Sunday, May 22, 2022

Thought for the Day

It is said that supernatural spiritual beings[,] while
looking towards the earth[,] do not discern nationalities,
borders of countries, faces of people. The only  thing
they sense is the light, the light of radiant human beings.
Each light is a life of a human being.
~ Anna Mgaloblishvili

Quoted from Anna Mgaloblishvili, "Luminous Hearts" [Visual Meditation on Ivan Marchuk's "Woman with a Candle"], Artway, May 1, 2022

Anna Mgaloblishvili, Georgian Painter and Art Historian; Professor, Department of Art History and Theory, Tbilisi State Academy of Arts

Thursday, May 19, 2022

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life

Kreg Yingst, Bird in the Wind [Vera Hall]
Hand-Carved, Hand-Painted and Hand-Pulled Block Print
Music Series
© Copyright Kreg Yingst


Today's new Artist Watch feature at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life looks to music for its inspiration — specifically, the beautiful hand-carved, hand-painted, and hand-pulled block prints of artist Kreg Yingst. All of Kreg's block prints are of wood or linoleum and in limited editions.

Degreed in studio art and painting, Kreg is a self-taught printmaker who makes his living solely from sales of his work, the subjects of which he researches deeply. He lives in Pensacola, Florida.

Kreg has provided for May's Artist Watch eight images that illustrate his popular interpretations of well-known blues musicians. His Artist Statement describes in brief how he creates his works, which also encompass a considerable body of sacred art. A short biography also is provided.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Thought for the Day

The love of our neighbor in all its fullness
simply means being able to say to him:
'What are you going through?'
~ Simone Weil

Quoted from Simone Weil, Waiting on God (Routledge, 1951; HarperPerennialModern Classics, 2009)

Simone Weil (1909-1943), Religious Philosopher, Essayist, Dramatist, Poet, Social Critic, Political Activist

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Thought for the Day

Isn't it marvelous to wish for a thing
and envision even the barest grainy lines
of it in front of you?
~ Maya Stein

Quoted from Maya Stein, "let gladness be a mantra", 10-Line Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Maya Stein, Poet, Author, Editor, Freelance Writer, Publisher (Toad Hall Editions), Mentor and Instructor

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Thought for the Day

Every pilgrimage to the desert 
is a pilgrimage to the self
~ Terry Tempest Williams
Quoted fromTerry Tempest Williams, Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert (Vintage, 2002), page 77

Terry Tempest Williams, Provostial Scholar, Dartmouth College; American Writer-Author, Educator, Activist, Conservationist

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Thought for the Day

[. . .] To live is to build, to repair, to illuminate,
to leave traces in the fabric of time and space.[. . .]
~ Yuliya Komska

Quoted from Yuliya Komska, "A Stained Glass in Lviv", Los Angeles Review of Books [Short-Takes], March 15, 2022

Yulia Komska, Associate Professor of German Studies, Dartmouth University; Author

Thursday, April 21, 2022

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Ceirra Evans, Y'all Full of Crud, 2022
Oil on Canvas, 36" x 36"
 © Ceirra Evans


Louisville, Kentucky-based painter Ceirra Evans is the subject of April's Artist Watch feature at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life.

A recent college graduate, Ceirra grew up in Bath County, in eastern Kentucky's Appalachian foothills. Already the subject of New Yorker and Hyperallergic magazine profiles, Ceirra draws her subject matter from her experience in the holler of Appalachia, a region long stigmatized and stereotyped. Her work both represents and critiques Appalachia, sharing not only its myths and folklore but also its truths.

For April's Artist Watch, Ceirra has graciously provided images of eight of her paintings, notes on those works, an Artist Statement, and a brief bio. It is with gratitude that I have the opportunity to introduce this engaging artist in my monthly column.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Joseph Bathanti's 'Light at the Seam' (Review)


Cover Art

Joseph Bathanti's new poetry collection Light at the Seam, published by LSU Press during Lent, could not have arrived at a more propitious, or more precarious, time in our lives. Though we have just retraced, in faith, Christ's journey to death and still behold in wonder His mysterious rebirth, we remain threatened by ruinous instruments of our own making; amid what we take for granted, air and water, birds and game, the earth that feeds us, we are too often oblivious to how the "[s]undial / casts its shadow on the hour" ("Sundial, West Virginia"). We have forgotten our charge to be caretakers of daylily and webworm, thistle and Queen Anne's lace, snake and vole, "whole kingdoms of [. . .] whirring ethnographies of insects" ("The Assumption").

Fundamentally a personal response to, even an indictment of, Appalachia's coal industry and the destruction that continued mining wrecks upon the Appalachian landscape, a place "almost Heaven— / but decidedly not heaven" ("Limbo"), Light at the Seam is, ultimately, a gesture toward resilience, renewal, and hope.

The collection comprises four aptly named sections whose religious connotations are deliberate: The Assumption, The Windows of Heaven, Limbo, and Light at the Seam. These sections suggest not only only glorious beginnings and hard endings but also the in-between "imaginal phase" ("My Mother and Father") of the likely or inevitable, be it disastrous runoff and floods, clouds of powdered coal that catch the air on fire ("Oracle"), slurries streaming toward once-pristine rivers in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, or the simple sign "No Trespassing / [that] impends / a large red / caution" ("Keyford"). Bathanti sources in these sections the workings of both the human and the Divine, drawing unmistakable contrasts: between the beauty on earth, where [f]ireflies torch the night" and "flowers shrive, and prick eternity" ("Blessed Thistle"), and the ugliness of mountain-top removal that renders a creek "sick // green-brown in slabs of sunlight— / dull as a gorged serpent" ("Postdiluvian: Mingo County, West Virginia"); between the holding of Creation as sacred, and therefore ever-lasting, and the ill-served-taking by humans by authority and assumption, "men [not] beholden / to words on a page" ("Sentences") who exact what's "beyond our ken" ("Boar"); between the clarity of witness and the dark acknowledgment of our "sin black as bituminous" ("Glad Creek Falls"); between loss and the possibility of regeneration. No matter the place named, whether Mingo County, West Virginia, or Dubois, Pennsylvania, how we "look upon the earth" ("Floyd County, Kentucky"), the poet indicates, is how we map our fate and our future. But, "make no mistake: // you are permitted entry through grace" ("Daylily"), the poet reminds us, adding, "Life is more than fable, // but never stops stunning earth" ("April Snow").

Bathanti, in showing how "[t]hings are taking shape" ("Oracle"), relies on muscular verbs and physically robust imagery — "roads conflux and houses, / that once believed they'd be a town, // cower" ("The Windows of Heaven"); "From the gouged peak, subdural, / lobotomized, serpentine switchbacks // weave a cat's cradle into the grade-rooms" ("Sundial, West Virginia"); "[h]e seesaws on his haunches, / as he strips the doe: / his bestial gorge and groan, / tugging her up like taffy, /" ("Boar"); "after years in the pit, hunched, / you could only so far lift your arms" ("The Coal Miner's Wife: A Letter") — and his use of sonority, alliteration ("the thousand thousand thuribles of light" in "Blessed Thistle"), consonance and dissonance, and equally accented syllables to emphasize relationship, mark his poems with a distinctive rhythm that energizes his narrative line.

Bathanti praises, too, in certain of his 35 beautifully written, richly rewarding poems, for even as earth teeters on the "threshold of oblivion" ("Light at the Seam") and "[u]pon the land gathers a biblical // quietus before it explodes" ("The Windows of Heaven"),  life in Appalachia renews itself with each "day [that] dawns repentant, sky blue" ("Postdiluvian"), and the poet finds solace watching "a cardinal and indigo bunting / feed, [. . . ] / [. . .] / their self-absorption / an ongoing evolutionary tick / completed this very instant." ("Evensong"). The "light at the seam", then, is both omen and reward.


Joseph Bathanti, a former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-2014) and a recipient of the North Carolina Award in Literature, is the author of at least 17 books, a couple of which I have reviewed*. Currently, he is the McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education at Appalachia State University in Boone, North Carolina.

* Review of Concertina

* Review of Crossing the Rift Anthology

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Thought for the Day

Any small thing can save you.
~ Mark Doty 


Quoted from Mark Doty, "Ararat" in Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (David R. Godine, 1991)

Mark Doty, American Poet; Professor, Rutgers University

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Thought for the Day

Maybe the only gift is a chance to inquire,
to know nothing for certain. An inheritance
of wonder and nothing more. 
~ William Least Heat-Moon

Quoted from William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways (Back Bay Books, 1982, 1999; Little, Brown, 2012)

William Least Heat-Moon, American Travel Writer and Author

William Naparsteck, "An Interview with William Least Heat-Moon", Association of Writers & Writing Programs Magazine, December 2015