August 5, 2015
Congratulations to Jeremiah O’Hagan, our Whidbey Writes featured writer for August. We’re pleased to be able to share his work of poetry with you. Whidbey Writes is a collaboration between the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA) and Whidbey Life Magazine (WLM). Its purpose is to give WLM readers an opportunity to enjoy short fiction and poetry by writers who have a connection to Whidbey Island.
We look forward to publishing the original work of selected winners at the beginning of each month as part of Whidbey Writes. NILA and WLM congratulates Jeremiah and thank volunteer editors Heather Anderson, Mureall Hebert and Chris Spencer who review submissions on solstices and equinoxes and pass on the work they enjoy most to Whidbey Life Magazine for publication online and in print.
To My Fellow MFA‐ers at a Tiny School Along the Ragged Coast of the Salish Sea, But Mostly to Erika
By Jeremiah O’Hagan
Did you ever get the distinct sense that we
would change the world? Or, if not the world,
at least the part of it built with words? We
would lean it back on its axis, slowly, late
at night, draped across our beds, or propped
in coffee houses, or diving into bars, finger‐tipping
across keyboards, fearless in round‐about ways,
wielding words against the unsayable, against
death, against life. Or, if not the part of the world
built with words, we’d at least rattle some small
Indie presses. If not those, we’d rattle each other,
or at the sliced‐to‐the‐marrow least, we ourselves
would never be the same. But, we are.
Sure, we shifted in small ways — we’re haunted
by ghosting smells, the returning taste of whiskey
and stout and flabby red wine in tiny mugs,
the spray and sigh of the sea and the flutter
of certain songs and poems, and we believe
in the justice of an exceptionally broken line —
but basically we are the same, only older, which
is not the same as being timeless. It means merely
that we’re muddling toward death at the same
fantastic rate, accomplishing what feels like
nothing along the way. Only we’re mostly alone
again, and this depresses us, still, these years
later, so we keep writing for the same reason
we started, a reason we prove impotent
with each keystroke. But, oh hell.
Jeremiah O’Hagan has worked at a wood mill, a small-town newspaper, and as an English teacher.
His second-favorite book is The Great Gatsby. He takes his coffee black, and his Springsteen on vinyl. He lives in the slippery part of the Pacific Northwest.
Photo is courtesy of the writer.
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