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, 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"