At the end of 2021, I jotted down a few notes on readings from the year – they draw a circle around themes of spirit, the body, art-making – the mystery and complications in how these things hang together:
- This year, I indulged in a lot of re-reads. I think it was a combination of comfort-seeking and realizing that my memory was actually kind of hazy on some of the books I tell people are “favorites”.
- Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton and Agnes Martin: Making Space for the Sacred by Joanna Weber feel like inverses to me. The first is about spirituality, but written in a way that made me think about practicing art – and the second is about art that clears a ground for spirituality. Can art be a devotion made physical?
- Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder is one of those books I was bound to read: the woman, the artist, the existential angst. (lol) It explored motherhood and artistry and embodiedness in a way that was unexpected and unsettlingly (as in, activated my gag reflex a few times) memorable.
- I took Getting to Center by Marlee Grace as a sort of workbook to kick off my year, which is a nice way to engage it.
- After seeing Lucille Clifton poems here and there, I finally read a collection of her work – which was so worth the deep dive. The introduction (by Toni Morrison) described her work this way, “for Clifton there’s no split between the body, the spirit, and the intellect: no ideas but in the body.”