The Bearable Lightness of Walking

crow tracks beside tire tracks in the snow

I started the year with a new, more woods-worthy laptop. My five-year-old Acer had begun to fail, which was hugely disappointing but I used the opportunity to get something a bit more portable. Over the past year I’ve done more and more writing in the woods, but generally on my phone (bought last year at this time), which works fine for poems and free-form zuihitsu-type essays of the sort I blogged last April, but not so well for, say, erasure poems, where one does need to be able to see a wider screen. I’m also not one to watch and share videos from a phone, and the finer details of administering a website are  vastly easier on a larger-screened device. It would be nice, I thought, in warmer weather to be able to bring along a wifi hotspot and do all my web work at stopping points on my daily walks (benches, stones piled against trees, that sort of thing). I’m not keen on touch-screens, so rather than a tablet I got a notebook-style computer with a 13-inch screen weighing less than two pounds.

Staying light isn’t only a concern for backpackers. Freely wandering in a literal sense tends to free up the mind as well, and first and foremost, I think, it has to be fun. When I am in the zone, noticing things, snapping photos and jotting down ideas, it helps that I’m not sweating profusely and gasping for breath. So the ultralight shoes I wear, for example, make walking an altogether more enjoyable experience, a fact that was brought home to me two months ago when I bought a heavy pair of work boots and took them for a walk to break them in. Going up any kind of hill became an unexpected chore, and I ended up not enjoying the hike nearly as much as I usually do, even though this is exactly the sort of footwear I used to live in, back when I didn’t spend at least four hours outdoors every day.

Since I always forget to post here, you don’t have to scroll very far to find a post from last March which ended up seeming a bit prophetic about all the “walking poems” I ended up writing in the ensuing months.

come to think of it my feet were born first

i had gone to extreme lengths not to leave home

but is that why i think best on my feet

What is a walking poem? More than just a poem based on a hike, it aims

To engage readers the way walking engages the heart, lungs, and mind. In-breath, out-breath. Gathering impressions, gathering wool.

Or so I wrote at Via Negativa last October. Click through for more.

Pepys Erasure Project

In other big news which I am late in sharing, I made it to the end of Pepys’ Diary on May 30, having used every entry in at least one erasure, compiled a PDF of the final year (see here for download links to all the PDFs), then took the next seven months off to write the aforementioned walking poems. On January 1 I rejoined the folks reading Pepys together online, though possibly just for a couple of years. I feel I owe it to the project to come up with better erasures for the first 500 or so diary entries, before I really knew what I was doing.

That is of course all going on over at Via Negativa. If you’d like to follow along, pick up a free subscription via the form in the sidebar there.

Poetry Month approaches!

One final note: My previously announced reading at the Frenchtown Bookshop in New Jersey, hosted by Vasiliki Katsarou, has been re-scheduled for April Fools Day, which suits me to a T. Here’s the announcement.

A hand holds up the cover of "Walking Unever Ground:  Selected Haiku of Bill Pauly" in a late-autumn forest
my walking companion a couple of weeks ago in the Seven Mountains (northeast of here)

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