[I read an excerpt of the exhilarating novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. In the excerpt, the reader is granted the perspective of a dog. The writing changes, the details change, as the view from a dog is understood like I have never understood it. It is so tender and melancholy and filled with longing. I think that longing — as well as Wroblewski’s ability to use fifteen words where I would have only thought to have used one — really set the tone for the workshop and the writing that emerged. There was so much dynamite writing today — maybe it had something to do with the prompt of getting outside of one’s own voice to write from the perspective of something else. Sometimes I worry that prompts like that will loosen our already tenuous grip on sanity, but today it led to creativity. Today’s attendees: George, Courtney, Mary, David, Karen, Amy, and Matt.]
The Perspective of the Seat of the Chair I’m On
— by David KE Dodge
For hours- days- it just sits there. It’s just there, in the shadow of the table, touched by nothing, just sitting, waiting, under the table, with the cloth just tantalizing, just a few inches above, but unreachable. Just sitting. But every now and then, a butt. Sometimes- usually- only for a matter of minutes; once in a wonderful while- more than an hour. Not butt, but butts. Heavy butts, light butts; little butts, big butts; hard bony butts; firm muscular butts; soft, fat butts; butts in gingham, in plaid, in pastel, in corduroy, in black clerical cotton; hairy, wrinkled butts; clean, smooth butts. Usually, adult butts, but once in a glorious while, ever so far apart, a child’s small butt.
How to feel, when the butt rises, and leaves the seat to face another long period of isolation, of meaningless purposeless abandon? Grateful, for a function fulfilled, for however short a period? Heartbroken, for being thoughtlessly left alone? Most likely, indifferent- just content to wait, its potential ever present, ever offering comfort to the occasional visitant to Tatlock Memorial Library, at St Andrews Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
A Squirrel in a Tree in Winter
— by George
The squirrel must have liked winter, for it was then that his fur grew thick and when its nest of sticks and leaves high in the maple tree seemed most safe and secure. Of a summer night, hot and humid, the squirrel might splay itself on a thick lower limb to sleep, comfortable but exposed to a sudden July shower and, worse, vulnerable to the rumored night hawk who would swoop down and rob a sleeping squirrel of its tail.
Winter was more comfortable, even the cold windy nights when the nest rocked in the nimble trees—that was something of an adventure, but nothing more daring than to leap from tree to tree, to fly to the slippery ends of the maple’s high limbs and scurry quickly toward the trunk, each step quick so as not to assemble weight on any one place, weight that would surely bring it down, but the fall from which would not bury it, for it would catch another branch on the way and repeat the branch dance that failed above but which never failed to work all together.
And there was suet, a greasy, seeded conglomeration that appeared only in the cold time. Easy to find, the suet hung from the same branch of the maple tree, sometimes shrinking in size, sometimes increasing, an alteration the squirrel associated with a man. The man. He could be a hazard. The man yelled at the squirrel, and shook his fist. His face turned red from the cold. The squirrel ran up the tree. It licked its lips. It rubbed its whiskers with its paws. It yelled back to the man with its own language.
Feral, the black one (Beautiful)
— by Courtney
The styrofoam home empty, the large white house purring but empty. He lay on the bare-bone porch on the heated mat beside his mother, fitting just on the edge, and first the cold wind and then sleep overtook him. He dreamed of food always before him, kibble rising up from the porch like the yellow flowers that once covered the grass.
When he woke, the sun had lowered, the sky blue-gray through the porch windows on the west and gray-blue from the south, pieces of pink reflecting somewhere far away where the warmth was kept from him.
His mother twitched when he moved – raccoon coyote, dog, just kitten. He did the same, his ears flickering as he smelled the gray air – raccoon, coyote, dog, just mother. Together and alone, his sister dead long ago, white fur turned to mud where his mother had held watch for days in the spring.
That was before he saw the human who poured food into the bowl each morning. The bowl that was always almost empty when the pink detached from the sky and fell away somewhere, blanketing someone else.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
— by Mary
Rising tension no relief the antithesis
of interspecies exchange where
dogness reigns midst dayness
Morning nightness dawn and evening
Glorious to share the intelligence of
elemental partfulness seen undisguised
The Dogness of earthful touch repose by
The absence of interference collects as
morsel muddy balls dry and tangle my dogness
hair as one I am in love supreme my
doggie giveth me
x x x
Edgar saw and telles s s s tales in
perpetual yeasty songs skipped beats
skipping breaths – propels intrigue
beware \ black must defend against
Edgar’s unreleasing prisoner taking
But for Edgar the advantage be while
first move secures his vantage point
inner squares e4 d4 his tale
aligns its moldy expanding
Writing from the Perspective of Somebody Else
— by Matt
Why do we do this to ourselves?
The most judgmental people I know are often the most depressed, having such high expectations of others they can never accomplish anything themselves.
This used to be me.
I mean, I understand the perspective of others (especially chipmunks), but, I believe, if something is eating away at you, it might be best to sit back, take a pill, and relax.
I’ve often been asking, “Did you take your medication this morning?”
The answer was often “no,” and this came from a state of paranoia and rebellion.
In game theory, political scientists often say how crucial it is to look at the perspective of others.
Otherwise, mistakes can be made (sometimes fatal), and the results are often disastrous.
Why then do we have to be such assholes to each other?
In this age of Nuclear Weapons, I believe this is a fatal mistake to quickly judge others.
I mean, I like Shakespeare’s Dramas, but I think I like his comedies the best.
In sum, I am a sucker for happy endings.
Lighten up, let others live, and let go.
Otherwise, you should have nightmares about the things you should’ve done but didn’t, in the process of harming others.
ps.: You don’t’ know who I am, or what I’ve been through, so stop judging others.
p.p.s. Laxatives are highly underrated.
I wish my brother would take some.