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Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person

Mary Caroline Richards

Publication Year: 1989

A flowing collection of poetry that is also a guide for life.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press


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pp. vii-xvi

"Ideas do not belong to people. Ideas live in the world as we do. We discover certain ideas at certain times." So writes M. C. Richards in Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person (p. 28), a book that has touched and influenced tens of thousands of people...

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pp. xvii-xxiv

Centering is a verb. It is an ongoing process, and here it is, twenty-five years after its first publication, reaffirmed as a book. Twenty-five years, and it has never gone out of print, which indicates the seminal quality of its imagery....

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A FOREWORD: The Arithmetic, the Bush, and the Plan

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pp. 3-8

BECAUSE I am a potter, I take my image ,CENTERING, from the potter's craft. A potter brings his clay into center on the potter's wheel, and then he gives it whatever shape he wishes. There are wide correspondences to this process. Such extensions of meaning I want to call attention to. For CENTERING is my theme: how we may seek to bring universe into a personal wholeness, and into act the rich life which moves so mysteriously and decisively in our bodies, manifesting in speech...

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I. Centering as Dialogue

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pp. 9-32

CENTERING: that act which precedes all others on the potter's wheel. The bringing of the clay into a spinning, unwobbling pivot, which will then be 'free to take innumerable shapes as potter and clay press against each other. The firm, tender, sensitive pressure which.....

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II. Centering as Transformation

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pp. 33-56

THERE are two things which I have been thinking a lot about. One is the experience which in pottery we call Centering. And one is the experience which in nature we call Metamorphosis....

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III. Poetry

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pp. 57-95

POETRY is an expression of the Centering Consciousness. By speaking figuratively, by calling things by names other than their own,it helps to enliven in us the awareness that all beings partake of each other. It is no respector of persons or of terms. It lives frankly in a world of shape-changers. For example,I go to my door in the early morning, open it and smell the air sweet off the grass and the garden, and smell at the same time the coffee steeping in the pitcher, and see lolloping...

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IV. Pedagogy

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pp. 96-129

"ALL writing is swinishness. People who emerge from vagueness to try to state precisely anything that is going on in their minds areswine. The entire literary tribe is swinish, especially today. All those who have mental landscapes — I mean in certain parts of their minds, of their heads — in well-defined areas of their brains; all who are masters of their language, those for whom words have a meaning, all those for whom the soul has its heights and thought its currents, those who...

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V. Ordeal by Fire: Evolution of Person

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pp. 130-147

ORDEAL by fire is ordeal by all the holy sparks that multiply, thoughtless of our ability to stand firm. It is Artaud's "cruelty" —relentless. Time is our ordeal, and space. The hot gush. Age; and wandering. The gassy changes. Fire has its slow motion, its flare. Tedium, alarm, necessity. I tell you we are init. The voice at the center speaks in tongues of flame. Consent. Consent. Its syllables areour tones and clay. It takes a golden ear. The child in man hears his fire rise....

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VI. Recovery of the Child in Manhood

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pp. 148-159

I WILL end this book with my poem of awakening and regeneration. Its composition was a revelation to me of connections I had deeply felt but had not understood. Connections between sea and land and the mind ofman. Between childhood and middle age. Between myth and person. Between space and time: how time is curved, how space is made by what fills it. Between alchemy and You will remember that Wallace Stevens said that poetry is a process of the person-...

E-ISBN-13: 9780819569707
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819551900

Page Count: 187
Publication Year: 1989