The Shape of Time (Poets & Writers)

In the May/June 2022 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, I have an essay about my time at the Anderson Center in Red Wing Minnesota, and the writers I met there who are no longer with us. It’s also about the idea of the “timescape. A snippet here:

“So it was strange to walk through the house again in 2020. Everything was exactly the same as it had been those other years. I stayed in the same room. I looked out the same window. I watched new leaves fall off the same trees. I had the feeling, after a year of broken lives in a shattered city, of being pulled out of time. It was the tangible sense of things changing but also staying the same.

“Fall is when I always think about time. It seems like a simple thing—minutes, days, years—but it’s not. We know time feels different in different contexts (think of your latest work meeting). This feeling of time, the shape it takes in our minds, and the way we see it unfolding around us, is what’s known as the timescape.

“The timescape can shift in different situations. Sometimes it feels like a race down a temporal highway. Others it’s more like plodding through a dense swamp. But the timescape changes even more across cultures. Our culture’s dominant sense of time is linear and mechanical, and emerged from the industrial revolution. We see the world as a clock that keeps ticking. We see time as independent of us, not affected by us. Time is something that moves on without us if we don’t run with it. We see the future stretching in front of us and the past trailing behind. And whether we go fast or slow, we always move forward.”

To read the rest of the piece, order a copy of the magazine here.