THE CLATTERING LOOM: mono no awarePosted: March 2, 2011
Sun Feb 20, 11 Viracocha
On Sunday February 20th, I joined Jonathan Hirsch and an audience of about 40 at Viracocha to enjoy the first installment of his inspired seasonal reading series The Clattering Loom. I had met Hirsch, who is also founder of the groundbreaking Tenderloin Reading Series, by chance the night before as I was leaving Writers with Drinks and was struck by his enthusiasm for the project; it was infectious. He seemed an incredibly voracious soul, capable of finding inspiration in details most people dismiss or ignore. He told me a bit about his inspiration for the series, which came from this anonymous Japanese love poem translated by Kenneth Rexroth:
Her anklets clink
She sways at her clattering loom
She hurries to have a new
Obi ready when he comes.
He said the significance he found in these lines struck while contemplating the type of work writers do as we attempt to find inspiration and create. “We work towards our love; we prepare ourselves for it,” he explained. “There’s a passion and inspiration that arises from that process.”
Pondering this, he decided to see what might happen if a diverse set of writers could take part in the experience together by selecting a dynamic line-up of poets and prompting them to consider conjoining ideas. Selected writers are asked to dig into the spirit of the season in which the reading will be held while simultaneously focusing on an idiom or phrase chosen from another language that captures more than ours can express—without the use of whole paragraphs or, in this case, entire poems.
For this installment, participants paid tribute to the ephemeral nature of Spring while considering the Japanese phrase, “mono no aware” which loosely translates to the feeling of nostalgia or yearning we experience as a result of life’s transient nature. As they say, nothing lasts forever. I, however, left immersed in a slew of hastily scribbled quotations, many of which have continued to sneak up on me delightfully, days later.
Creativity is contagious. Catch all of the night’s readers plus part of a mesmerizing performance by the evening’s musical guests, The Devotionals, below: