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Month: October 2008

A Fool on the Hill

A Fool on the Hill

Crabtree Falls
Crabtree Falls

 I didn’t make it to all the way to the Falls. Was within half a mile or so before time ran out. Someone turned out the lights on the great painting in the sky.

I still found some green and blue peace and more. I found a vision and learned how certain cameras can not handle what comes out of that great painting in the sky. One has to prepare for such things and I didn’t. Next time.

How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude! — Emily Dickinson, letter to Mrs. J.S. Cooper, 1880

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. — John Muir, 1913.

The Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains

 

Walking, climbing, gazing at groups of trees, rocks, hillsides and mountain peaks. Parsing them. Separating them and putting them back together again, so they existed alone and … Click to continue . . .

The Flight of the Red Balloon

The Flight of the Red Balloon

The Flight of the Red Balloon
The Flight of the Red Balloon

Just watched Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s wonderful film, The Flight of the Red Balloon. Set in a glowing, shadowy, geometric and abstract Paris, it stars Juliette Binoche as Suzanne, and Simon Iteanu as her son Simon. Simon’s nanny, a young film student from China, is played by Song Fang. I’m not sure who plays the red flotation device.

The film is a homage to Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 classic, The Red Balloon, but doubles and echoes and adds new layers. The nanny shoots film footage in Paris, incorporating her new charge, Simon, and his hovering red friend and we see both the internal and the external. We watch the film within the film and think about what that hovering balloon may be pointing to. The freedom, the joy, the hope of childhood and the things we can’t reach.

Nearly every frame is an abstract painting in and of itself. Hou utilizes interiors with precision, throwing … Click to continue . . .

Vienna Teng

Vienna Teng

One of my favorite recent discoveries is the music of Vienna Teng. I love the name. She chose it. It fits. A Taiwanese-American singer/songwriter from California, Vienna has a gorgeous, angelic voice that exudes intelligent sweetness, but is never saccharine.

She has called her music “Chamber Folk”, which rings true. Influenced by Classical, Jazz, Folk and Pop, Vienna Teng sings on the edge of discovery. She flies higher, but doesn’t overreach. When she is not singing, just talking, she sounds more than down to earth. She seems relaxed about her place on the surface of this planet. But music lifts her off that surface again and again and again.

From her myspace page:

Influences: My parents’ record collection: Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Mozart and Beethoven, 60s Mandarin pop. That’s what I started with and it’ll never leave me. Later on, pianist-songwriters: Elton John, Billy Joel, Tori Amos. These days I’m influenced by whoever intimidates me. I hear

Click to continue . . .
New Additions and Digressions

New Additions and Digressions

Yongzheng Emperor and Deer. China. 1723-1735
Yongzheng Emperor and Deer. China. 1723-1735

Want to point to the new poetry below by Aleksandar Novakovich and a return visit by Desi Di Nardo. Strong poets from the Balkans and Canada, respectively. Please comment on their works and let them know your impressions.

* * * * *

Now, for that digression. Albeit brief. I recently heard an interesting fact on the radio. Deer like the grass on the side of the road because it is more loaded with certain kinds of nutrients they need. It’s loaded with that nutrition primarily because we mow the grass along side our roads continuously. Deer are attracted to that grass, and can’t really judge the speed of cars on the highway. Hence the accidents. In addition, the months of October and November is their time to get ready for the Winter, to fatten up, to prepare. It’s also their time to mate. Deer are also most likely to be on the move … Click to continue . . .

Tony Jones: Deep Will Call Unto Deep

Tony Jones: Deep Will Call Unto Deep

Emily Dickinson. 1846. Photo by William C. North
Emily Dickinson. 1846. Photo by William C. North

 

[Guest blogger Tony Jones]

Religiophobia

 

Blindered by heat-flashes
of banality; the sacred barnyard
tells us nothing except it has
no room for us without our becoming
at once greater and smaller.

This is what it means to have
the mind of Christ; to become as a child
with the heart-space of a 1000 goslings,
arrow-tipped with lightning.

 

One of the reasons it’s hard to write good religious or spiritual verse — and I am well aware that the terms spiritual and religious are not synonyms — is that the “truths” of religion/spirituality are so public — known by millions and millions — of people that to even utter them in their publicly known form is to start from the realm of cliché and banality. This doesn’t mean those truths really are banal, it just means that they have been pounded deep into the wagon-ruts of collective consciousness, where they often lie … Click to continue . . .

The Children’s Idyll In All Of Us

The Children’s Idyll In All Of Us

A Children’s Idyll, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. 1900
A Children’s Idyll, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. 1900

Spurred on by a thought-provoking blog post by my good friend Tim Brownson, I thought again about what we lose when we grow up. The way we once looked at life. With fresh hope. With a ton of hope and delight. With great expectations and daily excitement. What is it, exactly, about the process of maturation that seems to take so much of that out of us? Is this chemical, biological, spiritual, or all of the above? Do we actually lose special brain cells that are informed with a sense of hope and awe and wonder? Is this an evolutionary process that even makes sense?

I sometimes wonder if we have this backwards. As in, shouldn’t we be more cautious as children and more blown away by the world as adults? Because we see more, we know more, we’ve been to more places, and our senses grow layers and depth, and we can … Click to continue . . .

Homage To Anna

Homage To Anna

Workers in the Snow, by Edvard Munch. 1913
Workers in the Snow, by Edvard Munch. 1913

Was thinking again about Anna Akhmatova’s graceful, direct, hit you in the gut poetry. Was also thinking about non-poetic things like economics. I think recent events have made it very clear just how muddy the topic really is. Clear as mud and slush in the morning before rush hour starts. As is my wont at times, I took another look at an old poem of mine in a new context:

 

 

 

Unemployed

 

He read Akhmatova while he waited in line
No bread line
No line to see prisoners
Starving and cold

He felt something hum in his ear
A soft wind
“Can you describe this?”

Revolutions come and go and the poets sing
With the masses the poor the archetypes
Huddled in clumps on small muddy streets
Facing warm and dry avenues
And white winters on red knees

There were no horses chained to three good wheels
There were no ice sculptures … Click to continue . . .

Christina’s World

Christina’s World

Christina's World, by Andrew Wyeth. 1948.
Christina’s World, by Andrew Wyeth. 1948.

 The painting haunts. She has Polio, but she thrives. She loves the warmth, the comfort, the familial bliss of that house in Cushing, Maine, and nothing will prevent her presence there. Not the long trek. Not the pain. Not the time. The time is hers. The journey is hers. She is used to all things. Pain. Time. Effort. And the painter senses that. He inhabits her for a moment and gives all of us Christina, by way of Beth, his wife. The wife of Wyeth. Every blade of grass is there or hinted at. Every form of struggle, love of landscape, love of home. Christina lives and dies in that house. It is her life.

Why is this not bleak? Why is this not lonely like the sea after the worst storms? If a person walks swiftly past this painting, they will see bleakness. If they glance and go, they will see loneliness. But … Click to continue . . .