Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crow's Shadow Institute of the Arts

I recently learned about the nonprofit Crow's Shadow Institute of the Arts, established in 1992 on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in eastern Oregon to provide opportunities for Native Americans to develop their artistic gifts. It owes its creation to artist James Lavadour, a Walla Walla and one of the Pacific Northwest's most renowned printmakers. Also an exceptional painter of abstract landscapes, Lavadour understands deeply art's value as a transformative tool.

The CSIA not only provides important youth services and educational and professional workshops on contemporary and traditional Native American art forms; it also is a world-class printmaking studio, where both emerging and established artists create monotypes, monoprints, and editions of lithographs, etchings, linocuts, and woodcuts.

It takes only a quick look at the online Prints section to grasp what outstanding art is being produced there. But don't give CSIA's Website only cursory attention. If, as I am, you appreciate and collect fine art prints, you will want to spend time learning about the artists who come to CSIA to work with Lavadour and collaborating master printer Frank Janzen, formerly of the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Among those artists are Rick Bartow, whose family has lived in Oregon for a century; Maori painter and printmaker Gabrielle Belz; glass artist Dale Chihuly, who created an edition to financially benefit the institute; Edgar Heap of Birds, internationally known for his public art, which uses traffic signs and other nontraditional media to make political statements; Truman Lowe, an innovative sculptor, former curator of contemporary art for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin; award-winning photographer Larry McNeil; and multidisciplinary artist Marie Watt, who has completed a number of residencies at the CSIA and conducted most recently a personal flag workshop. Art created at the CSIA is available for purchase and fully documented. There are some wonderful finds among the hand-pulled prints.

You'll find a number of informative artist profiles at the CSIA site and on the institute's FaceBook page, beginning here.

Below is Oregon Art Beat's profile, first broadcast in 2009, of the CSIA:

An article about the CSIA appears in the current issue of NMAI's quarterly magazine Indian.

In 2000, Oregon Art Beat profiled founder Lavadour, who grew up on the Umatilla Indian Reservation; in the video, he discusses his marvelous work. Lavadour's paintings are the subject of James Lavadour: Landscapes (University of Washington Press, 2002). 

Go here for additional information about Crow's Shadow Baskets, Dale Chihuly's six-color lithograph with handwork, printed by Janzen at Crow's Shadow Press.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Happens When ~ A Sestina (Poem)

What Happens When ~ A Sestina

for Patrick

What happens when the coffin lid closes
becomes the act of praying
silence to its very end.
Your face fixed, I see no more
of you looking back. In my memory's hold,
yesterday's already begun to fade.

I press my heart in the light that fades
with curtain drawn, fear to hear how a door closes
to give me this one last time to hold
your face in my eyes loathe to track shadows preying
in too-tight corners. I want to ask what more
comes of fifty-nine years abruptly brought to end.

You received the blessing and, at the end,
the incense, sprinkled. The misted smell, it fails to fade,
as if to make this one mysterious moment more
yours than some other just before. That lid closes
and we are reduced, as we always are, to praying
for you whom we cannot hold.

We walk hand in hand to your grave that will hold
a single space above you free. We know how this end
of ritual plays out, and so we stand and we sit, praying
the words to break the silence that too soon will fade
when we walk away. We push back what closes
in: the earth, the sky, our feelings. What we need we need more

of but not the dusk's quiet settling, as on heathered moor,
not the open stretch of rough road beckoning. What we hold
out are our arms, empty. We thrust and parry, and still it closes
in, your death, bringing to inevitable end
the light we clutch and tug for. What we might wish would fade
your going makes bright this once, and leaves us praying.

So many days we have been praying,
the light broken by mourning into night, the night more
and less of everything, the known the unknown. Memory might fade,
or not. Memory might bid us hold
the firmness of last words, what cannot be spoken at the end,
what cleaves the heart when the door finally closes.

I want for more and nothing of the end
that breaks my hold on my image of you. Light does fade
when the door closes, and I, alone, am left praying.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

My audio recording of "What Happens When":

 Audio Recording of What Happens When ~ A Sestina by mdoallas

My other sestinas are:

Depths of Hungers 

Memory of Stones, Reminders to Forget

The Interview

After-Effects of Fire

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Muse: Roy McBride, 'People's Poet'

I don't want you to understand my poetry.
I want my poetry to understand you.
~ Roy McBride

. . . [P]art of the reason why Roy is really special to me 
is that he has that Minneapolis flavor — soul poetry by way
of Powderhorn Park. The blues of Lake Street and the 21A.
His work was amongst the first I encountered to really give
the Twin Cities a lyrical flavor. . . .
~ Bao Phi in "A Poet's Poet: Roy McBride", Star Tribune

Born in Magnolia, Arkansas, Roy Chester McBride — who, according to all his admirers, was "easy to love" — died July 29, 2011, age 67; he'd spent the last years of his life partly in Wisconsin and partly in Minnesota.

A spoken word poet, McBride co-founded a local poets' group, Poetry for the People, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as well as the Powderhorn Writers Festival. He also taught in Minneapolis-St. Paul schools and was a working member of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre. Through The Fathers: A Poetry and Spoken Word Celebration, McBride and spoken word artists Marcus Harcus and Chris Holister introduced poetry and spoken word to families with children.

McBride was called "the old master of spoken word"* in the Twin Cities by filmmaker Mike Hazard, who made the poet the subject of a documentary A Poet Poets, a segment of which appears below. Hazard videotaped McBride at poetry salons, poetry slams, family get-togethers, and a variety of theatrical and other events, such as readings to benefit the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers.

The documentary, released this past April, is available here.

In this next clip, McBride recites his poem "Traffic" from the album Traffic, on which he collaborated with Willie Murphy on keyboard. (It's possible to purchase Traffic - The Lost Tapes, recorded in 1986 and comprising McBride's poems and Murphy's poems, directly from Willie Murphy.)

Another video of McBride reciting "Dreada Inna Babble-On" is here.

Other than the documentary and the videos noted here, I was unable to track down any collection of McBride's poems in print. His collection dating to 1982 is unavailable. (I did come across a broadside from Powderhorn Writers Festival featuring McBride's poem "It's Lilac Week" and Nick Wroblewski's color woodcut. The broadside also is available for purchase here.)

The best post I've read about McBride is poet Lyle Daggett's at his blog A Burning Patience. Daggett knew McBride and not only provides background about the Minneapolis poetry scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s but also features a number of McBride's poems, which, Daggett notes, "often have a joyful audacity,  socially and politically aware and keen-edged, poems of great tender compassion and vulnerability." You'll find Daggett's piece here.

Note: This post was updated after its initial publication and now reflects two corrections brought to my attention by Lyle Daggett. My thanks to Daggett.

* Quoted in Kelly Smith, "Roy McBride, 'Cult Figure', Beloved Poet", StarTribune, August 3, 2011

Bao Phi, "Roy McBride and the Blues of Lake Street", The Loft's Writers' Block, January 26, 2011

Peace Works: Poems, People, Prayers for Peace, Center for International Education, 2003 (Video including McBride)

Poem for Roy McBride by Jenne R. Andrews at La Parola Vivace

The spoken word community of which McBride was long a part frequently featured in programs at KFAI Radio, as a search will show. McBride appeared on Write On Radio in April 2001. The show is included in the archives but not available for listening.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thought for the Day

Each of us deserves to be forgiven, if only for
    Our persistence in keeping our small boat afloat
When so many have gone down in the storm.
~ From "Keeping Our Small Boat Afloat" 


* Bly quoted the full poem in this recent interview at Minnesota Public Radio.

I profiled Bly, Minnesota's Poet Laureate, here. You'll find in my post a lengthy list of resources.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

In the Silent Hour When Sleep Holds (Poem)

In the Silent Hour When Sleep Holds

In the silent hour
when sleep holds you

to the line between being
and not, the questioner is

hardest, every change of voice
— cajoler, denier, berater,

pleader, wonderer,
broker — having its way

with you, the babel filling
what space the mind

wants to leave open
to let you play the one

you are against the one
you were or could be.

At your strongest
the arguer softens

the tongue, concedes
control; at your weakest

you show no face. Come
morning, the hollows

of your eyes pinked red
declare who won or lost.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

I offer this poem for today's prompt at dVerse Poets Pub: Third Eye Open.

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

Saturday Sharing is nothing if not eclectic. Just poke around today's edition to see what I mean. You'll find a noisy zoo of letters, a digitized Yeats manuscript, a site paying homage to the great poet Mahmoud Darwish, a map of counties that use different terms to describe carbonated beverages, a call for virtual volunteers at Smithsonian Gardens, and Adam Ryder's architectural atlas. For good measure, I've thrown in a video of a collaboration to produce an e-book using some highly developed HTML and Java Script.

✦ Children's picture books are high-tech these days. Case in point: Bembo's Zoo by graphic designer Roberto deVicq de Cumptich. You'll need Flash to see the abecdary of animals, each one a combination of Bembo letterforms and punctuation marks. Go here and after the gates open and the noise fades, click on a letter. But pay attention. An animal only holds the screen for a few seconds. Oh, and note this, too: Every time you swipe your mouse across the screen, you'll elicit an animal's voice, or at some point, perhaps Tarzan's. (My thanks to SFMoMA's blog, Open Space, where I saw the link.)

deVicq Blog

At The Type Directors Club: deVicq's "How to Make Love to Your Type" (Interactive), a promotional book also featured in Communications Arts design annual.

✦ Fans of William Butler Yeats will be heartened to learn there's a Love and Death manuscript archives online, courtesy of Boston College Libraries. You may view both the original manuscript and a transcription.

✦ Among poets, one in particular is a favorite of mine: the late Palestinian poet and author Mahmoud Darwish. Recently, I learned through the Being blog that the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies created a site, "The Legacy of Mahmoud Darwish" for its 2009 conference of international writers and scholars honoring the writer's life and work. On the site are a number of readings of Darwish's work, as well as podcasts, including a lecture by the eminent translator and poet Dr. Fady Joudah.

Selected Poems and Translations by Fady Joudah

✦ You can find anything on the Web. One new example: The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy, where you can learn which regions of English-speaking North America use the terms "Pop", "Soda", and "Coke" to describe their carbonated soft drinks. It's a legitimate research project of professor Greg Plumb of East Central University in Oklahoma and Matthew Campbell, who have created a map of generic names for soft drinks by county (click on an area to find your county). A table of statistics by state is here. Submissions came primarily from readers of the Web page. A conclusion: "People who say 'Pop' are much, much cooler." Unbiased? You be the judge. And are you wondering why knowing these terms matter? The one-word answer is metadata. Professional cataloguers who know everyday language are better equipped to create descriptive meaningful information (data tags) that allow you and me to find what we're looking for while doing an online search. (My thanks to the Smithsonian Collections Blog for this item.)

✦ The "Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy" may be settled but the Mystery Gardens Project is far from completed. Smithsonian Gardens needs your help tagging more than 80,000 images in the Archives of American Gardens. Go here and become a virtual volunteer. There are rock, vegetable, urban, herb, rose, community, historic, and formal gardens and greenhouses to describe.

✦ Photographer Adam Ryder gives you an inside look at his new book Areth: An Architectual Atlas, the fourth edition in his series Areth Analyzed, which documents architectural forms across three geographic regions: Northern Mountains, Central Basin, and Great Barrens.

✦ Here's Walrus Studio's video demo of ePub3, which shows a digital collaboration project with French publisher MNEMOS for Kadath. Digital publishing clearly is growing more sophisticated. (My thanks to my Twitter friend Connie aka Peepsqueak for this item.)

Walrus Epub Demo#3 - Kadath from Walrus Books on Vimeo.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weathering It (Poem)

Hurricane Irene as Seen From International Space Station

Weathering It

Diane turned herself into a killer.
Donna mostly liked to spin real fast.

Agnes sported a meandering eye,
while Gloria raced herself across

Long Island, trying to act all natural
as she scooped up beaches in a hurry

to get to sea. Bob made off with a more
sparing touch, restraining winds offshore,

but flooding Floyd caused one awful rush
for higher ground even as Rudy took

command in the lower ward. Neither
Isabel nor Ernesto had fixed designs on

the living so far north, getting themselves
downgraded when they could have been

impressing their case on the city that never
ever sleeps. Big-girthed Irene, she's got

our attention now, promising she'll go
one way or the another, as soon as not.

Just don't take me lightly,
she's been telling us all week.

That tremor might have made earth
move and your buildings sway but me?

Please! I can make your day.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

The news today is replete with stories about Hurricane Irene. I even came across a round-up of excerpts from short fiction, essays, and novels about storms by Sylvia Plath, Joyce Carol Oates, and other writers of note and this scene from King Lear proffered in Irene's honor. The poetry's been a bit sparse, however; so, after reading one more New York Times article about New York City's history of weathering such storms (I have a vested interest; my son lives there), I wrote the verse seen here.

Feel free to add your own couplets in the comments section.

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ The short film below introduces the work of Brandon Maldonado, self-described "painter of poetry" who recently had a show of new works at Santa Fe's Blue Rain Gallery. Born in 1980, Maldonado, who is color-blind, did not take up oil paints until he was 24. As the film reveals, Maldonado's work is informed by the influence of the fantastical and, as he notes, early exposure to graffiti reflected even now in his art. His themes are universal, their expression in paint what he describes in his Artist's Statement as his effort "to understand them and in return, bring that understanding into my life with the intention of making myself a better individual." See selections of his original paintings here and examples of original works on paper here. Online galleries of his art, both paintings and drawings, can be found at his Website. He exhibits worldwide.

Intersecting Parallels from wes edling on Vimeo.

Brian Maldonado on FaceBook

✦ An extraordinary textile — the only one of its kind in the world — has been loaned to the Art Institute of Chicago, where it in view through October. The textile is made from strands of silk from more than one million Madagascan golden orb spiders. This 10-minute video explains the textile's fascinating background and its creation.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ At the Cleveland Museum of Art, "CLE OP: Cleveland Op Art Pioneers" is ongoing through February 26, 2012. The show is drawn primarily from the museum's permanent holdings supplemented with loans from private collections. As its title indicates, its focus is on the key artists working in Op in Cleveland during the movement's formative years. According to exhibition notes, Cleveland had the only artist collaborative in the United States devoted to Op. Gallery views of the show, which includes work by Edwin Mieczkowski, Julian Stanczak, and Ernst Benkert (d. 2010), are here (click on exhibition title).

Cleveland Museum of Art on FaceBook and Twitter

CMA's Blogpost  "What the Eyes See: The Magic of Op At"

Slideshow of Mieczkowski's Works on Paper

✭ In Fort Worth, Texas, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art is presenting through October 9 a special exhibition, "The Allure of Paper: Watercolors and Drawings from the Collection". Organized to celebrate the museum's 50th anniversary, the show includes more than 100 drawings and watercolors by such artists as Edward Hopper, Ben Shahn, John Singer Sargent, and Joseph Stella, seen for the first time together. A catalogue accompanies the the one-of-a-kind works. 

John Singer Sargent, The Hon. Clare Stuart-Wortley, 1923
Charcoal on Paper
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Bass in Honor of Rick Stewart and Bob Workman

ACM on FaceBook, Twitter, and Vimeo

✭ Chicago's Art Institute offers through November 13 the contemporary basket artistry of Fujinuma Noboru (b. 1945). In the show, for the first time, are bamboo baskets from the artist's personal collection that were included in a gift to the museum. Noboru began his study of traditional Japanese crafts in 1974, apprenticing to bamboo basket maker Yagisawa Keizo. In 1992, a top prize-winning piece purchased by the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo launched his career. The artist uses such techniques as ara-ami ("rough" plaiting), varies the shapes of his baskets (some are tray-shaped, others cylindrical), and uses both dyed and undyed bamboo.

Fujinuma Noboru, Spring Tide, c. 2000
Gift of the Artist
The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute has the largest collection in the United States of Noboru's work. Other institutions holding his work include the Ruth and Sherman Lee Institute for Japanese Art in Hanford, California.

Videos of Noboru and his work are here and here.

Images of Noboru Basketry at ARTIC

Images of Noboru Basketry at TAI Gallery, Santa Fe

ARTIC on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and ArtBabble

ARTIC Blog, ARTicle


✭ In Colorado, Denver Art Museum opens "Robert Adams: The Place We Live, A Retrospective Selection of Photographs" on September 25. Organized by Yale University Art Gallery, the exhibition, which will continue through January 1, 2012, will feature more than 200 black-and-white photographs, including contemporary Western landscapes, many shot in the Rocky Mountain region. The show will tour. Among several exhibition-related programs is "Takes on the Changing West: Provocative Talks by Our Regions Poets, Authors and Thinkers", scheduled October 6-20 (speakers to be announced).

Robert Adams "The Place We Live" at Yale University Art Gallery

Robert Adams on Art21 (You'll find a biography, slideshows, interview, and more at this site.)

DAM on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ The second edition of an international contemporary art biennial, Prospect.2 opens in New Orleans October 22 and runs through January 29, 2012. Among the more than two dozen local, national, and international artists whose work will be on view are Sophie Calle, Nick Cave, Jonas Dahlberg, William Eggleston, and Dan Tague. 

Ticket Information

Prospect New Orleans on FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and Vimeo

Prospect New Orleans Blog

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Rose Not Stone ~ A 'Backward' Sonnet

Last month, poet Donna Vorreyer at Put Words Together. Make Meaning posted an invitation to write a "turned around" or "backward" sonnet. Her prompt required placing the rhyming words at the beginnings of lines, instead of at the ends, but otherwise maintaining the sonnet's structure and syllabic form. As Vorreyer points out, the exercise "messes with your head a little bit to have to rhyme first words" and also helps the poem lose "sing-songy-ness".

This was my first attempt to write a sonnet (it's a revision of what I originally left in the comments section of Vorreyer's blog); my second effort, "Love Matters", is here and was followed by "A Naked Eye Turned Inward", posted here.

A Rose Not Stone ~ A Backward Sonnet

Stones newly placed but worn make room for weeds
To grow between them, I alone to mourn.
Bones blessed, left safe below the crush of grass,
Do rest, in time my own their space to share.
This plot, a turn of earth to ash made white,
Marks absent that face that on this eve no
Kiss restores to sight and I, who loved, keen
Larks' joy in flight yet fail to sing sun's rise.
Song, redress my fear now, forbid me close
My eyes to you whose soft gaze I must most
Long for still. But yours, closed, return not mine.
I place a rose, not stone, my heart it is.

        May's brilliant red my flower color-codes;
        Days so long without you must seasons bear.

My recording of the backward sonnet:

 Audio Recording of A Rose Not Stone ~ A Backward Sonnet by mdoallas

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sam Gilliam's Mosaic of Light

Some months ago, I had the privilege to attend a talk by Washington's beloved artist Sam Gilliam, one of the most down-to-earth people anyone could hope to meet. He is a marvelous storyteller, with much to say about his early forays into art-making and what art-making means to him. He entrances when he talks about art. And when he speaks, you can't help but notice his huge hands, how he uses them to make a point, to invite you into the conversation, to show you how his brush might sweep across canvas or, delightedly, where in a painting you might first want to look to understand what the artist is showing you. 

I try never to miss a show of Gilliam's work — and this year, we in the D.C. area have been fortunate to find Gilliam at The Phillips Collection, where his Flour Mill was in place from January 29 to April 24; at the Katzen Museum at American University, where, from April 2 to August 14, his Close to Trees transformed 8,000 square feet of exhibition space on the third floor; and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which included Gilliam's expressive 75-foot draped canvas Light Depth in its "Washington Color and Light" exhibition from November 20, 2010, to March 6, 2011 and June 25, 2011 to August 14, 2011. Gilliam also was the subject of a wonderful retrospective at the Corcoran in 2005-2006.

Gilliam, all Washington-Maryland-Virginia residents should be delighted to learn, has created a mural for the Takoma (Maryland) Metro station: From a Model to a Rainbow. Commissioned by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Metro Art in Transit Program, and unveiled June 11, the piece is signature Gilliam, and stunning. In the video below, Gilliam talks about his installation (can you hear the joy in his voice when talks art?). A mosaic of colorful ceramic and glass tiles mounted on aluminum, the mural is more than 400 square feet and weighs a ton. 

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

To learn more about Gilliam's Metro piece, see: "In a Station of the Metro, an Apparition of Color From Sam Gilliam", PBS NewsHour Art Beat, August 18, 2011.

Also see:

"A Collaborative Tour de Force: Mosaic Mural 'From a Model to a Rainbow'" at Mosaic Art Now, where my friend Nancie has posted a superb array of close-ups of Gilliam's mural.

Exhibition Brochure for "Sam Gilliam: Close to Trees"; Installation Views

Press Release for Corcoran Gallery's "Washington Color and Light"

Sam Gilliam Interview with Kojo Nnamdi, Kojo Nnamdi Show, WAMU, May 2011 (Transcript)

Jacqueline Trescott, "Sam Gilliam: An Ever-Changing Force", The Washington Post, January 30, 2011

Washington Color School

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fault the Light (Poem)

Fault the Light ~ A Contemporary Ghazal

We sat, stilled, your aura all that shined through Gaia;
we snatched at the light, once given now taken — quicksilver.

We wanted to imagine stars mapped inside shiny scallop shells,
trade Venus for the light that had lost its source in Athena's storm.

We wished the sun's cast of Hades booted from our memory
and a squiggle of moon's light to shadow our quiet remembering.

We waited for Apollo's signal, his streak in the sky the end
          twice marked,
and the light in our eyes to hold your going, sweetly, softly.

If we could feel how Aurora, even now paling, might warm our skins,
we could store light deep, among myrtle wreaths, heart's own guide.

We woke with the hawk's cry rising, clouds clearing, roe deer
then discovered too late how the light withheld brings rain.

But for the slant and the slipping through of shades let down
we never would recall the way light fell on your brow that morning.

We watched the alchemy — electricity through Mercury, fluoresce,
and spelled the fire of Hephaestus cooled, the light run through
          the flame, expired.

If not for the glare of regret, the stinging crook of loss Ares carried
          on dulled spear,
we would fault the light dressing us down, before the darkness
          ever welcoming.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

This is my first attempt to write a contemporary Ghazal, which, as this thorough post indicates, is "experimental with the 'what and where' of rhymes and refrains", and does not have a "formal signature couplet" but does "keep to single line couplets, pay attention to cadence and [is] associational." (Column width here forces some of my longer lines to spill over.) I've taken liberties and will leave it to you to judge how well my poem meets the form's description given here. I do intend to try the more traditional and formally structured form.

My audio recording of this poem:

 Audio Recording of Fault the Light ~ A Contemporary Ghazal by mdoallas

Past Stories ~ A Blog Carnival About Childhood

This week's Blog Carnival takes as its prompt the word "childhood". I don't remember much of anything about my childhood but I do recall with delight all the many stories I'd read and act out for my only after tucking him into bed each night. He's 23 now, and I don't get to do that anymore, but I do get to tell on him. . . and me. Two stories we loved and read often together were Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are and Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon with its marvelous illustrations by Clement Hurd. My post that follows invokes these two delightful books, incorporating some phrases and lines that still come to mind, and includes a sprinkling of titles of stories from Grimms' Fairy Tales, which we also read aloud.

Where the Wild Things Are

is what we'd dream of when we tired of acting like trolls under bridges or bristly wolves wearing sheeps' skins while blowing down doors of poorly built straw houses. In our island lair (a bed and blankets made do), we didn't have to look out for Little Briar-Rose or hide from The Robber Bridegroom or worry that the Devil with the Three Golden Hairs would come looking for us. We didn't have to sit with some Old Beggar-Woman while she'd tell Stories About Snakes or conjure tales about The Girl Without Hands or make us use The Crystal Ball to mine her fortunes or solve The Riddle of who should marry the poor innkeeper's daughter. Those story-telling brothers, being ever Grimm, always made us eager for a wild rumpus to start. We liked being stranded, if only just before sleep, allowed to gnash our teeth in a place where we could be owner of this world, or sail off through night and day and still have time enough to practice powers that could slip through cracks, re-crack, and make any part of our kingdom that was not so good someplace better.

Where the Wild Things Are,

we could be a king and not have to talk to stupid owls, get mad and eat anyone we pleased — plans or no plans. Sadly, we sometimes couldn't keep out the sadness, not even with an ice cream parlor, not even with a trampoline at the bottom of a swimming pool, not even with chicken soup and rice we'd stir and sip but once or twice. So, when things got too heavy, the shield against sadness too small to make us forget that having everything doesn't protect us from the terrible roars let loose when love goes missing, we'd pull out our Goodnight Moon and, looking all around our room, whisper our quiet goodnight noises everywhere.


Today's host for the One Word Blog Carnival is Peter Pollock. Go here for information about participating and to access links to other contributors' posts. A schedule of remaining one-word prompts is here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Muse: The Endangered Poem Project

Tim Brookes, who claims to have "fled" England for the United States some three decades ago — he eventually landed in Vermont — delights in "adventures in writing". See, for example, his posts at Egypt Diary, The Greatest Guitarist, and A Heart in Chaos, the latter of which he describes as "[p]art blog, part personal narrative, part scientific inquiry, and possible book-in-progress". His day job is directing the professional writing program at Champlain College, in Burlington, Vermont.

An ordinary writer he is not. And because Brookes has so curious a mind, he engages in intriguing projects. One, The Endangered Alphabets Project, seeks to demonstrate in "a unique and vivid way... the issue of disappearing languages and the global loss of cultural diversity". Currently, that project includes an exhibition of 14 18-inch by 12-inch carvings, each of an endangered alphabet: Inuktitut, Baybayin, Manchu, Bugis, Bassa Vah, Cherokee, Samaritan, Mandaic, Syriac, Khmer, Pahauh Hmong, Balinese, Tifinagh, and Nom. Brookes's goal is to double the number of alphabets preserved and to take his project on the road to enlighten us about the importance of preserving these writing systems and the traditional cultures that created them. Brookes makes his carvings from beautiful slabs of Vermont curly maple, none the same in shape. To date, the carvings have been shown in Wales, at Rutgers University, Middlebury College, the University of Vermont, and several other colleges and universities, as well as at a number of libraries in New England. 

Begun in 2009, the project, which receives no funding from any grants agency or foundation but is receiving donations through Kickstarter, also has found its way into a book: Endangered Alphabets: An Essay on Writing, with an introduction by David Crystal, author of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. (For progress on the project, enjoy Brookes's occasional blog, where he documents what he's doing and what he's learning. The scripts are beautifully produced. To view images of some of the carvings, go here.)

Fascinating as Endangered Alphabets is, I'm especially interested in Brookes's most recent related project: The Endangered Poem Project. This project, too, involves carvings intended to "draw attention to the world's vanishing scripts" and our need to preserve their written and spoken forms.

The plan, as Brookes describes it, is to have a four-line poem he wrote — These are our words, shaped / By our hands, our tools, / Our history. Lose them / And we lose ourselves. — translated into 16-20 endangered languages in their original scripts (he currently has eight translations and has been promised 12 more), which Brookes then will carve into a vertical-standing sculptural form comprising four boards, each board facing a compass point, the overall effect being something like "a tall, hollow, wooden box". Brookes uses carbon paper to transfer the texts to the maple slabs. As of mid-June, Brookes had completed two of the boards. Some images of the carvings, including a photograph of one of the six-foot slabs, are here

Brookes also envisions the text versions of the poem projected onto sides of large buildings in New York City. (His collaborator for this is Bob Holman, who has received a grant that will enable him to create the projections.)

Brookes is getting some serious attention for his labor of love. And rightly so. He is bringing together art and linguistic science to create something that is both aesthetically beautiful and culturally important. We all have a stake in his projects' outcomes.

Endangered Alphabets on FaceBook

Booking Information for Endangered Alphabets

Edward Tenner, "The Eerie Beauty of Rare Alphabets", The Atlantic, August 1, 2011

Tim Brookes, "An Essay in Wood" in Ogmios, Newsletter of Foundation for Endangered Languages, August 31, 2010 (pdf; scroll down to page 4.) In this interesting essay, Brookes fully describes his project and how he is creating the carved boards.

Omniglot, Writing Systems and Languages of the World

Profile of Tim Brookes at Champlain College

In this video, Brookes explains the script Baybayin.


See this Smithsonian Collections post about the Recovering Voices project focused on endangered languages and indigenous knowledge.

UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Adaptation (Poem)


Watch darkness roll into the desert
on the back of the wind catching on

prickly pear, its beaver pads armored
with barbed spines that slapped

against a forearm leave tracks asymmetrical.
Reach for devil's lettuce to experience

the sharpness of hairs. From the pincushion's
florets pull fruit, papery-scaled. See how

the Nevada onion's cylindric tip tightly coils
before withering, how the seeds of the devil's

claw snag a foothold in the hooves of cattle,
one after another taking its turn at fleshy green

unicorn horns before more pods spill forth
their capsules of prized protein and oil.

Along the roadsides, in sandy barren flats,
stop to measure the toothed margins of the desert

sunflower's leaves. In the dry washes picture
the silvery puffs of the feathery Apache plume

done up as war bonnets, arrow shafts, and brooms.
Thirst not for the milky juice of the skeleton

milkweed with its sap containing rubber,
but listen sharply for the rattleweed

that will make your horse go crazy. The popcorn
flower's a forget-me-not, its leaves shaped

like spatulas, its flowers clustering at the tops
of stems spiral-wound. A rosette from the gravel

ghost touches up your hat's wide band
and the sweet scent of the dune evening primrose

covers the desert floor with tissue papers stuck
close after winter rains. Let the star-vine guide you

through the canyons, the showy hop sage
among pinion, woody bottle-washers, their petals

peeling open at dusk, tracking thick shrub.
Moon flowers in arroyos reveal their purple throats

as javelina dine on agaves and bristly-eared jerboa
prick a way with whiskers long through night-fed burrows.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

To travel through the desert of the United States is to engage in a study of adaptation. The range of plants — some toxic, others not — and animals is extraordinary. The color and shapes of flowers, the textures of leaves and stems, contrast and not, with all serving some purpose in maintaining an ecological balance while also often benefiting humans and other animals.

Yesterday, dVerse Poets Pub posted a feature on the poetics of texture, and this is my response to the invitation there to create a poem that evokes sensations of texture through imagery. All the plant life and animals mentioned in the poem are found in various areas of desert in our Southwest and West.

Thought for the Day

You cannot avoid paradise.
You can only avoid seeing it.
~ Charlotte Joko Beck


Charlotte Joko Beck (1917-2011), American Zen Teacher, Founder of Ordinary Mind Zen School, and Writer (Beck's books include Everyday Zen: Love & Work, Living Everyday Zen, Nothing Special: Living Zen, and Now Zen.)

Charlotte Joko Beck Obituary at SweepingZen, June 15, 2011

Interview from Nothing Special (Wilke Films)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Sharing (My Finds Are Yours)

We're well into the dog days of August. Today's highlights will let you do what the dogs do: beat the heat and stay indoors. You won't be disappointed in your explorations.

✦ PBS Arts has launched a 13-part series called Off Book that you may view online. The first of the bi-weekly episodes, Light Painting, features two photographers who demonstrate long-exposure photography and their use of color and kinetic light while shooting. 

✦ A site I found through the Poetry Foundation's Harriet blog, ONandOnScreen comprises poems and videos. It's described as "a conversation between moving words and moving images, on and on." Among the features are Matthew Zapruder's poem "Poem for a Cloud Above a Statue", which is paired with Simon Christen's "The Unseen Sea"; and the collaborative poem and video "Invitation to Submit" by Jeannie Simms, Fiona Ng, Susie Hu, and Miles.

The site includes bios and an archive that's fun to poke around in. For its current summer issue, ONandOnScreen partnered with BOMB Magazine whose BOMBlog is highlighting weekly a poem and video selection.

ONandOnScreen on FaceBook

BOMB Magazine on FaceBookTwitter, and issuu

✦ Got an urge to see how poets write about medicinal plants and herbs? Whether your tastes run to aloe vera, bergamot, sorrel, or vervain, you'll find more than 50 poets' work on an A-to-Z list at Urban Physic Garden's Herbarium, which is also a print anthology that includes a CD featuring sound-poems and songs. The Herbarium launched July 22.

✦ Centos, erasures, and other forms of "found" poetry that use pieces of preexisting text (from newspaper articles, instruction booklets, dictionaries, speeches, personals ads, or any other text-based source) are celebrated in the new online quarterly The Found Poetry Review. The quarterly's site includes a series of weekly prompts, first launched July 5; you'll find links or sample texts as aids, and, after responding to a prompt, you may post in the comments section a link to your own poem or the poem itself. Submissions information is here.

Found Poetry Review on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ If you can't make it to Washington, D.C., before October 9 to see the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's exhibit "NASA | ART: 50 Years of Exploration", do the next best thing: watch this video and then check the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) tour schedule to learn whether and when the show is coming to your town.

✦ We take so much for granted. Imagine, as the children in this moving POV documentary do, having to wait for the arrival of books via donkeys. The children live in rural Magdalena Province, a poor and violent place deep in Colombia's interior, home to drug traffickers and armed gangs. Luis Soriano is the man who, with his "donkey library", awakens the children to the world of books.

Watch the full episode. See more POV.

Friday, August 19, 2011

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✭ Here's a little something to help us all learn how to draw:

How to draw a simple bird from Marion Deuchars on Vimeo.

The drawings are from illustrator Marion Deuchars's Let's Make Some Great Art.

Marion Deuchars Portfolio at Apt Studio

✭ Last month, the Walker Art Center's blog featured process photos and explanatory text for London-based Polish artist Goshka Macuga's woven tapestry Lost Forty, part of the exhibit: "Goshka Macuga: It Broke from Within". What makes this such a fascinating post is its description of the use of Photoshop in the extraordinary art-making. Read "Compositing Goshka Macug's Lost Forty Tapestry (A Guide for Photoshop Geeks). A related, and another very good post, is here.

Exhibition Discussion (Video; Macuga discusses her concept, materials, and process.)

Goshka Macuga in Conversation with Curators Peter Eleey and Bartholomew Ryan (Video)

Goshka Macuga on FaceBook

✭ The archives of the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery include a "squeeze" collection. As this interesting post explains, "A squeeze is a series of sheets of paper that are layered on top of each other and moistened to create a wet pulp. This substance is pressed upon the inscriptions of ancient monuments, creating a paper mold and capturing the impressionistic writing for a 3-dimensional negative effect." Learn more about the Squeeze Imaging Project, and the collection that is "the largest outside of Iran and Iraq". 

"3d Imaging to Unlock Ancient Mysteries"

✭ What's the next best thing for a painter who can't afford canvas? Apparently, marshmallows. Let no one tell you art isn't fun.

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ New York City's Museum of Biblical Art is showing through October 16 "On Eagles' Wings: The King James Bible Turns 400". In addition to presenting the historical context for the translation and publication of the King James Bible, the exhibition features a series of paintings by International Arts Movement founder, contemporary artist Makoto Fujimura. Crossway Publishers commissioned Fujimura to design and illustrate an English Standard Version of the Bible to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible's publication. Fujimura created five large paintings of the Four Holy Gospels and a series of smaller artworks for each of the Gospels' chapters. He uses water-based Nihonga ("Japanese-style paintings") materials. This video introduces Fujimura's commission and shows some of his exquisite work.

Makoto Fujimura - The Art of "The Four Holy Gospels" from Crossway on Vimeo.
MOBIA on FaceBook and Twitter

The Four Holy Gospels at Crossway Publishers

Barrymore Laurence Sherer, "Four Centuries of Love and Suffering for the Word", Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2011

✭ For those of you lucky enough to be in Europe, Edinburgh International Festival, which opened last week, continues through September 4. The festival presents performances in opera, dance, music, and theatre; showcases visual arts, among them the exhibition "Hiroshi Sugimoto: Lightning Fields and Photogenic Drawings", inspired by the techniques of 19th Century photographer Henry Fox Talbot; and includes artist talks and workshops. The spotlight this year is on Asia's cultures, with artists from China, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam featured.

Browse Interactive Brochure

Festival Videos

Edinburgh International Festival on FaceBookTwitter, and YouTube

✭ The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts opens "Reflections of the Buddha" on September 9; the first loan exhibition of Pan-Asian Buddhist art in St. Louis, the show, which will continue through March 10, 2012, features more than 20 masterpieces from seven important American collections, including those of the Asia Society in New York City, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The artworks date from the 2nd Century CE and, in addition to hanging scrolls, include sculptures from Afghanistan, China, Korea, India, Japan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Tibet.

PFA Blog

✭ The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, is showing through November 13 "Heavens: Photographs of the Sky & Cosmos". 

Mark Klett, Six Quarter Moons, 2005
Split-Toned Gelatin Silver Print, Ed. 12/20
Sheet 7-1/4" x 9"
Gift of Hall Family Foundation, 2010.18.14

NAMA on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ "The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States" remains on view until August 27 at the Art Museum of the University of Wyoming. The Vogels' gift to the museum includes such artists as Richard Tuttle, Gregory Amenoff, and Robert Mangold

Image Credits 
Left: Lucio Pozzi, Hanging Chair Series (Part of One Work in 50 Parts), 1993, Graphite, Watercolor, and Ink on Paper, 9-14" x 7-1/8"; University of Wyoming Art Museum Collection, 2009.4.30

Top Right: Gregory Amenoff, Laumede #16, 1997, Gouache on Paper, 12" x 9"; University of Wyoming Art Museum Collection, 2009.4.1

Bottom Right: David Gilhooly, Frog Sandwich, 1977, Painted Ceramic, 4-18" x 3-5/8" x 3-3/4"

All Works: University of Wyoming Art Museum, The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States, Joint Initiative of Trustees of Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection and National Gallery of Art, with Support of National Endowment for the Arts and Institute of Museum and Library Service

Vogel 50x50 Website (1,250 images; the collection numbers 2,500 artworks) This site also includes background on the Vogels as collectors; information on Fifty States participating institutions; audio and video; and a tour.

The museum's exhibition of Seattle-based Etsuko Ichikawa's "NACHI  between the eternal and the ephemeral", a fabulous mixed media installation Ichikawa created for the museum, ended earlier this month. Fortunately, a video was made of Ichikawa discussing her work. Inspired by the Kumano waterfall, Nachi, the installation is made of large glass pyrographs (drawings created with molten glass on paper), many thousands of cotton threads, and a video projection. 

NACHI Project (Excerpt from Exhibition Proposal)

Be sure to visit Ichikawa's site, hyperlinked above. Her work with glass, plastic piping, and mixed media is extraordinary. Also see images from her performance of Firebird at Tacoma's Museum of Glass in September 2010. The videos on her site are worth your time, too.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

How You Look Back (Poem)

How You Look Back

English meets Irish goes Greek to become
Hybrid DNA. First generation
American takes a second. From some
A third, fourth, and fifth arise. This nation

Called family expands and contracts bounds.
What's added soon leaves; what's taken pushes
Deep, no memory making object found
A loss replaced. Past itself ambushes

Sweetest recall of childhood cast in time
By presidents shot, cities on fire, kids
Sent to war. One returns home unwhole, primed
Prisoner of mind. It's nothing he did.

        How you look back is both your light and dark.
        Where you come from your going to must mark.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

My audio recording of the poem:

 Audio Recording of "How You Look Back" by mdoallas

At The High Calling, PhotoPlay editor Claire Burge issued a call August 12 for photographic submissions that respond to "five images that represent your history": Who made up your DNA? Where do you come from? What object is precious to your past? What memory resonates most deeply? What moment in history marks your childhood?

L.L. Barkat followed up with her own post, "Get Historical in Pictures". In keeping with this month's theme at Every Day Poems and TweetSpeakPoetry, poets are invited to create a sonnet that "explains your history". 

I offer as my sonnet "How You Look Back". The history of my childhood includes the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1963, the rioting in 1968 that set Washington, D.C., on fire, and the decades of the Vietnam War Era, which did not end until I was in college and caught up my own family and all too many friends. 

Leave your submissions — photos or poems, literal or metaphorical historical pictures — on this FaceBook Wall by the deadline, August 24.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wednesday Wonder: Meskimen on Shakespeare

Jim Meskimen is an actor (Frost/Nixon) who also happens to be brilliant at impressions. In this video, Meskimen does Shakespeare — Clarence's speech from Richard III — in 25 celebrity voices, including those of Jimmy Stewart, Garrison Keillor, Robert DeNiro, George W. Bush, Johnny Carson, President Obama, George Clooney, Droopy Dog, Ron Howard, and Richard Burton. His in-a-flash transitions are truly a wonder. 

Jim Meskimen's Blog

Jim Meskimen on YouTube

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Naked Eye Turned Inward (Poem)

A Naked Eye Turned Inward

A scrap of moon fights the sky for its light
and I, braced for the shining, reach through clouds
thrown up in our way. Your eyes fix on night,
on seeing how constellations can crowd

from view the remnants of the comet's tail
pulling us through storms. My own hook on loops
of Orion's belt, its star studs like nails
holding me in place, alone to recoup

what we have lost as one. The Scorpion
raised, the hunter bares full sword, and as we
were — once quick to orbit the other's sun —
fall prey, each left a dark dust cloud to flee.

        Like ancient tales our own we tell as new.
        A naked eye turned inward sees end through.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

 Audio Recording of A Naked Eye Turned Inward by mdoallas

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Muse on the 'One Hundred' Poems

Two weeks ago, I posted a review of John Siddique's new collection Full Blood (Salt Publishing, 2011). Siddique warmly acknowledged my review on Twitter and noted how pleased he was that I had singled out in my review two poems in particular. Here's some what I wrote about those two pieces:

There are many stand-outs in this collection. . . Two I especially want to mention. Both are titled "One Hundred". The first comprises a list of 100 names, grouped in no order discernible to the reader in a number of stanzas, at the end of which Siddique adds one or two lines of poetry. They are the first and last names of soldiers from the United Kingdom killed in our current wars. The second is like the first, except that the 100 names do not come from the Ministry of Defence, as did the first set; they are the names of those we have never recognized, names like "Abdul" or "Mohammada", names that in too many of the stanzas are fragmented — a first name with no surname or only a family name — all that remains of a person who once existed in full blood and is now reduced to a line in a list on a piece of paper. . . .

In exchanging with me several tweets about those poems, Siddique pointed out that in the UK "it is an act of treason to read aloud the names of enemy combatants killed in current war." 

I could not get Siddique's comment out of my head.

When I first read the poems, I was struck by their seeming simplicity, which was contradicted simultaneously by the enormous feeling I experienced in seeing all the names together on their page. Because none is just a name, and because a name is never just what we call someone.

[. . .] Reading either of these poems is deeply affecting, marking, for some of us, our first time being in relationship with a name associated with a war-torn place where "[s]ky catches its breath / on the mountaintops", where "[w]edding voices / ring the mountain walls", where we leave behind "[t]he blue eye of the desert" . . . When we read those names . . . [w]e face directly the mortality the names represent.

* * *

"It is an act of treason to read aloud the names of enemy combatants killed in current war."

What happens when we look at those two poems in the context of Siddique's comment? By the very act of creating two lists, two different poems with the same title, concerned with the same subject, Siddique creates a deliberate separation: one group of human beings represented by one list of names, any of which might look like our own, set apart from another group of human beings represented by names that few, perhaps even none, of us shares. By setting each name in each group on its own line, Siddique deepens the division, among the names themselves and in our relationship to the names. By adding an end-stop, a period, at the end of each name, Siddique further elaborates the separation, forcing the reader to pause before going on to the next name. The device offers a way for the poet to say, This name belongs to an individual. See him for who he is, and then see yourself in his name. In dividing every name on both lists from the name that precedes and the name that follows it, Siddique plays up the fact that all these names, but for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, would likely never have been encountered together — and we would be forever unaware. War produces the unchosen relationship. It does not excuse how we differentiate it.

As the poems illustrate, war requires us to regard the bearers of the second list of names, the names not English, not like ours, as different, and so necessarily distinct from whomever we do choose to recognize. It forces us to discriminate, and not in a good way. As I note in my review, the names in the second list are not whole. Siddique could not give us whole names; the UK's Ministry of Defence does not make it a duty to know who on the other side gets killed. The government's approach, in denying wholeness, in denying individuality, in refusing to accord relationship by treating all on the other side as "enemy combatants" or "collateral" (that last term one I've especially come to despise), provides us the out to view other human beings as something less than. How much easier it is to erase the meaning of being human than to acknowledge accountability for loss and thus responsibility for others' suffering. What you do not name, what you cannot or refuse to see, does not exist.

Any one who has ever heard the reading aloud of the full names of those who died on 9/11 or who has visited the memorial at the Pentagon — where the names of those on the plane point in toward the building and the names of those in the building point out toward the plane; in other words, each in relationship to the other — knows the power of names to move us. Anyone who has ever seen a newspaper page of names of U.S. soldiers killed in our current wars, names that are whole, always include rank, almost always include age and place from, include place and date of death and details, knows how names set in unchosen relationship can make us turn away or force us to look at our own humanity and our own inevitable mortality.

That we could hold it an act of treason to recite the name of another human being we have deemed our enemy and killed seems to me immoral. 

And so I ask: Who and what do you see and imagine when you first see or hear a list of names like "Amin", "Gul Bibi", "Khan Mohammad", "Farida", "Aziza", "Shekh Anwar", "Abdul", "Sayeda"?

Put your hands on me to remind me who
I am, put your hands on my face and heart
and say my name to stop me still, make me
human, teach me to wait until I can open
with self-blessing, as a rose buds to the sun,
as a seal on a rock sings the sea.

All it would take is a word [. . .]
[and] he would stand in the newly made
and know his own name again.
~ from "Name" in Full Blood