Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Muse: Stephen Burt on Poetry

. . . I understand the world best, most fully, in words
. . . and when I have a new experience or a new feeling,
I'm a little  frustrated until I can try to put it into words. . . .
~ Poet Stephen Burt

In the video below, poet, literary critic, and essayist Stephen Burt gives a talk at TEDGlobal on poetry and why we need it and, to illustrate his points, shares poems by A.E. Housman, Rae Armantrout, and Wallace Stevens.

Some highlights from Burt's talk:

✦ ". . . we are all going to die. Poetry can help us live with that. . . . " 

✦ "Poems, the patterns in poems, show us not just what somebody thought or what someone did or what happened but what it was like to be a person like that, to be so anxious, so lonely, so inquisitive, so goofy, so preposterous, so brave. That's why poems can seem at once so durable, so personal and so ephemeral, like something inside and outside you at once. . . ."

✦ "It's easier than ever to find poems that might stay inside you, that might stay with you, . . . Poems can help you say, help you show how you're feeling, but they can also introduce you to feelings, ways of being in the world. . . Some poems even tell you that this is what they can do. . . ."

A professor of English at Harvard, Burt is the author of Belmont (Graywolf Press, 2013) and Parallel Play: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2006), among other poetry collections. His criticism and other works includes, most recently, The Art of the Sonnet, co-authored with David Mikics (Belknap Press, 2011; Harvard University Press, 2010), Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler (University of Virginia Press, 2009), and Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (Graywolf Press, 2009), a book of essays that was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Stephen Burt Website (You will find here information about Burt's books, criticism, interviews, and appearances, as well as audio and video features and poems.)

Stephen Burt on FaceBook and Twitter

Adam Plunkett, "The Poetry World's Most Indiscriminate Fanboy", New Republic, October 26, 2013

Rebecca Ariel Porte, "An Interview with Stephen Burt", Bookslut, September 2013

Mark Oppenheimer, "Stephen Burt, Poetry's Cross-Dressing Kingmaker", The New York Times, September 14, 2012

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Thought for the Day

. . . One of the differences between being a novelist
 and [being] a poet is that the novelist kind of moves into your house
. . . The poet is more someone who just appears. You know, 
a door opens, and there's the poet! He says something 
about life or death, closes the door and is gone. . .
I like that kind of sudden appearance. Not overstaying your welcome. . . .
~ Poet Billy Collins

Quoted from George Plimpton, "Billy Collins, The Art of Poetry No. 83" (Interview), The Paris Review, Fall 2001

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday Short

Today's short is the trailer for the Italian film Le quattro volte (translated, variously, as "The Four Forms", "The Four Directions", or "The Four Times"), in which a single protagonist appears in the form of charcoal, an elderly man, a goat, and a tree. The film is about connection and relationship, transmigration and transformation. The director is Michelangelo Frammartino. English subtitles are provided.

Friday, June 27, 2014

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ The colored pencil drawings of Art Venti of Los Angeles may be unlike any you've ever seen before. (My thanks to Elsa Mora for the link to Venti's extraordinary work. See Mora's post of May 13, 2014.)

✦ I needed but one look, and I was won over by the paintings, drawings, murals, and textiles of French artist Claire Basler. Nature clearly is her muse.

✦ Award-winning Transylvania-born Andrea Dezso draws, paints, embroiders, cuts paper, sculpts, and creates one-of-a-king artist and pop-up books, "tunnel" books, animations, illustrations, and site-specific installations. The multi-genre artist calls herself a storyteller whose "visual narratives range from the mystical to the absurd. . . I am drawn to the visually unusual, weaving together psychological, historical, and ornamental themes, and find unspeakable beauty in the natural world." Her art has appeared in the New York City subway and abroad at a U.S. Embassy. Dezso teaches at Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts. Explore her Website and also see her work at Nancy Margolis Gallery and Pucker Gallery.

Andrea Dezso on FaceBook

✦ Here's how a dozen artists responded to the topic of climate change. See Andrew Brown's Art & Ecology Now (Thames & Hudson, 2014), featuring more than 340 illustrations of the work of 95 artists and artist cooperatives.

Raymond Pettibon: To Wit (David Zwirner) was published at the end of April. The 188-page book documents Pettibon's preparations of artworks for a 2013 exhibition at David Zwirner, New York City, and includes an essay by Lucas Zwirner, "A Month With Raymond", an interview with Pettibon, and photographs by Andreas Laszlo Knorath.

Cover of Raymond Pettibon: To Wit

Raymond Pettibon at Art21 and David Zwirner

✦ A six-part conversation with James Turrell at Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas, is available on YouTube. In Part 1, Turrell discusses his piece Gard Blue (1968), which was on view at the museum in May. Read the announcement of the donation of Gard Blue to the museum.

ARC, Spencer Art Museum Blog

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Forty-four paintings for "Janet Fish: Master of Light & Shadow" remain on view through July 27 at Alabama's Huntsville Museum of Art. The exhibition includes major works on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of Art, as well as other institutions. A catalogue (see image below) with an essay by Karli Wurzelbacher accompanies the show (it may be ordered through the museum or booksellers).

Catalogue Cover

Janet Fish at DC Moore GalleryNancy Doyle Fine Art, and Ro Gallery

Huntsville Museum of Art on FaceBook

✭ West Virginia's Huntington Museum of Art is presenting through August 10 "Walter Gropius Master Artist Series Presents: Jeanne Quinn". On view is Quinn's Floating, comprising porcelain, wire, paint, and electrical wire. In addition to alluding to the history of decorative arts, the installation is described in exhibition notes as "a porcelain chandelier that references multiples, materiality, and the human body. By suspending hundreds of precisely arranged ceramic objects, Quinn pushes ornament into space. . . The scale envelopes, suggesting the softness and movement of textiles. Space itself becomes the place of decoration; the installation, a stage; the viewer, an actor." 

Huntington Museum of Art on FaceBook

✭ The traveling exhibition "Women, Art and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise" continues through August 31 at Georgia Museum of Art, in Athens. The largest presentation (nmore than 130 objects) of Newcomb arts and crafts in 25 years, the show features work from various periods, underscoring women's enterprising role in promoting art to improve women's status. Featured are examples of the well-known pottery, metalwork, jewelry, bookbindings, and historical artifacts. An early-evening lecture, "Newcomb's Designers: A Conscious Revolution", is scheduled for August 28. A selection of exhibition images is available at the link. Also see Smithsonian Institution's SITES page for the exhibition, which will travel to Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas, in September of this year; Gardiner Museum in Toronto in February 2015; and Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, Tennessee, in July 2016.

Newcomb Pottery Website (Newcomb College Center for Research on Women)

Georgia Museum of Art on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ This year, Storm King Art Center, one of my favorite outdoor sculpture parks, is presenting "Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition", an exhibition both of Zhang's principal sculptures and source materials, preparatory drawings, and video. I first saw some of Zhang's work at the Asia Society in New York City (see "Zhang Huan: Altered States") and have never forgotten it. A fascinating artist, Zhang draws deeply from the past, in particular from Chinese cultural and religious traditions. Zhang's works remain on view through November 9.

Storm King on FaceBook and Twitter

Thursday, June 26, 2014

TateShots: Nan Goldin on Her Images of Children

. . . I have this idea that children come from another planet; 
they remember that place at first then they forget it. . . .
~ Photographer Nan Goldin in Vogue

The brief video below, produced by TateShots, features a frank interview with photographer Nan Goldin, who talks about her series of photographs of children. Included are many images from Goldin's recent book Eden and After (Phaidon Press, 2013). Born in Washington, D.C., in 1953, Goldin lives and works in Paris and New York City. 

My thanks to Lens Culture for the link.

Sean O'Hagan, "Nan Goldin", The Guardian, March 22, 2014

Ella Alexander, "Nan Goldin Finds Her Eden", Vogue, March 31, 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

National Student Poet Interview

Today, you'll find me at TweetSpeak Poetry, where my interview with National Student Poet Sojourner Ahebee is posted.

Sojourner, age 18, is just one of five teens who have served this past year as America's "poetry ambassadors" under the auspices of the National Student Poets Program, an initiative of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. A member of the second annual class of honorees singled out from among national medalists in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards by a jury of literary luminaries and education and arts leaders, including poets Richard Blanco and Terrance Hayes, Sojourner and her peers — Michaela Coplen, Nathan Cummings, Aline Dolinh, and Louis Lafair — each received a $5,000 college scholarship and an opportunity to represent youth poets nationally. The NSPP is our country's highest honor for youth poets.  

My interview comprises two parts. Today, in Part 1, Sojourner discusses being "a girl with two homes", the Cote d'Ivoire, where she was born, and America, where she lives now, and how poetry has become for her "a memory capsule", a means of capturing in words and images all that she had to leave behind when forced by civil war to flee her native country in 2002. In Part 2, which will appear at TweetSpeak next week, Sojourner talks about her year as a National Student Poet and her community service project with nursing home residents suffering from Alzheimer's disease. 

I found Sojourner to be a particularly engaged, enthusiastic, and articulate young woman, who has a gift for writing poetry and a profound sense of responsibility to tell the narrative of Africans like herself and others' stories of loss and longing.

I've included with my interview a link to some of Sojourner's poems (others are below). When you read her words, consider what she told me about her writing:

"I think the themes of home, diaspora, and injustice are quite self-evident in my work. My short time in Cote d'Ivoire has really contributed to my sense of the world, and my ability to empathize with other people, other histories, and other narratives. Most recently, I've noticed that my own work deals a lot with relationships and the way these relationships, or lack of relationships, contribute to daily life. Because my father passed away in Cote d'Ivoire prior to the Ivoirien civil war, much of my work is involved in uncovering relationships between fathers and daughters.

"I like writing in free verse and, most recently, I've been experimenting with hybrid forms of poetry. If I were to describe my work, I would say that my poems are very connected to aspects of the political. Right now I'm working on a series of poems that deals with how my physical environment relates to how I see myself in the context of my gender. I draw from both my short time in Cote d'Ivoire and the plight that women in Ivoirien society face, as well as my time spent in different parts of the United States."

Like her peers in the NSPP, Sojourner speaks to the power of poetry to change lives. 

I asked Sojourner if there is any myth about poetry that she would dispel, and she responded, ". . . the idea that poetry is not reaching young people. For starters, . . . consider the range that the word poetry begins to paint. There is formal poetry, hybrid poetry, slam poetry, surreal poetry, political poetry, prose poetry, and the list could go on. So, to simply say that poetry is not reaching young people is to simply ignore all the avenues that the written word is treading. But what's really interesting about my generation is its relationship to technology and poetry. Prior to this computer age, poets were completely dependent upon "gatekeepers" like big literary magazines and publishing companies and, as a result, a lot of people had their voices limited. But now, everyone has access to a voice. Just take a look at the thriving spoken word community throughout the country, a community of writers that is mainly young people who want their voices heard. Through blogs, Youtube, social networking, and services like Poetry Genius, young people now hold the power to not only make themselves heard but to ensure that their voices have the ability to reach millions. So, when people say poetry is obsolete, I have a hard time believing them. It's time to open our eyes and look at all the unlearned territory poetry is beginning to make sense of."

Sojourner will attend Stanford University this fall.

Sojourner Ahebee's Poems:

"valentine for Sally Hemings" Poem-A-Day, Academy of American Poets, June 2014

"Apparitions and Notes on Apparitions", Winter Tangerine Review, Vol. 2

"Nanny", The Interlochen Review

Sojourner Ahebee, "Listen to Africa", Poster, Syracuse Cultural Workers (Text of Poem on Poster)

Sojourner's poems also can be found in Stone Soup, Teen Ink, and Apiary magazines. She blogs at Sojo's Trumpet: A Culture Blog for Teens. Her collection of poems, Thirteen Ways to Look at Me (June 2011), is available for Nook.

Leigh Anne Tiffany, "Philadelphia Teen Wins National Award for Poetry", NBC 10 Philadelphia, June 15, 2014

I also have interviewed NSP Michaela Coplen. Read Part 1, "Connecting with Poetry", and Part 2, "Advocating for Poetry", at TweetSpeak Poetry.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bad Behavior in a Mexican Restaurant (Poem)

Bad Behavior in a Mexican Restaurant

The day your umbrella sailed
the length of the room, I walked,
counting. So many blocks back
to the hotel, the lower East Side
disappearing, finally, Midtown
coming into view. You cheated
and took the subway, beating me
there. I knew you would. Later,
you changed cars, to get closer.
Three and a half hours by train
and still I couldn't look at you.

© 2014 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Muse: The Inventive Austin Kleon

Art is never a one-way street.
~ Austin Kleon

The talented Austin Kleon, who describes himself as a "writer who draws", makes a poem a day. The subject of a lot of press, Kleon talks about his creative philosophy and approach below in a short interview that is part of Ondi Timoner's A Total Disruption documentary series.

Kleon is the author of the recently published Show Your Work! (Workman, March 2014), as well as Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative (Workman, 2012) and Newspaper Blackout (Harper Perennial, 2010), the latter a compendium of poems creating by redacting words from newspaper articles.

Austin Kleon Website

Trailer for Show Your Work!

Trailer for Steal Like an Artist

Austin Kleon's TedX Talk

Jeffrey Brown's PBS NewsHour Feature "Texas Poet Twists Newsprint Into Prose" (Video)

Austin Kleon on FaceBook, Twitter, and Tumblr

Austin Kleon Blog

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thought for the Day

. . . no one writes alone:
one needs a community.
~ Poet and Translator Robert Bly

Quoted from Francis Quinn, "Robert Bly, The Art of Poetry No. 79" (Interview), The Paris Review, Spring 2000

Robert Bly Website

Robert Bly at Academy of American Poets, Modern American Poetry, The Poetry Foundation 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday Short

Today's short is the trailer for The Lunchbox, which relates the story of a housewife who uses food to try to relight a romance with her husband. The lunchbox goes astray. 

Released in India in 2013, the film, by Ritesh Batra, is called "one of the year's best" in a review at The Arts Fuse. It was released to theatres in the United States beginning in May.

The Lunchbox on FaceBook and Twitter

Friday, June 20, 2014

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ "Almost everything I know about art I either learned by looking at it and talking to myself, or from listening to artists talk about art. They see all of it through their own work, their own notions. . . ." Read Jerry Saltz's post about Ruscha's wonderful talk in Vulture, "Seeing Out Loud: Ed Ruscha Talked About Eight Old Master Paintings at the Frick, and I'll Never See Them the Same Way", and then watch the video below.

✦ In manipulations of landscapes and cityscapes, photographer Hossein Zare of Iran creates beautiful, often breaktaking tableaux of emptiness and isolation. His minimalist black-and-white images are stunning. (My thanks to On Being for the link.)

Hossein Zare Photography on FaceBookPinterest, and Tumblr

✦ Hundreds of years before the appearance on Pantone Color Guide, a Dutch artist known as "A. Boogert" created a hand-written and hand-painted, nearly 800-page book, Traite des couleurs servant a la peinture a l'eau (1692), at E-Corpus, to serve as a guide to painting and color. View the book, kept at Bibliotheque Mejanes, Aix-en-Provence, France, at the link to get an idea of just how extraordinary it is. Read a Colossal post about the book. (Note: Accessing the book requires patience and more than one try.)

Art Detective is the latest crowdsourced online art network. Its aim is to enhance information about the United Kingdom's public art collections. The exchange, available through Your Paintings, has sections for groups, such as British portraits and transport history in art; discussions, news, and resources, including guidelines for researching a painting.

Your Paintings on FaceBook

Black Dog Publishing has released Made by Hand: Contemporary Makers, Traditional Practices. Edited by Leanne Hayman and Nick Warner, the book includes profiles on a bladesmiths, violin makers, stationers, neon sign makers, jewelers, tailors, bee keepers, and other artisans who produce handmade goods with traditional processes. (The book is available in the United States and the United Kingdom from the publisher and from Amazon and other book sellers.)

Cover of Made by Hand

✦ Today's video features selections from the production Art in Progress: Fred Tomaselli (2005) provided by James Cohan Gallery. Tomaselli is the subject of a 2014 FOCUS show at the Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth. Watch the Art This Week at The Modern video.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Continuing through September 14 at the Museum of Chinese in America, New York City, is "Oil and Water: Reinterpreting Ink". The exhibition features the work of artists Qiu Deshu, Wei Jia, and Zhang Hongtu, revealing how each uses ink to reinterpret traditional calligraphy and landscape painting for contemporary means. Artists' bios are at the exhibition link above. 

MOCA on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ The traveling exhibition "An Opening of the Field: Jess, Robert Duncan & Their Circle" is on view at the Katzen Arts Center at American University, Washington, D.C., through August 17. It is the first such show to examine the highly productive collaboration between the late poet Robert Duncan and the late artist Jess Collins ("Jess"), who lived together as a couple in San Francisco, beginning in the 1950s. Included in the exhibition are more than 140 individual and collaborative works of art (paintings, collages, and drawings among them), as well as personal letters from public and private collections and a selection of works by the couple's many friends who were artists. An illustrated catalogue accompanies the show.

Jess, The Enamord Mage: Translation #6, 1965
Oil on Canvas Over Wood, 24.5" x 30"
Collection of M.H. de Young Memorial Museum

Holland Carter, "The Company They Kept: Robert Duncan and Jess, and Their Wonderland of Art", The New York Times, January 16, 2014 (Review of Exhibition at Grey Art Gallery, New York University)

✭ "The Annual 2014: Redefining Tradition", a survey of contemporary American art at National Academy Museum, New York City, features work by such artists and architects as Mark di Suvero, Michael Graves, Dan Gilhooley, Valerie Jaudon, Alfred Leslie, I.M. Pei, Altoon Sultan, Richard Tuttle, Carrie Mae Weems, Betty Woodman, and Jack Youngerman. Continuing through September 14, the exhibition, now in its 188th year, seeks to uncover "affinities, connections, differences, and, most importantly, a relevant continuum of American art and architecture." Works on view include paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, and architectual studies. (Click on the exhibition link above for a complete list of participants and selected images.)

According to a press release, a gallery has been re-created as a reading room with art catalogues and other materials and videos are presented in the museum lobby to encourage viewers to engage more deeply in viewing and study. Special lectures, public programs, and art workshops are scheduled.

National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ New York University's Grey Art Gallery continues "Energy That Is All Around", an exhibition of more than 125 works by five artists whose careers began in San Francisco's Mission District in the early 1990s. The five artists are Chris Johanson, Margaret Kilgallen (obituary), Alicia McCarthy, Barry McGee, and Ruby Neri. Featured are paintings, drawings, sculptures, and installations, in addition to works created for the show, which will conclude July 12. Also included are sketches letters, journals scapbooks, cutouts, and other ephemera. A 120-page catalogue Energy That Is All Around (Chronicle Books) accompanies the exhibition (see image below).

Grey Art Gallery on FaceBook and Twitter

The Grey Area, GAG's Blog

✭ Also in New York City is "Joan Mitchell: Trees", on view through August 29 at Cheim & Reid. Presented in collaboration with Joan Mitchell Foundation, the show features seven large canvases of abstracted tree forms by Mitchell (1925-1992) and is accompanied by a full-color catalogue that includes an essay by American poet, art critic, and curator John Yau.

Image of Trees, Oil on Canvas, 1990-91 at Joan Mitchell Foundation 

Read a John Yau essay, "Four Memories of Joan Mithell", at Poetry Foundation.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Artist Watch Feature at EIL

Andrea Kowch, Light Keepers, 2014
Acrylic on Canvas, 60" x 72"
© Andrea Kowch 2014

Please join me today at Escape Into Life, where I introduce in my Artist Watch column the work of Andrea Kowch, a much-lauded artist of inspired allegorical paintings, book illustrations, and works on paper.

A native of Michigan, Kowch is described as "a powerful voice emerging, demonstrating a highly sensitive consciousness that informs a culturally laced symbolism". At EIL, you'll find eight images of Kowch's narrative works, including that above, that draw on the contrasts and parallels of human experience and the natural world. Also included are an Artist Statement and biographical information.

Kowch's terrific work is on show this summer at ArtHamptons International Fine Art Fair, in New York, July 10-13. It may be seen in the exhibition "Get Real: New American Painting", at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida, beginning September 13, 2014. The latter spotlights eight American artists nationally selected to represent contemporary realist painting; it will continue through January 4, 2015.

Kowch is represented exclusively by RJD Gallery, Sag Harbor, New York.

Andrea Kowch on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

Read "Magic Realism Painter Andrea Kowch: What the Wind Blew" (Interview), Combustus, September 13, 2013.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cool Off with 'Fresh Guacamole'

Too hot to venture outside? Stay cool with Fresh Guacamole, a stop-motion video in which things are not what they seem to be. Created by PES, it was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013.

The shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar, Fresh Guacamole was commissioned by Showtime for its "Short Stories" series. It's had millions of views.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hard As It Is (Poem)

Hard As It Is

He talks of Mohs scales;
she, of astral signs.
They gather rubies
on the long Silk Road.


Tears of Buddha run
the color of pigeon blood.
The mountain is all stone.


Rain washes out fire.
Her ruby-syllabled throat
hums heart's bluest notes.


Forty years they walk
the golden path, love binding
ruby-slippered feet.

© 2014 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Muse: Tadeusz Rozewicz's 'Pigtail'

Below is an animation, using multiple voices, of the late Tadeusz Rozewicz's poem "Pigtail", written in 1948 and published in Tadeusz Rozewicz: They Came to See a Poet (Anvil Press Poetry, 1991; 3rd edition, 2011). The animation is by Dawid Jagusiak. The translation used in the film is by Adam Czerniawski. 

"Pigtail", a poem about the hair shaved from the heads of "all the women in the transport" is notable for its stark clarity and the indelible image at its conclusion of "a faded plait / a pigtail with a ribbon. . . ."

An award-winning poet, playwright, and novelist, Rozewicz, regarded as one of Poland's finest writers, died April 24, 2014. (Read The New York Times obituary.) 

Highly admired worldwide, Rozewicz's lyrical, unadorned, deeply honest poems can be found in Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems of Tadeusz Rosewicz (W.W. Norton, 2011; paperback, 2013), new poems (Archipelago, 2007), Conversation with the Prince and Other Poems (Anvil Press, 1982), Unease (New Rivers Press, 1980), Selected Poems (Penguin, 1976), The Survivor and Other Poems (Princeton University Press, 1976), and Faces of Anxiety (Rapp & Whiting, 1969), among other works.

Other poems by Rozewicz at the Legacy Project: "Massacre of the Boys" (1948), "The Survivor", and "In the Midst of Life". Rozewicz's famous lines "I am twenty-four / led to slaughter / I survived. . . ." are from his poem "The Survivor".

Two poems, "The moon shines" and "Abattoirs" from They Came to See a Poet are here. "Pigtail" also can be found at Anvil Press Poetry; go here.

Read "Fuse Remembrance: Polish Poet and Dramatist Radeusz Rozewicz—The Prophet of the Partial, the Herald of the Unfinished", The Arts Fuse, May 22, 2014.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thought for the Day

. . . I always give the same advice. I say, Do it the hard way,
and you'll always feel good about yourself. You write 
because you have to, and you get this unbelievable satisfaction
from doing it well. Try to live on that as long as you're able. 
Don't kiss anyone's ass. . . .
~ Poet Philip Levine

Quoted from Mona Simpson, "Philip Levine, The Art of Poetry No. 39" (Interview),  The Paris Review, Summer 1988 

Philip Levine was 40 when his first collection was published. It is worth noting that he also says in the Paris Review interview, "But to be utterly honest, I think if something hadn't happened about then I might have become a very bitter man. It was getting to me. . . ."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday Short

Today's short is the charming animation Dog. Dog lovers won't have to be convinced of its truth.

Direct Link

Nat Johnson's single Dog at iTunes

(My thanks to Brain Pickings, where I first learned of the video.)

Friday, June 13, 2014

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ The first of a five-volume, limited-edition set of never-before-published images, The Unknown Berenice Abbott, has been published by Steidl. Volume 1, titled Berenice Abbott New York 1929-1931, comprises Abbott's early photographs of the city, including both its landscapes and its architecture. The remaining volumes will be, in order: Berenice Abbott The American Scene 1930-1935, Berenice Abbott Deep Woods: The Logging Photographs, Berenice Abbott Greenwich Village 1935-1950, and Berenice Abbott U.S. 1, U.S.A. Additional details.

The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, has made available for downloading and public use some 600 images of American artwork. Among the works are rarely seen paintings by John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, and John La Farge. See the section of The Walters Website titled New Eyes on American Art.

✦ The distinctive, energetic, and colorful paintings of the widely exhibited Lucinda Parker go a long way to explain why she is so admired. Her often large-scale work is cubist, abstract, geometrical, and vibrant. Read "Lucinda Parker" at Art in America, a review of her recent show at Laura Russo Gallery in Portland, Oregon, and watch "Oregon Art Beat: Painter Lucinda Parker".

✦ By now, my readers know I am a huge fan of cut-paper work. Recently I was introduced to the gorgeous artistry of Toronto-based Christine Kim, who also is an illustrator and installation artist. Find some time to be awed by Kim's paper orbs, cut-paper collages, and other wonderful pieces.

Christine Kim on FaceBook

✦ Daylight is publishing in September #Sandy: Seen Through the iPhones of Acclaimed Photographers, which will include work by more than 20 photographers, including Benjamin Lowy, Wyatt Gallery, Michael Christopher Brown, and Stephen Wilkes. The book is available for pre-purchase. Its launch is scheduled for November 4 at Hous Projects Gallery in New York City. See a trailer at Vimeo. Thirty-three images are on view at the #Sandy Website.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ The Betty Boyd Dettre Library and Research Center at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., is presenting five novels by Helena Bochorakova-Dittrichova (1894-1980), including From My Childhood (1929), considered the first graphic novel to be created by a woman. Also on view is an unpublished work, The Artist on Her Journey, comprising 52 original woodcuts. The exhibition, "The First Woman Graphic Novelist: Helena Bochorakova-Dittrichova", will continue through November 14.

See pages 10-11 of Artists Without Authors by David A. Berona (pdf) for a brief critical analysis of the artist's work.

NMWA on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ A selection of  the beautiful abstract paintings of Basil Alkazzi are on view through July 27 at the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. "Basil Alkazzi: An Odyssey of Dreams: A Decade of Paintings", is accompanied by a full-color catalogue published by Scala Art Publishers. The exhibition of more than 30 gouache and watercolors on hand-made paper, dating from 2003 to 2012, has been traveling since the late summer of 2013.

Catalogue Cover

Scale Art Publishers Page for Catalogue (A view inside the catalogue is available at this link.)

Sheldon Museum of Art on FaceBookTwitter, and Vimeo

Basil Alkazzi on FaceBook

✭ If you are visiting New York City this summer, be sure to stop at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where Chinese-American artist Xu Bing's huge Phoenix has been installed since March. Comprising two birds, Feng (male) and Huang (female), each weighing 12 tons and measuring, respectively 90 feet and 100 feet long, Phoenix is suspended in the Nave. The installation, crafted between 2008 and 2010, is made up of construction materials and debris that Xu Bing salvaged from building sites across Beijing. Visit the Art page for a link to the current exhibition and images.

Read Carol Vogel's article "Phoenixes Rise in China and Float in New York", The New York Times, February 14, 2014 (An 11-image slideshow is available at the link.)

St. John the Divine on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Save the Date

✭ New York City's Alexandre Gallery will present "Will Barnet: A Tribute" from November 20, 2014, through January 10, 2015.  The exhibition will comprise five of Barnet's paintings and related work and be accompanied by a catalogue. The gallery represents the Barnet estate. (Barnet died in November 2012.)

The video below features Barnet talking about his long and productive career and about his painting Male and Female (1954), which was on view in the Whitney Museum exhibition "Signs & Symbols" in 2012.

Notable Exhibition Abroad

Annely Juda Fine Art in London is presenting "David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring", a lovely series of landscapes inspired by the Yorkshire Wolds. The exhibition continues through July 12. See color images (from iPad) at the exhibition link above.

Read Hockney's "David Hockney's Yorkshire Spring Drawings", The Guardian, April 18, 2014.

Annely Juda Fine Art on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Thursday, June 12, 2014

John Siddique's 'End of Mango Season'

John Siddique, whose work has been the subject of a number of posts at Writing Without Paper, is a poet of witness. He writes poetry that matters about life experiences and events that matter. Recently, John wrote and filmed "The End of Mango Season", which he calls a "poetic meditation".  Inspired by the rape and hanging of two girls, cousins, ages 12 and 14, in Uttar Pradesh, India, "The End of Mango Season" is a deeply thoughtful piece of writing, distinguished by its clarity of message, its insight into who we are as human beings, and especially its profound feeling for the murder victims.


Among John's books are the poetry collections Full Blood (Salt Publishing, 2011) and Recital - An Almanac (Salt Publishing, 2009) and the memoir Four Fathers. His work has appeared in Granta, The Guardian, and The Rialto and on BBC Radio 4. Currently, he is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at York St. John University.

John Siddique's Black Coffee & A Glass of Water (Blog)

Review of Full Blood at Writing Without Paper (Also see Reader's Guide and my essay "Monday Muse on the 'One Hundred' Poems".)

Review of Recital at Writing Without Paper

John Siddique at Moving Poems

John Siddique on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

George Saunders on Kindness

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
~ George Saunders

The animation below features a reading by writer George Saunders from his book Congratulations, by the Way (Random House, 2014). The book comprises Saunders's commencement address to the Class of 2013 at Syracuse University.

Full Text of Address

George Saunders Website

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Angling (Poem)


A man reaches,
always hoping;

with practice
follows the line

of prayer
breaking the early hour,

the mechanical repetition
of arcing and flattening

words almost a rhythm.
Strip the energy

feeding on inner noise
and stones  turn over,

shake grace loose
and throw light back.

God's wooed to the surface
in a drawl of shallow breath,

and the emptying
that comes

from a history of cares
run to bottom

evades a new day's taunt
to raise arm and hand

against a hide-and-seek sun.

© 2014 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem was inspired by Seth Haine's post, "Fly Fishing Artist Date".

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Muse Asks Did You Know

Today's post is another in an occasional series offering something you might not know about poets, poetry, or poetry-related organizations.

Did You Know. . . 

✦ Poetry gets its own set of wheels. In 2013, Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf (PJOS), in partnership with Madison B-cycle (a bike-rental program) and Cowfeather Press, launched "Poetry Bikes", an initiative that placed on 30 of B-cycle's red bikes 10 poems with a Madison, Wisconsin, theme. Produced on decals affixed to the bicycles, the poems were among the submissions for Echolocations: Poets Map Madison (Cowfeather Press, 2013), an anthology of more than 100 poems referencing Madison locations and benefitting the Madison Poet Laureate Fund. (My thanks to Verse Wisconsin from which I learned of the project.)

The PJOS project for 2014 is titled "Up to the Cottage". Poets from the United States, Canada, Israel, England, and Norway sent in poems that, following selection, will be reproduced in one of two ways: on bookmarks or mailable postcards that will be made available to house guests of rental colleges in Wisconsin, Florida, and Vermont,  or on note cards that will be attached to handles of maple syrup containers sold at farmers' markets and in stores. PJOS has undertaken such wonderful projects for years; see Past Projects for descriptions.

✦ Every so often rare-book librarians come across volumes whose bindings are, shall we say, a bit delicate. Three books in Harvard's collection are bound in human skin; one is a volume by French poet and essayist Arsene Houssaye (1815-1896). The director of the university's libraries can't say with any degree of certainty whether more such bindings exist among the 15-million-volume Harvard collection. Read "The Skinny on Harvard's Rare Book Collection". (My thanks to GalleyCat and the March 31, 2014, edition of Paris Review Daily for the link. Read "Reader warning: Harvard experts say book is bound with human skin", CNN, June 5, 2014.)

✦ Poet and writer Maya Angelou, who died May 28, 2014, was San Francisco's first African-American female streetcar conductor. 

The Postal Poetry Society is dedicated to sharing poetry via postcards sent around the world. The society's headquarters are in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom.

✦ The youngest person to recite a poem at a president's inauguration is Richard Blanco, who was 44 when President Barack Obama was sworn in in 2013. Blanco also is the first Hispanic and the first gay person to be selected for the honor.

✦ Ghanaian Nii Ayikwei Parkes was the first African poet approved for inclusion on iTunes. Read "Ghanian Poet Becomes First African Poet on Apple's iTunes".

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thought for the Day

. . . Composing poems and writing stories is
a meditative, spiritual act of resistance. It requires
a capacity to sustain contemplation, to be attentive
to all that is about us, and to hold within ourselves
an awareness that we are here, in our living moment,
between two unknown realms—
before our births and after our deaths. . . .
~ 'Poet of Witness' Carolyn Forche

Quoted from Carolyn Forche, "Not Persuasion, But Transport: The Poetry of Witness", 2013 Blaney Lecture, in American Poets, Spring-Summer 2014

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday Short

Today's short is a sneak peek at "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs", an exhibition at Tate Modern that continues through September 7.

Tate Modern on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Friday, June 6, 2014

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ I was delighted to have an opportunity to see Elzbieta Sikorska's evocative, highly expressive mixed-media drawings on papers. Many are standouts; among her landscapes, I especially like Boat, Beaks, and Whip. View Sikorska's online Portfolio (don't miss the installation Hanging Moose). The artist recently exhibited in "Nature and Culture: Drawings by Elzbieta Sikorska" in McLean, Virginia, at McLean Project for the Arts.

✦ For fans of "outsider" or "visionary" artists: Greg Bottoms's The Colorful Apocalpyse: Journeys in Outsider Art (Chicago University Press, 2007). Read Garrick Allen's "Review: The Colorful Apocalypse" at Transpositions.

✦ The lovely, almost delicate digital paintings by Seoul-based Jiwoon Pak carry numerous narrative possibilities. Also see the charming drawings. Jiwoon recently was featured in Frrresh, a visual arts magazine. (My thanks to Hannah Stephenson for the link to Jiwoon's work.)

Jiwoon Pak on FaceBook

✦ The wonderful artist Rebecca Kamen is the subject of a PBS NewsHour article, "Portrait of a Dyslexic Artist, Who Transforms Neurons Into 'Butterflies'", which includes images of her work. Also see the Art/Science section of Kamen's Website. The atrium of The John Edward Porter Neuroscience Research Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, is a public gallery space where Kamen's neuroscience-inspired sculptures are on view. Kamen was NIH artist-in-residence in 2012.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Work by painters Irene Hardwicke Olivieri and Jo Hamilton is in the spotlight in "Contemporary Oregon Visions" at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon at Eugene. Olivieri populates her canvases with images of the natural world, while Hamilton gives working-class Portland a whimsical twist. The exhibition, which runs through August 3, includes selections from Olivieri's sculpture series Paleogirls and Hamilton's industrial landscapes and full-figure nudes.  

Hardwicke's new book is Closer to Wildness (Pomegranate).

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube 

✭ Continuing through June 29 at Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Laurel, Mississippi, is "Rebels With a Cause: American Impressionist Women from the Huntsville Museum of Art". The exhibition showcases some 55 works — landscapes, still lifes, paintings, genre scenes, and portraits — by artists who are women, all strongly influenced by French Impressionism.

Lauren Rogers Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ "The World at War, 1914-1918" is on view through August 3 at Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. One of many world-wide observances of the centenary of the start of World War I, the exhibition draws on letters, drafts, and diaries, memoirs, novels, photographs, drawings, and propaganda posters to illuminate experiences of the war by the men and women who witnessed it. 

The exhibit is organized thematically and presented to mirror the eastern and western fronts of the war. The individual sections are "The War Begins", "A Lost Generation", "For Ever England", "Ireland and the Easter Uprising", "Women and Children in Wartime", "Opposing the War", "The Weapons of War", "Animals", "Treating the Wounded", "Over There", "African-American Soldiers", "The Italian Front", "The Lost", "Reporting the War", and "Lawrence of Arabia".

A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibit.

Catalogue Cover

Harry Ransom Center on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Harry Ransom Blog, Cultural Compass

Notable Exhibitions Abroad

✭ Canada's Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, is presenting Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty" through July 20. Drawing on the artists' experiences during the London Blitz, the Second World War, and other conflicts to illuminate the artists' treatment of such themes as violence, trauma, and personal and social conflict, the exhibition includes more than 130 artworks: paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, and archival materials; among the latter are 30 archival photographs by Bill Brandt. It is the first Canadian show of Bacon's work and features a number of rarely seen works by Moore from AGO's own collection and the collections of MoMA, Tate Britain, and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, among other institutions. The show is ticketed.

AGO on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Juliette Bates is exhibiting in "Histoires Naturelles" at Galerie Esther Woerderhoff in Paris, France. Bates is a photographer with a distinctive signature. Her beautiful Lambda prints are as mysterious as they are surreal. The exhibition continues through July 12.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Spotlight on the UW-Madison Collections

Today's post spotlights several literature and art-related collections in the libraries of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

✦ A selection from three decades of broadsides in the Woodland Pattern Book Center archives housed in the Special Collections Department of UW-Madison's Memorial Library were on view this past winter. The broadsides, dating from 1979 through 2012, were specially printed for readings at the center.

In addition to the fine press broadsides, the center's holdings include correspondence with writers and artists, audio recordings of readings, scrapbooks and albums, posters, newsletters, grant proposals, and other items that preserve and document literary and cultural history. For details about the acquisition of the archives, see "UW-Madison Libraries Acquire Archive of Milwaukee's Woodland Pattern Book Center". 

✦ Also housed at UW-Madison is the Little Magazine Collection, which has its own informative blog on Tumblr. A selected list of Little Magazine Websites includes a number of periodicals previously unknown to me: Abraham Lincoln: the Magazine, Interpreters House, Jabberwock Review, and The Pinch Journal, any one of which could keep you trolling posts and pages for hours.

Japanese illustrated books from the late Edo period (1600-1868) are available to browse online. Included among the 15 titles that have been digitized are electronic fascimiles of woodblock prints by Hiroshige, Hokusai, Utamaro, and other famous artists and designers. The books are owned by Kohler Art Library.

✦ UW-Madison's Kohler Art Library owns one of the country's most important collections of artists' books. Established in the early 1970s and currently numbering more than 1,000 titles, the Artists' Book Collection includes one-of-a-kind, limited-edition, and offset books. Such well-known names as Xu Bing, Julie Chen, Joanna Drucker, and Claire Van Vliet are represented in the collection. A searchable online database of more than 700 of the titles has been established; one to four images per title may be viewed for more than 500 of those selections.

Online Exhibition of "Artists' Books: Highlights from the Kohler Art Library" (2001-2002)

✦ The Arts Collection, comprising primary and secondary creative arts materials in digital form, includes the Illustrated Shakespeare Collection, featuring illustrations dating from 1833 to 1916.

Additional Resources to Explore

University of Wisconsin Digital Collections

Bertolt Brecht's Works in English Translation

James Joyce Scholars Collection

Silver Buckle Press Collection

Wisconsin Electronic Reader