An Interview with Jorie Graham Issue 2 (August 2012)

Earthlines Magazine




“I feel that the en plein air descriptions of Never, a book written to

deeply make myself see, and thereby to bring into others’

vision, the natural world – from its microscopic life to its far

reaches of ‘evolution’ ( a word I still used in that book – a

number of poems are titled by that term) – are still, in spite

of their ‘understanding’ of the eco issues, innocent. I mean by

this that I had not fully downloaded it into my soul – and

also that I had not yet really gone deeply into the science. Sea

Change registers that shock. Place tries to recover a necessary

innocence from which to live and act. A ‘higher innocence’,

to avail myself of Blake’s terms. One that follows ‘experience’.

It is from there that we must act. Or can act. This has nothing

to do with explicability or inexplicability. Nature is not in

the realm of explication. So I do not engage with it on those

terms. I do bring language and mind up against it, into it, I

suffuse us with each other –but that is a matter of awakened

sensation, and its attendant awakened consciousness. From

there too one can, perhaps, act. But surely it is a prerequisite.

Nature cannot become an abstraction. That has been the

whole deficit in our souls which has brought us to this.”


The passage above reminds me of the situation where, to my mind,

we have not developed a language of spirit.  Now I don’t mean the

spirituality of sky gods, the spirit of churches.  I am trying to bring

to awareness an Earthen Spirituality but am humbled by my inability

to find a satisfying expression.  Earthen Spirituality can be explicated,

but not in the accepted ways of knowing or expressing.  Almost five

centuries of materialism has dominated the accepted worldview and

imprinted a template of what “is” and what “is not.”  Again, I will not

accept that spirit cannot be explicated. As of the moment, it appears

to me that art holds the key.  I have said that music is the language of

the soul.  the Hsin Hsin Ming says:  “Stop thinking and there is nothing

that you will not be able to understand.”  One of my limitations is

that I keep thinking about how to stop thinking.  I keep thinking about

what it is to not think.  So, I am in a cage of my own construction, with

doors and windows yet stuck inside pushing at the door instead of

turning the door knob.