The Muse of Place
As summer is approaching us, all I can think about is the humidity I encountered last June when I moved to Austin from the lovely west Texas town of El Paso. Needless to say, this desert rat is not used to the hot muggy-ness that is on our heels. I am currently day dreaming about Writers’ League of Texas’s Summer Writing Retreat in Alpine. The muse of west Texas landscape has inspired some incredible literary gems. as well as all my poetry during my undergraduate at UTEP. A brilliant mentor of mine, writer Bejamín Seanz, taught his students to be aware of place, to know the names of native flowers and plants, to let the place infuse itself into your writing. He passed down this advice from his mentor, the brilliant poet Denise Levertov. I cannot even begin to explain how deeply this guidance changed my writing, and for the better.
At the 2012 Writing Retreat, we are thrilled to have Texas author Joe Nick Patoski teach a course called “Writing With a Sense of Place.” Joe will have his students do field research of Far West Texas, in order to inspire a new sense of place in their writing. Trust me, you will find the desert muse.
In honor of place and Joe Nick Patoski’s class, take yourself on a writing date. Don’t go to your typical coffee house, or favorite museum. Where is it that you have been thinking of visiting for the past few months, but simply have not? Any unique place of nature? Zilker park, the greenbelt, Enchanted Rock? Do your writing and yourself a favor, and GO! Take a notebook and free write for 15-20 minutes about the space surrounding you. Is their something new, nature or material? Do some field research, be specific (childlike and aware.) Let this exercise turn into something fresh and alive, a new poem or short story. Let PLACE be your muse.