The color of life: a writing prompt

Monday, June 27, 2011

Today, at the Rutgers-Camden Summer Writer's Conference, I'll be asking the students to reflect on the color of life, a prompt inspired by the wholly moving Gerald Stern poem, "Eggshell."

Among the readings will be a brief passage excerpted from the Rebecca Solnit essay, "The Blue of Distance." Solnit writes from a place of knowing toward a place of wonder. An excerpt here:

The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost. Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us. It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in water. Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light,the purer the water the deeper the blue. The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance.  This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue.


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