry and prose–mostly prose, parts of a new book about guide dogs. Tomorrow night I’ll even read some of this work in downtown Peterborough, New Hampshire. It’s important to have time alone to create art but its also extremely good to have a community and I think that’s one of the most remarkable things about MacDowell. You leave your studio after hours and hours of solo flight, hard thought, wrestling with ideas and music and architecture and film and language rhythms, with sculpture, with myth–and then, Lo! You’re in a room with people who have worked assiduously alongside you, fighting and glorying in the same rough and powerful mysterious ways of art. I don’t know about you, but I seldom have this sense of almost mystical solidarity in proximity to other human beings when, say, I go to the shopping mall or the dry cleaner. I am grateful to this nurturing place, not merely for what they’ve done for me but for what they give to so many. Art comes from here. It goes on and out, like birds rising, circling over northern Finland. By this I mean, beauty stirs in the world, surprises us, even in lunar places.