Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Raymond Carver's 'Late Fragment'

You'll find below a beautifully produced film by Eduardo Yague based on Raymond Carver's poem "Late Fragment", with actors Pau Vegas and Faustino Fernandez and music by Swoon. The videopoem is Yague's final film in his series La Luz Tenaz (The Tenacious Light), which he describes as an "[investigation of] the language of poetry, film, acting, music, photography. . . ." The complete series is found at Moving Poems.

Eduardo Yague on FaceBookVimeo, and The Poetry Storehouse

Eduardo Yague on Flickr

Raymond Carver (1938-1988), Poet, Essayist, and Short Story Writer

The text of "Late Fragment", comprising Carver's last words before dying of cancer, is from the collection All of Us: The Collected Poems (Harvill/Vintage Reprint, 2000), which includes an introduction by his widow, the poet Tess Gallagher:

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to

feel myself

Beloved on the earth. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Muse: Dave Malone's 'O'

I always come back to the love poem,
and I always come back to the Ozarks.
~ Dave Malone

In his new collection O (T.S. Poetry Press, 2015), poet Dave Malone charts both physical landscape and seasons of love, revealing how, in the Ozark countryside he calls home, geography figuratively shifts while love continually transforms.

In "We Blossom the World", the first poem in the book's first section "Spring", what Malone's lovers "can't say to each other" finds release through nature's own language—in "forsythia bushing out gold" and "torn-up sky greening into tornado". No matter that "[c]louds shake with gray" ("The Knobby Throat of Spring") or "April wind batters" ("Thunderboomer"), intense love-making ensues, expressing itself in "golden prairie flames, / the timber plain consumed" ("Hips").

In summer, "calves, thighs, shins, / white as cottonwood blossoms" and legs that "hold up the body /  that's grown into the body" loved ("Photograph") urge abandon to and in the lovers' oak four-poster, "[his] tongue . . . sweeping low / against [her] flower" ("Silk") until the interminable heat of Ozark August turns even night a "traitor".

By autumn, no calendars need "mark the flutter of romance . . . the flutter of union"; the lovers "sleep beneath the sexed redbuds / purpling like bruises" ("Unmarked"). Their "backs break in loving— / and then the rest . . . " ("Loving"). Absence hollows out before giving way to "a landscape / of cannon and chipped maps and civil war" ("Civil War"), leaving the lovers "at home in frigid water" ("The Deep").

With winter's gloomy arrival, the lovers, "[t]wo poets, . . . try to wrangle language / into feeling" but language "bucks the same // in starts and end stops, promises no forgiveness" ("Language"). Still, there are "[t]iny / bursts of electric lights" in the "dark inside [of] these Ozark knobs" ("Ghosts), hinting of love alive, and efforts "[i]n the finality of midnight [to] break against sleep / and total darkness" reveal at last "the tiny blade / of the new moon" ("New Moon"). With the promising light of that new moon comes the lovers' recognition that "time moves / backwards and forwards";

[. . . ]
Before we can eat brunch,
we are adrift in snow. [. . .]

Before we can speak the language
of knowing each other, the shorthand
for gardening and taking out the glorious trash,
we are dropped on a railroad bed.
Under the blue moon, a locomotive
churns through the pine forest.
Blinded, we weep like newborns
until arms join in the utter, forest dark.
~ "Tiny Machine"

And so life and the love that refreshes and restores it cycle through O, light giving way to hurt giving way to darkness giving way to light.

In the vividly realized geographical and metaphorical landscapes in which he creates his love story — story, not simply a series of individual poems addressing the subject — Malone is unabashed in exalting romantic and physical love. As economical and plain-spoken as they are, his poems never shy from declaring love in its most passionate forms: in flesh and in blood, of body and in spirit. 

The poems, however, also speak to what happens when a "gangly" moon "looms as boring as it can get" ("Separation"): the eyes of the lovers dull and words fail and lips become "only a solid line". Sometimes, Malone reminds us realistically, love takes us into "lands unseen"; sometimes, though painfully, it just leaves us a voice that's  "small and squeaky" or hands that get "lost / in the emptiness of space." 

O: Love Poems from the Ozarks is Dave Malone's most recent collection of poetry. His other volumes are View from the North Ten: Poems After Rothko's No. 15 (Mongrel Empire Press, 2013), Seasons in Love (Trask Road Press, 2012), Under the Sycamore (Elder Mountain Press, 2003), 23 Sonnets (Bliss Station Publishing, 1999), and Poems to Love & the Body (Bliss Station Publishing, 1999). He also is the author of the fictional Purgatory: A Good Way to Die (Butterworth, 2013), the mystery Not Forgiven, Not Forgiven (Trask Road Press, 2012), and co-author, with Kerry Doan, of the two-act drama The Hearts of Blue Whales (Trask Road Press, 2014). (Check the Writing section of Malone's Website for information about obtaining text of any out-of-print books. Some are available as electronic copy.)

Dave Malone on FaceBook and Twitter

T.S. Poetry Press

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Thought for the Day

. . . All verse should have two obligations: to communicate
a precise instance and to touch us physically, 
as the presence of the sea does. . . .
~ Jorge Luis Borges

Quoted from Prologue from La rosa profunda (The Unending Rose, 1975) in Jorge Luis Borges: Selected Poems (Penguin Classics Deluxe, 2000), Edited by Alexander Coleman 

Jorge Luis Borges, 1899-1986, Argentine Poet, Short Story Writer, Essayist, Translator

Ronald Christ, "Jorge Luis Borges, The Art of Fiction No. 39", Interview, The Paris Review, Winter-Spring 1967

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday Short

Today's short is Queen of Code, directed by actress Gillian Jacobs and produced by Nate Silver and others for the Signals series at FiveThirtyEight. The 16.31-minute documentary is about Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (1906-1992), who worked on the Harvard Mark 1, the first computer. In addition to making numerous other contributions to computer science, Hopper helped develop the programming language COBOL.

A graduate of Vassar College (my and Silver's alma mater), where she excelled in mathematics and physics, Hopper earned a doctorate in mathematics in 1934—she was one of just four women in the 10-student Yale University Ph.D. program. Hopper was deemed a visionary, an exceptional and inspiring leader, and a pioneer in software development concepts. She held nearly 50 honorary degrees and received a number of other awards, including, in 1986, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

FiveThirtyEight on FaceBook

Of Interest

Anita Borge Institute for Women and Technology's Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (FaceBook)

Grace Hopper Profiles at Amazing Women in History, CBS NewsFamous Women Inventors, PBS (A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries)

"Grace Hopper, Computing Pioneer", Harvard Gazette, December 3, 2014

Laura Sydell, "The Forgotten Female Programmers Who Created Modern Tech", WTF Public Radio, November 12, 2014 (This feature also is found at NPR.)

Selena Larson, "Gillian Jacobs Discusses Her Upcoming Grace Hopper Documentary", Interview, ReadWrite, October 13, 2014

"There'd Be No Steve Jobs Without Grace Hopper", Rethink Science, World Science Festival, October 8, 2014

Friday, March 27, 2015

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ David Zwirner Books has published Alice Neel: Drawings and Watercolors 1927-1978, with texts by curator, writer and lecturer Jeremy Lewison and novelist Claire Messud. The book, containing more than 60 color plates thematically organized and offering an overview of the artist's themes and styles, coincides with an exhibition at David Zwirner of Neel's drawings and watercolors that covers the same period. The exhibition continues through April 18.

David Zwirner represents the estate of Alice Neel (1900-1984). The artist's work is found in collections around the world. 

Cover Art
Alice and Jose, Pastel on Paper, 1938

Website of Alice Neel Estate

David Zwirner on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ "Wolff" is a new art history iPad app. Created by Greg Bryda, it was launched officially at last month's College Art Association 2015 annual conference in New York City. Read a Yale Daily News article about the app.

✦ Take a half-hour to view "Illinois Artists at Work: Cannot Live Without" at WTTW Arts Online. Featured in the documentary are five artists: Allison Ruttan, a visual artist; Daniel Borzutzky, a poet; Jeremiah Huissebos-Spofford, a project-based artist; Cynthia Oliver, a choreographer and performer; and Kathleen Ginther, a composer.

✦ I serendipitously came across a link from Orion magazine that led to images of the sculpture of Jennifer Maestre, born in South Africa and based currently in Massachusetts. As her Artist Statement notes, the inspiration for her work is the sea urchin and nature generally. The sculptures' foundation comprises colored pencils, as well as nails and other materials, such as beads. Full of surprise, all the work is extraordinary.

✦ The 3:34-minute video below, taped in 2014 by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and released last month, features Brice Marden, whose lyrical work I remember seeing for the first time many years ago in New York City. Marden talks about his approach to abstract painting and how abstract paintings may serve as "vehicles to take you to some other place."

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Wellesley College's Davis Museum, Wellesley, Massachusetts, has mounted the first museum exhibition in the United States of acclaimed Iranian sculptor Parviz Tanavoli. The retrospective, which continues through June 7, features work from the 1960s to today; his oeuvre extends to paintings, prints, ceramics, rugs, and jewelry. He also is a poet, scholar, and art collector.

This video offers a selection of work in the exhibition:

Also see "Parviz Tanavoli Interview" on Vimeo.

Here's a short televised conversation with the artist:

Davis Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and Vimeo

✭ On view through May 24 at Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, is "Mary Bauermeister: The New York Decade".  The first exhibition in more than 50 years to concentrate on Bauermeister's work, the exhibition brings together the artist's optical lens boxes, assemblages, stone reliefs, drawings, and other works created between 1962 and 1972. 

In addition to a selection of images, the exhibition page includes links to an introduction to the artist and her work, the artist's use of natural materials (sand, stones, honeycombs), the lens boxes, hand-written texts and words as embellishments on the lens boxes, the artist's themes and motifs, methods, and a sound-space collaboration with German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. 

A catalogue with more than 60 color plates and 71 black-and-white images accompanies the exhibition.

Catalogue Cover Art
"Palette", Painted Wood, Glass, Optical Lenses, Ink, 1966

Extracts from Open Atelier: Mary Bauermeister (Documentary) on Vimeo

SCMA on FaceBook and YouTube

✭ In Stanford, California, Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center continues through June 15 "Interaction of Color: Josef Albers — Highlights from the Marmor Collection". Drawn from a donation of some 200 contemporary artworks, the exhibition features a selection of works on paper by the abstract painter and theorist. 

Cantor Arts Center on FaceBook and YouTube

✭ Just days remain to see! In Massachusetts, Boston University Art Gallery's "DIGNITY: Tribes in Transition" comprises 60 black-and-white photographs of indigenous peoples from around the world. This is the show's U.S. debut (it first went on view in 2011 at the United Nations in Geneva; see video). The photography is by Dana Gluckstein. Gluckstein has produced a book, Dignity: In Honor of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, sales of which benefit Amnesty International.

BUAG at Stone Gallery on FaceBook and Twitter

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, is presenting "Area 919: Artists in the Triangle*", a survey of work by Casey Cook, Andre Leon Gray, Harrison Haynes, Lavar Munroe, Hong-An Truong, and Stacy Lynn Waddell, among others. On view through April 12, the show includes paintings, works on paper, video installations, photographs, sculpture, and mixed media. See a selection of images from work in the exhibition. (*The eight-county Triangle comprises the cities of Raleigh and Durham and the town Cary and Chapel Hill.)

Nasher Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Documentary: 'The Artist of Silicon Valley'

Painter Mitchell Johnson of California is the subject of the short documentary below, The Artist of Silicon Valley, by Meg Smaker.

Johnson was a Visiting Artist this year (from February 9 to March 9) at the American Academy in Rome, Italy.

The Artist of Silicon Valley on FaceBook

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

In Remembrance

In remembrance and with all my love. . .

Patrick William Doallas
March 25, 1950 - May 9, 2009

Poems for My Brother

"After" (2014)

"Just This . . ." (2013)

Neruda's Memoirs: Poems (T.S. Poetry Press, 2011)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Body Treatment (Poem)

Body Treatment

Treat your body like it
belongs to someone
you love. Oh, no, not

the guy who leaves
you black-eyed,
balled-up in a corner,

iPhone speed-dialing
9-1-1. And not the good
-looking health food

addict who checks you
out only after praising
the purifying qualities

of special bran flours.
And not the aged yogi
declaiming your body

a temple of gold to be
visited outside class.
You look him in the eye

and see no soul, none
you'd trade for free
lessons or even the best

of bottled waters. Let
your corpus be a filter,
process and gesture

both. Then imagine all
the room you'll have
to be your one same self.

© 2015 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Muse Asks Did You Know

Today's post is another in an occasional series providing information about poets, poems, or poetry-related items that you might not know.

Did You Know . . . 

✦ The president of Ireland, poet Michael D. Higgins, published his first poem, "The Prophets Are Weeping", since assuming office in 2011. Read the text of the poem.

"President Michael D. Higgins Releases Text of His New Poem", The Irish Times, February 10, 2015

✦ China has its own 21st Century version of Emily Dickinson: Yu Xihua, whose poem "Cross Half of China to Sleep with You" ("Chuan Guo Da Ban Ge Zhong Guo Shui Ni") went viral. Read "Hubei Women Dugged China's Emily Dickinson After Poem Goes Viral".

✦ Text and audio of poems by two dozen poets featured in Bread and Steel: Illinois Poets Reading from Their Works (2007), an anthology edited by Illinois's current Poet Laureate Kevin Stein, are available at Bradley University's Illinois Poet Laureate Website. Among the poets in the anthology are Edward Hirsch, John Knoepfle, Li-Young Lee, and Christian Wiman

✦ Among the books seized by New York City's police department during Occupy Wall Street events was People's Library by the late Philip Levine (1928-2015). Read "Subject Focus: Poet Laureate Philip Levine at Wayne State University" from Wayne State University's Walter P. Reuther Library, which holds some archives from Levine's time at WSU.

✦ President Warren G. Harding was a poet! Read Peter Armenti's Library of Congress blog post "'Wild to be loved': The Poetry of President Warren G. Harding", February 16, 2015.

✦ The "library of record" for 20th Century and 21st Century poetry in English, The Poetry Collection at University of Buffalo Libraries is described as "one of the world's largest collection of first editions and other titles; little literary magazines, broadsides and anthologies; a substantial collection of artworks; and more than 150 archives and manuscript collections." 

✦ The site Imediata features Brazilian visual poetry. (This is an archived poetry site, for years 2001-2007 but interesting nonetheless.) Also see the current homepage.

✦ At the 19th annual Ex Tempore salon on January 23, 2015, poems in Albanian were presented for the first time. A literary journal, Ex Tempore is published annually by the United Nations Society of Writers in Geneva. Membership in the society is open to active and retired employees of the U.N., specialized agencies, CERN, Permanent and Observer Missions, inter-governmental organizations, and others. The journal's issues are available online. (Read "Presheva Jone Promotes Albanian Poetry at UN Society of Writers Event".)

✦ The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs sponsored in 2011 a "Poetry for Peace Contest." First, second, and third place winners were announced at U.N. headquarters in New York City. Poems submitted to the contest are available to read here.

✦ Each year, March 21 is celebrated as World Poetry Day. The proclamation of the decision establishing the date was introduced, adopted, and announced at the 30th UNESCO meeting in Paris in 1999.

World Poetry Day 2015 at UNESCO

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Thought for the Day

You can be the perpetrator of your own
 emptiness, it can be the very thing you need,
and it can still undo you.
~ Alexandra Fuller

Quoted from Alexandra Fuller, Leaving Before the Rains Come (Penguin Press, 2015), page 254

I have read and recommend Fuller's memoirs, which include, in addition to the title above, Don't Lets Go the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (Random House, 2003) and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness (Penguin Books, reprint 2012). She also is the author of Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier (Penguin Books, 2005).

Below is a short February 2015 PBS NewsHour conversation between Jeffrey Brown and Alexandra Fuller:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday Short

Today's short is Flower Box by A-J Aronstein, illustrated by Bianca Stone, who also is a poet. It is an Electric Literature Single Sentence Animation. Anne Carson and Robert Currie collaborated with Stone, who contributed the drawings that overlay the text, to create Antigonick (New Directions, 2012).

Friday, March 20, 2015

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Photographer-of-ruins Andre Govia has published the inspired Abandoned Planet (Carpet Bombing Culture, December 2014), which showcases his evocative, mysterious, and haunting images of decrepit homes, long-abandoned hospitals, forgotten schools, deserted theme parks, burial grounds for cars, frozen-in-time industrial landscapes, and sundry other records of buildings decayed or decomposing. Govia shot the beautifully produced photographs all over the world; some are haunting, some are creepy, some reduced to a state of wildness that will be forever changing.

Cover Image of Andre Govia's Latest Photography Book

Andre Govia on FaceBook and Flickr

✦ Pages from antique ledger books underlie the free-hand, colored-pencil and graphite drawings of Louise Despont, who lives and works in Brooklyn. Sometimes, Despont also uses inks and gold leaf. Her meticulous artworks, which are often large-scale, are intricate and beautiful. See a slideshow.

Watch a short film about Despont from Art21's New York Up Close Series.

✦ How would answer the question, "What is digital art?" This video from British Council Arts features aims to provide a definition.

✦ Delight in the narrative storytelling of Vietnam-born Duy Huynh's lyrical paintings. (My thanks to Hannah Stephenson from whom I learned of Duy Huynh.)

✦ Below you'll find a video about the virtual Museum of Stolen Art, created and curated by Ziv Schneider. (My thanks to Wired magazine, where I first saw the video as part of the post "See the World's Greatest Stolen Artworks in This Virtual-Reality Museum".)

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Continuing through April 10 at Chicago Photography Center is the juried exhibition "I Am Woman". The show opens March 8 in celebration of International Women's Day.

CPC on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ In Union, New Jersey, the Human Rights Institute Gallery, part of Kean University Galleries, is presenting through May 18 "How to Spot One of Us", a collaborative exhibition comprising narrative photographs by Aliza Augustine and film (How I Knew and When, 2013) and poetry by Janet R. Kirchheimer. Read Rukhl Schaechter's article "How Family Holocaust Stories Became Multimedia Art Exhibit" in Forward (February 21, 2015) to learn more about the artists and their moving, remarkable, and important project.

Aliza Augustine on FaceBook

Janet R. Kirchheimer on FaceBook

✭ The exhibition "Mark Rothko's Harvard Murals" continues through July 26 in the special exhibits gallery at Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge. Using a camera-projector system, the show of 38 murals, as well as related studies on paper and canvas, reveals how noninvasive digital projection may be used as a conservation approach by which the murals are "restored" to their original colors. A variety of technology is present in the gallery so that viewers may learn more about Rothko's creative process and the conservation project. A number of images are available at the exhibition link above. (Read the News Release.)

Harvard Art Museums on FaceBookTwitter, and Vimeo

✭ In Iowa, Des Moines Art Center has mounted "Field, Road, Cloud: Art and Africa". On view through April 19, the exhibition comprises African art from the center's permanent collections (the center owns more than 100 objects, including masks, ceramics, and textiles) and work by contemporary artists to foster discussion of geography, colonization, and import/export culture. Among the contemporary artists are El Anatsui, Nick Cave, Leonce Raphael, Alfredo Jaar, and William Kentridge.

On April 2, artist Nick Cave will join senior curator Gilbert Vicario to talk about Cave's artworks, which include sculpture, installations, sound, and performance. The exhibition features Cave's sculpture Property (2014).

DMAC on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Continuing for the next month, through April 19, is "LIFT: Contemporary Printmaking in the Third Dimension" at Tennessee's Knoxville Museum of Art. An exhibition of both emerging and established international contemporary artists, the exhibition examines techniques being used to give printmaking a sculptural dimension. The techniques range from low-relief printing and embossing, to relief printing, to digital techniques employing 3-D forms. The featured artists are Enrique Chagoya, Lesley Dill, Red Grooms, Robert Gober, Hideki Kimura, Nicola Lopez, Oscar Munoz, Leslie Mutchler, Marilene Oliver, Dieter Roth, Graciela Sacco, Olafur Eliasson, and Jonathan Stanish.

KMA on FaceBook and Twitter

KnoxArt Blog

Thursday, March 19, 2015

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life

Mara Light, Portrait Study, 2014
Oil on Linen with Layered Materials
36" x 30"
Copyright © Mara Light

You'll find me today at Escape Into Life, where I've posted my latest Artist Watch feature, showcasing the beautiful paintings of Mara Light, who currently lives and works in Pennsylvania.

Deeply evocative, Light's paintings reveal simultaneously light and dark, surface and underlayer, the revealing and the hidden, intimacy and distance. They look as though they might have come from another period of time that has left its deliberate marks without distorting any of the beauty.

You'll find in my Artist Watch feature seven images of Light's paintings, a brief biography, and Light's Artist Statement, as well as information for two exhibitions of her work.

Mara Light on FaceBook

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday Wonder: 'Family Trees'

The choice for today's Wednesday Wonder is Family Trees (2012), the third in a series of animations commissioned by Hyundai Motor Group. Matt Pyke, founder and creative director of Universal Everything, worked with his staff to realize the commission, which "abstracts the processes behind Hyundai's manufacturing methods." Trees, sprouting, branching out, and filling with foliage, are a metaphor for "resource circulation" (recycling) as used by Hyundai.

The other animations in the series are Made by Humans and Primal Creation: Planet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

In the city this spring (Poem)

In the city this spring

rain falls like gold
icing the sidewalk
cracks fill with leaves

of jasmine tea drained
through a sieve of clouds
swept suddenly away

wind brings its chaos
of souvenirs: scents
of citrus and hyacinth

— sky jacket and china
pink — the show-
stopping ballerina

tulip and star-shaped
lilac spicy sweet, plum
honeying the clustered

buds as the fountain
of glistening tuberose
dares the four-petaled

mock orange to slip out
beneath sun, find shade
before the stars break

our concentration
we linger on a breath
taste how air's gone

thick this Hawaiian night

© 2015 Maureen E. Doallas

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Muse: New Kentucky Poet Laureate

Many people are afraid of poetry because they
don't understand it. I hope to reach past that
and welcome them, and that they infuse
poetry into their everyday language and hear
the poetry in their everyday speech.
~ George Ella Lyon*

George Ella Lyon (named, respectively, for her brother and sister), a prolific writer in many genres, is Kentucky's Poet Laureate for 2015-2016. Nationally known, she succeeds Frank X Walker, who served from 2013 through the end of 2014. Lyon's official induction ceremony is April 24, which is Kentucky Writers' Day.

The Kentucky Arts Council coordinates and administers the nomination and selection process resulting in the appointment of a state poet. Detailed information about the position is found in my Monday Muse profile for Gurney Norman (August 9, 2010).

The principal activities of the state poet are to promote the literary arts throughout the state via public readings at libraries, bookstores, schools, and numerous other venues, as well as writing conferences, workshops, and festivals. In the news release from the governor's communications office, Lyon is quoted as saying that as Poet Laureate, she will emphasize poetry's accessibility: "I am always trying to help people hear their own voices, their own stories and know that those matter; that they have weight and beauty and that they are worth sharing. Part of that is listening deeply to what people write or the questions they ask. . . ."

* * * * * 

. . . [I]t's still words and their transforming music that I love. 
Words amaze me . . . I believe that what we're doing when we write
 or dance, sing or draw or  practice any of the arts, we are listening 
to our hearts and expressing what we hear. . . And when we are
 the readers or the audience for what's been created, we hear
 someone else's heart speaking, which helps us hear
 our own, and feel how we are all connected.**

George Ella Lyon is a poet, writer of children's picture books and novels for juveniles and young adults, a memoirist, an essayist, a playwright, a lyricist, a devoted long-time educator and mentor, a freelance writer, and a political and environmental activist and advocate for Appalachia. Among Lyon's more than three dozen books are her poetry collections Many-Storied House: Poems (Kentucky Voices Series, University Press of Kentucky, 2013), She Let Herself Go: Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 2012), and  Back: Poems (Wind Publications, 2010).

Lyon, who studied with the late poet Ruth Stone, also is the author of the combination memoir-and-poetry-writing guide Where I'm From, Where Poems Come From (Absey & Co., 1999), containing her well-known poem of the same name. The book Counting on the Woods (DK Publishing, 1998) contains a poem by Lyon and photographs by Ann W. Olson.

Several of Lyon's poetry collections have been award-winners, including her debut 1983 chapbook Mountain (Andrew Mountain Press; available through resellers), which received the Andrew Mountain Press Lamont Award, and Catalpa (Wind Publications, 1993; reissued 2007), Appalachian Book of the Year in 1993.

* * *

Lyon's Welcome Page on her Website uses the metaphor of a spider web, which she calls "a delicious image" of her vocation; it provides an insight into how this eloquent poet sees herself:

Though I write in many forms, I am first of all a poet,
which means my job is to see and sing the connections
between things. . . The strength of my web comes from
family, friends, words, music, dreams, mountains,
and the joy of making.

In response to a question in FAQs at her Website, she further states:

I don't write from ideas so much as from feelings.
When something touches me deeply, I write
to capture or explore or understand it. . .
I write to find out!

Place, especially sense of home in the eastern Kentucky coal-mining region where she was born, figures prominently in Lyon's poems. She also draws deep inspiration from her Appalachian background. Some themes or subjects of her poems are memory and the past, relationships, especially with family and community, self-identity, women's struggles, empathy and compassion, spiritual awareness, love, loss, and death.

Lyon is an astute observer of details, which, when catalogued, can be startling, as in "Stripped", from Catalypa, where she not only lists activities such as "shelling peas" and "quilting lettuce" but also "lifting pain / out by the roots". Her language is both precise and concise; her voice, not just sure but authentic; her imagery is vivid, especially when Lyon draws it from the Appalachian landscape:

I was born in a bowl of mountains.
Clouds filled it sometimes.
But that isn't all. [. . .]
~ from "George Ella Lyon: Autobiography Feature" (Essay) at Biography

Lyon's poem "Where I'm From" is, perhaps, her most famous; given all the sites on which it is found on the Web, it even appears to be world-famous. Many educators use it as a poetry-writing model and prompt. Here are the opening lines from the poem's first stanza (consider the images she creates with her details):

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own. [. . .]

A beautifully written poem whose declarative lines call for it to be read aloud, "Where I'm From" ultimately comes round to "a dress box / spilling old pictures" that recall to the poet "those moments — / snapped before I budded — / leaf-fall from the family tree." 

Lyon's profound belief in the equality and moral rights of all people, whatever their background, also finds expression in her work, as here:

[. . .] Don't forgive us
till we learn it is all for giving.
That salve you've got in a pot
on the back of the stove
only heals when everybody has some. [. . .]
~ from "Prayer" 

What's distinctive about Lyon's poetry is that while it is undeniably regional, its reach is longer and more influential than might be supposed; it gets through to the reader, makes connections through a storytelling strong of voice that manages to convey depth and emotion with the plainest or simplest of words.

* * *

Lyon's work is found in numerous anthologies, including Succinct: The Broadstone Anthology of Short Poems (Broadstone Books, 2013), The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science, Common Core K-5 Edition (Pomelo Books, 2012), What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets (University Press of Kentucky, 2009), and Missing Mountains (Wind Publications, 2005). Several of her poems also are found in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia (on GoogleBooks). She co-edited, with Bob Henry Baber and Gurney Norman, the anthology Old Wounds, New Words: Poems from the Appalachian Poetry Project (Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1994) and, with Leatha Kendrick, Crossing Troublesome: Twenty-Five Years of the Appalachian Writers Workshop (Wind Publications, 2002; available via resellers). She also is the editor of Harvest of Fire: New and Collected Works by Lee Howard (Motes Books, 2010) and A Kentucky Christmas (University Press of Kentucky, 2003; reprint 2012). 

In addition to the writing awards mentioned above, Lyon has received numerous prestigious honors and recognition for her many books for children and young adults, include a Golden Kite Award, an Aesop Prize, an American Library Association Schneider Family Book Award, and a Parents' Choice Silver Medal. She has been the recipient of a Kentucky Arts Council Al Smith Fellowship, Hambidge Center for the Arts fellowships, and Kentucky Foundation for Women grants.

Lyon offers her own "Meet the Author" and "Writers' Workshop", which she explains on her Website in the section School & Library Visits; participates in community reading programs, and gives talks at libraries, where she also conducts writing and GED workshops for adults.


Photo Credit: LSU Press (via Press Kit)

All Poetry Excerpts © George Ella Lyon

* Quoted from "George Ella Lyon Named Kentucky Poet Laureate", News Release, March 13, 2015

** Quoted from "My Story" at George Ella Lyon Website

Kentucky Arts Council, News Release, March 16, 2015

Paul Hitchcock, "George Ella Lyon Named Poet Laureate", WMKY Online, March 13, 2015

Tom Musgrave, "George Ella Lyon Named Kentucky Poet Laureate", Columbia Magazine, March 13, 2015 (Musgrave is director of communications in the governor's office.)

Cheryl Truman, "Kentucky Writer George Ella Lyon Named Kentucky Poet Laureate", Lexington Herald Leader, March 13, 2015

Merlene Davis, "Author George Ella Lyon Secures Spot On and In Cereal Box", Lexington Herald Leader, April 3, 2013

Candace Chaney, "Lexington Author George Ella Lyon Let Herself Write", Lexington Herald Leader, July 26, 2012

KET Instructional TV, "An Electronic Conversation with George Ella Lyon", 2012/13 KETKY Program (Streaming Video Available)

"Poet Challenges Governor's Scholars to Use Their Imaginations", Centre College News, July 18, 2001

Rob Neufeld, "Rob Neufeld: Going Deep With East Ky. Author Lyon", Interview, Asheville Citizen-Times, September 27, 2014

Tracy L. Roberts, "An Interview with George Ella Lyon", Spring 2001

Carol Polsgrove, "George Ella Lyon on Books for the Young", Interview, Carol Polsgrove on Writers' Lives

George Ella Lyon Poems Online: "Bio" at Kentucky Herald Leader Article (see February); "Where I'm From" at George Ella Lyon Website (also at Digitalis; PBS Series The United States of Poetry at Internet Archive,  YouTube,  Smithsonian Education Educators Workshop, and Numerous Other Sites); "Prayer" at Gratefulness: A Network for Grateful Living; "Growing Light" at Half-Spoken Thoughts Blog (composer Elizabeth Alexander set the poem to music); "The Real Question", Poem on Milton Reigelman's MLK Experience, at Centre College News; "Mountain Bowl Honeycomb" at Biography; "Some Big Loud Woman" at Carol Polsgrove on Writers' Lives (Interview); "What I Looked Like in the 80's" at Women Writer's Web; "Radio Noel" at WVXU (Audio); "Invocation" at Poetry Corner; "Writer" at A Poem a Day (Lincoln Memorial University); "Gift" at Accent Publishing Blog (from Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Short Poems); Untitled Poem at Brenda Bowen's Bunny Eat Bunny Blog; "Archaeology" and "Papaw" in Her Words: Diverse Voices in Contemporary Appalachian Women's Poetry at GoogleBooks

Poetry Broadside of "Where I'm From" at Sunken Garden Poetry

George Ella Lyon, "A Part of All", This I Believe, April 21, 2014 (Text of Podcast)

George Ella Lyon, "Why I Keep a Journal", Creative Commonwealth/Kentucky Arts Council, April 24, 2013

George Ella Lyon Music on iTunes

Joanna Lin Want, "New Volume of Poetry from George Ella Lyon Is Memoir-in-Verse", Review of Many-Storied House, Arts - Louisville, September 17, 2013

She Let Herself Go: Poems on GoogleBooks (A number of poems in the book are available here.)

Wind Publications 

George Ella Lyon on FaceBook

Videopoem Based on Lyon's "Where I'm From" at YouTube and Vimeo

"Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children's Literature: 'Our Stories Are Important Stories'" on YouTube (Museum of East Tennessee History, 2014)

George Ella Lyon at "Head of the Holler" (In the video, Lyon talks with the director of Berea College's Appalachian Center about her childhood in eastern Kentucky, inspiration for writing, writing as spiritual practice, and her published work. It's an excellent introduction to the poet.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Thought for the Day

The difference between the truth and a cliche
is the difference between what we really know
and what we've all heard about.
~ Charles D'Ambrosio

Quote from Charles D'Ambrosio, "Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg" in Loitering: New and Collected Essays  (Tin House Books, November 2014)

Charles D'Ambrosio is a short story writer and essayist. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday Short

Today's short is an animation in which Brene Brown considers blame, what it is and how it affects our relationships. Additional animations and videos of lectures are at Brown's Website.

Friday, March 13, 2015

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

Scott McCloud published his nearly 500-page novel, The Sculptor, in early February. The huge book, McCloud's first graphic novel and first fiction work in more than three decades, which took the cartoonist five years to finish, ranges over big themes: creativity, art and commerce, frustrated ambition, love, depression. PBS NewsHour Art Beat showed a video conversation with McCloud, who calls The Sculptor a "love letter to artists everywhere. . . the vast majority of artists who never experience [success] or very rarely do. . . [and] struggle with obscurity most all of their lives. . . ."

✦  If you cannot get to The Getty's exhibition "J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free" by May 24 or to San Francisco's deYoung Museum, where the show will be on view from June 20 through September 20, do the next best thing and purchase a copy of the lavish 224-page catalogue with 130 full-color illustrations: J.M.W. Turner | Painting Set Free (J. Paul Getty Musuem, November 2014). Editors David Blayney Brown of Tate Britain, Amy Concannon, also of Tate Britain, and Sam Smiles of University of Exeter offer contrasting perspectives on Turner's paintings and influence.

Getty Publications on FaceBook

✦ The Irish artist Catherine Owens, who lives and works in New York City, collaborated with Stoney Road Press to print Fiddle East (2014) and The Vee (2014), both intaglios printed in an edition of 25. A fine art print studio in Ireland, Stoney Road has worked with a long list of artists. All the press's works are for sale.

Stoney Road Press on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ Watch for it! Photographer Sally Mann's Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs (Hatchette Book Group/Little, Brown) is due out in April. The memoir will be available in print and as an audiobook and e-book.

✦ Recently launched: an online platform —  Smithsonian Libraries Artists' Book Collection — that brings together artists' books from across Smithsonian collections. Users can see all of the books (some 600 titles currently) or search by topic, name, language, or in other fields. A marvelous resource!

Smithsonian Libraries on FaceBook

✦ An app available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, the video game Flomm! loosely interprets the art, design, theories, and counter-theories of early proponents of Modern Art. Below is the trailer created for the project.

Flomm! The Battle for MODeRN 1923 on FaceBook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ Eighty works by 17 artists are featured in "The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World" at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City. On view through April 5, the exhibition reveals artists' strategies and techniques in creating work that is not defined, through style, content, or medium, by the period in which is was produced. Including work by Matt Connors, Julie Mehretu, Oscar Murillo, Amy Sillman, and 13 other artist with international reputations, the show is accompanied by a catalogue, a sample of which is available.

Catalogue Cover

Gallery talks, lectures, and conversations with the artists are among the programs offered in conjunction with the exhibition.

MoMA on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Inside/Out, MoMA Blog

✭ Continuing through August 23, Fuller Craft Museum's "Continuum of Innovation: Haystack Clay Selects" celebrates innovative contemporary ceramists whose work has been singled out by nine past or current faculty in the studio ceramics department at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine. Two separate but related shows are "The State of Clay: Pushing Boundaries", on view through May 24, and "Legacy of Fire: Clay Dragon Studios Revisited", running through April 26.

Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, Massachusetts) on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ In Santa Fe, the New Mexico Museum of Art is presenting a year-long series of photography exhibitions under the banner "Focus on Photography"; these include solo surveys of work by contemporary photographers, themed exhibitions of contemporary work by national and regional artists focusing on a particular subject, and "The Photo Lab", a space for learning about photography. On view through April 19 are "North to South: Photographs by Edward Ranney" and "Tales from a Dark Room".

See a selection of images of Ranney's work in The Art Institute of Chicago collections.

NMMA on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Cypher Space, NMMA Blog

Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, is showcasing contemporary Japanese ceramics in "Hand and Wheel". The exhibition, continuing through October 18, features work from the 1950s to the present, including examples by such masters as Nakazato TakashiHoshino Satoru, and Fujikasa Satoko.

Portland Art Museu, on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ Work by painter and sculptor Carol Brown Goldberg is on view through April 19 at South Dakota Art Museum, Brookings, on the campus of South Dakota State University. See a selection of Goldberg's paintings and sculptures on her Website.

SDSU on FaceBook