“Tundras of tears poured conflagrating inward. Where outside of my eyes, a frosted window, a cat’s tail and marble as my footing. I have turned the orange light to blues and in so doing have turned my eyes ephemerally to flora.”
Pulling herself from the water, her stories all dripping from her skin, plopped upon her every step; her palm to page is the rock she’s propped upon as chapters glissade in collages across her river bank –
The Girl stood firm against the forest’s shadows, her hand to visor against the sun she bends at knees and hips, surveying the horizon… “From me all seen the directionless, my eddies are burning the boxes.”
Her palm open and flushed against the wind, straight backed drawn against the waters… “Fuck it,” she says, “I’m getting wet.” Across the river there rests the ceiba trees cloistered as background noise and almost gone, almost swallowed by the garden. “Down the hatch!” she rustles. The forest circled. Zero tightened against her fist, fingers slid in a grip across his shin, her calf muscles, his thigh in her teeth, her mouth opening his lips now moved to a moist parting and now –
all Zero can do is smile, “You are the only stone I can’t skip!” he spouted.
And she kisses him all ink and letter lipped dripping with consonants and the hipbones of phonemes. Hand held they drop,
crouching, arrogantly and leaping with an uppercut to sucker punch the tree’s branches smilingly yelling in unison,
“Fuck you nature!”
Zero bare footed against the climbing rocks, shawled between his sun and his shoulders.
His chapters aching against the slow waves one finds in these quick forests.
“No magic, only geometry!” Zero huffs “only words, syntax.” The Girl spatters “Idioms, expressions!” Bellowed both as
backwards, back lit, against the sight of boulders rocked slight against their current; dense in its distance, far even off the periphery a moment opens; the streams begin to rush, as the rivers rain upwards.
“Mother” redirects here. For other uses of “mother,” see Mother
The peripheral wolf (Canis lupus peripheres) is a canid native to the seat and remote suburbs of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, Florida, and New Orleans. It is the smallest member of its family, with males averaging 92–113 kg (205–250 lb), and females 36–38.5 kg (79–85 lb). It is similar in general appearance and proportions to Canis lupus campestris, or Steppe Wolf, but has a smaller head, narrower chest, shorter legs, straighter tail, and human hands in place of paws. Its winter fur is long and bushy, and predominantly a freckled brunette in color, although nearly pure white, red, or brown to black also occur.
Approximately 62% of peripheral wolves have attacked people, and this is not unusual due to the limited availability of Therapy Wolf International resources. Furthermore peripheral wolves are relatively few and, while they do live amongst a society, have learned to trust themselves and others utilizing the few available resources when they are accessible. Hunting and trapping has reduced the species’ range to only vestige memories of its region, though this relatively widespread range has left an increasingly positive legacy which means that the species is not threatened at a visceral or emotional level for those who maintain its existence. Due to the suicide of the peripheral wolf, however, its physical form is no longer verifiable and is therefore classified by the IUCN as Extinct.
Throughout the poesphere this week there has been the unfortunate buzz regarding Amiri Baraka being hospitalized and, thankfully, recovering fully from an innominate illness.
When the news presented itself I braced for the worst; I have an unfortunate, and extensive, familiarity with the loss of those who were very close to me and consequentially anticipate dreadful plans of reality to unfurl. We all poem and pray for the best now Amiri; to your health and continued words I raise my glass to you.
When I’d read that he was in good health and released from the hospital my thoughts drifted apart and away from concerns related to Baraka. Instead I strayed to the concept of post-death homage, eulogies, funeral poems and memorializing of the deceased; a form of memorializing that is exceptionally relevant to the world of poetry and certainly profound in its respect of the dead – but it is as well also imperative to maintain our own well being. Nevertheless, I pressed further into this idea of homage and wondered what it is that drives us to create in this medium in the first place.
Robert Pirsig, I believe, in theafterwordofZen, addresses this question succinctly; when considering what it was about the death of his son, Chris, that impacted him so deeply…
“What had to be seen was that the Chris I missed so badly was not an object but a pattern, [and while] the larger pattern remained, a huge hole had been torn out of the center of it, and that was what caused all the heartache. The pattern was looking for something to attach to and couldn’t find anything. That’s probably why grieving people feel such attachment to cemetery headstones and any material property or representation of the deceased. The pattern is trying to hang on to its own existence by finding some new material thing to center itself upon.“
The reverence of the deceased through poetry is a way of filling that human-shaped hole in the pattern as we understand it. We have an image of, an idea of, a concept of, a pattern representing someone whom we have lost and when that concept grows a distortion or has a boot-heal-shaped hole where the heart was – then for our sanity and for the memory of those lost – we must fill it.
I wondered to Donne‘s Holy Sonnetsand mumbled through a cigarette butt, “death, be not proud, though some have called thee / mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so…”
In brief, this poetry form is a historical preservationist’s narration regarding the successes and achievements of a clan or clan member; and accordingly, the words Izibongo Zamakhosi translate to, King’s Praises. In length, however, a page I’d found and now consider to be the sine qua non source of explanation and teaching of the Izibongo Zamakhosi can be found Matebeleland.com’s blog on the history of the culture and poetry of the Ndebele people.
At the age of 19 I plunged into the world of poetry via the French Quarter in New Orleans, meeting and learning from scores of brilliant writers. I learned, specifically, about the poetic form Izibongo from poet David Rowe who quickly shared with me his examples which were, astonishing, king’s praises of a more modernized caliber.
The first Izibongos he shared with me were his, “Walt Whitman Izibongo,” and his, “Jack Kerouac Izibongo,” and explained to me that the Izibongo was a “chanting form of praise poetry read when a warrior was going off to battle or has died.”
“Brilliant!” I’d thought, “to commemorate our favorite poets through chanting praises at them as if they were kings and warriors!”
It wasn’t until much later, roughly 6 or 7 years later, that I began to write Izibongo’s of my own and felt that they truly were the path upon which I could appropriately exalt not only my poetic idols passed but also my loved ones who deserved my praise in words.
David’s book, “Unsolicited Poems,” is one of the more inspirational books of poems I’ve read, I recommend purchasing it or borrowing it from me soon.
What I consider my best Izibongo to date…
Hermann Hesse Izibongo… (for David Rowe who has to take it)
The man who dreams of a boxed leg, a bitten scorpion tipping the tip dribble of Goethe’s magic markered on moustache and never coming up for eternity’s heir!
Whose bleat is wisdom bellowed by the gruff in a Billy Goat’s Bah-ah-ah, and who holding high Narcissus flowers is himself a bouquet of finite clopping hooves upon the Steppe Mountains!
Who never knew the treeless, never lain claws nor teeth to the vastless, nor scowered the cliffsides of southeast Europe, or Asia, and yet – left them, all the same, absorbed into human forms, as this sheep in wolves clothing.
Who I say knew my dreams, knew my rivers, and knew my Phoenix more than I!
Who knew Berlioz by the backwash in a spittoon.
Who knew Mozart from the saints who could not dance, but danced the same in “victory’s forgotten underwear!”
Who knew Matthisson, Beethoven, and Jean-Paul Sartre by names only their Mommies could call them!
Who in ’46 was noble enough for a prize.
And who in ’62 was prized as a noble by “The Eternals” in some heaven for Madmen Only, some heaven that he never had a need to believe in!
Who could know folk by their lore and whose reliquary is full of bronzed tails he plucked from the back end of fairies!
Citizen of Switzerland!
Spoiled “Fuck-All” of Germany!
Whose very name speaks of love!
Of some vague her!
Of Thomas Mann
Of the very Hesse towns of your ex country!
Whose very spine IS the fulcrum of all of literature’s twirling world!
Secondly, as I made friends and acquaintances with Dylan Thomas aficionados around the web I encountered a new emotion that I’d never felt before… As a result of having my tweets retweeted and favorited by Twitter users such as The Dylan Thomas Center Swansea (@DTCSwansea) and Dylan Thomas News (@DylanThomasNews) and also, now, being followed by them I felt a great sense of the emotion, “fiero,” which is a kind of pride inspired by great accomplishment done by oneself. I’d never encountered this outside of stage performances or passing difficult exams as an interpreter. I certainly never thought I’d encounter it by viewing my twitter feed.
I believe, then, it was the fellow at Dylan Thomas News who informed me about the Dylan Thomas 100 celebration where fans recorded Vine videos of single lines of Thomas’ poetry and they were then pieced together to create Youtube videos of the entire poem.
And then there was, lastly, the comment I received from a Dylan Thomas fan after he’d found the transcript that I had done…
Jason- Over 45 years ago, before the advent of the new technology, I put the Caedmon recording of “A Few Words of a Kind” on my turntable, and tried over and over to copy down the transcription of this marvelous introduction to Dylan Thomas’s poetry. I finally gave up, knowing I would never be able to get it exactly. A few years later, I was doing research at our local library, and found the complete transcription of his remarks in an issue of “Mademoiselle” magazine. I do not have the exact date of the magazine, but I do have a copy of the transcription in its entirety with complete accuracy. You did a wonderful job with your transcription, but it occurred to me that you might want a copy of the remarks as Dylan gave them . If you would like me to mail you a copy, I would be glad to do so. Just email me back and let me know. It is gratifying to know that there are other people out there who also love and appreciate Dylan Thomas. The irony is, in my opinion, due in part to the infusion and reliance on technology, that we have lost the beautiful expression of language that made Dylan Thomas memorable. Namaste Weiss
I promptly sent Weiss my mailing address and less than one week later the transcript as Dylan wrote it arrived in my mail. I read it thoroughly and found that I had only made one or two minor mistakes. Mistakes which, for the sake of making the easiest of the Copy & Paste option, I’ve gone back and corrected.
While I am certain I’ll eventually discover the issue of Mademoiselle that this article was posted in; thus far no results have come my way…
And, lastly, one of the more amusing things that I cranked out while enjoying this venture was when I was submitting a vine for the Dylan Thomas 100 Poem and wasn’t actually aware of which poems they wanted. The line, “daft with a drug that’s smoking in a girl / and curling round the bud that forks her eye,” as presented by my pug, Watson, and myself…
As I continue my understanding of why we create and what purpose it serves I continue to fill a toolbox of endless shelves with techniques, prompts, exercises in expanding our creativity… And while I am compiling most of these techniques and understandings in order to share them with my partner – it’s important to me, to others, that a more public access to these techniques and prompts are available.
I know your methods my friend, I know your framework.
I know this red door…
The hallways, allways, like walking into a bead of dew on Indra’s Web and seeing, and being that being with a panoramic view of some absurdist’s infinity; I am home. This is where the filaments of Whitman’s spider land and cast, cast, cast themselves in and out of balcony windows from the swing that keeps us playing, keeps us young.
In the eleven-hundred block of Decatur St. in New Orleans I stand in the kitchen of John Lambert’s apartment – I know I cannot function as a whole unit without this place, without him. We are yolks of the same egg, I ask him –
“What are we writing this time?”
“Why is the kite behaving the way it does? Is it trying to be a flock-less eagle? And if you were this kite; if you the juggler were this kite, if you the poet, the carpenter, the shaman were this kite – how would it relate to itself within the framework of your belief system?”
“This shaman, for example, encountering the flight of a dandelion seed head…
“…the prompt is projecting the self into the kite, the chair, glass, the dandelion…”
“The juggler… He sees the dandelion seed in flight before him; the wind is a juggler too; he feels jealousy at the ease of the wind’s ability; he is grateful that it would be willing share its technique; they share methods without speaking.”
“Yes. This is the prompt exactly. How do you, I, we behave as this object while existing within our belief systems? I am this kite and I possess the belief system I understand now. I am glass – with the same context.”
[John pulls his notebook out, flips a page, smiles, rolls a cigarette, hums a small laugh and reads…]
in the land where we are glass
we give thanks to make it home unbroken, crowded with the reflections we collect come end of day
I set down the glass box i’m always carrying you draw too close for me to see your edge as you peel away the panes dropping explosions, whispering
“I’ll clean-up the mess later”
we click into a sheet double-backed and carousel as a threat to the furniture the glass cat mrowls and darts away
“the floor” i moan
we drop together, we slide into the stained glass kitchen here your hair is a church my face a prism grinning up
“what are you smiling at?” you beam
I dare the stupidest thought blushing chromatic, for i had imagined a land where we were unbreakable things
“sounds much too safe” you chide and i nod, quite certain
how boring, no fear of breaking in the act of love–no real test of another surface against one’s own–nor ever the measure of what a mirror can take…
“Do you see? Everything is poetry waiting for us to write it, correct? Then everything is a mirror waiting for our projection.”
“Yes. The flora that bears fruit as an artist, for example; what Roland Barthes called, “the death of the author,” here, the tree speaks, “I have built this thing of myself – take it and do with it what you wish without me.”
The prompt then can be extended into any object or stimuli whatsoever. I found myself driving across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway on my way to an ASL convention and as an interpreter I found myself provoking my surroundings with how they would act within the framework of needing to hire an interpreter for communication means. The clouds in the above picture were an easy call; they would hire a poet to convey their message, their intents.
I considered the crepuscular moment on the French Quarter from the perspective of a writer of haikus searching for its perfect kireji; that precise expression that indicated a cutting and joining of thoughts and content and filled its readers with awe. It was in that 4 a.m. growl where the night was turning into morning. I considered this further and found unconsciousness attempting to find the same thing and it was in that involuntary, effortless and automatic instinct where we wake up from sleep.
What is the chess piece going to convey about its purpose if it were a carpenter?
I, joyously, came upon the idea of how an entomologist would behave if she were a bartender and all her clients were spiders; tossing the balled up and thumb and forefinger squashed remains of last night’s drunks at their webs – knowing their tipping is the most gracious of all – she gets to keep living.
The chair, if it was a priest?
The painting if it was a mathematician?
The cigarette if it were a scientist?
If Siddhartha were to watch a symphony?
If the Buddha himself were driving down an endless I-79 South?
“What is it, then, that I’ll know is worth writing about?“
October 12th, 2013, roughly 1 month into the past, I was sitting in the nook of my attic’s north facing window alcove with notebook, pen and beer. Suspended in a leap of creative faith…
I could not commit to a word without reason…
The wind, through the window, was easier than I expect October winds to be.
“Always,” I thought, “all ways, the same – October bolsters the worst of me.“
My dog barking downstairs, the skeleton of the tree next store was showing, fall is here, the ouroboros was swallowing its tail and it felt like, in a stallion fear of creativity, it finally realized it will have to shit itself back into his own mouth.
I was met with the same, cliché, crisis of creative faith as all artists have, presumably met or will meet, at some crosshair of their life.
Why should I write? Is this just some form of approval seeking behavior? Is it just for, “that slap on the back? And the gold watch? Look at the clever boy with the badge, polishing his trophy? Shine on you crazy diamond?” And will anything I write be of any value? What is the worth of a poem?
I couldn’t have answered these questions alone and I knew that others have had to have met this same situation.
I was gifted a grand reliquary of ideas from a variety of places and each of which illuminated a path worth drawing a map for here.
Perhaps I am posting this so that I may have a reference I, myself, may have access to when needed but since this seems to be a common insecurity among artists, in this post I am going to share the collection of answers I came across and, naturally, ask for your answers in the comments…
In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting more about this as it has helped me begin writing again and from a place within that matters to me.
(Joe Navarro is an ex-FBI agent who specializes in the area of nonverbal communication and is the author of 6 books on the subject… Most importantly though – he is patient and kind enough to answer my endless inquiries on the subject.)
@Jasonkirin communication – where words fail to encapsulate meaning
Doing a simple Google search for why artists create gave me access to this fantastic article from which the quote most memorable…
“So back to the question why I make art. In my case, the projects that I do allow me to meet people I wouldn’t ordinarily meet, travel to places I wouldn’t normally go to, learn about subjects that I didn’t know I would be interested in, and sometimes even help people out in small ways that make me feel good. I like to say that what I’m after is to have an interesting life, and doing the work that I do as an artist helps me achieve that.” – Harrell Fletcher
Naturally I discussed this with my mentor John who gave a more precise explanation to why we create and share –
“Because in creating resides joy. We mimic god-work, unite with our next rung on the ladder toward source, which propagates health in us. It’s the ne plus ultra of meditation when you document a new experience in something you’ve made. […] Also, it keeps you young. Trust my anecdotal certainty on this. You need something to communicate to create, meaning one has to be feeling something, some- thing you’re willing to look at–and have seen. If you don’t like the content of your heart, you will not create. why confess what you can not address to a resolution? The advice of those I read is to acknowledge the ‘life’s lessons’, the ‘contracts’ we’ve accepted, the facts about ourselves and the lives we may have. Then drop them and walk on instead. we can choose at any time to release our contracts–we have to want to release the pain to which we cling, that feeds us like a mother. you must believe pain, like any old thing, can be thrown in the river, and you can walk away knowing right where it is, and will stay.“
My greatest understanding of creating was when film maker Rachael Deacon collared me by asking, “why can’t it just be magic?”
What she was labeling as magic was something I’ve long since understood as, and seemingly have forgotten about, the psychology of Flow as put forward by Mihaly Csikszentmiha –
Of course! It was precisely as Pirsig said when he was asked why he wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He responded by saying that, “writing it just seemed to have higher quality than not writing it – that was all.”
What every one of us strive to achieve is our highest-excitement and the way in which we do this lands us, whether consciously or not, in what Csikszentmiha labeled as Flow. When the challenge before us meets our skills for this challenge in very precise ways – we find ourselves within this diagram –
That magic that Rachael reminded me of is the Flow Channel – and it appears as though when we do create from those lessons learned and then share with others – we are met with the feeling of magic and excitement that is so ingrained as a need in us as humans.
All of this together… All of these opinions and insights… I am left in a loop of trying to paraphrase and condense this information for myself and for others.
What is it that you are finding through all of this? Why do you create? What and where is your flow channel? What is your highest-excitement when it comes to your art?