Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sopheap Pich at the Met...Don't Miss this Exhibit

Quite an exhibit, in several of the Asian galleries, including up a staircase to an elevated gallery. An exploration, a winding revelation.  Sopheap Pich at the Met until July 7. When the Khmer Rouge was in power, morning glories (above) were sometimes all that were available for food, or at least for filling of the stomach.

I haven't found a photo showing the blush of red at the tips of the rattan, the faint riveting reminder of the Khmer Rouge's stranglehold on Cambodia. No matter.  "Budda 2." A sculpture of rattan, wire, and dye.

An excerpt from the artist's statement:
Buddha 2 was born out of a short journey my family took on foot from a Khmer Rouge village to the center of Battambang, the province of my birth. The Buddha was to symbolize a temple called Wat Ta Mim. My family built a hut across the street. I used to go past the temple ground everyday with a buffalo to the rice field several hundred meters away. I would occasionally walk inside the temple hall to see bloodstains on the floor, ceiling, and walls—bloodstains that looked like they had been sprayed with a toy gun. Where there used to be the normal Buddha sculptures, there were just piles of broken things I couldn’t see. . . . I was afraid to look in the dark. [Sophea Pich]
Sopheap Pich at the Metropolitan Mueum of Art.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My AWP Takeaway

Family Dog Presents Buffalo Springfield
My AWP Takeaway

1.  Google runs buses from "the Valley" into San Francisco.
2.  There is, was, and will be gorgeous poetry in Turkey.
3.  Google runs buses from San Francisco into "the Valley."
4.  Nazim Hikmet, 1902 to 1963, is a joy to read.
5.  Those Google people are sure tight with their money when it comes to charitable giving.
6.  Lewis Hyde's exploration of The Gift presents us writers with models of being.
7.  San Francisco has a decent poetry scene, but who wants to live there.
8.  Boston breeds poets and venues.
9.  No good music has come out of San Francisco since Buffalo Springfield.
10.  There are, in fact, countless wonderful poets in Boston and everywhere.
11.  Jefferson Starship?  You kidding me?
13.  Writers of fiction, nonfiction, creative abstracts & co. abound, are enthusiastic, convivial, and of course all too human.
14.  Did Hot Tuna come out of S.F.? 
15.  Approaches to and manifestations of persona poems are varied.
16.  Now, L.A., is a great place to live.
17.  Uses of letters (epistles) in writing range from highly creative to usefully functional and (most) always interesting.
18.  Google is in search of something or other. God help us all when Google finds it.
19.  Hearing poetry in a bar with warm colors and brass fixtures is a necessary antidote to convention center readings.
20.  Soft hands are, for some, genetic.

Basically, heard and saw and met many n-a-m-e-s and wondrous people. The Dusie Kollektiv chapbook swap was a highpoint, partly because it facilitated putting faces to names, mainly because the poets were fun and generous. 

Suggestion for another AWP:  Read all material in advance. Make lists of people I want to catach up with. Plan.  Get phone numbers in advance.  Stay closer to the convention center so offsite readings in the eventuality of snow or other weather are easier to negotiate than they were this time around. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

And on the Third Day . . . of AWP

Kinda beat. Long day. Lots of walking around, in spite of hitting some panels.  Went to a great one on Turkish poet Nazim Hakmet. Another great one on Lewis Hyde's The Gift as it applies to the writing game as known at AWP.

Some startlingly fabulous discussions with people whose names I don't remember. A few disappointments with people I thought I had more of a bond with than is really there. Much warmth from New York friends.  A few names and email addresses written down and saved.

Went to evening receptions.  Wine and enough snacks, some from a chafing dish, to make a meal.

Here's Nazim Hakmet, one of Turkey's greatest poets.

I love my country:
I’ve swung on its plane trees,
I’ve slept in its prisons.
Nothing lifts my spirits like its songs and tobacco…
My county:
goats on the Ankara plain,
the sheen of their long blond silky hair.
The succulent plump hazelnuts of Giresun.
Amasya apples with fragrant red cheeks,
and bunches and bunches of grapes
all colors,
then plows,
and black oxen,
and then my people,
ready to embrace
with the wide-eyed joy of children
anything modern, beautiful and good –
my honest, hard-working, brave people,
half full, half hungry,
half slaves…

Nazim Hikmet, 1902, Salonica to 1963, Moscow (courtesy of "Turkish Poetry--click on his name).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day Second of AWP--Odes & Laughs

It was a sloppy kiss of a snowfall today, wet and easy. I was in Cambridge, a veritable hamlet to my New York eye, to enjoy at least a little. Mostly, however, I was at Hynes Convention Center, Boston, for day two of AWP.

Started off with an exultation. "Odes, Psalms and Praise Songs: A Living Tradition" was about poetry "claiming a space for the human voice" (not sure who I'm quoting). I got to hear David Ferry, Kristen Bulger, Jennifer Barber, and George Kalogregris.

Next I went to Epistolophilia--use of letters (not poetry, but who knows)--and as with odes & co. was presented with a ton of ways to use and imagine, transgressively or retrospectively.

And then the bookfair, a mighty surfeit of journals and schools, beyond my comprehension, so I joked and had fun. Got swag--enough magnets to hide my refrigrator, even from drones.

Met some people I'd planned to meet, ran into some friends, met folk I knew through Facebook, went to an offsite reading where I heard Bill Hicok, C. Dean Young and others and more.

And then I went online and saw I had a short story accepted. Which is kind of ironic. I spent a day at a conference meeting editors yet my fate is over-the-transom.

illustration from:  Shi Jing Introduction Table of contentThe Book of Odes

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

AWP: I Arrive, *Emily Dickinson's Coconut Face* in Hand

Cover illustraton for Emily Dickinson's Coconut Face.
My AWP experience hit two high points, maybe the only two, but that's enough.  One was today when I picked up my badge at Hynes Conference Center in Boston: I didn't feel hostility. I didn't feel jealousy (over what, you might ask, all you did was stand in line and register). Believe me. When I'm comparing myself to anyone, an easy breezy task at a conference of writers, I am more than capable of insecurity masked as hostility. But my internal work this year has been freeing. Plus I'm taking a great class in New York, studying Hopkins with very smart people, which reinforces the beatifying effect literature can have. Which makes me feel good.. So today I just felt happy, relaxed, part of something but not attached. The feeling's going to last for the duration.

Second high point came yesterday in New York when I picked up my chapbook from Staples.  I'd volunteeredfor an AWP chapbook swap organized by Susana Gardner of the Dusie Kollektiv, agreed to show up with 30 copies. At some point 30 poets are going to meet and share. I was ridiculously proud of the results of my two days of work: a selection of five poems, a cool illustration on the cover, the Dusie Kollektiv seal, a bio. 

The poems--there are five--are orphans. With the exception of "Longing for a Blue Sky" which was published in Lavender, I've never been able to place them. I assumed they were early shots, good starts and nothing more, but together they work. At least I think so, and confidence adds a glow to the book. Books of poems need a glow.

I procrastinated pulling the chapbook together because I couldn't find the instructions and was generally panicked. Then I emailed a fellow swappee, publisher, poet, editor T.A. Noonan who graciously and immediately sent what I needed, bless her. Even though I have too many blank pages and committed an infinitude of infractions (I'm sure), these poems are happy to be with each other and proud of their presentation. So for me, without having started, AWP is a success.

Above cover illustration of my chap, Emily Dickinson's Coconut Face, is from S. Sekiya and Y. Kikuchi: The Eruption of Bandai-san, in Transactions of the Seismological Society of Japan. 13(2), 1890, pp. 139-222.}