A: The first person who comes to mind is my favorite aunt, Teddie. In 1997 she was headed to northern California to attend a three-year-plus silent Tibetan Buddhist retreat at her teacher’s center. Teddie offered me her West 13th Street 6th-floor walkup apartment to live in while she was away. At the time I was based in Alexandria, VA and had just had my first solo exhibition at an important West 57th Street gallery, Brewster Fine Arts. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the limited Washington, DC art scene, had outgrown everything it had to offer, and felt New York pulling me towards new and exciting professional adventures.
Teddie, recognizing my talent and ambition, made it possible for me to afford to move to New York. She had practiced Tibetan Buddhism for 35 years and was soon to become a Buddhist lama. She had an extraordinary mind and thought deeply about life. We used to talk for hours. Teddie was 7 years older and seemed more like a sister than an aunt. Indeed, she was my first soul mate. (I have been extremely fortunate to have had two such relationships in my life. The other was my late husband, Bryan).
Unfortunately, dear Aunt Teddie died at the age of 67 of breast cancer. Recently, on September 25 I honored her life in a short ceremony on a mountain cliff in Leh, Ladakh (India). A Tibetan Buddhist monk recited prayers as he placed her ashes among the rocks.
Comments are welcome!
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
I do not think it the business of a poet to become a guru. It is his business to write poetry, and to do that he must remain open and vulnerable. We grow through relationships of every kind, but most of all through a relationship that takes the whole person. And it would be pompous and artificial to make an arbitrary decision to shut the door.
The problem is to keep a balance, not to fall to pieces. In keeping her balance in her last years Louise Bogan stopped writing poems, or nearly. It was partly, I feel sure, that the detachment demanded of the critic (and especially his absorption in analyzing the work of others) is diametrically opposed to the kind of detachment demanded of the poet in relationship to his own work. We are permitted to become detached only after the shock of an experience has been taken in, allowed to “happen” in the deepest sense. Detachment comes with examining the experience by means of writing the poem.
May Sarton in Journal of a Solitude: The intimate diary of a year in the life of a creative woman
Comments are welcome!