Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Blogging, Accompaniment, and Gratitude

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This has been an interesting April of blogging for me. While I read blogs, I’ve never myself blogged before. It was more difficult than I’d anticipated, and more enjoyable. What I so value in the blogs I read is their writers’ openness, their generosity with thinking in public, their invitation to their readers to accompany them in the experiences and thoughts they write about. It’s the offer to accompany, and, obliquely, to be accompanied, that I find most moving. It’s one of the solaces writing offers, a thinking with and feeling with that extends across space and time. Which can, in an instant, alter the texture and dimension of solitude. I read to inhabit others writers’ thoughts and modes of thinking. Any text is, I think, an invitation to accompany the thought within it, with varying degrees of ease or struggle, through its altering verbs of being.

What’s particular about blogs (at least the blogs that draw me) is their informality, the way they can unfold into what feels like the tenor of a conversation, because they are a process and are about process. They draft. And you can trace the turns and developments and regressions and returns and pleasures and pains of someone else’s thinking in (almost) real time. And perhaps this is one of the most remarkable things about blogging (about) process: the person who writes is present in a way that they aren’t necessarily and perhaps don’t want to be in (their) books. That is, the writer is available as a person writing before writing and thinking solidify into a book or essay. Blogs thus chart an openness I find fascinating. One of the most interesting and beautiful blogs I know is Bhanu Kapil’s at:

http://jackkerouacispunjabi.bl...

My own tendency toward reticence and reflexes of formality make this mode of writing exciting to read and elusive for me to achieve. I contended with these hardwired habits this month by working with, what is for me, relative spontaneity. I tried to think about the things I was thinking about and then sit down and write whatever struck me at the sitting or carried me to it or made me want to leave it, and I wrote without much revision. I rewrite infinitely more than I write, and the absence of revision became my chosen constraint for these posts. I was once told by a friend that my prose was self-effacing; he didn’t mean that it was marked by humility, but rather that I had instinctively absented myself, or any identifiable thinker, from the thoughts eddying on the page. A strange form that rhymes with free indirect discourse. Except that I wasn’t narrating a novel. Regardless, these are the instincts I was working against this month. I was trying to be present in the posts in a way that I find mildly alarming. I didn’t achieve what I was working toward, but I think I managed the process part: this month I’ve been blogging about bodies, about my thinking with and of them, about being one, and in that process, I’ve been in the process of trying to extend an invitation to accompany me in my work.

Thank you for accompanying me.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Julie Joosten

Julie Joosten is originally from Georgia but now lives in Toronto. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers Program and a PhD from Cornell University. Her poems and reviews can be read in like starlings, Lemon Hound, Lit, Jacket 2, Tarpaulin Sky, the Malahat Review and The Fiddlehead. She recently guest edited an issue of BafterC, a journal of contemporary poetry. Her first book, Light Light, was shortlisted for the 2014 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, the 2014 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry, and the 2014 Goldie Award.

You can reach Julie throughout the month of April at writer@openbooktoronto.com

Go to Julie Joosten’s Author Page