Such was the idea put forth by painter (and frame maker) Charles Prendergast in explaining his theory of crafting frames. Recently, I had the chance to learn about Charles, and his better-known brother Maurice, at the New Britain Museum of American Art and to experience their collaborations. My feature article “The Painting and Its Frame” explores the relationship between the image and frame. You can find the full text at Woven Tail Press. Here is Maurice’s Approaching Storm framed by Charles’s wood frame with gilding and paint.
. . . Often my museum experience brings me to artists who have completely abandoned the frame—whether it’s painters whose raw canvas stands on its own or sculptures and installations where the boundaries are figurative.” Read More
“I’m looking for a soap dish. . . . ” This is how I begin “Giving up the Chokehold,” an essay about searching and about finding. What I find first is a necklace, actually a bunch of them, “chokers I haven’t worn in years.” One, is woven into a braid, “a thin zig-zag, like trim binding from an old sewing kit. I try this one on. As it’s supposed to, it chokes me.”
Scars, no matter where they lie on our bodies or if we can see them, have a way of silencing us with their visibility. At the very least, they shape who we are. Sometimes we wear them as badges of pain; sometimes we wear them as badges of victory. How to get from one endpoint to another is what that found necklace helped me discover.
When I think back on it, most of the time spent on cover-ups and self-consciousness is rooted in a worldview that I’m not ashamed to hold. There are others in the world whose scar stories are much more heroic. I don’t think my story is heroic because everyone has scars . . .
Just released, the first episode of The Vanguard Podcast featuring writers David K. Leff, Katherine Hauswirth, and me, along with musician Lys Guillorn. Join these conversations at the Forefront of Creativity with hosts L.M. Browning and Kelly Kancyr.
This episode includes a conversation between me and L.M Browning about my poetry, teaching, my inspiration for writing, and finding my way into prose. My essay “Giving Up the Choke Hold” is a tangent to The Comet’s Tail: A Memoir of No Memory, so I’m excited the podcast is available now. Both start at about the 19-minute mark.
Here’s a poem from Reconnaissanceto celebrate The Vanguard Podcast’s release.
what a line looks like
on a page, I unwrap
a notebook and tune
to Charlie Parker. If I Should Lose You, wait for the record,
metal now and shiny,
to hiccup into
its grooves. Scattered
over an unseen stave of five
parallel lines, the blue
narcotic notes from
a saxophone scatter
in a wind tunnel.
At Musée d’Art Moderne
I notice the construct of silhouetted
stick figures juxtaposed above a door;
one’s triangular body tells me
to go into a different salle. There,
I find another version of graffiti
on the door in front of me as I sit down.
This is not art someone has written.
My bladder agrees, but against this angst
and all treachery of the world’s turmoil
another has revolted: Yes it is—
Art is what you make of it. Such words
delight me at first; they affect such openness,
pretend pluralism, and compel acceptance
of every sapling of discontent that arises
at seeing paint spread like entrails on the floor.
What you make of it . . . as if anyone could
wake and slither into anarchy and come out
with the paraphrase of a quail egg. I go out
and back to the exhibits, back to the violence
and spectacle of color and form. Seeking out
other dimensions, I walk into a room wrapped
in giant spools of gray, industrial felt.
At the end of one hall, a sculpture in straw
creates the illusion of an airplane; a thousand
pairs of scissors spear its shape. Art is
what you make of it? I need to go back:
digging into my bag and finding a pen
I scratch the last two words into blackness.
The poem is featured in Reconnaissance, published by Homebound Publications. For a signed copy (and free shipping), click the side menu and find “Purchase Signed Copies.”
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“A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses [her] feeling through words. This may sound easy. It isn’t.”
E.E. Cummings (or e.e. cummings as he preferred) wrote this advice to a young poet, and my poetry teacher shared it with me when I first started writing. After 27 years, it’s still not easy, but I can’t stop, and starting next week, I will write one poem a day for 30 days.
I’ll be participating in Tupelo Press’s 30/30 project, and joining over 175 poets who’ve committed to writing 30 poems in 30 days. Four poets will join me for March, and I’m excited to get started.
We’re all inviting family, friends, and colleagues to sponsor us. It’s not a competition, but we’re all raising money for Tupelo Press, one of the best independent publishers in the country, and a great supporter of poetry. But I need a little more than a retweet or Facebook Like. Support my efforts with a donation.
I apprenticed well. For a sixth grade project,
Mrs. Montecalvo taught me the worth
of a good forgery when she assigned
the footnoted history of a painter
and encouraged an attempt at imitation.
Seeing Monet’s Westminster Bridge reprinted
in Reader’s Digest, I modeled my own
with schoolgirl brushes and an aptitude
for blending. I typed his biography
on a blue Remington, stenciled a title page,
punched symmetrical holes and glued
the masterpiece into a pocketed folder.
I never got the stink of acrylic off my fingers.
Audacity and small victories: these
are gateways for any scavenger.
Once one is secure in the false flat
of a sloped horizon, transformations
are easy: an open book, so to speak.
I pocketed the Collected Poems
of ee cummings wholesale, tore
the bar code from the last page
and slipped its frayed spine between
loose-leaf sheets of unlined
but perforated notebooks. Long after,
the card catalog entry went away too.
Like other trophies, I just stored it,
held it in a box of pressed flowers
and half memorized poems, among
generous piles of pens and paint brushes,
newspaper clippings and dirty love letters
scribbled on the backs of postcards.
For these corruptions I’ve paid only
in callouses and broken pencil tips.
Despite my best calligraphy,
slippery pens have crossed out
entire lines carefully typeset in Linotype
or Century Schoolbook, my marks bleeding
through pages now unreadable.
In the gray area between homage
and sacrilege, I thieve too much:
red wheelbarrows pile full of leaves and dirt
and burnable logs pressed into the pulp
of scrap paper or woven into stretchable
canvases. Little I see in nature
that is my own. I stole van Gogh’s sadness
and painted it on my shoulder.
Like Olympia, I learned how to stare.
Next time, let me mimic the syntax of bridges
and throw sand over wet, stolen ink.
Let me trust in surveillance. Once the thief
learns to discern original from run of the mill
everything is a first edition; everything
is one of a kind.