How does art inspire art, event/exhibit


L.R. Berger joins several artists and 3 other poets in exploring how art in one medium inspires work in another medium.

This question is interesting, and as most artists understand or appreciate, the possible outcomes enliven an essential creative culture, and there is plenty of evidence of this throughout art history.

As with an “ekphrastic poem” being inspired or stimulated by art, this creative inspiration can expand into or across other disciplines that can go beyond verbal description. What endures, hopefully, is an inherent sense of freedom dealing with ideas, having an abstract non representational quality, figuratively, surrealistically, and realistically, or as any imaginative, metaphorical form that stimulates or emotes.

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The Argument of Time series by Teresa Carson


Teresa Carson has been working on a series of books, poetry of an experimental or inventive kind, one might say. Though there is more than one book, underneath the separate books is one unbroken thread, or one poem. This concept is explained by the author in the note below which is in book II.

The Argument of Time    {From the back matter of book II, Metamorphoses, Book XVI}

My formal education in ancient literature has amounted to little more than a sprinkling from Homer and Ovid, and my knowledge of ancient languages has been limited to phrases of response that I learned when the Roman Catholic mass was still said in Latin; nevertheless, in my fourth decade I found Ovid’s Metamorphoses and suddenly entered a genre of literature that I felt more at home in than in any other. Ovid led me to Homer led me to Vigil led me to Dante … in short, I discovered the epic form.

This deep connection to epic poetry makes sense because I am, above all else, interested in the why and how of the stories that we humans tell. Stories about ourselves, about others, about the world and the universe, about the past and the future. Stories. For more than two decades I nursed an unexpressed wish to write a modern epic.

Ostia Antica transformed that wish into reality. After having an intense experience of Time and Memory during my first visit there in 2014, the structure of a series, now titled The Argument of Time, appeared, all at once, as if in a vision. From the beginning the series was conceived as a five-book epic poem. In addition, I saw each of the five books as an epyllion, a short epic poem. Therefore, the pieces in each book connect into one poem; the five books connect into one large poem.

Now, the definition for epic in The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics goes like this:

An epic is a long narrative poem of heroic action: “narrative,” in that it tells a story; “poem,” in that it is written in verse rather than prose; “heroic action,” while reinterpreted by each major epic poet, in that, broadly defined, it recounts deeds of great valor that bear consequence for the community to which the hero belongs. An epic plot is typically focused on the deeds of a single person or hero, mortal though exceptionally strong, intelligent, or brave, and often assisted or opposed by gods. Epic is set in a remote or legendary past represented as an age of greater heroism than the present. Its style is elevated and rhetorical.

On the surface The Argument of Time falls short of these requirements; while it definitely tells a story and definitely is written in verse, it does not seem to contain “heroic action,” an “epic plot,” or an “elevated and rhetorical” style; worst of all, it takes place in historical time. But what if we question the traditional definition of an epic? What if we expand that definition to allow for the actions of the community in a specific place over a period of time? What if their deeds are the stories of everyday life? What if Time itself became the hero of an epic? What if the narrative were written in a common style? All of which is exactly what I chose to do; under this new definition, The Argument of Time is an epic.

 

The first book in the series, Visit to an Extinct City is available. Even though this post may exceed a length some readers appreciate, we wanted to give a certain impression of these books and the work involved by more than just a cover and a blurb.

And those words of thine thus made to serve for the time, did the outward ear give
notice to unto the intelligent soul, whose inward ear lay listening to thy eternal Word.
Saint Augustine, Confessions, XI-VI

Visit to an Extinct City, poems by Teresa CarsonVisit to an Extinct City, the first of five book-length poems in The Argument of Time series, was triggered by my first visit to Ostia Antica in 2014. My reason for going there was simple: I was determined not to leave Italy without visiting an extinct city, and I did not have enough time to go to Pompeii or Herculaneum. Yet from the moment I stepped through the Porta Romana, the place had an inexplicable hold on me. My daylong exploration of the ruins turned into a profound experience: everything in the landscape spoke to me. By the end of that visit, Ostia was pulsing through my veins. Back in New Jersey, I wrote down the title of all five books in The Argument of Time without any idea what the actual content of each book would be, except that it would be connected to Ostia in some way and that the poems would have to exist in English and Italian. Good fortune brought Steve Baker into my life; he approached the translation of Visit to an Extinct City with the same care and attention with which I approached the original.

While there are many excellent sources for detailed information about the history of Ostia, here is a brief introduction. Unlike the resort towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Ostia was a commercial center that served as the main port for goods coming into Rome from everywhere in the Roman Empire. By the second century a.d. its landscape was a densely packed mix of warehouses, apartment houses, temples (for various religions), baths, toilets, bakeries, and takeout food shops. Its decline from prosperous to extinct happened over a few hundred years; by the eleventh century its marble was being scavenged to build cathedrals throughout Italy. For centuries after Ostia’s abandonment, treasure hunters scoured its ruins for desirable artifacts that ended up in private collections, museums, and even the Vatican. Fortunately for us there is still much to find in Ostia. Today, systematic excavations undertaken by scientists continue to reveal its complexities and marvels.

—Teresa Carson

Each book is presented in both Italian and English. View previews of the books here.

And book II here.

Review of Glyphs by Rick Lupert


Today I painted the walls with the Glyphs presented in Martina Reisz Newberry’s book, Glyphs. These meditations with an acute awareness that a lot of time has passed with occasional glimpses into a fantastical world “I have wondered if he could lift / heavy objects with his mind” comes along and you wonder if it is possible. Has it always been possible? Or how about in Residue when the tree trunks are let to “…believe they are tent poles keeping the stars above us where they belong.” Yes, trees…this is your job.

There are links between these poems and pages. Witness Martina falling off the world in Cartography 101 immediately after showing us Evelyn McHale’s famous 1947 leap off the Empire State building. Martina is building connections between herself and the world presented to her, between one poem, and the one that follows it.

There are a handful of erotic departures (and as they become more frequent we realize they may be more “returns” than “departures”) including tales of her virginity going away and a third person account of how Sadie has sex with the ocean. Sadie is present throughout Glyphs. She’s a recurring muse, an inspiration, a fantastical figure in her own right who goes about “her usual miracles.” Sadie is your companion throughout the book, her songs and miracles documented as an essential component of the overall story.

So much of the human experience of Martina’s poems resonates with me personally. The story in Starlings of the boy who had his BB gun taken away after shooting at birds reminds me of an indelibly present experience from my past when I witnessed something similar. I was in middle school and there was another boy with a BB Gun (maybe the same boy?) Undoubtedly this fueled my later vegetarianism (and anti-gun-ism for that matter) and forever idea that “apple cores will do the trick.”

Ekphrastic poems such as Street Scene and Bar Room Kiss expand on the visual of the paintings Martina is responding to (be sure to visit the links to see the originals) with expanded stories that talk to the scenes the artists portrayed an provide the perfect narration. Art was meant to talk to art and these ekphrastic glyphs are exactly the conversation they should be having.

Occasionally Martina surprises you with a word you never new existed. Cocklight for example which, makes perfect sense and will now be a permanent part of my diction.

Explanations come parenthetically. For example in Slouched Against a Stair Rail, the descriptive “purple” is followed by “(purple)” in an effort to make you fully understand she wasn’t kidding about the purpleness present in the sports coat. Sometimes the parenthesis are not closed (See Welcome Mat) blurring the conversation between poem and clarification. Walls are being torn down in these poems for you to be able co-exist in multiple worlds, and perhaps not fully knowing which one you are in.

In Welcome Mat, Martina tells us “nor have I felt sin / in any of it.” There are no regrets in these poems, only confident musings about what has been done, and what has been imagined.

Like Pavarotti whose presence is only protruding slightly into Los Angeles as he sings from the greater realm of wherever he truly exists, Martina presents her elevation over this world in a way that resonates with any artist’s filter…or to the common-person who hasn’t yet discovered their inner muse. These poems shine a light for them, and all of us, into realms we are glad to have revealed.

Reading these poems is like walking through a city’s neighborhoods…each neighborhood with its own characteristics. You’re on the same walk and you can see the connection as you turn a corner from one poem/page/street to the next, even though the one you’ve ended up on tells a different story, and smells and sounds different.

Borders begins with “I am here to astonish you”…most of the way through the book. I’m torn at what must be the launch into Glyph’s denouement, between the idea that the book could have begun with this poem, and the realization that, this far through, I have been astonished.

Rick Lupert, author of God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion, and The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express

Rick Lupert has been involved in the Los Angeles poetry community since 1990.  He is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Distinguished Service Award for service to the Los Angeles poetry community. Visit his site

Chestnut Ridge finalist in ME Lit Awards


Chestnut Ridge a finalist in Maine Lit Awards for poetry 2020

Also a poem in “Deep Water” portland Press Herald

But read this endorsement and watch the video below.

William Faulkner is famous for mining “his own little post stamp of native soil” for what he called “the old universal truths.” In Chestnut Ridge , Dawn Potter is following Faulkner’s wise path, giving us a polyphonic portrait of southwestern Pennsylvania in an impressive range of voices, pitches, and forms. She starts with the region’s tragicomic history—“the undiagnosed roads littered with sorrows”; “the pale and ruminating / heifer”—moving gradually through time to the present. All along, mining the full possibilities of persona, our intrepid author takes possession of her own origins as melancholic witness to a bygone America whose history it would be a terrible mistake to lose. This sad, moral, and really smart book is essential reading for anyone interested in hearing a master poet sing an indispensable bereavement song.

—Adrian Blevins

Find it here, purchase with free shipping

 

Erasure poetry – KIN S FUR – & a new translation of a tale from the Brothers Grimm.


cover grab KIN S

Because readers may enjoy this for several reasons, the earlier page is here made a post. There are several things to investigate in this longer than usual post: the book preview; the erasure poem; the scholarly work in translation and process by the author.

ALL KINDS OF FURErasure poems and a new translation of a tale from the Brothers Grimm.

Available from the publisher

Cover art: Painting Bear Girl by Anne Siems.

Erasure is a contemporary poetry-writing practice. Poets begin with a source text of any kind and then “erase” selected words and letters, using one or several methods—such as whiting or blacking out their selections, or “ghosting” them with a gray font. What remains are erasure poems. 

In ALL KINDOF FUR, the source text is shaded gray to reveal the poems in black.

In these poems, Margaret Yocom offers a new vision of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm’s controversial “Allerleirauh” (“All Kinds of Fur”), a lesser-known version of “Cinderella” that opens with incest. Erasing the Grimms’ words to reveal a young woman’s story of her journey to a new, full life, Yocom asks, What would All Kinds Of Fur say if she could tell her own tale? In ALL KINDS OF FUR , the heroine’s words rise.

In her “Afterword: tale / translation / erasure,” the author explores the history of the tale “All Kinds Of Fur” (and its many, international versions) as well as her translation of the Grimms’ text. She also discusses erasure poetry more fully and mentions other erasure poets and their work.  Here is an excerpt about the author’s own erasure practice:

. . . For me, the process of erasure has not been “What words should I erase?” but rather “What words rise?” Erasure offers me a chance to make visible and concrete a conversation—perhaps, even, an argument— between two texts. Through such a poem, rather than an essay, I can disagree with other interpretations of the tale as well as the assumptions of its translators. I can also create an alternative vision that presents the way a young woman, a survivor of abuse, would tell this tale . . .

Praise for ALL KINDS OF FUR

Open this book and enter a world of danger, transformation, and tactical survival—a multi-layered, multi-voiced telling of “Allerleirauh” / “All Kinds Of Fur,” a Brothers Grimm tale you most likely have not met, a “Cinderella” version with incest. In a new translation, Margaret Yocom first brings us this forgotten tale, stocked, as we’d expect, with kings, rings, beasts, and betrayals. She then, through erasure, lures out of its darkness another voice—the voice of All Kinds Of Fur herself, lying hidden within its words. In keeping with traditions of wonder tales, erasure practice poses riddles and embodies paradoxes—adding by subtracting, listening by looking, redrawing the boundaries of author and reader, teller and told. Enter this forest. Voice what you see. Is it sunlight in shadow, or a sudden shadow cutting through light? 

                                           —Susan Tichy

Some tales—the old ones, the magical ones—wander the borderlands between our inchoate unconscious and the day-lit logic of our lives, not to keep those realms separate, but to ensure something of our dark interiors leaks up into the measured day and, by the trespass, keeps the fathomless open. Margaret Yocom’s book gives us a new translation of one such tale, demonstrating beautifully how it is desire and fear, care and threat, humility and humiliation, love and grief, are entangled in such ways they might be the source of that knot we call the mind. But Yocom does more than give us a tale we’ve always known even if now we’re reading it for the first time. In her erasure of the tale, she shows us that a text, just like our own minds, has its own hidden inner life, and its own unconscious depths, a mind within the mind, a heart within the heart, a hearth within a hearth. It is a magical and necessary vision, one our culture now, in its incessant surfacing, deeply needs—this reminder, that beneath every depth, there is a deeper deep; and beneath every dark, a darker dark. It is in this dark that ALL KINDS OF FUR teaches us to see.     

                                          —Dan Beachy-Quick

These poems are haunted by what Yocom makes invisible by her erasures; what she makes visible has different bones. The incest in the fairy tale variously translated as “All Fur” or “Donkeyskin” shows through the skin without the “s”: kin. I have used these poems in my fairy tale course to introduce students to a tradition whose dark side has been erased, in other ways, by numerous editors and publishers—and which ALL KINDS OF FUR  restores. Are we not all, like these fairy tale beings, humanimals?   

                                          —Katharine Young

About ALL KINDS OF FUR, from the “Afterword: tale / translation / erasure”:

ALL KINDS OF FUR explores the history of the tale “All Kinds Of Fur” and its many, international versions (see summary of the tale, below*):

. . . As a poet, folklorist, and storyteller long interested in “All Kinds Of Fur,” I wondered what happened to the tale in the hands of other editors and collectors, especially those who did not revise their texts as extensively as the Grimms did. So, I searched for the story in folktale collections throughout the world. In these tales, All Kinds Of Fur / Cat-Skin / Sack-cloth / Hanchi (Clay Pot) always dons an unattractive body covering, and she appears to others as male or female, human or spirit-world being, or a living entity whose characteristics cannot be discerned. In Palestine, she wraps herself in sackcloth and appears to be an old man or a jinn. In Sudan, she removes the skin from an old man and covers herself. In Japan, she wears frog’s skin; in Norway, crow’s skin; in Slavic countries, mouse skin. For Romanians living in the Balkans, she turns herself into sea foam. . . . What I learned, above all, through my research was that the young woman uses many creative strategies to save herself and craft a new life. . . .

ALL KINDS OF FUR underscores the importance of making one’s own translation of a source text:

. . . What might I learn if I looked, myself—poet, folklorist, feminist—at the Grimms’ words? Plenty, as it turned out. The several discoveries I made more than surprised me; they unsettled me. They changed forever my vision of the tale. For example, All Kinds Of Fur calls herself “Kind” (“child”) as she hides from men in the woods; yet almost all translators use the female-identified term “girl.” I use “child,” though, to point out how All Kinds Of Fur purposefully un-sexes—and protects—herself through her choice of words. For similar reasons, I use the pronoun “it” to refer to All Kinds Of Fur when the text calls for the neuter pronoun. (Read my 2012 book chapter, here, for more details on the tale and its translation). . . .