Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jen Humphrey's _Up From the Ground_

I would like to call your attention to Jen Humphrey’s blog, Up From the Ground (which is now a fixture under “Blogs ‘We’ Like,” right). Jen is the Director of Communications for the Natural History Museum at the University of Kansas (which also houses the Center for Biodiversity). She is also a (new) farmer and an MFA student.

Over the next year (at least), Jen will be writing her MFA thesis on-line – qua blog. Naturally, it will involve communications, nature, and farming. But I think it will be different from other blogs on those various topics, in that she is becoming ever more aware of the possibilities and limitations of the Blog Form – and how it might intersect with farming. For one thing, I and her other committee members are going to comment on the blog on the blog – thereby becoming part of the blog/thesis. Hell, you can comment on the blog and become part of her thesis! To add to the recursive fun, I fully expect that she will read this blog post, which is a reflection on her reflections on her blog. And she may even comment.

I pointed out to Jen (f2f, can you believe it??) that writing is a technology – and one that was first used to record agricultural produce. All that's left of that Sumerian millet are those clay tablets. (One thing I forgot to suggest is that she speak to a 21 c. Large Producer or two – about how they use communications technology; Jen and Jess are just a few acres and goats).

I also mentioned the potential open ended-ness of the blogosphere (which is really more pear-shaped, in my imagination). Unlike the Traditional Essay, blog posts do not have to achieve Closure. They can be part of a series; they can include links that take you away from them; they can invite comments that become part of them; and there is always the possibility of more to come – even if there is a long hiatus between posts. Blogs never end – either spatially or temporally. Until the coal runs out, anyway.

(Here in Lawrence, we have one of the top-ten greenhouse-gas emitters in the country, in the form of the power plant that is producing electricity for the very words I am typing now. Unlike the blogosphere, the ecosphere really is a closed system.)

All of this self-reflection is crucial, of course, because what is a bigger corn-pone stereotype than being a farmer in Kansas? People in Kansas, like people everywhere, begin to take on the characteristics, interests, and language of what they are supposed to be like. You should hear me talk in reverent tones about my connection to the local landscape. I can even do it in a Bob Dole/Pat Roberts twang.

Anyway, be part of the project. Visit the blog.


Judy Roitman said...

One of the top ten emitters in the country? My God! Who would have thunk? Thanks for the warning.

Jen said...

Thanks, Joe. I’m looking forward to this experiment. Over the course of my writing life, I’ve tried my hand at several kinds of writing. In (old) journalism, writing in an inverted pyramid confined and bored me. In fiction writing, there was so much possibility that it overwhelmed; every decision about a character or a scene affected the next decision exponentially, paralyzing my pen.

I fell in love with the essay upon our first introduction. Here was a form with complex but deceptively simple looking arcs, curves and twists. It had the potential for close observation of people, places, sentiment and experience. And that voice! The strength of that voice drew me to the essay. I nuzzled in close, head-over-heels, opening-to-closure enamored.

Yet for all that I enjoy about the essay, the blog form has stolen my attention, which I’ll be writing about much more in the coming months. I look forward to taking all the fiction knowledge of character, narrative and language, mixing in the keen observations inherent in essay writing, and applying them all to the blog form to see how they get along. What fun!

Anonymous said...

I, too, am looking forward to participating in this project. The (very few) blogs that I've read in the past have lacked the beauty of language that I've come to associate with the traditional written word; I can see, though, from Jen's response that this will not be the case here. Here's to having my mind broadened!