Here Is My Ruin / Here Is My Treasure

The title of my new chapbook, from Red Bird Chapbooks, is Where There Is Ruin. It’s a title I borrowed from a line by Sufi poet Mevlana*:

“Where there is ruin, there is hope of treasure.”

When I told my mother the title, she thought it sounded awfully bleak, and indeed the stories in this collection might seem that way at first: a mother and son wrestling with the absence of a father, youth witnessing a teen suicide, dead pigeons invading a man’s balcony, forgotten bodies decaying in the woods. But in every story there is at least the possibility of hope and beauty and love, and for me, that’s the point: to find — to seek out — the pinprick glints of light in all our darkness, to breathe life into those little flames.

To that end, I’m announcing a movement, and you all get to participate. I’m calling it “Here Is My Ruin / Here Is My Treasure.” The idea is to post something online — a blog post, an Instagram pic, a Facebook status, a Tweet, whatever — about something that is generally considered broken, ruined, lost, or grieved but that you have found comfort and pleasure in.

For example, years ago, while traveling in Austria, my wife and I visited the Friedhof der Namenlosen (Cemetery of the Nameless) outside Vienna. The cemetery was established by neighbors in the 1840s to accomodate the lost, nameless bodies that washed ashore from the Danube. Some were suicides, some were accidental drownings, but all were mysteries — all, to translate literally from the German, had lost their names. So the people living in the area established the cemetery and built a little chapel and, for a hundred years, buried the lost bodies and cared for the graves.

A society cares for cemetery still, and while my wife and I walked among the iron crucifixes and slate placards, we marveled at the little flowers and wreathes adorning the graves. Then I spotted on one of the graves a decapitated teddy bear, bits of leaf stuck in the white fluff mushrooming from the neck-hole. I squatted beside it and scanned around until I found the head, face-down nearby in the dirt and evergreen needles. I retrieved the head and brushed it off and replaced it on its body atop a grave.

This is what I’m talking about:

Here Is My Ruin

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Here Is My Treasure

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And now it’s your turn. Consider your own ruin-turned-treasure, your own example of how you find comfort and hope in even the worst situations. Pick a platform — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, your blog, the nearest telephone pole — and share your idea. Call it “Here Is My Ruin / Here Is My Treasure,” use the hash tags #HereIsMyRuin and/or #HereIsMyTreasure is appropriate, and somewhere in your post (preferably near the beginning and/or end) mention that it is in response to my chapbook Where There Is Ruin. And then link to the chapbook at Red Bird, like this:

Where There is Ruin, by Samuel Snoek-Brown, from Red Bird Chapbooks

Order here: http://www.redbirdchapbooks.com/content/where-there-ruin

When you share your Ruin / Treasure, be sure to leave a link in the comments so I can check it out! And if you really do go staple yours up on a telephone pole somewhere, share a pic of it with me! 🙂

And don’t forget to order Where There Is Ruin from Red Bird Chapbooks!


* The Sufi poet Mevlana is more widely known in the West as Rumi. Either name is fine, but I’ve been to the man’s tomb in Konya, Turkey, and there, he was known as “Mevlana,” or “our master” — a teacher. I remember the reverence I felt in his tomb as I walked quietly amid the Muslim pilgrims praying in corners. I have carried that reverence with me, and ever since then, I have thought of him as the teacher, Mevlana.
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