Monday, May 4, 2015

Monday Muse: Poets on Poetry

Below you'll find a new edition of Poets on Poetry, which highlights interviews or feature articles in which poets speak about poetry as vocation, ways that poetry differs from other kinds of writing or from recitation, and the meaning of poetry in their lives. I've also included some wonderful advice from author Andrew Solomon, a fascinating piece by critic Daniel Mendelsohn on Sappho, and a critical examination of Diane Wakowski.

✦ ". . . Both spiritually and morally a writer renews his or her imagination by renewing a sense of responsibility for the world. . . None of us writes alone. . . ." ~ David Biespiel

Quoted from David Biespiel's excellent essay "A New Turning", republished as "Fate of the Writer: Shuttling Between Solitude and Engagement" at The Rumpus, April 21, 2015. Also included are Rigoberto Gonzalez's essay "The Activist Role of the Writer", Lia Purpura's essay "On Utility", and Wendy Willis's essay "The Perfume of Resistance", delivered at the 2015 AWP conference in Minneapolis. All are worth bookmarking.

✦ ". . . We should not have to argue that creativity improves the quality of life, . . . The joy of creativity should be part of every day. It's part of what makes us human. It improves everything." ~ Tony Hoagland

Quoted from Bob Keyes's article "A Rallying Cry for Poetry", The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, March 29, 2015.

Hoagland's collections include Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2010)

✦ "At some unnoticed moment, I began to understand that a life is written in indelible ink. . . Poetry, though, is a door that only continues to open. . . ." ~ Jane Hirshfield

Quoted from Anisse Gross's wonderful "Interview with Poet Jane Hirshfield" at SF Gate, March 11, 2015.

Hirshfield's most recently published books are The Beauty: Poems (Knopf) and Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Knopf).

Read or listen to Jane Hirshfield's interview with Elizabeth Austen: "Jane Hirshfield on Turning To Poetry In Grief", KUOW, April 8, 2015.

✦ "Find your own goals within each poem. Leave the audience thinking of your message, traveling on the poem's journey along with you." ~ Anita Norman, 2014 Poetry Out Loud National Champion

Quoted from Anita Norman's excellent article "How to Recite a Poem" at the NEA's Art Works Blog, March 10, 2015.

✦ "Part of what happens when you're a poet is that you get more interested in . . . how a patterning of events and a patterning of language relate, as opposed to big dramatic transformations. . . ." ~ Ben Lerner

Quoted from "'There could be that glimmer of collectivity'" at Berfrois, February 18, 2015. (This feature is excerpted from Karl Smith's "Time Is a Flat Circle: Ben Lerner Interviewed" at The Quietus in which Lerner, a poet and novelist, talks about his novel 10:04 and how poetry and novel writing differ.)

✦ ". . . The use of language gets taught at M.F.A. programs nationwide. The use of experience is far more elusive. . . Experience poses the questions we are asked to live, and our writing is the mere shadow of an answer. . . Try not to let your words outstrip your experience. . . ." ~ Andrew Solomon

Quoted from "The Middle of Things: Advice for Young Writers" at The New Yorker, March 11, 2015. (Although Solomon is not a poet, this beautifully written essay contains advice every writer and poet should consider and apply. The excerpt is from Solomon's speech at the March 5 Whiting Writers Awards program.)

✦ ". . . What Sappho really was was a singer-songwriter. Like Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan, she wrote her music as well as her lyrics, and performed her songs in public. . . ." ~ Daniel Medelsohn

Quoted from Daniel Mendelsohn's "Hearing Sappho" at The New Yorker, March 12, 2015.

Mendelsohn's C.P. Cavafy: Complete Poems was published in 2009.

✦ "Recently rereading much of Diane Wakoski's long career, I was impressed by how very much the poet is who she always is. Which isn't to say she grows dull or less interesting with time, but she's not bending with trend. . . ."  Lynn Melnick

Quoted from Lynn Melnick's "I Would Have to Wake Up Young Again: On 'Bay of Angels', Personal Mythology, and the Enduring Badassery of Diane Wakoski", a long and worthwhile read in Los Angeles Review of Books, March 10, 2015.

Poet Lynn Melnick published her first full-length collection If I Should Say I Have Hope (YesYes Books) in 2012. She is co-editor, with Brett Fletcher Lauer, of Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation (Viking, 2015).

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Thought for the Day

Grief is a country with one citizen
and one ruler, and they are the same.
~ Judith Ortiz Cofer

Quoted from Judith Ortiz Cofer's excellent memoir The Cruel Country (University of Georgia Press, March 2015)

Judith Ortiz Cofer, Puerto Rican-American Poet, Novelist, Short Story Writer, Memoirist, Essayist, Young Adult Fiction Writer

Online Poems at Judith Ortiz Cofer's Website

Judith Ortiz Cofer on FaceBook

Judith Ortiz Cofer on Being a Writer:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Saturday Short

Today's short is the trailer for It's Me, Hilary: The Man Who Drew Eloise, an HBO documentary about Hilary Knight, the author and illustrator of the Kay Thompson Eloise books. Produced by Lena Dunham, the film examines Knight's personal and professional lives. The documentary debuted at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. For additional information, read "A New Documentary Shines a Light on the Artist Who Gave Shape to Eloise" at T Magazine.

Friday, May 1, 2015

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ This summer, an eye-catching "rainbow tunnel", described as "an amorphous, double-skinned, polygonal structure consisting of panels of a translucent, multicolored fabric membrane woven through and wrapped in webbing", will grace the lawn of London's Kensington Gardens. The temporary architectural structure, designed by innovative Spanish architects SelgasCano for the Serpentine Pavilion's 15th anniversary, will be on view from June 25 to October 18; visitors will be able to enter and exit the pavilion at different points.

✦ Did you miss "forest sculptor" Spencer Byles's project A Year in a French Forest? It's terrific! Byles made his site-specific, untitled sculptures, all meant to be temporary and to comprise only natural and found materials, in the French region of Alpes-Maritimes. 

Spencer Byles on FaceBook

✦ In mid-March, the Metropolitan Museum of Art launched "What Artists See When They Look at The Met" for The Artist Project. For the new Web series, 100 artists (local, national, and international) have been chosen to select and respond to a single artwork or a Met gallery. The concept, according to the museum, is to allow the artists to share "[t]heir unique and passionate ways of seeing and experiencing art [to] encourage all museum visitors to look in a personal way." Among the artists for Season 1 are Nick Cave (on Kuba cloths), George Condo (on Monet's The Path through the Irises), Natalie Frank (on Kathe Kollwitz) Deborah Kass (on Athenian vases), Katrin Sigurdardottir (on the Hotel de Cabris, Grasse), Mickalene Thomas (on Sydou Keita), and Lisa Yuskavage (on Vuillard's The Green Interior).

✦ I recently learned of the Archive of Modern Conflict Books, an independent publisher of art and photography books in London. The archive boasts a remarkable collection of some four million photographs, the subject of a recent Tate Modern exhibition ("Conflict, Time, Photography") that concluded March 15. Read Brian Dillon's "The Conjurer: In the Archive with Timothy Prus" at Aperture blog.

Archive of Modern Conflict Books on FaceBook

✦ Photographs by Finnish painter Hugo Simberg (1873-1917), part of the Symbolist art movement, have been digitized and made available at the Website of the Finnish National Gallery (there are five downloadable image packages) and on Flickr The Commons. (My thanks to The Public Domain Review for the links. A selection of released images also is at the review.)

✦ Paper artist Li Hongbo creates Statues in Motion:

See more of Li's work at Kleinsun Gallery

Li Hongbo on FaceBook

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Celebrating 150 years of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin has mounted an exhibition that includes a rare first edition of Lewis Carroll's story, Carroll's photograph of three sisters who inspired the tale, and a 1933 paper filmstrip. The show is a new look at an old story and how for decades it has been interpreted by many artists, among them, photographer Abelardo Morell, Sir John Tenniel (also see "About John Tenniel and His Illustrations"), who published illustrations in 1865, and surrealist Salvador Dali. Watch a video preview of the exhibition below:

The center's Cultural Compass blog has a number of posts about the exhibition, which continues through July 6.

Harry Ransom Center on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ The Blanton Museum of Art, also at The University of Texas at Austin, continues through June 21 "Wildly Strange: The Photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard", comprising 35 photographs, including some prints being shown for the first time, drawn from the collections of Harry Ransom Center. The exhibition includes a number of Meatyard's portraits of American writers. Read "On the Verge of Surprise", an essay (pdf) about the photographer, by curator Jessica S. McDonald. 

Read David Zax, "Ralph Eugene Meatyard: The Man Behind the Masks", Smithsonian Magazine, November 2011.

Blanton Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ You know his plays but not, perhaps, that he painted. New Orleans's Ogden Museum of Southern Art is presenting through May 31 "Tennessee Williams: The Playwright and the Painter", organized with the Key West Art & Historical Society. Williams (1911-1983), who lived in Key West for more than three decades, took up oil painting to relax. The show includes sketches of friends, acquaintances, and even characters from his plays. Williams also made stills lives and landscapes. See a selection of Williams's paintings. Some of his artworks also can be seen on Pinterest.

Read Chris Wiegand's article, "Tennessee Williams: A Portrait of the Playwright as Painter", The Guardian, October 23, 2008.

Tennessee Williams Collection at Harry Ransom Center

Ogden Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Continuing through August 30 at Ohio's Cincinnati Art Museum is the exhibition "Masterpieces of Japanese Art", comprising approximately 100 works from the museum's permanent collection of 3,000 objects. Included in the exhibition are paintings, screens, prints, ceramics, lacquer and metal wares, ivory carvings, arms and armor, dolls, masks, costumes, and textiles. The periods covered span the 12th Century to 20th Century. Among the highlights are a black lacquer-coated model of an ox cart, a double-gourd-shaped teapot, and a complete set of Japanese armor. Watch a very short preview of the exhibition.

A catalogue (image below) accompanies the exhibition. 

Cover of Exhibition Catalogue

Ogawa Haritsu (1663-1747), Animal Story Scroll (Detail)
Edo Period (1615-1868)
Handscrolll, Ink, and Colors on Paper, 224.6 cm x 668.3 cm
Gift of Robert F. Blum Estate, 1960.4

Cincinnati Art Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Cincinnati Art Museum Blog (There are a number of posts about the exhibition at the blog.)

✭ Thirty-four works on canvas, paper, and eucalyptus bark go on show beginning May 30 at Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Drawn from the permanent collection, the selections in "Art and Country" show how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists represent "home" and their connections to ancestral land and "the Dreaming". The exhibition will continue through the summer.

Kluge-Ruhe on FaceBook 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Art. . . Did You Know?

Today begins a column about art and artists, bringing to light information you might not know. To appear periodically, it is similar to my "Monday Muse Did You Know" posts about poets and poetry.

Did You Know. . . 

✦ New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art has the right to charge an admissions fee, according to the State Supreme Court's decision of February 5, 2015.

✦ If you're planning a visit to an art museum, you might want to check the museum's visitor security and policies section first or, better, just leave your "selfie stick" at home. The camera/phone mounts are prohibited in Smithsonian museums and galleries (read the news release), Seattle Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas Museum of Art, Austin's Blanton Museum of Art, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, and New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other art institutions in the United States. Just to be fair, note that on the other side of the backlash against selfies is Art in Island museum, Manila, The Philippines, whose official approach to interactivity encourages climbing on, touching, and playing with the art. (Read "There's an Entire Museum for #ArtSelfies in the Philippines" at The Creators Project.

✦ It's possible to be too popular! A new limit has been imposed on the number of visitors allowed into China's Forbidden City each day. The tourist cap is now approximately 80,000 a day. 

Watch the Smithsonian Channel's China's Forbidden City.

Richard Wilson Online is a new, and free, Website that offers commentary and other information about more than 1,000 works by the artist (c 1713 - 1782), including paintings, drawings, and prints. In addition, the site documents Wilson collections, themes and media, and exhibitions and includes biographies, bibliographical resources, and a glossary. It can be navigated in a number of ways and is searchable. The online catalogue raisonne, a model of its kind, is funded by Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London; its managing curator-compiler is Dr. Paul Spencer-Longhurst, senior research fellow at Mellon Centre. 

✦ The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C., has the largest public collection of portraits (text list) by Elaine de Kooning. The collection includes portraits of Ornette Coleman, Merce Cunningham, John F. Kennedy, and Harold Rosenberg. The museum's retrospective exhibition "Elaine de Kooning: Portraits" opened March 13 and continues through January 10, 2016. Check the museum's blog Face to Face for posts about the artist's life and work and its Tumblr site for posts with the hashtaag #MeetEdk.

NPG on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ Danish painter, poet, filmmaker, and sculptor Per Kirkeby (b. 1938), whose work I first saw in 2012 at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., has stopped painting, because a brain hemorrhage and thrombosis suffered in 2009 prevents Kirkeby from seeing colors normally. Read "Kirkeby: 'I have given up trying to be a painter.'" in Politiken, January 30, 2015 (the original article in Danish).

Watch Louisiana Channel's fascinating interview with Kirkeby, "Per Kirkeby: We Build Upon Ruins" (it has English subtitles):

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

New Interview Up at TweetSpeak Poetry

You will find me today at the TweetSpeak Poetry blog, where the first segment of my three-part interview with poet and filmmaker Janet R. Kirchheimer is posted.

I am privileged to have had the opportunity to talk in depth with Janet about her experiences as the child of a Holocaust survivor; her decision to become a poet and filmmaker; her exhibition with photographer Aliza Augustine that integrates poetry and photographs taken at Holocaust-related sites ("How to Spot One of Us: A Collaborative Exhibition" continues through May 18 at Kean University's Human Rights Institute Gallery, Union, New Jersey), and her in-production, cinematic performance film BE•HOLD.

A New York City resident, Janet is a Teaching Fellow at CLAL and the author of the poetry collection How to Spot One of Us (CLAL - National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, 2007). Janet generously provided both family photographs and stills from BE•HOLD, as well as some of her poems (read "The Photograph" below), to complement our interview and this introduction.

The Photograph

by Janet R. Kirchheimer

My mother, four years old, blond curls,
wearing a smocked dress, in a field of goldenrod,
her doll on her lap and her dog at her side.

Two years later, the girl in the photograph
would be backed up against a wall at school,
by kids in her class, for refusing to say "Heil Hitler,"

and they would throw rocks, beat her up, call her Jude,
her dress would be torn, and her parents
would have to find a way to get her out of Germany.

She would be sent to an orphanage in Amsterdam,
and they would wait two years for their visas
to America. I want to ask the girl what

would have become of her if her parents hadn't
found a way out? Would she have survived?
Would she have been experimented on like her cousin Hanni

who returned home after the war and rarely
left her room, or would she,
like another cousin, Bertl, have tried to cross the Pyrenees

into Spain and never be heard from again? What if Hitler had never come
to power, would she and her parents still have come to America?
Would she have met my father, and who would

she have married if she had stayed in Germany, and
who would she have become and what would have become
of me? I cannot let go of it.

(Copyright © Janet R. Kirchheimer. Used with permission.)


Part 1, "Holocaust Poems: Interview with Poet and Filmmaker Janet R. Kirchheimer", April 29, 2015

Part 2, May 6, 2015

Part 3, May 13, 2015

BE•HOLD on FaceBook

Aliza Augustine Photography: Website and FaceBook

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Poet Fanny Howe's Films

Below is a presentation of three shorts by poet Fanny Howe in collaboration with Sheila Gallagher, John Gianvito, and Maceo Senna. The screening of Brigid of Murroe (2014), What Nobody Saw (1979/2015), and Be Again (1999/2015) took place at the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University in conjunction with Howe's 2014-2015 WPR Creative Fellowship. Howe introduces each film.

The video is just over an hour long. It is worth your time to watch.

Fanny Howe has won a number of poetry and other prizes, including the Woodberry Poetry Room Creative Fellowship, the Ruth Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Among her more than 20 books are essays, novels, and short stories.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Muse: Introduction to Imtiaz Dharker

So why do you write poetry?
I have no choice.
~ Imtiaz Dharker*

Poet Imtiaz Dharker was born in Lahore, Pakistan; spent part of her growing-up years in Scotland,  where she attended university in Glasgow; and has lived in Bombay. Currently, she makes her home in India, London, and Wales. Given her background, it is no surprise that her cultural experiences are reflected in her poems, whose subjects include not only childhood and family, place and home, but also transitions, dislocation and exile, violence, religious conflict, loss and grief, relationships, women's struggles, and choices and their consequences.

Dharker's poetry collections include Over the Moon (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), Leaving Fingerprints (Bloodaxe, 2009), The Terrorist At My Table (Penguin/India and Bloodaxe, 2006), I Speak for the Devil (Penguin/India and Bloodaxe, 2001), and Postcards from god (Viking Penguin, 1994). Her debut collection, Purdah and Other Poems (Oxford University Press 1989; available from resellers) was reprinted with Postcards from god by Bloodaxe in 1997. Several of her collections are available as e-books. 

Poems by Dharker also are found in a number of anthologies, including Furies: A Poetry Anthology of Women Warriors (Kindle, 2014), The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century British and Irish Women's Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Aqa Anthology: Moon on the Ties: Conflict & Relationships (Literature Guide for GCSE; Trans-Atlantic Publications, 2010), and Fire in the Soul: 100 Poems for Human Rights (New Internationalist, 2009)

Read 16 of Dharker's poems at her Website. Text of some of her poems also is found at Poetry International.

The poet, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the recipient of a 2014 Queen's Gold Medal, also is an artist; her beautifully made, haunting ink drawings have been reproduced in her poetry collections and exhibited in India as well as New York, London, and Hong Kong. In addition, Dharer makes documentary films in India.

Listen as Dharker reads two poems: the well-known "Blessing", from Postcards from god, and "They'll say, 'She must be from another country'", from I Speak for the Devil :

Imtiaz Dharker from Neil Astley on Vimeo.

The filming of the above reading took place in London.

In Person: 30 Poets, DVD-book (Pamela Robertson-Pearce)

Mark Brown, "Imtiaz Dharker Awarded Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry", The Guardian (Books), December 17, 2014

* Helen Bowell, "Interview with Imtiaz Dharker, Poet and Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award Judge", YM: New Work in Poetry, July 28, 2011

Imtiaz Dharker on Twitter and Vimeo

Dharker also performs her poetry in "Poetry Under the Stars" at YouTube.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Thought for the Day

Grief requires memory.
~ Donna Vorreyer

Quoted from the last line of Donna Vorreyer's poem "Lament" in her wonderful collection  A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013).

Donna Vorreyer on FaceBook and Twitter

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Short

Today's short is the trailer for the Terrance Malick documentary The Seventh Fire, which premiered this past February at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival as part of the NATIVe Program. Filmed on White Earth Reservation in Minnesota and directed by Jack Pettibone Riccobono, it follows the lives of two Native gang members and the effects of their choices and lifestyles on themselves and their Ojibwe community. Fractured Atlas in New York was a fiscal sponsor of the documentary.