Surreal Boat by Thirsha Redfern
Everything at this time of year seems a little unsettled. Perhaps it is good to embrace the strange spirits that are in the air.
I like to talk to my students about “unpacking” a poem. Some poems require more of this than others. Here is a short, untitled poem by the late Stacy Doris (drawn from a book published in 2012, the year she died — Fledge: A Phenomenology of Spirit by Nightboat Books):
Toes mean sight mean dove called
spans a community
of whims, a whole sink pole
a whole overall lawn
entertained. As it turns
out swan’s disunity
of heart sides: a boat town
thrashed of here, entire
If you read enough of Doris’ poems, you begin to fully appreciate her enjambment and appetite for syllables and sounds; you begin, even, to believe in her transitions between thoughts, though they are not fully apparent — for example, decided decided / spans a community.
Happy Thanksgiving. May it be filled with that “community / of whims.”
“Magician’s Secret” by Vladimir Kush, Russian surrealist painter
The ever-wise poet Charles Simic offers some sage writing advice (below). I added my thoughts in brackets.
“A Few Things To Keep In Mind When Writing A Poem”
• Don’t tell the readers what they already know about life. [… and don't just write down what YOU already know about life, either. Use the writing to figure out something that you didn't know before.]
• Don’t assume you’re the only one in the world who suffers. Continue reading
“deafening silence” photograph by Rike Bach
“Audio Saucepan: The Waiting For a Sound Episode” leads the listener in with Sufi drumming, to Church of God praise music on the lap steel guitar, Jitterbug Waltz, and Corsican male choir. It’s a beauty of a show, percussive and spacious. Continue reading
I’ve been editing other people’s work a lot in the past several months. I tell my students (who are all adults) not to worry about punctuation, grammar or even spelling in first drafts.
And I mean it. DO NOT let these small things hang up your ability to get the poem or story out. Spell atrociously. I don’t care. Conjure up commas in oddly pleasant places, even if they are wrong.
Later on, you can turn to spell check and/or someone else’s discerning eyes… But those actions, helpful as they are, come long after that first draft or two when you draw out your thoughts ink and let them flow and twinkle from your fingertips.
Painting by Todd Horne
“Audio Saucepan: The Golderg Episode” is a tingly piano show — with exquisite music by Brad Mehldau, Hiromi, and Dan Tepfer.
I’ll also give you some of Charlie Musselwhite’s soulful sounds, just to further bend your ears.
Tepfer’s multi-genre (classical/jazz) blend of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations anchors the show and gives this episode its name. I’ll share several tracks from his intriguing recording with you. Continue reading