Sunday, November 23, 2014

Found Poetry

One of my favorite museums in the world is the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. The visionary art according the museum's website is 'intuitive, self-taught artistry.' It appeals to me because if it isn't an apocalyptic psychotic product which there is plenty of that there, it is art created by normal folk like you or me. I haven't been for years, but one of favorite exhibits is that of the Baltimore Glass Man. The glass man is a retired (schizophrenic) gentleman who repurposes shards of glass that litter the streets of his neighborhood into art.

I thought of the glass man, who entered the art world later in life, when a friend sent me the video of Naomi Shihab Nye speaking at the Poetry Everywhere Project. Here, she recites a 'found' poem. If you watch it, you will hear her say that William Sanford when asked when did he become a poet, he said that was the not question. The question is when did you stop because when we are little. we are all poets. Nye wisely took the word treasures that her son gave to her to build poetry.

A summer ago, I attended the Iowa Summer Writing Festival to take a poetry course. During the week, I had some one on one time to workshop my poetry with my professor. It was a meet greet as much as anything, and when he asked me after I told several interesting anecdotes about my students, very seriously: Why don't you write about them? It wasn't anything that I hadn't ever considered, but I've just never figured how to do it with integrity. One of the things that I abhor is the sometimes exploitation of the 'ghetto' for art's sake. You would think because I am a poet that I would be really involved with the spoken word group at our school. I support them, but I can't listen to that all of the time. In order to get out of the ghetto, I think, one has to figure out a way not to think like the ghetto. Yes, it can powerful to hear a young person express their angst about not having a daddy, and mommy is a drug addict ... but wouldn't it be more powerful for this same student to find a voice that figures out how to break the pattern and find words that empower not perpetrate.

And then I saw this YouTube video (thank you Ira for always being an inspiration for me). And what I can do is capture the wonderfully vibrant words and sentences that my students express when they aren't even looking. I love to listen to the talk .... and sometimes, without even knowing it, I find myself trying to copy not only their words, but the cadence of their sentences, the attitude of their demeanor, and accent of each syllable. They catch me doing it all of the time, and it makes them laugh. So, I've decided to begin a journal to capture what they are saying to me, to each other, to the wall. I really think that I may be on to something ....

And so we begin with the first line: She put your business in the sky. If that isn't a great line of poetry, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Patti Smith

First Aid Kit ran across my radar some months ago in an article about new bands. As I was watching through their videos on YouTube, I came across this cut of a Patti Smith cover of 'Dancing Barefoot' that they sang with Patti Smith in the audience. Patti Smith was being awarded the Polar Music Prize, which I had never heard of before this viewing. The sisters are of the polar- Sweden, and this rendition is what I woke up to this morning heavy on my mind months later. Patti Smith is drawn to tears as they bring to the song a poignancy that perhaps Smith hadn't ever before.

Take a listen. It is powerful.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Alexander McQueen

Several September mags 2014
The September fashion issues sort of passed me by this year as I was away from normal caring for my mom who had an accident. I just didn't have time to spend leisurely Saturday or Sunday mornings sifting through glossy pages. You would think that it would be a great distraction from worry, but this time ... not so much. And considering the lack of mag tares on my desk, it may also be because it wasn't a great fall of fashion. Nothing struck my imagination.

Except for Alexander McQueen. I tore this particular look from two or three magazines. I love white eyelet, and I am interested in how Sarah Burton, McQueen's designer, uses what is typically a summer material for fall piece. She's butched up the delicate cotton lace-like summer lawn to be a hearty dream of a dress. Certainly, the accessories, most notably the boots, make the ensemble transition to cold make sense, but it's also in the volume of the sleeve and velvet ribbons that would stop the cold from rushing in.

The look in black is equally as exquisite. Sleeveless in the cold of what is the absence of all light, the dress looks like a lava flow covering the model in warmth. I'm not sure if it rises up to her or it flows from her. It bubbles forth and is nearly too hot to wear. The only problem that I have with it is that is the dress is so black in the photograph that it is hard to make out the details of it. The scene itself is so dark that it is only now after seeing the picture several times that I find the black horse. I can't imagine one so black and wonder if it isn't a trick. This is a dress that would undoubtedly transform with a naked eye. The gloss and glow of slick paper is like rain on asphalt: deceptive and slippery.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Vogue November 2014
I have seen like millions of others around the world, the naked pictures of Kim Kardashian. Any respectable fan of popular culture would seek that out on the Internet to see what the queen of making not so much into a spectacle is up to now. Call it what it is, she is a woman that wants the world to see her body naked; phooey the art that she is photographed by a famous photographer, and she stands in an iconic Grace Jones pose. If anyone looks at that photograph and thinks that her body has been blessed by the gods, I feel for them. Because there isn't much natural about her. Her tits and ass look like they are being buoyed by hidden circus wires ... and I know, though I don't watch the show, that she regular buffs, puffs, pulls in, and scrapes off any human-ness. Hey, that's her thing. I'm not intimidated by it because I can imagine the lengths that she takes to achieve such perfection. I have a hard time of round brushing my increasingly long locks into a semblance of a blow-out on a daily basis. Yeah, I don't have that drive, nor need, in me.

I was in New York a couple of years ago. It was cold, and we were tired of walking in it. I saw a shop and said, 'let's check it out.' I failed to see the line of people waiting to get in to the store. And I was brusquely stopped at the door by a super big human being denying my entrance into a warm room. What the heck? What is this place? Ah! it's Dash, the Kardashian store. I was instructed to get in line with the other girls ... and I looked at the line and saw .... girls. More than the Twitter missteps of Lorde or any of others who are back peddling from their 'Mom' comments about the naked pictures, I worry about the girls. They don't know any better than to think that it's all real. I am concerned about their response and what it will do to their self-image. I can hear the girlish calls to the heavens: I want to look like her, I want to look like her .... not understanding the smoke and mirrors.

Ah, but that's not what I meant to start with as I found in this month's issue of Vogue the beauty of a nearly naked man, who also works fantastically hard at his work, but can fly through the air with perfect pose. It's a beautiful photograph of a beautiful man. He is not on a pedestal wrapped in Mikimoto pearls, nor are any strings attached. This is the kind of naked that I like to see.