E n d e a v o u r

uses of art –

(adapted from Jane Hirshfield)

  • A work of art is not a piece of fruit lifted from a branch: it is a ripening collaboration of artist, receiver, and world.
  • Art is not an outer event or phenomenon, nor is it the feeling or insight it may seem to reveal or evoke. Art may involve both, but is, more complexly, a living fabrication of new comprehension –  the bringing of something new into being.
  • Art lean toward increase of meaning, feeling, and being.

one way art may be useful is by showing how thin usefulness is …

Sometimes, quite often to be honest, I feel my life as a writer is centered around the concept of endeavoring. I get up in the morning, I go to my desk, I write, I fail, I start over … nothing changes

– everything can

Taus Makhacheva was born in Moscow (1983) and currently lives and works between Makhachkala and Moscow. She holds a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London and an MA from the Royal College of Art, London.

Journal of a Solitude

May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude was first published in 1973. She had written memoirs previously, but turned to journal writing in a quest for “a more immediate, less controlled record of life.”

Journal of a Solitude:

September 15th

Begin here. It is raining. I look out on the maple, where few leaves have turned yellow, and listen to Punch, the parrot, talking to himself, and to the rain ticking gently against the windows. I am here alone for the first time in weeks, to take up my ‘real’ life again at last. That’s what is strange — that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life, unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. Yet I taste it fully only when I am alone here and the house and I resume old conversations

May Sarton, The Art of Poetry No. 32 Interviewed by Karen Saum

INTERVIEWER: How was it that you began to write the journals?

SARTON: I wrote the first one, Journal of a Solitude, as an exercise to handle a serious depression and it worked quite well. I did have publication in mind. It wasn’t written just for me. I think it’s part of the discipline. It keeps you on your toes stylistically and prevents too much self-pity, knowing that it’s going to be read and that it will provide a certain standard for other people who are living isolated lives and who are depressed. If you just indulge in nothing but moaning, it wouldn’t be a good journal for others to read. I also found that by keeping a journal I was looking at things in a new way because I would think, “That—good! That will be great in the journal.” So it took me out of myself, out of the depression to some extent. This happened again with Recovering.


INTERVIEWER: Everyone wants to know about a writer’s work habits . . .

SARTON: I do all my work before eleven in the morning. That’s why I get up so early. Around five.

INTERVIEWER: Have you pretty much stuck to the same kind of discipline over the years?

SARTON: Yes, I have. That I got from my father. I think the great thing he gave me was an example of what steady work, disciplined work, can finally produce. In not waiting for “the moment,” you know, but saying: “I’m going to write every day for two or three hours.”

a time of one’s own

I’ve spent the passing week reading Jane Hirshfield’s Ten Windows and May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude, changing between the two of them for very different – still matching – reading experiences. Ten Windows is a book about how we, through poetry, can enlarge our own lives. Journal of a Solitude is story from “inside”, from the day to day life of a very attentive and observant poet.

Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude was first published in 1973. It is an honest confession of the writer’s faults, fears, sadness, and disappointments, but also of her joys; words in right order, the garden, people stopping by – and solitude: Solitude as grace and necessity … and the fear of loneliness.

IMG_1518I’m sharing here a short passage where she writes about the need of being very focused if one is to achieve something great, and how much more difficult such single-pointedness is to achieve for women, especially mothers, than for men. (Sarton is using – very appropriate – her own parents as example).

She underlines that our time (the -70′) have given greater freedom to women, unfortunately I have to admit we still have quite a bit to go …

window moment


a window moment

Jane Hirshfield: Many good poems have a kind of window-moment in them–a point at which they change their direction of gaze or thought in a way that suddenly opens a broadened landscape of meaning and feeling. Encountering such a moment, the reader breathes in some new infusion, as steeply perceptible as any physical window’s increase of light, scent, sound, or air. The gesture is one of lifting, unlatching, releasing; mind and attention swing open to newly peeled vistas.