DBF Post-Post Mortems

I mentioned a few blog posts ago that I decided to forego reading any poems from my manuscript at the Decatur Book Festival, because it’s really hard to excerpt pieces from a narrative–let’s be honest, the book is a verse novel, and so many of the poems are interdependent (except maybe the Moon Poems in it), that even reading sevearal in narrative-arc-order wouldn’t make much sense. How do you get invested in characters without hearing the WHOLE THING?  I don’t think it’s possible. (I suppose, if I ever get it published, I will really have to figure out how to present the poems in a way that makes sense for poetry readings.  But that’s just not an issue right now, so it’s clearly on the back burner.)

Anyway, at DBF, I read a handful of prose poems as I planned to.  I’ve been writing a number of them in the last year or so, along with the pieces of flash fiction and flash nonfiction.  (Actually, writing the prose poems might have been the catalyst for getting serious about fiction and nonfiction, now that I think about it.)

I’m not sure why prose poems are resonating with me so much–when I read them, I respond to their “quirky sensibility,” and the fact that they tend often towards absurdity and repetition (as well as the other things we expect in poetry, like sound and image and metaphor), and I like when I can write with a little bit of abandon, and try to tap into writing on the lighter (nuttier?) side.  Maybe that’s just my state of mind in the last year or so!  I’ve certainly gone out of my way to read a lot of prose poetry this past year, and I like what happens when I try writing it.

As promised…the Set List!  (You can find links to many of these on my Online Poems & Writing Page.)

  1. Nocturne
  2. This Is Not a Poem About a Blank Page
  3. Oceanic
  4. Weed ’em and Reap
  5. How to Mend a Broken Heart
  6. When the Wolf Bit Off the Fingers of My Left Hand
  7. Prosecco
  8. Piccioni
  9. Chiuso

Regarding readings, I was once described (by someone with excellent poetic delivery) as being a “diffident wise-ass,” and told that my performance tended to be sly and snarky between my poems, undercutting the presentation of the poems themselves.  I personally don’t mind being considered a diffident wise-ass–despite the fact that a body could argue that the definitions of both words would seem to cancel each other out–because it’s an accurate critique of my whole personality, and anyway, I’m nothing if not a contradiction.

But since he said that to me, I’ve tried to give  my poems the gravitas they deserve, and not be so snarky in my delivery.  I think I mostly succeeded this past Saturday at the DBF, but I’m sure I said a few snarky asides.  No one’s perfect…and anyway, I can’t help myself.  No one would recognize me if I was perfectly serious.

Finally…as for the photos… well, I forgot to bring my camera and had to settle with using the phone, and I often  get blurry pics on it.  I apologize to the photo subjects, who are all much more beautiful than they appear here!

Here are Tammy Foster Brewer, Robert Lee Brewer, and Andrea Jurjević (and Bob Wood in the foreground of Andrea’s photo).

Tammy Photo 1  Robert Photo 1  Andrea Photo 1

Here are Kodac Harrison, Dan Veach, and Rupert Fike (listening to Andrea’s poetry with rapt attention).

Kodac Photo 1  Dan Veach Photo 1  Rupert Fike Photo 1

Last, but not least, may I present “Still Life with Bob’s Hand.”  😉  Here he’s guarding his stack of copies of The Awkward Poses of Others, which, if you haven’t read, get thee to Amazon immediately and purchase a copy–especially if you like movies and art and ekphrastic poetry.

Bob's hand photo 1

And with that, I’ve no more to say about the Decatur Book Festival.  Until next September, that is.

April is Poetry Month… & I Haven’t Made a Single Post (Horrors!)

Tuesday the 6th was Chris’s b-day, and instead of traditional birthday things, I dragged him to the DYPS’ reading at the Oglethorpe Museum (he was very amenable, all things considered).  The reading was in tandem with their exhibit, Henri Matisse: a Celebration of French Poets and Poetry. (As opposed to French poets and what, hotdogs???  Like, duh, of course poetry).

I really enjoyed myself, even if the poems that Blake, Bob, and Karen read were mostly ekphrastic–and both Bob and Blake brought handouts to accompany their poems too, which was thoughtful.  I knew that we, as a group, had discussed the appropriateness of this venue for ekphrastic poetry, and as you know, I’m not a) a huge fan of it, and b) worth a damn when it comes to writing it.  So I had initially tried to get out of the reading, figuring that the few ekphrastic poems I’ve written (and they’re only pseudo-ek, because I think the convention of just describing what’s in the painting is kind of… well… dry) really ought not to be read–or hell, acknowledged–but my demurring went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

So, making my apologies to the audience (which was, surprisingly, not just the DYPS and their significant others), I read poems from La Petite Mort, and from my as-yet-unnamed collection about the Sibley Sisters.  Here’s the set list:

  • Dystopic Love Poem
  • Besame Mucho
  • It Took You Half an Hour to Remember the Words “Wine Cooler”
  • Low Sunday
  • Valediction
  • Ex Somnium
  • Bee
  • They Say
  • Supplication
  • Tallulah Brings Home News

Afterwards, there was an impromptu star party, as the director(?) of the Oglethorpe Museum invited us up on the roof to look at Venus and Mercury.  Sirius was out, as was Orion, and I think I saw the Big Dipper.  It was neat to be up there, although it went on a little longer than I would have liked, and Karen reminded me of the time we were at the observatory at the Sewanee Writers Conference (in 2002), and we saw the shooting star.  (How can that be 8 years ago???)

Anyway… April is a busy month, poetry-wise, for me.  There is PoetryAtlanta’s Talking Back to the Muse program on the 17th, a poetry workshop on the 24th, a reading on the 28th, and possibly another reading sometime at the end of the month.  Well, I hope I can finagle some book orders out of all of this!

Oh, and buy my book already! 😉

About My Painting, I Guess You Could Say I’m a Decent Poet

nununu 2NuNu, Acryic on panel, 6″ x 6″

I painted that for Chris.  It is not, what you’d call, a “good likeness.” (Of NuNu, that is, not Chris.  If it were a painting of Chris, it would be horrid.  Being as he’s a husband, not a tuxedo cat.)poppies 2 

Poppies, Acrylic on panel, 5″ x 5″

Named Poppies in honor of The Wizard of Oz, this one I painted for Lisa Verigin, since we both like musicals.  But she doesn’t know I made this for her (yet).  The scan is kind of blurred, and I think that’s because the paint has a lot of texture (this thing took forever to dry).

redcatsmall

 

Firecat, Acrylic on Panel, 5″ x 5″

Chris compressed the file for me, so the picture was smaller. This one too has a lot of texture, so the image isn’t as clear as it could be.  I’m not sure who I’ll give this to.  Probably depends on if anyone wants it!

I was thinking I would maybe give it to Suzan Manuel, a friend from my first day in graduate school at Nazi State University.  She likes cats.  Even hideous ones.

You see, way back in March I had promised that I would “make something” for Suzan, Lisa, Chris, my sister Kirsten, and my FB friend Greg Butterfield.  So, these pictures are the result (although I don’t have anything yet for Greg).  

Here’s the last one:

sunsetsmallSunset Over Cross Lake, Acrylic on panel, 5″ x 5″.

This was the first painting I experimented with “liquid metal,” a kind of acrylic paint that is very beautiful, but doesn’t mix too well.  It has more of the consistency of tempera than acrylic, and it comes in a little pot, not a tube, which is inconvenient.  But I liked the effect, and I employed some of this liquid metal in the other pictures I’ve scanned (as well as some others that are drying).

Anyway….

In news poetic, I’m working on an ekphrastic poem that is kicking my ass, and except that one of the lines in the poem is the title of the collection I’m working on, and the poem is therefore pivotal to the collection, I’d just as soon toss it and come back to it much later.  I suppose I could still toss the poem, and come up with a new title for the collection, but I hate to do that, because I love the title… Oh well, it doesn’t have to be decided tonight.

Art, Poems, and Art-Poems

On Saturdays, I really need to get out of the house for a few hours, otherwise I begin to root to the couch, and get all depressive.  So today my husband Chris and I went to lunch at Desi Spice, one of our favorite haunts, and then we went to a shopping center in Buckhead that has a Kroger Fresh Fare, which is like the Whole Foods of Krogerdom (although we spit on WF’s anti-union, anti-worker policies).  A World Market and a Binder’s art supplies store are there as well.

We looked at art supplies first and were blown away.  The whole store is underground (basically, under a good chunk of the shopping center) and Chris and I went hogwild.  I’ve been wanting to paint some kind of blue-heavy painting or beach scene for the guest bedroom (which is the only place in this house that isn’t decorated in red), so I needed some supplies anyway.

And since about 85% of my worldly possessions, including all my art supplies, are still in a storage unit in Lincoln, Nebraska, I “had” to buy new.  I bought acrylics and canvasses; Chris bought some lovely colored pencils.  (We went to Michael’s to buy brushes because I knew there would be some inexpensive ones there–as much as I love sable brushes, I just couldn’t justify dropping $150 in brushes alone, although I did see some real beauties at Binder’s.)

Tomorrow I will do some painting, maybe some studies for the large canvas I bought.  As soon as we got home, I had visions of mixing paints and “getting all creative,” but alas, my duty was to poetry.

Which is ok, because I did get some work accomplished.  Day 17 is written, and considering it’s only 5 days past due and I should be deeply ashamed of my tardiness, I’m rather impressed with it.  The postcard is of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s statue Il Pastorello (why is the title of a Danish picture in Italian?), which is known everywhere else except on the back of the postcard as Shepherd with a Dog (1817).  So I entitled it “Pastoral” (that was a stretch, huh?) and it’s basically about the boy waiting on the tree stump to be relieved of his shepherding duties for the night.  It’s not great art, but I like it–maybe because of its simplicity.

My Day 18 poem, only three-quarters written, is based on German photographer Herbert List’s 1937 work, Greece.  I’ve been putting off writing about it until today, even though I kept coming back to it.  I mean, it was interesting to me, as b&w photography always is, but I couldn’t find a “way in,” if you know what I mean.

 It’s just a bare-chested guy with some phallic columns behind him.  What kept drawing me to the photo, however, was how disproportionately large the man in the foreground appears, compared to the columns.  That was what intrigued me more than anything–that the perspective was weird.  Not that (as usual) I have any language to talk about art, but the picture is visually striking because the man is so large.  I think the reason the poem isn’t quite done is that I’m still not sure what I want to say about it–I’m coming up against that age-old test of whether or not a poem is worthwhle, the “so what” question.  It seems dumb to write a poem about a man being big.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to come up with a pithy-yet-deep couple of last lines that makes the poem work.

In other news, I received word from Slapering Hol Press that I was not their 2009 chapbook winner.  But hey, as a contestant, I can buy the winning chapbook for the incredibly reduced price of $2 off!   Whoopdee do.  Can they afford it?  I like the chapbook contests that actually give you a copy of the winner for free.  It’s a nice consolation prize.

Oh, well, off to bed.

Guilty :-(

Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been 5 days since I wrote a poetry postcard.  (And about 6 years since I went to Confession, while I’m at it.)

So I haven’t been writing in my blog because I feel like all I have to say is that I’m so busy with registration that I haven’t been up to writing my poetry postcards.  This is somewhat true–I have been crazy berserky busy and not feeling the whole writing thing.  And indeed, when I get home, I’ve just been playing Tetris to decompress.  Which is not the best use of my time, but there it is.

So mea culpa:  I am indeed 5 days behind which makes me very, very naughty.  Now I could point out that I have only received 10 postcards myself, so really, having sent out 16 full poems, and not “epigrams, quatrains, and American sentences” to quote Christine Swint, I’m doing better than some people.  But that’s just diversion from the truth.   Frankly, I should be flogged for disappointing all those people who are probably tweeting about what a terrible person I am.

Anyway, when I last left off, I was talking about the poem, “L’Artiste Dégénéré,” about the Egon Schiele picture, and I said that I only had one more line.  That didn’t wind up being true.  I rewrote the last couplet, and I have to say, I love this poem.  It’s not perfect, but somehow, to me, it captures the spirit of the painting.   It’s only 12 lines long but they’re really good lines.  I almost feel like I was embodying the spirit of Bob Wood when I wrote it–which is not easy to do.

For Day 15, I wrote “Prelude,” based on François-Xavier Fabre’s 1790 painting called The Death of Abel.  As all of these ekphrastic poems that I’m writing seem to be, it’s a direct address, in this case to Abel, about taking that fateful walk with Cain, which I imagine happens in a wheat field.  Now, I have no idea if Cain cultivated wheat, but considering domesticated wheat started in Turkey, and there’s speculation that Eden was in Turkey,  I thought, why not?  I don’t have great love for this poem, but it’s not terrible.  Probably with some good revision it could be decent.

The poem I wrote for the 16th was “The Moon Titan Falls in Love” (although I’m still hemming and hawing about the name. . .  I also kind of like “Nocturne” for a title), based on The Sleep of Endymion, by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Troisnon (1793).  (I was very disappointed to discover that despite the first name being “Anne,” the artist is male.)  And so the poem is about the myth, that the Moon Titan Selene fell in love with Endymion and didn’t ever want his beauty to fade, so she asked Zeus to let him sleep immortally.  That wouldn’t be my first choice to ask as a gift from the gods, but at least they had the Menae for children.  The last two lines of the poem read awkwardly, though.  Not sure if it’s a matter of syntax or if it’s a grammar issue.   That will have to be worked on, at some point.

My hope is to write at least 3 poems this weekend–maybe even 4–so that I will only be 2 days behind.  Two is acceptable.  Five is pathetic.

Anyway. . . hope everyone is doing well, and writing, writing, writing!  I will get cracking on my own writing this weekend.

The Procrastinatrix

That would be me.

I have been crazy-busy at work the last several days with registration and panicky students who send 8 e-mails when 1 or 2 would suffice–so crazy, in fact, that when I came home yesterday I made friends with Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Those of you who know me know I’m not much of a drinker.  And those of you who know booze know MHL isn’t much of a booze.   But I’m a lightweight (from a drinking perspective, at any rate), so after 3 I pretty much just went to bed.

All of this is by way of saying my Daily Poetry Postcards have been non-existent since the 11th, and I feel really bad about putting them off.  Even the motivation of not wanting to disappoint the people to whom they were to be sent couldn’t outweigh the fact that this past week is the week before school, and writing poems was low, low, low item on the totem pole.  

Worse, I mislaid the Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin postcard, so I didn’t even get that in the mail on the 10th.  So technically, I’m 5 days behind.  There are 5 people (6 really, if you count the Day 10 person) who probably cried for hours and hours when they opened their mailbox and found no poem from me.  I mean, they’re probably suicidal.  

However, today I was somewhat productive in making up for my procrastinating misdeeds, and wrote two poems.  One was on Michelangelo’s David (1504) (please don’t tell me I have to link to that–if you don’t know what that looks like, you’re even more  ignorant of art than I am, and there’s no hope for you EVER)–although to be fair, the poem is about the entire statue, and not just the crotch shot which the postcard depicts.  The other was about Two Girls Embracing (1915), by Egon Schiele, an Austrian artist accused of being lewd and pornographic and degenerate.  Here is a quote from Jonathan Jones’ article that discusses his work (from the April 19, 2003 issue of the Guardian):

His work has a specific presence, aggressive, unignorable, practical. They are pornographic. They insist that the erotic is as great and heroic a subject as wars or religion. And they question whether art has to confine itself to representing life second-hand. That’s what is extraordinary about Schiele’s art: it does not comment on life, it takes part in life. It is not like pornography. It is pornography. It is also high and serious art, a doubleness that may only have been possible in Vienna on the eve of the first world war.

Initially, I wasn’t fond of this picture–not because it was pornographic. Actually, I didn’t even think of it as porn until all the articles I read about Schiele kept labeling his work as porn.  Actually I still don’t think of it as porn.  (Some of the other paintings I’ve seen, maybe, like Nude with Green Stockings. . . which disturbs me more because of the missing foot than anything else.)

But I didn’t like this picture because I don’t understand the fire-dress-drape-blanket thing that the sub girl is wearing.  At first I thought she was wrapped in an afghan.  But then I saw the red garter attached to her stocking.  I still don’t know what she wearing, but I don’t mind it, so much, because the painting has grown on me.  

I think I like the pissed-off look the top girl is wearing, as if she’s wondering how much longer she has to hold this embrace, which, it must be said, doesn’t look particularly comfortable.  Some might argue that the heavy-lidded eye suggests passion, but I think it’s just the same look that every Victoria Secret model has, that sort of “F-you” look that they cultivate thinking it looks sexy.  (By the way, it doesn’t.)

Unfortunately, that poem about the Schiele picture is incomplete.  It needs one more line that no amount of tinkering tonight seems to be able to accomplish.  So I am putting that line off until tomorrow, and I don’t feel too upset about that.

Unfortunately, tomorrow I will again be three days behind, so my goal is to write 2 poems (in other words, a Day 14 and a Day 15 poem), maybe start a Day 16 poem, and somehow manage to finish that albatrossy syllabus which has been hanging around my neck for days.

And if I get all that done, I might have to drink another MHL.  We shall see.

Damn that Caravaggio

I spent a lot of this evening trying (unsuccessfully–there’s a big surprise) to write a poem about Caravaggio’s Victorious Amor.  When that didn’t happen, I turned alternately to The School of Fountainebleau’s Gabrielle d’Estrées and One of Her Sisters (c. 1595), but gave up in disgust, and then turned to the much more interesting painting The Green Turban (1931), by the Polish Art Deco artist and Garbo-esque Socialite (which, yes, is an oxymoron, but she tried to cultivate that persona) Tamara de Lempicka.  I couldn’t find an image of it to show you, but here is a sampling of her art, which is fantastic.  Alas, that poem wasn’t working either. 

I finally settled on Guido Reni’s David and Goliath (1607) and the poem is about as inspired as the subject.  Which is to say, not very.

The sad thing is, I have to come back to these pictures at some point, and I’m generally dissatisfied with the rest of postcards in the book.  Maybe I’m just grumpy.  The de Lempicka picture is amazing, and I didn’t want to ruin my experience of the picture by writing a dreadful poem, so that one had to be abandoned for the time being.

But it’s that damn Caravaggio that has put me out of sorts.  Let’s be honest, I think I hate it.  To refresh your memory, it looks like this.  When I look at Cupid’s face, I just want to smack those red cheeks till they’re purple.  And then, I want to pluck out his feathers one by one and jam them into his ugly crooked teeth.  Surely Caravaggio would be horrified to know his art inspires violence in me.  But that said, Caravaggio himself was a rougue and killed and brawled with people, so maybe he’d enjoy my response.

And maybe I just need to set that postcard aside.  Permanently.