Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tragedy of the Leaves

You can hear Charles Bukowski read his poem "The Tragedy of the Leaves" today, the hump of the week, and maybe it will help you get over the hump of this particular cold, cold week. I found it via the Best American Poetry Blog, its "Hump Day Highlights," which led to PA (aka PoetsArtists), edited by Didi Menendez, and an interview by Grace Cavalieri with Linda Lee Bukowski, the poet's widow, conducted for PoetsArtists back when it was called Oranges & Sardines. What a roundabout journey! (By chance, I am also interviewed in the new PA, with 3 of the Claudel poems attached. As you know, I love chance.) I love the simplicity and quiet, funny sorrow of the Bukowski poem. I see the leaves. I hear the landlady.

The interview reveals a bit of the tragedy of the roots, Bukowski's sad childhood. Hence, my favorite turnip, by Jonathan Koch, who also painted the tangelo and its bright leaves. And if you need some more brightness, as I did this week, here is a review of Jannett Highfill's chapbook, A Constitution of Silence (Green Fuse Poetic Arts, 2013), in the EIL Blog, containing 2 of her subtle sonnets. "Scintillation" contains pictures of fantastic light installations by Lee Eunyeol. The world is full of wondrous things, and is lit from without and lit from within.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Fever Dream

Claudel at Columbus Dance Theatre this past weekend was a grand success, and I love how the reviewer, Tim Feran, called it a "multimedia fever vision." Yes! Camille Claudel knew herself and once said, "Of the dream that was my life, this is the nightmare," and we saw that nightmare onstage, as well as the joyful dream. I hope it's OK to show you these production photos by John Ray, so you can see a bit of the "fever vision," too.

What a privilege and joy to have been part of this art collaboration! You could feel the excitement during and after every performance. One woman wept uncontrollably after the show on opening night. Others gathered in the lobby, eagerly discussing Claudel and Rodin or vowing to learn more. Dance students praised the dancers. Area musicians hailed the return of members of Carpe Diem String Quartet who live now in Washington and Colorado but reunited for this.

My sister's colleagues from Otterbein University got to see her rich, gorgeous depiction of the older Claudel, turned to gold in the asylum where she lived the last 30 years of her life. It was a "Wowie wow wow wow!" event, as Junie B. Jones would say. Here is Chris as Claudel confronting (in memory and dance) Rose Beuret, Rodin's early model and mistress, then common law wife. The costumes, by Liz Hopkin, were amazing, evoking period clothing and marble purity, as needed. Turns out Liz was inspired to become an art historian by the works of Camille Claudel! How lucky she also became a costumer in time for Claudel at CDT!

I did remember to pack shoes for this trip to Ohio!

But I failed to pack boots. And there was a lot of snow. Fortunately I inherited some (kinky) boots, left in a closet, for the trip home.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Red Shoes

I'm packing. To head out of town. But I won't be going anywhere warmer. I'm headed to Columbus, Ohio, for the world premier of Claudel, the dance-poetry-theatre-music collaboration I've been obsessed with lately!

Here's an article about it in the Columbus Dispatch. Congrats to Columbus Dance Theatre for the lovely preview, and thanks to Bill Mayr for writing it. (There's a great photo at the link, too!)

So I am packing up to go, taking:

--80 copies of the book, Interior Sculpture (Dancing Girl Press, 2014) to sell in the lobby
--reading matter, including A House of Many Windows, by Donna Vorreyer, and The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths, by Sandy Longhorn
--writing materials, including journal and dream journal (wacky dreams lately = possible poems)

Wait! What about jammies, toothbrush, and stuff to wear to the performances?! Mmm, yes, must pack those. Earrings. Shoes, don't forget shoes.

Will they be red high-tops?

More thanks, too! To Dulce Maria Menendez, who publishes Poets and Artists Magazine, for this interview, with 3 more Camille Claudel poems in it, including the one with evidence of her paranoia or psychotic break, whatever it was. But after 30 years in the asylum, Camille Claudel wasn't crazy anymore, and pretty much everybody knew it.

Which reminds me of New Zealand author Janet Frame, and Jane Campion's film trilogy, An Angel at My Table. Does it seem like I am procrastinating on the packing? Could be. But really I am doing all the laundry, and I am between loads, but ready to fold now, and, following that, to pack! Socks.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not Somewhere Else

So. Tired. Of. The. Snow. And the wind, and the cold. Everybody predicted a hard winter. They were right. I was out in it today to 1) avoid cabin fever 2) get groceries 3) mail a couple chapbooks to people who helped me with it 4) get a new planner-style calendar with Christmas gift card to Barnes & Noble, plus 5) the newest Best American Poetry anthology, to continue my lifelong learning.

Before that, and before I was kicked off the Internet*, I posted the new poetry feature at Escape Into Life--Mia Avramut (poet/physician), with art by Luca Bartolato.

*So. Tired. Of. Getting. Kicked. Off. The. Internet. (See how that's kind of like thinking in winter boots?)

While on the Internet, I also saw the cover of Not Somewhere Else But Here: A Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place, Sundress Publications, forthcoming in February, but you can pre-order it now, if you want. Poetry and prose, and the link also shows you The Men of Sun(dress), a marvelous monthly calendar I have hung on the door to the downstairs bathroom, where my son, on a recent visit home, stood patiently flipping through all the wacky and wonderful photos of men in sundresses. He liked it.

So. Do. I.

Pineapple Still Life, Jonathan Koch, 2014, and Magnolia, 2013.

Too. Much. Snow.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Teal Blues

Ah, Monday. Or Blue Monday, as we say in the blog... The sky, an actual bright blue this morning, has faded to a pale gray blue. Google has a coral and teal blue graphic in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A box of 99 copies (eh? where's the other one?) of my new chapbook arrived on Friday, with a deep teal blue color cover (a little greener blue* than the blue that turns up in the Internet images here and here). I love it and am so grateful to have the book out there in time for the dance/theatre production in Ohio.

And both kids came home for the weekend, so I am a little blue at the farewells: one this morning, and one yet to come, tonight. My son had to go back to work, though he didn't have to teach this morning, so he had sunshine for the drive back to Chicago. We had a lovely time just hanging out together this weekend--watching movies, playing Pictionary and cards, sharing meals. It extended the winter holidays a bit. And now...the blues.

But I've had a surprising number of winter poem acceptances, so I'm off to a good start in 2014! And there's plenty of good news for others in my poetry circles: one won a major book award, another was named state poet laureate!

Plus, for breakfast, mini-blueberry turnovers. So maybe my mood will turn over, too!

*Ah, bluegreen was one of my favorite Crayola Crayon colors. And now there's also a teal blue.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Wounded Niobid

Tuesday was a two-interview day, and today is a three-poem day. On Tuesday morning,* I was interviewed by The Columbus Dispatch about the upcoming production of Claudel at Columbus Dance Theatre, in the intimate Fisher Theatre. (Last year's Cleopatra was in the larger Lincoln Theatre, with its very appropriate Egyptian ornamentation.) What an unexpected delight in life, the chance to work closely and in a variety of ways with a dance company!

I had the occasion to spell the word "Niobid" for the reporter, and I had learned what it means--a child of Niobe--in my research on Claudel. Now this poem, "Wounded Niobid," appears in Electica, with two others written in the voice of Camille Claudel, who sometimes inhabits the voice of a character in her sculpture. In this case, there's a doubleness; pierced in the heart, she feels her connection to a daughter of Niobe.

As the poem details, sometimes Camille Claudel, like other sculptors, re-used figures from one sculpture in another. The Wounded Niobid is the female figure from Sakuntala, who leans on her lover in a reconciliation scene in that grouping.

Like me, Camille Claudel loved the water. Swimming was good exercise for her, but she also liked walking, despite a mild limp. I appreciate the coincidence of her "clay foot," as she was noted for her fine skills modeling hands and feet in clay while a student of August Rodin.

And I love The Wave, her sculpture of three women under a huge wave that might overwhelm them. She was a fan of Japanese art, so I imagine the wave in Japan. If the women are lost, 1) first they had that glorious rush of water 2) they are like the children of Niobe, who all perished, as punishment for their mother's pride in them.

Looking forward to reading the whole issue of Eclectica, and I've already read the short short "Consensus" by Laurence Klavan, who makes it a marvelous Random Coinciday by being the twin brother of Escape Into Life theatre reviewer Scott Klavan, who claims he's much better looking. Who gnu?

*Tuesday afternoon was a job interview, so wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Trying to Fly

Today I reviewed a music CD at Escape Into Life, on "poetry Wednesday," because, as has been pointed out by poets I admire, a CD is a bit like a poetry chapbook! And Naomi Ashley is a singer/songwriter, writing songs that are gently rhyming lyric poems. Her voice is soft and whimsical, just my kind of thing. So, I hope you'll check out Trying to Fly at her website or ReverbNation, etc.

I got to hear her live once, at the Encyclopedia Show in Chicago, and she was lovely. Wrote about it here. So it's a good Hump of the Week for me.

It's also a Random Coinciday. Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s real birthday, even though we get next Monday off. (And also my mom's!) This morning I opened the newly received Poetry East (Numbers 80&81,Fall, 2013) to this epigraph by Martin Luther King, Jr.:

What, then, is the answer? The answer lies in our willing acceptance of unwanted and unfortunate circumstances even as we still cling to a radiant hope, our acceptance of finite disappointment even as we adhere to infinite hope. This is not the grim, bitter acceptance of the fatalist, but the achievement found in Jeremiah's words, "This is a grief, and I must bear it."

I heard this, of course, in the context of social justice, but also in the personal context. The first poem in the issue, directly following the King quotation, is a long narrative poem by Michael Hettich, recounting the loss of their first child ("unwanted and unfortunate circumstances" of a home birth). I'd read his poems about this before, but not in such detail, nor from such distance, the distance of 30 years, which collapsed into the astonished woe of memory. One of the songs on Trying to Fly, "Jennie Wise," has a sad story of this kind, too. Alas.

And I heard the "radiant hope" and "willing acceptance" of Emily Dickinson, or any struggling artist not in denial who understands the patient woe of the unsung. Someone of her patience and strength and courage could indeed take on that knowledge.

So, I wish you radiant hope.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Eclair de Lune

True, I am doing my daughter's laundry today (ack, tidying up on a Slattern Day!) before she goes back to school, but, otherwise, I might be a bad mom. "What's for breakfast?" she asked, upon rising, rather late, since she and her beau went to see Her last night, the 10:10 show.

"Uh, lemon cake?" was my slatternly reply. Thinking aloud: "Oh, that's not very healthy. Well, it's no worse than a donut."

"Donuts," she said, with the quiet drooling concentration of Homer Simpson.

This conversation ended with me giving her a $20 to go to Denny's Donuts drive-through for Bavarians, the closest we could come to eclairs, for which I had a hankering, and for Highlander Grog, my favorite coffee flavor, and also Denny's favorite, apparently still on hand as a tribute to him.* So, yay!

Perhaps you will also enjoy the pastries (uh, feathered and blood-spattered) at Thirteen Myna Birds today, a new issue full of wonderful and provocative poems. I love the line, "The fog is manifest appetite--eating all in its path," by Annette Marie Hyder, in her poem "A Thick Stem." I have seen that kind of fog, been eaten by it, and have incorporated it into poems of my own, too. But not in my two poems in this issue.

My poems, "History" and "At Joliet," are from a series of poems about small towns. Headed south to Peoria by car, we pass Morton, and once our car broke down there, so I feel very fond of its police department and a particular auto repair place. Headed to Chicago on the train, I get a close up view of the prison at Joliet, made of the blond stone dug from the quarry there.

And why did I have a hankering for eclairs? Well, 1) I pretty much always have a hankering for eclairs and 2) I saw this delightful French thing on Facebook this morning (thanks to Sandy Longhorn), and it has various yummy things in it, including eclairs and hunk chocolate, so, naturally...

Speaking (of) French, I found this Creative Commons image, by Bertranfenne, while searching for virtual eclairs. It is a fermeture eclair, or zipper. An eclair is a flash of lightning! And a fermeture is a closing, or fastening. So a fermeture eclair is a closing that flashes open, eh? Voila!

*Dennis (Denny) Marquardt (1954-2011)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Blue Satsumas

Boy, it sure felt good to get out of the house yesterday! As soon as the temperature hit zero, we got out to shovel the driveway, our walk, and our neighbor's, so mail carrier and dog walkers can go by safely and not in the street! Then we went to the bank, the library, and the grocery store! Wooee!

And, boy, it sure feels good to be back inside, warm and safe. A pipe upstairs is frozen, as usual. Each year we take steps to prevent or solve this recurring problem.This year those steps included drilling a small hole in the bathroom ceiling downstairs, to let the heat get in and rise to the trouble spot. Since it's now 12 degrees outside, rather than 12 below, our hopes are high.

But don't those satsuma mandarins look cold? Heh heh. It's a study on blue paper by Jonathan Koch. And be sure to check out the blue Christmas tree and other snapshots by Terry Kinney, up today at Escape Into Life with some of his poems. He's a multi-talented guy, and a very fine actor!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Interior Sculpture

It's a Blue Monday in the blog, but I am not blue. The sky is blue on this sunny cold day, officially -15, with a "feels like" wind chill factor of -50 at the moment. Fortunately, schools and many businesses are closed, so people can stay home. My son gets to work from home today in Chicago, and my parents unfroze their pipes out in the country, so they have water as well as heat!

Here's the book cover for Interior Sculpture: poems in the voice of Camille Claudel, which might warm things up!  The book is already available at dancing girl press. (Maybe you'd like to order it online, a nice indoor activity!) I am tickled, and this makes it a Poetry Someday in the blog, as well.

The cover is based on Camille Claudel's famous sculpture, The Waltz. And here's a link to information on Columbus Dance Theatre and its upcoming production of Claudel, a world premiere. Plus, Juliette Binoche stars in a new film about her, Camille Claudel 1915, that I hope to see when it comes, but accounts of it do match much of my research and interpretation of her life. Looking forward to a busy January of dance and film!

Poems from the book appear now in Arsenic Lobster, Heron Tree, and Fickle Muses (see links in list to the right) and are forthcoming in Eclectica, Menacing Hedge, and Wicked Alice. Thanks so much for your interest and support if you look for the poems and order the book!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Twelfth Night

It's the Twelfth Day of Christmas, by some accounts, and Epiphany Eve. I hope I have an epiphany tomorrow.

My husband used to get his presents, in his shoes, tomorrow, January 6, on Three Kings Day. We expect to be snowed in tomorrow, or homebound due to bitter cold and the windchill factor, and since we did not hoard groceries in advance, I hope I have enough imagination to make meals from what's at hand.

The traditional food would be a cake with a bean and a pea in it. I have some beans. Or I could bake a King Cake with a baby Jesus in it. Not happening.

Instead, I offer this interesting account of Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Shakespeare's play performed as it would have been, in Shakespeare's time, with men playing all the roles. It's a production of Shakespeare's Globe in a limited run at The Belasco Theatre in New York, starring Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry. I'd love to see it.

I was in Twelfth Night in college, as Olivia, and in Chicago, with the Steppenwolf Second Company (doing Shakespeare for school groups), as Viola. I was a better Olivia. I'd been instructed in a convoluted rationale just to speak in my regular voice, as a boy would have been playing Viola/Cesario before his voice changed, but I'm not very deep-voiced naturally, so it could hardly have worked. Sigh... Plus my twin (Sebastian) was way taller. I think back on what would have been the more natural casting and wonder why we didn't do that!

Oh, well. I got to play two cool Shakespearean roles + all the women, at one point or another, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, not to mention a variety of fairies. What a nice life.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tidying Up

I’ve been tidying up on a Slattern Day! Egad! I undecorated the tree and my husband and I carried it to the curb in a tarp. It was raining needles. I even reorganized the ornaments in labeled boxes. I did all my year-end tax accounting. I caught up on belated Christmas cards. I cleaned out two closets and did laundry. What is happening?! Well, the going up and down stairs part has certainly kept me nice and warm. 

We had a lovely holiday woliday with family wamily and friends. I hope you did, too. 

On New Year’s Eve, we took our annual short trip to Michigan to a house in the woods where we park our car at the foot of the drive because it won’t make it up without slipping back or tipping into the ravine. It acquired about a foot of snow on top, as did the deck furniture out the window! We celebrated with old friends and young dogs. 

We used every single white card and every single black card in the Cards Against Humanity deck and laughed till we cried. We’d been drinking a champagne toast once per hour from 8:00 p.m. on but still almost forgot to turn on the tv and see the ball drop at midnight. Almost, but fortunately the kitchen clock was five minutes fast!

While it was snowing, the new issue of Arsenic Lobster came out with 2 of my Camille Claudel poems in it, “Collage” (which means glue*) and “Working Small.” It’s a wonderful issue with a wonderful introductionMany thanks to Arsenic Lobster editor, Susan Yount, and to Jonathan Koch for Scissors, Thread, Tailor’s Tape, the painting above.

Thanks to Kristi and Alex for the New Year's pix, including pix of their dogs, Lucy and Archie.**

Happy New Year!

*I did not glue my fingers together on Christmas gifts this year.

**And the lion shall lie down with the dog.

Hmm, what's that I smell? Ah, my husband has resumed painting with paint thinner..., so the new year may resemble the old year. 

But we might lose our awareness of that.