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“A northern observer will see things topsy-turvy when looking at the southern skies – familiar…”

“A northern observer will see things topsy-turvy when looking at the southern skies – familiar constellations seem upside down – but getting a glimpse of Crux, the Southern Cross, which is the smallest and the most famous constellation in the southern hemisphere (it is displayed on the New Zealand, Australian, and Brazilian flags) is a thrill that reminds you how dependent we used to be on the stars to navigate our way across the world. Equally impressive is the glowing band of our own galaxy – the Milky Way – with its patches of light and dark stretching across the sky. The non-luminous part of the Milky Way is called the Great Rift (or more poetically “the Dark River”); it is made of overlapping dust clouds containing about 1 million solar masses of plasma and dust situated in the Sagittarius Arm of our galaxy at a distance of about 300 light years from Earth.”

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Dark Constellations of the Incas

Writing Prompts:

A) What are the fixed points in your life? The anchors; the constants by which you navigate?

B) Consider the concept of inversion in some aspect of your experience, something you may not have considered previously, the way we recognise the light of the Milky Way, while the Incas found value and things to worship in the Milky Way’s Dark River

In responding to either of these prompts, try to allude to the source material in some way— practise navigating between the received information and your own personal experience…

Sep 23

“The ‘passive supporter problem’ (if it can/should be called that!?) is, of course, not only…”

“The ‘passive supporter problem’ (if it can/should be called that!?) is, of course, not only prevalent in the magazine scene, I think it can be applied to all ‘indie’ makers out there. I can easily think of a handful of app developers and bloggers with tons of supporters that really want to see the project grow and succeed, but that rarely take practical action (in most cases by signing up for a paid account, paying a small membership fee, etc.) to actively enable the creators to continue the work they appreciate.”

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What Goes Around Comes Around— Offscreen Mag Blog

I’ve been thinking a lot about passive supporters recently, and how we transform them into active supporters. I manage a few communities, and I’ve always come up against a Pareto weighted breakdown of participation: 20% of the people involved make 80% of the effort required to keep the community/enterprise/initiative going. Which is not sustainable (can we say: burnout?).

I’m thinking about solutions. Maybe we need to consider active expansions and contractions. Maybe on a regular cycle you need to rededicate to your core audience, to draw a line and define what it means to be a supporter. At this point, you may well lose some of the “passive support”. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that allows you to move forward with clarity and focus, which could in turn entice new supporters? Something like razing a field to have it grow back. Burn it all down, but the enterprise (if strong enough) will survive…

Sep 22

Lessons Learned

1: write the poem. The language of it. The actual words are important. The music is as important as the idea. If the music isn’t there, the idea doesn’t take flight.

2: don’t get precious. Write until you find your way. You’re a millionaire of words. Speculate to accumulate.

3: figure out how to get into the sweet spot between idea and music as quickly as possible, ever more directly.

4: no time to second guess yourself. That’s what later is for.

Sep 21

“You don’t get to decide the truth. Other people have their own experiences, just as valid. This is…”

“You don’t get to decide the truth. Other people have their own experiences, just as valid. This is easy to forget. Your slice of life seems so large and unmistakeable, like a mirage of wholeness from where you stand. But it is your job to know better and not confuse your small piece for the whole, even if you sometimes forget. Life is big—much bigger than just yours.”

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Frank Chimero – The Only Note To Self

When we teach poetry, we often encourage poets to deepen their internal focus or extend their technical range and critical faculties. How often do we encourage people to engage with other people, other perspectives? To not just look beyond themselves, but to actually attend to other people, real people, in a meaningful and authentic way?

Sep 20

“I throw my passport in the sea, And name you my country. I throw all my dictionaries in the…”

“I throw my passport in the sea,
And name you my country.
I throw all my dictionaries in the fire,
And name you my language.”

- Nizar Qabbani (via kathleenjoy)
Sep 18

“I showed you a picture I took that day using the camera that leaks light in a way that makes me want…”

“I showed you a picture I took that day using the camera that leaks light in a way that makes me want to cry, makes me want to move to Mount Fuji and paint my life onto 8×10 transparencies. About the picture, you said that’s how it felt, but not how it looked. How could that be? I held the cold aperture-ring with my fingers and pressed the shutter gently enough, trusting to the chemicals on cold film and the tenets of sympathetic magic.”

- Time Expanding the Air Forcibly— Sam Ross
Sep 17

“Art is very good at capturing what’s lacking in our life. You can tell what’s missing from a person…”

“Art is very good at capturing what’s lacking in our life. You can tell what’s missing from a person or a society from looking at the art they like.”

- “The more enemies Alain De Botton makes in the art world, the better off for all of us.” | gapingvoid (via sparkspring)
Sep 16

“It’s even more complicated than this, because within the two extreme primary identity states, there…”

“It’s even more complicated than this, because within the two extreme primary identity states, there have to be many different voices. As a generator, you must be able to convincingly take on a vast plurality of languages, perspectives, opinions. You have to see the world from the point of view of a man or woman, animal, plant, rock, cloud, microbe. Really see it, not just dress yourself up in a chimpanzee costume and jump around. You have to be the beast. And the critic has to sit in every seat in the house, listen to hear if the sound is coming through, check sightlines from every angle, can the front row see the tenor sweating too much, does the soprano project to the cheap seats, do the backdrops look ridiculous when you turn up the house lights for the finale, will kids be able to sit through it, will old people be offended by the jokes, is it too risqué for the sponsor, or too middle-of-the-road for the enthusiasts? And the moderator has to be there all along reminding both extremes that none of this actually matters; it’s all illusion, unless it’s serving a higher purpose.”

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Work: Surviving the Arts | [PANK] by Scott Pinkmountain

This, and: “Once you’ve established the partitioning, work.”

Sep 15

one-offs-from-slb79: apoetreflects: “I have no shrewd advice…



one-offs-from-slb79:

apoetreflects:

"I have no shrewd advice to offer developing writers about this business of snatching time and space to work.  I do not have anything profound to offer mother-writers or worker-writers except to say that it will cost you something.  Anything of value is going to cost you something."

—Toni Cade Bambara, author, filmmaker, feminist, professor and social activist

All. this. truth. (cc:
grownladynotebook
)
Sep 14

Sunday afternoon, and no rest for the wicked…



Sunday afternoon, and no rest for the wicked…

Sep 14

“The hurricane does not roar in pentameters”

“The hurricane does not roar in pentameters”

- Kamau Brathwaite (via mountstnobody)
Sep 14

“I would like to be remembered more for being a good person who helped others advance themselves as…”

“I would like to be remembered more for being a good person who helped others advance themselves as opposed to only being a guy who made things, but I am a guy who makes things. I hope there is some kind of legacy left by the work I’m doing…”

- Jon Setzen on The Great Discontent (TGD)
Sep 13

A 100-year artwork. Mmm. Yes, we do our work day by day. We…



A 100-year artwork. Mmm.

Yes, we do our work day by day. We build monuments to our creative obsessions and preoccupations brick by brick. How many of us are invested in the kind of vision that might not come to fruition in our lifetimes— something that extends so far beyond us? How many of us think on a scale that even approaches this?

Sep 12

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I…”

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

- Meryl Streep, via I no longer have patience | Ioadicaeu’s Blog
Sep 11

“Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview,…”

“Creators do not ask how much time something takes but how much creation it costs. This interview, this letter, this trip to the movies, this dinner with friends, this party, this last day of summer. How much less will I create unless I say “no?” A sketch? A stanza? A paragraph? An experiment? Twenty lines of code? The answer is always the same: “yes” makes less. We do not have enough time as it is. There are groceries to buy, gas tanks to fill, families to love and day jobs to do.”

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Creative People Say No — Medium

Yes to this.

Sep 10

“It’s not the tools that matter, it’s the intention with which you use them. It’s how you see the…”

“It’s not the tools that matter, it’s the intention with which you use them. It’s how you see the world and the people you choose to serve. It’s why you show up and how much of yourself you put into the work that matters.”

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What Lens Do You Use? | The Story of Telling - Bernadette Jiwa

I’m contemplating getting back into photography again. As in: with a camera, not just the iPhone. If you were ever familiar with my photoblog, you’ll know that it’s become an archive for images I’ve captured at the poetry event associated with one of the communities of young/emerging poets I work with. That aside, I’m crushing on a full frame Sony A7 for as the next vehicle for my on-again-off-again love affair with taking pictures.

My favourite camera to date has probably been a Bronica ETRSi. Apart from the quality of the images, the physical sensation of framing a shot through the top-down viewfinder and releasing the shutter was… well, I’ve never got anywhere close to it with any digital camera I’ve owned. My current goto is a Sony NEX 5N, which is capable of pretty darn fine images, particularly bearing in mind its size. But I had the opportunity to hold an A7 over the weekend, and I was reminded of shooting film all over again. Could be time to EBay some camera gear to justify the expenditure…

Of course, as the quote reminds, none of that matters if I’m not doing the work of getting out into the world and taking pictures in the first place.

(Nod to LazarusDodge

Sep 9

“There’s something about the cosmic perspective, which for some…



"There’s something about the cosmic perspective, which for some people is enlightening and for other people it’s terrifying. For those who are terrified by it, they’re here on earth and they have a certain self-identity, and then they learn that earth is tiny and we’re in this void of interplanetary space and then there’s a star that we call the Sun and that’s kind of average and there’s a hundred billion other stars in a galaxy. And our galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of 50 or 100 billion other galaxies in the universe. And with every step, every window that modern astrophysics has opened to our mind, the person who wants to feel like they’re the center of everything ends up shrinking. And for some people they might even find it depressing, I assert that if you were depressed after learning and being exposed to the perspective, you started your day with an unjustifiably large ego. You thought more highly of yourself than in fact the circumstances deserved."

Sep 8

“So many times, we make decisions about who we are – who we want to be, who we aspire to be, what we…”

So many times, we make decisions about who we are – who we want to be, who we aspire to be, what we aspire to do – based on what we believe are our own self-imposed limitations, not those of the world. And we live inside those self-imposed limitations, without any sense that we can actually expand [them] if we let ourselves.

[…]

I don’t think it’s a matter of overcoming [our] fears – fears are fears, and we have a reptilian brain which we can’t simply turn on and turn off… It is critical to live despite those fears – if you’re waiting for the fears to go away, they’re not. You have to make a decision that you want [what you want] more than you want to be held back or self-protected by those fears.



- A magnificent conversation with Debbie Millman, who is an incessant source of wisdom on how to live a good life and how to muster the courage necessary for a creative career.  (via explore-blog)
Sep 5

“I’m no master magician but I do know how wonder feels. There are many good things about magic…”

I’m no master magician but I do know how wonder feels. There are many good things about magic and I feel that it’s my job, as a parent, to make those things so ridiculously awesome that my kid never loses the feeling of awe that the world can provide.

Magic is a predecessor to science. It provides hope where there is the mundane.

"Daddy, will you still have magic when you get old?"

"As long as you believe in daddy’s magic, I will have magic"

"Even when you get tired?"

"Especially when I get tired"



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The Origin of Magic

I’m not yet a parent, but this is stored in my parenthood file. I’m also all about this for all of the young people I work with. Never lose the feeling of awe. With this in mind, you might say poetry = the flavour of magic that I practise.

Sep 2

C.M. Burroughs interviewed by Jan Beatty on Prosody

CMB: Al Young charged a group of us black poets from Cave Canem with writing political poems. Maybe six months later, Toi [Derricote] asked me if I was going to write about being black and write about race. Maybe six months after that Thomas [Sayers Ellis] asked me— or rather, told me, once I'd begun writing these poems about race— told me that it was an important thing, that not so many poets were doing it, and that we really had to get out there and start speaking for the people and for what's happening in actual life, not the existential poetry we read that includes flowers and pretty things, but the grit of life and living.

...

JB: How do you respond as an artist to someone, even— I'm assuming these people are your teachers— even if someone is your teacher, saying you need to write about this, you need to do this, and then you sit down and do your work, does that mean you necessarily would do that, or... I mean, a lot of writers I know see their work rising organically from the page. How do you make sense of those forces?

CMB: I believe in it, in the organics of poetry, and all that is fine and well, but I think that these poets, particularly these people— Thomas, Al and Toi— asking these things out of me, you know, whether they felt it was need or not, I discovered the need in myself to write through these things, if not just about them.
Aug 30