* traveling with sei shonagon

* pillow talk *
* pillow talk *

Last week, I made my way to Warrensburg, MO to participate in the Creative Writing and Innovative Pedagogies (CWIPs) conference sponsored by the Creative Writing Program at the University of Central Missouri. While there, I was part of the panel “Teaching Strange: The Impossible Art of Poetic Weirdness” along with Michelene Maylor, Alyse Bensel, Ryler Dustin, and chaired by Hadara Bar-Nadav. I presented my paper “Teaching the Fragmented Self from Sappho to Twitter” which briefly details the literature course I taught this past Spring that centered around fragmentary writing.

One of the texts we engaged with in the course was The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon pictured aboveI brought this book filled with lists, personal musings and observations of 11th Century Heian Japan along with me for the trip. Sei’s project was to write focused on every day things. Despite this outward ambition, much of her sensibility comes through, as can be seen in the following:

84.  I Remember a Clear Morning

I remember a clear morning in the Ninth Month when it had been raining all night. Despite the bright sun, dew was still dripping from the chrysanthemums in the garden. On the bamboo fences and criss-cross hedges I saw tatters of spider webs; and where the threads were broken the raindrops hung on them like strings of white pearls. I was greatly moved and delighted.

As it became sunnier, the dew gradually vanished from the clover and the other plants where it had lain so heavily; the branches began to stir, then suddenly sprang up of their own accord. Later I described to people how beautiful it all was. What most impressed me was that they were not at all impressed.

The attention to detail as well as how those details strike one’s person as opposed to others is what made Sei’s book a perfect travel companion. As I finished rereading the book, I found Sei joining the ranks of my personal poet tribe that I carry around in my heart.

* carry on luggage *
* carry on luggage *

Speaking of travel companions, Spoot somehow made his way into my luggage and joined as I familiarized myself with Warrensburg. Here is Spoot hanging out with me at the Old Drum Coffeehouse and Bakery. Other, non-beluga related sights included:

* dragon! *
* dragon! *

This surprise dragon painting found further down Holden Street;

* con verse *
* con verse *

the requisite #ihavethisthingwithfloors photo;

and this piece from Devin Mitchell’s Veteran Vision Project which was on display at UCM’s Gallery of Art and Design. The exhibit focuses on the multiple identites veterans, young and old, live with. Find out more about this project here.


Special thanks to Phong Nguyen, Kathryn Nuernberger and everyone else involved in making the CWIPs conference a wonderful experience!

Happy Warrensburging!




2 responses to “* traveling with sei shonagon”

  1. […] This time around I discuss astrology, focusing on Pisces and Sei Shonagon. Along with expanding on ideas on astrology I’ve shared here on the Influence, this post can be seen as a kind of part 2 to my earlier Sei Shonagon post. […]

  2. […] up is Sei Shonagon, who I wrote about in October. I had reason to return to her lists in The Pillow Book recently, and continue to marvel at the […]

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