...from the poet John B. Lee's December 6/05 letter

Dear John

I’ve finally cleared the decks and am reading your wonderful, thought provoking, love letter to the written word, book, Spirit Book Word.

If one agrees with Susan Sontag’s belief that in writing “all the work is in the style”, this is a masterful achievement.

“I want a quiet voice, a little voice, a whisper, for I’m telling you a secret I’m not quite sure of myself. A secret I can spoil by a wrongful telling. Will you listen? I have a story to tell—a story of my relationship with ten words and the writers who bring them to flesh, a story of my stutter to pronounce my own lifeword.”

This is wonderful writing, John. I was reading it in the hottub, a place where I float my belly and call myself, “a hottub Buddha”. I lingered. Read. Re-read. Savoured. Thought. Read again. Read by slow exhales and taking in of breaths. Wished I’d written such words. Had such thoughts. Said such things.

I’m brought to remember James Reaney’s talk at the Visionary conference in Guelph, where he unashamedly and enthusiastically said this simple thing, “I love stories.” He said it deep. We were in a church sitting in pews gathered together for a conference on the visionary tradition in Canadian literature. Poets, novelists, essayist, professors, people who believe in the transformative power of story and poetry. How the best words in the best order might change a person’s inner life.

I also think of Stan Dragland’s books, Journey Through Bookland, and The Bees of Invisibility the title based on Rilke’s line.

You’ve got me thinking about my own ‘spirit words.’ I confess, I love too many words to settle upon a single one. And I’m not certain I’m far enough along on the journey to the soul to know what my spirit word might be. Perhaps it might be “home.”

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