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  • On Craft: Twenty-five Sentences from Ecotone Contributors

As we planned and dreamed about this issue of Ecotone, we wanted to include work that explores craft of many kinds, work that makes us think about the act of making in new ways. We talked about craft shaped by place, and about place shaped by craft; about craft as a means of resilience and resistance, of cultural and bodily and ecological survival. We wanted to hear, in turn, what hopes and concerns about craft, writerly and / or otherwise, the writers and artists who are part of the issue might have. So we asked them. The only constraint we gave was that they fit their thoughts into a single sentence. The sentence, we noted, could be quite short or could extend, the way some do, to include a lot. In reply, we received twenty-five sentences, which we are happy to share here—more than enough for each hour of a well-spent day.

anna lena phillips bell

IT IS THE OBLIGATION OF THE ARTIST in whatever she crafts—a garment, a symphony, a poem—to bear witness.

lynne thompson

CRAFT IS CREATING SKILLFULLY, of course, but also it is clever deception, and I figure that good writing is the skillful use of deception to make some truths clearer to both the reader and the writer.

farah ali

CRAFT IS HOT EMOTIONS in cold containers; craft is the raft we’re sailing these rapids on, out to sea.

david macey

I THINK OF WRITING IN FORM as the discovery of an underground spring, with rhyme as a ladder into the dark of the subconscious and meter as the un-checked flow I find there.

maryann corbett [End Page 159]

I AM FOND OF CREATING erasures because they are a hands-on reminder of the infinite possibilities of language; in making them, I recall that the same enormous body of words can produce a boilerplate contract, a lyric poem, an educational tract, and a Nabokovian sentence, and that any piece of text can be a block of raw marble, rife with inherent potential, waiting to be sculpted into a new shape.

nina sudhakar

CRAFT FOR ME is all about assembling pieces—a collage, a crazy quilt—of voice and memory.

jill mccorkle

I’VE BEEN THINKING LATELY about craftsmanship’s ability to deceive; an art forger’s painting can be just as well crafted as an original artist’s, yet it is still fraudulent, inauthentic, less than, and I wonder whether something similar can be true of a story or a poem, even if it has not necessarily been “stolen”: is it possible for a piece of writing to be impeccably crafted, to hit all the right notes, to deploy language and structure in ways that feel just right, and yet to still be, in some essential way, fraudulent?

alexis schaitkin

CRAFT, LIKE A VESSEL, can be both something like an urn, which gives form to shapeless water, and a boat, which offers a way through waters vast and uncontainable.

ellie a. rogers

THE REAL SKILL in any craft, whether in writing or metalwork, is to let each piece guide you to what it is.

dawn manning

SOMETIMES I JAM my black-handled kitchen knife into a pumpkin and it sticks there as if the strings in the middle had grabbed on to the blade and tightened their grip, and at these time, mid-October, jack-o-lantern days, days before a killing frost, I call out for help.

athena kildegaard

LIKE A GREAT SOUP STOCK, good craft takes time to develop, and can be appreciated on its own, but can be transformative when it is a foundation for thoughtfully combined ingredients and ideas.

leslie nichols

FOR YEARS I’VE OWNED a large accordion folder on the outside of which is written art thots and inside of which small scrawls are archived, including one that reads: Writers naturally tend to choose material they know they can control or fathom—it’s the first and often a fatal mistake, there not being enough about the prose that’s inadvertent, inconvenient, awkward, unsettling.

ben miller

TO CRAFT IS, beyond all else, to be patient—alternating...


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pp. 159-162
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