It would be delightful if you joined me
I feel like I have been busy but I suspect that isn’t true. My standard response currently is ‘I am at my parents’ farm, packing.’ One half of that is right. However, I have been getting some exciting things.
First of all, many thanks to Helen Vitoria at Thrush Press, because you can now purchase a very very lovely broadside of my poem ‘NOLA.’ It is so pretty and I am so excited to give them to unsuspecting strangers who probably aren’t as pleased about it.
Otherwise, I am reading at Salt Plus tomorrow, the FB event is here. Lots of other excellent people are reading and it begins a week of sad goodbyes and minor panic attacks, because after this trip it is back to the farm to really, really pack.
In the future, red lightbulbs have taken a few poems for their tenth issue, so thanks Russ! It’s been pretty great to get back to writing properly, and these are a couple of odd prose poems, so things do get mixed.
Also, ILK is still reading for its ALL WOMEN ALL THE TIME ISSUE, so submit away ladies!
P.S. This is a real grasssnake that I saw at home yesterday. Even though they can’t hurt you I was still pretty terrified. Snakes are scary.
At dinner after talking about the weather at length and also hospital experiences, my dad asked me about writing and, you know, why.
So we talked about this one time when my dad was in hospital and things were not great, and he hallucinated steel girder across the ceiling. And on those girders were five or six frogs. He was really sure these frogs were real, and made me see them.
I said that’s why.
Something that is easy to overlook when so engrossed in Goethe / Wittgenstein vein of colour theory is that more broad connotation of colour being people of colour. And the vast vast acres of questions that brings up.
It worries me a little that one can ask so repeatedly what colour means or is: Derrida– ‘Colour has not yet been named’– that it sinks more into abstraction and becomes ignorant.
Brazilian artist Angelica Dass seems to be working exactly in this space. In her HUMANAE project (an extract of which you can see below), Dass attempts to a chromatic inventory of human skin. The bold and deceptively simple presentation, I think, goes beyond the political questions of colour and asks a little about how we interact with colour as both cosmetic and inherent, as a system of visual categorisation and clearly as something Other.
Humanae is a chromatic inventory, a project that reflects on the colors beyond the borders of our codes by referencing the PANTONE® color scheme.
(PANTONE® Guides are one of the main classification systems of colors, which are represented by an alphanumeric code, allowing to accurately recreate any of them in any media. It is a technical industrial standard often called Real Color)
The project development is based on a series of portraits whose background is dyed with the exact Pantone® tone extracted from a sample of 11×11 pixels of the portrayed’s face. The project’s objective is to record and catalog all possible human skin tones.
For July I instigated my very own poem-a-day. I know this is meant to happen in April. It is very unlike me to have this kind of discipline, but it feels so long since I’ve written creatively regularly that I need a kind of kickstart. This kickstart has coincided with another good thing: trying to work out an obsession. I suppose I may have been afraid that I didn’t really have anything to write about (I’m sort of retreating on a farm and nature and me aren’t too chummy). Anyway, the obsession is colour. Colour as totem, I suppose.
So I’ve been reading a lot about interactions between colour and culture, colour and economics, and colour and psychology.
In this reading I came across this: The Purple Rain Protest in 1989, an anti-apartheid protest in Cape Town. What is specifically amazing to me, though the use of dyed water against protesters is far from unique to this protest, is the choice to use purple. Purple, is long associated with power, of classical Emperors and later Royalty. It is not the colour of the many. Roman Emperors wore the rarest purple robes and no one else was allowed that saturation of colour.
So, to use purple to spray down dissenters seems an act of foreshadowing, symbolically. On walls after the fact, graffiti was sprayed saying ‘The purple shall govern.’ And it became a slogan of resistance to apartheid. The continuation of power, but the shifting of who is draped with it.
I had drafted a small and quite awful poem about this as a poem-a-day. Because it was quite awful, I ran it through Google Translate and back again to see what would happen. Somewhat clunkily, I put it into Afrikaans and back to English. Intriguingly, the final translation had eradicated any mention of purple.
I was kindly reminded that it had been too long since I’d written here, and that’s true. The amount of time absent has built up quite a bit of news. Five weeks tomorrow I fly to DC then Hartford, CT and then drive to Northampton, MA. I truly finished Oxford. I spent my final term there thinking a lot about lyric address and power and sex, which ended up being a thesis on Dorothea Lasky and Lucie Brock-Broido. I don’t think I have worked out all I want to on the idea of lyric address, or the power structures of lyric. More recently though, at my parents’ farm and taking time truly out, I’ve been reading colour theory in an attempt to understand my own totemic use of it in poems. I’m a little worried that sometimes it is lazy thought: I want to know what I mean when I say red.
The always enigmatic and also just plain excellent >kill author has announced that after three years, their August issue will be their last. As much as the possibility of finding out who the anonymous editors are thrills me, this news is truly sad. >kill author were one of the first places to publish poems of mine when I came back to poetry. And though I do not know their names, I need to thank them for a lot more than that– they have been unfailingly supportive, not only of my writing but other projects. When ILK was being schemed, >ka gave us endless amounts of advice, and we wouldn’t be here without them. Since discovering >ka late in 2010, not an issue has gone by that hasn’t challenged and expanded my concepts of writing.
Speaking of ILK, it has done some exciting things recently. Issue Four came out with a focus on found poems and currently ILK FIVE is taking submissions for an all-women issue and already we are electrified by what’s coming in.
I have some poems forthcoming in The Yalobusha Review Online and in an anthology of etiquette and many-headed angels curated by the wonderful James Tadd Adcox. You should buy Tadd’s book. That is around number 6 on my to-do list when I get to Massachusetts. I can’t have any more physical books to transport… it’s a lot.
And some more large news! dancing girl press, has very very kindly decided to publish a chapbook of mine– ‘small colours like wild tongues’ later this year. dgp are a superstar among small presses, and I could not be more excited. Especially to be label mates with sweet poets like Lucy Biederman, Laura Carter, and Kat Dixon. So thank you thank you Kristy Bowen! She tireless makes beautiful things.
Sorry for the deluge, I should write real, unselfish thoughts soon. I’ll tell you what colour I dream in.
Well, there is in my fairly immediate future, because the state of Massachusetts in 62% covered in forest and I’ll be living there in just over 3 months. After the forever and maelstrom of MFA apps, its taken me a long while to want to write anything about it in long-form.
I’ve known for a while now. Almost three months since the offer, and almost a month since I decided absolutely. I got a job teaching there. I need to find some knowledge to pass on.
There are other important things I will need to find, too. Like, a home and probably a driver’s licence, and some people to hug. These things I am looking forward to. I want a home. I know that everyone does, but I want a home with an expiration date longer than a year. I want to make some kind of life for a while.
Among other things, I am nervous about finding poems again. I’ve been back in academia for a while and it is quite a contagious disease that debilitates time to write creatively. And, when the poems do make time for me / I for them, they seem to be backwards looking. All I can write about is the last earthquake that happened to me (in a good way). So I am hoping, with this anthology that James Tadd Adcox is putting together to finally write the final poem about that. It may involve a little chanting. Definitely light (I have been following etymology), and possibly angels. I’ll let you know when I know.
Oh! Speaking of always writing backwards. Just this week I had two poems in the latest issue of H_NGM_N, right here. These mean a lot to me. First of all, because Nate Pritts (editor of H_NGM_N and wonderful poet) is a such a kind soul and one of the most amazing poets writing at the moment. Secondly, because the two of them straddle either side of my leaving Atlanta, and it is just weird/ interesting seeing them together.
Of course, part of the slowness in crisis/ excitement about Amherst might be that it is going back across the Atlantic but in a very different way and to a very different place. I have peace with that, I want another new life. But I can’t imagine the real distance being collapsed– the distance that means you don’t speak on the phone, you can’t spontaneously visit someone you used to know. The people I put in a box marked ‘Extreme Fondness, But Won’t See Again’ will be on the other end of a phone, or a car ride. And that is very strange. I suppose my head still looks backwards so I can’t expect much more from poems.
Recently, it was Poem In Your Pocket Day. There were lots of quite terrible jokes about it. I carried this in my pocket, as I do many days, because I like lyric that breaks down address and lets me in. I’d I feel forgiven for not looking entirely forward, yet.
Have you forgotten what we were like then
when were were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth
it’s no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners
the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn’t need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water
I wouldn’t want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days