Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Barchester's Ghosts (Poem)

Barchester's Ghosts
The Supernatural Demise of Archdeacon Haynes

and I'll come

to merry make

a midnight story

before roaring fire

hearts cold kept

voices louder grow

this evening Christmas


You who listen

In Barchester Cathedral

carvings to life

one black cat

crouched in spirited

menacing hooded figure

ambitious cleric's plan:

It be schemed

one aged predecessor

archdeacon Pulteney hanger-on

his demise arranged

successor John Haynes


Plain this story

with obituary notice

From academic honors

holy quick received

to cleric Haynes

He to archdeaconry

own Barchester renown

sermons elegant penned

of episcopacy urbane

too a bachelor

57, young he

his odd end

such tragedy appalling


Abide this introduction

flashback this story

needed facts be

Dr. Black cataloguer

our story's link

what little matter

tin box sealed

of diaries details

50 years gone

Home Black box

its tale within

chance for plotting

Haynes' death to


Before too far

get we pray

notice what's past

Archdeacon's diaries historian

story within story

cleric to career

fashioned single stair-rod

Aged archdeacon's fall

his long reign

Haynes himself successor

Church's messy business

Haynes upon mercy

attention turned thoughts

clued in misericord


Haynes' fate fixed

grotesques a part

this mystery playing

with black cat

enrobed monarch ears

horns curving hands

muffled mantled figure

rent its name

King of Terrors

from Hanging Oak

sore fed bones

filled with poppets

on unleaved branches

Haynes' Barchester ghosts


Return to tale

no more shadows

In journals Haynes'

dark and black

poor cleric's fears


In evensong service

hand on carving

Soft wood it

till sudden move

felt startled feral

arisen alive head

in bid to

Haynes left much


Night thickened mystery's

Alone, his candle

Haynes up stairs

May I come

lowed voiced greetings

on New Year

Haynes to room

repaired locked door

words he heard

sharply Take care!

black between feet

but no cat

had yet saw


Goings and comings

such mystery did

Taps on doors

no one there.

anew with depression

Haynes own undoing

to Barchester Cathedral


Fall came spirits

spirits felled Haynes'

at evensong experience

Hand alight on

carved wood chilly

but soft turned.

persisted black cat

on stairs. Dreams

Feared taloned hand

Haynes on shoulder

Prayers prayed for

respite from beating


Whispers whispered whispering

but unremarked visitors

Haynes tried firm

himself bold to


Draw nearer now

story to end

on 26 February

came brutal on

face such fright

as by animal

attackers murderous ever

secrets cloistered dark


What questions have

knowing he, Haynes,

archdeacon off? Black

to Barchester Cathedral

evil to identify

twas death's figures

in Barchester stalls

dasterdly deed do.

touched alive wood's

Black knew wood's

this mystery's solution


By chance Black

made of fragments

Wood's owner found

Black was paper

recounting arms split

Death figure revealing

charm it be

spell to remember.

his bad dreams


Paper aloud Black

the writing legible

words several feared

Grew I in

watered with blood

in church stand

me a hand

you will return

lest fetched away

by night shall

by every day

when wind blows

this February night

I this date

knocked mark it

of second month

new year same

as Haynes himself

die 1699 AD

John Austin carver

of Barchester stalls

from Hanging Oak

three figures gripping

M.R. James' atmospheric short story "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral" is among a number of ghost stories told round the fire in England. It has been adapted for television numerous times, both in England and in the United States. In the 1970s, it was broadcast as part of the BBC's A Ghost Story for Christmas series. It is available in book form and as an audiobook. For those so inclined, an in-depth narrative of the story is here.

My "Barchester's Ghosts" is a humble adaptation of the story in verse, which I've arbitrarily conformed to couplets totaling three words and one, respectively (or vice versa). I offer it in response to poet David Wheeler's challenge to craft for this week's Random Acts of Poetry at The High Calling a poem about Noel Ghosts. The deadline for contributions is December 2, 6:00 p.m. PST.

I also offer this for One Stop Poetry's weekly One Shot Wednesday event. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and evening and every Wednesday for links to the many contributors' "one shot" poems.

Poem at Red Lion Sq.

I'm delighted to share the news that my poem "Not Because of You" is presented today at Red Lion Sq., along with a beautiful poem by Ken Hada. The fine audio recordings of the poems are part of Episode 24.

Red Lion Sq., which launched this past summer, offers free weekly podcasts of contemporary poetry. It was founded by its host and co-editor Amy Watkins and co-editor Jae Newman, both of whom are poets. You'll find their biographical profiles and those of their team here

For information on submitting work to Red Lion Sq., please go here.

Red Lion Sq. on FaceBook

Painter Agnes Martin

Now I paint with my back to the world.
It took me 20 years to paint completely nonobjective, 
not above this world.
~ Agnes Martin

The abstract painter Agnes Martin was born in Canada in 1912 and became a citizen of the United States around 1950. She had her first solo exhibition in 1958, at New York City's Betty Parsons Gallery, and then in the late 1960s stopped painting for seven years. She picked up her brushes again and returned to her canvas in 1974. In 1976, she produced a film, Gabriel.* Martin was inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1989 and was the subject in 1991 of a retrospective exhibition organized by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam; a second retrospective exhibition, at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, followed in 1992. She was honored in 1997 at the Venice Biennale. Martin, who lived in New Mexico for many years, died in 2004, age 92.

My paintings are not about what is seen. 
They are about what is known forever in the mind.

I've provided below links to images of some of Martin's work. It's work to which I've always been drawn, because it is so subtle and highly reduced, its hand-drawn graphite vertical and horizontal lines elegantly precise (though not perfect) and almost imperceptible. The last time I saw an exhibition of Martin's work, at the Dia:Beacon, in Beacon, New York, I spent a long time just looking, thinking how intimate her paintings become when you sit quietly with them — you have to get close to try to see what's in them; also how contemplative, even moving they can be. While her work may not be to everyone's taste, I think it's gorgeous and deeply serene. It's as if she gathered up the brilliant light and colors of New Mexico and washed and rewashed them, over and over, until they've begun to disappear because whatever she might have come up with could never compete with what God created.

Martin spoke thoughtfully and expressively about herself (especially about how she trained herself to stop thinking) and her work. Immediately below is a wonderful 20-minute interview with the painter, conducted by Chuck Smith and Sono Kuwayama in November 1997 at Martin's Taos studio. 

I don't have any ideas myself. I have a vacant mind...
in order to do exactly what the inspiration calls for.
And I don't start to paint until after I have the inspiration.
And after I have it, I make up my mind
 that I'm not going to interfere.

Agnes Martin Interview (20:00 version, 1997) from Chuck Smith on Vimeo.


* The 16-mm film, transferred to DVD, was screened in June of this year at Lucy Cavendish College in the United Kingdom, in conjunction with an exhibition of Martin's work at Kettle's Yard Gallery in Cambridge. The film is described as the story of "a boy's relationship to nature and abstraction on a mountain odyssey". The show at Kettle's Yard, installation photos of which can be seen here on FaceBook (Martin's work does not reproduce well, I think), comprised work from Martin's later years and included 10 canvases painted in New Mexico between 1991 and 2002.

Images of Agnes Martin's Work at Zwirner & Wirth, New York City (2003 Exhibition)

Images of Agnes Martin's Work in 01 Magazine Blog, February 14, 2010

Agnes Martin at Dia

Artist Profile at Nancy Doyle Fine Art

Artist Profile at Ask ART: The Artists' Bluebook

Mary Lance's Film Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World, 2002 (A brief Q&A with the producer-director of the documentary, which took four years to make (1998-2002), is here.)

Following is a compilation of books and catalogues, many of which are available only through resellers:

Agnes Martin, Recent Paintings 2000, Pace Gallery, 2000

Agnes Martin, Writings, Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2005 

Agnes Martin and Heinz Liesbrock, Agnes Martin: The Islands, Richter Verlag, 2005

Agnes Martin, Edward Hirsch, and Ned Rifkin, Agnes Martin: The Nineties and Beyond, Hatje Cantz Publishers, 2002 

Agnes Martin et al., The Perception of the Horizontal, Walther Konig, 2006

Agnes Martin et al., Singular Forms (Sometimes Repeated), Guggenheim Museum, 2004

Rhea Anastas et al., Agnes Martin, Yale University Press, 2010

Barbara Haskell, Anna C. Chave, and Rosalind Krauss, Agnes Martin, Whitney Museum of Art, 1992

Timothy Robert Rodgers, In Pursuit of Perfection: The Art of Agnes Martin, Maria Martinez, and Florence Pierce, Museum of New Mexico Press, 2005

Agnes Martin Videos 

Among many articles about Martin online are these: Ben La Rocco, "Agnes Martin, Peter Blum Gallery", Review in The Brooklyn Rail, March 2008; Holland Cotter, "A Series of Lines in Pencil, Leading to a Realm of Joy",  Review in The New York Times, August 25, 2006; and Holland Cotter's Obituary for Agnes Martin in The New York Times, December 17, 2004.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Interview with Poet Ami Mattison (Part 1)

. . . [I]n the final instance, I believe 
a good poem is a good poem. . . .
~ Spoken Word Artist, Poet, and Storyteller Ami Mattison

Ami Mattison is a poet who also is a storyteller who brings her work to life through spoken word performances. I first had the pleasure of reading a poem of Ami's that she had posted to one of my poetry groups at the networking site She Writes. I have been impressed ever since not only with Ami's deep sensitivity to words and her understanding of words' use and power, but also with Ami's writing at her blog poetryNprogress, where you'll find posts on creativity, creative success and diligence, and many other informative essays on writing and professional and creative development. Ami also is a champion of other poets; at SheWrites, she offers perceptive comments on drafts and unqualified, unstinting encouragement.

Ami is the author of a chapbook, Slug. Mojo. Poetry; has produced a demo CD, Strange and Potent Mixture; has published some of her writing in the anthology The Very Inside; and co-edited the anthology Not Your Mama's Cookbook (King's Crossing Press, 2002). She frequently leads writing and spoken-word performance workshops.

I asked Ami to sit virtually with me for an interview, via e-mail; I am especially pleased to be able to share that interview with you now.

* * * * *

Maureen Doallas: What influenced your decision to become a poet?

Ami Mattison: Reading great poetry and falling in love with poets and poems during my college years propelled me towards writing and becoming a poet. Until that time, from childhood into young adulthood, I wrote primarily short stories, and I dreamed of becoming a novelist. While I loved poetry, writing it and becoming a poet weren't even on my radar yet. When I was introduced to the poetry and other writings of feminist poets Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde, not only did I fall in love with their work; their writings showed me what was really possible with poetry—how it could change hearts, minds, and lives, how it could be located in personal experience and simultaneously illuminate how such experience intersects, collides, or becomes intricately interconnected with culture, history, and politics. With their lives and with their work, they were highly influential in my determination to write poetry and become a poet.

At the same time, my friends were very influential in my pursuit to become a poet. In young adulthood, I hesitated to call myself a poet and to own that identity, primarily because I didn't think my poetry was very good. But I'd share my poetry with my friends, and they all were so supportive and loving about my efforts. They kept saying, "You're a great poet! Your poetry is brilliant!" And while my poetry was certainly not brilliant at that time, [my friends'] encouragement was invaluable and nurtured my identity as a poet and my work.

MD: Do you recall the first poem you ever wrote?

AM: The first poem I ever wrote was about my father, and I used the metaphor and descriptions of his hands to describe both his rough and his gentle nature. My parents asked me to read it to some family friends, and that was the occasion for my first poetry performance as well. 

MD: What most satisfies you about being a poet?

AM: The actual work of poetry, playing around with language, and figuring out what language can and cannot seem to express are so much fun to me. Sometimes I get frustrated when I'm working and unable to express exactly what I want. But there is nothing quite like that feeling of stringing together words, making meaning, and expressing something more surprising and more honest than I had originally conceived. So, playing around with language and being surprised by what I write are the most satisfying parts of being a poet.

MD: What prompted you to begin performing your work?

AM: Throughout the 1990s, I presented my work in a number of literary readings. But these experiences were unsatisfying. In my writing, I was working very hard on the sounds and rhythms of my poetry, and I didn't know how to use my voice and my body yet to convey these sounds and rhythms. In 2000, I started going to an "open mic" called Cliterati, which at that time was exclusively for women writers. I really dug that scene, and the poets were doing different things with their voices and bodies, taking some risks and performing. So, I slowly but surely began to do the same. I began to memorize my work and began taking more and more risks. Before I left Cliterati, I was adding music to some of my pieces, collaborating with musicians, touring individually and with other poets (and actually making money), had recorded a demo CD, which I still sell at my performances, and working very hard to develop a unique brand of spoken word.

MD: What would you describe as the difference(s) between writing a poem to be read and writing a poem to be spoken aloud?

AM: A common search that drives readers to poetryNprogress is "how to write a spoken word poem". So, in an effort to answer this question, I've thought a lot about the differences between poems intended to be read from the page and performance pieces. However, I don't really have any definitive answers to this question. The interesting truth is, any poem potentially can be a spoken word piece. But the more successful spoken word pieces are easy to follow when listened to. Sure, most spoken word pieces need to be listened to several times to really understand their full meanings. But poets who are not writing for listening audiences don't seem so concerned about using seemingly cryptic metaphors and language that seems more like a code than some straightforward conveyance of thought. 

A lot of poetry intended for the page seems to be written for an audience well-versed and educated in poetry and literature. Spoken word poetry is intended to be understood and enjoyed by everyone and anyone. So, accessibility tends to set apart "page poetry" from spoken word poetry. In the final instance, I believe a good poem is a good poem, and it can be read from the page or it can be spoken, and its value and brilliance will shine, regardless of the medium through which it is delivered.

MD: What makes a spoken word performance successful?

AM: A successful spoken word performance requires, first, a good poem, one that resonates with a diverse audience. And it also requires several important components, such as meaningful, committed gestures and intonation and pitch of one's voice. For me, what always wins is passion—when a performer manages to emote passion in her performance of a poem and to convey love for what she's doing. And when she does it a unique, interesting, and fresh way, I never fail to be impressed and inspired.

MD: In what kinds of venues do you perform? Which do you prefer, and why?

AM: I've performed in many different venues: bars, cafes, theatres, hotel conference rooms, university classrooms, stadiums, outdoor stages, and even streets and sidewalks. Where I perform is less important than the conditions under which I perform. 

My favorite venues are small ones, where even a small crowd feels big because everyone is packed in tight and the energy is super-high. And I like to be relatively close to my audience so I can feel its vibe. I like to be able to see my audience; it's disconcerting to me when the stage lights are bright and the audience lights are dark. Not seeing my audience means I have one less physical sense through which to "feel" [my listeners] and understand how they're receiving my poetry. All that said, I do have a penchant for street performance. It's raw, exciting, and scary all at the same time.

MD: What was your first performing experience like?

AM: There are a few "first performances" for me. 

When I first started reading my poetry, I stood behind a music stand and tried to use my best serious "poet voice". You know the one—every line goes up at the end and sounds like a question. I was never good at "literary" readings. Trying to conform to some standard notion of how a poem must be read was never very fun.

Another "first performance" was at an all-women's open mic, called Cliterati. I printed my poems on tiny pieces of paper and shyly read them to the audience.

A final "first performance" was my first paid solo gig. It was in Philadelphia at a women's arts festival. I busted out a few raw poems in my typically loud way. And the audience got really excited. After my performance, the host told the audience to quiet down, because the poet coming after me was sort of a literary poet, using really obscure images and a serious poet voice. Man, that poet hated me! She glared at me after the show and refused to speak to me!

MD: Thank you, Ami, for sharing with us thoughts about your craft.

Next week, on December 6, I'll be sharing Part II of my interview with Ami, who will be discussing her writing life, themes and subjects in her work, the use of personal information in poetry, the influence of her Southern background on her writing, and writing for particular audiences. Until then, please listen to Ami perform live her "Anti-Love Poem" on this 2007 YouTube recording.

Other Links to Ami

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hunger Theory (Poem)

Depression-Era Childhood Faces, Soup Kitchen, St. Louis, Missouri

Hunger Theory

What we know of demand theory,
     of deep recessions and business cycles

you won't find in books about the great depression.
     Where we come from, mice and men both scrap

for potato skins when the light dies. Even the mockingbird frets,
     mourning its way for lack of relief at the end of a bread line.

Nothing you've read about last runs on banks as dried up
     as Midwest dirt done consuming a day's bucket of water

removes the taste of sparrow bones in our mouths, prevents
     our mothers' migration from their harvest-busted fields.

Farmers, unforgiven their loans, offer us bowls of dust
     we turn upside down. Patient, we try to curb the appetites

our dreams feed, cinch our lips, keep staring straight out, our eyes
     not so good at masking the indifference we reflect back on you.

Hunger, don't you know, can put up a fierce fight:
     make do without shoes, a change of clothes, even a new deal

hero. But an empty basket, big or small, just wastes you, waiting
     and wanting till your time runs out.

© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas

I wrote this poem for One Shoot Photography Sunday at One Stop Poetry, which today features a Picture Prompt Poetry Challenge using the image shown above.

Anyone may participate in the challenge. Go here to read the two poems introducing the prompt, "The Day After..." by Leslie Moon and "Waste" by Pete Marshall, and to learn what to do to accept the challenge.

Thought for the Day

Devi Prayer: Hymn to the Divine Mother

The Divine Mother is everywhere.
She is in everything.
She is the Divine Essence that lives within all beings.


My thanks to Christine Valters Paintner at Abbey of the Arts, where I first heard this recording.

A sequel: "Light of the Presence - God the Mother"

Devi: The Great Goddess  (Website Created for Exhibition at Sackler Gallery, Washington, D.C.)

Heaven on Earth Music Co.

Craig Pruess, Sacred Chants of Devi: Mother Divine, CD and MP3

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

From Gothic France to the Gettysburg Address to contemporary influencers, this edition of Saturday Sharing takes you through centuries of architecture, history, art, literature, and poetry.

✭ This animation of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, read by Mitch Rapoport and designed and animated by Adam Gault and Stefanie Augustine, is beautifully done.

Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault on Vimeo.

✭ Images, texts, charts, and historical maps are provided at Mapping Gothic France, a marvelous site, currently in beta, that allows you to consider the formation of France in the 12th and 13th Centuries in the dimensions of space, time, and narrative. The project is the work of Columbia University professor of art history Stephen Murray and Vassar College assistant professor of art Andrew Tallon, who collaborated with institutions' respective art departments and visual resources libraries.

Andrew Tallon Website

Be sure to visit Murray's Websites, listed here, including Amiens Cathedral and Medieval Paris; they are wonderful resources.

Columbia University Visual Media Center on FaceBook

✭ The nonprofit Center for the Art of Translation, parent organization of the anthology and book series TWO LINES World Writing in Translations, Lit&Lunch, and Poetry Inside Out, promotes international literature and translation through publishing, teaching, and educational public events, such as the Two Voices reading series.

The CAT on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Another wonderful resource is ARTstor, a nonprofit digital image library for education and scholarship and the primary image bank for Columbia University's Department of Art History and Archaeology. The digital library is open to anyone affiliated with a participating college or university, museum, public library, or K-12 school. Its collections comprise contributions from museums, individual photographers, scholars, special collections at libraries, and photo archives, including architectural drawings and renderings, stills of performance pieces, and outstanding examples of visual arts and material culture. 

ARTstor on FaceBook

✭ The site Aluka (from the Zulu for "to weave") is an international and collaborative project to create an online digital library of scholarly resources about and from Africa. Among its collections are African cultural sites and landscapes, African plants (now at JSTOR Plant Science), and southern Africa's political struggles for freedom, which tracks and documents the liberation and independence movements in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Content may be viewed by discipline (African studies, archaeology, art and art history, history, geography, and labor studies). Among its library tools are a 3D viewer that allows users to visualize buildings and structures in three dimensions and a page viewer that provides the experience of viewing  digitized content as if from a book. 

Use of Aluka is open to nonprofit institutions of higher education, secondary schools, public libraries, museums, and other research and cultural institutions worldwide. Go here for additional information about accessing content in the collections.

✭ This full-version 13-minute documentary, Influencers, written and directed by Paul Rojanathara and Davis Johnson, seeks to identify influencers and how they affect creativity and trends in music, fashion, and entertainment.

INFLUENCERS FULL VERSION from R+I creative on Vimeo.

Influencers on FaceBook

Friday, November 26, 2010

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

Writers Talk at the Courtauld Gallery

In October, six writers — Ali Smith, Amit Chaudhuri, Ruth Padel, Andrew Motion, Michael Morpugo, and Margaret Drabble — took up an invitation to select from the permanent collection of The Courtauld Gallery in London a painting that moves, engages, or challenges them and to offer their personal reflections on the piece chosen. 

In the first of two-program series hosted by Somerset House writer-in-residence Romesh Gunesekera, Smith spoke about Cezanne's The Etang des Soeurs, Osny, near Pontoise; Chaudhuri talked about Renoir's La Loge; and Padel reflected on Bruegel the Elder's Landscape With the Flight into Egypt. In the second program, Motion discussed Rousseau's The Toll Gate; Morpurgo examined Cezanne's Montagne Sainte-Victoire; and Drabble addressed van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear.

The writers' talks were recorded and are available as audio slideshows on The Guardian. Margaret Drabble's, Ali Smith's, and Andrew Motion's reflections are herehere, and here respectively. Michael Morpugo's talk is here. Check here for Ruth Padel's reflections and here for Amit Chaudhuri's. Podcasts subsequently will be posted on the Somerset House site.

Previously, writer Ruth Padel was writer-in-residence at Somerset House and also undertook a "Picture This" series. Downloadable podcasts of that series' talks by writers Philip Pullman (Manet's A Bar at the Folies-Bergere), Julia Neuberer (Pissarro's Lordship Lane Station), Colm Toibin (Cezanne's Route Tournante), Gillian Beer (Vanessa Bell's Conversation), Hisham Matar (Cranach's Adam and Eve), and Jackie Kay (Degas' Woman at a Window and Lady with a Parasol) are available here, along with links to audio slideshows of the talks via The Guardian.

These writers' reflections on art are well worth the few minutes required for listening time. Don't miss them!

The Courtauld Gallery on FaceBook and YouTube

The Courtauld Gallery Online Learning Programs

Romesh Gunesekera's Somerset House Blog

Art Exchanged for Health Care

As this BusinessWeek article makes clear, most artists do not have health care. In upstate New York, a group of artists is collaborating with physicians to change that, by exchanging art for medical services via the "O+ Festival".  Read on to learn more about the bartering project and its potential (or not) for replication elsewhere.

Artwork Consignment Program

Architect Frank Gehry, painters Ed Moses, Ed Ruscha, Tony Berlant, and Charles Arnoldi and sculptors Ken Price and Guy Dill are among artists displaying work through the "Keep Memory Alive" Art Consignment Program at Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Las Vegas, Nevada. Proceeds from sales of the artworks, which range from $400 to $150,000, support clinic initiatives to promote awareness of and fund research for prevention, early detection, and treatment of neurocognitive and neurodegenerative disorders, including ALS, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases. 

James Rosenquist is the most recent artist to donate a work to the center, which was designed by Gehry. Rosenquist's painting Cervello Spazio Cosmico ("Brain Space"), 20' x 10' and a gift from real estate developer and art collector Steve Wynn, who commissioned it, was unveiled November 20; it will hang permanently in the Events Center. Peter Alexander's sculpture Glass Pyramid was the first such donation.

A catalogue of paintings, sculptures, and other works of art available through the consignment program is here. E-mail inquiries may be directed to info@keepmemoryalive.org/ .

For an article about Las Vegas businessman Larry Ruvo, who established the Keep Memory Alive organization, see "Pioneering Brain Health in Las Vegas" (Cleveland Clinic Magazine, Summer 2010).

Keep Memory Alive on FaceBook

United States Artists To Announce Grant Recipients

A national grant-making and artist-advocacy organization, United States Artists launched in 2005 with $22 million in funding from the Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential, and Rasmuson foundations. The seed money enabled the organization to initiate USA Fellows, which awards annually to 50 artists unrestricted $50,000 grants. On December 7, USA Fellows will announce in New York City its grant recipients for 2010. This year's applications came in from 301 nominated artists representing 46 states and a wide range of disciplines, including architecture and design, craft, dance, literature, music, visual arts, theatre arts, and media. (More than 80 percent of artists awarded grants create original works or projects.) The USA Fellows nomination and selection process is described here.

USA also operates in association with Rasmuson Foundation a fully funded annual residency program in Alaskan cultural institutions, Alaska AIR, which is open only to USA Fellows.

USA on FaceBook

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ In Baltimore, Maryland, one of my favorite museums, American Visionary Art Museum, is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a year-long exhibition, "What Makes Us Smile?" The show, on view through September 4, 2011, includes work by Patty Kuzbida, John Callahan, John Root Hopkins, Chris Roberts-Antieau, Robert Gilkerson, Carlos Zapata, John Waters,  Pedro Bell, Reverend Aitor, Nadya Volicer, and Tom Wilborn. The show is co-curated by Matt Groening, creator of "The Simpsons", artist Gary Panter (think Pee-Wee Herman's Playhouse), and AVAM founder Rebecca Hoffberger

In addition to the artworks, toy assemblages, costumes, cartoons, and "out-loud & 3-D glee-filled surprises" round out the exhibition and commentary on the history and science of laughter. Separate mini galleries — "Ho-Ho-Ho Ha-Ha-Hanukkah", "More Tickle!", "Toot Suite!", "Holy Laughter!", "Tears to Laughter", "Boo! Why Playing Monster Is Fun", and the "Visionary Kid's Room" — offer experiential pleasures.

Patty Kuzbida, What Me Worry? Bed, 2010, Collection of the Artist
Glass Beads, Fake Jewelry, Beetle Wings on Bed Frame 

A five-minute PBS Art Beat video highlighting AVAM and its exhibition is here.

AVAM on FaceBook and Twitter

Baltimore City Paper Feature on Exhibition

✭ New York City's Museum of Arts and Design has mounted "What is African? The Global Africa Project", on view through May 15, 2011. The show comprises contemporary African art, design, and craft by more than 100 artists working in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the United States and the Caribbean and encompasses ceramics, basketry, textiles, jewelry, furniture, fashion, and selective examples of photography, painting, sculpture, and architecture. Among the exhibiting artists are Victor Ekpuk, Sheila Bridges, Sonya Clark, Mary A Jackson, and Magdalene Odundo. Images of selected works are available here

Vidtor Ekpuk, All Fingers Are Not Equal, 2008
Acrylic on Pigment, 43-5/16 x 51-3/16 inches

MAD on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

MAD Blog

✭ Notions of modernity and femininity and women's roles in Georgian England are examined in "Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman" at Cincinnati Art Museum. The show, on view through January 2, 2011, features Gainsborough's portrait paintings of women, including the newly restored Ann Ford (later Mrs. Philip Thicknesse), an oil on canvas dating to 1760. The exhibition will travel next year to the San Diego Museum of Art, where it's scheduled to open on January 29; an installation there of 18th Century dresses will complement the show of master paintings.

Cincinnati Art Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

Richard Gray Gallery in New York City is exhibiting "Roy Lichtenstein: Modern Paintings" through December 11. Organized with the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation and drawn from private and public collections, including those of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the show includes more than 60 paintings executed in 1967, as well as accompanying drawings. The gallery also has published the first scholarly catalogue of the works in the exhibition. Eleven images are available online, beginning here.

✭ Japanese woodblock prints are the focus of "Dreams & Diversions" at the San Diego Museum of Art and University of San Diego. The exhibition, continuing through June 5, 2011, comprises exemplary examples of the Japanese prints in the museum's collection, spanning the history of Ukiyo-e. The prints, including important work by Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige are arranged thematically and chronologically.

San Diego Museum of Art on FaceBook and Twitter 

Library of Congress Ukiyo-e Exhibition, "The Floating World of Ukiyo-e" (This site is well worth visiting.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

Suddenly, you see the world lit differently.
~ From "The Greenhouse" by Adam Zagajewski

I give thanks today for the poets and other artists of our world. Through their eyes, we see and what we see we see differently, and so have hope, even in these most violent of times.

The video below, "Hudson River Valley Autumn", was created by Westchester, New York, photographer Tom Warren; the music is by Taylor Haywood. My thanks to OnBeing blog, which highlighted the video in a post yesterday, noting that it was inspired by a program about the late Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of the members of my family and to all of my friends, throughout the United States and abroad, who enrich my life daily.


"The Greenhouse" is found in Zagajewski's collection Mysticism for Beginners, translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998). The poem is on page 11 of the book as it appears on GoogleBooks, accessible here. The book is available for purchase through resellers via Amazon.

Poems by Adam Zagajewski

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Poets Never Go Bankrupt (Twitter Poem)

Last night I took part in a TweetSpeakPoetry jam that used Monopoly game-inspired prompts. By the end of the poetry party, nearly 300 bits of poetry had been contributed. 

Participants have been asked to create their own mash-up poem or poems from the stream of prompts and tweets; to post the poem(s) online; notify @tspoetry in a @reply on Twitter, with a link to the poem(s); and add the poem(s) link here, where an archive is being maintained.

Below is a series of short poems I've crafted from fragments of lines tweeted throughout the hour. In addition to using my own lines, I've borrowed bits and pieces from other participants: @jezamama @lindachontos @llbarkat @loonydaray @mattpriour @mdgoodyear and @tspoetry.


Poets Never Go Bankrupt

She'll tender
a single roll

twice made
for the likes of you

fry the moon
like a disk of flat bread

heavily herbed
spice it up to your liking

give it a salsa kiss
to maintain a delicate balance


remember it's so easy
to lose control

at night
by the campfire

in the moonlight
by the river

on the other side
be tender

hold on tight
cry without care

collect your thoughts
if you please


measure out the space
there is an unending supply

play on collected dreams
play for keeps

spin, dance, walk
in the light

of the high way
in the morning

under lights
so bright

shine my love
so bright

until skin blushed
with rich words

poured out
with grace

walk me home
and wish me luck


the game
of you and me

is never over
until you walk away

your hands in your pockets


if you please
come to me

with silken words
be tender

I'll laugh at your fingers
painted red


poets, willing to barter,
roll the dice

never go bankrupt
on opening night

Wednesday Wonder: Doing the Hurdy-Gurdy

It's not every day you'll get the chance to hear a musician play a hurdy-gurdy (in French, vielle a roue, meaning "wheel fiddle"), a heavy instrument with a handle or crank, sometimes likened to a barrel organ but, technically, a bowed string instrument. The hurdy-gurdy, which produces its own unique sounds, particularly in combination with the human voice, figures in the folk music of Spain, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom.

In this brief video, viellist Caroline Phillips, who performs Basque music with Mixel Ducau — together, they make up Bidaia — provides a bit of history about the instrument and then demonstrates both her own and the instrument's wondrous sounds.


To hear tracks from Bidaia's album Duo, go here.

Bidaia YouTube Channel

Hurdy-gurdy FAQs and References

Over the Water Hurdy-Gurdy Association, Seattle

Peter Pringle Performs Beowulf to the Accompaniment of the Hurdy-Gurdy


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holding Hands (Poem)

Annika Ruohonen, Embrace, 2010
© 2010 Annika Ruohonen All Rights Reserved
Used With Permission

Holding Hands

Hand seeking hand,
five fingers into five to lace
tight, so soft this knot of love,
this seal of hearts' delight.

Five fingers into five to lace
left hand with left,
this seal of hearts' delight
everlasting in the book of One.

Left hand with left
joined, in promise made
everlasting, in the book of One
man and woman both become.

In promise made
tight, so soft this knot of love
of Adam for his Eve this night,
hand seeking hand.

© 2010 Maureen E. Doallas

I offer this poem for One Stop Poetry's weekly "One Shot Wednesday" event. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and evening and every Wednesday for links to the many contributors' "one shot" poems.

I also note that this is the first time in many years (I've been out of college for decades) that I have tried to write a pantoum poem, though this one is not strictly to form, as I have taken a bit of liberty with punctuation (to make sense of the lines, or change it) and have not observed the traditional rhyme scheme (abab, bcbc, etc.) indicated, for example, in Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms, my copy of which dates to 1968 (!). I have, however, observed the repetition pattern of 1 2 3  4 (stanza 1), 2 5 4 6 (stanza 2), 5 7 6 8 (stanza 3), and 9 3 10 1 (stanza 4). 

A pantoum may consist of any number of quatrains (four-line stanzas) and its lines may be of any length in any meter. Some maintain an effective pantoum requires at least five stanzas, which was challenge enough for me to try the achievement in four.

And if I haven't got the form right to your liking, please take the matter up with my friend here.

How to Write a Pantoum Poem

My thanks to Annika Ruohonen for permission to use her beautiful photograph to complement my poem.

Poet Terrance Hayes

Poet Terrance Hayes, a professor of creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the recipient of the 2010 National Book Award for Poetry, for his collection Lighthead (Penguin, 2010).

Hayes has published three other collections: Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006), included in Publishers Weekly Best 100 Books of 2006; Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002), which was a 2001 National Poetry Series winner; and Muscular Music (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2005; Tia Chucha Press, 1999), which was awarded a Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

In addition to a Pushcart Prize, Hayes has been awarded a Whiting Writers Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. He also received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2009.

In this video recorded for a PBS NewsHour ArtBeat program, Hayes reads "Fish Head for Katrina". Enjoy! Hayes is an excellent reader of his own terrific work.

Jeffrey Brown's ArtBeat interview with Hayes, "For Hayes, Pittsburgh and Poetry Are No Strangers", was broadcast in April 2008 and can be found here. An extended interview and reading with Hayes, produced for the NewsHour's Poetry Series, are here.

Credit for Photo of Terrance Hayes: Yona Harvey


Terrance Hayes Biography

Terrance Hayes Biography, Department of English, Carnegie Mellon University

Terrance Hayes Profile at Poets.org (Text of eight of Hayes' poems is available at that page. Audio is available for five of the poems.)

Terrance Hayes Profile at Blue Flower Arts (Literary Speakers Agency)

Bob Hoover, "Carnegie Mellon's Hayes Wins National Book Award", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 18, 2010

Terrance Hayes Page at Penguin.com and Video Page at "The Reading Room"

"Interview with Terrance Hayes, Spring 2010", In Capital Letters (American University College of Arts & Sciences)

Audio Archive for Terrance Hayes at From the Fishouse

Terrance Hayes at Emerson College on December 2

Terrance Hayes on YouTube (Hayes reads from Lighthead here.)

Lighthead at GoogleBooks

Review of Terrance Hayes' Lighthead at Weave, June 2, 2010

Review of Terrance Hayes' Lighthead , "Hayes New Poetry Challenges, Honors American History",  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 23, 2010

Review of Terrance Hayes' Lighthead at TweetSpeak, 2010

Terrance Hayes on FaceBook

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Muse: South Dakota's Poet Laureate

[NOTE: David Allan Evans resigned his position on September 27, 2014, having served more than 12 years in office. He remains Poet Laureate Emeritus until a new Poet Laureate is appointed or until the 2015 Festival of the Books, scheduled to take place September 24027 in Deadwood and Rapid City. (Read Jill Callison's article in the Argus Leader, "'Accessible' David Allan Evans Making Way for Next Poet Laureate", October 6, 2014.)

[In addition, the governor signed into law on March 13, 2015, Senate Bill 86, which restricts the term of office to four years; the term begins the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January of those years following a gubernatorial election. The poet may hold no more than one term consecutively, unless he or she was appointed to a partial term. All the state poets are accorded emeritus status at the conclusion of their term or terms.]

David Allan Evans is Poet Laureate of South Dakota. He accepted the appointment June 15, 2002, succeeding Audrae Visser, who served from 1974 to 2001, and Adeline M. Jenney, who began her term in 1958 and served until 1973. "Coyboy poet" Charles "Badger" Clark, the first state poet, served in 1937. The position was established formally under state law (South Dakota Codified Laws, Sec. 1-22-7) in 1959.

The Poet Laureate, who is recommended by and serves at the governor's pleasure, must be a resident of the state and must have written and published poems of "recognized merit" prior to appointment.

As Poet Laureate, Evans regularly gives readings and lectures, conducts workshops, attends book festivals, judges state-level participants in the Poetry Out Loud contest, and also participates in related literary events in South Dakota and elsewhere.

* * * * *
. . . Poets show us  things clearly, they describe 
and tell stories with words and phrases that, when we pay attention,
 make us more awake and aware than we'd be if we
 hadn't read them or heard them spoken aloud. . . .
~ Poet David Allan Evans*

David Allan Evans, who began writing poetry in his twenties, has published more than a half-dozen collections of poetry and has written or edited at least seven other books, including short stories, essays, memoir, and journals. His poetry books include This Water. These Rocks (San Francisco Bay Press, 2009), The Bull Rider's Advice: New and Selected Poems (Prairie Plains Series/Center for Western Studies, 2003), the chapbook After the Swan Dive (Finishing Line Press, 2009), and Decent Dangers (Edwin Mellen Poetry Press, 2000).  

Evans' poetry and other writings have appeared in many literary magazines and journals, including Kansas Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Georgetown Review, The Briar Cliff ReviewNorth American Review, and South Dakota Review, as well as scores of anthologies, among them Heartland II: Poets of the Midwest and Motion: American Sports Poems, and A Harvest of Words: Contemporary South Dakota Poetry (Center for Western Studies, 2010).

Characterized in profiles as one of America's best-known sports poets (he attended college on a full football scholarship and also was a pole vaulter), Evans also writes meditative, reflective poems and strong narrative poems that are situated especially in the American Midwest of small towns and farms and resonant with his observations and understanding of relationships. He packs his "inhabited" poems with details, vivid verbs (he calls verbs "the guts of language, the guts of poetry, along with nouns"), similes, wordplays, and, often, humor. Sometimes he punctuates his poems, sometimes he doesn't. He tends toward short poems, with only a few unadorned, plain-spoken words per line. His style is usually straightforward and matter-of-fact.

. . . Poets are nothing if not good observers. . . Observation
comes first, then reflection. . . So poems tend to have two
parts: first, observation, the event itself; second, the reflection
on the event. Frost is a superb example of this.
~ David Allan Evans**

The well-known poem "Neighbors" (from Train Windows, Ohio University Press, 1976; the first poem published in Ted Kooser's "American Life in Poetry" column) is a good example of Evans' humor; it also demonstrates in a few short lines Evans' ability to tell a story through astute observation and detail that together produce visual and emotional portraits:

They live alone

she with her wide hind
and bird face,
he with his hung belly
and crewcut.

They never talk
but keep busy.

Today they are
washing windows
(each window together)
she on the inside,
he on the outside.
He squirts Windex
at her face,
she squirts Windex
at his face.

Now they are waving
to each other
with rags,

not smiling.

Evans' "Bullfrogs" (animals in the natural environments are among the poet's subjects) is another well-known poem. Note the details that set the scene, the short lines, the concluding line that provokes thought.

sipping a Schlitz
we cut off the legs,
packed them in ice, then
shucked the rest back into
the pond for turtles

ready to go home
we looked down and saw what we
had thrown back in:
quiet bulging eyes nudging along
the moss's edge, looking up at us,

asking for their legs

Here are "Windbreak: Two Haiku" from Evans' This Water. These Rocks:

After last night's storm,
new snow against the windbreak—
new shadows, new sky.

    * * *

Blue shadows on snow
piled up against the windbreak—
why hold back your love?

Now retired as professor of English and writer-in-residence at South Dakota State University, Evans has been awarded two Fulbright Scholar grants for study in China and was the first South Dakotan to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He also has received writing grants from both the Bush Foundation and the South Dakota Arts Council. In 2007, he was honored with the Sioux Falls Mayor's Award for Excellence in Literary Arts and in 2009 with the Governor's Award for Creative Achievement.


All Poetry Excerpts © David Allan Evans

* Quoted in David Allen Interview at ... after long busyness: a poetry blog, October 19, 2007 (Evans' advice for aspiring poets is worth reading here.)

**Quoted in "Kyle Austin Interviews David Allan Evans Regarding His Book, This Water. These Rocks." at Through the Third Eye, September 27, 2010 (This interview is especially interesting for Evans' reflections on the influences of his father, his discussion of his interest in the natural world, and views on his writing process.)

David Allan Evans Profiles Oneline: "Well Done, Poet Laureate" in South Dakota Magazine, March 31, 2007; "David Allan Evans: Inside the Life of a Genius" at Through the 3rd Eye, June 21, 2008; "Interview with David Allen Evans, Poet Laureate of South Dakota", June 21, 2008; "State's Poet Laureate Mixes Old, New Works" in Rapid City Journal, May 23, 2010

David Allan Evans Poetry Online: "The Bull Rider's Advice" in South Dakota Magazine (2007); "Bullfrogs" at Breaking Out of the Box;  "Bullfrogs", "The Story of Lava", "The Man in the Rendering Room", "Next Morning", "The Poem I Couldn't Write", "Saturday Morning", and "Lions" (all of these on Evans' Website); "Bus Depot Reunion", "Neighbors", and "Pole Vaulter" at Through the 3rd Eye; "Neighbors" at American Life in Poetry; "Neighbors" at Poetry Foundation; "The Zen of Racquetball" at Cyberroad

David Allan Evans Sport Poems and China Poems

Review of David Allan Evans' This Water. These Rocks at Through the 3rd Eye (September 27, 2010) 

David Allan Evans on FaceBook

David Allan Evans Papers at South Dakota State University

South Dakotans for the Arts (SoDA)

South Dakota Humanities Council, Poets and Playwrights (Literary Map Produced for South Dakota Council of Teachers)

South Dakota Page at Poets.org

South Dakota State Poetry Society (This group was organized in 1927 to publish Pasque Petals, its officiala literacy magazine founded in 1926 and edited by Adeline Jenney.)

South Dakota State Poetry Society on FaceBook