Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring Lit Fest Compost & Thrum

The experience of attending even one day of the Ohio University’s Spring Literary Festival is one of those wow moments that needs to be shared. If you love books, writing, and words, put it on your calendar for next year. It’s free, fabulous, and fun!

The afternoon lectures by Robert Olen Butler and Bonnie Jo Campbell, the ones I was able to attend, used the analogy of composting and thrumming in writing and reading.

Feeding the compost pile (Butler) or the black box (Campbell) in your head and then letting it heat up and invade one’s writing life is about getting away from technique and getting into the creative zone. Campbell focused on what keeps us up at night and made a bid for the anecdotes or tiny narratives that capture personality in the shortest amount of space. She used the example of, “Where’s my goddamn leg?” as a starting point for story about rending the ugly and the terrible into something beautiful. I was pleased with myself for having her book in my bag. You know she is going to tell an awesome story with an example like that.

I loved Butler’s word for what resonates and creates works to pursue, thrum. Writing done from the unconscious, built of technique, vocabulary, and the senses, is scary, but is where a writer evokes a cinema of the mind. He encouraged writers to get away from analysis as art. He surprised me by starting with the genius, Jesus Christ and his parables which avoid telling a point directly. His talk also reminded me of Anton Chekhov’s, “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Readers were encouraged by both to read slowly and for joy.

I purchased several books to add to my bedside pile and managed to get them all signed. I’ve noticed that the signed books function as a portal and return me to the reflections of the event in my head. Of course, I’m reading something else, The Paris Wife to be exact.

My favorite takeaways from the Spring Lit Fest, skewed toward the parts attended, were:

Never avert your eyes.
Robert Olen Butler

Feet, balls, heart. Eat the whole chicken.
Bonnie Jo Campbell



thrum  

/THrəm/
Verb
  1. Make a continuous rhythmic humming sound.
  2. Cover or adorn (cloth or clothing) with ends of thread.
Noun
  1. A continuous rhythmic humming sound: "the steady thrum of rain on the windows".
  2. (in weaving) An unwoven end of a warp thread, or a fringe of such ends, left in the loom when the finished cloth is cut away.
Synonyms
verb.  strum
noun.  fringe