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)

 

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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

 

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the reading blues

“Portrait of Artist’s Wife,” by Pronaszko Zbigniew (1935)

 

I’ve got the reading blues!

I love figurative paintings of readers, and have noted through the years that there are oodles of them. Most of the subjects are women, and many appear to be well-to-do, with the leisure to lounge on plush sofas or perch on uncomfortable chairs near a window, lost in the printed word.

Of course I always wonder what they’re reading and what their daily lives are like. Since I also love books, I feel a decided kinship with them, even though thousands of miles and more than a century may separate us.

Recently, readers dressed in blue have been calling out to me. Perhaps I’m drawn to blue’s peace, calm, and serenity. Spiritually, the color blue symbolizes the healing power of God — much needed in these terribly troubling times. And the readers themselves seem content and contemplative, making me feel better.

In any case, I hope you enjoy gazing at these blue readers, joining them, for just a few minutes, in their fascinating worlds (I also managed to dig up a few men). 🙂

 

“In the Library,” by Auguste Toulmouche (1872)

 

“The Reader Wreathed with Flowers,” by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1845)

 

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nine cool things on a tuesday

1. Here’s the perfect cheer-up: cut paper collages courtesy of UK illustrator and surface pattern artist Tracey English!

 

 

Love her refreshing style, pretty colors, uplifting subjects, and appealing compositions. Tracey lives in SW London with her husband, two sons, a cat named Jelly and their dog Daisy. If I do say so myself, she has the *best* surname. 🙂

 

 

 

She uses hand painted papers in all her pieces, and has worked for such clients as Quarry Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Design House Greeting, and Calypso Cards.

 

 

 

 

One can’t help but feel happy when looking at her pictures; she has such a joyous spirit! I mean — ice cream sundaes, birthday tea, blue pots, birdies in cups! Does she know me or what?

 

 

 

She has a book out in case you’re feeling crafty:

 

 

 

Such lovely work. See more at Tracey’s Official Website, Instagram, and Etsy Shop, One Apple Designs.

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honoring our elderly with a pair of poems (+ a special birthday!)

“We’re all just walking each other home.” ~ Ram Dass

“Holding Hands” by Suzanne Summers LaPierre

 

TEA AT JUBILEE MANOR
by Linda Crosfield

Every afternoon at two-fifteen they come,
a procession of chairs and walkers,
or unaided in a slow and ponderous shuffle,
backs hunched against the unkindness of time,
to assemble in the great room for tea.

They enjoy this ritual —
the sturdy cups of Orange Pekoe,
cookies and squares that break up a day,
words exchanged, sometimes even heard,
by folk whose paths might not have crossed before.

It’s a slow dance, led by invisible partners.
It’s the last dance, and they’re saving it
for every afternoon at two-fifteen.

~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2011, 2020 Linda Crosfield. All rights reserved.

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“God Bless the Caregivers” by Pami Ciliax-Guthrie

 

Nursing homes have been in the news a lot lately. After all, it was a nursing home — the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington — that first warranted our serious concern about COVID-19’s community spread in the U.S. back in late February.

We learned that the elderly were the most vulnerable, and that many residents as well as caregivers had been lost or were fighting for their lives across the country.

When I stumbled upon this lovely poem by Canadian poet Linda Crosfield recently, I couldn’t help but view it through the lens of the pandemic. The cherished ritual of afternoon tea took on an added poignancy as I thought of those who no longer have the joy of a “last dance” to look forward to.

As it turns out, though, there was a bright spot, a glimmer of hope.

When I contacted Linda to ask for permission to share her poem, she provided a little backstory about it:

I wrote “Tea at Jubilee Manor” when my aunt was living there. It’s a nursing home in Nelson, BC. She died at 102 in 2012. Now my mother is in the same place and she’s turning 100 on June 3rd. Sadly, it won’t be quite the celebration we’d always planned. Can’t see her in person. No hugs. No flowers. Gifts frowned on. But we can send in one of those little airline-sized bottles of gin and some tonic and we will toast her over the fence on the day. 

Now the poem is even more meaningful. Though I was sorry to hear Linda and her family won’t be able to celebrate this landmark birthday in person, I was so relieved that her mom is okay and would indeed be observing a rare milestone next week.

Would you like to meet Daisy? Here she is:

 

Linda’s mother Daisy, the birthday girl!

 

Have you ever seen such a beautiful face, such a wonderful smile? Oh, the people she’s met, the things and places she’s seen, the love she’s shared in 100 years! And she’s given us a poet!

Oh, look — it’s 2:15! In honor of Daisy’s birthday on Wednesday, we’ve set up a little afternoon tea. Please help yourself to some marble cake, dark chocolate pretzels, lemon, oat, and chocolate chip cookies, and of course, a warm cup of Orange Pekoe.

 

 

 

If not for Linda’s poem, our paths might never have crossed. Just as her heartening words suggest, we must follow the lead of our wise elders by rejoicing in simple pleasures and cherishing each moment as it comes, with gratitude that it’s been given.

 

Mr Cornelius wants you to try a Tunnock’s Tea Cake, a special treat from Scotland.

 

There’s much to be said, especially in tough, unpredictable times, about treating each slow dance as your last.

 

 

While you nibble and sip, enjoy this mini gallery of seniors and Samantha Reynolds’s poem, as a way of honoring those we’ve lost, those we’ve found, and those we’ve yet to meet. Not to be forgotten, devalued, discounted or sacrificed, but revered, respected and treasured.

 

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loving elizabeth price’s whimsical ceramic sculptures

 

Why, hello!

Look who’s relaxing up there on that shelf. She seems to be enjoying a moment of peace and quiet. As long as no one reaches for the sugar, she’s all set. 🙂

 

 

 

 

I was instantly smitten when I first saw Elizabeth Price’s charming ceramic figures. People standing, bending, stretching, sitting, posing — alone or with others — a state of mind, a moment in a narrative, a three dimensional snapshot that arouses curiosity and makes the viewer smile, ponder, or reflect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her pieces are brilliantly emotive; much is conveyed by stance and gestures — some as small as the tilt of the head or a certain set of the shoulders. I also love the soft colors and patterns of the garments! Wouldn’t you enjoy the lovely surprise of finding a small person lounging in your garden, posed on your bathroom sink, perched on your bookshelf?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth is (you guessed it) British. She initially trained as an art teacher but early on ran her own restaurant in Manchester. It wasn’t until she was in her forties that she pursued formal art training and set up a home studio.

She’d always enjoyed working with clay, and after making many cakes with marzipan, she was reminded of just how much. 🙂

 

 

 

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