Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Woods Are Full of Webs (Poems)

Photo © by Kelly Langner Sauer
Used With Permission

Woods Are Full of Webs

Woods are full
of webs, sticky shrouds
spun from leaf
to limb, threads
holding fast to a last breath
what blunders in silk.


In gold orbs,
woods' camouflaged beds,
insects trip
imperfect wheels of fortune.
Preyers' journeys end.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas


These poems, in Shadorma form, are inspired by photographer Kelly Langner Sauer's beautiful image above (click to enlarge view.)

* * * * *

I offer this poem for the One Shot Wednesday event at One Stop Poetry, which each week invites poets to read, share, and comment on each other's work. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday for the many contributors' poems.

Earth-Bound (Poem)

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Relief Ore, 1974
Woven Wool, Sisal, and Flax
Collection Deere & Company


Roots channel
their own way: coil, cling,
thicken, hold
to pattern,
warp-and-weft weaving yielding
in community.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas


I offer this poem, in Shadorm form, for today's One Word Blog Carnival whose one-word prompt is "farm". The carnival is hosted by Peter Pollock.

The Abakanowicz weaving is part of the John Deere Art Collection, selections of which are on view at Figge Art Museum through June 12.

Monday, May 30, 2011

58,267 (Poem)

"The Wall"
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Washington, D.C.
Aerial Photograph by U.S. Geological Survey


is a number
having no meaning

unless you were there
or knew someone

who was there
who did not come back

from the longest war.
To get the history

you have to go
back to the beginning,

to 1956, June 8,
before I was four,

and start with the first
name of the first killed

and stretch your eyes
to the east

to 1968, May 25,
before I was 16 and writing

to my drafted brother's buddies,
some in my memory

in that place where the list,
like the Wall, seems to recede

into ground, then to resume
on the same date

in the west,
and go on to the last

name of the last killed
in 1975, May 15,

before I was 23, on holiday.
We've been years tracing names

where beginning meets end
at the vertex,

the war done
 but the loss not complete,

earth still being broken.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas


As of 2010,  when six names were added, 58,267 is the number of names currently on the Wall.

The most complete information about the Wall, which was designed by Maya Lin, is found here. The polished black granite East wall (pointing to the Washington Monument) and West wall (pointing to the Lincoln Memorial) may be searched online to locate a name and its place on the memorial.

$0.99, or My Two Cents for Less Than a Dollar

Ok, now that I've got your attention, let me give you my two cents about a great deal that recently came my way.

For the fabulous one-time (that's a life-time*) cost of just ninety-nine pennies — for you who are more graphically inclined, that's $0.99 — you can subscribe to the hottest and coolest new poetry newsletter to hit the market:

Every Day Poems

There's a clue in that title. This is a newsletter that will come to your in-box just days a week, Monday through Friday. (Those other two days you'll need to catch up on the reading and writing you love to do.)

What you'll receive in every issue — and, trust me, value cannot be measured in cents alone — will be a combination of any of the following:

✦ a personally selected poem to read and enjoy;

✦ creative writing tips;

✦ links to resources for poetry teachers and writers' groups;

✦ themed material to promote personal and professional development as a poet (for example, June's theme will be the "catalogue poem" month; July's, sestina; August's, sonnet);

✦ advance announcements of writing projects and other special events, such as poetry parties on Twitter sponsored by TweetSpeakPoetry;

✦ news of new titles from T.S. Poetry Press, the indie powerhouse behind the newsletter;

✦ opportunities to read and write with a growing community of committed and fun-loving poets;

✦ a means to possibly connect with published poets and an award-winning publisher;

✦ the possibility of seeing your own work (or that of a poet whose work you love) featured in Every Day Poems.

Want to see some samples? Go here.

Given a bargain like this, you have just one thing left to do: Dig into your penny jars and set aside 99 one-cent coins, no matter  their composition, then go sign up for Every Day Poems

* Actuarial estimate. Lifetimes differ per person, depending especially the number of poems you write.

Every Day Poems on  Flickr 

T.S. Poetry Press on FaceBook

TweetSpeakPoetry Blog

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thought for the Day

Poetry is a dream dreamed in the presence of reason.*
~ Tommasso Ceva


* Edward Hirsch references this dictim in his How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry (this book can be found at GoogleBooks).

Tommaso Ceva (1648-1737), Jesuit Mathematician and Poet

Harvard Diary on Iesus Puer by Tommaso Ceva at Italica

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Today's new edition of Saturday Sharing features links to photography, dance, travelogues, social justice in children's literature, and poets on adoption.

✦ A new online feature from the National Gallery of Art, "Atget: The Art of Documentary Photography", examines in depth 32 of the French photographer's images from the NGA collection. A series of maps shows viewers where Atget photographed France's landscape, including parts and garden, and urban life.

✦ Excerpts from performances of dance at Jacob's Pillow, from the 1930s to the present, may be viewed at Jacob's Pillow Dance Interactive. The online resource may be searched by artist, genre (ballet, contemporary, modern, tap, etc.), and era. New content and features are added periodically.

Virtual Pillow on FaceBook 

✦ At The Travel Film Archive you'll find travelogues and educational and industrial films, in black-and-white and color, produced between 1900 and 1970. The footage, much of it on 35mm, is available for licensing from Getty Images and TFA network for use in documentaries and as background for news stories.

✦ Following a temporary hiatus, a year of positive thinking is back. The site includes writings on contemporary art and culture by New York-based artist and writer Mira Schor

Mira Schor on FaceBook

✦ At The Pirate Tree, children's and young adult writers come together to review, discuss, and promote social justice issues in children's literature. Themed sections encompass economic justice, poverty, and immigration; the environment; gender; ethnicity; disability; and violence and war and peace and refugees.

✦ More than two dozen poets share their experiences with adoption and whether and how it affects their writing at Poets on Adoption. Launched earlier this spring, the blog was started and is curated by Eileen Tabios, who writes at The Blind Chatelaine's Keys and whose first book of poetry received the Philippines National Book Award for Poetry.

Call for Participation

Friday, May 27, 2011

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✭ Figurative realist painter Lee Price takes an aerial view toward food in intimate settings in this show in its last days at Evoke Contemporary in Santa Fe. In 2012, Price will be exhibiting in Alexandria, Virginia, at Principle Gallery. In 2003 she was commissioned by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to design and execute diorama backdrops for the Behring Family Hall of Mammals permanent exhibition. Her current work may be viewed here.

✭ The sculptural garments of Erica Spitzer Rasmussen comprise a wide mix of materials, from camel and horse hair to bottle caps, to gold leaf and wax, to matchsticks and rubber, to examination table paper and spot bandages, to tea bags and Chinese cookie fortunes. Each of her works, which may appear in the shape of a corset, kimono, dress, bustier, or collar constructed from fabric or cast hand-made paper, speaks to such subjects as identity, ancestry, birth and motherhood, and illness and death. In her Artist's Statement, Rasmussen describes her garments, many of which are wearables, as metaphors that "can encompass narrative qualities, illustrate and dissolve bodily fears, or act as talismanic devices."

Mason Riddle, "Intimate Apparel", American Craft, April/May 2011

✭ A new site DesignersAndBooks features commentary by and showcases the reading lists of preeminent architects, critics, designers, and writers on design. Also included at the site are bookstores that focus on design and "My Reading List", a feature that allows users to create a list of design books.

Designers & Books Blog

✭ Partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts, more than 1,300 museums throughout the United States and Puerto Rico are participating for a second year in the Blue Star Museums project, offering free admission, from Memorial Day through Labor Day (May 30 - September 5), to active duty military personnel and their families. Follow the Blue Star Museums blog for news of exhibitions, museum staff interviews, and unique destinations.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ The North Carolina Museum of Art is presenting "Mirror Image: Women Portraying Women" through November 27. Comprising work by North Carolina artists from the museum's permanent collection and also loans, the exhibition presents images of women from youth to old age in painting, video, photography, and sculpture from the 1970s to the present. 

North Carolina Museum of Art on FaceBook, Twitter, and Flickr

✭ In Millville, New Jersey, at Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, contemporary glass artists who take their inspiration from nature are appearing in "Cycles and Symbols: Nature in Glass". Among artists whose work is showcased are Christine Barney, Yasuko Miyazaki, Sibylle Peretti, and Mark Zirpel. An installation, The Communal Nest, created by Susan Taylor Glasgow, is on display in the center's lobby; Glasgow asked artists from around the world to contribute the glass twigs that make up the piece, as well as a quote that Glasgow transferred onto vellum strips and wove into the "nest". The show runs through October 16.

Wheaton Arts' GlassWeekend 2011 is June 10-12. A gallery exhibition and sale will be open to the public on June 11 and 12. Featured guest artists include the internationally renowned Richard Royal of Seattle, Washington, and Giles Bettison of Australia. Royal, who began as a hot glass sculptor, was an assistant to Dale Chihuly and one of the first artists-in-residence at Ireland's Waterford Crystal Factory. Bettison, using a technique of his own creation, creates studio glass that has the appearance of woven textiles.

✭ Opening June 7 at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York City, is "Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities". Organized around four themes — Unnatural Environments, Apocalyptic Archaeology, Dreams and Memories, and Voyeur/Provocateur  — the show, which runs through September 18, aims to reveal how materials and process convey meaning. It includes recent work and site-specific installations by contemporary artists from around the world, including Amy Bennett, Joe Fig, Jonah Samson, Michael Paul Smith, and Alan Wolfson.

Alan Wolfson, Canal St. Cross-Section, 2010
Mixed Media, 27" x 23-1/2" x 19-1/2"
Private Collection, England
Photo: Les Bernstien

MAD Museum on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

Tate Performance in Solidarity with Ai Weiwei

On April 30, British "Walking Artist" Hamish Fulton staged at Tate Modern "Slowalk", a public gesture of solidarity with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

For my other posts about Ai Weiwei, go here and here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Women's Moments in Art History

How many of these portraits of women do you recognize? Can you name the artists who painted them?

Travel through 500 years of art history via this beautifully produced video by Philip Scott Johnson. The music, Bach's Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, is performed by Yo-Yo Ma.

Women In Art from Philip Scott Johnson on Vimeo.

For those of you not in the mood for guessing games, go here for a complete list of the artists and their paintings.

This video also may be viewed on YouTube.

Other videos by Johnson are here. See especially "Monet".

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Writing from Words: Fun With Wordles

While I was taking a ghost tour of Key West, visiting Ernest Hemingway's home, and delighting in butterflies landing on my shoulders at the Nature Conservancy's Butterfly Museum, my friends at TweetSpeakPoetry were making Wordles, also known as word clouds. You'll find a list of the word pictures here.

The challenge for this week was to find some "poems-in-waiting" in a Wordle of choice, then post a link to the T.S. Wall no later than Wednesday, May 25.

I selected Marcus Goodyear's Wordle, which Marcus created from his much-praised poetry collection Barbies in Communion. From that Wordle I fashioned the following:


Black eyes like stone
cool everything,

make night burn empty
even around poetry.


Snow-cold tongues
slow practice.

Words catch hold
inside still blue mouth.

Hands must work prayer
broken first across breath.


Look game enough:

Almost every fly ball
makes men run.

Just watch God play.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Found Wanting (Poem)

Found Wanting

You don't have a contingency
      plan, nothing remotely like a blueprint

for going deeper into the mines,
      not a single notion of how to shut

the trap door against the invasion
      of doubts strung taut on a line. Too many

suddenly loud voices run parallel arguments
      to go, to stay, to run, to hide, to just sit tight.

I fall flat.

I don't have a substitute, no one
      stand-in to dance me around

and through the twists of words meant
      to shore up the meanings intended,

to pick through fragments, snippets,
      jottings of foreign spellings still needing

translation to give a clever story an ending
      faithful to the vow of happily ever after.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

I offer this poem for the One Shot Wednesday event at One Stop Poetry, which each week invites poets to share, read, and comment on each other's work. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and every Wednesday for links to the many contributors' poems.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Muse: On the Making of The Black Tulip

American citizen and Afghan expatriate Sonia Nassery Cole chose a location rare for any film today and especially for the movie The Black Tulip that she both directed and acted in: Kabul. Yet, when you listen to her talk about her decision, as in the behind-the-scenes video below, you understand Cole could have made the movie nowhere else. Getting it made was an act of defiance and also a poetic response to the loss of freedom in the country she loves and gave up. Cole will tell you that surviving extortion, death threats, kidnapping attempts, loss of crew, machine gun fire, and a bomb blast while she was in Afghanistan do not compare to what Afghanis under the heels of the Taliban endure each day to this day.

First screened in late 2010, The Black Tulip begins a decade ago as it takes up the true and tragic story of a family who, believing the Taliban had been routed, open in Kabul "The Poet's Corner", a restaurant and meeting place where writers and artists can perform at an "open mic" and share their stories freely. Soon the family become victims of a terror campaign by the local Taliban cell. Cole points out, "There is no movie unless there is a great story." The story she relates, she says, is "a real story about the people who dream and who hope the way we do." It's a story about the people  just like us whom few of us have ever even considered during the war that America is fighting in Afghanistan still.

The Black Tulip was Afghanistan's official entry for Best Foreign Film at the 2011 Academy Awards. (The film's original "Freedom Song" and "Forever One Love" also were Oscar nominees that made the Academy's shortlist.) It was screened most recently, in March, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Its theatrical release is scheduled for sometime this spring. 

Cole also produced the documentary The Bread Winner, about a day in the life of an Afghan boy who supports his family by selling newspapers and calendars.

Here's the trailer for the film (the language is Cole's native Dari):

Profile of Sonia Nassery Cole, Founder of Afghanistan World Federation

Breadwinner Productions (This site features a synopsis, cast, the filmmakers, a director's statement, production notes, screenings, and other information about the film.)

Brooks Barnes, "A Director's Many Battles to Make Her Movie", The New York Times, September 21, 2010

The Black Tulip on Twitter

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Received Wisdom (Poem)

Received Wisdom

Tree of Life:
shaft, branches, petals
in almonds' 
hammered likeness blossom white
to give forth brilliance.


Almond blooms
burst through winter's cold,
new branches
joining old.
Stems straight begin to bend, turn
up, reflect the light.


Roots deepen
in paths long traveled;
branches reach 
sky-high. Light's
cast, received. Ground in darkness,
sight and vision blaze.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

I offer this poem in response to the Abbey of the Arts' invitation to participate in the 51st Poetry Party titled Sources of Wisdom. To illustrate the prompt, the Abbey provided the image above, for wisdom is personified as the Tree of Life. (Note: Anyone may participate in the Poetry Party. To have a chance to win a space in one of the Abbey's on-demand courses, add your response or drop a link to your poem in the comment box here by May 27.) 

I've chosen to describe the Tree of Life by using in my poem the almond tree, which has numerous references in the Bible. The almond tree is a source of Light or received wisdom; in Exodus 25:31-40, on which my first stanza draws, it is commanded that the lampstand's oil bowls be decorated with almond blossoms. The almond tree, which grows up to 25 feet high, matures early (promisingly), its white blossoms appearing in late winter, symbolic of the white hair of old age and thus also wisdom (see Ecclesiastes 12:5). In Isaiah 11:2, of the seven lights on the lampstand representing the seven spirits of God, one is the spirit of wisdom; when we gain wisdom, mature, we are able to see beyond what our eyes show us. 

The series is written in Shadorma form (that is, in six lines of 3-5-3-3-7-5 syllables, respectively). 

Thought for the Day

Snow is both durable and deceiving. It can be shaped
into a wall or squeezed into a weapon.
~ From "Cenotaph of Snow" by John Yau

John Yau (b. 1950) is an award-winning poet, fiction writer, art critic, freelance curator, and publisher (Black Square Editions/Brooklyn Rail Books). Arts editor for The Brooklyn Rail, Yau also is an associate professor at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 

John Yau's poem "Cenotaph of Snow" is included in Radiant Silhouette: New & Selected Work 1974-1988 (Black Sparrow Press, 1989). 

John Yau at PennSound (Recordings)

John Yau Profile at Rutger's Mason Gross School of the Arts

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Art, poetry, and other fun stuff are the subjects of today's new edition of Saturday Sharing.

✦ The Smithsonian American Art Museum's Peter A. Juley & Son Collection of works by sculptor Paul Manship (1885-1966) has been catalogued, digitized, and made available on SIRIS.

The Juley Collection comprises some 127,000 photographic black-and-white negatives documenting work of 11,000 American artists. The SAAM acquired the collection in 1975.

✦ The Art of the Mid East blog showcases emerging and established artists of the Middle East, as well as exhibitions and other events. It's a rich resource.

✦ The Sacred Awakening Series, a free global teleseries available live or recorded, features dozens of talks by the world's spiritual leaders.

✦ You just have to laugh when you see Notes from Chris aka urbanist Todd Lamb, who posts all around New York City as part of a project begun in 2008 and ongoing. You never know when or where a new post will appear in the Big City, and you might have to wait a long time if you accept an invitation from Chris to meet up. 

A collection of Chris's most recent notes are online.

Chris aka Todd on Twitter

✦ Seattle's independent poetry press Wave Books, which just celebrated its fifth anniversary, publishes some of the best poetry in America and promotes increased readership of poetry via nationwide readings and other events. Browse the catalogue and make purchases online. Both Softcover Series and Hardcover Series (the latter are limited-edition, signed and numbered volumes) are available by subscription, a marvelous and affordable way to build a poetry library.

Check out the site's Erasures section, which allows you to select source texts and create a poem. The site's Links also are excellent.

Wave Books on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ Everyone knows how much stuff we Americans collect. Some of us manage every so often to shake free of it all, or turn it into something else. One artist-collector, Mac Premo, has made a project of his clean-up: The Dumpster Project

Premo is a collagist, animator, commercial director, and carpenter.

The Dumpster Project from mac premo on Vimeo.

Video Link

Mac Premo on FaceBook

Mac Premo's ArtWalk05

Mac Premo at Pavel Zoubok Gallery (2010 Exibition)

Friday, May 20, 2011

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

Art's New Virtual Storefronts

Two new ventures have joined VIP Art Fair online: Artsy, debuting in June; and Paddle 8, which went live May 18 and describes itself as "a new destination for examining, understanding, and acquiring unique artworks."  See  ArtInfo's article "Paddle 8, the Latest Online Arts Sales Venture, Bets on Virtual Exhibitions" for an in-depth look at Paddle 8.

Paddle 8 on Twitter, LinkedIn

Exhibitions Here and There

★ Brooklyn artist William Lamson has installed and "reanimated" a communications tower at Indianapolis Museum of Art.  His commission from the museum, "Divining Meterology", on view through August 28, makes an instrument of the tower relocated from Missouri and reengineered to accommodate its glass-paneled space. Lamson installed within the tower speakers and resonators that receive a weather radio signal from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and make it possible to "play" the tower by moving a magnetic (electric guitar) pickup device across the structure. Further explanation of how the installation works, fabrication and installation photos, and a video that allows you to hear the created sounds are here. The sound can seem other-worldly.

★ In partnership with Deere & Company, Figge Art Museum, Davenport, Iowa, is showcasing through June 12 significant work from the John Deere Art Collection. The North American section, one of the four geographic regions into which the collection has been divided, includes farm scenes by Deere illustrator Walter Haskell Hinton, paintings by folk artist Streeter Blair, and modernist works by Alexander Calder. For Central and Eastern Europe, Toulouse-Lautrec's La Chaine Simpson is a stand-out. In the Latin American section are major works by Rufino Tamayo and Alejandro Obregon. The Asia group offers prints and paintings by Sadao Watanabe

The works in the exhibit, shown for the first time outside Deere & Co. headquarters, span the years from 1896 to the late 1970s.

Streeter Blair, Texas
The John Deere Art Collection, Deere & Company

Michelle Garrison, "Working the Land: The John Deere Art Collection", River Cities' Reader, January 26, 2011 (This article includes images from the collection.)

FAM on FaceBook and Twitter

★ In Salt Lake City, Utah Museum of Fine Arts is presenting through July 3 "The Smithson Effect", an exhibition of work by 23 leading contemporary artists influenced by Robert Smithson (1938-1973), who is most famous for the extraordinary Spiral Jetty (1970) in the Great Salt Lake.

A Robert Smith Resource Page is here. Included here are six videos in which the Spiral Jetty is discussed. Also see the resource "Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty" on the Dia Art Foundation site, and this article, "One on One: Jill Dawsey on Vik Muniz's Spiral Jetty After Robert Smithson".

Peter Coffin, Untitled (Rainbow), 2005
30 Inkjet Prints and T-Pins
© Peter Coffin

A complete list of featured artists, who include Peter Coffin, Tacita Dean, Alexis Rockman, and the Center for Land Use Interpretation, is here.

UMFA on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr


★ More than 100 shoebox-size sculptures by artists from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, Australia, Canada, Chile, Finland, Norway, Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China are showcased until July 10 at the Louisiana State University Museum of Art's 10th International Shoebox Sculpture Exhibition. The show was organized by the University of Hawaii Art Gallery.

LSU Museum of Art, Baton Rouge, on FaceBook

★ The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut, is showing "Hope Gangloff: Love Letters" until June 5. This first solo museum exhibition by Gangloff includes recent large-scale paintings and a survey of past work. 

This production video offers a very brief introduction to Gangloff:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finding Meaning in Earthwork

. . . creating art — music, poetry, film — is akin to a religion,
a belief that you are here for a purpose and that those who 
figure that out live life at a level that is not available to others....*
~ Stan Herd

What's an artist willing to give up to make art, knowing the art can only be seen from the air and is not meant to last?

For the unconventional Kansan Stan Herd, bringing representational crop art to the urban canyons of New York City proved both a blessing and a curse of sorts, costing him a fortune he didn't have, as well as his marriage, and introducing him to a group of homeless people who, helping him bring his vision to reality, uncovered the meaning of other kinds of struggles.

The artist's story of what he risked to create his environmental artwork Countryside on two acres of land owned by Donald Trump — land since cleared and filled in with high-rise buildings — is the subject of Earthwork, a 93-minute movie written, produced, and directed by Chris Ordal that has won numerous awards and has been showing across the country this spring, most recently in Kansas City; it will be screened May 20 in Los Angeles and May 27 in Santa Fe. The film stars John Hawkes as Stan Herd. Here's the official trailer:

EARTHWORK (2011) official HD trailer from Chris Ordal on Vimeo.

Herd's been making land art for more than three decades, taking as his subjects famous Americans such as Will Rodgers and Amelia Earhart, and commercial products such as Absolut Vodka. He's traveled the world, digging, plowing, and etching his visions into the ground in England, Cuba, and Australia. His canvas is the surface of earth, the bigger the mass the greater his vista.

Here is Herd's portrait of Ibn Battuta, a 14th Century scholar. The rock "mosaic" was constructed in 2009 on a farm near Lawrence, Kansas.

A video of Herd's Obama Earthwork, created in Dallas, Texas, in  March 2008, may be viewed here.

* Quoted in Connie White, "Stan Herd", nakedcitywichita, April 2, 2010

Photo Credit: Eli Reichman

Earthwork on FaceBook

Stan Herd at Kansas Sampler Foundation (At this site, you will find information about Herd's Amelia Earhart Earthwork, in Atchison, Kansas.)

Stan Herd at Strecker-Nelson Gallery (Some of the artist's paintings may be viewed here.)

Stan Herd at South Wind Gallery

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Shakespeare Overcomes Writer's Block

Have you ever wondered whether Shakepeare, prolific as he was, experienced writer's block? Animator Anna Cohen has, and in her short, Shakespearean Tragedy (A Comedy), she gives us insight into how the great playwright, with a little help from Romeo and Juliet, might have overcome the dullness of his pen. Enjoy!

Direct Video Link

Cohen, whose features appears also at AniBoom, released her short, which uses stop-motion and Flash animation techniques, in July 2010. The film was her final project at Emunah College for Arts and Technology in Jerusalem.

My thanks to Brain Pickings where I first caught the link to the film.

Those who suffer from writer's block may also appreciate this "911 Writer's Block" site from WEbook.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Higher Moral Ground (Poem)

A Higher Moral Ground

I think that two people died in that picture, not only the man he shot
      but him. . . The intention was to show what happened.
          ~ Eddie Adams*

Get this:
It was 1968,
just another day

in Vietnam.
A general raised
his hand;

it was pure reflex
when the shutter

The shot struck
like no others
during the morning's news,

ruining one life
by following the hit
on another's

and calling it
what it was.
The camera

didn't lie;
it got what happened
in war,

on the street,
the next year even won
the picture-maker a Pulitzer.

But what a sore
point it was
for the shooter,

who could not
live down
what was

unintended, what was
not a moment
for national mourning,

not like that shot
of a veiled Jacqueline
receiving the folded flag

while our own hearts broke.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

"Shooter" is a term for a photographer.

The photograph Street Execution of a Viet Cong Prisoner by the phenomenal Eddie Adams was one of the most famous to come out of coverage of the Vietnam War. (I still recall the day the image appeared on the front pages of newspapers everywhere, remember wincing at the seeming cold-bloodedness of its subject, General Nguyen Ngoc Loan.) It was what's called a "reflex picture" — made without thinking about it at the instant the event happened — and it won Adams a Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography in 1969. Adams also took the extraordinary (and as famous) 1963 photograph of Jacqueline Kennedy receiving the flag that covered her husband's coffin. That photo, interestingly enough, was never submitted for Pulitzer consideration. Frustrated with always being asked about his picture of the Saigon execution, no matter his other work, Adams eventually stopped answering questions about it.

* Hear audio of Adams talking about the image here.

Adams, who died in 2004, is the subject of the documentary An Unlikely Weapon, directed and produced by Susan Morgan Cooper; the film was screened in New York City in 2009. The interesting trailer is here.

* * * * *

I offer this poem for the One Shot Wednesday event at One Stop Poetry, which each week invites poets to share, read, and comment on each other's work. Be sure to visit the site late Tuesday afternoon and every Wednesday to access the many contributors' poems. Each week's posts are archived.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Muse: Indiana's State Poet Laureate

Karen Kovacik is Indiana's new State Poet Laureate, succeeding Norbert Krapf whom I profiled here. (Please see the Krapf post for background on the position.) She was selected by a seven-member Indiana Arts Commission panel representing both state-supported and private higher education institutions. 

Kovacik's two-year term begins in January 2012.

According to this Indiana University-Purdue University press release about the appointment, announced earlier this month, Kovacik intends during her tenure to write a literary blog on Indiana writers, create a poetry-teaching "toolkit" for the Indiana Humanities Council, and sponsor literary events at schools and libraries throughout the state. She also plans to "break down barriers [between academic and spoken word or "slam" poetry] and get diverse groups of poets talking together."

* * * * *
Poets have always been the voices of opposition, the voices of
 conscience. Some of the most urgent images of the horrors 
of war have been given to us by our poets. . . 
Poetry can offer a historical analogy. . .  It fortifies our 
historical imagination. That's so crucial in a country
 lacking that connection with the past. Poetry
 can provide a much needed antidote. . . .
~ Karen Kovacik on Poetry's Use in Dissent*

Karen Kovacik, Ph.D., is a poet, translator, short story writer, and essayist. She is the author, most recently, of Metropolis Burning (Imagination Series, Poetry Center, Cleveland State University, 2005), which draws partly on her own experiences in Poland. Her other collections include Beyond the Velvet Curtain (Wick Poetry First Book Series, Kent State University Press, 1999), which received the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize, and Nixon and I (Wick Poetry Chapbook Series, Kent State University Press, 1998). Kovacik also is an highly regarded translator of contemporary Polish poetry. Her short story "My Polish Widower" is included in Warsaw Tales (New Europe Writers, 2005), a compilation edited by James G. Coon.

Art, world history, politics, ancestry, cultural history, new world/old world contrasts, the immigrant experience: you'll find these themes in abundance in Kovacik's work.

Here are excerpts from several of Kovacik's poems. Note especially the careful selection and combination of imaginative detail, vivid imagery, and skillful creation of atmosphere and scene. Kovacik has a great "ear", an assured voice, and sharp wit; her poems are bright with erudition that's never pedantic.

Your Kino Moscow gleams like a pink dish
with the films of Clint Eastwood and French farce.

I feel like an umbrella in for repair.
I'd rather be a telescope, to see past
the scrim of things American,
to smell past pickles, smoke, and grief
and understand the idiom of uprisings.

You are the map that exists and the ones that have disappeared.
You are the cigarette that makes the slow bus come.

I'm a thin glass of oolong, lucky in lust,
in this province of lip and teeth
where syllables squeak like sugar
and our hands are always hot
and my marriage dies on double beds of cake. . . .
~ From "To Warsaw" in Metropolis Burning

A tricycle somersaults
in a maple tree
and in the cloud a violin
bulging with music— 
the girl spots it—
is about to rain down
thirty-second notes
on a cat disguised
as a coil of garden hose. . . .
~ From "Ars Poetica: Highlights for Children"

With us, it is easy: a tug on the tie, the ubiquitous zipper.
But with a woman, you can never be certain how deep
the layers go. First, perhaps, a jacket of mink, gloves

lapping up the greedy length of the arm, shoes
like airy Eiffels for the feet. Then the untethering
of beads and bracelets, the slow dismantling

of those hanging gardens of skirt
crashing around foundations of lace and bone. . . .
~ From "Nixon on the Pleasures of Undressing a Woman"

Kovacik has published poems in Glimmer Train, Chelsea, Hamilton Stone Review, Indiana ReviewMassachusetts Review, Not Just AirSalmagundi, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, among other literary periodicals. Her translations of Polish poetry have appeared in American Poetry ReviewBoston Review, Crazyhorse, Mid-American Review, Southern Review, and other publications. One of Kovacik's poem "Moving Forward", is showcased in three bus shelters along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail as part of a public art project honoring published writers. Another, "Invisible Movements", won the Moving Forward Contest. Kovacik's "Requiem for the Buddhas of Bamiyan" was awarded First Place in the 2002 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry competition sponsored by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. 

Among honors Kovacik has received are the 2011 and 2007 Trustees' Teaching Award, the 2006 Best Book of Indiana Award (for Metropolis Burning), and a 2007 Charity Randall Citation from the International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her short fiction received a 2001 Chelsea Award. Kovacik also is the recipient of a Fulbright research grant to Poland, was a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and was awarded an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Fellowship. Kovacik is one of 17 faculty members at Indiana University to be awarded in 2011 a grant through the New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities program, for her project "Calling Out to Yeti: An Anthology of Polish Women Poets" (the announcement is here).

Kovacik directs the creative writing program in the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University/Indianapolis, where she is also a professor of English and adjunct professor of women's studies.


* Quoted in "Patriotic Protest: Poetry, Plays + Posters" by Jim Walker at NUVO Newsweekly, February 19, 2003

Karen Kovacik Profile at Indiana University-Purdue University School of Liberal Arts

Karen Kovacik Essays Online: "Between L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E and Lyric: The Poetry of Pink-Collar Resistance" (Abstract) at NWSA Journal

Karen Kovacik Poetry Online: "Pandora Speaks" at Indiana Humanities Think. Read. Talk; "Invisible Movements" at Indianapolis Cultural Trail; "Ars Poetica: Highlights for Children" at Hamilton Stone Review; "Warsaw Architect" at Poetry Magazine (Winter 2011); "In the Letter R" and "Woman at Streetcar Stop" at Poetry Magazine; "My Mother the Monopolist" and "Return to the Mother Tongue" at Poetry Magazine; "The Bird People", "Means of Flights", and "During the Sorties Over Baghdad" at Artful Dodge; "Flooding the House" at Valparaiso Poetry Review; "Nixon on the Pleasure of Undressing a Woman" at Versedaily; "Versions of Irena" at Living in Partial Light ("Versions of Irena" also appears at Writing the Polish Diaspora); "Elegy for My Sex Life" at Versedaily (also appears at The RetroLounge Daily Poem Thread Journal, April 13, 2009); "The Art of Poetry" and "If my grandfather had not emigrated from Silesia" from Metropolis Burning at GoogleBooks (click on Contents to access poems); "Chrysalis" (translation of poem by Izabela Filipiak) at Boston Review

A number of Kovacik's translations of Izabela Filipiak's poetry can be found here. Her "Against Descartes", a translation of a poem by Katarzya Borun-Jagodzinska, is here; others are here (see last three poems).

Karen Kovacik on LinkedIn and Flickr

Arc Publications (Kovacik is one of a number of translators included in Arc's 2009 Six Polish Poets, edited by Jacek Dehnel.)

Art of the Matter Podcast, WFYI, with Karen Kovick and Terry Kirts (Kovacik talks here about the Reiberg Reading Series ad IUPUI Creative Writing Program. She appears at about the 38:40-minute mark.)

Ann Curran, "Poetry Review: Two Poets' Readings Draw Varied Responses", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 9, 2007 (This article reviews a reading by Kovacik and Linda Pastan for the International Poetry Forum.)

Leonard Kress, "Everything's Better in Poland", Artful Dodge Reviews (This includes a review of Kovacik's Beyond the Velvet Curtain, which addreses the Cold War and America of the 1950s and 1960s, with Richard M. Nixon a particularly prominent subject.) 

Philip Metres, "Introduction to Come Together: Imagine Peace"  (Kovacik's poem "Song for a Belgrade Baker" is included in section 8 of the anthology.)

Indiana Historical Bureau (Two of Kovacik's collections are listed here.)

The Writers' Center of Indiana (This site describes the "Moving Forward" public art project for Indiana Poets. As noted above, Kovacik's poem "Invisible Movements" is one of three selected for public art bus shelters.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thought for the Day

Well, the blue light was my blues
and the red light was my mind.*
~ Robert Johnson, "King of the Delta Blues"

* "All My Love in Vain" Lyrics

Robert Johnson (1911-2938) was an American blues singer and musician.

Robert Johnson Blues Foundation

The Robert Johnson Notebooks

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Profile

Bhesham R. Sharma, "Poetic Devices in the Songs of Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues", Transcultural Music Review, No. 3, 1997

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Today's edition of Saturday Sharing features links to a site that offers books you can check out and return virtually, a place where poets can engage in "community publishing", a global initiative to bring together 100,000 poets for change, and more. Enjoy!

✦ April marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. The Smithsonian offers online a trove of fascinating resources commemorating the occasion.

✦ At the new allwritethen, every poet has a voice and a say in "community publishing". The 40 poems voted "Most Popular" are to be published in a semiannual print issue.

ArtSanctuary, founded in 1998 by Lorene Cary, brings established and aspiring African-American writers, performers, and artists to North Philadelphia for lectures, performances, and educational presentations. In addition to its annual Celebration of Black Writing, the organization offers, among other initiatives, the Hip H'Opera project, which takes artists and music workshops to inner-city schoolchildren and their teachers, and Act 48 workshops for the classroom.

ArtSanctuary on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

ArtSanctuary Blog

✦ More than 1 million free e-book titles are available to read without restriction at Open Library, a project of the nonprofit Internet Archive that receives both public and private funding. Account holders may borrow up to five e-books at a time from the Lending Library; a "Return Cart" shows what's been put back on the virtual shelf. To access, readers may choose to borrow an in-browser version that uses Internet Archive's BookReader web application, or a PDF or ePub version, the later managed by Adobe Digital Editions software. They may be use laptops, library computers, and the iPad or other tablet devices.

Recently, a group of libraries entered into a cooperative venture to make a huge collection of mostly 20th Century books available for lending at Open Library. That initiative is expected to result in increased e-book use and could become a revenue stream for publishers. Last fall, Open Library announced the release of books for the "print-disabled community" in a format called "Daisy".

Open Library aims to provide a page on the Web for every book ever published. Through a wiki interface, readers may contribute information about books or make corrections to existing book pages.

Open Library FAQs

Open Library Blog

✦ Poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion have launched a project — 100 Thousand Poets for Change — to bring together 100,000 poets from around the world to inspire and encourage social and political change. The effort will culminate in a global event on Saturday, September 24. Those interested in organizing or participating in their own local event may sign up on FaceBook. Already in place are plans for 85 cities representing 20 countries. According to Rothenberg, "The idea is to get people out of the house, get them to meet their neighbors in ever-growing times of alienation, and do something good at the local community level while celebrating the arts."

Rothenberg is editor of the online Big Bridge magazine; Carrion is assistant editor and visual designer.

100 Thousand Poets for Change Blog

✦ Below is a slide show of "Where Children Sleep", photographs by James Mollison. Mollison traveled around the world (from England and the United States to Brazil, Lesotho, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, Israel, Kenya, the West Bank, and China) to make portraits of children and pair them with photographs of the places they sleep. These are arresting, thought-provoking images, none more so than the one of "Joey" of Kentucky. The photographs are published in Where Children Sleep (Chris Boot Ltd., London, 2010). (My thanks to PBS NewsHour Art Beat, where I first saw the slide show.)

James Mollison Images at Flatland Gallery

Where Children Sleep at Issuu (The book is available to read here.)

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour