There is something about Iowa soil conducive to growing sweet corn and writers without combining the two.
I haven’t experienced sweet corn. But I cannot escape the literary presence. It’s everywhere. Bookstores, of course. But it’s the writers themselves who make their presence felt. In coffee shops. Before open mikes. In talks at eleven o’clock. In front of a class of eager students.
Evidence litters the central avenue downtown, in sidewalk etchings of words left by others. Reminding me of paper tucked inside fortune cookies, the words come from writers. And others who would not dare name themselves so.
…it is thinking makes what we read ours. Locke
…a wicked book cannot repent. English proverb
…keep a diary and someday it will keep you. Mae West
…a good book is the purest essence of a human soul. Carlyle.
Yesterday, I stumbled upon this one by Flannery O’Connor.
“Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.”
In the shadow of greatness, I saw my own shadow dance across words that once would have cast shadows over me. I walked away unharmed, light on my feet.
Tell me you didn’t leave Iowa without having some sweet corn?!?
More important – did anyone take you out to a corn field to listen to the corn grow? You CAN hear it, you know. You may have been a little late. It makes more noise before the ears form.
Speaking of combining, many years ago the State of Iowa wanted to come up with a logo that would represent agriculture and emerging technologies. One of the legislators suggested the corn chip. (Rim shot, please!)
But now – I love that quotation of Flannery’s. Love it. I always have. It’s so full of truth – I spent Sunday afternoon in a Barnes and Noble last Sunday and thought of it again.
Truth is, I’ve read enough O’Connor to know for a certainty she wasn’t talking about me. You, either.
I left Iowa without tasting sweet corn.
Funny how I never saw sweet corn featured on menus. But not wanting to leave without the experience, I purchased three ears… then left them behind at a restaurant.
Another experience I missed was sitting in the pews at Flannery O’Connor’s church. Our class was scheduled to visit St. Mary’s the day we studied the last of our “five not-so-easy pieces of fiction”, which that day, was about place. There had been a change in priests at the church, and the new one was not as hospitable as the last, so we ended up not going. I tried to go on my own the morning I left, but the doors to the church were locked shut.
Having been shut out on sweet corn and O’Connor’s church, it’s nice to think neither of us would be shut out on writing, if left up to O’Connor.