ruminating on “call me bourgeois” by alice n. persons

 

Are you a tormented genius? Do you suffer for your art?

Here’s what Maine poet Alice N. Persons has to say about that.

 

Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock (2000)

 

CALL ME BOURGEOIS
by Alice N. Persons

After watching “Pollock”, with Ed Harris
as the tormented genius,
I couldn’t sleep,
thinking about suffering and art.
Should I feel a little shallow
because I’m not a drunk or a slave
to drugs, I pay my bills, like to cook,
and no believer in my genius supports me?
When I have a bad day,
instead of waking up fiercely hung over
and filthy on a Manhattan street,
at the end of this trying day
I do the dull, comforting routines —
let the dogs out, fill the cat food bowl,
floss, check email, and usually (not always)
behave like a grownup
who happens to be a poet.
I don’t like to wear black all the time.
Cigarettes stink.
Bad poets performing their work embarrass me.
I’m all for people expressing themselves,
but I also want them to shower,
and they had better not turn over any
Thanksgiving dinner tables in my vicinity.
Pain makes art
but so do pleasure and normalcy.
Sometimes the quietest person in the band
produces the purest and most lovely sound.

~ from Never Say Never (Moon Pie Press, 2004)

 

Ed Harris in “Pollock” (2000)

 

*

Call me amused, and you can certainly call me bourgeois. I’m with Alice on this one. 🙂

I admit when I was younger, the starving, suffering artist trope appealed to me. After I read the Beat Poets, I wanted to go On the Road with Jack Kerouac. The thought of hanging out in dark cafés with beatniks wearing black berets snapping their fingers sounded real cool, daddy-o.

The only thing that mattered was the art, man. Living, breathing, and making it. Who needed food when you could live off creative vapors?

 

American author Jack Kerouac (1922 – 1969) gestures expansively as he reads poetry at the Artist’s Studio, NYC, 1959 (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)

 

We grow up hearing about artistic geniuses whose lives were full of high drama. They’re often depressed, anxious, schizophrenic, suicidal, or delusional, many of them addicted to alcohol or other drugs. And we wonder — if their lives had been more “normal,” ho-hum, pedestrian — would they have been able to create the works they did?

Abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock, for one, was an alcoholic who was diagnosed as clinically neurotic (speculation he may have been bipolar). Prone to drinking binges and drunken stupors, he was largely reclusive and had a volatile personality. His wife Lee Krasner (also an artist) had a huge influence on his work and career. Pollock benefited from Krasner’s extensive knowledge of and training in modern art, and she also introduced him to many critics, collectors, and other artists. Most important, she believed in him, and he implicitly trusted her judgment and opinions.

 

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner

 

Continue reading

[tasty review] Follow the Recipe by Marilyn Singer and Marjorie Priceman

 

Hungry?

Then grab a seat at the table and put on a BIG bib. You’re just in time to sample a few literary treats from Follow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration & Cake, a truly delectable, joyous “worldwide grand buffet” served up by Marilyn Singer and Marjorie Priceman.

First, I must mention that I’d been drooling over this book ever since I first heard about it in the latter part of 2019, because I’m a longtime fan of both Marilyn’s and Marjorie’s work. Marilyn’s talent and versatility are boundless; not only is she muy prolific, she’s an author and poet who continues to delight us with her inimitable ingenuity.

And safe to say, Marjorie’s, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World (1994), shifted my understanding of what picture books could be, launching my ongoing quest to devour every food-related title I can get my paws on. I was equally thrilled when she later came out with How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. (2013), once again demonstrating her knack for presenting facts in an especially palatable and entertaining way.

 

 

Continue reading

down the rabbit hole

“It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.” ~ Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

 

Down

*

*

Down

*

*

*

Down —

*

*

 

Oh, hello! Didn’t mean to be rude, but I only just noticed you. 🙂

Happy September!

We’re finally back at ye ole’ blog, and I’ve missed you. Hope you’re safe and well. Before we have a little chin wag, see if this poem doesn’t describe how things have felt for you lately.

*

 

Anthony Browne (Alice in Wonderland, 1988)

 

ON THE OTHER SIDE
by Lynn Ungar

Through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole,
into the wardrobe and out
into the enchanted forest
where animals talk
and danger lurks and nothing
works quite the way it did before,
you have fallen into a new story.
It is possible that you
are much bigger — or smaller —
than you thought.
It is possible to drown
in the ocean of your own tears.
It is possible that mysterious friends
have armed you with magical weapons
you don’t yet understand,
but which you will need
to save your own life and the world.
Everything here is foreign.
Nothing quite makes sense.
That’s how it works.
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.

*

 

 

It’s now been about six months since life as we knew it was suddenly upended. Crazy, scary, unbelievable times.

Up is down, down is up.

Do you feel like you’ve been in freefall too — spinning, confused, worried, frustrated, unable to focus?

Each day there’s a new challenge, yet another outrage, another reason to adjust and readjust as we try to navigate this neverending nightmare. Choppy waters, impossible mountains to climb, crawling through broken glass, drowning in a pool of tears, you name it.

 

Anthony Browne

 

As Ungar’s poem suggests, we now find ourselves stuck in the middle of a strange story we never chose to be a part of, one we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams. Talk about dystopia.

Because all bets are off, we’ve been forced to make things up as we go. We shop, eat, clean, communicate and connect differently. Companies have changed how they do business. Educators have had to ramp up their superpowers to refine remote learning. Families have set new parameters for work, play, and privacy as they strive for peaceful coexistence. Frontline workers of every stripe, from healthcare employees to delivery people to grocery store clerks, now routinely risk their lives.

We’re all mad here.

 

Charles Robinson (1907)

 

We don’t take much for granted anymore either, not healthcare, safety, financial security, mobility, dependable mail delivery, truth in reporting, or that anchor of steadiness, predictability.

I find anti-maskers sadly foreign with their defiant denial, business-as-usual selfish behavior, and sheer lack of respect or caring for other human beings. A simple act can help save lives. Shouldn’t that be a no brainer?  I keep wondering what happens when they get sick. Do they see a real doctor or call up the My Pillow guy?

Off with their heads!

New buzz words: Zoom, social distancing, quarantine, rapid results testing, contactless delivery, curbside pickup.

Pipe dreams: shaking hands, hugging, airline travel and vacations, anxiety-free restaurant dining, concerts and sporting events, a classroom full of happy, chattering, maskless kids.

Curiouser and curiouser.

 

Anthony Browne

 

More and more, we realize we have to be the heroes in our own stories. After all, it’s a time when finding yeast or toilet paper at the store is a small victory, when getting your hair cut is an act of bravery.

So how are you finding balance and staying sane? There is simply no right or wrong way to cope. We all do the best we can, armed with a personal cache of magical weapons.

Continue reading

Hello — is it Fauci you’re looking for? (+ a summer blog break)

 

I can see it in your eyes
I can see it in your smile
He’s all you’ve ever wanted
And your arms are open wide . . .

 

via Andy Andersen/Instagram

 

Thought we needed a little Dr. Anthony Fauci fix today since we haven’t been seeing as much of him lately.

When it comes to the pandemic, he’s the voice of calm, reason, and truth. He’s the one we trust, the one who makes us feel better even when the news is bleak.

 

hubba hubba

 

More than a brilliant public health expert, Dr. Fauci is now a pop culture icon, a sex symbol, and a personal hero to many. Brad Pitt played him on SNL, and Julia Roberts was totally starstruck when she interviewed him on her Twitter account. There’s even been talk of a Nobel Prize and Time Magazine Person of the Year. Oh, and did you notice he has blue eyes? All the best doctors do. 🙂

*

 

“Dr. Fauci Starry Painting” by haris0250

 

THE NIGHT OF CORONA
by Ann Barber

‘Twas the night of Corona when all through the world
Not a creature was stirring as the nightmare unfurled
The face masks were missing, the gloves and the gowns
The nurses and doctors were all falling down
The children and old folks were scratching their heads
To wonder what mayhem this virus could spread
Pa gathered his strength, Ma stuffed down her worries
Pulled courage together to start their new journey
When throughout the world there arose such a clatter
Of singing, and loving, though hearts were in tatters
We stood at our balconies, doorways, and windows
To let out the love Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus
The moon lit the green of the fresh budding Spring
Giving Hope for Rebirth we yearned it would bring
We opened our hearts and expanded our characters
Knowing our children would be the inheritors
When who to our wondering eyes did appear
But the good Dr. Fauci dispelling our fear
A lively old doctor so truthful and wise
We knew in a moment he’d tell us no lies
More rapid than eagles his interviews came
Knew we needed to hear him so he could explain
The virus, the distance, how not to transmit it
The challenge we’re up for, no doubt we can do it
The world just got smaller but we’re growing bigger
Our hearts and our souls demonstrate we’re no quitters
Our Heroes are Healers, not killers of Life
And many strong Women in the thick of the strife
May All who draw breath see God in Each Other
Embracing Our weakness As Sisters and Brothers
Stronger Together

~ Adapted on April 10, 2020 from “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” by Clement Clarke Moore, via Daily Hampshire Gazette (4-27-20).

 

“Faster Than a Speeding Fauci” by Andee Axe

*

Continue reading

strawberries: a taste of something wild and sweet

“Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” ~ Pema Chodron

 

Hello, good-looking friends. How are you holding up?

Hard to believe it’s already June. It’s certainly been a trying three months! Time to anticipate summer with a little strawberry love. 🙂

As we hunker down in our private spaces, our strength, resilience, faith and patience are being tested as never before. Each day brings a new concern as we reassess our priorities and consider an uncertain future.

Rather than perpetually bemoan forced confinement, we can mindfully pause to carefully consider, with humility and gratitude, the time we are actually being given and the challenge to use it wisely.

I’m here to tell you there is good news: Today, it’s your turn. Wherever you are standing right now, I give this to you:

 

“Strawberries” by Alexis Kreyder

 

WHAT IS GIVEN
by Ralph Murre

The likelihood of finding strawberries
tiny and wild and sweet
around your ankles
on any given day
in any given place
is not great
but sometimes
people find strawberries
right where they are standing
just because it is their turn
to be given a taste
of something wild and sweet

 

“Strawberries on Spode Plate” by Jeanne Illenye

 

*

 

Continue reading