Monday, January 31, 2011

Sighting the Dark-Eyed Junco

I very much hope that these were indeed the birds I saw yesterday in the courtyard.  Partly for the triumph of identification, but mostly to be able to say, "the dark-eyed juncos hopped branch to branch in the crab-apple tree. The dark-eyed juncos on a grey morning, they flashed the white ribbons of their tails. The dark-eyed juncos flew to the roof when I opened the door and walked out into the daylight; I hope for their return, o dark-eyed juncos on a January day. Dark-eyed juncos on a January day, branch to branch and then down to taste the seeds, just before the snowstorm arrived.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bring Me Your Poor, Your Tired, Your Abandoned Poems

Here's how it works: you, the poet, drop off an abandoned poem by emailing the poor neglected thing to Robert McDonald: Robert will put it in a nice comfy temporary cage, and then send it out to another poet for random placement. After you have abandoned a poem, take the abandoned poem sent to you, and use it, abuse it, add, subtract, paint over, use the frame but throw away the canvas--however you are inspired to react with and work on and tinker with this poem is fine.

Then we ask that you email the transformed creature back to Robert, that he may post the results on Lives of the Spiders and in doing so share the heart-warming story of abandoned poems taken in by caring poets with several dozens of interested internet readers.

Poets and writers: the abandoned poem can be one you've given up on, forgotten in a journal, left in a drawer for 10 years without air, or simply have to let go of. The original will still belong to you, of course. The transformed version will be its own cool thang, and belong to the writer who took the time and care to train it and make it behave.

PS--We are using "poem" in the broadest sense. Prose writers, feel free to abandon that paragraph of a story that never got going. And to take the poem you get in exchange and wrassle it into prose form. Poem whisperers--ready, set, go! Please invite others to join the project.

Thanks a lot! You'll make some sad deserted poem feel so needed and new.

This is blatant homage/imitation of a project poet Barry Schwabsky has been working on--he asked fellow poets to send him an abandoned or unfinished poem and he would work on finishing it.  There's more explaination of the whole process here, as well as links to some examples of the now "finished" poems. 

Schwabsky's essay about this process comes from a website, Likestarlings, which pairs poets up to collaborate.

Let's trade failures and make them unfail. (Photo is my cousin Julie's dog Cain.  He looks like he's sad that any poems fail. And he trusts you to make them better.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Last Wolf

I was in a hotel room in Washington, DC for a bookselling conference. After a couple nights of poor sleep, I came back from dinner and dozed off at 9:30. I woke up happy and convinced of my good night's rest.  It was 12:10 a.m. I was as awake as the sun.  So I started to read the book I'd brought with me, the book that despite being at a bookselling conference I'd not had time to read.  The book, a memoir by Mira Bartok called The Memory Palace, about how she lived with and fled from and returned to her schizophrenic mother, is so achingly sad.  Here is a passage that is not typical--She does not in general go for the poetic digression:

     "A friend in town says she heard the last wolf when she was ten and lost in the woods. Twenty years later, she heard it again. The loss of the wolf is like the loss of a mother. Somewhere she roams in memory, in darkness. Our bond with her is inexplicable, before the beginning of time. She is fierce love, she is sorrow. She is a howling in the wilderness we can never see, calling us home. She is what we fear--and what we long to return to--the heat of the cave and animal closeness, before all civilization and reason."

I have been rereading Grimm's fairy tales recently. The Memory Palace reminds me of stories of lost princesses, and witches under curses, and the wolf in the woods.

Mira also has a website that lists sources for grants and artist residencies, for all you art types out there.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Two More Artistic Statements

They are growing fast and furious, like bulbs in the spring.  My question now is: should I give each prose thingy its own title, instead of just calling the poor thing by a number?  Anyway, here are two more drafts:

Artistic Statement # 16

I like contemplating and exaggerating the range of possibilities in monsters' lives; will they hide in caves? Will they devour all the horses? For the same reason, my father and I create swords of flame. My goal is to invite glory and a suit of golden armor from the gods, leaving the responsibility of the story’s conclusion up to an unknown peasant lad. The monsters, limitless and mysterious, are what make both the deep woods and the ocean so exciting to me.

Another one after the jump.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Photographs Uncovered, an Artist Discovered

I love the story of these photographs coming to light, and the images themselves are as good as anything you have seen from the time.

Check out this blog for more about the rediscovery of street photographer Vivian Maier, her compelling images, and the young man who is championing her art.

Monday, January 3, 2011

O Little Man at the Foot of My Bed

C.D. Wright at the new website Evening Will Come:

"O little man at the foot of my bed, please don’t steal my pillow."

A new journal of poetics.  An homage and explanation, a celebration, by the wondrous Ms. Wright. In full disclosure, I found this out via John Gallaher's blog.  Check it out!

This little guy looks like he might live at the foot of someone's bed.  Or would, if he could just get out of the museum case.