Creativity Series: “Hello” by Elizabeth Myhr

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From Ross: The Brazilian philosopher, Rubem Alves, retells a Gabriel Garcia Marquez story about a dead body washing ashore a small and lifeless fishing village. As the women prepare the body for burial, their imaginations alight with new stories, speculating who the dead man might be, what his voice sounded like, where he came from, who his family was, who he loved, who loved him. The men watching became jealous and made up their own stories. The village became alive with these imaginations, full of new thoughts and stories. The dead man resurrected their conversations and brought with him new joy. His death brought the village life.

The poet, Elizabeth Myhr understands the intrinsic power of words and elucidates this new life writers bloom into the world with her meditation titled “Hello”.

Listen here:

This writer does not jump into creativity. Creativity bumps into her on its way through the world.

I walk around, go to work, take care of my family, drive up a long, shaded city street and for just one moment the words drift into the brain from right to left. The brain sees them out of the corner of its internal eye, a phrase, incomplete, but unmistakably new. This is the beginning.

One who is not a writer does not pay attention, or sees and lets go of the gift. The gift’s living nature is to be ever moving. It has the quality of light. It is not a product of the human brain.

The writer has a tool called language by which she pins this light down on paper. There it listlessly flaps its beautiful wings, its shine vanishing. Then it dies.

The writer pins it to a board we call a document. Then the writer’s work starts. Using this tool and this board, the writer creates the world around this piece of captured light, this butterfly. When she’s finished with the construction, she pulls out the pin. The resurrected creature lifts its antennae, the wings fold up, and with a quick, tiny jump, it flies away.

Look, there is a reader with a butterfly net.

For the writer, there is only one word, the word of recognition: “hello.”

Elizabeth Myhr is a poet, editor and product development manager. Her debut book of poetry the vanishings & other poems, was published by Calypso Editions in October of 2011. She holds an MFA in poetry from Seattle Pacific University and lives in Seattle with her family.

37 thoughts on “Creativity Series: “Hello” by Elizabeth Myhr

  1. was really interesting listening to the podcast I am one of those who actually enjoys the odd audio book or two depending who is reading it and although I could never imagine doing a podcast myself (I hate the way my voice sounds played back on the answerphone) I think the idea of using them as part of a blog is really useful. Maybe I can con errmmm mean convince one of my friends to read a poem or two to give it a try

  2. This is great, of course. I love the image of the idea as a butterfly, waiting to be caught and pinned down, and I feel very much the same about I often find my own ideas. Thanks for writing this, Elizabeth.

    And Ross, I love that you’re making this a podcast, too. This is such a great idea, and your voice is perfect for this. I will be retweeting your tweets from this series. Let’s generate some buzz! Even though that’s more of a bee thing, and less of a butterfly thing … 🙂

  3. Inspiring thoughts here, Beth. And my collection of creative process quotes will now include: “This writer does not jump into creativity. Creativity bumps into her on its way through the world.”

    Thanks for this.

  4. So often, we see creativity as something that happens outside and we have to invite it in. I like the idea that awareness is an essential tool to our own creativity. Be aware of those moments or events which bump up against us and invite our creativity to come out and play. This is a wonderful and different alternative.

  5. Elizabeth, beautiful meditation. I love the image of the reader with a butterfly net–perhaps how well I write my discovery dictates the size of the net?

  6. This is a incredible idea to adopt. I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that “…the words drift into the brain from right to left. The brain sees them out of the corner of its internal eye, a phrase, incomplete, but unmistakably new. This is the beginning.” This is how I always try to see my own writing and it is great to see that I am not the only one who sees it like this.

    And Ross, thanks for visiting my blog. Were it not for you, I would not have discovered yours.

  7. It is no different in the creative process, it seems, death looming and all. Thank you for the reminder of the hope for resurrection and, with it, your aptly chosen word, “recognition.”

  8. Thanks for checking out my blog, today, Ross–especially since it lead me over here to see what a cool project you have going on. I’m looking forward to seeing what else the series reveals.

  9. thanks for subscribing to my blog, Ross; I will endeavour to make it worth your while. we are on a similar creative journey. This story about the body washing up on shore reminds me of Raymond Carver’s classic story ‘So Much Water Close To Home’ though this one takes a different tack

  10. Hi Ross! I am really glad that you came by my blog earlier so that I could find yours. “…for just one moment the words drift into the brain from right to left” – I have experienced that and it is one of the most amazing gifts one could have. Thank you, and looking forward to learning from you.


  11. Beautiful and inspirational – thank you, Ross, for opening us towards other writers and creatives.
    Recognition, but also frustration that the words can never quite recapture the magic… exactly. Even if it sometimes enhances it (most often it diminishes it).
    I would take lithe daggers
    To stab and stab at web of words.
    Damp, sodden, sullen words,
    That will not
    Stand up on their own.

  12. What a beautiful way to describe the creative process. Sometimes it does feel like wings beating against my mind until I find the perfect way to represent the idea. Thank you Ross for following my blog, and leading me to this fabulous project.

  13. Just copied and pasted this into Word. Two hundred and thirty words. And there’s life and death and life again, and I don’t feel ripped off. I imagine this piece was stretched and compressed and stretched again like the body of an accordion, breathing its own breath. Beth is obviously a poet, and whoever gets that free book is in for a treat. I’ve got my signed copy already.

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