How might stillness and a heightened sense of awareness infuse your creative endeavors? In this episode we speak with poet, editor and writing coach James Crews about how a daily mindfulness practice can help us meet creative stumbling blocks such as self-judgment and writer’s block with more clarity, curiosity, acceptance and even surprise. Can mindfulness be a hindrance to creativity? Are there “rules” for how and when to to do it? Can being quiet really help an art that depends on words? How might your creativity infuse your mindfulness?
James Crews is the author of four collections of poetry, The Book of What Stays, Telling My Father, Bluebird, and Every Waking Moment. He is also the editor of two anthologies: Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection and How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Sun, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and have been reprinted in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry and featured on Tracy K. Smith’s podcast, The Slowdown. Crews teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Eastern Oregon University and lives with his husband on an organic farm in Vermont.
Naomi Shihab Nye
for James Crews
It happens, you know—the day opens itself
like a tulip in a warm room, and you meet someone
who amazes you with their willingness
to be a thousand percent alive, someone
who makes you feel grateful to be you.
And it’s as if life has been keeping a beautiful
secret from you—like the fact that they make
elderberry flowers into wine. Like muscadine.
Like the yellow-green floral scent of quince.
Like the perfect knot for tying your shoes.
And it turns out life does have wonderful
secrets waiting for you. Even when the news
makes you cry. Even when some old pain returns,
that’s when you will meet this new friend.
Someone wholly themselves. Someone
who makes you smile in the kitchen, a smile so real
that when you go out, the whole world notices.
It’s enough to make you want to wake up in the morning.
To go into the day. To be unguarded as a tulip, petals
falling open. You never know who you might meet.
--Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
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