Friday, November 28, 2014

The Gift of Books!



There is no time I can remember in which I didn’t love books. Even as objects before I could read them. I’d look at the books in the built-in shelves in my living room growing up....I loved the fabric covers printed with embossed words and images, the glossy, full-page illustrations, the tattered covers and jackets.

The books of my childhood have also been embossed into my being. Oddkins, David and the Phoenix, Gwinna, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, The Chronicles of Narnia...I liked magic and a little bit of darkness or mystery. As I got a little older, I loved Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story...I distinctly remember reading it in the bathtub, over and over.

Of course, I adored the movie before that book--like so many others, the bookstore in the movie took my breath away. More than anything, I wanted to explore it with Bastian. I just knew there were treasures in there!

Whenever I find bookstores now, I absolutely want them to be like THAT shop....the stacks on the floor, the dusty volumes, the leather and cloth and gold. When I lived in Vancouver, my favorite bookstore was MacLeod’s Books downtown, because it reminded me of the shop in The Neverending Story.

Recently, upon rewatching The Neverending Story (a frequent occurrence for me!), I had a strange feeling while seeing Bastian run from his bullies. The lampposts, the cobblestone street, the particular arrangement of buildings---this looked oddly familiar.

Through the door of the bookstore, I caught sight of the sign: Gastown. Gastown, a part of downtown Vancouver, where I’d walked so many times. Could this be? MacLeod’s reminded me of the bookstore in The Neverending Story because it WAS the same bookstore!

This makes me feel nostalgic and triumphant, all at once. And it feels distinctly magical.

This holiday season, like so many others, I’ll be giving many books as gifts. It’s inevitable. I’m sure you will be, too.

This week, I’ve been reminded of the power of stories, books, libraries, and art. What we create can outlive us, can teach us, can be an honest reflection and aspiration for us.

Let us all be open to the power of stories, which expand the self, and teach us to hear and love someone else.

What books will you be giving as gifts this year?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mascot

Mascot

From the wet leaves I coaxed a large being
mound-shaped, not breathing but quite alive

Inside of this creature, dirt and the beginnings
of mud

He coughed leaves all over me
as I reached into him

I disassembled him with gusto
and put his pieces into a tall paper leaf bag
bearing pictures of red and oranges leaves

The empty patio stayed shadowed with dampness
A few stones remained

The night came earlier than ever


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What the Books Know

What the Books Know

The processed trees remember that they were once trees
When their pages are touched they remember

It was another time altogether
There was sun and water
and a sense of gathering the self up to climb

The books are trees
that have crawled inside
since they can never go back to the woods

In looking for the light
they find you

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dear Wind

Dear Wind 

Please don’t take me from my hinges.
Love, Door. Love, me. Love,
the hinged self in charge of remaining
tacked. Gravity has tact, even when
it’s bringing us down. Fall on ice,
bring ice to your ache. The thunder
in thundersnow is loud even as the snow
wants to cancel it, wants to eat the noise.
Ice, you are so needy, you want a body
to tumble against you, I get it.
But ouch. Falling hurts already, why
are you so damn bruise-hungry.
I turn my chair backwards and sit
close to you, I want to understand you,
I’m trying to be the cool teacher
leveling with you after class but
I don’t know your language. Dear wind,
what in the world could you want
all of these leaves for.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pulp

Pulp

The paper wants to become a frog
so I fold it into a frog
and that’s it

Into a drawer
or a pocket

A thing finishes itself
I hurry it into ending is what this means

The toast yields to me and to heat
and when I rescue it from the toaster oven
I erase its visible body

No wonder we feel powerful
in our kitchens and systems

We are so surprised by the cold
and mildly surprised by the snow

Still we do not stand corrected

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

Currently reading/enjoying:

  • This amazing, amazing essay by artist/writer Tessa Hulls, called "On Silence." I adore everything she makes with her brain/heart/hands. Look how beautiful: "Technically, white is the combination of all other colors. As a painter, I understood this intellectually: in Antarctica, I learned to see it. For the first time in my life, I experienced whiteness in true isolation and saw its capacity to unhinge any understanding of boundary or scale."
  • Sophia Kartsonis's The Rub.
  • Bob Eckstein's lovely illustrations and stories, "The Endangered Bookstores of New York."
  • This interesting article about an art gallery in the Netherlands that features a Mood App, which allows visitors to explore art that has been categorized by emotion (Thanks to my pal, Clive, for sharing this!). Really interesting idea...
Happy weekend, friends! If you've been reading anything fantastic, please share.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Upstate

Upstate

In the gabled house of hair-grown-long
go all folks to live when they have slipped
from sight but not from the disobedient
imagination

Window sheers here and light that drifts out
instead of in This is a several-towns-over place
and when you come closer it scoots to the
next available town

To find some peace you imagine it being gone
but a scientist tells you how wrong you are
She says Picture it existing Beloved inhabitants
rinsing jars and perfecting the arrangements
of books

She says Now know they will remain here
just out reach but quite well They do what
you do but many miles away The freeway
between here and there is a roaring river
Every once in a while just wave

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Graffiti

Graffiti

Fast shadows on the road of the crazy birds above
The shadows have been summoned by life
and in a way they are also alive Their movement
is inspired by three dimensional birds

This train that passes before me
maybe the cargo it holds has been painted
onto its flank Parade float letters making a name
into a cartoon It could peel itself from metal
and wade into that pond

Monday, November 17, 2014

Maybe There Is Nowhere New to Walk

Maybe There Is Nowhere New to Walk

As soon as you think it you know this is incorrect
It is just that we almost always have the same hunger
that sends us wandering

the same craving for colors that we eat in seeing the land

We designate as landmarks places within places and objects
Upon thinking of them the heart stirs

There are paths I still dream of

Naturally we return to place-beings for more
Moon-marked bridge pilings what did you want to tell me
Rocks easing yourselves beneath or above water how very
accepting of all this you are

Evergreens in all your weight you stand in steadiness

I hope someone else now comes to look at you

Friday, November 14, 2014

"Through the Ground Glass" and Creative Method

I love, love, love hearing artists talk about their work. Why do they make what they make, and in what way, and WHY in this way....my curiosity is endless.

Here's a beautiful short video called "Through the Ground Glass," by Taylor Hawkins and Nick Bolton. The video features photographer Joseph Allen Freeman, who works in large format (and makes insanely gorgeous images). I found this video via Booooooom, which continues to be one of the richest sources for online inspiration for me (Jeff Hamada, you freaking rock).

I love what Freeman says about tension, and about the blank/sleepy feeling that can accompany creative work. 

Enjoy! And if you have any inspiring videos, please send them my way...I'm always on the prowl.








Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lyric

Lyric 

And in a book
I still yearn for a singular voice

The voice floats away from the mess
as smoke does
or fire, even, when you try to locate the feet
of fire and find that it slightly levitates

And I say to the voice in you who may be broken
you are intact

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tips for Measuring the World

Tips for Measuring the World


Start somewhere.

Bring your foot close to you then far away.

If the self feels scattered you are doing it right.

Check your pockets seven times and on the eighth time

you will find your ring.

I already looked there but discovery is a creature

who likes to play.

Disappear a penny by sliding it down a parking meter’s throat.

Collect Bats of the World postage stamps.

Save the baby bat for the letter you have the most trouble with.

In all of the objects in one city choose a stone you love the most.

Cast your love onto it when you go on walks.

Train your wistfulness muscle.

Maybe it can just be easy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Zoo Run

Zoo Run

Slow and steady does not frequently win races
but there are plenty of advantages One is steadiness
by which we mean of mind or mood Also running
fast prevents all this from being seen in this way
To better watch the water find a rock To better
see the sky and all these leaving birds plant yourself
in the middle of the street only when no cars
are approaching These birds make no sense
to me A handful of tossed poppyseeds going
and then circling back to that tree and then going
again Have you seen the stragglers each fairly
alone Maybe this is their role I mean I have
finished dead last in a race The Zoo Run when
I was young They had to go looking for me
Often the clearest directions unfold for me
like a fan Each pleat viable and worth exploring
The straggler bird is unconcerned with winning
and wants to see that yellow tree or this
odd human staring up at her

Monday, November 10, 2014

Brim

Brim

After death you get a dog
to greet you
He looks like your dog in life
even if your dog is still alive

You will realize that no other being
is a symbol
Instead love has been
the metaphor all along

There is you the self
and the not-self
which is somehow also you
so that everything you look at

earns specificity and
saturation
the green green water
the pale sky A changed world

full to the brim After this place
a new way
to regard or experience Follow your
dog Roll in the dew wet grass

Friday, November 7, 2014

A Little Reading

On Wednesday night, I read at Darren Demaree's book release (his book, Temporary Champions, looks amazing! I've been reading it, but can't wait to sink my teeth into it). Sophia Kartsonis and Nathan Moore also read--I always enjoy their work.

It's so fun when writers celebrate alongside other writers, isn't it? I feel very fortunate to have such a warm, supportive community of writers in Columbus (and online, of course!).

I thought I'd share some footage from the reading. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!





Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chauffeur

Chauffeur

How do I make that which is not yet real
We do it every day In the trunk of my car
there are dried leaves fallen weeks ago
I chauffeur them around the city and deposit
them accidentally in a grocery store parking lot
thirty minutes away Here’s where they end up
for now Here’s where we part ways Whatever
fate we administer suppose we allow it entrance
into the self Maybe I can love that which
has sent me sailing from my branch

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Red Balloons

Red Balloons

Oh my little beetle-winged truth
What will happen to you

in this day grown dark You will
be alive somewhere

we hope In the park a family in
their finery Unrumpled

corduroy and marled sweaters
Big bunch of red balloons

in the little girl’s hand I hope that
no one will photograph them

as they tumble toward evening
together Maybe they are

just on a balloon walk through
the leaves without snow

Every which way there are moments
that will be forgotten

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Album

Album

Here I am with a watering can.
That’s me and my dog.
That’s me and my dad’s dog.
That’s just the tree in December.
Here’s you.
That shirt was your mother’s.

Here’s us standing in a roadside ditch
that you claimed was beautiful
and you were right, I can see now.

This…it’s a group of geese.
That’s a crow.

I tried to photograph the starlings
but I couldn’t find what made them perfect.
Same with the sky.

This is before you were born.
This is the sky outside the hospital when you were born.

This is your portrait
while the photographer read aloud to you
a list of phone numbers that you used to dial.

This is my black rotary phone.
That’s my hand wrapped in the cord.

This is a cloud while you are inside crying.
These are the rocks in our garden
come from all over just to live in our dirt.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Crickets

Crickets

The cricket talks
and because we can hear it
this is a metaphor for quietness

The cricket is trying to tell you
how cold it is
to be a cricket

The songs I prefer are full of echo
because loud in the song

is what the singer has not disclosed

Here in the song
the old well he has fallen down
and is singing from
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.