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The Origin of the World Gustave Courbet L’Origine du monde
The origin of the world and where I came from, her deep, moist cave that cast me from dark to light. She loved me, she said, depriving me of her warmth, leaving me to go back to her lover, loving him more.
Was it guilt that drove her to drinking whisky? A forty-ouncer a day at the end, sometimes more. She would wake in the night, wander the house, banging against chairs, tables, walls, and doors.
She ran up bills in local shops, and the keepers would dun me for the money she owed. She also borrowed cash and some days her fingers were bare. She left pawn shop IOUs on the table and I drove
into town to redeem her rings. Once, in a drunken frenzy, she cursed her only child. A mother’s curse is a terrible thing. Living albatross, it claws lungs and heart. Its weight drove me to the bottle. I too sought oblivion.
Joy came when blackness descended, the albatross flew, amniotic waters rocked me in warmth and comfort, and my body’s boat floated once again on an endless sea. Reborn each day, mornings cast me back from dark to light.
Comment: Here is the link to the DiversityTV reading of The Origin of the World. The Origin of the World begins at 28.40. I will attach my own reading from Spotify, just as soon as I complete it. I always find it fascinating to compare the way others read with the way I do. meanwhile, I would like to thank Alexandro Botelho for his invitation for me to participate in his DiversityTV show. I enjoyed his reading very much and I wish him all success with this venture.
The Nature of Art and the Art of Nature is a book of poems each one of which celebrates humanity’s relationship both with the natural world and the way that world is recreated by artists in so many different forms. In order to read these poems and receive full value from them, it would help to know how to approach them.
Preparing to Read
First, de-clutter the mind. Poetry cannot be hurried or rushed. Remember, it is better to read one poem a hundred times than to read one hundred poems once. Prepare yourself mentally and physically for your reading. Sit down. Make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes. Concentrate your mind on something you find peaceful: a sail on Passamaquoddy Bay, a rose in Kingsbrae’s Rose Gardens, a butterfly in the Butterfly Garden, or a fine white cotton cloud in a cerulean sky. Breathe in and then breathe out. Now slow your breathing down. Breathe in, count up to four, slowly, breathe out, counting up to six. Breathe in, count up to six, slowly, now breathe out, counting up to eight. Breathe in, counting up to eight, and breathe out, also counting up to eight. How long will you sit there? When your breathing has slowed and your mind is clear, you will be ready to start. You will know when that is.
Open your eyes. Take your book and begin to read. Don’t start on page one and rush through. Dip in, here and there, find a title or a first line that you like, and read that poem. Read it two or three times. Then move on, randomly to another poem. Select individual lines, phrases, sentences. Savour the words. Roll them around in your mind. Read them to yourself, quietly. Then read them out loud. Try to capture their essence, their rhythms. Taste them, as you would a fine Spanish Manzanilla wine. Select another word, another line, another poem. Seek and you will find some sequence that you like. Return to it often.
Comment: I will restart my Wednesday Workshops. The Nature of Art, the manuscript on which I am currently working, has an Introduction on The Nature of Poetry. I will put this up in installments. The handwritten opening page comes from an online video on Creativity and Writing Poetry during the Pandemic. This poetry video is the first one in the series. Click here for link. Other workshops on writing can be found by searching Writing Workshops on the Blog search (top right hand corner) or by going to this link Poetic Creativity and Thoughts on Writing
She is an oyster, silent at low tide, yet with a host of pearls waiting inside her, ready to be released. When set, she will release those pearls herself, stringing them together, like Chantal’s beads, into a skein of meaningful, enigmatic moments.
Enigmatic, yes, but, like Elgar’s Enigma Variations, a Russian Doll puzzle of secrets and intrigue. Comic book artist, she evolved to graphic designer, then multi-tasked first to Kinetics, and then to a painter who reaches out in empathy to the world around her.
For her, all art is linked and communications are key, on many levels. Visualization. Achievable goals. A step-by-step process with each step foreseen, planned beforehand, and each step always taken with an open mind that accepts the true response, leaving falsehoods behind.
Kinetics, yes, but she is above all a loner. Kayaking. Hiking. Weight-lifting. Yoga. Meditation. Mindfulness. Caring. Sharing. She sends me her web page and I am blown away by her empathy with birds and the natural world, that world her oyster and her, an oyster in that world.
Comment: This particular bird visited our Mountain Ash in the garden at Island View. Kaitlin saw my photo and asked if she could paint it. I sent it to her, and this is the result. Wild life to Still Life to art and never Nature Morte! Together, Kaitlin and I have preserved forever the surprise visit of this beautiful bird.
Spotify Remember to scroll down to the appropriate audio episode.
Sculptures in the Gardens
It’s the only sculpture garden in Canada. It may even be the only one in the world in which the sculptures shake off their shackles and come alive at night when the moon hangs heavy in the sky and shifting shadows prowl beneath Kingsbrae’s trees. Deadly nightshades, roaming with no thought for the humans who walk around by day taunting these sculptures, thinking they are lifeless, mere images set in stone.
Beard not the lion in his den, nor the fox running wild, nor the chubby bear whose clumsy run belies his speed and strength. The dragon opens iron wings, but beware of the hot forge lodged in the snap-dragon’s mouth.
Have you seen the cerulean whale, marooned and ship- wrecked on these foreign soils? Once upon a time, in a fairy tale, he roamed the seven seas and plundered men and ships with abominable ease. Ease and the easel, plein air paintings, sculpture portraits taken from life and converted to a ship’s canvas that will never sail.
Ask not who is that bearded man, for he might be the one Don Juan invited to supper. Ah, the hard rock ship-shock when with a thunderous knock he arrives, an unexpected guest, at the coward’s door. And shake not his hand lest his fearsome grip turn you to stone or drag you down to hell.
Eclipse at KIRA June, 2021 as seen from the Red Room
Another exercise in light and the emotions triggered by changing light. I couldn’t look at the early morning sun, with its partial eclipse, especially through the camera’s eye. So I did my best through the digital screen. These photos are the result of hope and a set of digital colors that are way beyond my human eyes to comprehend.
Incredible moments in time and space, and oh so subjective, this seeming objectivity of the camera’s eye. Who are we, what are we, we tiny morsels of humanity when we see ourselves, so miniscule, so seemingly meaningless, beneath the daisy eye of heaven and the celestial dance that began before us and will continue long after we have gone.
The Old 100th in metrical form:
“All people that on earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice. Him serve with mirth, his praise foretell, Come ye before him and rejoice.” Scottish Psalter, 1650.
Comment: No, I am not an overtly religious man and definitely not ‘a man of any cloth’. However, yesterday afternoon I received my second shot of Moderna and I want to offer my thanks to all those, world-wide, who made the vaccine possible and also to all the New Brunswickers and Canadians involved in distributing and delivering the Covid-19 vaccine. Today, I remembered my digital photos of the partial eclipse I witnessed at KIRA, St. Andrews, NB, earlier this month. So, this morning, for better or for worse, I have come before you to encourage you to rejoice.
Spotify Don’t forget to scroll down to appropriate audio episode.
… early morning sunshine creepy-crawly spider leg rays climbing over window and wall my bed-nest alive to light not night’s star twinkle but the sun’s egg breaking its golden yolk gilding sheet and pillow billowing day dreams through my still sleepy head …
… the word feast festering gathering its inner glimpses interior life of wind and wave the elements laid out before me my banquet of festivities white the table cloth golden the woodwork’s glow mind and matter polished and the sun show shimmering its morning glory on garden and porch …
Comment: Not every day is the same, nor are the colors the same. Monet would watch the sun crossing the face of Rouen Cathedral. Every hour brought a different set of colours and a changed palette of impressions. No two mornings in the Red Room are the same. Each one presents a changed light, changing moments, changing impressions, but all (or almost all) are unforgettable. The poem, incidentally, can be found in One Small Corner. A Kingsbrae Chronicle (available at this link).
Comment: Another moment of magic: this is the morning of the partial eclipse (Thursday, 10 June, 2021). However, there’s enough cloud cover for me to have missed the actual moments of the eclipse. That said, the sun is all distorted and not at all clear, as it usually is when seen early from the Red Room, nor is it the same rich colors at all, so perhaps I did catch something worthwhile after all. More than worthwhile, this too is a magic moment.
Spotify Don’t forget to scroll down to appropriate audio episode.
Dawn at KIRA
A fiery wedge, fierce beneath black-capped clouds, alive the firmament with light, breaking its waves over woods, waters, tranquil the bay, grey, yellow-streaked, then blue, the new day dawning, driving night away, false shadows fleeing.
To rock this new born babe, to swaddle it in a cloak of cloud, disguised for a moment its promise, nature nurturing heart and mind, filling the flesh with memory’s instantaneous flash breaking its light into the dark where no light shone, fearful, the dream world, gone now, dwindling, as day light shafts its arrowed flight.
How thoughtful My Lady who placed me here, at this desk, at this window, at this moment of time.
Glorious, this day-break: words no justice can do to peace and light, this early morning, filtering sunlight through the waking mind, relighting the fires within the heart, and glory a word’s throw away outside this window.
Comment: The poem dates from June, 2017, my first KIRA residency, and can be found in One Small Corner. A Kingsbrae Chronicle (available at this link). The photo, however, dates from this morning, Friday, 11 June 2021, and coincides with my second KIRA Residency. The early morning light in the Red Room is indeed glorious, and the room well deserves its name. The small table by the window overlooking Minister’s Island and Passamaquoddy Bay is a wonderful place for a writer who wishes to create nature imagery based on impressions of light and changing light.
Wake up, sleepy heads, get out of bed and admire the sun as he starts his daily climb. He has left the underworld and his horses have started to draw his chariot on its daily trip up the sky. Look closely, and you can just see the hot breath of their efforts, up there, just above the sun.
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Ginger Marcinkowski (KIRA, August, 2019)
“My walk each morning, rain or shine, feathers my black galoshes with dewy grass. There I would ramble through gated doors that kept out the world and sealed in my pen’s work for that day.
I often found myself sidetracked, exploring paths that led through flowerbeds, and up to my favorite sculptures. I paused to watch my fellow artists as they focused on chosen subjects unaware that I was eavesdropping.
Then silently, I would steal away along the well-trod path to my studio, pausing long enough to greet the llamas and baby goats. If I listen carefully I can still hear their bleating.
In wonder, every day, I climbed the steps of wood that led to my studio, opened the door, and turned to breathe in my good fortune. “What a blessed woman you are,” I would tell myself before taking my place for hours on end at my desk, each moment, each stroke of the pen, each letter added to the growing lines on the page, a gift.”
Comment: I have been writing poems about the KIRA artists as part of my next poetry book, The Nature of Art and the Art of Nature. This is my KIRA2021 project. The Nature of Art is a revision and expansion of a poetry manuscript of the same name that placed second in the WFNB’s Alfred G. Bailey Award (2020). This poem appears in the section entitled Impressions of KIRA Artists. Currently this section contains eleven poems, but it is still under construction. This poem is interesting in that it is a ‘found’ poem, in the sense that Ginger wrote these words to me in an e-mail. I removed them, reordered them, polished them, and sent her back her own poem in her own words. What fun! This should help explain the use of inverted commas at beginning and end, for this poem is spoken in Ginger’s own words.
Visitors Day at KIRA and the artists work in their studios showing their methods and techniques to visitors from the local community and further afield. The mist disappears very quickly and we are left with sunshine and warmth. A good day for sitting out on the porch and waiting for guests.
I sit behind my table on the porch at KIRA, making notes in my journal and waiting for the advent of guests. I have no plans other than to sit ad write. If people arrive and wish to engage me in conversation, that will be great. It will be even better if they pick up a book, open it, choose a poem or a passage of prose, and allow me to read it to them. They can follow the text while I read. When people do arrive, they look first at the covers of the saddle-stitch books and chapbooks. Many comment on the wonderful pencil sketches that Geoff provided for them. A couple are drawn to the bright colors and cartoons of the larger books. Title and cover combine together to persuade each visitor to pickup a book and start to read it.
This is more or less what guests and visitors see when they approach the book table. You have to imagine me, the poet, sitting behind that table, masked if I do not know the guests, unmasked and at a safe distance if I do. I find it difficult to read out loud with the mask on. It is much easier, mask off.
I promised one guest, alas, I have forgotten her name, that I would post a poem and a voice recording of it, here on my blog, so that she and her friends could hear me read. This is the poem I read to her. I do hope she is able to locate my blog and follow this up. Here is the poem, from Sun and Moon. Poems from Oaxaca.
Santo Domingo Worshipping Gaia before the great altar in Santo Domingo
If the goddess is not carried in your heart like a warm loaf in a paper bag beneath your shirt you will never discover her hiding place
she does not sip ambrosia from these golden flowers nor does she climb this vine to her heavenly throne nor does she sit on this ceiling frowning down
in spite of the sunshine trapped in all this gold the church is cold and overwhelming tourists come with cameras not the people with their prayers
my only warmth and comfort not in this god who bids the lily gilded but in that quieter voice that speaks within me
and brings me light amidst all this darkness and brings me poverty amidst all this wealth
I will post some of the other poems that I read on the porch over the next few days. Meanwhile, be patient with me. I feel that I am all off-balance, trapped between two worlds, part of me is away in KIRA and part of me is home in Island View. I find it difficult to work on my KIRA2021 project, a rewrite of The Nature of Art and the Art of Nature. This manuscript placed second in the WFNB’s Alfred G. Bailey poetry award in 2020. Since then, I have been revising it and adding to it, with KIRA2021 in mind. However, creating and posting seem to be two conflicting skills right now. The need to express (open blogging) and the need to create (secretive and non-sharing). I hope this helps to explain my irregular postings and my absences from this blog.