Live Virtual Group Session: 6pm EDT October 12th 2020

Sixteen participants from India, Maine, Mexico, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania—one who was new to our circle—gathered to close read the poem “Snow Mare” by N. Scott Momaday, cognizant of today’s holiday that celebrates indigenous Peoples. Momaday is a member of the Kiowa nation. He is best known for his novel House Made of Dawn, which won the Pulitzer Prize, although he prefers to be recognized as a poet.

The words and phrases that called many people’s attention included:

            bursts of soft commotion

            the burden of being 

(Sorry, everyone, the capitalized “Of” was our transcription error.)

We discussed color, properties of hardness and softness, verbs of being, memory, and the dissolving nature of dreams and memories. We imagined porcelain fields and dreams that bring comfort, all in a background of confectioners’ sugar and gentle hooves. Tonight we also generated a sizeable number of auditory, visual, and literary texts elicited by Momaday’s:

            The Dream of the Blue Turtles (Sting)

            Blue Horses (Mary Oliver poetry collection)

            Big Blue Horses (Franz Marc)

            The Snowman (Wallace Stevens)

            The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Kundera)

Three people read what they wrote to the prompt: Write about bursts of soft commotion.

Each were scenes involving children—a child’s near-death experience of eating/inhaling flour; children romping and squealing in a park; “brain bursts” after falling on ice. One person noted that Momaday’s line “She shears the web of winter” brought her back to last week’s text – Pablo Neruda’s Ode To A Pair of Scissors. We were sorry to lose our fourth reader to an interrupted internet connection. Perhaps she will post her writing on the

Tonight’s session concluded with a three-minute trailer, from a documentary on N. Scott Momaday featured at the Seattle Film Festival in 2019, which is titled “Words from a Bear.”

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Monday, October 14th at 12pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

The Snow Mare by N. Scott Momaday

In my dream, a blue mare loping,
Pewter on a porcelain field, away.
There are bursts of soft commotion
Where her hooves drive in the drifts,
And as dusk ebbs on the plane of night,
She shears the web of winter,
And on the far, blind side
She is no more. I behold nothing,
Wherein the mare dissolves in memory,
Beyond the burden Of being.