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Cluster index: Chloe Hawkey

How Mary Oliver ‘found love in a breathing machine.’

Chloë Hawkey: ‘he’s a remarkable poet of the natural world, capable of articulating and concretizing the sense of wonder that surrounds us outdoors. But she is not strictly a writer of the wilderness, the way, say, Edward Abbey is; she is a poet of the wondrous details of life, intimate and wild, minute and immense alike. And she is, perhaps above all, a poet who teaches love, in an everyday, unassuming sort of way…’

F. O. Matthiessen’s responsibilities.

Chloë Hawkey: ‘In prodding, questioning, and explaining the state of cultural affairs to readers, writers, and politicians alike, Matthiessen sought to push them toward a new understanding of one another and of how all of us ought to engage with the world around us. ‘

River rafting, seriously.

Chloë Hawkey: ‘Just as we learn how to relate to the water currents and the rocky beaches, we learn how to relate to the humans out there with us—how to rely on one another, how to support one another, how to work together when a fun moment turns dangerous.’

A great teacher.

Chloë Hawkey: ‘He seemed to me to be able to make sense of a world, past and present, that completely baffles me. His lectures never suggested that the world isn’t baffling and complex; he didn’t simplify anything to a series of dates or an inevitable process. Instead, he offered us a way to grapple with the confusion, a way to ask questions; as the best critics always do, he offered us a lens through which to look at the world and analyze and wonder at it.’

Literature as humancraft.

Chloë Hawkey: ‘[Faulkner’s] novels helped readers at the time—as they help us today—to understand why people spoke to each other as they did, why they treated one another as they did; they help us to feel what it is to exist in the world as someone other than ourselves.’

The inevitable choreographic moment.

Chloë Hawkey: ‘Perhaps, though, we could equally call it a certain deafness in human beings, an inability to hear the pleas of those around us–an inability to hear the music, if you will. And just as dancers can only move convincingly when they are responding to the force of the music, even sympathetic people can only protest when the cultural music demands movement of them, when they feel it in their bones.’

The National Poet we need now.

Chloë Hawkey: ‘We had Whitman to tell us what was right with us, but now our national ego outweighs even his, and we need Rankine to bring us back down to earth, to ground us and guide us. “Poets are not legislators,” Louis MacNeice once wrote, “but they put facts and feelings in italics, which makes people think about them and such thinking may in the end have an end in action.”’

Wilderness: tamed.

Chloë Hawkey: ‘Now that we don’t have a “frontier,” the American wilderness—or at least an essential protected part of it—has ceased to be a place of the violent work of conquering; it has become a place of meditation. Now that we have no clear sense of a frontier across which to expand, we can finally stand still and see the wonder in what’s around us.’

‘Collections of intricate and fantastical designs…’

Chloë Hawkey: ‘We seem to be rediscovering the merits of the rough and the analog. Coloring, with its black lines on a white page, with its rudimentary pencils, offers us experiences often missing in contemporary life: straightforwardness, physicality, slowness, solitude, simplicity.’