The Hummingbird's Workshop
I'm so sick of scholars, critics, theoreticians, universities. I'm sick of faculty gatherings where mediocre "experts" insert their noses in the bungs of the "experts" in front of them until they have formed a tight circle of nose-to-ass connections and begin walking in analytical circles. I'm sick of careerists and gray-faced gray-blooded tenure-mongering mugwumps! And I have tenure!

I want madmen! I want wild-women with twigs in their hair! I want zen monks and mountain men. I want anchorites. I want tree-huggers, medicine women, warriors, rafters, lion tamers, pistoleros, rock stars, drunk poets, saints, blues singers! I want Joe Gearhead driving a '69 Dodge Charger. I want prison inmates and trout fishers, visionaries and vegans, Lakotas and Apaches, hippies, rednecks, loggers and street people! I want writing that matters. Writing that shouts its intent and damn the torpedoes! Don't you?

If I had a writing institute, I'd put it in the boondocks. I'd have lodges and cabins. I'd have magnetic poetry sets on every refrigerator door. I'd have no phones. I'd have a fire every night, and a reading every night. Like Fishtrap, I'd have a beer'n'burger joint down in the woods where writers could walk a mile among deer and darkness, tempting ghosts and Manitous, to gather for midnight bullshit. I'd have room for bullshit! I'd have certain books in every cabin! I'd have a copy of Issa's poems, and a copy of Basho's poems. I'd have Joe Ely's awesome new book in every cabin! I'd have William Stafford's writing books. I'd have Flannery O'Connor's letters, and Eudora Welty's The Eye of the Story.

I'd have workshops, sure. Writers have to write. But I'd have walking hour, too. Mindful walking in the surrounding woods, every day. I'd have workshops in things that don't, on the surface of things, seem like "writing." Zen brush-writing. Birding. Tracking. Song-writing. Tai chi. Drumline. Gardening. Rock climbing.

Water. There would have to be water nearby. And every participant would plant a tree--either an evergreen, or an addition to our orchard.

And I would make sure there was a cemetery nearby, as well. And we would attend to the old graves. We would take care of the fallen and forgotten.

And, across the vally from the institute, I'd maintain The Widow's House. A house filled with evocative objects. Objects, human objects, are incredible writing prompts. And, before each participant left for home, she or he would be asked to investigate the widow's house and write about what they discovered there.

And I would publish books from the barn.

What do you think? Would you go? I'd go. I'd even allow academics to attend. But I would charge them double.

Oh man, you can tell Spring is here and I'm feeling wild. Hey--I finished House of Broken Angels. I think...I think it's good. Though I keep thinking fans of Hummingbird will keel over dead when they read this. Onward! Onward, dear friends! To my book of poems, followed by the Wastelander book, followed by HUMMINGBIRD II! Got a big year ahead.

Come with me.

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