The Pen & the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, with Holly Hughes and Brenda Miller
This will be a fun event as poet Holly Hughes and essayist Brenda Miller will give listeners a chance to practice mindful writing themselves with some playful assignments!
Waiting in an
office to have your blood drawn. Calling a plumber to fix your flooded
basement. Sitting in traffic. These might not be the experiences one
thinks of when it comes to either writing or contemplation, but the grit
and noise and earthly experience of the everyday world are exactly what
Holly Hughes and Brenda Miller embrace in their collaborative book, The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World.
Hughes, an accomplished poet, and Miller, an award-winning essayist, spent a year in dialogue, writing stories in which they use personal experience to explore how traditional contemplative practices—such as meditation, yoga, mindful walking, and mindful eating—can be applied in a world of packed schedules, dozens of daily technologies, and a thousand distractions. In a conversational style, with a minimum of jargon, the authors explain how these practices can be linked to both reading and writing in rich and unexpected ways.
Proposing that contemplation is an active practice that can take place anywhere, anytime—in the Volkswagen repair shop, at the Farmer’s Market, at PetSmart—the authors share experiences that have helped them bring mindfulness and new avenues of expression into their writing. Each chapter includes suggested activities, offering writers innovative ways to:
· create physical and mental space for contemplation and writing
· heighten awareness as a basis for writing
· use the ancient art of Lectio Divina (sacred reading)
· practice writing that articulates the concrete, tactile, sensory world
· take risks in writing
· explore personal spiritual traditions in writing
· pay attention to sensuous details in writing
· practice gratitude through writing
· awaken writing through travel, animals, food, and the physical body
· prepare for writing through ritual
· write in community
At the heart of any contemplative practice is the ability to slow down and simply observe what is happening, both inside and outside the self. The Pen and the Bell articulates not only the value of slowing down, but how to slow down. The authors describe the power of detailed observation, and encourage their readers to cultivate in themselves the patience for such watchfulness. Through these practices, readers will understand how the big issues—love, death, joy, despair—can be accessed through the concrete, tactile, sensory world, and they will have new avenues to express that world in their writing.
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