What You’d Rather Not Consider: Craig Morgan Teicher

What a puzzle life is, and how hard to understand. Why am I good at putting words together, but lousy at biology? Why do I want to live in this village? Why do I prefer orange to blue? ice cream to cake?

I’ve been reading Craig Morgan Teicher’s book Ambivalence and Other Conundrums (Omnidawn), and am inspired by his unfettered honesty, the affirmations that sort of twist around and demand some extra thinking. Continue reading

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If you think you need quiet to write…

…you may be mistaken.

Please read this writer’s essay about her experience writing eight novels, two books for children, and numerous stories and essays. If she can, you can certainly manage to squeeze out a sentence, a phrase, or a paragraph wherever you have to be.

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Visualizing Place: The Mesmerizing Middle East

Photo shows the entrance to Baghdad's Royal Mausoleum, built 1936

Photo shows the entrance to Baghdad’s Royal Mausoleum, built 1936

Today, let’s go to the ancient city of Baghdad, Iraq  — in a time before chaos.

The best way I’ve found to travel there is through the lens and discriminating assessment of Caecilia Pieri, who authored the book Baghdad Arts Deco: Architectural Brickwork, 1920–1950 (The American University in Cairo Press, English version published in 2011).

The book is a departure from the terrible news, the bombing, the ruin that we hear every day. It offers readers the architectural splendor of a city that is, for most of us, all the way around the globe. Behind the uniformly beige exteriors of the buildings, there is such surprising color and detail in the tiles, the glass window panes, the wrought ironwork. Continue reading

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Going to the Myth of City: Pittsburgh, PA

The Shadow of Night by Robert Qualters (oil on canvas, 54 x 68”, 1985)

The Shadow of Night by Robert Qualters (oil on canvas, 54 x 68”, 1985)

Robert Qualters is a masterful visual storyteller, a man immersed in immediate action and Fauvism’s strange colors. He and his art are rooted in Pittsburgh: the mills and neighborhoods, the bakery and shoe store. Qualters focuses his brush on those places people forget, ordinary mom-and-pop shops in neighborhoods that haven’t made it further than wherever they started.

In the book Robert Qualters: Autobiographical Mythologies (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013), author Vicky A. Clark writes, “All places, especially cities, have meaning beyond their most obvious characteristics. There is both the natural topography and the constructed urbanscape.… Place is a location where the symbolic meets history and memory.” Continue reading

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Exploring Wilderness in Tongass National Forest

Wilderness photo by Deborah Bloomfield

Wilderness photo by Deborah Bloomfield

What is it like to be by yourself in a very quiet, lonely place?

Photographer Deborah Bloomfield took on a five-year project, journeying by plane and finally skiff to reach Baranof Island in the the Tongass National Forest in the Alaska Panhandle. Not a major tourist destination, but the right place to capture the blue-black, gray-greenness of the wild. A place to feel astonished. To feel a sense of survival. Continue reading

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