Sunday, May 31, 2015

Thought for the Day

Authors. . . aren't causes; they're effects
produced by their own language.
~ Dan Chiasson

Quoted from Dan Chiasson, "Sense of Self: New poems by Terrance Hayes and Deborah Landau", The New Yorker, May 11, 2015

Dan Chiasson, Poet, Essayist, Associate Professor of English, Wellesley College

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saturday Short

Today's short is "Samurai Song", a Robert Pinsky poem read by its author to accompaniment of music. The video is part of Pinsky's "The Art of Poetry" online course on edX; Pinsky conducted the eight-week course in 2014 in conjunction with Boston University. Among others are the poems "Gina Samba", "The Hearts", "Antique", and "Street Music".

Friday, May 29, 2015

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Elegance is a distinguishing characteristic of the beautiful, sculptural forms created by Australia's Meredith Woolnough, who came to my attention via FaceBook. Woolnough uses embroidery or other  threads, pins, and glass rods on paper in a process all her own. Her work takes its inspiration from nature—ammonites, ginkgo, coral, ferns, leaves, water lilies—reflecting its beauty, fragility, and ephemerality. Imagine her work on the cover of a book! Woolnough's new work can be seen in a major exhibition opening in August at The Milk  Factory Gallery in Bowral, NSW. 

Meredity Woolnough on FaceBook

✦ A former bank in Chicago is slated to become Stony Island Arts Bank. Artist Theaster Gates, who is based in Chicago, paid the city $1.00 for the space, which will open during the Chicago Architectural Biennial (October 3, 2015-January 3, 2016) in which 60 international studios will participate.  Gates talks about his project in this video (filmed in 2012).

CAB on FaceBook

✦ Paper artist Helen Hiebert offers a highly affordable array of paper weavings. Don't miss her artists' books or the many interesting posts and videos on her blog.

Helen Hiebert on FaceBook and YouTube

✦ Smithsonian Libraries' Artists Books Collection is now online. It's a treasure!

✦ Spend some time in the natural world with fine printmaker Sarah Horowitz who, in addition to gorgeous prints and drawings, makes hand-printed and bound artists' books and collaborates with Tavern Books (one recent cover was for We Women by Edith Sodergran). Horowitz's imprint is called Wiesedruck. Watch an Oregon Art Beat profile of the artist. Horowitz's exceptional prints are available through Froelick Gallery, Portland, Oregon.

✦ The woven metal artworks of Michelle Mckinney are exceptional and exceptionally beautiful. McKinney, whose exhibition "Held" at Northcote Gallery, London, concluded in mid-April, recently began making "ghost editions" of her woven metal work; these are limited-edition, signed images; reimagined as negatives, they are printed with archival inks. They're eye-catching!

Michelle Mckinney on FaceBook

✦ InterVarsity Press has released J. Scott McElroy's Creative Church Handbook: Releasing the Power of the Arts in Your Congregation (2015). McElroy, founder of the nonprofit New Renaissance Arts Movement, addresses the use of live art, dance, media, film, and video; structuring and launching an arts ministry; establishing an artists-in-residence program in a church; working with outside artists; inspiring, empowering, and leading artists in church; interactive arts projects; and much more. 

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ In Washington, D.C., George Washington University's Luther W. Brady Art Gallery continues through July 17 "Art in the Making: A New Adaptation". The exhibition presents work by teachers and students of three New York City art institutions and their counterparts at GWU's Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. Work by Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock, Kit White, and others represents the New York City institutions; work by Gene Davis, Jules Olitski, and others represents the Corcoran School. 

Brady Gallery on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Porcelain installations drawing on nature and technology are featured in "Dawn Holder: Several Collections of Commemorative Plates", continuing through July 19 at Ft. Smith Regional Art Museum, Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Holder's interest is in "the ways local populations alter, cultivate, and mythologize the landscape around them." In creating her installations, she uses utilitarian light-switch plates and outlet covers, assembling them in repetitive grids and enveloping them in porcelain flowers, creating a striking contrast between what we use and consume and how it affects our lives. Images of Holder's Sunset (2104), Sunset (2014), Value Scape (2014), and Sprout (2015), Street View (Dream Homes) (2015), and Compendium of Arkansas Plants (2015) are at the exhibition link above.

FSRAM on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ The future as depicted in fantastic murals, digital prints, and drawings by Japanese pop artist Chiho Aoshima is cause to pause while visiting Seattle Art Museum's "Chiho Aoshima: Rebirth of the World". The ticketed exhibition of dreamscapes, continuing through October 4, imagines both darkly and surrealistically the artist's vision(s) of how reality might look as the world grows older.

SAM on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ A show of contemporary artists — emerging, mid-career, and established — connected to Cleveland, Ohio, and cities in Pennsylvania and Michigan opens June 12 at Cleveland's Museum of Contemporary Art. On view through September 6, "How to Remain Human" is described as an expansive, immersive look, through a wide variety of media, of what it means to be of, acting in, and experiencing the world. A series of public programs complements the exhibition and a comprehensive catalogue with commissioned essays on each artist will be available for free download once the exhibition begins. Images may be viewed at the exhibition link.

MOCA Cleveland on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

✭ Opening today at Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, New Jersey, is "Michael Burris Johnson: Grid Paintings". The show, which continues through June 28, is part of the Monmouth's "NJ Emerging Artists Series". In his Artist Statement, Johnson says, "Each painting conjures an image from deep silent regions of existence, pulled from under the heart. There is an effort to find passage—beyond memory, past the senses' horizon—to pass through a rigid structure and hold in tact an honest affirmation of life."

See images of Johnson's Grids at his Website. Depicted in the promotional image above at Sisyphus (at left) and Patience. These are lovely oils on canvas.

Monmouth Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

Thursday, May 28, 2015

'The Trials of Spring'

Bread, freedom, social justice. . . These were the goals of the 2011 revolution known as Arab Spring. In director Gini Reticker's The Trials of Spring (Fork Films, 2015), a multimedia initiative comprising six shorts, the role and stories of women agitating for social change and civil rights in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, are brought to vivid light. Below is the trailer for the film, whose world premiere takes place June 12 at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York.

The Trials of Spring on FaceBook

Human Rights Watch on FaceBook

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday Wonder: A Fly Geyser

Today's wonder is a fly geyser in Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It is, according to Friends of Black High Rock, human-made, the result of test drilling for water in 1964. The geothermal test well was not capped properly; calcium carbonate deposits left behind when scalding water issued forth then built up over the years. The colors are from algae on the deposits.

The video was taken from the sky, because the geyser is on private property. Even though is not a natural phenomenon, it's impressive and beautiful.

(My thanks to my friend Randall David Tipton for the links to the video and additional photos. A long version of a video of the geyser is available on YouTube. The Snopes site indicates the formation is five feet high and 12 feet wide.) 

Terrell Johnson, "The World's Most Amazing Places: Fly Geyser", Weather, June 18, 2013

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ballooning Arachnids (Poem)

Ballooning Arachnids

Refusing to walk on your own
eight legs, you spin eerie silk air
balloons as thin as microchips,
your tethered webs of angel's hairs
a billowing net criss-crossing
waterlogged landscape to shelter.

Your armies of earth cousins throw
up their snag lines by the thousands,
some catching your threads. Others,
escaping tunnels to ground level, drown,
strands stretched to breaking point.

Naturally, you travel a mode faster
than walking, currents lifting spinning
orbs dense as the deep black velvet
skins of your trampolining bodies.
You float for a while before pulling
the cords of your three-sided parachutes.

© 2014 Maureen E. Doallas

This poem is a response to this past week's news articles about the "rain" of millions of spiders in Australia's Southern Tablelands. The spiders'  linked webs produced a landscape that seemed to be covered in snow. The phenomenon observed is called "ballooning". It is truly a natural wonder. Read "The Science Behind Australia's Spooky Spider Rain" in The Washington Post, May 19, 2015. Articles also appeared in National Geographic magazine and The Oregonian, among other news and science publications.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday Muse: #readwomen2015 (3)

As I did in 2014, I am committed in 2015 to reading as many books by women as I can. Below are writers (some, such as Chana Bloch, Judith Ortiz Cofer, and Kate Schmitt, are new to me) I've read since the start of the year and recommend. Join in the project and share online and promote your titles using the hashtag #readwomen or #readwomen2015. 


✭ Mary Jo Bang, The Last Two Seconds: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2015)

✭ Chana Bloch, Swimming in the Rain: New and Selected Poems 1980-2015 (Autumn House Press, 2015)

✭ Barbara Crooker, Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press, 2015) Read my review.

✭ Claudia Emerson, late wife (Louisiana State University Press, 2005)

✭ Claudia Emerson, Opposite House: Poems  (Louisiana State University Press, 2015)

✭ Jeannine Hall Gailey, The Robot Scientist's Daughter: Poems (Mayapple Press, 2015)

✭ Jane Hirshfield, The Beauty: Poems (Knopf, 2015)

✭ Laura Kasischke, The Infinitesimals (Copper Canyon Press, 2014)

✭ Janet R. Kirchheimer, How to Spot One of Us: Poems (CLAL, 2007)

✭ Marge Piercy, Made in Detroit: Poems (Knopf, 2015)

✭ Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014)

✭ Wislaw Szymborska, Map: Collected and Last Poems (Hougton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)

✭ Donna Vorreyer, a house of many windows  (Sundress Publications, 2013)

✭ Nancy Willard, The Sea at Truro: Poems (Knopf, 2012)


✭ Dawn Potter, A Poet's Sourcebook (Autumn House Press, 2013)  Read my review

Essay Collections

✭ Jane Hirshfield, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Knopf, 2015)

✭ Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (Harper Perennial, 1997)

Memoir, Autobiography, Biography

✭ Judith Ortiz Cofer, The Cruel Country (University of Georgia Press, 2015)

✭ Alexandra Fuller, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness (Penguin Books, 2012)

✭ Alexandra Fuller, Leaving Before the Rains Come (Penguin Press, 2015)

✭ Helen McDonald, H is for Hawk (Grove Press, 2015) 

✭ Kate Schmitt, Singing Bones (Zone 3 Press, 2014) Read my review.

✭ Tracy K. Smith, Ordinary Light: a Memoir (Knopf, 2015)


✭ Kelly Cherry, Twelve Women in a Country Called America: Stories (Press 53, 2015) Read my review.

✭ Rachel Cusk, Outline: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015)


✭ Sarah Helm, Ravensbruck: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2014)

✭ Martha Hodes, Mourning Lincoln (Yale University Press, 2015)

True Crime

✭ Marcia M. Gallo, 'No One Helped': Kitty Genovese, New York City, and the Myth of Urban Apathy (Cornell University Press, 2015) (I use the category "True Crime" for convenience. This meticulously researched, highly readable book is about so much more than the crime committed in 1964. Note: The author uses in the book's Epilogue part of a poem I wrote about Kitty Genovese.)


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Thought for the Day

. . . You do some violence to private emotion
and private thought when you reduce [these]
to simplicities of public conversation.
~ David Brooks


Quoted from Interview with David Brooks in The Washington Post (Religion in Metro Section), May 9, 2015

David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, and Author

Brooks's most recent book is The Road to Character (Random House, April 2015). Visit The Road to Character Website.

David Brooks on FaceBook and Twitter

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Short

Today's short, from KQED's "Deep Look" science series, explains how hummingbirds fuel up and fly. A high-speed camera was used to film the birds.

Additional information about hummingbirds is found at the KQED blog.

Friday, May 22, 2015

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Artist Rafael Rozendaal has a new project, Abstract Browsing, which uses a free Google Chrome plugin to turn Websites into colorful compositions that can be turned on or off instantly. Read Rozendaal's interview at DIS Magazine. See more of Rozendaal's Websites.

✦ Textiles, paper ephemera, paint, embroidery, and sometimes photographs are the principal materials for Laura Edgar's artworks. Edgar specializes in embellished fashion fabric design and offers a wide range of hand-made products. She also conducts workshops in textile arts.

Laura Edgar on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ Open a window into painters' palettes, a series, Das Meisterstuck, by Matthias Schaller.

✦ The Feather and Bone series (2013-2014) by mixed-media artist, surface design teacher, and author Jane Dunnewold of San Antonio, Texas, began, according to Dunnewold, as photographs. These beautiful assemblages invite a closer look. Also see her series The Lyrical Thread (2012), Etude (2011), and Sacred Planet (2009-2010). Visit Dunnewold's Gallery, too. Watch an informative talk Dunnewold gave in 2013 for The McNay Art Museum's "Artists Looking at Art" program. She addresses the importance of daily practice, as well as her process and techniques, what she calls "the projected story" that informs her art-making, and her deep appreciation of the natural world.

Jane Dunnewold on FaceBook

✦ The hour-long BBC documentary Moominland Tales: The Life of Tove Jansson is wonderful. Jansson (1914-2001) was a Finnish painter, illustrator, novelist, and comic strip author.

✦ My friend Randall David Tipton mentioned  Rick Bartow (Wiyot Tribe) in a post, and that sent me back to an Oregon Art Beat feature on the artist. If you don't know this wonderful artist's work, visit Froelick Gallery. Bartow's cedar sculpture commissioned for the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C., is We Were Always Here (2012) (see a photo here). Bartow's retrospective, "Rick Bartow: Things You Know but Cannot Explain", which features more than 100 of his works, continues through August 9 at Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon. A wide range of related programs are scheduled. Below is a short video from NMAI in which Bartow talks about his inspirations:

Bartow's Prints at Crow's Shadow

Exhibitions Here and There 

✭ "Shirin Neshat: Facing History" has opened at Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. The exhibition, which runs through September 20, features Neshat's series of photographs Women of Allah, which first brought the artist to international acclaim; her lyrical and  mesmerizing video installations; and two monumental photographic series, The Book of Kings (2012) and Our House Is on Fire (2013). A catalogue of the same title as the exhibition (see image below), published by Studio A, Alexandria, Virginia, accompanies the show.

Catalogue Cover Art

Watch "Shirin Neshat: Art in Exile" on YouTube. Also watch Neshat's TED Talk.

Shirin Neshat Catalogue at Studio A on FaceBook (You'll receive a sneak peek at this link.)

Hirshhorn Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., continues through September 13 "The Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs", a selection of work acquired by the museum with the Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Shad Fund. Divided into five sections — "Traces of History", "Time Exposed", "Memory and the Archive", "Framing Time and Place", and "Contemporary Ruins" — the exhibition showcases 76 artworks from the early 1990s to the present. Among the 26 international artists featured are Idris Khan, Chuck Close, Adam Fuss, Carrie Mae Weems, Vera Lutter, and Uta Barth. Eleven images are available on the exhibition page. Carrie Mae Weems will deliver "The Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture" in September. A catalogue accompanies the show (see image below).

Catalogue Cover Art
Chuck Close, Kara, 2007

NGA on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Drawn from collections about ballet, modern dance, opera, musical theatre, comedy, dramatic theatre, and variety theatre, "Grand Illusion: The Art of Theatrical Design", continuing through July 25 in the Performing Arts Reading Room Gallery of the Library of Congress, presents finished renderings, works in progress, technical drawings, and designers' research materials on theatre production. Also featured are correspondence among designers and collaborators about scenery, costumes, and lighting. Some designers whose work is included are Robert Edmond Jones (1913-1943), Frederick Loewe (1901-1988), Tony Walton, and Boris Aronson.

LOC on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

The Textile Museum, at The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., is presenting through August 9 "Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories". The largest exhibition in the museum's history,  the show features more than 100 textiles covering 2,000 years and five continents. Items on display including clothing, adornments, and fabrics with personal, cultural, political, and social implications. A print catalogue (see image below) is available as a downloadable digital publication (pdf).

Catalogue Cover Art

View online "Unraveling Identity" at ISSUU (an exhibition gallery guide) and "Identity Markers" (expanded label information).

The Textile Museum on FaceBook, Twitter, and Tumblr

✭ Working with curators of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 13 museum outreach committees created a shortlist of artists who address nature as their subject matter. Work by the identified artists forms the fourth installment of NMWA's "Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015", opening June 5 and continuing through September 13. Including the mediums of photography, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, and video, the exhibition features work by Dawn Holder, Jennifer Celio, Andrea Lira, Francoise Petrovitch, Jiha Moon, Goldschmied & Chairi, Lara Shipley, Rebecca Hutchinson, Mary Tsiongas, Rachel Sussman, Mimi Kato, Ysbel LeMay, and Polly Morgan. (Take time for these artists' Websites, which feature some superb work.)

NMWA on FaceBook, Twitter, and YouTube

Thursday, May 21, 2015

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life

Kay Juricek, Letter, Acrylic on Board, 10" x 12"
© Kay Juricek


You'll find me at Escape Into Life today, where I've posted a new Artist Watch column featuring the still lifes of Kay Juricek, of Denver, Colorado.

Inspired by the beauty of her garden and her many collections of cherished objects, such as seashells and glassware, Kay paints with an eye for colors and shapes. To view her work is to experience a moment of quiet and stillness.

My Artist Watch feature includes images of seven of Kay's still lifes, her Artist Statement, and a brief biography. 

Currently, Kay is studying with Denver painter and teacher Kevin Weckbach. She is a former student of renowned Nebraska landscape artist Keith Jacobshagen.

Kay Juricek's Website

Kay Jurick on FaceBook

Colorado Artists Guild

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Documentary 'Troublemakers'

Here's a preliminary look at a new documentary, Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art, from curator and art historian James Crump. Directed by Crump, the 72-minute film, currently screening, addresses the emergence of "land art" in the late 1960s and the artists, including Robert Smithson (Spiral Jetty), Walter De Maria (The Lightning Field), and Michael Heizer (Double Negative), whose seminal works "transcended the limitations of painting and sculpture" and are most closely associated with the genre.

Read Su Wu's "A New Documentary Sheds Light on the 'Troublemakers' of Land Art", T Magazine, May 4, 2015, where the trailer first appeared.

Troublemakers Gallery

Troublemakers on FaceBook and Twitter

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The World's Problem (Poem)

The World's Problem

      Cabri mort n'a pas peur du couteau.*
      ~ African Proverb

Yet again the cold sea shudders,
off-loads and sinks in the swells
three decks of off-balanced cargo.

Gone with a wave; unseen by candle
light on distant shore. Their gateway
leads but one way; Europe's another.

We can say that eight hundred are dead.
Some ten-year-olds, some twelve.
They float like Ophelia: volte-face.

They are Eritreans, Syrians, Somalians.
They come from Mali, Gambia, Tunisia,
Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh.

Who thinks to document this surge
of names now numbers. The only way
you stop the deaths is, you stop the boats.

Locked in the hull, the smuggled seek
to sail through the window of calm,
behind them more boarders breaching

the borders—all the Mediterranean
become a boneyard. This boat shifts;
that one rocks. The side going down goes

down in distress, the water welcoming
what Europe turns back with crossed
arms. Their captain: he survives.

These were their options—bread,
a bowl of rice, a potato. The dead need
nothing. But then you're heard to say,

We brought flowers to remember.

* A dead goat doesn't fear the butcher's knife.

I wrote this poem in response to the horrible loss of life—some 800 are thought to have died—in the Mediterranean Sea, where a boat  with smuggled migrants sank off the Libyan coast. The sentences in italics are direct quotes found in a variety of news stories, including excellent coverage abroad, especially in The Guardian and Telegraph. Hundreds continue to die as they try to make their way from Africa, across the Mediterranean, to sanctuary in Europe, the continent that does not want them.

The poem was published at Philadelphia Review's Philly Books & Culture blog on May 6.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Muse: New Texas Poet Laureate

. . . my poetry is auditory—it comes from the voice
 of the people!. . .*
~ Carmen Tafolla

The new Poet Laureate of Texas is Carmen Tafolla, whose one-year appointment was announced earlier this month by the Texas Commission on the Arts. Tafolla also holds the honor of first Poet Laureate of San Antonio, Texas; appointed to that post in 2012, she served two years, during which time she appeared at more than 300 schools, universities, conferences, and community arts centers. In addition, she created SA PoetSource, part of her "Signature Series of Initiatives" developed with the City of San Antonio's Department for Culture and Creative Development.

The National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies cites Tafolla for "giv[ing] voice to the peoples and cultures of this land." The National Latino Book Club named Tafolla's collection This River Here its October 2014 "Book of the Month".

The highly accomplished Tafolla succeeds Dean Young in the honorary position. The process of selecting and appointing an incumbent is explained in my Monday Muse post dated June 21, 2010, covering the appointment of native Texas Karla K. Morton.

As in other positions she has held, Tafolla as state Poet Laureate aims to improve literacy through increased access to literature and literary arts, foster appreciation of cultural diversity, and promote the reading, writing, and enjoyment of poetry throughout the state. 

* * * * *
. . . if poetry does its job right, it reaches the most honest
and most authentic part of our humanity. It helps us
understand, why we're here and what we need to do. . . It
speaks to who we are. It celebrates our strength. It
celebrates our uniqueness. . . .**

Native Texan Carmen Tafolla, Ph.D., is a poet, storyteller, performance artist in the United States, Europe, New Zealand, and Mexico, motivational speaker, and university professor. She has published more than 20 books. Her most recent poetry collections are This River Here: Poems of San Antonio (Wings Press, 2014) and the bilingual Rebozos (Wings Press, 2012). The latter was awarded three International Latino Book Awards First Prizes (Best Book of Poetry, Best Gift Book, and Best Art Book); it contains images of the paintings of Catalina Garate Garcia, which were the inspiration for Tafolla's poems. A 30th Anniversary "Banned in Arizona!" Edition of Tafolla's highly regarded Curandera (M&A Editions, 1983; Wings Press, 2012) was republished three years ago with a new introduction by photographer Norma Cantu, who writes that "[t]he power of the words in Curandera transcends the pages and reaches into the heart."

Tafolla's other poetry collections are Sonnets and Salsa (Wings Press, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2011), which has been translated into German, and Sonnets to Human Beings and Other Selected Works (Lalo Press, 1992; Reissue, McGraw-Hill, 1995; available via resellers), which includes Sonnets to Human Beings and a selection of other poems, as well as a number of stories, an autobiography, and critical and interpretive essays. 

With co-authors Cecilio Garcia-Camarillo and Reyes Cardenas, Tafolla published a debut poetry collection, Get Your Tortillas Together, in 1976. 

Other work by Tafolla includes children's picture books (Tricycle/Random House), television screenplays, song lyrics, nonfiction (a biography about civil rights organizer Emma Tenayuca, That's Not Fair: Emma Tenayuca's Struggle for Justice), short stories, and a feature film comedy co-written with Sylvia Morales

Tafolla's work has been translated into five languages, including Bengali, and included in elementary school readers, high school and university textbooks, newspapers, and magazines.

Place, especially the barrios of San Antonio where she grew up, and ancestry are strong and prominent themes in Tafolla's poetry, which also reflects a profound awareness of social injustice and a deep knowledge of the cultural heritage she shares with the Latina/o and Chicana/o communities. Subjects such as identity, culture, language, and women's strength and self-empowerment in the face of entrenched poverty, sexism, racism, and other discriminatory and adverse social ills can be traced throughout her work.

Described as a "master of code-switching", a literary technique, Tafolla uses both formal and colloquial Spanish and English in her poems. She has noted that her favored style and approach are to "write in the voices of people, to let poetry or prose come in their words and thoughts, and to let it come in their language and accent. . . I like my works to understand . . . people—to reveal our strengths and our weaknesses, our struggles and victories and failures and flaws, and,  ultimately, our beauty as human beings." ***

Below is an excerpt of Tafolla's poem "Tia Sofia", which shows how Tafolla uses "code-switching":

Mi Tia Sofia
sang the blues
at "A" Record Shop,
on the west side of downtown,
across from Solo-Serve's
Thursday coupon specials
she never missed.
       "Cuantro yardas de floral print cottons
       por solo eighty-nine cents—fijate nomas, Sara,
       you'll never get it at that price anywhere else!"
       she says to her young sister.
And "A Record Shop
grows up the walls around her like vines
like the flowers and weeds and everything in her
green-thug garden.[. . . .]
~ from Sonnets and Salsa 

This next excerpt is the concluding stanza from Tafolla's "How Shall I Tell You?":

[. . . ]
When no one lulls the child to sleep
or takes the wrinkled story's hand
or listens to the news — a wired sound
of tribe on tribe — stet now — man on man
how shall I tell you that I love you then?
how shall I touch your fingers tip to tip
and say that we were blood and
human voice and friend?
~ from Sonnets to Human Beings and Other Selected Works

Poems by Tafolla have been published in a lengthy list of literary journals and anthologies, including Voices de la Luna (a quarterly poetry and arts magazine), Before/Beyond Borders: An Anthology of Chicano/a Literature, Ventana Abierta, NewVerseNews, Swirl, Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies, The Langdon Review of the ArtsTexas in Poetry: A 150-Year Anthology, Puerto del Sol, and The Texas Observer.

Among Tafolla's many and varied honors and distinctions, which she began receiving as early as 1976-1977, are the Americas Award (2010), five International Latino Book Awards (including Best Book of Bilingual Poetry, 2013), two Tomas Rivera Book Awards (2009, 2010), two ALA Notable Book Awards, a Texas 2 by 2 Award, and the Charlotte Zolotow Award (2010), Art of Peace Award (St. Mary's University, 1999), and Top Ten Books for Babies (Fred Rogers Corporation). Tafolla also is in the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame (since 2009) and is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters (1999), which cited her for outstanding literary achievement.

An educator who has held numerous faculty and administrative appointments, including positions at California State University at Fresno, Texas Lutheran College, and Northern Arizona University, Tafolla lives in San Antonio. She was formerly Writer-in-Residence for Children's Youth, and Transformative Literature, University of Texas at San Antonio, where she established Cuentos y Carino (Bilingual Bedtimes), a UTSA project to encourage parents to read to their children. Currently, Tafolla is an associate professor of practice in UTSA's College of Education and Human Development's Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies.


Photograph Credit: Magdalena Yznaga via Texas Commission on the Arts

All Poetry Excerpts © Carmen Tafolla

* Quoted from The Report@Robert Leos ("Carmen Tafolla on Knowing Alex Haley"), November 2006

** Quoted from Carmen Tafolla's Speech Delivered at the Induction Ceremony for the Inaugural Poet Laureate of San Antonio (The speech is available at Wings Press.)

*** Quoted from Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own (page 235)

Also see "Carmen Tafolla: A Life in Letters Documentary", a biographical video. 

Canto Mundo published the press release announcing Tafolla's appointment as San Antonio's Poet Laureate.

Carmen Tafolla Poems Online: "Feeding You", Excerpt from This River Here, "They Call Me Soledad",  "How Shall I Tell You?", Excerpt from "The Story Keeper" in Sonnets and Salsa, and "How Shall I Tell You?" from Sonnets to Human Beings and Other Selected Works, All at Carmen Tafolla Website; "Aqui", "Caminitos", and "Voyage", All at Poetry Foundation; "Do It", First Official Poem as San Antonio Poet Laureate, at The Rivard Report (May 2012); "Ocupando Mi Voz" at Sampsonia Way Magazine; "And When I Dream Dreams" at In the Heydays of His Eyes; "Compliments" at Samantha Mabry; "Fragile Flames" at Modern Tejana (Video Included); "La Malinche" at Women in World History (Center for History & New Media, George Mason University); "Right in One Language" at The Texas Observer ("The People's Poets: Houston, San Antonio and McAllen Hire Poets Laureate", August 13, 2013)

An excellent separate Website, Carmen Tafolla Performance and Resource Site, created in collaboration with Wings Press, features seven of Tafolla's poems ("The Magic", "La Malinche", "Marked", "Mujeres del Rebozo Rojo", "Right in One Language", "This River Here", and "Voyage"), videotaped readings, book trailers, and textual resources and curricular aids, as well as public presentations and writing exercises.

Carmen Tafolla's poems also can be found on Tumblr. See also "The Poet Laureate Film Project"; coordinated by Three Chord Media, it is designed to celebrate Tafolla's poetry. For the project, six filmmakers, including Daniela Riojas, visually interpret her poems. 

Carmen Tafolla Papers, 1967-2001, Texas Archival Resources Online, University of Texas at Austin

Carmen Tafolla on FaceBook and LinkedIn

Carmen Tafolla Videos at Vimeo (Tafolla readings also can be found on YouTube.)

"Video: Author Carmen Tafolla Tells the Truth About Being Latin@ in America", Latino Rebels, June 12, 2012

Elaine Ayala, "Poet Laureate Fighting Cancer Her Own Way: Tafolla Embraces Alternatives", San Antonio Express-News, March 3, 2013 (Updated March 4, 2013)

Jeff Biggers, "San Antonio Names Tafolla First Poet Laureate, as Tucson Banishes Her Classics from Classrooms", Huff Post Books Section, The Huffington Post, March 27, 2012 (Updated May 27, 2012)

Jesus Chavez, "UTSA Associate Professor Carmen Tafolla Named Texas State Poet Laureate 2015-16", UTSA Today, May 13, 2015

Rene Colato Lainez, "Interview with Author Carmen Tafolla", La Bloga, July 20, 2008

Rene Martinez, "NewBorder Interview with Carmen Tafolla", NewBorder, June 13, 2012

Crystal Poenisch, "San Antonio Artist Announced State Poet Laureate", San Antonio Current, May 7, 2015 

Veronica Anne Salinas, "Four Questions for SA Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla", San Antonio Current, September 3, 2013

Nick Swartsell, "San Antonio's Multi-Faceted Poet Laureate Gets a Multimedia Outlet", The Texas Observer, June 10, 2013

Review of This River Here at Voices de la Luna (Scroll to page 11 of the pdf.)

Rebozos on GoogleBooks

Sonnets and Salsa at GoogleBooks

This River Here on GoogleBooks

Lone Star Literary Life

Wings Press (Wings Press on FaceBook)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Thought for the Day

My sense is that you write the poems
that are in front of you. . . .
~ Mark Doty

Quoted from Maya C. Popa's Interview with Mark Doty, "The Wild Unsayable", Poets & Writers, May/June 2015

Mark Doty's most recent poetry collection s Deep Lane (W.W. Norton, April 2015).

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday Short

Today's video offers a brief look at classical Cambodian dance. It is narrated by Charya Burt, who was trained in and taught her country's traditional dance but was forced to leave her homeland during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Burt now lives in San Francisco's Bay Area.

(My thanks to KQED for the link. Cynthia Stone's KQED article tells Burt's story.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

All Art Friday Spotlights

✦ Accompanying the exhibition "Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography", at The Getty Museum through September 6, is a publication of the same title. Written by photography curator Virginia Heckert, the book examines the images, practices, and materials of seven artists and how they are innovating with light and paper. Some 125 illustrations are featured. (The exhibition page features a number of videos with the artists spotlighted in the book.)

Cover Art

✦ A solo exhibition "Rara Avis" (continuing through the end of the month) at The Athenaeum in Alexandria, Virginia, sent me to the Website of Beverly Ress, who creates structural and cut drawings that show Ress's strong affinity for forms found in science and mathematics, as well as highlight her technical skill and meticulous attention to detail. Her work, which can be found in collection of The Library of Congress and Amnesty International, among many others, rewards with every look.

✦ Can you guess which of these Richard Siken paintings and photographs I favor? Siken also is an award-winning poet (Crush and War of the Foxes) and a filmmaker. In this interesting interview with Kathleen Rooney at Poetry Foundation, Siken talks about both writing and painting and what each brings to his life.

✦ Cheesecloth might seem an unusual art material; in the hands of Canadian fiber artist Mary Pal, it becomes a unique and beautiful portrait. The internationally exhibited artist is found at Mary Pal Designs. Pal offers two-day workshops during which participants learn some of Pal's methods and techniques.

Mary Pal Designs on FaceBook and Twitter

✦ Below is a short video introduction to the recently concluded exhibition of Hiroshi Sugimoto sculptures and photographs at The Phillips Collection, "Hiroshi Sugimoto: Conceptual Forms and Mathematical Models." 

Exhibitions Here and There

✭ The North Carolina Museum of Art, in Raleigh, is presenting through August 23 "The Patton Collection: A Gift to North Carolina". The exhibition draws from an extraordinary collection of art, which includes works by Milton Avery, Richard Diebenkorn, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Motherwell, Frank Stella, Wayne Theibaud, and many others, donated to NCMA by James and Mary Patton, North Carolina natives with a passion for art. View a slideshow. Read James Patton's March 2015 interview with Liza Roberts for Walter magazine.

NCMA Announcement of Patton Gift

✭ Chicago's Catherine Edelman Gallery offers an installation of gorgeous photographic work by Ysabel LeMay. Based in Austin, Texas, LeMay first worked in advertising as a graphic artist; she took up painting in 2002 and eight years later turned to photography, in particular nature photography. The solo exhibition, "Ysabel LeMay: Wonders", featuring LeMay's lush and beautiful digital chromogenic prints, runs through July 3.

Portfolios of her work may be seen on LeMay's Website and at Thomas Riley Studio.

Catherine Edelman Gallery on FaceBook, Twitter, and Vimeo 

✭ A show of Marilyn Minter paintings, photographs, and videos continues through August 2 at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. On view in "Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty" are 25 paintings from 1976 to 2013, three videos, including Dirty Heel (2008), and various photographs that address Minter's interests in feminism, fashion, and celebrity. Included are the photo series Coral Ridge Towers, completed in 1969; Little Girls #1 from 1985, part of the artist's monumental series Big Girls, Little Girls; and the painting Blue Poles of 2007. Note: Access to the exhibition is restricted to visitors age 18 and older. 

A monograph (Gregory R. Miller & Co., May 26, 2015), featuring an interview with the artist and more than 60 color and black-and-white images, is available.

Monograph Cover Art

Read Daria Daniel's interview, "artnet Asks: Marilyn Minter Calls Herself a Photo-Replacer", April 12, 2015.

Marilyn Minter Studio on FaceBook

CAMH on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Minnesota-based Julie Buffalohead (Ponca Tribe, Oklahoma) is exhibiting in a mid-career survey at Plains Art Museum, Fargo, North Dakota. Her show, "Julie Buffalohead: Coyote Dreams", features drawings and paintings that use narrative imagery from myths, fairytales, Native culture, and personal experience to challenge stereotypes of Native Americans. Approximately two dozen artworks from the early 2000s until the present may be seen in the exhibit, which continues through August 29. Read Mary Abbe's Star Tribune article, "Julie Buffalohead Tells Trickster Tales with Her Art", March 5, 2015. 

Check the museum's site for information about a workshop planned for July. (The exhibition appeared earlier this year at St. Paul's Minnesota Museum of American Art. A preview of six artworks is available at MMAA's exhibition page. Other work can be seen on the artist's Website and at MPRNews.)

Julie Buffalohead at Bockley Gallery, Hyperallergic

Julie Buffalohead on FaceBook 

Plains Art Museum on FaceBook and Twitter

✭ Virginia's Taubman Museum of Art, in Roanoke, has mounted a show of the photography of Audrey Flack. "Transient Beauty: Photographs by Audrey Flack", continuing through September 19, and drawn from the museum's permanent collection, features a first look at a series of Flack's dye-transfer photographs from 1983. In addition to photography, Flack is a painter and sculptor. Her work is found in museums around the world.

Read an oral history interview with the artist at Archives of American Art.

Taubman Museum on FaceBook and Twitter