Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Voice of Reason: Charles Jensen Responds...

Charlie Jensen also blogged about that torturous article I posted yesterday, and he wrote about it so much better than I did!


Here's some things he said that I wish I did:




I've always thought that making more poets was a good thing, since it created more readers of poetry (theoretically). If more people are reading poetry, then more people are reading books, talking about poetry, thinking about poetry, supporting poetry readings and events, creating reading series, founding journals and magazines, and generally working to widen the reach and impact of poetry. This is a change from the former model, where only the highly educated, wealthy, and/or pretentious elite had access to "literature."


Do photography MFA programs worry they are creating too many photographers? While some MFA graduates will go on and become literary superstars, some will go on to write in their diaries. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. 

For some people, the teaching credential is valuable. For others, the time to write. For still others, the community of writers with whom they work. These are all valid and valuable reasons to pursue an MFA degree. An MFA degree is also only required in the case of the first concern. . .




The world is already full of reasons why people shouldn't write. Let's not be part of creating another one.




~~  Yes!  And education for the sake of education is not a bad thing.  People spend money on new cars, giant televisions, monthly cable, dinners out and we don't say anything, but someone goes back to school and we wonder if they are "wasting their money."   Hmmm.


Thanks for this, Mr. Jensen!  An excellent response!




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Confession Tuesday

My Answer?  "I'm taking the pets..."



Dear Reader,

I'm off to visit my friend Susan Rich today in Seattle, but wanted to slide in a few confessions before the ferry arrives...

To the confessional--

The Number 1 Answer was...

I confess I have realized that I would be the worst player on Family Feud because I realize my perception on the world is not the "majority's" perception on the world.

Example-- I was watching Family Feud and they said, "Name something you can never have too much of."  My answer?  Slippers.   Survey says: X   #1 answer:  Money.   My second answer:  Books.  Survey says:  XX

I was also kind of amused that "slippers" came before "books" for me, but honestly, who can enjoy a book if your feet are cold?

~

Shaken, Not Stirred

I confess I spent all day yesterday on military base for my daughter's field trip.  It's the same military base I would bring my daughter to when she was a baby for playgroups when she was a baby (pre 9/11).  After 9/11 everything changed on getting onto the base. It became much more strict and serious.  No cellphones with cameras allowed, car checks, strict background checks, etc.  Before it was, "Hey there!" and drive on in.

It's always weird for me (the peace activist, the liberal, the poet) to be on the military base (I tend to think about the bombs, the secret areas, the weapons), but I must say it's pretty intriguing to get to visit a military base if you haven't-- I have a huge respect for the soldiers, their rules & procedures on the base, and have met some of the nicest people there.  Of course, what really made my day was that my Visitor's Pass was numbered 007.  I tell you, had I been wearing my secret decoder ring, it could have been a very different day!

~

I confess I'm completely lost in the holiday spirit, domestic bliss, and all the home things I tend to ignore most the year.

I confess I am cooking (cooking!) these days.  This is not a norm for me as I confess that my husband does the majority of the cooking because I tend to get overwhelmed in the kitchen.  "Overwhelmed in the Kitchen" would be the title of my recipe book and it would include pages of menus of restaurants to call to make reservations.

But there's something about Christmas music playing in the kitchen that makes me don my vintage apron my Nana made and whip up enough Hearty Corn Chowder to eat and even extra to freeze.  I think honestly though, there is a part of me that worries if I get too Suzy Homemaker I might forget to write, I might give up everything to be June Cleaver.

Once I said, "I could be the person who just redecorates her house again and again..."  It was this fear that I might lose my artist self if I get too involved in what has been called (and not so nicely), "women's work."  I think if I look deeply into myself, one of the reasons I tend to poo-poo the domestic chores and housewifely things, is because 1) it's hard to be both  2) maybe I worry that I'll use all my creativity on the remodeling the bathroom and have nothing left for the page.

I'm not sure, but there's something more to for me to think about it, to think about why my artist heroes have always been the opposite of my life -- Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keeffe, Annie Lebowitz.  And my favorite poet mothers (Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton) killed themselves, something I wouldn't recommend.

But I'm happy these days with the Christmas music on in the background.  Maybe it's more of an "ignorantly bliss" since NPR has been turned off, but it's a good place, lala land, in the world of my mind and memories (I cannot tell you how many times I have mentioned my father in this last week), so I'll stay here a little longer, at least until Christmas, and maybe New Year's, then the real world will poke its head in again.  I'll be ready.

Amen.


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Monday, November 29, 2010



The Current Conversation
From Slate.com:  



MFA vs. NYC

America now has two distinct literary cultures. Which one will last?



Honestly, I don't think you should waste your time reading this article, but I'm sharing it because I think it's important because it represents a huge flaw in so many people's thinking -- that there are only 2 ways to be a writer. 

Here's some points the author makes that I thought were interesting...




The superficial differences between these two cultures can be summed up charticle-style: short stories vs. novels; Amy Hempel vs. Jonathan Franzen; library copies vs. galley copies; Poets & Writers vs. the New York Observer; Wonder Boys vs. The Devil Wears Prada; the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference vs. the Frankfurt Book Fair; departmental parties vs. publishing parties; literary readings vs. publishing parties; staying home vs. publishing parties.


(Note: I did have to laugh at the everything else vs. publishing parties)

The model for the MFA fiction writer is her program counterpart, the poet. Poets have long been professionally bound to academia; decades before the blanketing of the country with MFA programs requiring professors, the poets took to the grad schools, earning Ph.D.s in English and other literary disciplines to finance their real vocation. Thus came of age the concept of the poet-teacher. The poet earns money as a teacher; and, at a higher level of professional accomplishment, from grants and prizes; and, at an even higher level, from appearance fees at other colleges. She does not, as a rule, earn money by publishing books of poems—it has become almost inconceivable that anyone outside a university library will read them. The consequences of this economic arrangement for the quality of American poetry have been often bemoaned (poems are insular, arcane, gratuitously allusive, etc.), if poorly understood. Of more interest here is the economic arrangement proper, and the ways in which it has become that of a large number of fiction writers as well. . .

(Note:  Um, is it just me, or is this the most painful sentence I've ever read:  it has become almost inconceivable that anyone outside a university library will read them.  Knife, meet my back...)


~



But again, the biggest flaw in the obsessional guessing-game of how best to be a writer in the US is that there is only *one* way to choose -- the MFA or the Life Experience way, but wait, there's more... 

If you call now to be a writer, not only will you receive this annoying article on limited choices, but also a handy-dandy poetic license to use as needed, a box of tissues to help with the rejection slips, but also your very own headache from reading debates that have been going on for years.

Can Poetry Matter?  Wait, where are we?
 
Listen, let me tell you this secret-- there is no one right way to be a writer.

Writers with MFAs publish books.
Writers without MFAs publish books.
Writers who have gone to college publish books.
Writers who have not gone to college publish books.
Writers who do not even live in NY publish books! (Amazing!)

Article after article slams MFA programs or raises them up, but it's too big and there are a bazillion ways to become a writer.

I have an MFA.  For me, it was an amazing time in my life and helped me be a better writer.  It is something I will never regret, but that way was right for me.  But that doesn't mean not getting an MFA is wrong.  Ah, the great thing about living an artistic life-- there is no wrong way to do it.  There's only your way, my way, his way, her way.  How freakin' lucky is that?!

Unlike becoming a doctor where you need to do X number of years in college, take test Y & Z, then intern at Hospital ABC, the pages in the Handbook for Becoming a Writer have been ripped out.  

Yes, there are the "read lots" and "write more," but that's one way.  There's also submitting a hundred times & be published or submit once and be published, or submit your own special number of times and be published.  But let's not stop there, there's many other ways-- don't forget, have a terrible childhood or uniquely special event in your life and write about it.  There's also get lucky, work hard, and your brother-in-law is a NY publisher way too.  Sometimes there's the self-publishing route or the write obsessively about that weird dream you had route (see Twilight series).  There's publish your thesis and publish your blog ways as well.  

But MFA & NYC only?  Nah.  We are not divided up.  It's like saying, "Let's look at that beautiful field of wildflowers-- oh, if I put my face in the dirt I see that some wildflowers have roots that criss-cross and others have roots that do not connect.  Let's pull out all the flowers and talk about them (ignoring all their beauty, of course) until everyone has passed out from boredom.  We'll ignore the flowers whose roots are in the shape of anything else and maybe not even mention those. . .well, that was fun.  What other field shall we uproot?"  

Ugh.  Give it a break.  Judge the writing, not the writer.  Discuss the book, not the lifestyle.  There is no secret decoder ring on how to live best as a writer.  Wait.  I lied. There is one...

Here's the secret decoder ring for becoming a writer:

Wander around your life a bit then sit down and write something.
Realize you need to find your own way & what's best for you.
If it interests you, write about it.
Trust your gut, your inner voice, your own path.
Either an MFA or not an MFA, that is not the question.



So, I thought you'd be interested in knowing that the debate continues on.  Even though I thought we were discussing the weather, the holidays, the words.


Is this still a topic we need to explore or can we just say different strokes for different folks?  


I think I'll say that.  Maybe even spell it out on my secret decoder ring.  Thank gawd I bought that box of Cracker Jacks, who knows, if I wouldn't have found my ring so early, I might have missed this whole writer's life.  My precious.



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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hilarious (and oh-so-true) Book Trailer about Love in the Time of Amazon.com

My friend (and author of Forgetting English: Stories, Midge Raymond made this book trailer with her husband (who is also an author of The Tourist Trail ).

What's amazing about this (besides it's underlying truth) is that they made it from video taken on their iPhone.  Pretty darn impressive.

Enjoy!






Saturday, November 27, 2010

If Poets Had Oprah's Pocketbook... (My cheese is the big thing in life to me now. MM)



So I had my Green Friday-- the tree is up, the house is decorated and I am filled with pumpkin pie, stuffing and mashed potatoes.  Ah, the holidays.

I did not shop yesterday, unless you call "browsing the leftovers" shopping.

But today, I went onto eBay not to shop, but to see what's available in the poetry world for the big spenders.  Here's what I found (oh and I think that Marianne Moore letter could be a poetry prompt, I just love her words...)


A few things for sale on eBay this week:


Beat Poet Gregory Corso Original Artwork & signed $1700

Elizabeth Bishop's signature  $1650

77 Dream Songs signed by John Berryman $900

Edna St. Vincent Millay Letter:  Thank you for the beautiful roses and for what you said. $1899

Langston Hughes Autographed book: $399

First Edition of Emily Dickinson's Poems $1500

Walt Whitman Letter:  If convenient would your horse & wagon pass for '86 -- same as this returned -- with many thanks. Camden City Office Horse RR"  $5999

Marianne Moore Letter:  Dear girls, Barbara and Marianne, or shouldn't I say, Impresarios[?]?"), written in an extremely shaky hand, apparently thanking them for a gift basket, reading in part: "My oval basket of cheeses . . . is here.  I've been longing for cheese and every kind is here.  Real Camembert. . . . Could you ever come in to see me and inquire what remains in my refrigerator[?].  That circle is the impatient mark of a [illegible word] telephone.  My cheese is the big thing in life to me now.  I love Dutch cheese and I see I have a ball of red Edam.  Can I ever tell you how your personal concern for me makes me happy?. . . .  Please know that I marvel at your exciting kindness. . . ."  A bargain at $250 OR best offer.


~

I love Marianne's focus on cheese, it is also a special love in my own life too.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Green Friday & the Tradition of Three Good Things





So today is the so-called Black Friday, where shoppers wake up early from their post-Thanksgiving coma and get to the stores early for the best sales/deals/products.

As someone who doesn't like crowds or shopping, I sleep in today, happy not to have to take part.  But I have friends who are up and out by 5 am.

For us, this is our day to decorate and put up the tree.  No, Christmas can never come too early in my house.

But this year, we've added a new challenge in our home to the gift giving-- make your own gifts.  I'll let you know what I come up with as I am still trying to figure out what to make.

Another tradition we started a few years ago instead of giving actual gifts to the extended family was "Three Good Things."  Instead of giving each other gifts, we have to do 3 good deeds and at Christmas dinner we report them to each other.  Some are funny, some don't work out so well (like the year we tried to pay for the car behind us to ride the ferry and the ferry worker just couldn't figure out why we were paying for someone we didn't know and we were almost in an argument with her while trying to give her the money), some are bigger, like when my niece collected a ton of food from her friends and neighbors for the local food bank, they can be whatever you want.

It's a really nice way to celebrate Christmas without everything rotating around "what shall I buy this person?"  instead it becomes about "what good can I do in the world?"

We also have our kids do 3 good things, from helping a friend, to donating their own toys to a good charity, or holding the door open for a stranger.  I have always told my daughter that Christmas is about other people, birthdays are about you.  We do, of course, still give the kids lots of fun gifts for Christmas, I mean, Santa is a pretty cool guy, but we also try to make sure we remember that it's about giving, not getting.

So that's what I'm thinking about this Friday, Green Friday in our house, with a Christmas tree, some old funky decorations, a forty year old manger, and Christmas music playing in the background while we change the house from its everyday clothes into something that sparkles for the next month or so...

Happy first moments of the Hollydaze, however you celebrate, or don't. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving thankful Thursday

Dear Reader,

I hope this finds you warm and safe, two things I am thankful for.

Right now I am waiting to see who, if anyone arrives to my home for Thanksgiving. Yes, in the northwest, snow shuts us down and I live either a ferry ride away or a floating bridge drive away from my family. While I love this small town life and am thankful for it, the large beautiful hills that lead to my home are treacherous today and we are waiting to see if the rain begins to melt the snow and ice.

But even if it is a small thanksgiving for me, with large amounts of food, i am still thankful. Very thankful.

My list-

I am thankful we never fully lost power. And which the wind roared and the lights blinked, we have lights, and heat, and warmth.

I am thankful that after three full days of sledding down our crazy icy hill, none of the kids (or parents) had any serious injuries.

I am thankful that while my VW beetle is still stuck is the ditch, my husband was able to walk home safely.

I am thankful for poets with good snow cars who picked up my husband and took him to the store to buy us a turkey and all that we needed for today.

I am thankful for friends, family, and strangers who have offered their best, helped out, said hello, and took care of the people in our community, many who have not had power since Monday.

I am thankful for my life, my family, my friends, the good people I've met through this blog and the kind people I haven't met yet, but know I will.

I am thankful for kindness and compassion, for hummingbirds in the snow, for days that feel as if they were created for only play, rest, and reading, for the beauty of an early snow and the quietness of a city not in go-go-go mode, but baking pies, playing with their kids or looking at the people around them and feeling gratitude, not for the big-screen tv, but for the heater working, a cozy sofa, a cat, a blanket and the reminder that the most important things have heartbeats and are in your life everyday with their quirks and attitudes, this is all temporary my friends, and I am thankful for every day I have with those I love.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanks for reading.


Location:On the couch

In Thanks: Free Book of The Alchemist's Kitchen (the perfect Thanksgiving day book!)



Dear Readers of this Blog,

Today is a day of giving thanks and for the many things I have to give thanks for, one of them is you and the many people who come here, read my blog, leave me comments (or don't leave me comments) then go on with their day.

The words, "Thank you" are always nice, but I wanted to do something more.  I wanted to do something to warm your insides and since I can't mail you all hot chocolate, I can send you poems.  Poems that are tasty and will nurture you.

So for my book of poems to give away today, I have chosen Susan Rich's The Alchemist's Kitchen to mail out to one lucky person.

The Alchemist's Kitchen

If you would like to win a copy of this book, leave a comment on this post from now through December 3, 2010 and I'll randomly choose one person on December 4 and mail them this book.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Garrison Keillor in Emily Dickinson's House? It's true...

Those of you in the Northeast can look forward to this fundraiser!

Garrison Keillor and Emily Dickinson: Face to Face



Thursday, December 9, 2010


Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Amherst College Johnson Chapel, Amherst
Live performance sold out

TICKETS TO LIVE STREAMING VIDEO AVAILABLE FOR $10
Video feed to Converse Hall, Amherst College

ON THURSDAY, DEC. 9—one day before the 180th anniversary of the poet Emily Dickinson’s birth—Garrison Keillor, host of the acclaimed National Public Radio program A Prairie Home Companion, will perform a special one-man benefit for the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst. The event will take place at 7 p.m. at Johnson Chapel on the Amherst College campus and will feature Keillor’s legendary humor, commentary and song.
Seating at the live benefit performance is sold out. But due to popular demand, we are offering $10 tickets to the simultaneous video broadcast on the big screen at Converse Hall on the Amherst College campus.
“Garrison Keillor is a wonderful advocate for the power of poetry in our lives, and he clearly cherishes Dickinson’s poetry,” said Jane Wald, executive director of the Emily Dickinson Museum. “We’re delighted and grateful that he’s chosen this milestone birthday anniversary to help the cause of Emily Dickinson with a benefit performance to support the museum’s education and preservation work. That Emily Dickinson had a razor wit isn’t well known, but hers is a good match for Garrison Keillor. We look forward to a memorable birthday celebration!”
Keillor has mentioned and poked good-natured fun at Dickinson—a lifelong Amherst resident—several times in various broadcasts of his show, according to Wald. But upon hearing last fall that the plaster ceiling in the parlor of the poet’s home (now the Dickinson Museum) had fallen into the room, possibly causing extensive damage, Keillor inquired about how he could help. He then decided that a benefit concert for the organization would be the best course.
“We’re thrilled that one of today’s most well-known American authors is doing such a selfless thing for one of this town’s most cherished and beloved institutions,” said Amherst College President Anthony Marx. “The people of this college and this community love their writers, so it is particularly fitting that Garrison Keillor is coming to Emily Dickinson’s hometown. We’re very glad to be a part of this event.”
St. Germain Investments is the Presenting Sponsor for Garrison Keillor's performance. Northampton Cooperative Bank is a Major Sponsor and media sponsors are WFCR Public Radio and the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
In addition to his work with A Prairie Home Companion, Keillor is writer and host for The Writer’s Almanac, also heard on public radio stations across the country. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Lake Wobegon DaysThe Book of GuysLove Me andHomegrown Democrat. He was born in Anoka, Minn., in 1942 and graduated from the University of Minnesota. He lives in St. Paul with his wife and daughter. He has two grandsons. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Episcopal Church.


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What I'm Reading...

NOTE:  You can get the full reviews of these books on my Book Harvest blog


Mini Reviews:

I'm finally finishing up the memoir by Mary Karr called Lit.  It's about how she lived her life as an alcoholic for many many years.  I am listening the book on audiotape, which I highly recommend because it's read by Mary herself and it has that nice twang of her southern book that make it feel as if the book is being spoken just to the listener.

It's a pretty amazing story, first on how much she could drink and exist (and be productive) in her life and two, how much work it was for her to be an alcoholic.  From the hiding of beer cans and wine bottles, to buying them her alcohol from different liquor stores that no one caught on.  And if they did, no one said anything.

There was a surprising scene (well, to me) where she mentions Thomas Lux and as a writer, I was interested in her process of becoming a writer which you learn throughout the book.  I have about 4 more chapters left, I think.  She's still drinking at this point and I wonder how this book will end.

~



I have started rereading this book,Uncommon Genius I purchased a few years back by Denise Shekerjian.  Oddly enough, this book was published in 1991, but I find the information just as useful today.  The book looks at quite a few MacArthur Genius grant winners, their lives, their creativity, and their thoughts.

What I like about this book is how it looks at these artists, writers, inventors, scientists, with an examining eye on creativity and creative impulse


~


Also, Heather Cadenhead's chapbook, inventory of sleeping things is on my nightstand.  More on that soon!

~

Oh and Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 is just out!  I hear it weighs in at a whopping 5 lbs, but is worth the time to mine through it if you're a Twain fan.  

It's on my list, but will have to have to wait until after the holidays...




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Confession Tuesday


What I look like when it snows.
Dear Reader,
It has been one week, one NPR visit, one photo shoot and one snowstorm since my last confession.  I've been good, I mean, Santa's watching, so I'm on my best behavior.  What?  It's not Christmastime yet?  Oh, we need to talk...

To the confessional---

I confess I've been listening to Christmas music for the last week and I make no apologies for it.  I love it. I love this time of year and how I feel.  I would guess that for me, listening to Christmas music is like another person's glass of wine, Xanax, one hour meditation.  I do not know what is in Christmas music, but it immediately makes me happy, relaxed, and in this world where I feel connected with everything and everyone.

Yes, it is true.  Christmas music is my drug of choice.

~

I confess my dreams have been incredibly interesting lately (well, to me).  Because I know "dreams are the terrors of the breakfast table," I will only say that this has been my most interesting quote that came from a dream this week (I googled it and it seems it is not a real quote, but it was said to me in a dream)--

I dreamed that someone told me:
You can either focus on how thirsty you are, or how much water there is in the world.

(I think my dreams are trying to tell me something about gratitude and motivation.)


~

I confess I went to a very cool, funky, artsy, Seattle restaurant and walked into the men's room by mistake.  Thank goodness for urinals being the big "Danger: turn back!" sign for lost, roaming women.

~

I confess I recorded a poem for NPR, then went to a photographer's studio as she was taking photos for a project or possible book on Northwest writers.  I confess I had a bit of allergy eyes, but she is such a spectacular photographer, I didn't notice when I looked at the photos.

I also confess I like seeing photos of myself. I tend to be a little hypercritical of them, but I'm always curious to what I look like.  I know, that sounds weird.  But it's true.  I both like and dislike having my photo taken.

~

I confess it is snowing in the Northwest and people lose their minds when this happens.  It's like those freaking-out audience members during Oprah's Favorite Things show (gawd, I love those people).

Though a lot of people get angry and start kicking their cars, which is also much fun to watch.

The other thing I love in my small town is I get to see the teenagers come out of their homes, and I'll be honest here, we have some really nice teenagers who say hi to adults and I kind of love that too.

~

I confess the snow makes me happy.  As long as I have food and warmth, and I do.  Though our lights have been blinking, I'm happy looking out into the white yard, my to-do list garden covered, everything slowing down and staying cozy.  Though if it continues like this, I'll be taking my daughter's neon orange sled tomorrow and hiking two miles to get my turkey.  I so wish I was joking about this, but nada, this is the life of a country girl...

Amen.






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Monday, November 22, 2010

Dreaming about Branding... the Remix

Speeding Train', Ivo Pannaggi, Cassa di Risparmio, Macerata

So last night, I ended up dreaming about the conversation I've been writing about and having with people, this idea of "branding" ourselves as writers.

In my dream, we agreed that if we must be branded then *we* (the writers) should determine the word instead of brand.  The word we came up with?  Loco.  I'm assuming you all know this, but loco is Spanish for crazy, mad.

Yes, we decided that we would create our own loco as writers.  The loco called me.

And this morning I wondered if my subconscious brain came up with this because of the word: locomotive which in my dreamworld breaks down to "loco motive" (aka crazy motive).

~

Maybe this is where my head goes when I think about branding.  It's crazy because ultimately we are judged on *what* we write, not *who* we are.  The writing needs to come before the person.  We need to create our own language, our own rules, our own selves and not follow the lead of the corporate world when it comes to art, artistic endeavors, and/or the act of creating.

I do not want to suggest that I believe we should live in cardboard huts writing poems on the back of magnolia blossoms, but just not to be so open to allow others' vision for what we should be or how we should refer to it, to creep into our vocabulary.  I think as much as possible, we should try to stay out of the language of commerce as much as possible and into the language of creation.

And I think this is what I where I see branding a negative.

Many of you have talked about the positives of branding and what you want to be known for or how it's helped you focus your writing or market your work, but I think that is only just the very hem of branding, a few stitches, but not what I see this lower layer of branding to be.  I see branding in its very worst of taking away the authentic, not deepening it.

What the writers/poets who responded to my last post were talking about, felt different and more positive than that.  It felt like focusing.  It felt like they were creating opportunities for themselves.  I believe a writer/poet/artist *needs* to promote their work, it is part of the job as much as some of us can be uncomfortable with it, but that promotion, to me, is *not* branding.

Collin Kelley mentioned about being (or branding) himself as a social media consultant and again, to me this is not branding, but focusing.  He's found something he's good at and a place where he has knowledge to help others, but while having this expertise, he is also a poet, playwright, novelist, an editor.  He is multi-talented, but while I know Collin for all these things, I don't see him as someone who has branded himself (Collin, I do hope you know this is compliment from me.)  I think if he were to brand himself, he would limit himself.

Maybe I'm just focusing on the language we use (I am!) but I think it's important for us as artists not to get caught up in the outside world's attempt to make us become their marionettes where we create our world based on what they say is important.

And I know, I could be completely wrong on this.  I could be the poet in the cardboard box because I didn't jump on the branding train as it was heading out of town, but I guess I'm going to risk that.  My mind does not work that way.  My best decisions have always come from a gut level, from instinct.  

Michael Wells made an interesting comment about branding, "I doubt that you spent a weekend mind mapping what you wanted people to see you as and tailor making your every move as a writer to create that image."   This is correct and the idea of doing this hurts my head.  And I think this is what I hope writers and artists move away from, from creating your own image, but to spend energy on creating the type of art you love.  Create the image in your poem or painting, the images that overflow in your fiction, these are the images that are important.

Oh there are so many other trains we can jump on, so many locomotives to take. Ultimately, I think many of us want to end up at the same place-- to have our writing read and respected, to be an artist in the world and maybe, be known or remembered for what we created.

However you get there, whatever train you catch or even if walk, crawl or slow jog there, may your ride be smooth and beautiful.  This is what I wish for all of us.

~



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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Artist C.T. Chew & Walt Whitman: An Artful Sunday Morning...

So a few posts ago I was mentioning my love for art museums and how they always inspire me.  I mentioned how I remember my first Jacob Lawrence exhibit as well as seeing a Seattle artist's work there, C.T. Chew.

Well, my curiosity got the best of me and I found myself googling C.T. Chew to see if he was still doing art and what he's been up to.

Not only has he been doing art, but it's incredible.  And poetic.  So I wanted to share a few of his pieces (with his permission) of some of his remarkable work--


"Come, said my soul" by C.T. Chew
Print: Giclée on Paper, Limited Edition of 50, Aspect: 20"H x 15"W, 2010
This first image above "Come, said my soul" is probably my favorite.  Many of you know Whitman's love for the butterfly when I look at that image in the center, I see Whitman's poem becoming that winged thing and fluttering off.

Another Whitman inspired piece, is this one below:

"Miracles" by C.T. ChewPrint: Giclée on Paper, Limited Edition of 50, Aspect: 20"H x 15"W, 2010
So wonderful.  (I'll include Whitman's "Miracles" poem below so you can read the inspiration.)

It was such a treat, a gift, a miraculous occurrence to find this artist again.  I find his work so intriguing and it's something I connect with.  I'm always interested in what draws us to one artist and not to another.  But I am a definite fan.

If you need some inspiration, check out C.T. Chew's website here.
And his current works here, including the Walt Whitman pieces (which I believe are for sale.)

And one more Whitman inspired piece:

Unfolded by C.T. Chew
Print: Giclée on Paper, Limited Edition of 50, Aspect:15"H x 20"W, 2010

~ ~ ~

Miracles
by Walt Whitman

Why, who makes much of a miracle? 
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles, 
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, 
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky, 
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water, 
Or stand under trees in the woods, 
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night 
with any one I love, 
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest, 
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car, 
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon, 
Or animals feeding in the fields, 
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air, 
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet 
and bright, 
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring; 
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles, 
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place. 

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, 
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle, 
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same, 
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same. 
To me the sea is a continual miracle, 
The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the 
ships with men in them, 
What stranger miracles are there? 


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