Toward

“Grief and resilience live together.” -Michelle Obama

At times of great intensity – when the spirit is tested and stretched to its limits and we are asked to endure – these are the moments when we grow. The darkest night leads, inevitably, to another dawn. Although our path must traverse those places where from where it feels we may never emerge again, every valley has two slopes, one leading in and the other toward the hilltop again. Hold on to the hill top when you find yourself in the depths of shadow.

Ishion Hutchinson joined us on April 22 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic from Ithaca where he is an instructor at Cornell. Hutchinson said that the streets in Ithaca were deserted as a result of lockdown measures and while it is typically a quiet place, these circumstances – particularly in a now empty college town – create an eerie reality. For himself, he tends to be a homebody and so he is feeling grateful for a comfortable space to continue working and contemplate what is happening around us. Speaking to the strange disconnect of seeming normalcy when one is simply at home reading a book in the midst of what is going on around us, Hutchinson says, “you realize that we are all connected and the human hum, the noise in the distance, is part of what keeps us going and to have that suddenly turned down or off is scary.” He goes on to say there is going to be a need for greater connection to learn to endure the new realities that will be in place when the noise begins to bubble back – we will have to figure out how to find harmony moving forward.

At present, Hutchinson is taking a lot of notes. He had been working on a play but has put that aside for now while he does further research. The play is set during the period of the Maroon War in Jamaica. The Maroons were runaway slaves who created a community in Jamaica. The play deals with a moment in the history of the Maroons – something Hutchinson has always wanted to write about. He is also always making notes for poems, as well as drafting and tinkering with them. Additionally he has been writing essays – one about a recent trip to Ethiopia. This causes him to reflect on travel during a period when travel is not possible. In general, Hutchinson likes to keep many things going at once although his main focus is his poetry.

To hear more from Ishion Hutchinson, including discussion of the music of poetry and how fortunate we are to be readers capable of being disturbed and comforted at the same time. The poet also reads some of his work for us throughout. Indulge with the complete interview.

A Few Words to Keep in your Pocket:

In all things, remember the light – turn toward its promise.

Interviews are available on iTunes as podcasts, and for Android please click here. All weekly essay pieces in a shareable format are here. The full archive of interviews here.

Books to Read

What are you reading? Add your titles to our reading list here. To learn more about the work of Ishion Hutchinson and the poet himself, visit his website.

Deadlines

Finnish Institute Benelux is pleased to announce an open call for Together Alone – art projects that reflect the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will act as a documentation of this time in history and explore a number of themes including state of emergency, radical change, resilience, artistic practice in the future and alone together. For more information and to submit your work for consideration, visit the website. Deadline is May 4.

 

Weekly Edited Grant and Residency Deadlines – review the list here.

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Brainard Carey is an author, artist and educator. He is the director of Praxis Center for Aesthetics. He has written six books for artists; Making it in the Art World, New Markets for Artists, The Art World Demystified, Fund Your Dreams Like a Creative Genius, Sell Online Like a Creative Genius and Succeed with Social Media Like a Creative Genius.

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