kate frank

poet, performer, & amateur lepidopterist

bewilderment

‎”Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.”

–Jhumpa Lahiri

 
What I have been thinking about, lately, is bewilderment as a way of entering the day as much as the work. Bewilderment as a poetics and an ethics… There is a muslim prayer that says, “Lord, increase my bewilderment,” and this prayer is also mine and the strange Whoever who goes under the name of “I” in my poems–and under multiple names in my fiction–where error, errancy and bewilderment are the main forces that signal a story.

Bewilderment is an enchantment that follows a complete collapse of reference and reconcilability.

Bewilderment circumnambulates, believing that at the center of errant or circular movement, is the axis of reality.”

–Fanny Howe, full text found here

 

This is what I have to say about bewilderment today: BE-WILDER-ment.

To say it with more words: I have been tossing & turning in my sleep, waking up six times in the night, waking up with my arms crossed under my body like lying face down in a straight jacket so the muscles in my shoulders were almost too stiff to move. There is pain, yes. I have been feeling bewildered by it, bewildered in general, a state which Lahiri & Howe so beautifully articulated for me.

& what I am holding on to now is that word of Howe’s: Enchantment. At the center of the energy, the collapse, the wilderness, I will find the wildness in me. I will be more wild for it. & it will be its own magic, “an enchantment that follows…”

I have also been thinking about bewilderment as an ethics. I have been thinking about ethics in general, about my values. I think bewilderment as a moral code is an interesting & perhaps brilliant idea. How would I approach situations if my ethical stance was to acknowledge that I come to each moment a wild & long-lost learner? As always, I hope I would approach with kindness.

I am working on accepting & embracing bewilderment–I am being wilder.

Advertisements

udon noodle salad

mise en place two

I made this salad a while back for a family 4th of july gathering. The recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, but apparently my family only has an older Moosewood cookbook, so I found the recipe at A Delicious Distraction.

I am still in a totally experimental, mildly frustrated phase when it comes to food photography (& to be real, photography in general). Food is one of my favorite things about this dang planet, & it feels so bizarre to not be able to capture & share that. I’ll take photos of beautiful, mouthwatering food &, in the absence of textures & smells & all of the wonderful, it looks blah blah blah.

That said, I could look at a good mise en place photo 4EVAH. Partially, probably, because mise en place completely changed my life (having everything in place before I start dumping things in a pot solves the problem of things burning on the stove while I’m frantically crying & chopping onions because the recipe told me I would have enough time but I’m too slow at chopping because I’m crying!) & also because they usually just look really darn good to me.

So, I am working on my compulsive dish limiting tendencies, & allowing myself to sometimes use extra dishes just so I can get a cute mise en place going on.

The salad, for the record, was as delicious the mise en place & as quickly gone.

red dragonflies // magic

source: East Gwillimbury CameraGirl

The other day I went swimming with my family & we saw, fluttering around the pool, a red dragonfly. I’d never seen a not-blue dragonfly before.

& there’s this certain feeling I get when I see an unexpected animal like that, or an animal that comes weirdly close to me. It’s a feeling that magic is happening.

I looked up definitions of magic to share, to try to explain, because sometimes the dictionary is fun, but none of them said what I mean.

Magic, to me, means the wonderful I don’t always see, don’t always understand. It means unexpected guidance & care-taking, from forces beyond & in me. To be honest, when I think about being alive, it is this magic I think of, an animating force, the everything that’s all connected.

So, that said, I believe I am somehow connected to that red dragonfly, & my noticing it the other day was an act of learning, a reminder. When I got home, I looked up the symbolism that has surrounded dragonflies in different cultures throughout the years. I am conscious that this practice teeters on the edge of cultural appropriation, which my relationship to magic often does. My goal is always to be respectfully learning from other cultures, acknowledging that the information does not belong to me nor was it generated by me. Believing in magic as a white lady gets damn tricky, especially since everyone in my family who would’ve been able to teach me about magic from a place of authentic authority is long gone. Any advice about how to engage in this spiritual practice (which is a truly essential piece of how I process & make meaning out of my life) without constantly cribbing from other cultures would be much appreciated! I know that trusting the meaning I make up for myself, beyond the kind I look up that belongs to other people, is a good start.

Still, what I’ve been seeing everywhere is that dragonflies have often been associated with water & light, which makes a lot of sense because they live near water & move like light. Water is also associated with emotions, so dragonflies have been as well. &, I also have a special relationship to insects; after making The Joy Experiments, they always remind me to trust transformation.

Usually when I look up an animal symbol, I instantly know why that information was important for me to receive at that time.

This time, I am less clear. But it occurred to me that the relationship between emotions & light might have something to teach me about how to let go (&, yes, trust transformation). Anne Bogart, director of the SITI company, who heavily influenced Esme, my director for The Joy Experiments, has a theatre-making philosophy she describes as, “hold on tightly, let go lightly.” It seems to apply in this case.

I’m considering the idea that the dragonfly was a reminder to hold on tightly to the moment, to be present & fill it with joy, & to still relax & let go when it’s time. To let me emotions come & go as quickly and intensely as light off of water. Even if it wasn’t what the dragonfly was trying to say, it is a very good reminder of a lesson I am, again, often learning & re-learning.

bald hill

 

These are photos I took on a rainy walk with my sister & three dogs. I talked about this video, a 16-minute documentary about Joanie 4 Jackie, a super inspiring project Miranda July created when she was around my age. I smelled that Oregon earth smell. I found no mushrooms. I got rain on the lens. I ruined several photos by trying to take them while walking. Magic happened.

list of favorite female poets

I’m interning right now at the fabulous CALYX, Inc., a feminist publishing company, & it’s inspired me to think about women writers. Mostly, about how I do & don’t read them.

Mostly, I haven’t been reading nearly as much as I would like. I think partly it’s because I’m home right now, wanting to squeeze in as much time with my people as possible, & reading can be such a solitary act. Reading is also good, grounding & inspiring for me, & sometimes that’s worth a little alone time. It certainly improves the quality of my together time.

So, there is more more more reading to be done. This list, folks, is the “before” photo.

1. Marge Piercy: the first poet I ever loved. Homegirl completely changed the course of my life. Whew.

2. Maggie Nelson: I used to have this thing about standardizing punctuation in a poem. If some of the sentences end in periods but others don’t, I’m pretty much in bonkers-red-pen mode. It is a testament to Nelson that her work convinced me that sometimes, disarray is the way. Her poems felt, when I found them a few years ago, like they were in a voice eerily close to mine, a little older, a little more dangerous. Perfect, perfect.

3. Jane Mead: Oh lord. Oh Lord and the General Din of the World. That book! Is so good! Concerning That Prayer I Cannot Make convinced me for a minute that it might be possible to have a favorite poem.

4. Anne Sexton: Speaking of prayers, you could go read With Mercy for the Greedy right now & then come back. You did that? Right? It’s astounding. Anne Sexton had ridiculous amounts of talent. Again, a life-changer.

5. Claudia Rankine: author of Please Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. Imma be real, I haven’t read more than that one book. Just saying, that’s all it took.

Honorable Mention–Thylias Moss: Slave Moth blew my mind and heavily informed The Joy Experiments. &, I’m still working on connecting with some of her denser, more experimental work.

*

Leave your favorites in the comments!

fits, starts, etc.

I apologize for the gap in my presence, lovely readership.

I am often learning & re-learning how to take up space. Including this little space on the internet.

So here I am, back again!, hopefully on a more regular basis. Sometimes I can be an all-or-nothing kind of Kate–when in fact, sometimes having patience for the fits & starts creates more for me than scrapping the imperfect plan.

accidentally coordinated