Monday, November 30, 2015

William Stafford: "Earth Dweller"

It was all the clods at once become
precious; it was the barn, and the shed,
and the windmill, my hands, the crack
Arlie made in the ax handle: oh, let me stay
here humbly, forgotten, to rejoice in it all;
let the sun casually rise and set.
If I have not found the right place,
teach me; for, somewhere inside, the clods are
vaulted mansions, lines through the barn sing
for the saints forever, the shed and windmill
rear so glorious the sun shudders like a gong.

Now I know why people worship, carry around
magic emblems, wake up talking dreams
they teach to their children: the world speaks.
The world speaks everything to us.
It is our only friend.

"Earth Dweller" by William Stafford. Text as published in The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1998).

Art credit: "Windmill Against a Dramatic Prairie Sky," photograph by mavis.

Answering Your Most-Asked Questions

Curator's Note: The End is Beginning With great reluctance I have decided to end this project at the close of 2015.... I will do my best to make these last months a gift to you, with deep bows of gratitude.: Friends,

Thank you for your many kind personal messages as I wind down A Year of Being Here. Please know that I value each message I receive, and I will be sure to answer.

However, since many of you are asking similar questions, I thought it might be helpful briefly to respond to some of them in this post. If I've missed one that is important to you, let me know.

  1. "Why are you ending the project? Have you run out of poems? Do you need more money?" No worries, there is an endless supply of mindfulness poetry in this worldkeep berry-picking! And due to your generous donations, I'm certain that even if I kept the project going for a dozen more years, I'd never run short of funds. So why end? I won't belabor all the reasons, but I'll cite the most important: a scarcity of time. Three years ago, when I began this online "hobby project," it required only a half-hour's labor each day. Now it demands three to four hours, and is hungry for even more. As a result, I don't have enough time to do my "real work," which I truly enjoy. On a related note, no, I don't have any staff (though I do have a dear friend who was kind enough each summer to do postings while I went on a brief vacation with my family). And no, I don't wish to have a staff, because I don't wish to be a manager, but thanks for the suggestion.

  2. "Would you allow me to take over the project?" It's kind of you to ask, but no. Forgive me for not getting into the details of why. But if you're truly interested in doing such a project, I strongly encourage you to create one.

  3. "Will I still be able to access the poetry after the project ends?" Absolutely. The website  ( will remain online. Many of you subscribers and social network followers have never visited the website. I encourage you to take advantage of its two archives (one organized by chronology, the other by author name) and its search function. And of course the project's social networking sites, though inactive, will still be available for reference, comment and sharing.

  4. "Where shall I get my daily poetry now? Is there a similar project you might recommend, once A Year of Being Here concludes?" Again, there is no shortage of poetry berries to pick, if you're looking for them. But I can offer a few suggestions. First, you might join the many subscribers who have told me that they intend to start reading, or rereading, at the beginning of the website's archives—that's three years' worth of poetry, at one poem per day. Second, you might enjoy subscribing to Panhala, a free daily poetry service. ("Panhala" is Hindi for "source of fresh water.") I have subscribed for many years. The poetry, accompanied by photography, is available only via email. To subscribe, send a blank email message to There is no need to put anything in the subject line or body of the message. Finally, I would encourage you to purchase volumes by some of your favorite mindfulness poets and make a commitment to reading some of their work on a regular basis. One poet tends to lead to another.

  5. "Have you thought of doing an anthology of mindfulness poetry?" Yep. That was my original intention when I created A Year of Being Here, but I couldn't interest a publisher. Not wanting to waste the effort I'd put into the project, I decided to go online, at least for a year. That was three years ago! Given your enthusiasm for an anthology, I might eventually reopen my search for a publisher. My decision will rest in part on the results of a short online survey I'll soon be inviting you to complete, if you'll be kind enough to help me out.

  6. "Are you a poet? Where do you live?" Nope, I'm not a poet (occasional songwriting doesn't count). I don't even know that much about poetry, beyond whether a certain poem speaks to me or not. I grew up in Ohio (USA) but now live with my husband and thirteen-year-old son in South Dakota.

  7. "If you're not a poet, what kind of work do you do?" As I'm fond of joking, I do whatever doesn't make much money. I write books and music, do public speaking, am involved in peace and social justice efforts.... I'm fortunate to have a lot of creative freedom.

  8. "What's next for you? How can I stay informed about your work?" At the moment I'm finishing a novel related to the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. I have plans for another novel, and who knows, perhaps an anthology of mindfulness poetry(!). If you truly want to stay informed about my work, you can sign up for my mailing list on my website, follow my Facebook page or even my Twitter feed (@phylliscoledai). But let me warn you: As an introvert who would rather be doing other things, I tend to neglect my social media accounts.

I hope these answers are helpful. Thanks so much for your support and interest, everyone! Stay tuned for more end-of-project developments....

Deep peace,
Phyllis Cole-Dai