It’s always fun to get the new Blackwing Volume in! This is Blackwing Volume 223, inspired by Woody Guthrie.


This one is a great one for a road trip or a camping trip, something to look forward to. Maybe just a drive around in the car to escape your lockdown, or a bus trip to another town when all of this is over.


Here is the description from the Blackwing website:


“All you can write is what you see.”


On February 23, 1940, Woody Guthrie scribbled these words at the bottom of a lyric. Above them was a song he had just written about the inequality he witnessed in his travels across the United States. This Land Is Your Land would go on to become one of the most poignant and iconic folk songs in history.


Woody is often depicted in sepia tones reminiscent of the Dust Bowl, but his artistic palette extended much further. He filled composition notebooks and day planners with sketches, poems and paintings on his countless journeys. His art was playful and vibrant, despite its often gritty content. He described his fusion of old compositions and new ideas as a mashup of “what is” and “what could be.” Woody believed we could be better, and used his creations to inspire people to believe the same.


The Blackwing 223 is a tribute to Woody Guthrie and his immutable optimism. Each pencil features a design inspired by This Land’s “ribbon of highway,” “endless skyway” and “golden valley.” The matte black ferrule and earth-toned eraser are a nod to the many miles Woody traveled. We used our balanced graphite formulation that works well for both writing and sketching so you, too, can fill your pages with what you see.





And also a matching Composition Notebook, inspired by one of Woody Guthrie’s own personal composition books.



A new box of pencils is always fun. Sharpening that first one! I used to feel a twinge of regret on that first one—you can’t unsharpen a pencil. That previously pristine box of a dozen pencils, now 11.9. But over the years, as special editions and releases come and go, and boxes of pencils come into my life, there is something more sentimental about the pencil that was in my life for that season. The pencil zthat you used for that trip or that session of virtual schooling or whatever it is. Save it for a special occasion, yes, and then cherish using it.


A box of Blackwings can be a real treat sometimes. I love talking (“talking” online) to people about which Volume or barrel colour or lead hardness they connected with, or sometimes it’s a gift to someone for whom the story of the Volume might be meaningful.





We are continuing onwards in the endless cycle of days. We’re trying to create the sensation of weekends and things to look forward to with movie nights on Friday but we had to miss the last one and the children are about to revolt. I was too embarrassed to go to the library to pick up my holds, including movie night’s movie, because I have a shocking number of overdue books. Because you have to go in and get a librarian to pull your holds and check you out, the librarian checking you out sees your account and I can’t bear the thought of them seeing all of my red due dates, sailing past. It’s not even about the fines, as there are currently no fines due to the pandemic. I am exactly the kind of person that is preventing library systems from eliminating late fines altogether in order to allow lower-income people to continue unhindered access to library resources.


I am thoroughly and justifiably embarrassed by the whole situation. It’s out of hand. I’ve returned several books in various batches, after rounding them up from under Caleb’s bed and under the piles of papers where he hides the comic books to read during virtual school. Every so often I try and cajole everyone in the house through threats and bribery to find all the library books they can, and Caleb says I’m still reading that one! And Jon says they’re not even charging fines, Liz and Naomi is off drawing on the walls. It’s so hard to keep track of them mainly because it takes 6-8 days for the books to come off your account, so I return things and I have to cross my fingers and hope and wait that I returned something that was overdue but I can’t bear to log into my account so I’ll never know.






Currently reading: Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt

Currently staring at me: a toy robot with a label on its face that says “HELO MAMA”

Currently surrounded by: the detritus of life and a pile of junk mail

Latest untenable life worry: the world running out of bubble tea

Also, apparently: trillions of cicadas emerging from underground


Life comes at you fast.



Related Posts

May 06, 2021 — Liz Chan



Megan said:

I hear you about the library books. My libraries (St. Thomas and London) have gone fine-free, and St. Thomas will auto renew my books. I even know where they are. But it gets to a point where they won’t renew them anymore and they want them back and I am sad.

I’ve heard much about the Blackwing pencils, but I’ve never tried them. I can’t currently imagine how I would use 12 pencils, which is part of what is stopping me from ordering.

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.