Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Maya Stein's 'Tour de Word'

Beginning September 8, with her appearance in Salem, Oregon, poet and essayist Maya Stein kicks off an intensive eight-week, 30-state traveling poetry project: Tour de Word. Financed entirely with donations through KickStarter, the project includes readings and writing workshops, as well as other events.

While getting up close and personal with those who follow her work, Stein, who is based in San Francisco, also will be collecting from project participants poems that she intends to publish in an anthology on her return. In addition, Stein plans to produce a documentary about her project, which she says she believes can be used subsequently as a learning tool for writing groups in and out of the classroom.

The video immediately below describes Stein's project:

The current itinerary for Tour de Word is here. The cross-country tour is expected to conclude November 4 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The project's Website includes almost two dozen audio files of Stein's original 10-line poems.

Stein, who has published The Overture of an Apple (a collection of essays), Spinning the Bottle (erotic-themed essays, poems, and "musings"), and Enough Water (52 10-line poems and color photographs), won the 2010 Alimentum Journal poetry contest (Stein's winning poem, "Substitutes", is featured in the summer issue of the journal) and the 2008 Blue Mountain Arts annual poetry competition (see "Someone With My Mother's Feet"). Her work and other writings appear in numerous literary publications and is included in It All Changed in an Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure (2009) and Patti Digh's Creative is a Verb, forthcoming in November and available as a pre-order.

For five years, Stein has published her weekly "10-line Tuesday" — an original 10-line poem sent to e-mail subscribers every Tuesday. Go to 10-line Tuesday to read the poems. She writes at One Paragraph at a Time.

For Stein's other writings, including prose selections, go here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Learning to Communicate (Poem)

Learning to Communicate

Go ahead,

Trace that line
of thought

between your first point
and your next

and be prepared
to scrimmage.

I know you know

down the line
somebody's always ready

to draw a line
to hold a line

to bring you
into line.

That's not my line.

So drop it!
Don't take that line

with me.
For once

put yourself on the line
and stand

where I stand:
on no line

not in the line of duty.

I know you know
you have to

get out
of line

to cross a line
to see

how a line
can curve

can cut in
then go out again

even before
too fine

a line gets made.

Yes, we all have
to take a turn

getting back
in line

with what's expected.

But first
give me

any line you want;
spin it out

and reel it back.
You're sure to line up

with the best of 'em
so long as you vow

to keep the line open.

© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas

I wrote this poem for Carry on Tuesday, which each week provides a prompt that participants are to use wholly or partly in an original poem or prose piece.

The prompt for Tuesday, August 31, comes from the first words of the famous Frank and Nancy Sinatra song Something Stupid (1967): "I know I stand in line . . . ."

To read other Carry on Tuesday contributors' poems or prose for Prompt #69, go here.

Monday Muse: Idaho's Writer-in-Residence

Novelist Brady Udall was appointed Idaho's Writer-in-Residence on July 1 and will serve through June 30, 2013. Udall, author of The Lonely Polygamist (W.W. Norton, 2010), is associate professor  in the M.F.A. creative writing program at Boise State. His other work includes The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint (Vintage, 2002; available through resellers) and Letting Loose the Hounds:  Stories (W.W. Norton, 1980). His work has appeared in The Paris Review, among other publications, and his stories and essays have been featured on NPR's This American Life program.

Idaho's Writer-in-Residence from July 1, 2007, to July 1, 2010, was Anthony "Tony" Doerr. An award-winning short-story writer and novelist, Doerr has published The Shell Collector: Stories (Penguin, 2003), About Grace: A Novel (Penguin, 2005), Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World, a memoir (Scribner, 2008), and Memory Wall: Stories (Scribner, 2010).

The position — the highest level of literary recognition accorded an Idaho writer — originally established as state Poet Laureate in 1923 was first held by Irene Welsh Grissom, who served until 1948. She was succeeded by Sudie Stuart Hager, who held the position from 1949 to 1982. In 1982, the name was changed to Writer-in-Residence, the position was opened to fiction and nonfiction writers, and the term of office restricted to two years. The first writer named under the new title was Ron McFarland, a poet, essayist, nonfiction writer who served one year, from 1984 to 1985. 

Since McFarland, 10 writers, including Doerr, have held the job: Robert Wrigley (1986-1987), Eberle Umbach (1988-1989), Neidy Messer (1990-1991), Daryl Jones (1992-1993), Clay Morgan (1994-1995), Lance Olsen (1996-1998), Bill Johnson (1999-2000), Jim Irons (2001-2004), and Kim Barnes (2004-2006).

An appointee is selected by the governor from a list of recommendations prepared for the Idaho Commission on the Arts by a nongovernmental panel with three out-of-state writers. Recommendations are based on Idaho applicants' submissions of writing samples, rendered anonymous for judging and rated for artistic excellence, contributions to the field, and oral presentation. 

Idaho's Writer-in-Residence, who receives $2,666 annually, is required to present 12 public readings during his or her three-year term, eight of which must be in rural communities, and may be required to give three additional readings at special public events. (The amount of compensation has been changed several times. In 1986, the award was $10,000 for two years and 12 public readings. In 1998, the term of service was changed to three years and the award reduced to $8,000 over the term.) The award recipient receives allowable travel expenses in addition to the monetary award. He or she is limited to two nonconsecutive awards in a lifetime.

Responsibility for the Writer-in-Residence Award rests with the state arts commission.


Brady Udall Website

Interviews with Brady Udall: Book Browse, Identity Theory (2002), Bookslut (June 2010), The Seattle Times (May 2010)

Brady Udall Huffington Post Column

Anthony Doerr Website

Christopher Mohar, "Prayer, Inquiry, Memory: An Interview with Anthony Doerr", Fiction Writers Review, August 4, 2010

Doerr Reading Essays at PopTech 2009: Butterflies on a Wheel and Am I Still Here?

History of Writer-in-Residence Award

Idaho Center for the Book Newsletter, Vol. 15, No. 2, October 2009 (This issue of the biannual publication is devoted to information about the Poet Laureate/Writer-in-Residence Award and has brief features on Eberle Umbach, Daryl Jones, Lance Olsen, Clay Morgan, William Johnson, Jim Irons, Kim Barnes, and Anthony Doerr.)

Idaho Commission on the Arts

Idaho State Historical Society Reference Series: Idaho Poet Laureates

Idaho Writer-in-Residence Award

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thought for the Day

Words make you think a thought.
Music makes you feel a feeling.
A song makes you feel a thought.
~ E.Y. Harburg

Edgar Yipsel Harburg (1896 - 1981), known as E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, was a lyricist and poet, most famous, perhaps, for writing the words to all of the songs for the 1939 film classic The Wizard of Oz.

For women's rights and a civil rights agitator, Harburg was known as "Broadway's social conscience". His activist's legacy is carried on by The YIP Harburg Foundation, which initiates and funds projects on social and economic justice and  educational opportunity, and American political art that addresses cultural and social issues or the exposure and elimination of economic and social discrimination and exploitation. The foundation has helped fund many documentaries, including Fear and Favor in the Newsroom, The Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist, The Weather Underground, Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, and Porgy and Bess: An American Voice.

Harburg's Rhymes for the Irreverent was published in January 2006 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Passing the Badges of Honor

Last evening, while catching up on HootSuite/Twitter, I noticed my name in a tweet from Lisa Rivero, who provided a link to a post. The author of four books on education and learning who writes at The Wild Thyme UnseenLisa had received this week three blog awards, including The Versatile Blogger and One Lovely Blog awards. In the spirit of the "rules" that accompany these symbols of recognition, she was passing on the honors and let me know I was among those on whom she was bestowing the badges. I was delighted to learn that Lisa is among my Writing Without Paper readers.

It's my pleasure to take up the drum roll Lisa began by giving these same awards to:

✭ Louise at Recover Your Joy
✭ Diane at Contemplative Photography
✭ Nancy at Ballyhoo Hobnob Crossroads
✭ Laura at The Wellspring
✭ Ami at poetryNprogress
✭ Jenne' at Loquaciously Yours
✭ Kathleen at Almost Paradisical
✭ Melissa at all the words
✭ Robin Maria at Pocketful of Colors
✭ Kelly at Kelly Lagner Sauer
✭ Cassandra at The Moonboat Cafe
✭ Susan at Just a Moment 
✭ Joyceann at Peaceful Legacies
✭ Diane at Blogalicious
✭ Susan at The Alchemist's Kitchen

The intent in passing on these acknowledgments is simple: to express my admiration and appreciation for your fine and always interesting writing, the time you take to acknowledge and respond to followers' comments, and the community you help create, encourage, and nurture all over the Web.

The "rules", such as they are, follow, as well as images of the badges, which you can "grab" and upload to your own pages, if you like. You may award both accolades to the same group of people or one to one group and the other to a different group, or mix them up; the choice is yours.

The Versatile Blogger Award

► Acknowledge the award and thank and link back to the person bestowing it. A good way to do this is through a post such as this.

► Pass on the award to 15 other bloggers.

► Let the new recipients know you've selected them.


► Share seven things about yourself that your readers or followers might not know. (I allowed myself this option this time. See "Seven Bits" below.)

► Post the badge to your blog.

One Lovely Blog Award

► Acknowledge the award and thank the person who bestowed it. Consider doing so publicly via a post such as this, an e-mail, or a tweet. 

► Pass on the award to 15 other bloggers.

► Let the new recipients know you've selected them.


► Post the image of the badge to your blog. 

Seven Bits of Information About Me

◈ A poem of mine has been selected for publication in the anthology Oil and Water. . . and Other Things That Don't Mix. The target date for the anthology's publication is September 2010. Proceeds from sales will benefit individuals who have suffered misfortune because of the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

◈ My poem "When Laughing Gulls Hover" is published at Poets for Living Waters in the Open Mic section.

◈ My first post at Writing Without Paper appeared September 17, 2009. It comprised my poem, "I Offer 'Enough'". I expect to write my 500th post on or before the first anniversary of my blog.

◈ My company is Transformational Threads, which licenses images of original fine art on which are based limited editions of custom hand-embroidery crafted for me by artisans in Vietnam. One of the thread paintings, "Peacock", is being displayed and offered for sale next month in a "trunk show" of Vietnamese fine art and craft at a major museum in downtown Washington, D.C.

◈ I own two Westies, Jack and Seamus, both rescues.

◈ I graduated 35 years ago from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a city made famous by the movie The French Connection. I was sitting in a movie theatre in the city when the movie first ran.

◈ I worked a number of summers at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts in Fairfax County, Virginia. At that time, theatre ushers were paid and in the employ of the National Park Service. In what might pass as my 15 minutes of fame, I once got to walk across the stage in front of the bright lights to bestow a bouquet upon the leading lady. I managed to do it before the crowd rose and left.

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

August is fast drawing to a close and school's about to begin again. To help you through the final "dog days" of summer, today's edition of Saturday Sharing takes a peek at book voyeurism, writers' houses and literary destinations, a site all about The Poetry Business, a new book by artist and writer Jan Richardson, a Web-based mural locator, and Felix Meyer's "35 mm". Stay cool!

✭ Okay book shoppers. Get your e-carts ready. For those of us inclined to buy books, share books, and claim interest in the book-buying and reading habits of others, this new plug-in is apt to satisfy at least a bit of what's politely called book voyeurism. The creation of The Book Depository, an Amazon rival, this tool gives you a live shot of what people all over the world are reading at any one time. Ain't it grand what technology can do, no library card needed?

✭ Have you ever been on a literary pilgrimage, you know the kind, where you tramp to and through writers' houses? I have and now I can indulge the desire as often as I wish, thanks to A.N. Devers, who has created a site dedicated to Writers' Houses. The natural culmination of a childhood obsession with "books, travel, and making connections between a writer's work and place", the site aims to document all writers' houses open to the public anywhere in the world. Devers' more than 30 finds to date, which are grouped by author, state, city, and international locations, include the houses of such well-known writers as Dashiell Hammett, Jack London, O. Henry, Edgar Allan Poe, and Zora Neale Hurston. Noting that the task of identifying and documenting writers' houses "can't be done overnight or without help", Devers welcomes experienced writers and editors to contribute to her blog and field guide. Just remember, though: Writers' Houses is a labor of love. Devers' Contact Page. If you prefer, just follow on Twitter or FaceBook.

If, by chance, you don't find that author's house you're looking for, try Literary Destinations, which is all about "the places that inspire our reading."

✭ Coming October 1: Jan Richardson's new book In the Sanctuary of Women: A Companion for Reflection & Prayer

To be published by Upper Room Books and available for pre-order, the book, as described by Richardson, "draws from the often hidden wellsprings of women's experiences and history in the Judeo-Christian tradition." 

Richardson, about whom I last posted in December, writes at The Painted Prayerbook: Word & Image & Faith and The Advent Door. Her Websites are here and here.

✭ At The Poetry Business, you'll find a selection of books, pamphlets, and audio published under the Smith/Doorstop imprint; information about the literary magazine The North; an annual Book and Pamphlet Competitionresidential courses in poetry writing; and monthly Writing Days. The site also offers articles, a Poem of the Day, Lunch Poems, and a Classic Poem of the Month. In the audio section are readings by Carol Ann Duffy, Ian McMillan, Simon Armitage, and others.

✭ Locate murals all over the world with this Web-based resource.

✭ Felix Meyer has created this short, "35mm", which is itself about cinema. Can you identify the 35 films he references? 

35mm from Felix Meyer on Vimeo.

Friday, August 27, 2010

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

Art for Haiti Auction

Bidding for a painting by Haitian artist Frantz Zephirin, "And Haiti Will Bloom Again" (acrylic on canvas, 24" x 18"), will open on September 8 and end September 17. The work is being auctioned to benefit the Smithsonian Institution-Haiti Cultural Recovery Project. Go here for an image of the painting and auction details. More about the painting is here. This New York Times article, "Rescuing Art From the Rubble of the Quake", is of interest, as is this Smithsonian magazine cover story, "In Haiti, the Art of Resilience".

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Opening September 10 at Contemporary Art Museums, St. Louis, Missouri, is "Richard Artschwager: Hair". This show, on view through January 2, 2011, promises to be a fascinating exploration of Artschwager's use of rubberized horsehair. 

Image above left: Richard Artschwager, Climbing Boy, 1999, rubberized hair and masonite, 59" x 2-1/2". Image courtesy of Gagosian Gallery. © Richard Artschwager

An influential artist who began his career as a cabinet-maker, Artschwager straddles the Pop, Minimal, and Conceptual art categories, his ideas about perception playing off against his ideas about deception. Drawing from more than 40 years of art-making, the exhibition includes images of iconic Artschwager: blps (lines, Y-shapes, hook designs) exclamation marks, corners, hair-covered furniture.

The New York Times critic Roberta Smith reviewed a survey of 25 years of Artschwager's work at the Whitney Museum of America Art in 1988; go here to learn more.

For other images of Artschwager's work, go here and here.

Also scheduled for September 10: "Elad Lassry: Sum of Limited Views". This is the first major museum monograph in the United States for the Tel Aviv-born and Los Angeles-based photographer known for the "unstill" image. It includes more than 30 photographs and a survey of Lassry's 16mm films. 

✭ Artists' use of the circle or sphere in creating two- and three-dimensional work is examined in "Full Circle", on view through October 31 at the Boise (Idaho) Art Museum. Drawing on BAM's permanent collection, the show features work by Grace Knowlton, Robert Rauschenberg, Sam Francis, Ron Davis, and Jeffrey Simmons.

Jeffrey Simmons, Janet's Yellow, 1999,
oil and alkyd on canvas, 61" x 60"
Collection: Boise Art Museum, Gift of Ben and Aileen Krohn

✭ Work by Jessica Gondek, associate professor in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts at Loyola University Chicago is on view through September 19 at Loyola University Museum of Art. The exhibition, "Jessica Gondek: A Decade in Print", includes examples of Gondek's digital and traditional prints, all created between 2000 and 2009. The artist's interests range from geometry and technology to machine aesthetics, nature, and architecture. 

For a slideshow of Gondek's amazing woodcut and digital prints, go here; images of her paintings and prints inspired by Antoni Gaudi architecture may be viewed here.

✭ Autumn themes are the subject of "Of Clover and Chrysanthemum", an exhibition of Japanese woodblock prints opening September 1 at the Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design. The show, which will conclude December 12, includes the work of Nakayama Sugakudo.

Nakayama Sugakudo, Golden-Crested Wren and Sasanqua
From "Studied from Life of Forty-eight Hawks", 1858
Image: Museum of Art - RSID

✭ The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center has mounted South African artist William Kentridge's work in "William Kentridge: The World Is Process", on view until October 24. The exhibition's focus is Kentridge's drawings and includes sculpture and stop-motion video art. Kentridge, who lives and works in Johannesburg, is considered an internationally important artist whose work exposes both the cultural and personal experiences of being South African.

Examples of Kentridge's editioned works on paper are here.

The Divine Jane

Any artist who has that quality of timelessness
has that quality because [she] tells the truth. 
Jane Austen's perceptions don't date because
they are correct, and they will remain that way
until human beings improve themselves intrinsically, 
and this will not happen.
~ Fran Lebowitz

What does a writer's collection of letters and manuscripts tell us about the author's life?

This question was put to six contemporary writers, scholars, and actors given an opportunity to examine and hold in their hands The Morgan Library & Museum's major collection of Jane Austen letters and manuscripts, the subject of the New York-based  institution's exhibition "A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy", on view earlier this year.

The interviewees — Cornel West, Colm Toibin, Sandy Lerner, Siri Hustvedt, Harriet Walter, and Fran Lebowitz — also were asked about their impressions of Austen on reading her work for the first time, their thoughts about Austen's enduring popularity, and the person or persons they would invite to dine with them and Austen at an imagined dinner.

The often emotional, even star-struck-seeming answers of the interviewees are the subject of The Divine Jane: Reflections on Austen (immediately below), the marvelous documentary short (16 minutes) commissioned by The Morgan Library to complement its exhibition. Directed by Francesco Carrozzini, the film begins an engaging conversation that you might continue yourself once you've re-read and absorbed Emma, Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, or other Austen works.

The Divine Jane: Reflections on Austen from The Morgan Library & Museum on Vimeo.

Each of the interviewees was interviewed and filmed separately, allowing us to hear and see the interviews in progress. Here are the individual videos: Colm Toibin, award-winning novelist and short story writer; Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems; Siri Hustvedt, novelist, essayist, and poet; Cornel West, Princeton University professor, civil rights advocate, and author; Harriet Walker, associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company who has also appeared on British television, in film, and on Broadway; and Fran Lebowitz, humorist and best-selling author of Metropolitan Life, a book of essays. 


Excerpt of Naxos AudioBook recording of Jane Austen's Lady Susan, with Walter in the role of Lady Susan Vernon

Derbyshire Writers' Guild, a community of readers and writers of Jane Austen fan fiction

Jane Austen Information Page, with annotated, illustrated hypertext of novels

Brandeis University Professor Andreas Teuber's Jane Austen Page

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hand By Hand

Today, more than ever, the crafts have the mission
to reconnect the human being to the Earth and her substances,
bring healing to the senses and soul, and foster
the creative capacities of the human being.
~ Renate Hiller

Renate Hiller is co-director of Fiber Craft Studio, Chestnut Ridge, New York, and co-founder of the Sunbridge College Applied Arts Program. In addition to serving the college's students, Hiller's Fiber Craft Studio offers to the public workshops and courses in, for example, plant-dyeing, felting, and knitting. Its applied arts program explores the art, philosophy, practice, and pedagogy of teaching handwork and brings students and teachers together to foster artistic development while also encouraging spiritual development. The collaborative approach to teaching and practice is inspired by the insights and teachings of Rudolf Steiner, who established what is known as Waldorf Education for children through grade 12.

Our destiny is written in the hand.

In the video below, "On Handwork", Hiller speaks eloquently, even reverentially, about the importance and spiritual benefits of practicing hand-work — hand-spinning, knitting, crocheting, felting, and sewing. She describes how hand-creating functional art, using natural materials such as wool and silk and yarns whose colors are derived from plant dyes, focuses concentration, promotes mindfulness and contemplation, and increases "understanding of the value of things, of the meaning of things"; it becomes, she asserts, transformative.

Hiller's is a terrific, inspirational talk. Enjoy!

Renate Hiller "On Handwork" from Chuck Smith on Vimeo.

Fiber Craft Studio features unique clothing and accessories designed and hand-made by Hiller and Mikae Toma, FCS co-director; it also offers kits for knitting, crocheting, and felting, as well as plant-dyed materials. All of the items are available for purchase onsite; an online store is planned.


Transcript of Video (Thank you to Speaking of Faith for "A World Through the Hands" that includes the video's transcript.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dressing My Monk (Poem)

Dressing My Monk

Robe's deep folds
hide not heart

once callow.
Hood held close

shields not eyes
from sorrows.

Chain breaks not
the yoke to One

Nor sleeves gather
dust from dust to be.

I recently participated in an e-course, "Monk in the World", created by Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts. The course was a lovely introduction to incorporating contemplative practice in daily life.  Paintner's related Monk Manifesto — an expression of "commitment to contemplation, creativity, and compassion" — was signed by nearly 300 individuals.

Carrying her theme forth, Paintner issued on August 23 an invitation for her 46th Poetry Party, the subject for which is "Monk in the World". My tiny poem, "Dressing My Monk", is my response to the invitation.

Anyone may share his or her inspiration at Abbey of the Arts by writing a poem that explores the theme, or goes in an entirely different direction. Be sure to leave a link to your contribution in the comments section here.

On Friday, August 27, a name from among those participating will be drawn at random. The winner will receive a copy of Paintner's Sacred Poetry: An Invitation to Write, an art journal comprising a collection of earlier Poetry Party prompts.

Facts, New or Not

With this post, I'm inaugurating a new series that may or may not appear weekly and may or may not appear on the same day of the week each week. You won't necessarily know when it hits, unless you stop by or track FaceBook or Twitter.

* * * * *

As my friend Glynn points out in his regular Saturday compilation of "Good Reads", one is never at a loss to find something on the Web worth reading. Taking that as a bit of inspiration, I add that one is never at a loss to discover something new in something good to read. 

Here are just a few things, facts you might know, or not, timeless tidbits, I've discovered, pondered, and enjoyed as I've read my way around the Web:

♦ Visitors to the Art Gallery of Ontario have to turn AGO's map upside down to figure out the location of the museum's entrance on the building's north side. Different maps may be on order. Or maybe improved signage? At the Detroit Institute of Arts, visitors spend only 2 minutes 56 seconds on average in a gallery. Can you guess how many bother to read the artworks' labels? ("The Museum Is Watching You", Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2010)

♦ Some scientists think earthlings' art and music stand a much better chance than our science or anything else we produce of attracting and holding the interest of extraterrestrials. Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking begs to differ. ("Why Extraterrestrials Like Our Music and Art", Forbes.com, August 19, 2010) 

♦ If you have enough money, you, too, can spend $50,000 — and add another $1,000 a month for maintenance — on a custom fish tank for your home. The fish, by the way, prefer designer lighting and a very good view. ("The Six-Figure Fish Tank Catches On", The New York Times, August 18, 2010)

♦ Grow and scavenge: that's the advice of New York health educator and herbalist Jacoby Ballard, who offers a few pointers on the weeds, er, herbs in his (or your) backyard that go into the makings of a good cup of tea. Discovery: Fertilizing your herbs does nothing much for flavor. ("Making Tea From Plants Grown in the Backyard", The New York Times, July 21, 2010) I bet L.L. Barkat could give us a few tea-related suggestions, too. ("The Art of Drinking Tea", Curator, August 13, 2010)

♦ In the heartland of America, good folks doing good works like to dress up every now and again. A few have even become famous on the streets of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Jackson (Michigan), and Milwaukee. They go by such names as "Shadow Hare", "The Watchman", "Dr. DiscorD", "Razorhawk", and "The Queen of Hearts". These are not folks out in Halloween get-ups. ("Real World Superheroes of the Midwest",  Mental Floss, August 19, 2010)

♦ Carpenter Dalton Ghetti, who lives in Connecticut, makes the point that one can create anything out of something — and leave us awed. His "Pencil Point" artworks require sharp eyes, a precise touch, just three basic tools (he says), and a whole lot of No. 2s. One fact I discovered about him: He does not use a magnifying glass. (See the online gallery of 17 "Pencil Sculptures: Miniature Masterpieces Carved Into Graphite" at TelegraphPics. An informative post on Ghetti is here. A special thanks to my friend Kathleen who brought this artist to my attention.) 

This video, Extreme Artist Sizzle, presents Dalton and two others: Roger Baker, said to produce the world's largest portraits, and Johnny V, who plays a one-of-a-kind guitar.

Extreme Artist Sizzle from Under The Sun Films on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

6:24 a.m. (Poem)

6:24 a.m.

In the first place,
you know it's a simple procedure —
a few big breaths,
some good timing
and no traffic.

You rehearse it in the front seat,
the VW hiccuping down Connecticut,
veering right onto K,
neatly taking the circle at 23rd and Pennsylvania.

You go to all this trouble
and still they don't believe you.

    "Not far enough along,"
    some on-call resident guesses.
    "Too few contractions, Ma'am."

Back home,
the wine runs out;
champagne and a couple of beers
don't help.
Not to mention dear father-in-law's cigars,
that talent he has for sucking air out of the room.

3:30 a.m.
Your mother's fidgeting with pink ribbons
reminds you of pigtails
dipped in a school boy's inks.
You dream of hoisting Danish flags
all over America.

Jacob's putting this off
but you know, you know, he's so tired of waiting.

The doctor's tired of waiting,
his third styrofoam cuppa' forgotten somewhere.

    (The books? They don't prepare you for this.)

3:51 a.m.
It's all fairy tales in OR.
Somebody gives you the needle
and tells you to push.

Not one thing happens.
Not at 4:05
or 5:37
or 6:06 a.m.

You catch a breath.
Now and then your fat German nurse
wipes a sweaty slim blonde brow.

David does a dizzy dance,
the green walls begin to slide,
and then it's everybody yellin'


    (Not for the last time, you think.)

You notice, though, the gauzed-mouthed doctor,
all rubber-handed precision,
beaming his whites now.

6:24 a.m.
Jacob, sticky
and red as a sun-shined berry,
throws you a laugh
in the overhead mirror.

after this long time waiting,
your hands beat the air,
yours and you in love again.

© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem is  for the Tuesday, August 24, Blog Carnival sponsored by Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time.

The Blog Carnival is a biweekly online event open to anyone. Participants write on a one-word prompt or topic. This week's one word is "children".

At Bridget's place you'll find a list of links to all of the contributions, which are posted throughout Tuesday and often through to the end of the week.

The Blog Carnival's FaceBook page is here.

The prompt for the next Blog Carnival, on Tuesday, September 7, is "hope". The complete schedule of prompts through the end of the year also is available at Bridget's.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Muse: Florida's Poet Laureate

Note [Added September 14, 2012]: Edmund Skellings died August 19, 2012. The state poet position currently is vacant. See "Florida Poet Laureate Skellings, 80, Dies", Florida Today, August 21, 2012. An obituary is here.

Edmund Skellings is Florida's third Poet Laureate, a position he assumed in 1980. He was among 400 Florida poets considered and selected by an anonymous panel for nomination by the governor.

In Florida, the position of Poet Laureate, which was established by proclamation in 1928, is a life-time appointment that is not compensated. Franklin L. Wood was the state's first Poet Laureate; he was succeeded by Vivian Laramore Rader, who served from 1931 to 1975. She has been called the "Forgotten Poet Laureate".

* * * * *

Poet Edmund Skellings, who first experimented with poetry on magnetic tape and video while at the University of Iowa, has published more than a half-dozen collections, his most recent the Collected Poems 1958-1998 (University Press of Florida/Gainesville, 1998); it is a compilation of four earlier published books and Skellings' Personal Effects, plus a CD of Skellings reading 50 poems, including two experimental "sound poems" (Florida International University Press, c. 1985). Skellings' other work includes  Living Proof (University Press of Florida, ), Nearing the Millennium, comprising the trilogy Heart Attacks (University Presses of Florida, 1976), Face Value (University Presses of Florida, 1977), and Showing My Age (University Presses of Florida, 1978); In This Tone of Voice (Hillside Press [Cornell College], 1961), an illustrated children's book of verse; and Duels and Duets: Poems with the World (Qara Press [Iowa City], c. 1960), his first book, which won the Chicago Midwest Award for Book Design. 

Skellings also is the author of the 25-page chapbook Alaska Poetry 1964 (University of Alaska), a collection gathered from work of 50 members of the Alaska Writers Workshop.

Hundreds of examples of Skellings' poetry are readily available via the Edmund Skellings Collection at the Florida Institute of Technology and well worth your time. Below are several excerpts, with links to the complete poems, to give an idea of Skellings' voice, his lyricism, the diversity of his subjects (science, politics, visual artists and poets, blues songs, social commentary, and more), his readability, and his wholly accessible imagery. His style ranges from the formal to the more colloquial or slangy, from the humorous to the serious and formal. I found his work deeply interesting.

Moving is a kind of dying. One binds fast
As many ends and odds out of the past
As a sense of the ridiculous allows,
Some awkward items are too large, have lost
The magic of compelling an attachment.
The least important things are left for last....
~ From "A Writer's Attic" in Face Value and Collected Poems

When the good Contessa, his father's daughter,
Imagined she saw the music of the spheres
Strewn in the woven hair of the heavens,
Gossamer star notes of mathematic creation,
Her mind tasted the universe first hand, felt all,
Knew all, thought the great wordless poem of night,
Luminous dusts of golds and silvers in blowing tresses.

Her hands became combs of grace in the air thereafter.

The bones of her body were like bird bones then, like
Ballet bones, like flying dancers....
~ From "Ada" in Personal Effects in Collected Poems

I suppose it was the picture of Frenchie,
Toothless grin leaning on the big radial
Engine of the Cessna with the broken prop,
Broken ski, shack in the background,
Rusted oil drums scattered everywhere,
I suppose it was the picture of Frenchie,

But I have tossed aside the book on politics
And I am flying once more in the Bush
Past that huge white rock of the sky
That the Eskimo call The Great One,
And I skid down again at Talkeetna
To drink hot coffee in the one cafe....
~ From "Alaska" in Face Value and Collected Poems

Euclid rolled over in his bones
When Newell & Simon instructed
Their machine to look for new proof
For bisecting the ordinary triangle.

No one at all expected
Except perhaps Newell & Simon
The machine to say something unheard of.
~ From "Artificial Intelligence" in Living Proof and Collected Poems

I am sure those near heard your pen shriek,
All that woe from the black ink well.
Jesus. Each joy of the earth
Gold as a Christmas toy. Faith
For the falcon's life. Despair
On the nun's death. Every thing
Spur for a passion without tether,
Each Easter sheet a wafer without measure.
~ "Eucharist" in Personal Effects in Collected Poems

Skellings Website includes examples of his animated poetry and audio recordings, as well as a descriptive list of his poetry collections.

Skellings is currently University Professor of Humanities at Florida Institute of Technnology/Melbourne. He has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, founded the Alaska Writers Workshop in 1963 and the Alaska Flying Poets in 1964 and, many years later, the Florida Writers Network, which electronically linked creative writing programs at three universities. He joined the faculty of Florida Atlantic University in 1967, where he continued with audiotape and electronic "augmentation" experiments (video poems with quadraphonic sound). In 1973, he became director of the International Institute for Creative Communication at Florida International University; as a result of his work there, Skellings received a Governor's Award for community service in the arts.

In the 1980s, the poet's long-standing interest in the application of electronic technology in the arts, humanities, and education led to patents for his computer teaching system, which made functional use of color on a CRT (cathode ray  tube); his pioneering creation of a computer program, Electric Poet, with an Apple microcomputer with an e-mail capability — used by universities in the state's higher education system; the founding of ARTNET, the first arts and humanities microcomputer network in the United States; and continuing color research and computer-assisted teaching (CAT) programs. While serving as chair of the Florida Speaker's Advisory Panel for Computers and Telecommunication (1978-1990), Skellings implemented a statewide computer network for the Florida House of Representatives. In 1990, he became founding director of the Florida Center for Electronic Communication at FAU, establishing a supercomputer multimedia studio laboratory for state-of-the-art educational technologies. 

Nationally recognized for his innovations, Skellings devised in 1992 a way to teach poetry using a network of supercomputers and advanced imaging software that generated moving images representing the ideas expressed in lines of poems. His "animated poetry" has won awards at film and poetry festivals worldwide. 

The Florida Center for Electronic Communication produced a video biography of Skellings, Nearing the Millennium, in 1995. In addition to leading poets' commentaries about Skellings, the film contains historical documentation and 15 of Skellings' animated poems. In 1998, Skellings instituted at the center a graduate degree program in computer arts, at the time the only such program at a public university in the southeastern United States. Skellings also created the first collection of 3-D animated poetry, Word Songs, "interpreted" with computer graphics and special effects and recorded in Dolby sound. He retired from the center in 2006.


Edmund Skellings Electronic Collection at Florida Tech

Edmund Skellings Published Works in Library of Congress Collection

Florida and Edmund Skellings Page at Poets.org

Florida Atlantic University Faculty Bio for Edmund Skellings

Transformations: A Collaboration of Art and Poetry (For this multimedia collaboration, chaired by Skellings, 12 established artists were paired with 12 published poets. The work created as a result of the artist-poet pairings was presented in April 2010 and is documented in a book, which according to the Transformations site is available through Brevard Art Museum, in Melbourne, Florida. The purpose of the collaboration was to broaden and enhance appreciation of one field of art by involving it with another and then sharing the efforts widely; it also sought to challenge writers and artists to think outside their respective fields. Progress was documented on an interactive blog.)

The Florida Book Review

Florida Division of Cultural Affairs

Linked In Page

Sunday, August 22, 2010

No Easy Solace (Poem)

No Easy Solace

No easy solace

by treasure
both moth and rust consume.

The heart contused,
it gives no solace

to memory once blacked
and blued.

its light from star or moon

as from a spider's womb

a tincture of time

a spring rain warmed.

© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem is for a Random Acts of Poetry feature, "Solace is a Wave, or a Cricket",  at The High Calling Blogs. The prompt is "solace".

Anyone may participate by writing a brief poem that uses the word (or just the concept) and leaving your link in any of L.L. Barkat's comment boxes at Seedlings in Stone by Wednesday, August 25.

A source of inspiration for this poem is Matthew 6:19-21.

Thought for the Day

Out of our contradictions we build our harmonies.
~ Stanley Kunitz

The much-honored poet Stanley Kunitz (1905 - 2006) published both poetry and translations, the latter including Poems of Akhmatova. Among his final work are The Collected Poems (2002), Passing Through: The Later Poems, New and Selected (1997), and The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden (2007), which included photography by Marnie Crawford Samuelson. 

In 2000, at age 95, Kunitz became the 10th Poet Laureate of the United States and served through 2001. Many years before (1974 - 1976) he had occupied the same position when it was known as Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress. (See Dinitia Smith, "Wiser, Kunitz Returning as Laureate", The New York Times, August 2, 2000.) He was also New York State Poet Laureate (1987 - 1989).

Biography and Bibliography

NPR's "Poet Stanley Kunitz at 100", July 29, 2005

PBS Interview with Elizabeth Farnsworth

Kunitz at Dodge Poetry Festival

Poetry Foundation Page on Kunitz

Gregory Orr, Stanley Kunitz: An Introduction to the Poetry (Columbia University Press, 1985) (This book also is on GoogleBooks.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Poetry embedded with links, reclaimed objects, a monument-ous archaelogical find, animation as book trailer, and a tweet-inspired visualization of "the nation's pulse"  are yours to enjoy in today's edition of Saturday Sharing.

✭ In these "dog days" of August, going virtual has its advantages. If it's too hot and humid where you are, go here and take a virtual poetry tour. Thanks to the Poetry Foundation, you don't have to leave the air conditioning behind when you visit Washington, D.C., or Chicago this way.

✭ After one of those poetry tours, you might want to relax at the easel. Go here and create your own new Mondrian. All it takes is a little deft clicking on of squares and voila. . . a masterpiece of geometric abstraction!

✭ Objects reclaimed from old markets in Europe are given new life when they fall in the hands of designer Leslie Oschmann. Oschmann's latest bespoke inspirations turn rescued paintings into stunning tote bags.  Go here to view how Oschmann uses cast-offs in inventive new ways.

✭ At the new Web-based poetry journal Spiral Orb you'll find a poem that is composed of fragments from work published in the journal's "Spiral Orb One" issue. The poem serves as a table of contents, and each line is embedded with a hyperlink to its original poem. Clicking on a line of text takes you to the poem that is itself hyperlinked. The inventive approach called "permaculture poetics" is described by editor Eric Magrane as "an experiment in juxtaposition, interrelationships, and intertexuality. . . Anticipate the poems making contact with one another in an odd and perfect manner." A new issue, "Spiral Orb Two", is to appear in October. The submission period for that is open until September 1. The journal accepts work by both established and new poets. Submission details are here.

✭ In what is billed as "the most exciting find" in 50 years, archaeologists have uncovered a second henge — this one a circular ceremonial ditch surrounding a smaller circle — at Stonehenge. Here's a BBC story on the unearthed monument.

✭ This is to bring you a smile: the charming trailer for the book Get Ahead Fred by Daisy Dawes. For an interview with the modelmaker, author, and illustrator, go here.

✭ The "pulse of the nation" via Twitter has now been captured in a visualization, thanks to researchers from Harvard and Northeastern universities. The time-lapse video below reveals the changes in "Twitter mood expressions" over a day in the United States.

Friday, August 20, 2010

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ At the Corcoran Gallery of Art's Gallery 31, Washington, D.C., "Body/Image", with work by Anne Austin Pearce, Gray Lyons, April Behnke, and Talia Greene, continues until August 29. Each artist offers her emotional and psychological responses to the human body—how it moves, how it functions, and how it gives pleasure.

Image pictured at left: Anne Austin Pearce, Scab Picker, 22" x 30", 2010, acrylic, ink, and pencil on paper

The Corcoran's wonderful exhibition "Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration" remains on view until September 12. If you're in the area, try not to miss it.

✭ Work by the marvelous master glass artist Lino Tagliapietra is on view through September 17 at Pismo Fine Art Glass, Denver, Colorado. The exhibition, "La Liberta di Essere", takes as its concept "freedom to create with great feelings and enjoyment".  This beautiful 20-page electronic exhibition catalogue reveals Tagliapietra's extraordinary craft and exuberant creation. (I last saw Tagliapietra's work at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery. An online exhibition is here.)

✭ Beginning August 27, Elizabeth Keithline exhibits in "Smarter/Faster/Higher" at the Craft Alliance, St. Louis, Missouri. The show, which continues until January 19, 2011, and will travel to the Danforth Museum next April, presents Keithline's site-specific installation of full-scale woven wire human figures (see image at right; click to enlarge), which will be constructed to "slowly begin to walk, then run, then stretch to ascend the opposite wall" of the gallery space. Arrayed in poses varying from prone to climbing, Keithline's 26 figures will be hung from the gallery ceiling, suspended from wall brads on, or secured to floor pedestals. Viewers will be able to walk among the sculptures.

✭ Visitors to Pomona, California's American Museum of Ceramic Art will enjoy "Ah Leon: Memories of Elementary School and the Spirit of YiXing Tea Ware", on view through September 25. The exhibition features 100 YiXing teapots, 18th Century to contemporary, juxtaposed against traditional tea ware work by Montana ceramic artist Richard Notkin, who is known for creating YiXing-inspired ceramics that serve as social and political commentary. In addition to pots that resemble gourds, eggplant, bamboo, and mythic creatures, the show includes Ah Leon's life-size replica of a Chinese classroom, made entirely of clay.

Image pictured at left: Richard Notkin, Cube Skull Teapot (Variation #23), YiXing Series, 2000

✭ The National Quilt Museum, in Paducah, Kentucky, is presenting "Vibrations: Color Resonance in Antique Quilts 1860 - 1940" through August 31. The quilts on display, from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection curated by Gerald E. Roy, feature a stunningly colorful array of traditional vernacular quilts. 

Center Medallion Tied Comforter, c 1890, Wool & Cotton
On Loan, Courtesy Pilgrim/Roy Collection

To learn about Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy and a NQM traveling exhibit of Pilgrim/Roy quilts, go here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

American Hero

Pat is not more important or special than any of the others
who have fought in these wars, but the truth of what happened
to Pat — and to every soldier who has died — is important.
The truth shines a light on systematic corruption, incompetence
and lack of accountability in the military and in government.
 ~ Mary Tillman, Mother of Pat Tillman

With Army Ranger Pat Tillman's headline-making death by so-called "friendly fire" in 2004, truth was lost somewhere in the unforgiving, mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.

Tomorrow, August 20, Amir Bar-Lev, director of My Kid Could Paint That (2007), releases his new documentary, The Tillman Story. The filmmakes goes in search of the facts of how Tillman died, uncovering and exposing in the process the now-known government effort to make propaganda of the former pro-footballer's death. Coinciding with the film's release is the re-release of Boots on the Ground by Dusk: Searching for Answers in the Death of Pat Tillman (Modern Times, 2008), by Mary Tillman, Pat Tillman's mother.

The trailer for the film, narrated by actor Josh Brolin, is below. (Note: The audio for this video and the next video has been programmed to start immediately. Simply click one off to hear the other.)

In this clip, Bar-Lev, who had access to family members, talks of how he shot his documentary:

"The truth", said Oscar Wilde, "is rarely pure and never simple." 

About Pat Tillman, the complex questions of what is truth and what is fiction remain unresolved.


CBS 60 Minutes Video: "Who Killed Pat Tillman", Part 1 and Part 2 (2008)

Jeffrey Brown, "Conversation: Director Amir Bar-Lev Tells 'The Tillman Story' in New Documentary", PBS NewsHour Art Beat, July 9, 2010 (Transcript and Video)

Sam Stein, "Pat Tillman's Father to Army Investigator: 'F--- You...And Yours' (Exclusive), The Huffington Post, August 12, 2010

Mary Tillman, "Pat Tillman's mother on Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal: I told you so", Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2010

Toni Monkovic, "Revisiting the Pat Tillman Story, and McChyrstal's Role", The New York Times, June 23, 2010

Eugene Hernandez, "Tillman Doc Coming to Theaters; Weinstein Makes Deal for Sundance Hit", IndieWIRE, February 5, 2010

Ari Karpel, "Documentaries Look at Mistruths in Wartime", Indiana Gazette.com, August 16, 2010

"ASU Remembers Pat Tillman" (YouTube Video) 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Neil Blomkamp's Alive in Joburg

We don't want to be here. This place 
doesn't want us. We have nothing, nothing....

They make people uncomfortable... we don't know
what they think... what they do... so... they're going to make
us unsafe... and then we will be in trouble...

... they were exploiting these fears...
so that anything that rises up against their institutions, 
they will just knock down.

The short embedded below, which inspired the film director Neill Blomkamp's debut production District 9, is, at its simplest, science fiction, a story about extraterrestrials stranded in Johannsburg, South Africa, a city I visited during a two-week trip to the country in the late 1990s and where, sadly, I was witness to the real-life version of life both separate and unequal, both privileged and deeply impoverished, both powerful and utterly lacking in rights. (I will never forget being in the streets of Joburg during what passed for rush hour. When someone on our bus inquired as to why hundreds upon hundreds of black South Africans were gathering — the bus, taking us to an event at the stock exchange, was moving at glacial speed through the clogged streets — we were told it was to await the large open-back trucks that would be transporting the workers back to the countryside where they lived, to an area I'd visited only days before for hand-crafts where I'd seen poverty worse than anything I'd seen years before in our Appalachia or on Native American lands in our West. At the time, the exchange rate per rand was approximately US $0.33. (Today, it's approximately US $1.37.) Many tourists were bartering.)

Separate and unequal. Not human.

Banner at 2008 San Diego Comic-Con Convention

As the story unfolds in Blomkamp's film, released by Spy Films, the beings from outer space come to Earth to rob the planet of its resources, such as electricity. Initially, they seem to be welcomed; then,  struggling, they begin committing crimes and clash repeatedly with police and locals. Outcast, the non-humans eventually decide they just want to go "home", to leave the shanty town where they're resident in far worse conditions than the locals of Joburg, locals who themselves are oppressed. As Blomkamp relates it, his story is allegory. His story is about apartheid

Though obviously science fiction, this brilliant short has a documentary's feel, thanks to Blomkamp's cinema verite style. In fact, Blomkamp uses interviews with real South Africans whom he asked for opinions about Zimbabwean refugees in the country. The narratives we hear in the film are taken from the answers Blomkamp recorded during his interviews. Among them are responses such as those at the beginning of this post.

The oppressed can be oppressors, too, Blomkamp makes clear.

This is one of the most thought-provoking works of social criticism I've seen. I don't believe it's possible to watch it and not ask, "In which camp would I be? Am I?"

Alive In Joburg - Neill Blomkamp from Spy Films on Vimeo.

The film director, who was born in South Africa and graduated from Vancouver Film School in Canada, was listed recently in Time magazine's "The 2010 TIME 100,  People Who Most Affect Our World" in the "Artists" category (May 10, 2010).

Blomkamp's District 9 was released through Sony Pictures and received four Academy Award nominations, including a nod for Best Picture.

The director is reported to be working on an original script, also science fiction.


The trailer for District 9 is here. Blomkamp's Yellow may be seen on YouTube. The latter is about what happens when a thinking machine becomes part of society.

See Meredith Woerner's "5 Things You Didn't Know About District 9".

Alive in Joburg on FaceBook