keep your eye out // poems by eric sannerud
keep your eye out is a collection of poems by hops farmer, entrepreneur, and writer eric sannerud. like all tsii made creations, the chapbooks are made from recycled and repurposed materials. classic file folders form the green-brown earthy covers, and the ivory pages are post-consumer.
I asked eric a few questions about the writing project and his ties to nature as both a poet and farmer.
farming is in your blood -- you now farm the land that your grandfather did before you. would you say that poetry is similar for you? or did farming, in a sense, find the poet in you?
absolutely, the second one. farming has been the gateway to everything about who I’m becoming. and inspiration to write at all came from the new ways of understanding the world and seeing the world when I started farming. so a lot of that shows up in these pieces. a farmer friend of mine told me my poetry is like walking through the farm with me on a leisurely stroll, looking at things.
your poems not only share images of nature, but they speak for nature as you bring up questions of our connection with and care for our environment. knowing that "creation will make a place for [us]," what would you say are some ways we can earn this?
we certainly don’t deserve it. we act like we’re entitled to nature. like we’re entitled to having unlimited waste bins, sources of water, air or soil, sources of beauty or other things that are less direct. really modern man’s big thing was to take himself out of the environment and make himself bigger than ecology. but the truth is no matter how much we think we know about how the earth works we’ll never truly understand it, and the greatest philosophers, spiritual leaders, scientists, understand this, but narrow short term human tendency makes us want to be more than our limits. usually people say "respect your limits," but it's about respecting the limits. not “remember that you have limits,” but to pay respect to those things which limit us and acknowledge the beauty and wonder and humility that comes with being limited.
it seems that the simplest things can lead us to the most complex questions and realizations. it is, however, getting harder and harder to stick to the simple life. how do you ground yourself in the midst of our changing world?
my practical tip is to buy an alarm clock, which is this awesome invention that allows you to turn your phone off when you go to sleep and you don’t have to turn it on again until after breakfast. this allows you to do simple things, like read a book, do the dishes, meditate, love — eat pray love. ikea has a huge selection of very nice styles of alarm clocks all under 10 bucks.
what projects are you working on right now, creatively and on your farm?
on the farm right now it’s spring and so we’re trying desperately to get everything together before we plant. that’s pretty much everything on the farm, without getting into detail. creatively I am focused most on journaling for writing purposes, mostly just for myself. kind of in-between modes of inspiration and ways and spaces in which to write. I’m also pre-planning my eventual home — the modern american farm house is the idea. I’m slowly and patiently developing that idea, and practicing my design and interiors in the house I’m living in now. last year at this time I was all about writing creatively, but now it’s all about the physical world while I’m moving into this new house and dreaming about my future home. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how the house will be design-wise. but I haven’t thought as much about how the farm will be designed.
do you see any similarities between the work you do with your hands in soil and the work you do at your keyboard?
on an artistic and philosophic level, both are creating things from raw materials. sun, soil & water, or lived experiences, wishful experiences, muse & inspiration, whatever you’d want to call it. on that level, yeah.
these poems are part of a larger collection that you are working on. what else will the full book include? when can we expect to read it?
the book might not come out for years. i am a very slow writer. the thing about publishing a book is you need enough pages in it to make it a book. as a slow writer this will take me a while. but the full book will be comprised of mainly rather heavy reflections on human kind's place in the world, the importance of individual places to each of us, and something about beauty, some exploration of appreciation and wonder.
"keep your eye out" makes me think of watching for the first sprouts to shoot up from the ground. what made you choose this as the title for the chapbook?
the title is a reference to a lyric from the madvillain song “accordion.” besides being tongue in cheek and loving mad villain, it’s basically advice to myself because in writing these poems, the inspiration came from keeping my eye out. the inspiration came from looking at things for longer than a glance, holding them in my mind’s eye and turning them over, trying to explore all the aspects of beautiful things deeply. keeping your eye out is a way of living intentionally with presence and fully experiencing the life around us.
check out what else eric is up to at mighty axe hops. if you are interested in publishing a chapbook with tsii made press, email firstname.lastname@example.org. while supplies last, you can find keep your eye out in the shop.