Upwards Toward the Light

Image of Upwards Toward the Light by Rachel Swirsky, an illustrated poem based on and in honor of the work of Ursula K. Le Guin with background image of haze obscuring buildings overlooking a rocky shore.

This poem was published in a poetry anthology memorializing Ursula K. Le Guin. It’s composed from scraps of her writing, cut up, pulled apart, and stitched in different ways to create an elegy.

Upwards Toward the Light

We have nothing but freedom:
not a gift given, but a heavy load
of permanent, intolerable uncertainty
that binds us beyond choice.

To be whole is to be part.
We all have forests in our minds,
unexplored, unending
stories in the middle of living.

When we are finally naked in the cold,
we who are so rich, so full of strength,
we breathe back the breathe that made us live,
we give back to the world all we did not do,
we are left only with kindness.

To see how beautiful the earth is,
you must choose to see it like the moon.

Hello from Worldcon

Discon III Logo ImageThe anticipation, anxiety and excitement come to their fruition–It’s time for Worldcon!
 

I still find it hard to believe we can finally be around crowds again. I remember when everyyear was full of conventions for me and spouse. Things have been very different! It’s going to be really cool to see people who I haven’t been able to catch up with in person for a long, long time. And to meet new people, too. There are so many new, exciting folks around!

What are y’all planning to do at the con this weekend? I’m not on programming so I’ve got lots of time to hang out. I hope I see you around! Give me a ping.

The Ahh-ness of Things

cracked background image with text: “The Ahh-ness of Things” A poem about “mono no aware,” the wistful beauty of impermanence. patreon.com/rachelswirsky

This December, I’m sharing a patron-exclusive new poem on my Patreon.

The Ahh-ness of Things” is about the emotion mono no aware, a Japanese term for–well–the ahh-ness of things. More specifically, it means something like “the wistful beauty of the ephemeral.” I first encountered the world via Ken Liu’s brilliant story, “Mono no aware” which I cannot recommend highly enough.

This poem is part of a slowly developing series of what I call “Google Word” poems. To write these poems, I choose a term–so far, it’s mostly been emotions–and then google it. I pull words from the google search pages and use them to assemble a poem. Anything on the google search page itself–including advertisements or blog titles–is up for grabs, but I can’t click through

Since I started writing these poems, the google searches have changed a lot. Initially, there were a lot more weird message board comments and weird blog entries. More recently, the searches have become dominated by listicles and advertisement. Probably because “mono no aware” isn’t an English term, the listicle virus hasn’t yet spread that far, so it was a lot easier and faster  to find interesting material. 

My patrons are also receiving “The Ahh-ness of Things” as an illustrated poem.

Thanks to all my patrons. All of my Patreon content–including a substantial, patron-exclusive offering once a month of something like an original essay, poem or short story–is available to all my patrons, no matter how much or little they contribute. Every contribution is greatly appreciated and makes a big difference to supporting my writing career!