Sunday, May 22, 2022

Thought for the Day

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

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

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

Thursday, May 19, 2022

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life

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


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

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

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


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Thought for the Day

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

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

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

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Thought for the Day

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

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

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

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Thought for the Day

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

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

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Thought for the Day

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

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

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

Thursday, April 21, 2022

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


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


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

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

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

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


Cover Art

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

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

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

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

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


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

* Review of Concertina

* Review of Crossing the Rift Anthology

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Thought for the Day

Any small thing can save you.
~ Mark Doty 


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

Mark Doty, American Poet; Professor, Rutgers University

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Thought for the Day

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

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

William Least Heat-Moon, American Travel Writer and Author

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

In Bucha's Graveyards (Poem)

In Bucha's Graveyards

Hands tied, they offer
no resistance. Strips
of white, not unlike
the shackles that bind

arms to back to ride
the lightning, tighten

with weeping. This is
not fake news, nor is

it staged to effect
mock pleas for more help.


Bodies not buried
in playgrounds of sand

lie waiting for words,
the calling of names.


On these urban streets,
light fails in a flash.

Shots replace shouting.
Breaching smoke-filled clouds,

the Russians retreat
east, vodka at hand.


It takes time to torture,
no more than minutes

to walk away from
the dead left to mourn.

"Ride the lightning" is slang for the electric chair.

Pick up any newspaper or turn to any social medium, radio, or television station for coverage of the horrific war in Ukraine.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Thought for the Day

[T]he very act of trying to look ahead to discern possibilities
and offer warnings is in itself an act of hope.
~ Octavia Butler


Quoted from Octavia Butler, "A Few Rules for Predicting the Future," Essence, May 2000, pages 165-166 (Epigraph, Rebecca Solnit, Orwell's Roses (Viking, 2022)

Octavia Butler (1947-2006), American Science Fiction Author

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Thought for the Day

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

Quoted from William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways (1982, 2012), E-book; Epigraph, Chapter 19 of Florence Williams's Heartbreak (W.W. Norton, 2022), page 226

William Least Heat-Moon, American Travel Writer, Historian

Florence Williams, American Journalist, Author, Podcaster

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Thought for the Day

is  the moment of your presence
when you leave
~ Alireza Roshan

Quoted from Alireza Roshan, "Seven Poems from Iran" in World Literature Today, Autumn 2020, page 16 (Translations of the poems are provided by Erfan Mojib and Gary Gach.)

Alireza Roshan, Iranian Poet and Author

Thursday, March 17, 2022

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Steven Kenny, The Ribbons, 2015
Oil on Canvas, 40" x 28"
 © Steven Kenny

It is with much delight that today's new Artist Watch column at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life presents the gorgeous work of painter Steven Kenny.
In his paintings, Steven focuses most often on the human figure paired with elements found in nature. The relationships he creates with these pairings address not only how humans function with each other and Earth but also how we steward our own emotional, intellectual, and psychological landscapes. To view his paintings is to engage on journeys of self-exploration and discovery while at the same time being able to appreciate the work for its mystery and extraordinary beauty.

Today's Artist Watch showcases seven images from a current (2021) body of work and includes an eighth from an earlier period (see image above). Also included are Steven's Artist Statement, a biography, and Steven's social media addresses.

Monday, March 14, 2022

How Spring Comes in Ukraine (Poem)

How Spring Comes in Ukraine
Is this how spring comes —
the neck of the sunflower
broken, vipers escaping
from behind museum glass?
A warm spell has followed
the first days of Lent
preceding the first days of war. 

Maria Prymachenko has stopped
making pictures.
In Kyiv, her yellows and blues
fall from the eyes
of two-headed chickens.

The shelling makes even
her eared beasts to lie down.

Things no longer go well
here. The villain speaks with
his claw of iron,
hobbling the painter's hand.

Her canvases aflame,
the arsonist moves west,
ash just another mark
on the foreheads of soldiers.
Yes, peace talks
amid the mayhem,
and lynching's finally a hate
crime in America.
Listen, there are rumors
of prayers.
Below no no-fly zone
even some Russians flee
when bombs grow instead
of flowers


The last words in italics are the title of a painting by Maria Prymachenko (1909-1997), a self-taught, Ukrainian folk art painter. Some dozens of Prymachenko's paintings were destroyed when the museum in which they were housed (Ivankiv Local History Museum) was burned to the ground. See Rebecca Bengal's article "Russian Forces Destroyed the Wild and Beautiful Art of Maria Prymachenko", Vice, March 1, 2022; and Jasmine Liu, "Ukraine Accuses Russia of Burning Down a Museum", Hyperallergic, February 28, 2022.

Also see: Emily Cochrane, "Congress Gives Final Approval to Make Lynching a Hate Crime", The New York Times, March 7, 2022.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Thought for the Day

When there is no desire,
all things are at peace.
~ from Tao Te Ching

Quoted from Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (trans. by S. Mitchell), Chapter 37
Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher (also known as Laozi), 6th C BCE

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Late Winter (Poem)

Late Winter

Palm trees in El Paso
are haloed in snow
rarer in mid-March
than the Russian tanks
bombarding a Mariupol shoe
factory, the psychiatric
hospital, a maternity ward,
apartments emptying to
missiles. A hotel sauna, 
a subway — deepest space
underground — targeted 
humanitarian corridors
hemmed with smoking autos,
plastic bags and rolling
luggage left behind.
Unknowing, toddlers
learn a new version
of the old game of hide-
and-seek among little Putin's
soldiers. The trains run
east with food and water.
The trains run west with
mothers, wives, the too-
old, the under-eighteen.
What would help most is
another poem from Ilya,
read aloud in the square
in Odessa; not sandbags,
not Molotovs, but arms
to run into, fingers brushing

the blush from soft cheeks
on this late winter morning.
Rev. 3-14-22

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Thought for the Day

Love is nothing but a mattress made of needles.
~ Tom Sleigh


Quoted from Tom Sleigh, "Up the Hill" in The King's Touch: Poems (Graywolf Press, 2022), page 19

Tom Sleigh, American Poet, Dramatist, Essayist, Distinguished Professor in Hunter College MFA Program
Audiovideo Recording of "Age of Wonder" (For others from Sleigh's new collection, go here.)

Monday, February 28, 2022

War Language (Poem)

War Language

 . . . poetry is not merely a description of an event;
it is an event
~ Ilya Kaminsky*

The threat is not speaking
Russian but watching

the tanks lay down
rough tracks in Ukraine.

Already, they've chewed up
the borders of Kharkiv,

spit on the words
from the City of Poets.

Every bullet becomes another
man's eye, every mortar

one more crushing blow
to the head, no body

with the time to argue
one side before the other.

There are shoes in the streets
of Kharkiv, feet herding

to shelter, children in pink
snow suits handed off

to strangers for safekeeping,
the speech of goodbye tears

breaking the silence
that follows the shelling.

Occupied and occupier

cleave the meaning
of war in Kharkiv, 
break it down
into fragments of sound —

one, the whistles of rockets;
one, the louder testimony of loss.
* Epigraph quoted from and poem inspired by Ilya Kaminksy, "Ilya Kaminsky on Ukrainian, Russian, and the Language of War", Literary Hub, February 28, 2022, as excerpted from Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine (Academic Studies Press, 2017), Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky, Eds.


Sunday, February 27, 2022

Thought for the Day

They saw rivers flow west and hoped again.
~ Muriel Rukeyser 


Quoted from Muriel Rukeyser, "West Virginia", in The Essential Muriel Rukeyser: Poems (Selected and With an Introduction by Natasha Trethewey) (Ecco/HarperCollins), page 25

Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), American Poet, Playwright, Biographer, Children's Book Author, Political Activist

Muriel Rukeyser Profiles at Academy of American Poets and Poetry Foundation

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Thought for the Day

It has long seemed to me that what most of us
are looking for is the opportunity to express,
without embarrassment or judgment or retaliation,
our capacity to love. That means, too, embracing
the opportunity to be loved, to ferret out and nurture
the reciprocated relationships that unite people. . . .
~ Barry Lopez

Quoted from Barry Lopez, "Introduction: Looking for a Ship" in Horizon (Vintage Books, 2019), page 48

Barry Lopez (1945-2020), Award-Winning Author, Essayist, Nature Writer, Fiction Writer

Thursday, February 17, 2022

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Dana Ellyn, Trading Places (Disguised), Oil on Canvas, 2021
Oil on Canvas
14" x 18"
© Dana Ellyn
It is with great pleasure that I introduce via today's Artist Watch column in the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life the paintings of Washington, D.C., artist Dana Ellyn.

Dana is a painter of stories. She has a uniquely personal style that verges between social realism and expressionism and always depicts her own point of view, whether it be about animal rights and food choices, politics, Covid-19, or some other subject that has captured her imagination. She paints only what she knows, and only after doing considerable research and planning.

For February's Artist Watch, Dana has provided a generous number of images of recent paintings (both  2022 and 2021), as well as an Artist Statement and a brief biography.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Thought for the Day

. . . it is the fever of our attachment to one another
that charges grief with its intolerable brilliancy. . . . 
~ Melanie Challenger

Quoted from Melanie Challenger, "On Death and Love" (Part I), Emergence Magazine, January 20, 2022

Melanie Challenger, British Writer, Researcher on History of Humanity and Natural World, Environmental Philosopher, Author, Editor, Poet

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Thought for the Day

. . . it's the very notion of our humanity as both singular
and triumphal that has given our lives their ultimate meaning
and security. The only trouble is that it's a devastating idea
for the rest of the living world.
~ Melanie Challenger

Quoted from Melanie Challenger, "On Death and Love" (Part I), Emergence, January 20, 2022

Melanie Challenger, British Writer, Researcher on History of Humanity and Natural World, Environmental Philosopher, Author, Editor, Poet

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Thought for the Day

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have
found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be
imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted
with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants
are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. . . .
~ Frederick Douglass

Quoted from Frederick Douglass, Speech on West India Emancipation, Canandaigua, New York, August 3, 1857 (This speech can be found also at the Library of Congress.)

Frederick Douglass, (1817 or 1818-1895), African-American Social Reformer, Abolitionist, Orator, Writer

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Thought for the Day

To travel, above all, is to change one's skin.
~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Quoted from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Southern Mail (Harcourt Brace, 1972)

Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-1944), French Writer, Poet, Journalist, Aviator

Selina Hastings, "The Courageous, Intransigent Antoine de Saint-Exupery", The New Yorker, November 27, 1994

Meredith Hindley, "The Grown-Up Saint-Exupery", National Endowment for the Humanities, January/February 2016 
Pierre Lassus, "When Antoine de Saint-Exupery Disappeared", Literary Hub, August 1, 2017

Thursday, January 20, 2022

New Artist Watch Feature at Escape Into Life


Marcin Owczarek, The Last Bus to Paradise, 2021
Mixed Media Photography
26" x 39" or 40" x 60"
Copyright © Marcin Owczarek
Opening my 2022 Artist Watch columns at the international online arts magazine Escape Into Life, I am particularly pleased to introduce today Marcin Owczarek.
Marcin, who currently lives and works in Belgium and is represented by Angela King Gallery, New Orleans, Louisiana, has long been fascinated by the effects and influence of new technologies, especially mechanization and standardization, and what they mean for our connections to and relationships with animals, nature, and each other. Using symbols, allusions, allegories, and metaphors, Marcin addresses in his surreal but profoundly poetic and philosophical artworks such important issues as animal rights, wildlife conservation, climate change, and environmental destruction. Each of his works sets us up to reflect upon and search for deeper meanings to life.

For today's Artist Watch, I showcase eight of Marcin's spectacular artworks, including his seminal "In Search of Utopia". In addition, I provide Marcin's Artist Statement, a brief biographical profile, and Website and social media links.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Thought for the Day

An opened heart is boundless; that is, unconditional in scope.
Once we are awakened to love as the lifelong purpose of our
hearts, then feeling love for all the world becomes the meaning
— and greatest joy — of living.
~ David Richo
Quoted from "Devotion — Our Sacred Hearts", Blog, The Center for Action and Contemplation, December 17, 2021 

David Richo, Psychotherapist, Author, Teacher, Workshop Leader

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Thought for the Day

I want to encourage the uncovering of what we mean
by the word devotion. We have to somehow live
a life that's connected to the heart.
~ Fr. Richard Rohr

Quoted from Fr. Richard Rohr, "A Return to Devotion — Feast Day of S. John of the Cross", Blog, The Center for Action and Contemplation, December 14, 2021
Fr. Richard Rohr, Franciscan Friar and Theologian; Founder, The Center for Action and Contemplation; Writer and Author

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Thought for the Day

Like all great mysteries, we are all mysteriously called to love
no matter the conditions of our lives, the degree of our depravity
or despair. The persistence of this call gives us reason to hope.
Without hope, we cannot return to love.
~ bell hooks
Quoted from bell hooks, All About Love, in "'The world is a lesser place today without her.' Acclaimed author bell hooks dies at 69." Lexington Herald Leader, December 15, 2021

bell hooks (1952-2021), African-American Poet, Author, Critic, Feminist Icon, Public Intellectual, Professor