Living in Frames, by meshing the lyrical moments of life with the captured images of experience. This is a reverie, a journey, the fork in the road, and the never-ending story....

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

an advent poem

 
What a fantastic way to close out the year! This is my first piece of poetry to be published, and I'm absolutely ecstatic. I am eager for 2014, with hopes that it will be a copious time filled with
happy tears.
 
DEAD FLOWERS: A Poetry Rag
Vol. 2 No. 5
 
 

Friday, December 27, 2013

fueling up for 2014

As writers and artists, we draft submission matrixes, we decipher variables, we obsess and pray, and try to remain patient and confident, all the while moving forward in our production and not letting rejection impede on our creativity. We haven’t chosen the most direct path or a straightforward line of work, and it’s dirty and can sometimes be detrimental to our egos and overall wellbeing. And it affects others, especially those who are innocent bystanders who don’t know what they are signing on to getting involved with us.

This is about as melodramatic as I get, but I apologize now to those who are hoping I will become more sensible as the years go on. The reality is: there’s no going back. The day I said “fuck it” and accepted that I would be happiest pursuing the passion I’ve had since childhood, I knew I was going to have to throw a little caution to the wind and wing it for awhile. I didn’t have it all figured out and I was still finding my voice. Hell, I didn’t even know what story to tackle first. But I felt as though I had been brimming like the boiling water beneath a pot lid—too much to hold inside any longer, willing to tell anyone who would listen.
“Just write,” was all the advice I needed. Even the false starts held a little promise. Dreams contained messages, and an interesting line that ever so often escaped a person’s lips, became the perfect fodder needed to jumpstart my eager mind. Before I knew it, I was in the thick of it and determined to make my mark.

I began by sending out short personal essays, mostly because I didn’t know what else to write about and thought I had a pretty good handle on who I was and what I believed. I also recognized that this would probably change too, because we are constantly evolving and nothing’s certain. So, I attempted to capture the moment as best I could—the reflection of what I had learned thus far and how it shaped me as an individual. And then when I received my first batch of rejections, it was hard not to take it personally. The essays were about me and therefore I was putting myself out there, and at what cost and risk? For art? To be recognized? To feel worthy?
It was brutal. I would get discouraged easily, especially witnessing the successes of others. I got more analytical. Craft became more important than “how the writing/story made me feel”. This was personal growth and my skin got a little thicker.

Then another slew of rejections, sometimes three in one week, two in one day, sometimes no response at all. I played the odds and developed a method for submitting, meanwhile devoting every morning to write and my days off to marathon sessions. I didn’t want to dwell on one piece and the accumulating rejection letters of that piece, so I’d move on to something else. And before I knew it, I had twenty five short stories, poems up the whazoo, experimental stuff, more essays than I knew what to do with, and the beginning of a new novel. I didn’t choose one style or genre, I played around to see what best expressed what I was attempting to say. I now had a stockpile of work, bits and pieces too, ready to take on anything that came my way.
I’m finally getting to see some of my work paying off. This month alone has been extremely fruitful in terms of acceptances, and I’m looking forward to what next year has in store for me. And for not one second do I regret saying “fuck it” and jumping all in.

Bring on 2014! I am ready.

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If you haven’t already checked it out, my guest blog on Bill & Dave’s Cocktail Hour: http://billanddavescocktailhour.com/oh-youre-a-writer-reasons-ive-started-to-bite-my-tongue/

I also have another featured article up with The Good Men Project:

Thanks for reading and sharing folks!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


this is me when I'm open to the universe.
this is me....


TRAVELERS

Take that pen, the one on the nightside table,
used in the book you're reading on the Dalai Lama--as a placeholder,
or for underlining your favorite passages.

Take that pen, and draw upon my skin,
in a place I can't see but only feel,
as you connect the freckles along the backside of my thigh
and I quiver from the pressure of your traveling hand.

Is it as large as a house? I ask,
Or small enough to fit inside a suitcase?
Is it edible, or make noise, or have a distinguishable scent?
Could I pick it up and move it?
If I cast it off, would it come back?
Is it part of who you are?
Is it a part of us, and if so
must we stand still to behold it?

Give me a hint! I plea, as the lines you make
are more defined than my guesses.

We can sail away from here, tomorrow, if you like.

I then take that pen
and draw for you my heart and a parachute,
just in case our boat gets lost.





Monday, December 9, 2013


reasons I’ve started to bite my tongue about being a “writer”:

Oh you’re a writer? You must have a lot of time on your hands. Would you like to do some editing for me for FREE?
Oh, you’re a writer? Would you like to get some coffee sometime?
Oh, you’re a writer? I went to school for English too, but I felt a law degree was more practical.
Oh, you’re a writer? Do you want to hear my story? You might be able to use me as a character.
Oh, you’re a writer? I wish I had that luxury.
Oh, you’re a writer? Have you thought about self-publishing? I did it, and it was the best choice I made.

Oh, you’re a writer? Have you read 50 Shades of Grey?
Oh, you’re a writer? So, what do you write about?
Oh, you’re a writer? Like J.K. Rowling?
Oh, you’re a writer? I just wrote this poem for my girlfriend. [ I just happen to have the poem with me] Want to see it?
Oh, you’re a writer? Then why are you working here?
Oh, you’re a writer? And, you went to school for that?
Oh, you’re a writer? This isn’t going to end up in one of your books, is it?
Oh, you’re a writer? Everyone wants to be a writer these days.
Oh, you’re a writer? Have you had anything published?
Oh, you’re a writer? Like, you have a blog?
Oh, you’re a writer? Can you make money at that?
Oh, you’re a writer? Oh. Oh, I see.
Oh, you’re a writer? I’ve always hated reading.
Oh, you’re a writer? Have you written anything I would know?
Oh, you’re a writer? What’s your name? In case you ever make it.
"I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood." -Audre Lorde
                                                   ............................................................


 I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t read out loud enough. Of course when I’m drafting I do a few dry runs, going over the sentences before they are seen by others’ eyes. But in regards to the pastime of reading for pleasure, I feel silly reading to myself as the only person in the room.

However, in recent months, I’ve been more apt to ask my friends if I can read to them (material I have written, as well as short stories and poetry by various authors). This is very different than just sharing some quote I’ve stumbled upon—reading to an audience takes practice and adjustment, along with a genuine interest on the behalf of the listener. There’s nothing worse than reading to a single person or group that appears bored.
 
In primary school, I remember the round-robin activity of reading paragraphs from assigned text as the teacher seemed to pick-and-choose who went next. This filled me with a sense of dread, because I was a daydreamer and had trouble following along as my classmates muscled through the stories, or I would get so engrossed in the literature that I would skip ahead and often was the case that I would lose my place. This was embarrassing. And then there was my shyness—painfully shy, that sometimes I would get so nerved up being put on the spot that I would begin crying, or my voice would get terribly shaky.

Then in high school, I was forced to memorize poetry and recite it in front of my peers, making an already awkward kid feel even more awkward. I favored the poetic voice, yet I did not particularly enjoy sharing this openly, especially since I had gravitated away from the classics and was becoming curious about the modern, experimental side of things. My English teacher wanted me to join up with the school theatre program, thinking this would bring me out of my shell. But unfortunately, I had discovered other extracurricular activities, such as marijuana, which consumed my time almost as much as my nerdy interests of reading and writing and listening to music.
 
By college, I still hadn’t curbed my fear of reading aloud. I was writing a lot more in my spare time, but these notebooks remained private. And it wasn’t until graduate school that I participated in my first open mic. I consider the fact that it took me a long time to have some confidence in what I was writing, and this has been a motivator for me to want to read to an audience now.
 
The other night, I handed my close male friend an Audre Lorde collection (an Caribbean-American feminist poet), as I took up a copy of Chuck Bukowski (the self-deprecating misogynist disguised as a poet). We took turns picking the pages that we would read from and then compared themes, styles, and wisdom. What I wanted to see is if the words resonated any more or any less when read by the opposite sex. When my friend read, there was a strength to the poems that stayed powerfully embedded after they were spoken. But when I read, particularly over some of the parts where Chuck rants about his penis or drunkenness or the women he’s bagged, it just came off sounding humorous and not quite as striking.
Either way, it was a good audible exercise. And reading out loud is an excellent way to get comfortable and familiar with your own voice—spacing and pausing, enunciation and delivery of character— how it affects the selected words, and the message of the author.
 
Perhaps, some day in the near to distant future, you will catch me reading to you.

"she's ripping out the pages in your book..."







Tuesday, November 19, 2013

sleeping with inspiration.

I went to bed with a couple poets last night....
                                Oh please, don't take everything I say so literally.
 
Last night, I stayed in and snuggled up with a stack of my favorite poetry books. Moving from one mesmerizing or profound canto onto the next, absorbing like a sea sponge.
 
My growing appetite as of late, has been focused on the power of brevity and directly tackling societal complexities with verse. Poetry is the perfect form in this way. You can gain so much, in the simpliest of expressions and in the slightest of space. And being that poetry was my first love, I find that devoting an occasional day or night just to relish in it, is important to my development as a writer.
 
Here are a couple of my favorite lines, or should I say "sweet nothings" that were whispered into my ear:

"my absenteeism reached such astonishing
proportions
that I had to finally
park
at some expense
behind a Chinese bar
where all I could see were tiny shuttered
windows
with neon signs advertising some
oriental
libation.
 
it seemed less real, and that was
what was needed." 
 
chuck bukowski, "the blade"
 

 "I can't tell you my name :
you don't believe I have one
 
I can't warn you this boat is falling
you planned it  that way
 
You've never had a face
but you know that appeals to me
 
You are old enough to be my
skeleton:  you know that also.
 
I can't tell you I don't want you
the sea is on your side
 
You have the earth's nets
I have only a pair of scissors.
 
When I look for you I find
water or moving shadows
 
There is no way I can lose you
when you are lost already."
 
margaret atwood, "hesitations outside the door"
 
 
"The iridule--when, beautiful and strange,
In a bright sky above a mountain range
One opal cloudlet in an oval form
Reflects the rainbow of a thunderstorm
Which in a distant valley has been staged--
For we are most artistically caged."
 
- vladimir nabokov, "pale fire"
 
 
 
"Mother I am bare in the mist-mad forest
Only the moon shows me love.
 
Winter will crush me: tiny arms, pale feet,
tongue of rust. I have a thousand visions.."
 
-mary jo bang, "gretel"
 
 
"The traveling players with their ladel of stars, their scaffolding, their mirrors, their charms, their helpless plots , their horoscopes...
 
In the darkened theater of our desire the traveling players construct out of balsa wood--wings.
 
And hold their bright threads of story--
weaving water sacred open..."
 -carole maso
 
 

Monday, November 11, 2013

between lingering and lasting.

Leading up to my 30th birthday, I caught myself apologizing quite a bit for some of the emerging shifts in attitude I was experiencing. The misnomer, “It’s the age,” was frequently on my conscience, and honestly I started to freak out a little bit about where I was and where I had anticipated being by the time I’d reached my third decade on this planet. Was I really going to bow to societal pressures, settle down and pretend that I had all my crap figured out? Was I even capable of this?

I felt the mounting stressors that came with each milestone of age. I’d finished my formal education, I was in a long-term relationship, and I’d accumulated enough experiences to say I had both a world-view and a strong belief system about “what is what”. I had made sense of my purpose, and had positioned myself just right to gain some level of fulfillment from it all.

Then began the doubts: “Is this it?” started to find its way into my routine and thoughts. Routine had always been an evil word to me (I equated it with couples who planned their evenings around the TV Guide), and yet here I was unintentionally in the midst of one—one of my own making—but still a daily grind that I’d become accustomed to.
To fly by the seat of my pants, was no longer. I had commitments, regular employment, and a writing regimen that consumed my time. My relationship was convenient at most, and provided ample time to work on ourselves as artists and individuals.  I thought this was what I had always wanted, by avoiding what everyone else had—marriage, babies, the works. “Fiercely independent,” was my middle name. I didn’t want the responsibility of making someone else happy, and chose to be selfish instead.
 
As I find this year winding down, I've noticed that I am in a very different place than where I was at the beginning of the year.  And what I have decided to believe, as I look for understanding, is that we spend so much time during our growth, accumulating. Whether it is through experiences or stuff, ranks or recognition—we want proof that our lives mean something. We do it in our own ways, and it is what we think we must do.
 
What I now want is simplicity. To get back to something genuine and real and not so caught up in reason. If it feels good, it’s probably good. If it makes you hesitate or analyze or dwell in some negative space, get the hell out! Though easier said than done, I am making efforts to align myself with the things that make me feel most alive:  Art, love, passion, nature. Being truthful, knowledgeable, traveled. Being part of a community. Being a friend. Being healthy.
 
There is no monetary value that can be associated with any one of these focuses (I wouldn’t dare call them “things”), and the side effects are immediate and lasting. Just yesterday, I spent the better part of the afternoon digging up and stacking rocks around a farm to begin the process of a winter irrigation system. And by the end of the day, my boots were caked in mud and manure and I was chilled to the bone from the damp and dropping temperatures. But I was still smiling, as I watched the evening silhouettes of two men hammering fences with their backs to a brilliant western sky.

Then when I woke this morning, my muscles were sore and my sinuses congested, and yet I couldn't stop smiling. And I'm pretty sure this isn't a coincidence. But I will keep you posted with any future developments.

Friday, November 8, 2013

attention to detail.

This is a print that hangs in my bathroom. I bought it in a museum gift shop years ago. And last night, while I was putting myself together for a night on the town, I realized I never really looked at the print from an analysis standpoint (and being an art history minor in college, this surprised me). But I guess it was something I just overlooked during its purchase, and the overall arrangement of the three artists engaged in the act of painting—how they are positioned one in front of the other—got me thinking about some things.
 
The process of art is not just creating something from nothing, but it is also being perceptive of what others around you are creating and how they influence your work. I know writers who won’t read fiction if they are working on a project in narrative fiction, because they are so worried that their voice will begin to sound like what they’ve just read. And as ego-driven beings, we all want to be singular and individualized, and our art untainted by the elephants of opinion and aesthetics. We are stargazers with a couple hang-ups when it comes to being grounded.

For me, it’s more of a matter of rhythm. If I am reading material, whether it’s poetry or fiction, my brain subconsciously picks up on the “beats” in the writing. So, when I go and put my pen to paper, I’m already vibrating on a dial of particular cadence—rolling, or frenzied, or stuttered. That’s how I learned to write poetry, at the tender age of 9, when I would pour over my mother’s library of Yeats and Tennyson and Frost (discovering the romanticism of it all), and the feminist voices of Atwood and Piercy and Walker. Then later on, at the appropriate age, I was introduced to the lyrical violence of Bukowski and Rimbaud, and the sensual Neruda  and Cummings. Reading poetry was like listening to records on vinyl— the effect was immediate to my viscera, like an extra shot of dopamine to the brain. Something was triggered inside of me, and instead of humming along like you would a catchy tune, I needed to write it out until the feeling and drive dissipated, or would be taken up anew with another hook.
So, that’s what Homer Winslow’s Artists Sketching in the White Mountains summons up for me—the power of influence, not necessarily of collaboration (which I am also a proponent of, as well), but “the others” and outliers and the incidental persons who make their way onto your radar, when you’re trying to forge ahead yourself.  It tells me it’s time to pay more attention.

Monday, November 4, 2013

the sum and the parts.

I remember saying it unintentionally as an insult about his music, or maybe because at the time I just didn’t know any better: Why do you only write about relationships and the women who have done you wrong?

What else is there to write about? Was his response.

At barely twenty-two (still a kid), what did I know? I wasn’t even certain if I’d ever been in love, let alone experienced real hurt. But I felt strongly that there was more to life than digging up old romantic connections, and I naively voiced my opinion aloud as I secretly tried to pick his brain and figure out who he was singing about in all those songs. I just couldn’t understand how someone could be so hung up in the past, when you could be having new and inspiring experiences each and every day.

Being a writer was also still a romantic pursuit for me. I believed, because many of the greats that came before me suggested in their writings and teachings, that an artist was the summation of all their experiences. I wanted to be a gestalt writer—working on all-encompassing stories that tackled real-life matters and conflicts and could resonate with almost anyone. Because they touched at the very core of human nature.

Yeah, I know, I was an idealist in the making. And my motivations for creating art were probably not so far off from the musician I callously offended.
Ah, youth. You just don’t know, until you know.

So, what changed? I grew up, fell in love, came to understand what romantic love is all about, and then tried to express it in words. There were times I felt like I was really onto something, but on other days I knew I was nowhere close to capturing the raw brutality and beauty of intimacy. And the more I became frustrated with this subject the more I wanted to study it, tear it apart from the inside out, and live in it while keeping it at a distance to observe. In a way, it made me a bit mad. Not the love itself, but the act of writing about love.
For a year now, I’ve been working on a collection of short stories dealing with morality. Last month, I printed the first hard-copy draft to share with someone whose opinion and support has helped me get back to writing about NON-love related topics. I’ve been stimulated with other things: conversations, nature, hope, struggles, religion, and that something different that has yet to come.

Maybe what writing about love and having the experience of love did for me, was show me what else is out there to be appreciated, when you finally feel like a full and complete human being.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

let me back in.

'cause I had a dream I was carried on backs
of a thousand green birds
and they carried me to a place without words
and there was nothing, but there was everything"
 

Monday, October 28, 2013

being free and expressing want

Having moved so much over the years, sometimes I find myself getting antsy for new settings. Some people choose to move forward and grow in various ways, through relationships, career changes, and education. And then there are others who actually need to get up and go, physically altering their state of affairs. I am one of those who has historically been "a mover and shaker", changing my locale and shaking things up a bit in the process. For those that can't fathom moving 29 times, I can't fathom who I would have turned out to have been if I had stayed put in one spot for an extended duration.
 
Some of this is rooted in me still trying to decide where I want to "end up" or "settle", two terms I use loosely, because I don't really know what they mean. All I know is that I have witnessed mature individuals taking part in this settled way of life, and part of me sometimes romanticizes having this for myself. And then the other part, the wistful side, has a terrible aversion to commitment of any sort. Talk of babies and marriage, makes me squirm like nothing else. I desire freedom, while I attempt to seek some semblance of direction.
 
When I am in the city, I want the country. When I'm in the country, I want all the goings-on of the city. If I try to remember if I have always felt this way--indecisive about where I want to be at any given point--well, I realize I have never exactly been vocal about what I want, but rather just accepted my uncertainty as part of my natural character. "To want" always felt greedy. "To need" was easier to justify as part of my biology. Then here I am, skeptical often with one foot in the door and one foot out (ready to take off and run at a moment's notice). To fight or flee? And on the other hand, I come up with these grandiose notions about the special kind of person who will appeal to (and satisfy) my domestic side.
 
Lately, I've been looking at maps and researching possible destinations of where I could see myself next. But then, when I meet new people locally, who are doing some pretty hip things (farmers and artists and couples) my practical sense kicks in and says, "You don't have to travel halfway around the globe to keep your passions alive." Sometimes staying put and engrossed and connected to a community, opens up opportunities and experiences that are much more accessible and rewarding, than packing up your whole life to wander aimlessly about seeking that which you don't yet know that you want.
 
"the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your existence is an act of rebellion." - albert camus




Thursday, October 10, 2013

billy collins on art.

billy collins' poems awaken me (literally, I read him in the mornings for an early dose of inspiration):

Madmen

They say you can jinx a poem
if you talk about it before it is done.
If you let it out too early, they warn,
your poem will fly away,
and this time they are absolutely right.

Take the night I mentioned to you
I wanted to write about the madmen,
as the newspapers so blithely call them,
who attack art, not in reviews,
but with breadknives and hammers
in the quiet museums of Prague and Amsterdam.

Actually, they are the real artists,
you said, spinning the ice in your glass.
The screwdriver is their brush.
The real vandals are the restorers,
you went on, slowly turning me upside-down,
the ones in the white doctor's smocks
who close the wound in the landscape,
and thus ruin the true art of the mad.

I watched my poem fly down to the front
of the bar and hover there
until the next customer walked in--
then I watched it fly out the open door into the night
and sail away, I could only imagine,
over the dark tenements of the city.

All I had wished to say
was that art was also short,
as a razor can teach with a slash or two,
that it only seems long compared to life,
but that night, I drove home alone
with nothing swinging in the cage of my heart
except the faint hope that I might
catch a glimpse of the thing
in the fan of my headlights,
maybe perched on a road sign or a street lamp,
poor unwritten bird, its wings folded,
staring down at me with tiny illuminated eyes.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

cigale lit mag.







to stick with the seasonal theme... my short-short fiction piece, "a cold spring" has been published in Cigale Literary. click over & check it out: http://cigalelitmag.com/

thanks to editor and poet, Scott Bryson, who saw a nugget of truth in my writing. there are many talented writers included in this issue. definitely worth the read.



fall.

fall is a reminder that change is inevitable. all those leaves and petals and blades of grass-- spring's masterpiece left to expire like week-old produce tossed out in the alley of the local grocer. does it really affect us-- knowing everything cycles back around. that if we wait long and patiently enough, everything will be replenished again.
 
I gravitate toward the signs of fall much more naturally than any other season. late winter and a good part of the spring in New England, are rather bleak-- damp, cold and gray. and summer is so rushed with trying to get all one's socializing done, so that when it does come time to hibernate, it feels like a nice break---ah! yes, solitude. I tend to write new material in the winter months, because it's more appealing to stay inside and warm than to have your body ache from the below freezing temperatures, the consistently wet outerwear, and from tromping through the piles of snow drift to get anywhere.
 
these fall days have been the perfect cure to whatever has been ailing me the better part of the year. I sought a change, and surely have found it. now I sit each morning recording the ways the sunlight casts differently on the eastern and western sides of my house, the variety of hues found in my yard trees, and the types of critters that scurry about gathering and storing. two weeks ago there was a mischievous groundhog in my kindling box, poking his head up and down to see if anyone saw him, that looked to be enjoying the day about as much I was watching him, over the top of my book cover.
 
I feel synchronized to the New England seasons, like laughter to a sense of humor.  to know me would be to know what the soil in a hay field feels like underfoot, the sweet scent of fermented and forgotten apples, and how a leaf so fragile can turn to dust and be blown away like it never even existed in the first place. I'll tell you, it's a magical feeling-- to be part of something bigger.












 
 
 
 

Monday, September 16, 2013

ahead of their time.


and so she writes, who am I? am I not the only one?

Some of my favorite stories I like to hear, especially when getting to know a person, is when they open and up and tell me "the book" that changed their lives. At some point in our conversational relationship, they learn I read and write, and then it is shared this amazing piece of literature they once read, that affected them so deeply, that it was adopted as a sort of bible they live by.
 
For me, this is a fascinating thought process and behavior, since personally nonesuch "book" exists in the schematic of my life, and sometimes I wonder if I hadn't at an early age decided that I wanted to be a writer, if perhaps it would be easier for me to choose one "book", versus the reality that is my passion, and how I have lost count of all the authors, and poets, and lyricists, and artists who I've admired over the years and devoured during my own periods of restlessness and seeking.
 
The power of the written word, and art as a whole, is an ideology I wholly support and recognize. I see scenarios where the messages are rich, and influential, and used to promote the better good. And then also, there are the interpretations of text, of what the artist is trying to say, and sometimes even the extreme case, where the art is taken to another personal level outside of the intention  and control of the artist. History is riddled with these worst case scenarios, but as a writer I can honestly say I hope that my work only inspires compassion and beauty, rather than a degraded version of what people think I'm trying to say.
 
There must be a science to choosing one "book". Is it because it was read during a time of change, or upheaval, or loss, or confusion? Like being in the right place at the right moment. Is it security that these words provide? Reassurance? Affirmation? Is it because it struck a chord so close to home, you saw yourself inside the pages, and you lived vicariously in this character's world?
 
Friends have passed on their "book" to me, because they believed it helped to explain who they were, better than they could explain their selves. I've dated a man who was Howard Rourke. I know a playwright, who at one time owned nothing but a copy of The Magus and a sleeping bag in L.A.
 
I read differently as a writer. I connect, but yet I digest the art through an understanding of how it was crafted. There are books that have changed me, but not because I could quote their lines as though they belonged to me, or I could confuse them for my own. But because I wish I had written the lines first, because an author beat me to the punch, and because their damn good writing makes it that much harder to find an original voice.
 
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“God, but life is loneliness, despite all the opiates, despite the shrill tinsel gaiety of "parties" with no purpose, despite the false grinning faces we all wear. And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter - they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. Yes, there is joy, fulfillment and companionship - but the loneliness of the soul in its appalling self-consciousness is horrible and overpowering.”  - Sylvia Plath
 
“Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.” 
-Hermann Hesse

Friday, September 6, 2013

cartoons: where convention meets surrealist thought

Today, while browsing for inspiring images for another tattoo, my interest was drawn to the mixed media art of Max Ernst's graphic novel, Une Semaine De Bonté ("A Week of Kindness")
 
The last time I took the plunge, I was seventeen and just liked the idea of having ink permanently etched into my skin for bragging rights. While now, at this point in my life, as a more rational adult (at least I like to tell myself this) I want to actually have a design I can live with, inextricably erasing those poor decisions of adolescence.
 
Ernst's work, progressive and controversial for the 30's, recalls for me a night where I was bartending in a hotel by an airport, and unknowingly struck up a conversation with Robin Zander, the lead singer and guitarist for Cheap Trick. At the time, Zander was working on a comic book about the corporate dominance of the music industry, and how his hero was fighting for the creative freedom of musicians (and artists, I should also include broadly). The High Priest of Sonic Noise, was the working title he gave it, which was later changed at the time of publication to .... of Rhythmic Noise.

Admittedly, I was fascinated with this concept. Because all I knew of comics and graphic novels, was the good versus evil plot line, the busty babes and the well-toned fighting machines having to save them. And although, I could recognize the standard story of all good will overcome and the underdog will always come out on top as optimistic messages of moral importance and grandeur, I still saw comics as fantastical creations for young-at-heart imaginations. I needed depth, and my preconceived notions of what this meant, were challenged when Zander talked about how it wasn't necessarily about the medium having the impact, so much as the underlying themes audiences eat up subconsciously-- the messages contained within. Not even getting into the subliminal, or low frequency sound wave conspiracy theories--just universal themes that trigger emotive responses.
 
Since that conversation, I have also become acquainted with the series, The Graphic Canon edited by Russ Kick. This is an anthology of sorts, where illustrators from all over, reinterpret famous works of classic literature. Everything from Shakespeare and Hemingway to David Foster Wallace and Edgar Allen Poe.

Needless to say, I was proved wrong. Cartoons can possess depth too.

So, here is a little display of Ernst's work--where images of convention, meet surrealist thought:

 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

bostonia.

Every couple months, I take a walk in Boston for the day. Sometimes alone, and sometimes in company. I do what everyone else does: there's a reason we're all drawn to the same frequent places, the landmarks and the memorials. I don't mind so much being unoriginal in this regard. Nostalgia foments comfort.

Like so many eager young adults, I followed my gut to this city in my early twenties. It was about a boy, swimming over my head with the executive giants of industry, and working more hours to be paid more, only just to eek by.

I worked at a dinky little newspaper, where I was the minority: an uncompromising white female. When it boiled down to it, I didn't want to write that bad. Though, it was my first exposure to publishing, to the deadlines and bylines, and learning where bias and partisanship truly existed. It broke my heart, and chose the direction of graduate school instead.

What is nice about these walks now that I'm from Away, is that I can really appreciate Boston as an outsider looking in, rather than being immersed in the grind, or so plugged in to the point where one can't detach. I can enjoy the city in ways that I couldn't when I actually lived there, and can so readily see how I fell in love with such a place, as a kid on those daytrips with my mother to the MFA. It's like looking at Monet's lilies from the other side of the room, versus being up close and personal, where everything looks chaotic and splattered carelessly about.

I hadn't been back since the day after the Marathon, when I drove through the empty solemn city and felt how cold it could be with the glass and steel buildings pushing up to the grey-green sky like one grand mausoleum in my rear view.

This time was different. The air was warm, with a breeze that tunneled through the streets from the Bay, pushing up skirts and throwing ties over shoulders. Families were at their leisure. A couple discussing wedding plans on the steps of a church, as she let her feet rest and he held her hand. The little old man in evening slippers swearing under his breath in Italian, as he straightened his tomato plants against the high noon sun. And the stripped down children splashing around in the fountains and frog pond, because they can.

I could go on, because the day was so eerily perfect. And I even caught myself saying, Yeah, I could easily come back. But I know I won't, at least not to stay. But maybe that was always what it was in the first place: the romance of it all.

So, here are a couple of my favorite captured images instead:











 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

history repeats itself.

As we receive spurts of updates on the condition of Nelson Mandela (through our lovely, censored channels of mainstream media sources), I am reminded of how much grace one can possess in times of distress and adversity.
 
During Nelson Mandela's inauguration in 1994, he read a poem by Ingrid Jonker-- who Mandela described as a person like himself, who'd risen up for the people of South Africa and shouted FREEDOM!.
 
Her life was cut short at the early age of 31, when she walked into the icy Atlantic at Cape Town. Perhaps, she felt hopeless, or trapped, or saddened by the injustices in the world. Perhaps, she saw all the work that wouldn't be done in her lifetime.
 
We look back and see these people as martyrs who helped change/shape the world. But yet these issues still exist today: we still imprison those who speak their minds too openly, and for thinking something other than what is fed to us like our daily milk and grain. And the violence continues, at the hands of absolved individuals who brutalize and manipulate their ways to the top.

It's so easy to honor those who came before us with the words they spoke or wrote. But what if we were to put those ideas and beliefs into action? What if we actually went beyond ideology and didn't let history repeat itself? Now what kind of world would it be then?


two poems by ingrid jonker:

"be kind"

The child is not dead
The child lifts his fists against his mother
Who shouts Afrika ! shouts the breath
Of freedom and the veld
In the locations of the cordoned heart

The child lifts his fists against his father
in the march of the generations
who shouts Afrika ! shout the breath
of righteousness and blood
in the streets of his embattled pride

The child is not dead not at Langa nor at Nyanga
not at Orlando nor at Sharpeville
nor at the police station at Philippi
where he lies with a bullet through his brain

The child is the dark shadow of the soldiers
on guard with rifles Saracens and batons
the child is present at all assemblies and law-givings
the child peers through the windows of houses and into the hearts of mothers
this child who just wanted to play in the sun at Nyanga is everywhere
the child grown to a man treks through all Africa

the child grown into a giant journeys through the whole world
Without a pass

"i repeat you"

I repeat you
Without beginning or end,
I repeat your body.
The day has a thin shadow
and the night yellow crosses
the landscape without regard
and the people a row candles
while I repeat you
with my breasts
that reform the hollows of your hands




Sunday, July 28, 2013

our impression.

As another living legend passes on, I think about the way people choose to live their lives, and how they purposefully or subconsciously conduct themselves in ways that will be remembered long after they have left us.
 
JJ Cale died this Friday at the age of 74. Of course, I didn't know the man personally, but hearing about any kind of loss will always affect me on some emotional level-- the reality of being a sensitive human being. It breaks my heart, but also warms me in a peculiar sort of way, knowing that those who loved him deeply are going to be missing him deeply.
 
www.last.fm
This was written about him in the days after his death: "JJ Cale was loved by fans worldwide for his completely unpretentious and beautiful music. He was loved even more dearly by all those he came in contact with as the most real and down-to-earth person we all knew." (CNN.com)
 
As someone in pursuit of an artistic/creative path, I wonder how I will be remembered when the time comes. First as an artist/aspiring writer? Or first as a person (and a good person)?  I bet JJ wished for the latter above all else,  and it was simply of consequence that his memory be shrouded with the fact that he was a talented singer/songwriter and musician.
 
Just last week, I got into a conversation with a friend about our need for permanence. Immortality, I think is a better word for it.  Some make history. Some make art. And some have children. How many good people live under the radar and out of the public spotlight, who will only be remembered by the ones who loved them closely and their family members? How important and lasting is that impression we leave behind?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I won't bore you with the details involving this last month's break from LIF.  The long and short of it: I moved. Got settled in. And now I'm undergoing the usual adjustments of adopting a different environment and routine. The beauty of relocating, I think. A new energy and enthusiasm pairs nicely with change, if I do say so myself.
 
I've dove head first into another manuscript. There is something rather enthralling about researching the basis for which I will develop these stories. Three stories to be exact, tangled together as the characters understand where they come from and choose or not choose to stay connected with their roots.
 
Roots have been a theme lately. Perhaps, because I find myself physically moving further and further away from the place where I was born or grew up, and yet I notice that I feel more connected to "that place" by attempting to make sense of how it has shaped me as a part of society, and as an individual.
 
And I don't feel alone in this. There seems to be a resurgence in the arts and the desires of people to tap into the places from where they come from--- their history, their lineage. Americana not just as some folk story to pass down to the future generations, but a true identification with the duality of being both "part of", as well as, a self-aware individualistic human being.
 
“The places where water comes together with other water. Those places stand out in my mind like holy places.” - ray carver

Monday, June 17, 2013

perspective: inversion

“Who dreamt
and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space
through images juxtaposed,
and trapped the archangel of the soul between 2 visual images
and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun
and dash of consciousness together
jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human
prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame”
 - allen ginsberg, HOWL
 
 
"I wake to see the world go wild." - a.g., HOWL