- The Kids Are As Smart As You | Practical Theory
“It is being written in kitchens. It is being written in the limp light of cheap 40-watt bulbs, while…”
It is being written in kitchens. It is being written in the limp light of cheap 40-watt bulbs, while beside you, slouched in a chair or marooned on the couch your lover or your mother sleeps. There is the smell of liver and onions in the air. Waves of garlic descend upon the paper as you write. It is being written beside cat boxes or with old black-painted typewriters whose keys continually jam. It is being written while hamsters breed, where cockatoos work their beaks against the cage. It is morning in Alsace, Louisiana. Two poets arrive in an old black car which diesels after the motor is shut off. They step out off towards the lawn and there are greeted by a third, who is very excited, and wants to show them something. It is being written in tiny cabins up near the Arctic Circle where were it not for the ambivalent howling of the wind one could conceivably hear and be frightened by and take for one’s subject the ambivalent howling of the wolves. It is being written by men who no longer love their wives, who hate their fathers-in-law, by women who cheat on their husbands, by thousands of people old and young who feel molested by life, or cheated by the past, or crippled in the present. It is being written by young girls whose feet have ungainly long second toes, by young men with brains instead of muscles, and whose faces are moon scapes of acne, by young men whose parents cannot even read the labels off soup cans. People walk up and down the aisles of groceries and eye the soup cans. Housewives in put-up hair, in beige, shapeless and wrinkled raincoats shift in their choices between this kind of cracker or that bread, their eyes dull and glassy or ferocious with unacknowledged passion. A boy is stooping to line up bottles of fabric softener, self-conscious and hot around the collar. And he is a poet. Women stand pounding the check-out registers, from soup to nuts, free dog bones, mastocelli noodles, and all with migraines. And they are poets. The manager sits in his tiny booth and counts receipts, now and then staring out over the vast panorama which is this voiceless, heartless, mute and lonely humanity, robot-like as they, passing, push their wire carts. Someday, he will write the great poem of their souls.
It is everywhere this poetry. It is the sacred name of every place, it is the nut and bolt, the bleeder valve, the kite string of reality. It is the deep end of the pool, whose water shivers, whose bottom backs off into blue. It is the unsung, the unsaid, it is the uttered and the barely felt, the blue bird, the red. It is the ache at midnight, the slap in the face, the letter, neglected for so long, we were meaning to write to that which within us has waited, aching for so long.”
- Greg Kuzma, from an introductory note in What Poetry Is All About. This isn’t even the introduction. This is from a note preceding the introduction and the subsequent updated introductions, one for each edition of the text, up until an introduction to the fifth edition, which is the one I found in a treasure trove of secondhand books in Philadelphia. It was near closing, clean on the other side of Philly from where I was staying, and I was travelling out of the city the following morning. And I’m so glad I made the effort to get there. Because I found this.
- George Szirtes: Why Poetry?
“If I met me, but younger, we’d talk about the value of one thing. You have to choose one thing to do…”
Stillness In Motion— Liz Danzico
Part of the narrative of late has been about returning to practice, rededicating to routine. I came back from South Africa and found myself facing a hefty mountain of work to drive through. And sometimes it feels thankless. Sometimes it’s harder to see the big picture— the “why”, when you’re in the mucky trenches. Before I came across Liz’s post, I was also thinking about the idea of small victories— ensuring that I celebrate at least one thing every day that stands as a victory or success, no matter how small. This resonates nicely.
"The idea is for the installation to quite literally paint the mood of the city using social media feeds as an input. “The installation takes electronic signals and lets them manifest themselves in the physical world. Using sentiment analytics, the installation links tweets to corresponding coloured paints in real-time, feeding them out through the top of the sculpture, letting them flow into a procedurally generated three-dimensional painting”, says Lauritzsen on his website. Users tweet messages like “annoyed” or “feeling good” and these emotions correspond to different colours of paint which spills out of the pedestal."
On-trend making-of/promo video featuring trip-dub electronica soundtrack? Check.
Knocks aside, I’m a sucker for this kind of “visualisation”. It’s a little like Jonathan Harris’ We Feel Fine, except the visualisation extrudes into the real, physical world. I think there’s more mileage in projects that blur the boundaries between the digital and the analog like this— playing across the space that divides the virtual and the real.
Tangent 1: I’m going to be a little more stringent in the way I blog about these kinds of tech experiments from here on out. I’ll be using the tag “digital humanities”, at least until I devise a more appropriate taxonomy.
Tangent: If the trip-dub soundtrack appeals, check out Willas Rod for more in the same vein.
“I like my memories as they are, like thousand year old insects preserved whole in amber. Old loves…”
Writing challenge: list a series of striking memories. Select one. Interrogate that memory, the memory itself, as if it were a loved but untrustworthy narrator. Beyond what it always offers (a narrative, the details, the moment that’s lodged in your recollection), what other gifts does that memory bear? What do you owe it? What has it allowed you to do or stopped you from doing?
“Mindfulness, as defined by Ellen Langer, is about putting your mind into what you’re doing at the…”
- The Craftsman, The Trickster, And The Poet “Re-souling” the Rational Mind— Edith K. Ackermann
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…
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…
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.
“You don’t get to decide the truth. Other people have their own experiences, just as valid. This is…”
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?
And name you my country.
I throw all my dictionaries in the fire,
And name you my language.”
- Nizar Qabbani (via kathleenjoy)
“I showed you a picture I took that day using the camera that leaks light in a way that makes me want…”
- Time Expanding the Air Forcibly— Sam Ross
“Art is very good at capturing what’s lacking in our life. You can tell what’s missing from a person…”
- “The more enemies Alain De Botton makes in the art world, the better off for all of us.” | gapingvoid (via sparkspring)
“It’s even more complicated than this, because within the two extreme primary identity states, there…”
Work: Surviving the Arts | [PANK] by Scott Pinkmountain
This, and: “Once you’ve established the partitioning, work.”
"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 activistAll. this. truth. (cc:grownladynotebook)