Tuesday, May 3, 2016

There All Along (Poem)

There All Along

     Nothing is so small
        that it does not return.
         ~ Dana Gioia

Cancer insists
on an afterlife—

no surprise!

Refusing to agree
is an option

but no comfort.

You send signs,
and a year later,

reemerged, you

have killed, leaving
me to confirm

this easy resistance

to my writing of you
returning home.

Months later, tests
read and analyzed

and finally understood

tell me what was there
all along.

Dedicated to Patrick William Doallas (March 25, 1950 - May 5, 2009)

© 2016 Maureen E. Doallas

* Dana Gioia, "Nothing Is Lost" in 99 Poems: New & Selected (Graywolf Press, March 2016)

Monday, May 2, 2016

Monday Muse: The Poetry of Music and Words

Last week, on April 24, I attended "An Evening of Poetry & Music" at a lovely church in Alexandria, Virginia. The Sunday event featured readings and commentary by California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia and music by the U.S. Army Chorus. After hearing me talk about it, a friend remarked, "Sounds like a magical evening."

Yes, it was! Both the music and the poems linger in my head. 

Gioia introduced his readings with commentary about beauty, the art of poetry, and music's and poetry's (indeed all the arts') inspirational qualities. He read from memory three sets of poems, all from his most recently published collection 99 Poems: New & Selected (Graywolf Press, 2016); each group of readings was followed by a choral selection. Among the many wonderful poems Gioia read were "Pity the Beautiful", "Cruising With the Beach Boys", "The Apple Orchard", "Majority", "Prayer", and "Marriage of Many Years". Gioia is an engaging, philosophical, and humorous reader. He knows how to hold his audience rapt by bringing his words alive. 

The selections sung by the U.S. Army Chorus were gorgeous. All were composed by the deservedly acclaimed Morten Lauridsen. They comprised several Lauridsen masterworks — O Magnum Mysterium (O Great Mystery), Dirait-on from Les Chanson des Roses (Rilke), and Sure on this Shining Night from Nocturnes (Agee) — and the movingly performed Prayer (Gioia). The latter was sung by second tenor SSG Benjamin Pattison and guest soprano Nancy Scimone; the poetry they found by uniting words and music carried fully into the audience, many of whom had tears in their eyes when Prayer concluded. 

Lauridsen, I learned subsequently, is the subject of an award-winning documentary Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen (Song Without Borders) from Michael Stillwater and Doris Laesser Stillwater. It was filmed between 2010 and 2011 in a number of locations, including Aberdeen, Scotland; Waldron Island, Washington; and San Francisco and Los Angeles, and interweaves commentaries by composers and conductors, performers, and Lauridsen's friends. As may be seen and heard in the trailer below, Lauridsen has a great passion for music and poetry and those lucky enough to perform his radiant compositions are forever changed.

Additional videos related to Shining Night may be viewed and excerpts of musical selections may be heard at Lauridsen's Website.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Thought for the Day

There is always something left to love.
~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Quoted from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (Harper Perennial, Reprint, 2006)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014), Colombian Novelist, Short Story Writer, Screenwriter, Journalist; Recipient, Nobel Prize in Literature

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday Short

You can't wear poetry out....
It can time-travel.
~ Lynda Barry

Concluding National Poetry Month, Saturday Short features novelist, cartoonist, illustrator, playwright  Lynda Barry on poetry—how it smells, how to write it, how to read it, how to remember it. She's great!

My thanks to Poetry Foundation for the video.

Friday, April 29, 2016

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Earlier this month, CBS News visited San Antonio Museum of Art to talk about "Corita Kent and the Language of Pop", an exhibition of approximately 145 artworks by artist, educator, and Roman Catholic nun Corita Kent (1918-1986). On view through May 8, the exhibition was organized by Harvard Art Museums.

CBS News Feature (Print)

StoryCorps and Corita Kent

Corita Art Center, Los Angeles (FaceBook)

✦ Painter Brooke Rothshank, who has illustrated three books, creates masterful tiny works. This summer she'll be teaching at Penland School of Crafts, which recently exhibited a show of her watercolor miniatures. Her session, "Painting: Small & Often", will begin June 26 and conclude July 8. (For information, see Drawing and Painting Workshops at Penland.) 

Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Millville, New Jersey, has issued a call for artists in all media to apply for the Festival of Fine Craft, scheduled for October 1-2. Applications and deposits are due May 15; notification is June 1.

✦ The Manhattan Graphics Center, New York City, is offering an advanced printmakers class, "Collagraph and Mixed Media". Limited to eight students, the class will run from May 5 to June 2. The instructor is Robin Dintiman. View the list of other spring classes.

✦ Wood engraver Steven Lee-Davis, who apprenticed with Barry Moser, will be teaching "Wood Engraving: Well-Crafted Illustration", July 17-23, at Wells Book Arts Center, Aurora, New York. The class is part of a two-week Summer Institute. Read about Wells Book Arts Summer Institute (pdf). Registration is open currently.

✦ Today's video from Art21 features Sarah Sze talking about her 2015 work Measuring Stick by which she sought to measure time and space via moving image.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art continues "The Secret Life of Textiles: Plant Fibers" through July 31. The exhibition is the first in a series of three installations examining the uses, respectively, of plant, animal, and synthetic fibers. Linen, hemp, ramie, and cotton are looked at in depth in this show. Tickets are required.

Met Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ Maine's Portland Museum of Art is presenting rarely seen drawings, prints, watercolors, and photographs in "Masterworks on Paper: Highlights from the Portland Museum of Art". On view through June 5, the show features approximately 100 works by such artists as Chuck Close, Edward Hopper, Yvonne Jacquette, Roy Lichtenstein, Glenn Ligon, and Edward Manet. This is the first in the PMA's multi-year "Your Museum, Reimagined" project.

Explore the PMA's Collection.

The museum has issued its first collection catalogue, The Collection: Highlights from the Portland Museum of Art, that includes information about and images of several works in the show.

PMA on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ The Museum of American Glass, part of Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Millville, New Jersey, is presenting "Raising Cane" through May 15. The exhibition explores how glass cane techniques (e.g., reticello, murrhine, latticino, milleflore) are used in contemporary art glass. Featured artists include Rick and Valerie Beck, Dave and Patti Hegland, Michael Hunter, Michael Maddy and Rina Fehrensen, Ralph Mossman and Mary Mullaney, Milissa Montini, David Pathen, Ken Schneidereit, Josh Simpson, Jeremy Sinkus, and Robert Wiener.

Wheaton Arts on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ A monumental site-specific installation by Daniel Arsham, on view in "The Future Was Then", can be seen through July 24 at SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia. The exhibit also features Arsham's large installation Wall Excavation with which viewers may engage.

SCAD Museum of Art on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ On view at the University of Florida's Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, Florida, is "Framing Nature: The Living World in Art". The show, which includes more than 100 drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, and sculptures, is organized thematically: "Inspiration", "Discovery", "Power", and "Refuge". Artists whose work is featured include Milton Avery, Elizabeth Blackwell, Jamini Roy, Sebastiao Salgado, Toshiko Takaezu, Maggy Taylor, and Edward Weston. A guide is available for families visiting the exhibition. A gallery talk, "Scientific Illustration: Aesthetics and Abstraction", is planned for June 12 at 3:00 p.m.

Harn Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ The Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York City, has mounted "Robert Motherwell: The Art of Collage". On view through May 21, the exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.

Read Gregory Gilbert's article "Robert Motherwell at 100: Gregory Gilbert Reflects On the Artist's Centenary", Book Review, The Art Newspaper, April 2, 2016

Robert Motherwell (1915-1991) at The Art Story, Guggenheim MuseumPaul Kasmin Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, PBS (American Masters)

Paul Kasmin Gallery on FaceBook, Twitter, and Tumblr

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday's Three on Art and Poetry

Today, Thursday's Three presents a trio of upcoming art-and-poetry-related exhibitions.

✭ Coming in May is "Vintage Poetry Center Posters", a joint exhibition of  the University of Arizona Poetry Center and the Poetry Foundation. (Check the exhibition link above for dates.)

The show, at the foundation's Chicago headquarters, features a selection of silkscreened publicity posters created by University of Arizona students in the 1960s and 1970s as publicity for center readings. Among the poets for whom the now rare posters were created: Ai, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Denise Levertov, Gary Snyder, May Swenson. This is the first time the posters are being shown outside Tucson, according to the Poetry Foundation.

Also, UA's Poetry Center and School of Art are presenting from May 2 to May 27 in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery the "UA Student Contests Broadside Exhibition".

Poetry Center on FaceBook

✭ In July, multidisciplinary artist Neha Vedpathak presents her "site-responsive" installation at the Poetry Foundation's Chicago headquarters. Vedpathak crafted her work using a pushpin in a process known as "plucking", which involved the repetitive, labor-intensive separation of fibers of Japanese handmade paper. 

For more about Vedpathak's technique, read "Plucking a Path from Painting to Sculpture" at Chicago Artists Resource. A video shows how she plucks.

✭ New York City's Poets House opens "Irish Poetry of the Twentieth Century: An Exhibition of Rare Books and Papers from Emory University" on May 4. The show will run through June 4.

Poets House on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lucien Stryk's 'Memo to the Builder' & 'You Must Change Your Life'

Today's video features work by the late poet and translator Lucien Stryk (1924-2013): "Memo to the Builder" and "You Must Change Your Life". The first is read by Suzanne Stryk and the second by the poet. 

Both poems can be found in And Still Birds Sing: New and Collected Poems (Swallow/Ohio University Press, 1998). The text also is at Red Eft Editions' Poetry and Painting blog.

The paintings in the video are by Suzanne Stryk, Lucien Stryk's daughter-in-law. Suzanne's work was featured in my Artist Watch column at Escape Into Life on January 21, 2016.

My thanks to Red Eft Editions, curated by Dan and Suzanne Stryk. Dan Stryk is himself a poet who has published more than a half-dozen collections, most recently Dimming Radiance: Poems and Prose Parables (Wind Publications, 2008) and Solace of the Aging Mare (Mid-America Press, 2008). His poems have appeared in numerous literary periodicals, including AGNI Online, Antioch Review, AscentThe Cafe ReviewHarvard Review Online, The Missouri ReviewNew England ReviewOxford AmericanPloughshares, Poetry, Shenandoah, and Terrain.

Dan's and Suzanne's lovely collaborations as well as guest features are posted to their blog.

Lucien Stryk at Connotation Press, Northern Illinois University, Poetry FoundationWikipedia (See the feature on Lucien Stryrk on Poetry Poetry; audio is included.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bird Lands (Poem)

Today's poem is from Neruda's Memoirs: Poems (T.S. Poetry Press, 2011).

Bird Lands

Sleep shakes out into Morgenland
— land of morning —

stubby doves break the fast of silence
with kwurr-kwurr and woo-coos,

sift the grass for themes to nourish
lilting songs to fill the cracks of dawn

and beat off blue-jacketed jays'
rockfest of distractions.

Magnolias blossom in Abenland
— land of afternoon —

its mood rising to the velvety blue-black
of ravens' shimmery long-lined backs.

Storms are coming, the sparrows
suddenly massing, tufted heads tucked in

close to wait out the cloud-clash,
the plaint of rain on fevered blades gone brown.

Soon the all-clear, borne on a live-wire streak
of dew-nipped wings, the sharp bead of eyes

thrilling to feed in the Land der Nacht
— land of night —

the hoot of echoes in a clearing
just below the upraised roof of the sky

become a decrescendo of swooping owls
taking up their night's watch

of stars splitting the dark like gone-mad cells
making work of new life.

© 2011-2016 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday Muse: New Maine State Poet Laureate

It's a great platform to be an advocate for writing.
~ Stuart Kestenbaum*

Stuart Kestenbaum has been appointed to the position of Maine Poet Laureate. The fifth poet to occupy the post, Kestenbaum succeeds Wesley McNair. His appointment is for five years.

For information on the honorary, unpaid post and additional related resources, see my profile of Betsy Sholl.

As Maine's state poet, Kestenbaum, who often gives readings and lectures on creativity and craft, aims to re-establish a Maine poetry festival and to celebrate the literary legacy of the state. He is quoted in a Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce article as saying, "I'm so honored and grateful to have been selected. . . I hope to make connections between writers and other creative disciplines and to celebrate poetry's power to transform us—poet and reader alike—in unexpected ways."

* * * * *
Poetry makes people nervous, until they're engaged
in it. That's when they realize it's what they needed to hear.*

Former director of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, writer and cultural project consultant Stuart Kestenbaum is the author of four poetry collections: Only Now (2014), Prayers and Run-on Sentences (2007), and House of Thanksgiving (2003), all three from Deerbrook Editions. He also is the author of Pilgrimage (Coyote Love Press, 1990), available through some resellers. Kestenbaum contributed the introduction to the 1985 anthology In High School I Believed That Poetry Existed Only to Make Me Feel Stupid, published by the Maine Department of Educational and Cultural Services.

Kestenbaum, a Deer Isle  resident, also is the author of The View from Here: Craft, Community, and the Creative Process (Brynmorgen Press, 2012) and editor of a collection of essays, Technology and the Hand: A Studio-based Symposium (Haystack Mountain, 2002); he is a co-author of Vision & Legacy: Celebrating the Architecture of Haystack (Brynmorgen Press, 2011).

Stuart Kestenbaum writes the kind of poems I love to read,
heartfelt responses to the privilege of having been given a life.
No hidden agendas here, no theories to espouse, nothing but
life, pure life, set down with craft and love.
~ Ted Kooser**

Some subjects that run throughout Kestenbaum's elegantly written poetry, which can be humorous and often is deeply meditative, are time and its passage, memories, mortality, the natural world, and sense of place.

Following are excerpts from three poems:

The moment you slide into the back seat of the taxi
you know life is measured, the dollars

on the meter already, and then every quarter mile,
half mile, every extended wait bumper-to-bumper

adding to the fare. [. . .]
~ from "The Metered Life" in House of Thanksgiving

when the day falls out of the sky
it is as surprised as I am to see
all this sunrise splashing at my face. [. . .]
~ from "Winter Morning Prayer" in A Deep Blue Amen

When I wake I am still carrying the night with me,
the trembling wind we are awash in, and the wind
outside howls or does what the wind does, which is
not howl but knit trees and leaves together [. . . .]
~ from "Prayer I Should Have Prayed Last Night" in
Prayers & Run-on Sentences

Kestenbaum's poems have been read at The Writer's Almanac (see links in Resources below) and have appeared in numerous literary publications and magazines, including Beloit Poetry Journal, Maine The MagazineNortheast Corridor,  PersimmonSoul-LitSun magazine, Tikkun, and Verse Daily.

Among the anthologies that include Kestenbaum's poems are Maine in Four Seasons: 20 Poets Celebrate the Turning Year (Down East Books, 2010), edited by Wesley McNair; The Maine Poets (Down East Books, 2003), edited by Wesley McNair; Good Poems for Hard Times (Penguin Books, 2005), selected by Garrison Keillor; Take Heart (Down East Books), edited by Wesley McNair; and Collection of Poems (Four Annual Terry Plunkett Maine Poetry Festival, University of Maine-Augusta, 2006).

Among Kestenbaum's honors are a Distinguished Educator Award from James Renwick Alliance (2008) and Honorary Member of the Council (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts), the latter awarded in March 2016 at the council's annual conference. Kestenbaum also is an Honorary Fellow of American Craft Council. In 2016, he was a visiting writer at Alfred Ceramics, where he presented a talk about creativity, making, the writing process, and his own work. In 2015, he was named one of "50 Mainers Boldly Leading Our State" by Maine The Magazine.

Kestenbaum's wife is visual artist Susan Webster. (View some of Webster's and Kestenbaum's collaborations. Also see Kestenbaum's limited-edition collaboration with papermaker Amanda Degener and calligrapher Jan Owen, A Deep Blue Amen, 2013; this also may be viewed at Cave PaperAbecedarian Gallery, and Vamp & Tramp Booksellers. The artist's book was inspired by and contains Kestenbaum's poems. In addition, see Kestenbaum's collaboration, Water Prayers (2010), with Nancy Manter; edition size, 30.)


Photo Credit: Deerbrook Editions

All Poetry Excerpts © Stuart Kestenbaum

* Quoted from Bob Keyes's article (See link below.)

** Ted Kooser's opinion of Kestenbaum's poetry is quoted widely, including in Maine Arts Commission's news release; Letitia Baldwin's article "Stu Kestenbaum Named Maine Poet Laureate", Ellsworth American, March 24, 2016; and Penn State News, October 5, 2015.

"Meet Maine's Fifth State Poet Laureate", Maine Arts Commission, March 23, 2016

"Maine's New Poet Laureate" at Deerbrook Editions

Bob Keyes, "Stuart Kestenbaum Named Maine's New Poet Laureate", Portland Press Herald, March 25, 2016

Stuart Kestenbaum Profiles Online: Find Maine Writers, Maine Home + DesignPoetry Foundation,

Stuart Kestenbaum Poems Online: "Prayer in the Strip Mall, Bangor, Maine" and "Only Time", Both at Portland Press Herald; "Prayer for the Dead" at American Life in Poetry; "Prayer for Joy" and "Prayer for the Dead", Both at Poetry Foundation; "Psalm", "Starting the Subaru at Five Below", "April Prayer", "A Cold Rain the Day Before Spring", "Prayer for What is Lost", "In Praise of Hands", and "Harmony", All at The Writer's Almanac (Audio Available); "I Am Fishing for God" at Verse Daily; "Hermit's Dream" at The Penland Sketchbook; "Prayer for Joy" at FaceBook (2015 Reading at Penland); "April Prayer" at A Year of Being Here; "In Praise of Hands" at Soul-Lit: A Journal of Spiritual Poetry; "Psalm" at Wyoming Arts Council; "Open Window" at Maine The Magazine; "Prayer for What is Lost" at Ride Dance Write; "Starting the Subaru at Five Below" in Good Poems for Hard Times on GoogleBooks; "Prayer I Should Have Prayed Last Night" at Persimmon; "Harmony" at Words for the Year; "I Am Fishing for God" at Beloit Poetry Journal (pdf); "Post Office Box" at Heidi's Table; "Prayer for Joy" At Scrappy Cat Blog; "Mr. Fix-It" at The New Maine Times; "Prayer in a Strip Mall, Bangor, Maine" at Crystal Bridges Blog; "Leaving Home: Route 2 from Maine to Vermont" at Maine Home + Design; "The Metered Life" and "House of Prayer", Both at Rimon Berkshires Resource Center for Jewish Spirituality (High Holiday Poetry and Prayers); "Poem for Joy" at The JournalVerse; "Spring Prayer" at Dancing Crow Yoga; "April Prayer" at Long Looking LLC; "Psalm" at A Year of Reading Blog; "Prayer for Joy", "The Light", "Essence", "April Prayer", "Mr Fix-It", and "Starting the Subaru at Five Below" (all pdf), All at Maine Writers in Take Heart Archive; "Prayer for Joy" at NewPages; "Prayer for the Dead" at Plaza Jewish Community Chapel; "A Cold Rain the Day Before Spring" at Favorite Poems Anthology on Tumblr; "Laughter" at The New Maine Times

List of Poems in Sun Magazine

Kestenbaum's poem "Prayer for the Dead" was written for his brother Howard Kestenbaum, who died in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Kestenbaum's poem "In Praise of Hands" is a broadside created in 2008 in an edition of 100 by Carolee Campbell.

Kestenbaum's poem "Grief Arrives" appears in Jan Owen's artist book Requiem (2009).

The McNair anthologies, Take Heart: Poems from Maine (2013) and Take Heart: More Poems from Maine (2016), are at Amazon. Kestenbaum's poems appear in various editions. The books are available from Down East Books.

Stuart Kestenbaum, "Moving On and Staying Still", The Craft School Experience, June 11, 2015

Bob Keyes, "Author Q&A: Maine Poet Stuart Kestenbaum Expresses Optimism and Awareness in 'Only Now'", Portland Press Herald, April 13, 2014

A good writing quote from Kestenbaum at the Visit Maine site: "Spending time with people who work with physical materials and figure thing out, I began to see words as a material, too, and understand that any kind of creating is a relationship between the maker and the material. Editing is working with those materials, building a structure. If I make a mistake, it doesn't mean I have to crumple up the paper. I can learn to listen to the words and continue the shaping."

"On Stuart Kestenbaum's Only Now", The Line Break, June 22, 2014

Jennifer Rooks, Interview with Stuart Kestenbaum, "Why We Make Things: A Maine Craftsman's Journey", Maine Public Radio, May 20, 2015 (Audio Available)

Kristen Andresen, "Finding a Poet in a Haystack", Bangor Daily News, July 21, 2003 (Google Newspapers)

Video: "Stuart Kestenbaum Reads at Penland" on YouTube (2015)

Video: "Paul Trowbridge Watercolors, Stuart Kestenbaum Poem" on YouTube (2012)

Stuart Kestenbaum on FaceBook

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Thought for the Day

No one living a snowed-in life
can sleep without a blindfold. [. . .]
~ Terrance Hayes

Quoted from Terrance Hayes's poem "Snow for Wallace Stevens" in Lighthead (Penguin Books, Penguin Poets Series, 2010 )

Hayes's most recent collection is How to Be Drawn (Penguin Books, 2015), which was a finalist in 2015 for a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. Lighthead won the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry.