Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts

April 23, 2020

OF POWER AND TIME




I have been rifling through my bookshelf these days. Now that I have a bookshelf for the first time in years, I can easily see what books I have, and what books I have no use for. Some I can't remember why on earth I own, or if they're even mine, so, one by one I am reading through them all! Thank you to my lovely friend whose comment reminded me I own this gem by Mary Oliver, Blue Pastures. Grateful that I can access these inspiring words at any time. Of Power and Time is so very relevant right now, I couldn't resist copying and pasting (except for a few omissions) the entire piece here. Within the confines of time, it is approximately a 7 minute read. Enjoy! 

















Of Power and Time











It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone.
    Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart—to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.
    But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley's birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back in to the mist.
    It is this internal force—this intimate interrupter—whose tracks I would follow. The world sheds, in the energetic way of an open and communal place, its many greetings, as a world should. What quarrel can there be with that? But that the self can interrupt the self—and does—is a darker and more curious matter.

I am, myself, three selves at least. To begin with, there is the child I was. Certainly I am not that child anymore! Yet, distantly, or sometimes not so distantly, I can hear that child's voice—I can feel its hope, or its distress. It has not vanished. Powerful, egotistical, insinuating—its presence rises, in memory, or from the steamy river of dreams. It is not gone, not by a long shot. It is with me in the present hour. It will be with me in the grave.
    And there is the attentive, social self. This is the smiler and the doorkeeper. This is the portion that winds the clock, that steers through the dailiness of life, that keeps in mind appointments that must be made, and then met. It is fettered to a thousand notions of obligation. It moves across the hours of the day as though the movement itself were the whole task. Whether it gathers as it goes some branch of wisdom or delight, or nothing at all, is a matter with which it is hardly concerned. What this self hears night and day, what it loves beyond all other songs, is the endless springing forward of the clock, those measures strict and vivacious, and full of certainty.
    The clock! That twelve-figured moon skull, that white spider belly! How serenely the hands move with their filigree pointers, and how steadily! Twelve hours, and twelve hours, and begin again! Eat, speak, sleep, cross a street, wash a dish! The clock is still ticking. All its vistas are just so broad—are regular. (Notice that word.) Every day, twelve little bins in which to order disorderly life, and even more disorderly thought…. Another day is passing, a regular and ordinary day. (Notice that word also.)

Say you have bought a ticket on an airplane and you intend to fly from New York to San Francisco. What do you ask of the pilot when you climb aboard and take your seat next to the little window…. 
    Most assuredly you want the pilot to be his regular and ordinary self. You want him to approach and undertake his work with no more than a calm pleasure. You want nothing fancy, nothing new. You ask him to do, routinely, what he knows how to do—fly an airplane. You hope he will not daydream. You hope he will not drift into some interesting meander of thought. You want this flight to be ordinary, not extraordinary. So, too, with the surgeon, and the ambulance driver, and the captain of the ship. Let all of them work, as ordinarily they do, in confident familiarity with whatever the work requires, and no more. Their ordinariness is the surety of the world. Their ordinariness makes the world go round….for the world has a need of dreamers as well as shoemakers….    
    And this is also true. In creative work—creative work of all kinds—those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward. Which is something altogether different from the ordinary. Such work does not refute the ordinary. It is, simply, something else. Its labor requires a different outlook—a different set of priorities. Certainly there is within each of us a self that is neither a child,  nor a servant of the hours. It is a third self, occasional in some of us, tyrant in others. This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity.
    Intellectual work sometimes, spiritual work certainly, artistic work always—these forces that fall within its grasp, forces that must travel beyond the realm of the hour and the restraint of the habit. Nor can the actual work be well separated from the entire life. Like the knights of the middle ages, there is little the creatively inclined person can do but to prepare himself, body and spirit, for the labor to come—for his adventures are all unknown. In truth, the work itself is the adventure. And no artist could go about this work, or would want to, with less than extraordinary energy and concentration. The extraordinary is what art is about. 
    Neither is it possible to control, or regulate, the machinery of creativity. One must work with the creative powers—for not to work with is to work against; in art as in spiritual life there is no neutral place. Especially at the beginning, there is a need of discipline as well as solitude and concentration….
    No one yet has made a list of places where the extraordinary may happen and where it may not. Still, there are indications….It likes the concentrating mind. It likes solitude. It is more likely to stick to the risk-taker than the ticket-taker. It isn’t that it would disparage comforts, or the set routines of the world, but that its concern is directed to another place. Its concern is the edge, and the making of a form out of the formlessness that is beyond the edge.
    Of this there can be no question—creative work requires a loyalty as complete as the loyalty of water to the force of gravity. A person trudging through the wilderness of creation who does not know this—who does not swallow this—is lost. He who does not crave that roofless place eternity should stay at home. Such a person is perfectly worthy, and useful, and even beautiful, but is not an artist. Such a person had better live with timely ambitions and finished work formed for the sparkle of the moment only. Such a person had better go off and fly an airplane.
    There is a notion that creative people are absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social customs and obligations. It is, hopefully, true. For they are in another world altogether. It is a world where the third self is governor. Neither is the purity of art the innocence of childhood, if there is such a thing. One’s life as a child, with all its emotional rages and ranges, is but grass for the winged horse—it must be chewed well in those savage teeth….The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and by the work—who is thus responsible to the work.

On any morning or afternoon, serious interruptions to work, therefore, are never the inopportune, cheerful, even loving interruptions which come to us from another. Serious interruptions come from the watchful eye we cast upon ourselves. There is the blow that knocks the arrow from it mark! There is the drag we throw over our own intentions. There is the interruption to be feared!
    It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absent-minded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.
    There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything. The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time. 







February 11, 2020

finding meaning



Samantha Palmeri, Unravel, 2018, oil and charcoal on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

When I titled this piece, a little over a year ago, I pictured unraveling as a breaking apart of things, and it felt like a good metaphor for me. 

So much has changed since November 2018, and I can now appreciate that to unravel is also to untangle, and resolve

I've never shown the painting before, so I'm excited that the timing seems so perfect to have it included in a group exhibition coming up in March in Beacon, NY. 


Loss doesn't equal failure

This is hard to sink in because we are brainwashed to believe we need things that we don't really need, and that we are supposed to want things that we don't always want. We can make our own rules and find our own way of doing things. Things that make us feel most like ourselves. Even if, and especially when, it doesn't make any sense to anyone but us.


lovers
friends
husbands
children
houses
possessions
mothers
brothers
I lose them all
little by little
and then all at once
still
in this sea of loss
I find things
in packing your bags
my lost kimono
and in filling my voids
without warning
the answer
Here all along









January 21, 2020

slow painting

fragment detail of working painting, oil on canvas
























slowly I am working on new paintings 
and even though there seems to be no logical space in my life at the moment for luxuries like painting in my studio
miraculously it happens anyway

I haven't slept very well in a while
my thoughts are sprawled out and jotted down on the backs of small pieces of imaginary papers

this morning I wrote the beginning of a poem I may or may not ever finish:

          my left eye is not twitching to the beat of my heart
          I can tell
          because out of the corner of my right eye
          knees up
          feet on the floor
          I can see the pulse in my wrist moving up and down




fragment detail of working painting, oil on canvas





June 24, 2018

the patience of making art


Thank you Brainpickings for posting this this morning:


Rilke on the Lonely Patience of Creative Work


“The most regretful people on earth,” the poet Mary Oliver wrote in contemplating the artist’s task and the central commitment of the creative life“are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”
That is what Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875–December 29, 1926), another great poet with a philosophical bend and uncommon existential insight, explored a century earlier in the third letter collected in his indispensable Letters to a Young Poet (public library) — the wellspring of wisdom on art and life, which Rilke bequeathed to the 19-year-old cadet and budding poet Franz Xaver Kappus.
1902 portrait of Rainer Maria Rilke by Helmuth Westhoff, Rilke’s brother-in-law
Rilke’s first letter to his young correspondent had laid out his core ideas about what it takes to be an artist. Building upon that foundation in the third letter, he echoes his contemporary Franz Kafka’s assertion that “patience is the master key to every situation” and considers the master key to the creative life:
Being an artist means, not reckoning and counting, but ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms of spring without the fear that after them may come no summer. It does come. But it comes only to the patient, who are there as though eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly still and wide. I learn it daily, learn it with pain to which I am grateful: patience is everything!
The patience of making art is a lonely patience — one that demands the solitude essential for creative work, be it art or science, so widely recognized by creators across time and discipline. “Oh comforting solitude, how favorable thou art to original thought!” wrote neuroscience founding father Santiago Ramón y Cajal in considering the ideal environment for intellectual breakthrough“Nourish yourself with grand and austere ideas of beauty that feed the soul… Seek solitude,” Eugene Delacroix counseled himself as a young artist in 1824. “Solitude, a rest from responsibilities, and peace of mind, will do you more good than the atmosphere of the studio and the conversations,” the young Louise Bourgeois counseled an artist friend in the following century, just as the poet May Sarton was exulting in her sublime ode to solitude“There is no place more intimate than the spirit alone.”
Art by Isol from Daytime Visions
Rilke articulates this vital incubatory solitude of creative work to his young correspondent in a sentiment of growing poignancy and urgency amid our age of instant and ill-considered opinions:
Leave to your opinions their own quiet undisturbed development, which, like all progress, must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything. Everything is gestation and then bringing forth. To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark, in the inexpressible, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own intelligence, and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity: that alone is living the artist’s life: in understanding as in creating.
He echoes Goethe’s largehearted, increasingly needed wisdom on the only appropriate response to the creative labors of others and writes:
Works of art are of an infinite loneliness and with nothing so little to be reached as with criticism. Only love can grasp and hold and be just toward them.
Letters to a Young Poet — which also gave us Rilke on what it really means to lovethe life-expanding value of uncertainty, and why we read — remains one of the most beautiful, profound, and timeless works ever composed. Complement this particular portion with Rachel Carson on writing and the loneliness of creative workand Virginia Woolf on the relationship between loneliness and creativity, then revisit Rilke on the nature of creativity.




December 23, 2016

"Gorgeous Nothings" Envelope poems and paintings

Emily Dickinson's Envelope poems



 

This morning I came across a review of the book The Gorgeous Nothings, which highlights Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems. I was immediately reminded of the Envelope Paintings of my Facebook friend and artist Julia Schwartz, so I thought I'd share. 

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

If I could curate a show with all of these lovely pieces side by side I would! Here is the full article which was posted by Tupelo Quarterly and written by Hannah Star Rogers. Sounds like a good idea for a last minute Christmas gift too!

Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems Hold New Pleasures


 
Emily Dickinson’s The Gorgeous Nothings offers an incredible inquiry into the material practice of Emily Dickinson’s poetry and an argument for why we should take not just the visual culture of poetry into account, as so many new editions of Dickinson’s poetry do, but also the materiality—as both constraint and possibility.
The Gorgeous Nothings, from Christine Burgin/New Directions, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin with a preface by Susan Howe, is the first publication of Emily Dickinson’s complete envelope writings in facsimile from her visually-oriented manuscripts, rendered here in full color and arranged as if they were pressed into a scrapbook. The book is no doubt the dream of poetry and visual culture scholars (very literally as it took Werner, a Dickinson scholar, and Bervin, a visual artist, to bring the book together), but beyond important academic contributions, this book is a lot of fun to open and toss through as though it was a box of Grandmother’s letters—if your grandmother was the Belle of Amherst.
The editors made great choices that allow us these pleasures: the facsimiles are collected together in such a way that we can enjoy the puzzle. The book replicates the material experience of opening an archive, while the shape of the envelope and text is detailed for legibility in schematics that reflect the envelopes’ shape and dimensions. A 252 gives us a sense of the Dickson we recognize, while adding an the extra layer of the material constraints of the envelope:
ED2 copy
What is added by knowing that Dickson met the corner of the page with the word “power,” and arranged her lines to fill the space, gives us a new sense of the space that the poem occupies and of her agility in working not only in acoustic constraints and vital rhythms, but also in another layer of formal concerns. Even a glance at the forms of the envelopes tells the reader something magical is happening in the details of the poems:
ED1 copy
Dickinson’s work has been unfolding for us slowly, revealing her mastery in new ways. First, as Howe writes in the preface, in the 1951 Johnson edition with those characteristic amazing capitals and dashes, then with the word lists of alternate possibilities, and finally, here, with the full materiality of her envelope letters. Maybe it is only now that the reading world is ready to embrace the found and the forgotten in this work, that we are really ready to revel in the glory of the envelope poems. Our own material turn is making these artworks no longer something difficult or illegible, but a celebration of the parts of her poetry that only words not born in typeface can offer.
What may not be immediately legible in the material constraints surely informed the publication choices regarding what parts of the manuscripts would be preserved. These acts of legitimation may have been a part of creating the Emily Dickinson legacy. Perhaps “scraps” (the Dickinson community’s easy reference word for these poems) did not a major poet make, particularly if they came from a woman who largely wrote for herself. In any case, the poetry universe is certainly ready for a revised visual understand of Dickinson’s work that this text brings us.
Yet another wrinkle in the story of why this is the moment for considering the material elements of these poems may be the digitization project at Amherst College’s Archives & Special Collections, which preceded this edition. Poets (and indeed humanists more generally) are being asked often to account for the effects of technology on their work. In this case, the appearance of Dickinson’s work in a digital form precedes an important account of new dimensions of her poetry. Rather than simply spreading copies of her work more broadly, as in so many digital humanities projects, a real discovery and novel way of thinking of Dickinson’s work has been revealed by its digitization. Of course, it has long been possible to imagine an exhibit (as Howe does) or color copies of these poems being created for a book, but the ease and availability of scanning may have given both affordance and occasion to study the material aspects of this work.
Bervin’s essay also leads us toward a new image of Dickinson. Rather than a poet grabbing at envelopes when she was struck by inspiration, Bervin calls our attention to the variety of ways the envelops are folded and cut, suggesting that the poet had prepared these envelops in advance for the moment when an inspiration struck. Her lines flow across surfaces that we perceive only by her attention to them: stops at corners or folds and changes in handwriting and letter size to accommodate her poems to the space the material alots, while transforming the envelope to make spaces for words which readers might not see without the poet filing them. This preparation points not just to thrift, but to how Dickinson perceived her poems as objects rendered with care, what Howe calls, “visual productions.”
This curation of the envelope poems reveals the way the poet turned the borders of the envelopes that she cut and tore into shapes to write on into constraints to complicate her poems: making them fascinating visual objects. Like metrics, rhythms, and rhymes which structure as they aestheticize, Dickinson’s envelope offered her a new method for inspiration. The folds and corners of her thrifty paper uses create new layer of self-imposed limitation which generated new possibilities for the poem. The Gorgeous Nothings is proof that one of our most important poets can still amaze and teach us new thing about the practice of poetry.
 

January 14, 2016

Art and Poetry

Here's a follow up to last month's post A Safe Easy Way To regarding the writing/painting project I'm collaborating on. I now have what is the beginning, hopefully, of a suite of paintings to go with my friend Andy Berg's writing...


Samantha Palmeri painting

"Lien", 2016, oil on canvas, 40X40"

lien

“i’m fitting the fudge”
come out all ‘PH-uh-dj’
            [teeth and lip]

hole and holy-head
cave-woven afghan protection
unravel gaza-abolition

(…a sometimes silent night)

Read this like fumes
            arisen, a-raisin
            petal
            puncture
            wound

“Imagine life with out those toofs, compadre.”

[           I am a vision of she who brokers                    ]
[a—(impossibilityofsunshine)—wake                       ]
[…or put she a lien upon                                            ]
[           dem black-toothed nightmares of yerz           ]



Samantha Palmeri painting

"Spontaneous ralos", 2016, oil on canvas, 44X48"

spontaneous ralos
ssssssmuch todo without
lay me down,
ley mi dohwn, in the
sun in the shining branches
old telemetrical networking schematic
solar suoenatnops
vulgarities skinsnap
break through the ethereal gap

mother put-pot of tea
forkful a bitter sleep-fever-sweat
there’s sleep to be had down there
keep me awake, sleep to be had down there
show me the fun-sun




Samantha Palmeri painting

"Marketable kids", 2016, oil on canvas, 40X40"


The marketable kids on market street
sing “yeah-yeah”s
beef-eaters, every last                                                 one
she climbs an effortless waif
tree
he folds a filterless phone
plane
and drift…don’t they drift,
…along the gutter
            all they ever,               ever wanted was some
(uh),body

thumb-pointer-hole circle
world within widened-wizened old man
park bench projection-perspective
all he’ll ever want
now,                            is         some bod
-eee

And in march they’ve all been/hear the crack-potential
spring unwinding, dwindling, leaf-fuck           -stop.

“You put a period there,” they say, “and more “yeah-yeah”s.”
yeah………………yeah………………yeah




[all images copyrighted 2016 Samantha Palmeri]
[all poetry copyrighted 2016 Andy Berg]