The Geography of Now {An Online Course}

bus stop

i
A calmly golden morning
at my bus stop.
A Tuesday.
A man reads his book
as if sitting in his own
living room.

This is the Japan I love best,
the Japan that few outside the country
talk or write about.

There are certain places in Japan
that get love
out of proportion.
Shibuya Crossing
where thousands traverse
each minute.
Kyoto’s Golden Pavilion
the house Zeus would have chosen
had he been Japanese.

Those are the rock stars.

Myself,
I’ve always been a fan of the poets.

I love the secret corners
of Japan
where proud home
and business owners
grow red geraniums.
I love to watch conveyor belts
at sushi bars,
ballet for raw fish,
as small pastel coloured plates
shuttle by
on repeat
and try and try to earn my love.
hello, hello, hello.
I love that even the line
in the grocery store
is a study in restraint
and courtesy.

The Japan of the gloriously mundane,
this is my Geography of Now.

As a woman living outside her country,
my acts of observing and recording
help me
occupy
this particular time and place.

Although I am an outsider in Japan,
gaijin,
I still belong here
in my own way,
in a manner that is entirely my own.

This is my Japan.

ii
I’m in a state of wondering.

I’ve been wondering
if others feel affected
and enchanted
by their Geography of Now?

And I’ve been wondering
if others
{YOU, actually}
might wish to explore
this form I use,
this pairing of photos
with words
{skinny prose, I call it}
to create a record
of your neighbourhood + home
for yourself,
family + friends
and those you don’t yet know.
A chronicle of who you are
and who you are becoming.

I’ve been wondering
if you would like to join me
in an online course
on the Geography of Now,
a small adventure
with low risk photography
accompanied by
skinny
prose.

It’s true… I have not yet
worked out all the details,
the widgets and squidgets and such,
but what I know for sure
is that the course will be fun
and affordable
and make us feel more connected
both to where and who we are.

So I’m releasing this idea
into the universe.
A red balloon.

Please leave me a comment,
a little love note,
if you might like to join me.

Thank you very much.
{Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.}

19 comments

  1. Yes, that is the Japan I love. Away from the main streets, some hidden corners, half-noticed out of the corner of one’s eye. I’ve found that profound silence even in Tokyo.

    1. Marina Sofia,
      Thanks for writing that this is the Japan you love.
      I believe that these hidden corners are what Japan does best.
      There are, as you said, lots of quiet spaces within the neon city; these two extremes exist, comfortably, side by side.
      Cheers!

  2. A couple of weeks ago I probably would have said no. Poetry intimidates me. Recently though, my second graders have been showing me how easy it is to write lovely poems. They make me think I can do it too. So, yes. Count me in.

    1. Hi Jenny!

      You and your 2nd Graders rock! Nice bravery at work!
      To be really, REALLY CLEAR, I don’t think of skinny prose as poetry. {That’s why invented a new term for it.} Calling it poetry feels like way too much pressure for regular blog posts.
      I just try to convey a feeling, a memory or an observation in a way that’s accessible to others. Sometimes I use figurative language because I really dig it.
      Sometimes I pay attention to the musicality of the lines… but not always.
      Normally, I write two or three drafts of a post but never more than that. More than three drafts results in tragically over-thought + overwrought writing.
      Let your heart be light, girl.
      Thanks for saying yes!

      Cheers,
      Monna

  3. Love this. I’m an American who lived as an expat for 3 and a half years in Montreal. I’ve only read a few posts, but you totally bring back that feeling of exploration and deep satisfaction in finding how you fit into another culture. Thank you. :)

  4. I’m in…I’ve been trying to motivate myself to begin writing again and it has been challenging – this will be perfect!

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