Sunday, October 10, 2021

Thought for the Day

[. . .] because the source of all creativity is the Word himself,
the role of the Inspirer is inescapably relational. So I think all
spiritual and creative inspiration starts with more relational
virtues: humility, honesty, availability, and affection. [ . . .]
~ Paul J. Pastor

Quoted from Michael Wright, "We must become poetry." (Interview with Paul J. Pastor), Still Life (Weekly Letter on Art and Spirit)

Paul J. Pastor, Poet, Editor, Author of Bower Lodge (Fernwood Press, December 2021), The Face of the Deep (David C. Cook, 2020), The Listening Day (Zeal Books, 2017), Vol. One, and The Listening Day (Zeal Books, 2017), Volume Two

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Thought for the Day

 We are faithful / only to the imagination.
~ Denise Levertov
Quoted from Denise Levertov, "Everything that Acts is Actual," at What Sparks Poetry | Poetry Daily, September 13, 2021. This poem can be found in Collected Earlier Poems 1940 - 1960 (New Directions).
Denise Levertov (1923 - 1997), Awarding-Winning American Poet

Thursday, September 30, 2021

2021 Artist Nominees for Best of the Net

As the editor of Artist Watch, the monthly column at the online international arts magazine Escape Into Life, I have the opportunity and privilege to nominate three artists for the 2021 Best of the Net anthology, with gratitude to Sundress Publications for offering this award series! Nominees' work must have been published between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. Please join me in congratulating the nominees.

Please click the links below to view each column with the work for which the artists have been nominated:

   Dan Reisner, "George Floyd", Bronze (Photo: Ron Kedmi)

Artist Watch, Dan Reisner, May 20, 2021

Hansa, "Madonna del Mare Nostrum (Or, Cloak of Love)", Oil on Canvas

Artist Watch, Hansa (Hans Versteeg),  April 15, 2021



Adrienne Stein, "Earth I", Oil on Linen

Artist Watch, Adrienne Stein,  July 16, 2020

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Thought for the Day

Poems are really good at being uncertain.
Tweets, not so much.
~ Kaveh Akbar

Quoted from "The Rumpus Poetry Book Club Chat With Kaveh Akbar," The Rumpus, August 31, 2021

Kaveh Akbar, Iranian-American Poet and Scholar; Author, Pilgrim Bell, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, and Portrait of the Alcoholic; Poetry Editor, The Nation

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Thought for the Day

[The] art of life is the art of community [. . .]
where the readiness to engage actively on behalf
of the common good takes precedence over the success
of one's own demands and over group interests.
~ Frank Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger

Quoted from Frank Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, Psalms 3: A Commentary on Psalms 101-150, Hermeneia (Fortress Press, 2011), page 479

Frank Lothar Hossfeld, Professor of Old Testament, University of Bonn, Germany; Author

Erich Zenger, Professor of Old Testament, University of Munster, Germany; Author

Thursday, September 16, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Malachite Muse, 2021
Oil on Linen, 80 cm x 80 cm
© Elise Macdonald
Today's new Artist Watch at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life showcases the gorgeous paintings of Elise Macdonald, currently a resident of South Africa. 

Elise, who paints every day and has created online a remarkable following around the world, studied art of the University of Witswatersrand, Johannesburg, which awarded her a bachelor's degree in fine art. In no time, her experimentations with airbrush painting brought her success. Following time off for parenthood, Elise returned to painting with oils and brushes. Her work sells out within days of completion.

This month's Artist Watch features seven of Elise's paintings, her Artist Statement, and a brief profile.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Thought for the Day

Love sees what is invisible.
~ Simone Weil

Quoted from Simone Weil, Waiting for God (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2009), page 149

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

"The Question of God", Public Broadcasting Service

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Thought for the Day

It is hard work to live into this generative love, and it is
what we are made for: to paint light into darkness, to sing
in co-creation, to take flight in abundance.
~ Makoto Fujimura 

Quoted from Makoto Fujimura, "Find God in the Arts: A Theology of Making" at Center for Action and Contemplation, August 18, 2021

Makoto Fujimura, Artist, Writer and Author 

Makoto Fujimura, Art and Faith: A Theology of Making (Yale University Press, 2021)

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Thought for the Day

We are called to weep with those who weep and mourn
with those who mourn. Our tears are our prayers when we
can't speak, a baptism of sorts, a salty healing, a sign of our
vulnerability, and a liturgical response to violence. [. . .]
~ Barbara Holmes

Quoted from Barbara Holmes, "Communal Lament" (Daily Meditation on Crisis Contemplation), The Center for Action and Contemplation, July 28, 2021
Rev. Dr. Barbara Holmes, Theologian, Scholar of African American Spirituality and Mysticism, Activist, Writer and Author; Faculty Member, The Center for Action and Contemplation

Barbara A. Holmes, Crisis Contemplation: Healing the Global Village (CAC Publishing, 2021), pages 95-96

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Thought for the Day

[. . .]In the face of horrors visited upon our world daily,
in the struggle to protect our loved ones, choosing to let in
joy is a revolutionary act. Joy returns us to everything good
and beautiful and worth fighting for. It gives us energy for
the long labor. [. . .] Joy is the gift of love: it makes the labor
an end in itself. I believe laboring in joy is the meaning of life.
~ Valarie Kauer
Quoted in Barbara Holmes, "Crisis Contemplation and Joy," The Center for Action and Contemplation, July 29, 2021, from Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (One World, 2020), page 307.

Valarie Kaur, Sikh Human Rights Activist, Writer and Author, Lawyer, Award-Winning Filmmaker, Educator, Innovator

Thursday, August 19, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Joy, Hanji paper, 2021
10" x 8"

© Yun Gee Bradley


Yes, it's mid-August and thus time for another refreshing Dog Days Artist Watch at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life. Today's column, featuring work by the masterly paper artist Yun Gee Bradley, is guaranteed to bring you in from the heat outdoors and leave you in front of your computer in awe of the artist's talent.

Yun Gee, who has lived in America since 1995, loves to make things, and she does so with joy, Hanji paper (made from mulberry bark), glue, and tweezers or her fingers. Using a technique she developed on her own, Yun Gee shapes into being beautiful images of animals, from wildlife to dogs and cats, portraits of children and adults, and abstractions. She wields her tools the way painters use their brushes. The results are astonishing.

For today's Artist Watch column, Yun Gee has provided 10 images of dogs, small and large and in-between, all full of expression and each astonishingly realistic; an Artist Statement; and a brief biography. Links to her Website and social media also are available.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Thought for the Day

Live in the layers,
not on the litter. 
~ Stanley Kunitz

Quoted from Stanley Kunitz, "The Layers" in The Collected Poems of Stanley Kunitz (W.W. Norton, 1978; 2002)

Stanley Kunitz (1905-2006), 10th U.S. Poet Laureate

Theresa Riley, "A Poet a Day: Stanley Kunitz" at Bill Moyers (Introductory Text and Video)

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Thought for the Day

What if we joined our sorrows, I'm saying. I'm saying:
What if that is joy?
~ Ross Gay
Quoted from "Word for the Day" at A Network for Grateful Living, July 14, 2021 

Ross Gay, Award-Winning Poet

Thursday, August 5, 2021

9/11 Remembered: 'Crossing the Rift' (Review)

Cover Art
[. . .] only words can begin, however precariously, to mend. [. . .]
~ Joseph Bathanti, "Preface"
[. . .] I hope their words make it safe to remember. [. . .]
~ David Potorti, "Introduction"
September 11, 2001:
Twenty years after the most deadly terrorist attack on United States soil, what comes to mind?
For many of the 116 poets whose work was selected for the forthcoming commemorative anthology Crossing the Rift: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 & Its Aftermath (Press 53, September 11, 2021), what comes to mind is "the morning / rainfreshed" (Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin, "Tony Writes to Say He's Alive"), "[t]hat September morning's iris of sky" (Debra Allbery, "The Wakeful Bird Sings Darkling"), cloudless and blued into brilliance before exploding into unforgettable images of fire and toxic smoke, of bodies falling and returned to dust. For others in this anniversary collection, memory remains "one of those days when you remember / exactly where you were," when "we lost the last of our innocence" (Kaye Nelson Ratliff, "Infamous Days") and were forever after to carry "the long litany of the lost" (Glenis Redmond, "Witness the Whole World") into a "new age of wars, two wars abroad that never end, and one at home to rip the fabric of our nation apart" (Robert Morgan, "A Sickness in the Air"). 
The clarity of what is remembered, and of what was and continues to be done in consequence, acts as both thorn and spur. Raised as  they are, individually and collectively, the poets' voices guide us through the wreckage of our common history and challenge us to seek something better.

Edited by Joseph Bathanti, a former North Carolina Poet Laureate, and David Potorti, a former Literature and Theatre Director of the North Carolina Arts Council and co-founder of the nonprofit "September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows," the poems trace an arc in contemporary history that as yet has failed to come full circle: Since those unimagined moments when two planes struck the World Trade Center towers in New York City; another, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia; and a fourth, hard ground in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, we all have had to "wonder aloud // what our world would be like now" (Sebastian Matthews, "The Day Everything Changed") had "people's instincts for compassion [. . .] [not] quickly channeled elsewhere, into hatred of the other, an excuse for new military escapades, and a hardening of attitudes, suspicions and beliefs about their fellow citizens" (David Potorti, "Introduction").
Make no mistake, however: Throughout this period of deeply personal loss at home and abroad, many of us have determined to "cross the rift" — to share grief, to bear witness, to "remember who we were, and aspire to be." Nowhere is this more evident than in this anthology in which so many diverse perspectives, some etched in sorrow (Potorti's oldest brother James died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11), others re-marked in anger, ultimately cohere and illuminate and reconcile us to our own and "the other's" humanity.

Thematically, the poems, which are organized alphabetically by each poet's last name, range widely, as we might expect, given the diversity of the poets themselves: multi-award-winning writers, established and mid-career authors, emergent MFAs, veterans and retired physicians, U.S.-born citizens and immigrants, professors and activists, men and women — all demonstrating the gift for words worth heeding. Words that move us with their lyricism, and unstill us in their pain, balance against matter-of-fact narratives that reach back to a barely cold past to show us the present, as in Anthony S. Abbott's "The Innocent Sky," which simultaneously relates 18-year-old Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the Twin Towers (it is Petit who is shown on the collection's cover) and that beautiful summer morning's "monstrous force" that left us replaying memories of "gasping breaths" and "sirens scream[ing]" and "a cloud of noxious dust" covering the "masses huddle[d] on the streets, their mouths agape." 
Barbara Presnell, in "Planting the Garden," beautifully uses metaphor to make a point about the tragic futility of war, and Jay Wentworth, in "Across the Abyss," shows us that love has no ethnic bounds. Whether you pray to God or praise Allah, 
[. . .] the stunning fullness
of a branch bent with pale blossoms
is never enough to bring back a song.
No breeze can gentle the knowledge
that somewhere in old Babylon
a father pleads for Allah, for any god
to grant him Abraham's deliverance. [. . . ]
~ Diana Pinckney ("Fallen Gardens")
Betty Adcock's "Asides" reckons with "the new weather, alien snow bearing / the incomprehensible signatures of fire" amid "a dimming of lights" around the world. Stephen Knauth's "Lament" speaks not only of the "[l]eft behind, the strict utility of things" but also of "the old mother / seated in her garden chair, / no one left to show the world to." Peter Makuck confirms that "Valery was right: we're locked outside ourselves. / Which is why poems exist.[. . . ]" (Letter to Bill Heyen"). Dorianne Laux's "Blossom" likens the wound on her burned hand "beautiful as a full-blown peony," "a flower / dying on its descent to the earth." Pat Riviere-Seel asks, not rhetorically, what it means to call oneself "American" in "a country / formed from ash and toxic dust, part zombie / apocalypse tale, part Broadway fantasy" ("When My Student Tells Me She's Afraid to Go to School"). Maureen Sherbondy, assaying 9/11's aftermath, makes clear, "If a hijacker will give away his life, his limbs / there is no negotiating, no safe landing possible" ("That Day").
Still, as Thom Young's "Trope" hints, it is possible to have "a pretty morning after the smoke."

Twenty years on, the profound issues the poems address — among them, Islamophobia, unchecked racism, nationalism, homophobia, out-sized military budgets, wars, loss of human rights, human exploitation, environmental degradation, the politics of "little Hitlers" (Phillip Shabazz, "For the Moonflower") who inflame and divide, "[t]hese half a million dead Americans." // This second mass / found in my body shortly before the pandemic. // The crushed towers. The crowned virus. / The smashing of the Capital doors. [. . .]" (Katie Kehoe, "I Was to be Tested for Cancer that Morning") — cannot be denied. We have not conquered them. But neither can we ignore another fully resonating message that the poems also mine, that

[. . .] light blooms
from darkened places:
a crevice in a flower, a new
cupped leaf. So
slow and sure, so
long past daybreak,
so welcome. So,
even ashes
even bones ground down
to dust must moisten, must
grow soft and still.
Must be penetrated by rain,
then by warmth, then
by rain again.

Must some morning
rise up, green.
~ Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin ("Tony Writes to Say He's Alive")
To read the more than 200 pages of this anthology — each poet deserves to have a line or two quoted — is to acknowledge the difficult liminal space in which we have existed for two decades, while also recalling to ourselves the presence yet of hope, the reaching out of un-fisted hands, the opening of hearts, which David Potorti describes as "mak[ing] common cause with each other, with our environment, and with the larger world."
Note: An in-person reading from Crossing the Rift is scheduled for Sunday, September 12, 2021, at 3:00 p.m., at Bookmarks Bookstore, 634 West 4th St., #110, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27101. Opening remarks will be made by the co-editors, Joseph Bathanti and David Potorti. For additional information, contact: Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher and Editor in Chief, Press 53, at 336-770-5353 or Copies of the newly released collection will be available for purchase ($19.95 softcover; $29.95 hardcover).

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Thought for the Day

All men are like grass, and all their glory is
like the flowers of the field. The grass withers
and the flowers fall [. . . .]
~ Isaiah

Isaiah 40:6

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Thought for the Day

If I insist on giving you my truth, and never stop to receive
your truth in return, there can be no truth between us.
~ Thomas Merton
Quoted in E.J. Dionne, "The Catholic Bishops' Anti-Biden Project Is Backfiring" (Opinion), The Washington Post, June 27, 2021  (Note: Pope Francis quoted Merton in his 2015 speech to Congress.)

Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Trappist Monk, Catholic Writer

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Thought for the Day

To live with ugliness, we must hallow loveliness
the more, remembering that it often springs
from mud into light-filled air.
~ Dr Judith Farr
Quoted in Emily Langer, "Judith Farr, Scholar of Emily Dickinson and Poet in Her Own Right, Dies at 85," The Washington Post, June 23, 2021  (The excerpt is from Farr's poem "What Lies Beyond" in What Lies Beyond: Poems (Deerbrook Editions, 2019).)

Thursday, July 15, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Motherland, Oil on Linen, 2020
66" x 48"
© Bo Bartlett
I am delighted to present the work of painter and filmmaker Bo Bartlett in this month's Artist Watch at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life.
Bo, who lives and works in Columbus, Georgia, is known for his large-scale oil paintings, which one arts essayist describes as not only "delicate and austere" but also "humorous and bizarre." They belong to "a sort of nameless, indistinguishable, dreamscape America." A recipient of numerous painting awards, Bo has had many solo shows and has shown in group exhibitions across the United States.

For today's Artist Watch column, Bo has provided images of eight paintings recently on view at Miles McEnery Gallery in New York City; an Artist Statement and biography; and social media links.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Thought for the Day

Someday we will learn how to live.
~ Naomi Shihab Nye
Quoted from Naomi Shihab Nye, "What Changes"

Naomi Shihab Nye, Award-Winning Palestinian-American Poet, Author, and Editor; Professor of Creative Writing (Poetry), Texas State University

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Thought for the Day

When two loving individuals, two bearers of God's image,
are unified in an erotic embrace, there is space for something
holy. What was separate has come together. Two spirits, two
bodies, two stories are drawn so close that they are
something together that they cannot be alone. There is unity.
~ Nadia Bolz-Weber

Quoted from Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation (Convergent, 2019), page 20, in Fr. Richard Rohr, "The Holiness of Human Sexuality," Center for Action and Contemplation, June 6, 2021

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran Pastor and Writer

Fr. Richard Rohr, Franciscan Priest; Spiritual Leader; Founder and Academic Dean, Center for Action and Contemplation; Author

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Thought for the Day

If you want a happy ending, that depends,
of course, on where you stop your story.
~ Orson Welles

Quoted from Orson Welles and Oja Kodar, The Big Brass Ring, Film Script

Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 - October 10, 1985), American Director, Actor, Screenwriter, Producer

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Thought for the Day

We must make a new map,
 together where poetry is sung.
~ Joy Harjo

Quoted from "Joy Harjo on Words as Maps, and a Poem by Craig Santos Perez" (Excerpt from Living Nations, Living Words), Literary Hub, May 25, 2021

Joy Harjo, 23rd United States Poet Laureate; Poet, Writer, Performer

Thursday, June 17, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Machu Pichu, Peru
Acrylic on Canvas
30" x 30"
© Mary Lou Dauray
Work by painter Mary Lou Dauray of California is showcased today in June's Artist Watch column at the international online art magazine Escape Into Life.

Deeply concerned about global warming, nuclear power, pollution, and other human-caused destructive forces around the world and especially in the United States, Mary Lou uses her art "to increase awareness about the ways we are destroying our planet—our home. I create artworks that present a very different view from what is found in the scientific and academic worlds, and I hope that within the challenging process of making my art I will discover in some small way how to make the world a safer place." An award-winning painter, Mary Lou shares with us a selection of work from her "National Parks" series.

Today's Artist Watch includes, in addition to seven images of recent paintings, Mary Lou's Artist Statement, biographical profile, and links to social media.

Monday, June 14, 2021

'Love in the Time of Coronavirus': A Review

Cover Art

Lockdowns and isolation. Uncertainty and fear. Suffering and grievance. Death and loss. Hope and faith and love. Poet Angela Alaimo O'Donnell's recently published collection Love in the Time of Coronavirus: A Pandemic Pilgrimage (Paraclete Press, 2021) addresses these subjects and more, from the most quotidian ("In Which I Consider My Wardrobe", "Indoor Exercise") to the religious and spiritual ("Palm Sunday", "Good Friday"), from working outside her classroom ("Wherein I Teach Literature Remotely") to waxing philosophical ("Transience").

Written in O'Donnell's signature sonnet form, the collection lends itself beautifully to its four-part (year-long, seasonal) structure, each part consisting of 14 poems, with a final 57th poem, "The Prayer", in an Epilogue. The structure creates a sonnet cycle or sequence that allows O'Donnell to inform her experience of the pandemic in its many and varied aspects, emotional and otherwise. The parts track more than a year during which O'Donnell — indeed, all of us — could go nowhere and yet "arrived where we don't want to go[,]" ultimately having to accept that once "[t]he train's on the track[,]" / It only runs forward" ("Wherein We Realize This Is Not Temporary"), as the poems themselves move us through the chronicle of O'Donnell's own journey. 

As personal meditations charting universally experienced effects of the pandemic of 2020-2021, the poems take us readers, in the same cyclical way our calendar does, through holidays (St. Patrick's Day, Shakespeare's 456th birthday, Halloween) and holy days (Easter, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany), even a national election wherein we voters aim to "fill in the ballot" and "feed the machine" in the [h]ope where we're going is not where we've been" ("Election 2020").

If one poem speaks 

[. . .] of stars, how far they were and how long
it took their light to reach our river path,
how long after it dies a star's light lasts [,]
~ "Super Moon"

another renders a scene that makes clear that everything that ever seemed normal has turned upside down:

The world is burning and we don't have a clue
how the fire started, when or where or who
lit the match [. . .]
[. . .] Every city and street
is a ghost town now. We haunt our own dreams.
The world as it used to be only seems — [. . .]
~ "The Fire"

O'Donnell's, as are our own during the past 15 months of the pandemic, are the very real feelings of the "inexorable defeat" of day piling "upon day upon day" ("House Arrest"), of longing "to go to the beautiful places" while resident in the "gray prison" that her house becomes ("Cabin Fever"), where "getting through each day becomes an art" ("Days of Hibernation") and "[n]othing is as true or certain as it seems" ("Relapse") but that "rogue wave of sadness" ("Locus Amoenus") that comes as "[c]ontagion rides on the cold blue air" ("All Hallows Eve") and the virus, in resurgence, leaves another place empty at someone's table — more than 600,000 places, eventually, as the pandemic's anniversary comes round.

Yet, even in this most devastating of circumstances, when "[t]the world's gone insane" ("Our Emmaus"), the poems urge us to take

[. . .] the tentative step, the listening
for the crack in the ice, the inkling
that the world will once more hold our weight. [. . .]
~ "Anniversary"
and give us reason enough to "bless the day that dawns on us" ("Pandemic Prayer"). 
Turning her attention to life outside her windows — "the children's voices in the park", "the pair of geese as they take flight" ("The Virus Begins to Abate"), the birds that "worship daylight's power" ("Four A.M.") — O'Donnell both reclaims and proclaims what sustains us: hope and faith and love.

[. . .] Open the windows [. . .]
to let in the breeze that blows sweet & long,
through the red maple, the cherry, the birch,
their branches clamoring with light & love,
days full of sunshine [. . .]
Now is our moment. [. . .]
No matter how leaden our hearts might be
let's lift them up. Let's let ourselves see
the courage of birds, each rose, every tree.
~ "May Song"

As in her other rewarding collections, including last year's Andalusian Hours: Poems from the Porch of Flannery O'Connor (Paraclete Press, 2020), O'Donnell, a professor at Fordham University and Associate Director of Fordham's Curran Center for American Catholic Studies, instills her poems with her mastery of craft and, with wisdom and deep appreciation for life, allows us to take strength from them.


My other reviews of Angela Alaimo O'Donnell's poetry collections:


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Thought for the Day

If we are to become partners with the Earth, living our shared
 journey, we have to once again speak the same language, listen
 with our senses attuned not just to the physical world 
but also to its inner dimension.
~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Quoted from Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, "Where the Horses Sing" (Essay), Emergence Magazine, May 23, 2021 (In addition to text, audio is provided.)

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Ph.D., Sufi Teacher, Writer, Author

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Thought for the Day

You can do this, too. You can face your own sorrow, your own
wounds. You can stop wanting some other life,
 some other past, some other reality.
~ Claude AnShin Thomas
Quoted from "Healing Takes Place Here" from the series "Trauma and Healing", Center for Action and Contemplation,  May 3, 2021

Claude AnShin Thomas, Zen Buddhist Monk; Founder, Zaltho Foundation; Author, At Hell's Gate: A Soldier's Journey from War to Peace (Shambhala, 2004); Speaker

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Thought for the Day

Geography is life's limiting factor.
~Annie Dillard
Quoted from Annie Dillard, "Life on the Rocks: The Galapagos" in Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters  (Harper Perennial, 1982), page 125
Annie Dillard, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Nonfiction Writer, Journalist, Novelist, Essayist, Poet, Short Story Writer,  and Editor

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Thought for the Day

In the short-term, distractions can keep us from doing
the things we want to do. In the longer term, however,
they can accumulate and keep us from living the lives
we want to live, or, even worse, undermine our
capacities for reflection and self-regulation.
~James Williams
Quoted from James Williams, Philosophers Take on the World, in Hala Alyan, "Turn Towards the Dark: Fear, Courage, and Surrender", Emergence, April 29, 2021
Hala Alyan, Novelist (Salt Houses, The Arsonists' City), Poet, Essayist; Clinical Psychologist

James Williams, Technology Ethicist

Thursday, May 20, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Love, Bronze
31 cm x 48 cm x 8 cm
© Dan Reisner
I am thrilled to feature the internationally known sculptor Dan Reisner as the subject of May's Artist Watch column at the online magazine Escape Into Life.
A multidisciplinary artist who specializes in outdoor sculptures, Dan, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel, creates visually striking works characterized by his deep awareness of the spaces in which he sites his large-scale bronzes. His creative process takes into account, indeed embraces and builds from, his reflections on difficult events, including, most recently, the death of George Floyd. (An image of this marvelous and moving sculpture is included in my feature.)

Today's Artist Watch column showcases eight of Dan's extraordinary works, and includes his Artist Statement and a brief biography, as well as links to Dan's Website and social media venues.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Thought for the Day

Who would turn down God?
~ Raymond Antrobus
Quoted from Raymond Antrobus, "Echo" in The Perseverance (Tin House Books, 2021)
Raymond Antrobus, Award-Winning Poet, Writer, Educator

Read Raymond Antrobus's "Echo (A Deaf Sequence)" at Poetry Foundation

Mandana Chaffa, "Twelve Poetry Collections to Read in 2021", Chicago Review of Books, April 19, 2021

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Thought for the Day

It is better to speak / remembering/
we were never meant to survive.
~ Audre Lorde
Quoted from Audre Lorde, "A Litany for Survival" in The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde (W.W. Norton, 1997)
Audre Lorde, American Poet and Writer

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Thought for the Day

As long as we deal with the real meaning of evil and sin by some 
means other than forgiveness and healing, we will keep projecting,
fearing, and attacking it over there ("scapegoating"), instead of
"gazing" on it within ourselves and "weeping" over it.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr
Quoted from Fr. Richard Rohr, "The Scapegoat Mechanism", March 28, 2021

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Thought for the Day

What would you lose to bring back a time and land //
in which everything could be believed?
~ Nicholas Samaras

Quoted from Nicholas Samaras, "Beloved Ghosts of Geography" in Image, Issue 108, Spring 2021, page 91
Nicholas Samaras, Poet and Author, Hands of the Saddlemaker and American Psalm, World Psalm

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Thought for the Day

As avatars, we've grown / more intimate
~ Eliza Griswold

Quoted from Eliza Griswold, "Six Months from Patient Zero" in Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America's Poets Respond to the Pandemic (Knopf, 2020), ed. Alice Quinn; page 51

Eliza Griswold, American Journalist and Poet; Winner, Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, 2019 (for Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America)

Thursday, April 15, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life

Hansa (Hans Versteeg), The Girl with a Fake Pearl, 2018
Oil on Canvas
46.5 cm x 40 cm
© Hansa Versteeg 

I am especially delighted to showcase work by the painter Hansa (Hans Versteeg) of Amsterdam in this month's Artist Watch column at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life

Hansa first came to my attention in 2019 when I saw a photograph of his Madonna del Mare Nostrum ("Our Lady of the Mediterranean" Or, "Cloak of Love") featured in a visual meditation at the site ArtWay, which referenced a series of contemporary "Art Stations of the Cross" of which the Madonna was Station 1. Hansa's participation in 2017 in  the religious biennial exhibition "Art in the Holy Triangle" in Oosterhout, which was followed by the artwork's inclusion in the Amsterdam "Stations" exhibition, marked a turning point for him, prompting him to change his vision of art and to concentrate almost solely on "socially committed" work.  

Today's new Artist Watch column presents a selection of images of Hansa's exceptional paintings, as well as his Artist Statement and a brief biography. Hansa's newly published book, 'Compassionism': Poetic Contemplations, co-authored with art historian and curator Aniko Toth, bears the image of the iconic Madonna. The book, which articulates Hansa's perspective on art as a means to "think through emotion" and raise awareness of complex social problems, is available through Galerie 44, where Hansa's next exhibition will take place, beginning April 16.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Thought for the Day

A day was a corridor with many doors.
~ Liz Harmer 

Quoted from Liz Harmer, "Proof" in Image, No. 108, Spring 2021; page 41

Liz Harmer, Award-Winning Canadian Poet, Novelist, Essayist, Writer, Editor, Teacher; Author, The Amateurs and Strange Loops

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

'Ambient Light': An Arts & Faith Exhibition



Continuing my arts-related work for my parish St. Michael's Episcopal Church, in Arlington, Va., I'm delighted to announce the mounting of a new exhibition: "Ambient Light: Real and Imagined". 

Thematically conceived, the virtual-only exhibition presents 47 paintings by the five artists who comprise the Studio 10 collaborative: Elisabeth (Beth) Hudgins, Kat Jamieson, Linda Maldonado, Elise Ritter, and Deborah Taylor. In addition to the images of each of the artist's contributions, the exhibit includes a Curatorial Statement, a note on the Exhibit Organization, biographical profiles of each artist, the painters' Artist Statements, and a Purchase List

Below is a painting by each of the artists.

Elisabeth (Beth) Hudgins (Theme: Energy in Light)

 Lake Dream Luster, Acrylics, 17" x 21"


Kat Jamieson (Theme: Light Over Water)

 Bioluminescence, Watercolor, 14" x 18" x 1.75"


Linda Maldonado (Theme: Emergence)

Red Dazzle, Watermedia Collage, 14" x 14"

Elise Ritter (Theme: Out of Darkness Comes the Light)

Dreams of the Afterlife, Acrylics, 18" x 13" X 1.5"


Deborah Taylor (Theme: Crown Shyness)

When I am Among the Trees, Oil, 8" x 10"

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Thought for the Day

absence makes the heart. / like water, i learn
what shape to take // based on the space i must fill today.
~ Fargo Tbakhi
Quoted from Fargo Tbakhi, "american-Palestinian incantation", Poetry Daily, March 6, 2021

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Thought for the Day

In the midst of so much coming apart,
I wonder, where is home? Where is our unshakable core,
that place beyond which no harm can reach?
~ Fred Bahnson
Quoted from Fred Bahnson, "Keeping the World in Being: Meditations on Longing", Emergence Magazine,  Online Essay

Fred Bahnson, Author and Essayist; Director, Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative, Wake Forest University School of Divinity; Co-Founder and Former Director, Anathoth Community Garden

Fred Bahnson on Twitter

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Thought for the Day

A writer or poet shouldn't accept labels and roles;
his work is to question them.
~ Najwan Darwish
Quoted from Kareem James Abu-Zeid, "A Wave in the Sea: Najwan Darwish on Exhausted on the Cross'" (Interview), Words Without Borders Daily, February 24, 2021

Najwan Darwish, Contemporary Arab Poet and Translator [He is no relation to Mahmoud Darwish.]

Thursday, March 18, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Heather Horton, Princess, Sunlit, 2020
Oil on Panel, 32" x 43"
(Available via Abbozzo Gallery)

© Heather Horton


The artwork of Heather Horton of Canada first appeared in Artist Watch at Escape Into Life in 2012. Today, as we do on occasion, we are featuring some of Heather's more recent paintings, which include her autobiographical, water, and draped-figure subjects.

Born in Burlington, Ontario, in 1974, Heather remains a remarkably prolific and successful artist whose work has appeared in a Paul Feig film, is collected worldwide, and is shown in numerous group and solo exhibitions.

Today's Artist Watch showcases images of nine of Heather's paintings, in addition to her Artist Statement, a brief profile, and her social media. A link to Heather's earlier EIL feature is provided as well.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Thought for the Day

Joy is not made to be a crumb.
~ Mary Oliver
Quoted from Mary Oliver, "Don't Hesitate"  in Devotions (Penguin Press, 2017) and Swan: Poems and Prose Poems (Beacon Press, 2012)

Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Thought for the Day

Science takes things apart to see how they work.
Religion puts things together to see what they mean.
~ Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks


Requoted in Jonathan Sacks, "The Beautiful Institution", Plough, November 8, 2020; from Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership: God, Science and the Search for Meaning (Schocken, 2011)

Jonathan Sacks (1948-2020), Philosopher, Theologian, Author; Chief Rabbi, United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, 1991-2013

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Thought for the Day

Creativity flourishes not in certainty but in questions. Growth
 germinates not in tent dwelling but in upheaval. Yet the seduction
is always security rather than venturing, instant knowing 
rather than deliberate waiting.
~ Sue Monk Kidd

Quoted from Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions (Harper, 1990), page 25

Sue Monk Kidd, Author

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Thought for the Day

There is no art if we are unwilling to wait for paint to dry.
~ Makoto Fujimura

Quoted from Foreword by N.T. Wright in Makoto Fujimura, Art + Faith: A Theology of Making (Yale University Press, 2020), pages viii-ix

Makoto Fujimura, Painter; Writer; Founder International Arts Movement; Co-Founder, Kintsugi Academy
Trinity Forum, Online Conversation with Makoto Fujimura, January 29, 2021

Thursday, February 18, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Frantisek Strouhal, Ascension, 2020
Oil Printing/Mixed Media Work on Paper
20" x 24"
© Frantisek Strouhal
It gives me much delight to present the exquisite work of Frantisek Strouhal of Canada in today's Artist Watch column at the international arts magazine Escape Into Life.
Born in the Czech Republic, Frantisek currently resides in Western Canada. Admired around the world for his flawless use of a traditional 19th Century technique* combined with a uniquely contemporary yet timeless artistic vision, Frantisek has exhibited widely and received numerous awards, including Signature Member Status by the Federation of Canadian Artists' Board of Governors. 

Today's new Artist Watch column showcases images of eight of Frantisek's artworks and includes his Artist Statement and a brief profile. 

* See Introduction to Oil and Bromoil Printing at Alternative Photography

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Thought for the Day

 May you love yourself as you are loved.
~William Pitt Root
Quoted from William Pitt Root, "Song of Benediction", Strike the Dark Air for Music: Poems (Atheneum, 1973)
William Pitt Root, Poet and Editor; First Poet Laureate of Tucson (1997-2002); Teacher

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Thought for the Day

Every act of love is a risk of the self.
~ Eugene Peterson
Quoted from Eugene Peterson, Where Your Treasure Is: Psalms That Summon You from Self to Community (Eerdmans, 1993), page 174

Eugene Peterson (1932-2018), Pastor Scholar, Author, Poet

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Thought for the Day

We must speak honestly—but also wisely.

~ Ellen Davis


Quoted in W. David O. Taylor, Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life (Nelson Books, 2020), page 1 Epigraph, from Ellen F. Davis, Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament (Westminster John Knox, 2014), page xi

Ellen Davis, Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School (See pdf of Davis's CV.)

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Thought for the Day

The full embrace of all humanity lifts the standards
of any human endeavor
A world without caste would set everyone free.
~ Isabel Wilkerson


Quoted from Isabel Wilkerson, "Epilogue", Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (Random House, 2020), pages 385, 388

Isabel Wilkerson, Writer and Author; University Teacher and Lecturer; Winner, Pulitzer Prize, National Humanities Medal, National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

Thursday, January 21, 2021

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


The Resting Huntress, bclay, mason stains, glaze, c.10

10.5" x 11" x 9"

© Nancy Pirri


First featured at Escape Into Life in 2011, Nancy Pirri has provided us an opportunity to feature images of some of her latest work, which appear in today's new Artist Watch column.

Nancy discovered her passion, working with clay, in 1996, although she has "dabbled" in every art form, she says. Her work focuses on the universal "Every Woman" and her "struggle to find emotional balance." Nancy most recently was showcased in SOFA EXPO 2019 (now known as Intersect Chicago), where she exhibited her commissioned piece "My Choice" in a special show titled "Women's Rights Anniversaries". Brooklyn-born, Nancy maintains a studio in Chicago, where she also resides.

Nancy has provided a number of images for today's Artist Watch, including close-ups showing the texture, expression, attitude, or gestures of her clay figures. In addition to photos, today's feature includes an updated profile and Artist Statement.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Thought for the Day

The gift the artist offers to share with us is the mindful and
prayerful act of seeing, for, in order to make material from their
 thought and ideas, they have to spend time noticing, looking
 intently and making careful observation of the minutiae of things;
 the negative spaces between objects, the expression and emotion
 of faces, the effect of light and shadow, shades of colour, 
the variety of texture, shape and form. This act of seeing slows us
 down and invites us to pay attention to the moment, to be still, 
not to rush and only take a quick glance but instead to come
into relationship with the world around it. This is a form of prayer
where we become detached from our own limited perspective and
make way for a wider[,] more compassionate understanding
of ourselves, others and the world we inhabit.
 ~ Lesley Sutton

Quoted from Lesley Sutton, Be Still Project Booklet, PassionArt, in Jonathan Evens, "Seeing is Receiving: The art of  contemplation (1)", December 24, 2020

Lesley Sutton, Director, PassionArt; Curator; Fibre Artist

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Thought for the Day

Every journey needs to include points at which we rest,
recuperate and reflect before moving on . . . .
~ Rev. Jonathan Evens

Quoted from Rev. Jonathan Evens, "See is Receiving: The art of contemplation (1)", December 24, 2020

Rev. Jonathan Evens, Associate Vicar for Partnership Development, St. Martin-in-the-Fields; Art Writer

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Thought for the Day

Yes I know: the thread you have to keep finding, over again, to
follow it back to life; I know. Impossible, sometimes.
~ Jean Valentine

Quoted from Jean Valentine Poem "Sanctuary" in Copper Canyon Press Remembrance "In Memory of Jean Valentine (1934-2020)

Jean Valentine Profile at The Poetry Foundation