March 20th, 2013
Today is the day of the announcement of the 6th Gift of Freedom Winner. I met the winner last night, a quiet poet named Diane Gilliam Fisher, author of a book, Kettle Bottom with Perugia Press and a dynamite writer. I am so awed and amazed that a poet is winning this prize, a $50,000 prize for a woman writer to quit her job and write for two years. To me, this gift of time and money is the most amazing thing that any writer can be given, and for a woman, it is a double gift. Our time is devoured and consumed by caring for the home space, for caring for the children, for caring for the husband, for caring. Even men who do the cooking, often expect their wives to do all the dishes, and I’d rather cook than do dishes any day even if I’m using the dishwasher for most of the dishes, there is something about washing dishes that isn’t as fun as cooking. Cooking is creation. Cleaning up after is another thing.
Diane will be able to write for two years, to dive into words and language, to discover the squirrel moving through her yard burying nuts and forgetting where 80% of them are. I go away to write 2-3 weeks a year and after the second or third day I begin to slow down. I feel myself paying attention in a different kind of way. I feel myself noticing things. I say to Mark, “Look at that crowd of birds showing off.”
And he says, “Definitely, they’re showing off to that hawk.” We notice flowers, and the way people walk when they’re excited, we admit to being tired and we sleep. That’s what I hope Diane will do for two years, I hope she’ll get up and notice the sky, I hope she’ll go to bed and notice whether or not her bed is already made, but won’t care. I hope she’ll eat her meals slowly. I hope she’ll take her grand children for a stroll and notice petals and leaves fallen on the road. I hope she’ll be able to get inside the charm of life and the stones of it, the wild of it and the still of it.
The way you sometimes see someone walking into a store with their shirt inside out and not caring, and someone else who keeps looking at themselves in every mirror and storefront like they want to eat and lick and taste their own reflection. And I hope she’ll write all this stuff down, the way it flows from her experience into heart/mind and out into pen/computer until it becomes stories of people who don’t comb their hair and people who are all comb and shine. It is the stories that possess and change us, and now Diane has the time to write them. Congratulations, 6th Gift of Freedom Winner!