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The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craftby Kim Stafford
Synopses & Reviews
A seasoned writing teacher shows us how to "listen deep, begin clear, brave all, and offer our best beyond ourselves."
The Muses Among Us is an inviting, encouraging book for writers at any stage of their development. In a series of first-person letters, essays, manifestos, and notes to the reader, Kim Stafford shows what might happen at the creative boundary he calls "what we almost know." On the boundary's far side is our story, our poem, our song. On this side are the resonant hunches, griefs, secrets, and confusions from which our writing will emerge. Guiding us from such glimmerings through to a finished piece are a wealth of experiments, assignments, and tricks of the trade that Stafford has perfected over thirty years of classes, workshops, and other gatherings of writers. Informing The Muses Among Us are Stafford's own convictions about writing — principles to which he returns again and again. We must, Stafford says, honor the fragments, utterances, and half-discovered truths voiced around us, for their speakers are the prophets to whom writers are scribes. Such filaments of wisdom, either by themselves or alloyed with others, give rise to our poems, stories, and essays. In addition, as Stafford writes, "all pleasure in writing begins with a sense of abundance — rich knowledge and boundless curiosity." By recommending ways for students to seek beyond the self for material, Stafford demystifies the process of writing and claims for it a Whitmanesque quality of participation and community.
"Much about Kim?s book is more alive and sadly aware of what it means to be a writer than any other recent how-to-write book I've seen in decades. Clearly Kim holds the flag for the gutsy mix of compassionate, political engagement and love of vivid scene that American authors had better take on if they don't want to be easy livers in our vicious culture." Carol Bly, author of The Passionate, Accurate Story
"I've been awaiting this book for years, and now I rejoice to hold it in my hands. Kim Stafford has distilled into these pages the wisdom of his long practice not only as a writer and teacher, but also as a son and husband and father, and as a citizen of the great community of Earth. Part minstrel, part wizard, he shows us that writing begins in listening, to outer as well as inner voices, and listening begins in wonder. If you want to stir up your art and soul, sit down with this inspiring book." Scott Russell Sanders, author of Hunting for Hope and The Force of Spirit
Book News Annotation:
In a series of letters, essays, manifestos, and notes to the reader, Stafford (writing, Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon) looks at the boundary between the work a writer wants to create and the hunches, griefs, secrets, and confusions that provide the raw material for it. There is no index or bibliography. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Kim Stafford is director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College. His many books include A Thousand Friends of Rain and Having Everything Right.
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