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    hymn 236

    letting go

    unless and until

    william at forty


    curling (lekshe)

    footnotes (dale)

    hotel (patry)

    leturn (shai)

    morning drive (tom)

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    my kite


    the story of my birth

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what is tom montag's morning drive journal?

How do you spend your morning commute? Poet Tom Montag spent almost four years writing about his commute to work each day. As you might imagine, little of the drive escapes his notice. What is more fun, though, is reading how little of his own mind's reaction to the drive escapes his notice as well. The weather, the state of the same farms, and the slowly-changing seasons make for surprisingly good reverie.

Although Montag writes about the same drive, he never writes about the same thing, and his writing itself is a study in perception and reflection. Perhaps a horse stands at an unaccustomed end of the field, or perhaps a cloud throws a strange shadow over a familiar house. How do his thoughts react to such subtle changes in his commute's daily landscape?

Tom publishes his journal entries on a daily basis on his web site, usually about six years after a particular day's entry. Much of the journal is collected here on Montag's web site, "The Middlewesterner."

Here is Montag's brief explanation for his exercise:

I live in Fairwater, Wisconsin, about ten miles south of Ripon where I was working for a printing company. On December 17, 1997, I started keeping a journal of my drive to work each morning. It wasn't intended to be a big project; as I recorded on the second day of my notations: "The question is: can a man who considers himself a good writer write one good sentence a day?" The answer is that a fellow can try. Which is what I did - tried to record at least one good sentence every day's drive to work from December 17, 1998 until October 2, 2002, when I "retired" from the printing company at age 55 and began to devote myself to writing full-time. I ended up with a thousand pages of journal, typewritten, double-spaced. The question most people want to ask me is: "Did you write while you were driving?" The answer I always give is: "I think I could testify in court that I did not drive while I was writing...." Fortunately for us our traffic problems consist of a tractor pulling a manure spreader or cars at three of the Five Corners simultaneously.

Montag's simple exercise of writing a good sentence a day offers a valuable example of journal writing, and an entertaining stop in our own morning routine.

Click here for two examples of Tom Montag's Morning Drive Journal.




short & slow



Box Elder
The Cassandra Pages
Clumps and Voids
Coyote Mercury
Crack Skull Bob
Creature of the Shade
Couch Trip
Dialogues with Silence
Dick Jones's Patteran Pages
Every Day and Every Night

Everything Feeds Process

Feathers of Hope
Fifty-Two: Weekly Poems
Finding Time for God
Fragments from Floyd
Fr. Scott & Co. Ask Some New Qs
Heraclitean Fire

Hoarded Ordinaries
Idiot Dreams
In a Dark Time
Inner Light, Radiant Life
Iron Monkey
Ivy Is Here
Listening After Dark
Marcia Bonta
The Middlewesterner
My Gorgeous Somewhere
Not Native Fruit
On the Slow Train
Open Reading
Paula's House of Toast
(p) (b)
Planting Words
The Rain in My Purse
Sage Said So
Shadow Cabinet
Shadows and Symbols
Simply Wait
Spring in the Road
Stony Moss
Tasting Rhubarb
3rd House Journal
The Truth about Lies
Two Dishes but to One Table
Velveteen Rabbi
Verbal Privilege
Very Like a Whale
Via Negativa
Voice Alpha
Walking with Celebi
Whale Sound
WMC Is Now Here