Friday, February 28, 2014

Process Video: There Is Nothing Out Here

Today, I'm excited to share with you a new process video! Here's how I wrote the poem "There's Nothing Out Here."


I'm in Seattle for AWP right now (and did a presentation last night at The Project Room about how I wrote this poem!)...I shall be reporting back.

Thursday, February 27, 2014



The oxygen from this morning
I miss it already

Last year’s oxygen
I wouldn’t know it if I tasted it

The world joins us
gulp by gulp

This is in many ways a preparation
We are also breathed in

by this place
What we share now

all who call themselves alive
is akin

to the sleep
shared by those in the same bed

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How to Put This, Exactly

How to Put This, Exactly

Who is here in this body,
and who was here when the body was invented
by birth. Wailing baby, you will one day
walk in the snow alone, as an adult,
you will come to love those who are now
strangers to you, there will be numbers in your life
and cats and laundry. The bravest thing you will do
will happen one day, and then that day will end,
and here come the years all rushing in at you.
Sometimes we know this and sometimes we don’t.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014



There are many time-telling utensils
and methods

Sky color is surprisingly effective
Quality of light is somewhat effective

The feeling that this day could be very meaningful
is ineffective

Bird voice and noise is somewhat effective

The least effective method ever found
is to tell someone, When you are ready
come and meet me under this tree

You will only ever see one person under that tree
at a time
and mostly no people
just the tree and the light on its shoulders

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spring Yet

Spring Yet

These are the heavy blossoms
This is the darkness within the land
seeping out

The twig is a finger bone
Who’s to say that the tree is not also a finger bone

The universe as well
could be a finger bone

This line of thinking is exhilarating

On a strange and warm day in February
some grass is sliced and toppled

Real grass
Already the snow starts to forget us

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

Currently reading and enjoying:
  • This poem, "Dear Amy Nehzooukammyatootill," by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (a terrific found poem made from emails the poet received from high school students!). I love how it highlights the intriguingly strange and unintentionally funny language of the emails, but isn't at all snide/condescending).
  • Praying Drunk, by Kyle Minor (from Sarabande Books). It is so, so good. More on this later.
  •  This very charming article and project, "Twitter by Post," by Giles Turnbull. Turnbull recreated Twitter through snail mail....what a great and fun idea! It's interesting--I've always loved mail and have enjoyed making an event of it (in college I'd go to the post office almost every day to check my P.O. Box or send something out....I remember my friends and I asking each other, "Shall we go to the post?"). I hadn't really thought about the connection between social media and mail's an intriguing one!

And you, friends? week, I shall be in Seattle for AWP14. I'm especially excited about hosting this event (also featuring Nick Courtright, Leah Umansky, Luisa Igloria, and Justin Runge---woohoo!). I shall report back, and will likely see some of you there!

Thursday, February 20, 2014



Pull the vines away from the brick
Move the hair that obscures one eye

There is a thing we see and paint
can help to chase it

What is within green What is within
oil paint What is within the hand

In a vow, a search boat
In every hour of sleep, a dark box

Sing the way the artist does
since you will never hold

completely the thing you are sure
you almost see

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Here is how the world began

Here is how the world began

said a human who was not there
This is the problem None of us were
How do we learn about that which
we only get further and further from
Actually that is not the problem
It sounds painful but that is how
everything works on Earth Think
of history and teachers and books
and photographs and petri dishes
and husks of letters in a drawer
Primary Sources, a teacher writes
on a chalkboard right now under
yellow light We can scrabble at the door
to the room that makes us exist but
once we get let out we can’t report
back Decide which number is betrothed
to another number Talk to a rock Ask
the pine trees with your mind and hear
the answer of their quietness

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Golden Hour

The Golden Hour

The tree is a culmination
of each tree it has ever been

Yesterday I said this same thing
but I wasn’t finished thinking

Every day you do the same things
with slight variation Sometimes

we feel, I have never experienced
this Other times the future opens

up alongside the present so that
we are watching it one instant

before it happens The strangeness
that observation can bring to

the moment The hour elevated
The right light has everyone

rushing for their camera
Quick, photograph something

Monday, February 17, 2014

New Material

New Material

The images that worm their way
into memory
versus all of the fallen images

Some things stick before dissolving
but all things want to be forgotten

I’m not sure where this leaves fossils
Or the far-from-home watery heart of the glacier

The thing can become
the memory

A tree is a memory
of a sapling

And also a memory of air

that will grow and then rot

or we can burn it

Whatever remains in this life will diminish
is another way of saying

this universe and all of the parts of it
that stay unseen
constantly benefits from so much new material

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Social Media Manifesto (sort of) for Artists/Humans

This week, in the Professional Writing class that I teach (for art students), we were discussing social media. I've also been talking with my mom about this, as she's been setting up her Etsy shop for her cards (check it out--it's called Slender Stalk, and it's beautiful!) and experimenting with social media.  It got me thinking about why I have found it so valuable, and why I keep using it. Yes, it's fun, and of course, it's wonderful to connect with others who share the same passions. But it's more than that.

Here are some thoughts on the topic. I'd love to hear yours, too!

How can artists/humans benefit from social media?

Social media is a space that folks must navigate, enter, and fill. It is a convention center. It is a train station. It is a street.

Social media is a tool for communication (both sharing and listening). It is not a replacement for human connection. It is another way to speak to other humans.

We do not need to use social media to live. Ideally, it can add to/enhance our experience of life. To some, it can feel overwhelming and detrimental. I understand this. We must remember that we are able to use or not use social media anytime we like--we control it (not the other way around).

The purpose is not to sell work, to shout like the loudest infomercials about ourselves. We would not behave this way in public; thus, it behooves us to be mindful about our presence online. Online = in public. The point is never about getting numbers, sales, or recognition.

Not every social media channel will be useful for us. We have to make decisions about which will be most helpful for our work and our lives. Also, we can use these channels differently from one another.

An authentic voice (discussing real passions, thoughts, and both good and stupid ideas) will resonate with interested listeners. We can be silly, deep, thoughtful, irritated, inquisitive as we express ourselves.

Social media allows us to open our studio to the public. Even if we don’t have a studio. It allows us to visit other artists’ studios and have discussions about what we make.

Social media furthers our art and our thinking about art. It can be a good excuse to take our own art seriously (if we do not already).

A crucial part of being an artist is supporting the creativity and art of others. Social media allows us to be a champion for people and ideas that we believe in.

Social media can help us find a generous, supportive community (to which we must bring a generous, supportive presence). Social media is about connection. What if social media (like art) could help us become more open to the world and the place of the self here? What if it (like art) could help us to be more present? I think it can.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It Won’t Always Be Winter

It Won’t Always Be Winter

There is a season for ponytails and a season for ski masks
Half of the people I saw today fell down while walking
including me This snow hangs around despite the sun
The hardest thing to remember is that it won’t always
be winter I say it to someone else today to try to teach it
to myself One day we’ll say Ugh this heat is disgusting
and then we’ll all think of this moment The thought is
less and less consoling as I study it Maybe seasonal
discomfort could be used as a bookmark for something
other than discomfort For the wisdom we pretend not
to have the key for At least we could say gosh time
is squishy The word remember could be a camera
we hold up inside of it

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Now I Feel Bad

Now I Feel Bad

The water tries every day to speak to me
when I’m in the shower but I can’t hear it
usually One morning I hear a thought
but I didn’t think it It is a shapeless thought
An image Harp strings How some are red
That was the water It doesn’t work when
I try to listen But when I look at the mildew
I do know that this is the water’s art With diligence
I destroy it

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Going Up On the Hill

Going Up On the Hill

This is the house
where is the house

The yard has cantered away

One day you might be roaming the desert sand
and there is the room you slept in
where you rested so well

It is real You can touch the sheets
and fold them back

This bed is the medicine
Even thinking of this bed is the medicine

You can leave the desert in the morning

Friday, February 7, 2014

On Creativity: Sarah E. Colona

I can’t imagine a more fitting book to enjoy right now (in the icy tundra and snow days that many of us are currently inhabiting). Hushed and reverent, mysterious and playful, the poems in Sarah E. Colona’s Hibernaculum want to share their quiet magic with you (and also to tuck you into bed with a dark fairy tale or two).


NOTE: After the interview below, read “Now I Understand,” “The Custody of Ghosts,” and “Whispered into a Statue’s Ear,” all of which appear with the permission of the author. Order your copy of Hibernaculum here.

Q: Silence and secrets appear in so many of the poems in Hibernaculum. As a writer, how do you view the quiet, the whispered, and the unsaid? How do you decide what to say or not say? How does secrecy work in your poems?

A: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my work, Hannah. I’ve never outgrown an early fascination with storytelling: fairy tales, myths, parables, and family moments. In all stories, there’s a bit that remains untold.

I remember listening to conversations held over my head. Like other children, my siblings and I would try to decode the adult world’s euphemisms and facial expressions. A teacher’s hitched brow could play like a sermon. Even at home, some truths were tucked away until maturity yielded understanding.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Light Hand

A Light Hand

It takes a light hand a hand made of
snow to thoroughly dishevel the beloved
You have evenly shaded in a cloud
with the side of the pencil tip
You have brought the door back to itself
so that in closing it you felt the doorway
inhale You have slit the neck of many balloons
to dispose of someone else’s breath
You make everything faint rejoice
and faint

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It Began As a Joke

It Began As a Joke

These are our children, Helvetica & Kale
These are our children, Brine & Birch
These are our children, Field & Creeley
These are our children, Freeway & Tributary
These are our children, Stowaway & Return
These are our children, Lasik & Amnesia
These are our children, Venice & Geneva
These are our children, Sochi & Francisco
These are our children, Evergreen & Magnolia
These are our children, Health & Wealth & Joy
These are our children, Plymouth & Colony
These are our children, Shackle & Lean-to
These are our children, Rugelach & Maccabee
These are our children, Oldworld & Gadget
These are our children, Dolly & Annie & Oliver
These are our children, Gesso & Chisel
These are our children, Doctor & Junior
These are our children, Deepwater & Nobel
These are our children, Wolfgang & Arrow
These are our children, Rotary & Quill
These are our children, Treehouse & Train
These are our children, Rockefeller & Politico
These are our children, Warren & Nest
These are our children, Dino & Audubon
These are our children, Aril & Pearl & Ember
These are our children, Flag & Sail
These are our children
These are our children
These are our children, we forgive them

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Beneficial Quiet

Beneficial Quiet

The quiet in which you can go looking
for the place that pokes out from behind
this place A quiet that runs if you chase it
It is a cave clinging to each sound Water
beading and falling into a small collection
of water Seconds of pissed off birdsong
you hear the harmonica in Do you know how
expensive sounds are and how hard they are
to hear past The noisier quiet will steam off
to reveal a lusher quiet No machines No one
speaking Everything thinking

Monday, February 3, 2014

It’s Not a Sad Story

It’s Not a Sad Story

And in all of my longing
I stood there once

and gathered the sunlight to remember it
and gathered the chalked sidewalk
and gathered the windsocks
and gathered the stones fattening in mossy cocoons
and gathered the water and the one boat out in it

And the water recognized me from previous visits

And in the place where I stood
someone else stands now
maybe just a little to the left of where I stood
Or no one stands nearby at all

The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.