Ostranenie: Making Strange

An article in the March/April issue of Poets & Writer’s Magazine by Tony Eprile recently gave me that all too forgotten feeling of “ah-ha.”

Eprile begins his piece by talking about the examination of the woodpecker and the act of pecking wood out of hollow trees. This grabbed my interest as we have recently identified several pileated woodpeckers on our property in West Virginia. We have observed, heard, and at it’s most basic sentiment simply enjoyed them as little pets on our property. However, not once have I stopped to ask, how can they do what they do. I have seen. I have not observed. Eprile, I personally thank you for this challenge.

It’s one of my focuses for 2013: to be present. I juggle a lot of balls, like most people, but what I don’t do well is be fully present in some of the moments or experiences I’m a part of. As Eprile writes, “You have to train yourself to see as if everything is brand new….” I don’t do this enough. I will do this more.

I’m pretty sure some of my best “readers” would describe me and my work as intense, long-winded, scattered. I realize these are not positive descriptions but in the same breath I can say there’s a certain part of me that revels in the manic chaos that finds its ways into my perspective. As I describe in one poem, “…window frames become film slides in a View-master.” The blurred perspective sometimes gets too discounted and tossed in the “unappreciative” pile. I will slow down. Just a little. 

If I do more observing, more slowing down of one’s perspective, will that singularity of style be stifled? I’m sure there’s some message about balance in here somewhere. Yoga is always on my to-do list. Eprile goes on to explain this ability to observe as opposed to see “requires training and patience.” Patience? I have none. It’s a genetic deficiency. Now What?


This whole article then lead me to thinking about my first college writing assignment centered around descriptive writing and how much I enjoyed it. In college, I was fine with being directly within a moment, savoring it, letting it dissolve on my tongue and mucking around in it for awhile. Today, I’m so concerned with “what’s next” that the absoluteness of certain moments, the singularity of an experience is wasted on me. I have only been seeing. If that. I will try to observe.

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About carrieaddington

Poetry. Hair. Heart. More Poetry. View all posts by carrieaddington

2 responses to “Ostranenie: Making Strange

  • Elizabeth

    I’m impressed that you can recall your first college writing assignment. And you were fine with being in the moment then b/c we went to college right before the internet boom. We’re old, but it sure was peaceful with no cell phones, a still lame world wide web, and only a taste of email to distract.

    • carrieaddington

      Elizabeth: I can recall it because I recently reorganized my box of old papers and came across it. The very poorly written descriptive work and I had a moment of appreciation, even with it’s yellowed pages. You are right. I was still utilizing microfiche at that time, so email was a new concept and I wasn’t so bogged down.

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Jeffrey Levine

poetry, publishing, and mentoring

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