Over-worked or over-entertained? Our humanity gives us the joint gifts of both activity and passivity. We act and we are acted upon. But how do we balance and mediate these states? How do we cultivate long practices and habits that help us to inhabit the space between activity and passivity, bringing them together in a beautiful agency?
Poet and linguist Alysia Harris joins Matt Croasmun for a discussion of that space between active and passive in human life—bringing the concepts of wonder, awareness/attention, patient receptivity to the natural world and to God, bearing witness to the autonomy and action of the other, and how she cultivates and meditates on these things in her own life.
- Norman Wirzba, This Sacred Life: Humanity's Place in a Wounded World
- Active life vs passive life
- Intermediate category between activity and passivity: attentive awareness
- Active receptivity and bearing witness
- Human beings enacting and reacting
- Witness as perception and response
- Carl Sagan, Robin Kimmerer, Timothy Wilburn
- Wonder as a mediating emotion between active and passive
- "I'm not the entire system."
- Granting autonomy to a natural system
- Making the right impact through granting the sovereignty of the other
- Adam and Eve as gardeners—beauty vs productivity
- Genesis: "Avad and Shamar"—Till and Keep, Serve and Protect
- Restrain, observe, attend, and magnify
- "Me and God"
- Capitalism, scarcity mentality, and "enough"
- Ping-ponging between over-worked and over-entertainment—deficient visions of activity and deficient visions of passivity
- Mark 4: Parable of the Sower. Scattering Seeds
- Dynamic reciprocity and intentional permeability
- The patience an orchid demands
- "Ideas have no use unless they have something to do with our lives."
- Practices and rituals to inhabit the space between active and passive
- Writing habits—"faithful stewardship with less brings faithful stewardship with more"
- Dance as an embodied balance with intellectual work
- Intercessory prayer and producing opportunities
- Working out of hope instead of striving
- Running, walking, granting the natural world autonomy
About Alysia Harris
Follow Alysia Harris @Poppyinthewheat
Alysia Nicole Harris was born in Fremont, California but grew up in Alexandria, VA and considers herself on all accounts a member of the ranks of great Southern women. At age 10 she wrote her first poem, after hearing about sonnets in English class. That class began her life-long love of poetry and the literary arts.
Alysia went to The University of Pennsylvania where she experienced her first success as a writer and a performer. In 2008 she featured on the HBO documentary: Brave New Voices where she wowed audiences with her piece "That Girl". In 2010 Alysia graduated UPENN Summa Cum Laude with honors and was also inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
Alysia received her MFA in poetry from NYU in 2014 and her PhD in linguistics from Yale University in 2019. Her dissertation “The Non-Aspectual Meaning of African-American English ‘Aspect’ Markers” breaks with traditional analyses and explores the discourse-oriented uses of the preverbal particles ‘be’ and ‘done’ in varieties of African-American English.
Although she has experienced scholastic success, poetry has always come first in her heart. Cave Canem fellow, winner of the 2014 and 2015 Stephen Dunn Poetry Prizes, Pushcart Nominee, her poetry has appeared in Best American Poets, Indiana Review, The Offing, Callaloo, Solstice Literary Magazine, Squaw Valley Review, Letters Journal, and Vinyl Magazine among others. Her first chapbook How Much We Must Have Looked Like Stars to Stars won the 2015 New Women's Voices Chapbook Contest and is available for purchase on site.
Alysia was also a founding member of the internationally known performance poetry collective, The Strivers Row and has garnered over 5 million views on YouTUBE. She has toured nationally for the last 10 years and also performed at the United Nations and the US Embassies in Jordan and Ukraine, as well as in Australia, Canada, Germany, Slovakia, South Africa, the UAE, and the UK.
Alysia now lives in Atlanta, GA where she works as a consultant for the Morehouse Center for Excellence in Education and as arts and soul editor at Scalawag Magazine, a nonprofit POC-led, women run media organization focused on Southern movement, community, and dissent. She is working on a book of poems and a collection of essays about the intersections of faith, violence, and the natural world.
- This podcast featured poet Alysia Harris and biblical scholar Matt Croasmun
- Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
- Hosted by Evan Rosa
- Production Assistance by Martin Chan & Nathan Jowers
- A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
- Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give