Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"The Fire Within," Ysabel LeMay

it was a dream
by Lucille Clifton

in which my greater self
rose up before me
accusing me of my life
with her extra finger
whirling in a gyre of rage
at what my days had come to.
i pleaded with her, could i do,
oh what could i have done?
and she twisted her wild hair
and sparked her wild eyes
and screamed as long as
i could hear her
This.  This.  This.

[Image above by Ysabel LeMay]
Poem via Poets.org

I just love this poem, but it also scares the pants off of me (as well it should!). Lucille Clifton is such a master--not just of poetry, but of inner awareness and the ability to speak what seems true, but is not always said. This poem is indeed terrifying (oh, the unreached and impossible potential of our own greatness and power), but somehow it's also reassuring: we will all feel this "This" at some point, and hopefully, it will fade, like the dream that brought it to us. 

Monday, April 27, 2015


"The Banquet," 1958, Rene Magritte


Walk backwards through any museum
and you can see astonishing flickers
and flickerings out of humanity and technology
Here is a mobile and an exploded gunky galaxy
In the next room bars fiery with shouting
and movement Lamps and flower-clogged ponds
Pretty soon it devolves into haystacks and cows
Grotesque infants and shrouded ladies
and steel and iron in a sword with a handle
burnished from its former funeral pyre
I imagine someone whose lucky job it is
at this museum unpacking a box of blades
Lifting this one Holding all of its cool
five pounds with the air conditioner breathing
down on the back of her neck With the sun
Always the same sun presiding outside

[Image above by Rene Magritte]

Friday, April 24, 2015

On "Sally Mann's Exposure"

from "Family Pictures," 1984-1991, by Sally Mann

I find Sally Mann's photographs to be extraordinarily, heart-breakingly beautiful. I just read this long, thought-provoking article by her in the NY Times Magazine, called "Sally Mann's Exposure." In it, she discusses her images of her (often nude) children running around in the privacy of their isolated, rural, safe family home. She addresses making her photos, and she also touches on their reception and her criticism (that these photos are inappropriate, or somehow exploited her children).

In both Mann's writing and images, I see such vulnerability. I firmly disagree with critics who find the children's nudity problematic or sexual. These are photos of play, imagination, magic, and being immersed in a safe childhood. She also photographs her husband, and there seems to be such trust between the two of them--it's lovely.

I found this point of hers very intriguing:
"To be able to take my pictures, I have to look, all the time, at the people and places I care about. And I must do so with both ardor and cool appraisal, with the passions of eye and heart, but in that ardent heart there must also be a splinter of ice."
 All artists and writers have to do this, in a way.

Further along in the article, Mann raises the point that her images did allow her children to be looked at by many people, and described a terrifying stalker who sent letters to her home and kids. She looks back on her work, and states, "With love, rapture and perhaps some measure of foolishness, I made pictures I thought I could control, pictures created within the prelapsarian protection of the farm, those cliffs, the impassable road, the embracing river."
from "Southern Landscapes," 1998, by Sally Mann

The issue of control of our images and art is an important one. Can we ever control its presentation or reception? I don't think so. But all of us who draw from our lives while creating (so, that's all of us!) have to confront this concept in some way.

Hope you enjoy the article--I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pine Notes

"Pines, Spring," 2007, by Christopher Gallego

Friends! Today, I wanted to share with you my essay on pines, pining, and poems, called "Pine Notes." I'm so happy that it found a home with Waccamaw--I absolutely love this journal.

I hope you enjoy the essay--you can read it here.

What have you been writing this week? What creative projects are hanging out in your brain?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Long and Winding Road

from "Alone Together," by Andrew Lyman

"Among Infinite Spaces," 2010, by Jeannie Lynn Paske
"Sunrise Portrait 5:48am," and "Sunrise Portrait 6:37," 2011, by Robyn Cumming
"Farm Road," 1979, by Andrew Wyeth

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