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bar talk - 11/365

bar talk -11/365, Archive 365, Fine Line Music Cafe, Warehouse District, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2009, photo © 2009-2012 by skywire7. All rights reserved.


The Fine Line Music Cafe combines the essentials to a fun night out = music, food & friends. Both local acts and national headline bands play here in an intimate setting. Searching through the archives and stumbling on this capture makes me want to get back there soon. Plus today I caught the end of a radio interview with The Gaslight Anthem on MPR’s 89.3 The Current. Guess where they are playing tonight? Yup, the Fine Line. But Mary Lucia said it was sold out so I am just writing about it. Like wiser folks have told me, you can’t do everything!

_______________________________

ARCHIVE 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

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Soo Line - 5/365

Soo Line -5/365, Archive 365, Downtown, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2012 by skywire7. All rights reserved.


Minneapolis has history hidden in the details. Many of the historical buildings are gone but small pieces remain. The camera lens lets you see into a world that might go otherwise unnoticed. This clock caught my eye as we were driving around in the rain taking photos. What a neat find. Plus digging through the old photos makes me want to go exploring for more unique pieces of our past.

_______________________________

ARCHIVE 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

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self mandala auto

Alter-Ego Mandala: Dreaming Of The Albatross – 8/52 (Gogyohka), 8/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 8, February 27th 2011, scan © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Medium: Drawn by hand with a black Ultra Fine Point Sharpie & Sharpie Peel-Off China Marker on Canson Mix Media XL Series 98lb drawing paper. Colored with Faber Castell 6 PITT Artist Brush Pens, DecoColor Glossy Oil Base Paint Markers, Portfolio Water Soluble Oil Pastels, Caran D’Ache NeoColor II Water Soluble Wax Crayons, Sharpie Medium Point Oil-Based Opaque Paint Markers.



alter-ego
1530s, from Latin phrase (used by Cicero), “a second self, a trusted friend” (cf. Gk. allos ego); see alter and ego.



A second self, a trusted friend. Or a dark half that emerges when we least expect it — in art, writing, and poetry. When I viewed Never (Found Poem) from Lotus, inspired by Charles Bukowski’s work The Continual Condition, these were the lines that resonated for me:


Our problem is
that we divorce ourselves
from ourselves


howling
and scratching their bellies,
and dreaming of the albatross.


I looked in the mirror. I started drawing. An outline emerged, a person I vaguely recognized. The longer I drew, the more familiar the image, the less it looked like me. An alter-ego. I went to the studio, pulled out the Royal typewriter Liz bought for me at a garage sale (turns out, it’s French), and while Jimi Hendrix’s Rainbow Bridge played on the stereo turntable, wrote a gogyohka:


self poem

Rock, Paper, Scissors – 8/52 (Gogyohka), 8/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 8, February 27th 2011, scan © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Medium: typed on Crane paper stock with vintage Royal typewriter. Scanned as TIF, saved as JPEG.


I’ve long been a fan of Charles Bukowski’s work. He was the kind of poet that didn’t pull any punches. He was born in 1920 in Andernach, Germany, lived hard, knew how he would die, wrote about the veneer that crumbles over the steely hardness. He wrote to the end, died of leukemia on March 9th, 1994 and is buried at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, near his home in San Pedro, California.

It is the honesty in his work I am drawn to. After I read Never (Found Poem), I saw that a reader had left a link to all things Bukowski. I was surprised to find a whole page of his artwork, dotted with self-portraits. Bukowski’s portrait paintings and Never (Found Poem) from Lotus sparked the mandala. The quote stoked the fire:


The difference between life and art is art is more bearable.
– Charles Bukowski




Typewriter Revisited - 8/52



-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 5th, 2011

-related to posts: Best Of BlackBerry 365 — First Quarter SlideShow, BlackBerry 365 Project — White Winter Squirrel, Flying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain, Searching For Stillness, icicle tumbleweed (haiga) — 2/52, The Mirado Black Warrior, Waning Moon (Haiga), The Void — January Mandalas, ybonesy’s self portrait (part of her Farewell To red Ravine)

Lotus and I will continue our call and response by posting a BlackBerry photo for the 52 weeks of 2011. Feel free to join us if you wish (learn about the project’s beginnings at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration).

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IMG01899-20110227-1638 auto

The Key To Success (Backspace) – 9/52 (Haiga), Week 9/BlackBerry 52, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





the key to success,
no matter what type you are —
know when to backspace.





Week 9′s Jump-Off in the BlackBerry 52 collaboration with Lotus sprang from the keys of my Royal typewriter on a Sunday afternoon in the Casket Arts Studio. Feel free to join us if you wish. You can learn more about the project’s beginnings at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration.


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, March 1st, 2011

-related to posts: Waning Moon (Haiga), A Warm Game Of Texas Hold ‘Em (haiga) — 6/52, Celebrating The Lunar New Year — Postcard From A Friend, Flying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain, The Mirado Black Warrior, icicle tumbleweed (haiga) – 2/52, Best Of BlackBerry 365 — First Quarter SlideShow, BlackBerry 365 Project — White Winter Squirrel, haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52

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Waning Moon (Haiga)

Waning Moon (Haiga), 7/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 7, February 19th 2011, photo © 2011 by A~Lotus. All rights reserved. Medium: Digital collage created using MS PowerPoint 2007 & Adobe Photoshop CS2. Photo taken on Canon PowerShot A550.


Waning Moon (Haiga) by Lotus is a response to the BlackBerry 52 Jump-Off Skip Rocks Not Breakfast – 7/52. It is a beautiful testament to the Vietnamese New Year and relates to her piece Lunar New Year Postcard and the comments on Celebrating The Lunar New Year — Postcard From A Friend.

This week I am working on a response to the Jump-Off Never (Found Poem) 8/52 based on words and phrases from Charles Bukowski’s The Continual Condition:

Never (Found Poem)


Lotus and I will continue our call and response by posting a BlackBerry photo for the 52 weeks of 2011. Feel free to join us if you wish (learn about the project’s beginnings at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration). To read more about Lotus, visit her at alotus_poetry on Twitter (where she writes poetry every day in community with other Twitter poets), at Poetry By Lotus, and on her Flickr account.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, February 26th, 2011

-related to post: haiku 4 (one-a-day) meets renga 52, BlackBerry 365 Project — White Winter Squirrel

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Lunar New Year Postcard 2011 (Side B)

Lunar New Year Postcard 2011 (Side B), 6/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 6, February 7th 2011, photo © 2011 by A~Lotus. All rights reserved. Medium: E-Postcard created using MS Word 2007, Adobe Acrobat, & Adobe Photoshop CS2. Photo taken on Canon PowerShot A550. Digital Collage (Side B): Text by Lotus, clipart of lanterns from MS Word 2007, Lotus icon: from oceancurrents, QuoinMonkey icon: Chartres Cathedral labyrinth from inside the front cover of Alice Walker’s The Same River Twice.


I was delighted to receive this digital postcard collage from Lotus last night. It’s the BlackBerry 52 Jump-Off for Week 6, and the inspiration for whatever response rises to the top by the end of the day on Sunday.


Dear Lotus,

I’d love to know more about your experience of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration. I am a Moonchild, and after receiving your card, I researched a little bit about Tết Nguyên Đán (also known as Tết). I wonder if it ever came up in the comments on ybonesy’s many posts about her journeys to Vietnam.

I read that the Lunar New Year falls on the New Moon, the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January or early February), and is the same day as the Chinese New Year. Yet according to the Vietnamese Community of Minnesota site, 2011 is The Year of the Cat; for the Chinese, it is The Year of the Rabbit. It must be a season that has to hold both.

With two cats on the couch and a resident rabbit in the yard, I’d be happy to honor either. I did happen to be in San Francisco one year for the Chinese New Year. We stood on Market Street and watched the parade. It was a wonderful evening full of bright color and light. I wonder what happened to those photographs.


Lunar New Year Postcard 2011 (Side A)

Lunar New Year Postcard 2011 (Side A), 6/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 6, February 7th 2011, photo © 2011 by A~Lotus. All rights reserved. Medium: E-Postcard created using MS Word 2007, Adobe Acrobat, & Adobe Photoshop CS2. Photo taken on Canon PowerShot A550. (Side A): Origami paper, glue, & masking tape. Origami by A~Lotus (Chrysanthemum Kusudama model by Tomoka Fuse).


Your origami is beautiful. How did you come to it as an art form? And the weather. In Texas, an unexpected blizzard on Super Bowl weekend. In Minnesota, -11 last night to be followed by dips into the 40′s next week. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t mention the weather in my journal. Peeling the onion. Do the layers ever stop unwinding? Whatever it is that lies at the core, I have never stopped seeking.


Thank you for your postcard,

QM


_______________


We will continue our call and response by posting a BlackBerry photo for the 52 weeks of 2011. Feel free to join us if you wish (learn about the project’s beginnings at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration). To read more about Lotus, visit her at alotus_poetry on Twitter (where she writes poetry every day in community with other Twitter poets), at Poetry By Lotus, and on her Flickr account.


-related to posts: Best Of BlackBerry 365 — First Quarter SlideShow, BlackBerry 365 Project — White Winter Squirrel, Flying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain, Searching For Stillness, icicle tumbleweed (haiga) — 2/52, The Mirado Black Warrior, The Dying Art Of Letterwriting (Postcards From The Edge)

-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, February 10th, 2011

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By Teri Blair



The Big Read, all photos © 2010 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved.





Have you heard of The Big Read?


I found out about it completely by accident. I was perusing the CDs at my library, and saw one entitled The Big Read: An Introduction to My Antonia by Willa Cather. I took it home, and was enraptured by the 25-minute program. Ted Kooser talked about the significance of Cather to Nebraska, Garrison Keillor read excerpts from her book, and Colin Powell talked about the immigrant experience. What was this? The Big Read?


The Big Read began in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts, and is the largest reading program in American history. Their mission is simple: to restore reading to the center of American culture. Communities all over the country can apply for grants to explore one of the 31 Big Read titles. In addition to reading the book, related events are planned to last approximately one month.







When I plugged my zip code into The Big Read’s website, I was happy to find there was an event within an hour of where I live. On a Saturday in February my friends and I jumped in my Subaru and headed east to the small river town of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin. As Thornton Wilder was from the Badger State, this community had chosen Our Town and The Bridge of San Luis Rey. We walked into a packed house at the Scenic Riverway Park building. The local organizers of the program spoke, a representative from the National Endowment talked about what is happening with The Big Read across the country, and we heard from Wisconsin author David Rhodes. He read excerpts from his book Driftless, talked about Thornton Wilder’s writing, and led a group discussion about what Wilder accomplished in his work. At the end of the program, we were all given two new books, a CD audio guide (just like the one I had found at the library), bookmarks, and a reader’s guide.


We were invited to join book discussion groups, and to come back for follow-up events. Wisconsin Public Radio will be performing a reader’s theater, and the local community playhouse will present Our Town.


I love to read, but like most readers, I get worried about the future of books and people to enjoy them. A faster and faster world makes a luxurious afternoon with a good book harder to claim. I am happy to support a program that is doing something tangible…something to bring reading back to the people.


To find out more about The Big Read (and to plug in your own zip code) go to:

http://www.neabigread.org.


Thornton Wilder, David Rhodes, From The Big Read Series, all photos © 2010 by Teri Blair, all rights reserved.




About Teri Blair: Teri Blair is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis and founder of the Poetry & Meditation Group of which QuoinMonkey fondly and frequently writes. (See Letter From Poet Elizabeth Alexander for the latest post on that group and Teri’s piece titled Desire And A Library Card — The Only Tools Necessary To Start A Poetry Group for a step-by-step on how to start your own.)

Teri has written many posts on red Ravine. Her first guest post, Continue Under All Circumstances, was written on the road during a 2007 trip to Holcomb, Kansas. She journeyed back to Holcomb early this year and wrote a follow-up piece published on red Ravine in March, Back To Holcomb, One Last Time.

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First Thursdays At Casket Arts, poster by Linnea Marie Doyle, © 2009-2010, used by permission of the artist.


Once a month the artists in the Casket Arts Building in Northeast Minneapolis open their doors to the public. The March date is coming up fast. The Casket Arts Building, which includes the Carriage House, has a rich history (see Casket Arts Photoblog). Not only did it used to be a genuine casket company, it’s one of the oldest surviving buildings in Minneapolis. And in 2006, after over 100 years on 17th Avenue NE, the Northwestern Casket Company moved their business to New Hope and sold the building.

That’s when two visionaries, Jennifer Young and John Kremer, turned vintage real estate into the Casket Arts Building. Together they work hard to maintain the integrity of the original structure, and create a thriving space for artists. I share Studio 318 with Liz and two other artists on what used to be the floor where women sewed and embroidered the inside of the caskets (more at Casket Arts Epilogue). It’s a beautiful space. Please stop by and visit if you are in the area!


_________________________________________


Date: First Thursday of Every Month
Time:
5:00pm – 9:00pm
Street:
681 17th Ave NE
City:
Minneapolis, MN


_________________________________________


If you miss us this Thursday, we are open the First Thursday of Every Month from 5 to 9 pm at 17th and Madison Street NE. And don’t forget about one of the highpoints of the year for the Minneapolis Arts District, ART-A-WHIRL Open Studio and Gallery Tour which takes place May 14th – 16th, 2010 (in 2011, the dates are May 20th – 22nd). It’s a great way to kick off Spring in Minnesota — in community and support of the Arts.


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010, with gratitude to Linnea for creating and giving us permission to distribute her poster. You can see more of her work at her website.

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Night Fog (0) Emptiness – 19/365, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 

One seagull feather
hairy sculptures of seagrass
piled up on the dunes;
lady bugs and beetles land,
shelter from the cold, coarse sand

found in the sand
someone lost a loved one–
this wedding band,
years of what could and could not
happen in a span of life

life’s changing seasons
happy, sad, up, down, laugh, cry-
stay or go away;
underneath the roiling waves
calm moonlight draws me back in

breathing in bath salts,
I think of the tears I tasted
when you said goodbye
bitter wind off oceans spray
turns my heart cold like that day

bare truth, bald faced lie,
why does nothing satisfy?
how fickle my heart
swinging between trees
like a hammock

creaking bending trees
crying out pains agony-
red eyes of grief’s lava tears
into the wind I let it go
a feather across the sand

between power lines
the crows can’t decide whether
to leave or stay
feet hold fast to whir of wire
head says run to shifting ground

from the earth
a crack
of fresh earthworms
slither through the pouring rain
clinging to last bits of life

the soccer field–
a marshland for herons
after the rain
reminds me of Nebraska
slow drum of Janis Ian

naked oak and birch
still in the November wind
haiku for the sky
only my breath caught
in the branches

birdsong–
my dog echoes the warbler
with her sore throat;
the trill can be heard for miles,
is the bark worse than the bite?

from the birch tree
I peel away the bark
and write this haiku
I find the sap sweet, congealed
While my tears remain bitter

The backyard rubble
Holds wisps of waylaid dreams It’s
Slim pickings for birds;
they are dreamcatchers
tying each nightmare to bare branches.

crows light on the wing
Raven holds November court
while hummers fly South
dipping in the sunlight
they pull away the clouds

Sun sextile Saturn
Thanksgiving relationships
may take a quick turn
family feuds holding still –
peace returns, if just one day

on the corner, the Raven
returning for a quick meal
dissolves into night
The autumn also takes wing,
A snowflake heralds winter.

trees crawl toward the sky
ochre moonlight silhouettes
dreaming of Solstice
The nights are long and heavy
but soon the light will lift us.

trenches around fire
reflected deep in your eyes
labyrinthine pools…
I think of the night we held
each other from our own shadows

Your softest caress,
each tremble and kiss of tress,
a single raindrop,
creating dry dust devils
littered with blurred distinctions.

on the windshield
cracks become softer
in the fog —
-1 freezes in place,
fingers draw cold words–your name.

linked crescents–
I fitted your faded last name
around my lip print –
morning sun, and it’s still there,
remnants of what used to be.

the future so uncertain
as I drive through
the Monday car wash –
when I pay, their parrot talks,
Cackles “I love you” out loud.

 
 

________________

 
 

for every life
there is a reason to live
and there is an end
And in this divine resort,
God grant us late, quick checkout.

soulful salvation
a rest of quiet peace; not
exasperation.
Still, I wonder what happens
to our dreams after we die?

Perhaps they live on,
in the hearts and minds we touch,
then eternity.
Or disappear like the wind,
ideas whose time never came.

All is illusion.
so say the masters of Zen,
and whispers the wind.
Monkey Mind clings to what’s “real”
while life passes by in zeal.

Our earthly moment,
gestation for mind and soul,
to transcend mere time.

 
 

________________

 
 

devouring time
underneath the work ethic
wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Toss a coin into a pond,
the ripples subside quickly.

That which glimmers bright
quietly fades from our sight,
we race the sunset.
Full throttle, going nowhere –
What remains? An empty shell.


________________


It has come to this:
An ad on a vomit bag.
Is nothing sacred?
Sacred cow branding?
Or designer-stigmatas?

Open your hands and hearts,
Brand all with love and kindness,
lest they wander lost.
Besides, emetophobes won’t…
I repeat, won’t read puke bags.

Suggestive powers,
A greasy pork chop and fried octopus,
from dirty ashtray.
These are mental images,
to cure one of mal de mer.

Yet, on second thought
one might not regain sea legs
while eating frog’s legs.
And speaking of splayed legs,
we’re covering quite a spread.

jumping through mind hoops
e.e. cummings comes to mind;
humor of Mark Twain
Whole lotta jumpin’ go’n on
In Calaveras County.

Sliding through worm holes
Ol’ H. G. Wells comes to mind;
Brakes would be handy.
Invisible man flees scene,
hoping someone will see him.

Twain is consarned wry,
“Such happy rascality”,
is his catchphrase child.
Left to fend laughs for itself,
in his novel “Roughing It”.

Or Aldous Huxley,
Seer of socialist folly,
Eyeless In Gaza.
A voice for Albert Hoffman
or at least his Problem Child.

Aldous knew O’Keeffe
typed books at Kiowa Ranch
under Lawrence Tree
Look up! Reach toward the tree top
but don’t forget the journey.

A naughty dream date,
Aimee Semple McPherson,
and Sinclair Lewis.
She was Sharon Falconer,
penned in “Elmer Gantry”.

Another Sinclair
was also interested,
He was an Upton.
Then there was Pete Seeger whose
ballad belied her scandal.

‘Twas Seeger’s refrain,
that “the dents in the mattress
fit Aimee’s caboose.”
and bared the dented psyche,
of our “modern” pop culture.

they’re turning in graves
What’s with Dylan sings Christmas?
he does what he wants.
And much like a rolling stone,
‘becomes a complete unknown.

disjointed puzzle
Springsteen’s Santa comes to town
all dressed in bright red
Hark! The Big Man’s ho-ho-ho’s
Crack The Boss up near the close.

Lady Greensleeves sings
‘Twas the night before Christmas –
hot broadside ballad


________________


New Year’s Eve Blue Moon
cookin’ up the black-eyed peas
always takes me back
Lawd, thas’ whole lottah peppah,
this etouffee gonna hurt.

need that New Year’s luck –
in the North, it’s pork loin
sauerkraut in tow.
Comfort food takes time and love,
so keep stirring and we’ll drink.

Oh tiny bubbles,
like the kiss of a hot fist,
you knock me out cold.
Milk goes with chocolate cake,
champagne, with everything.

Milk lovers unite!
milk fluffs the mashed potatoes
wraps the egg in nog.
How about slow-cooked grits?
A hominy homily.

All GRITS learn to love
hushpuppies fried in hot grease
not a dog in sight
“What are grits?” asks a Yankee.
Honey, it’s like hot ice cream.

Southern scratch biscuits,
then, there’s the red-eye gravy
smothering the plate
‘Jes add a chonk of cornbread,
and a ‘lil “Who Shot Sally”.

Lawd I am hongry,
‘Looks like the rooster dies tonight,
Chicken on Sunday.
Not if Foghorn Leghorn crows,
Or Looney Tunes Barnyard Dawg!

Oh Creme Brulee,
Immortalized in menus,
struck down by the spoon.
How fallen are the mighty,
The weapons of chefs perish.


________________


haiku, senryu, tanka, & renga


Part II of community poetry — the nature of renga. Year two of our Daily Haiku explored the intimate connection between haiku, senryu, tanka, and renga. In gratitude to all who participated, we wanted to post the year in renga. Renga is a form of collaborative poetry, written in community.

At the beginning of the year, the poetry leaned toward haiku, senryu, and tanka; renga was slow to develop. By year’s end, the renga spanned weeks, and the trend moved to longer strands of poetry. For that reason, we are dividing a year of renga into two posts, in the order they were written.

You can find helpful links, definitions, and read more about the relationship between the poetry forms in haiku 2 (one-a-day). Deep bows to Natalie and Clark. And to the poets who visit red Ravine, and help keep poetry alive.

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early laughter-green
grows between a warm change
time never walks past love
it is written in the skies
a heart shaped moon in your eyes

I think of your eyes:
like the winter sea, and shape
my heart by the moon…
sirens wake to crashing waves,
eerie melody haunts me.

heartstrings cut shorter
the distance of your voice
alluring in charm, bliss
will I know, upon some far,
galactic shore, surfing still

nights I write away
damp smudges sealed in bottles:
puckered fish in nets;
the loss is too much to bear,
floating behind hollow eyes.

weaving from afar
is how we travel through dreams–
koi in silver lakes


________________


the darkening sky
carries the promise of rain
with each shade of gray,
the sun shines from the center
of a wounded cottonwood

wrapped around hands,
one finds rings of promise
broken tree bark;
skin wrinkled and creased with age
releases bountiful seeds

buried deep,
seeds take root and stretch,
circling a pond
February snowstorm drips
concentric rings, wheel of life

lonely morning fish
ripples the quiet pond,
breaking sunlight


________________


chasing jackrabbit
tan mongrel trots through sagebrush
following its scent
the seeking can offer more
peace of mind than the finding

cave bear hibernates
two cubs spring from her loins
February birth
cycle of life continues
once again, all life reborn

fresh perspective
between gnarls of trees, sieves of leaves
sunrise meets the lake


________________


heavy snow, strong winds
just last week the smell of spring
winter packs a punch;
thawed dreams of black-eyed susans,
restless thoughts of wanting more.

dreams of longing
tucked under lashes and lips–
words run towards margins,
black and white letters jump off,
mind stops — scrambles to make sense.

following signs (blindly),
racing around cul-de-sacs
the mind, unnerved
reaches for a sense of peace,
silent shelter from the storm.

faint rainbow
storm leaves the sun in its wake
upon the relieved brow;
blue sky streaked with rainwater
prism changes everything.


________________


vernal equinox
morning freshness through the soul
sunburst in our eyes;
New Moon, stars out of hiding
blink across the Milky Way.

tangible yet far,
fantasies pinned on a star
like spilt milk…
crying for what has been lost,
yearning for that yet to come.


________________


dark and overcast
day before the holiday
a lawnmower growls;
clouds perch on the horizon
wanting nothing more than rain

storm clouds tease us
passing through the jeweled trees
on this side of life –
nothing taken for granted
will stay with us very long

cool sun at midday
life is full of suffering –
followed by moonlight
but then comes the promised dawn
when life is full of wonder


________________


black cat sleeps on couch
shadows fall near the full moon
eyes droop with the weight–
these heavy bags
that the heart carries

sun hides behind gray
burdens are what we make them
dark hinges on light

a forty watt sun
brings only hues of comfort -
false hope arises;
100 ways of seeing
the unpaved roads less traveled

on this journey
I collect many sticks and stones–
all for a bonfire
trailing in the wake of stars
yet untouched by human hands

on a stargazer lily–
a mantis praying
to the sun…
is it that I am not worthy
enough to touch the heavens?

winter sun–
snow angels catching
the snowman’s tears;
drops glisten, Icarus wings
doused by the cries of children


________________


opaque midday moon
creates halo above earth
yet darkness falls fast –
what’s lurking in the shadows?
Fear numbs, leaves no time to dwell.

fierce wind starts and stops
returns cold and leaves no doubt:
summer is over;
biting frost wilts the Spirit,
reflection ignites new spark.

by the fireplace,
the candle and I
dance to pages in my notebook —
letters expose obscure words,
teach me to read between lines





_______________________


haiku, senryu, tanka, & renga


Year two of our Daily Haiku explored the intimate connection between haiku, senryu, tanka, and renga. In gratitude to all who participated, we wanted to post the year in renga. Renga is a form of collaborative poetry, written in community.

At the beginning of the year, the poetry leaned toward haiku, senryu, and tanka; renga was slow to develop. By year’s end, the renga spanned weeks, and the trend moved to longer strands of poetry. For that reason, we are dividing a year of renga into two posts, in the order they were written. Part 2 will follow this week.

You can find helpful links, definitions, and read more about the relationship between the poetry forms in haiku 2 (one-a-day). Deep bows to Natalie and Clark. And to the poets who visit red Ravine, and help keep poetry alive.

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My favorite thing to do in elementary school was Art. Even when I had pink eye in second grade, and my mom sent me to school because she preferred possibly infecting my entire class to having me around for the day, and the teacher set up two long tables like the ones in the cafeteria, and I sat all alone making my collage at one table while the rest of the class crowded around the other table, I still loved Art!

I learned something from that pink eye experience, which is, making Art is a solitary thing. Even when you’re surrounded by other people making Art, you’re doing your own thing while they’re doing their own things. Which is why I love making Art with other people. You can work separately yet together. You can shoot the shit, listen to music, or gossip. Maybe it’s not so great to make Art with others all the time, like when you’re serious about producing, but working alongside others is Viagra for the creative process. Ideas! Feedback! Fun! It’s like being a kid again.

One Sunday in October I hosted a gathering of a dozen women at my place. They brought fixings for a quick and easy lunch, plus they came with unlimited enthusiasm for doing something completely new.

Ours was a resin playdate. Why resin? I’ve recently begun attending a resin night once a month with my sister and a group of her friends. Resin is so magical and fun that I wanted to turn around and share what I knew with my friends. A word of caution, however: Resin can be a messy and potentially harmful substance. Resin playdates are do-able as long as someone in the group knows what they’re doing and can assist during the process.

While resin may not be the best first playdate to host, there are plenty of creative activities that you could bring your friends together to do. This post is intended to offer ideas as to what some of those activities are and how to pull together the gathering so that everyone has fun. And, if readers are interested, I can follow this up with a later post specifically on hosting a resin playdate.


Just Play


If you’ve had a child in the past 20 years, you know exactly how playdates work. You call another parent, set up a time and place, drop your kids off or stick around and talk to the adults while the kids play, and for however long the playdate lasts, you forget about all your worries. Marvelous things, playdates. They’re not like birthday parties, where surely someone’s going to cry over not getting a gift or winning the prizes.

And so it goes with Art. Often I hear people say:

“I’m not artistic.”
“I don’t have a creative bone in my body.”
“I’m amazed by people who have artistic talent. I certainly don’t have any.”


With playdates, there’s no such thing as talent. It’s not a class nor a workshop. No one’s paying money (except maybe $5 or $10 to cover supplies) and expecting to get something out of it. It’s-just-play.


Don’t Eat the Glue


When you get people together, you gotta eat. It’s what you do. But when you get people together to play with Art, you gotta keep the Eating and the Art separate.

Come up with a simple menu—say, nachos—and ask folks to sign up for the different ingredients: shredded cheese, chopped onions, chile con queso, lettuce, tomatoes, chips. Our friend Linda, who hosts the monthly resin night, does it best. Her menus are easy yet coordinated. One night it’s Frito Pie. Another night, potato-leek soup and salad. Next month: tamales, posole, and taquitos. It’s served buffet-style, and if the weather’s nice, we eat on the patio. After all, we’ve taken up most of the table space for our art.

Once you’re done eating (and we always eat fast, because we want to get to the playing) clear the dishes, and you’re ready.


K.I.S.S.


Pick something you know how to do yourself. Or pick something you’ve always wanted to learn. You don’t have to be expert. There are many simple yet satisfying activities. Here are a few ideas:

  • Collage: Tell your friends to bring a bunch of old magazines, scrapbook papers, doodles or watercolor dabblings that they don’t mind cutting up. It can be cheap picture books bought at garage sales, construction paper, photos that aren’t valuable. Provide a set of color markers, inks and rubber stamps, glue, and cardboard for making the collages. (TIP: ask your friends to bring scissors from home.)
  • Paper products: Buy blank note cards and envelopes, a roll of white butcher paper for making homemade gift wrap, manila folders cut into gift tags. Carve shapes into Russet potatoes or sponges for stamping onto your cards and paper. Use the same basic materials as for collage. Walk away with enough items to hold you over through the holidays. Or swap with some of the others so you each go home with a wide variety.
  • Decorate journals: Ask everyone to bring a composition book, and then do collage, stamping, and doodling or painting in those.
  • Color mandalas.
  • Decoupage something: My daughters taught me this—Mod Podge goes on white and sticky, but it dries clear and not sticky. All you have to do is glue images to, say, a small plain cardboard box like the kind you can pick up at a craft store. Once you have all the images and marker or paint decoration you want on the box, brush the entire thing in Mod Podge. Let the glue dry, brush it again. Let it dry and you’re done.
  • The list is endless. You can work with recycled materials, beads, clay, Shrinky-Dinks, paper mache. Have you seen those beads that are rolled from magazine paper? Amazing.



Space Matters


Obviously, the amount of space you need depends on what you do, but whatever you do, make sure there’s plenty of space for each person to work. And protect the space by laying down plastic tablecloths or newspapers. If you’re using exacto knives, make sure people have surfaces to cut on.

I like the idea of putting the common supplies at one table so that everyone can access them. For example, if you’re doing collage, keep together all the paper materials.

Also, lighting is important. You may need to move lights from other parts of the house to sufficiently light up all the workspace. It doesn’t hurt to also ask your friends to bring desk lights if they have them.


Epilogue


This is basic stuff. I wouldn’t bother creating a post out of it if I didn’t know just how great it is to make Art with others.

When I hosted that resin playdate in October, at one point I went outside for something. I walked back into the house and the place was still. Everyone had heads down, working in quiet concentration. Some folks talked in low tones, and k.d. lang sang hymns on the stereo, but there was a calm energy in the room. I knew then that we were truly playing. Every one of us was a kid again.






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Mississippi Drive-By, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mississippi Drive-By, sunset on the Mississippi, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.








Spring thaw spills over
Mississippi’s swollen banks;
Red River rages










I’ve been thinking about rivers this week as the Red River border between Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota spreads out over the land. Happy for Spring, this mighty south to north flowing river is swelled and overreaching her banks, leaving human devastation in her wake. The Red River stood at 40.71 feet shortly after 8:15 a.m., down a bit from the 40.8 feet at the stroke of midnight. That’s nearly a foot higher than the Red River has ever before reached in recorded history.

Rivers have minds of their own. And the Red River is a rebel. I remember a 1970′s flooding of the Susquehanna River when I was in college in Pennsylvania. Everyone was evacuated to higher ground; we were out of school for a week. My hometown hosts the mighty Mississippi, a river that writer Mark Twain knew intimately. He wrote about her history and human habitation in Life on the Mississippi. He also had this to say about trying to tame her:


The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise…

       – Mark Twain in Eruption

The same appears to be true of the Red River. This week, citizens of the area have lost homes and businesses swallowed up by the river. Thousands of Midwesterners in the Great White North rose to the occasion, sandbagging between the echoing dribbles of basketball’s March Madness. Cheering for the home team kept their minds from spinning, a kind of in-the-moment relief.

But yesterday, officials in the flood-plagued Minnesota community of Moorhead asked about one-third of their households to evacuate ahead of the rising river. Moorhead along with neighboring Fargo, North Dakota, a city of more than 90,000, are preparing for further evacuations. The river is not expected to crest until Sunday afternoon, an all-time high of 42 feet. Thank goodness the cold weather this week left the Red frozen to the bone, unable to push the higher limits that were predicted.

Our prayers are with our communities to the North, though the odds may not be. It has always been this way with rivers; and so it shall always be. And if it’s true what Twain says that “we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us,” then Midwesterners will always go down as a people who show up for each other when the chips are down. Middle of the country. Middle America. High regard for the land, the rivers, the habitat, and the people who commingle there.



It is strange how little has been written about the Upper Mississippi. The river below St. Louis has been described time and again, and it is the least interesting part. One can sit on the pilot-house for a few hours and watch the low shores, the ungainly trees and the democratic buzzards, and then one might as well go to bed. One has seen everything there is to see. Along the Upper Mississippi every hour brings something new. There are crowds of odd islands, bluffs, prairies, hills, woods and villages–everything one could desire to amuse the children.

Few people every think of going there, however. Dickens, Corbett, Mother Trollope and the other discriminating English people who ‘wrote up’ the country before 1842 had hardly an idea that such a stretch of river scenery existed. Their successors have followed in their footsteps, and as we form our opinions of our country from what other people say of us, of course we ignore the finest part of the Mississippi.

 - Interview in Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1886, from Mark Twain Quotations


- For up to the minute coverage, photographs, and history, read about the Red River Floods of March 2009 at these links:


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 28th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), susquehanna haiku, savannah river haiku

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Wet Cement, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

Wet Cement, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.








Wet cement,
Opportunity.
It only takes a second
To change this spot
forever.








Another poem from the streets of Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk. I wrote the first piece about the project a few months ago (Sidewalk Poetry — Public Art At Its Best) after attending the opening in Frogtown last October. The project is a collaboration between Saint Paul Public Works and Public Art Saint Paul. It was spearheaded by Marcus Young, Artist In Residence of the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The untitled poem in the photograph Wet Cement was written by Zoë Jameson. I ran into Zoë and her family at the opening; they were celebrating on the sidewalk near her poem. She kneeled on the cement next to “Opportunity,” and smiled up at her mother who proudly shot photographs of her daughter, the poet.

To view Zoë’s poem in person, here’s a link to the map of the place in Saint Paul where the poem is located. I can’t think of a better way to stay warm this Winter. Or if you’re a teacher, you can print the map out for your class in preparation for a Spring field trip during National Poetry Month this April.

Oh, and one of our readers spotted a poem near the Fitzgerald Theater. She left these words about the project in a comment on red Ravine:


It was absolutely freezing when I ran two blocks from my parking spot to the Fitz; I couldn’t wait to get into the warm lobby. But I was stopped dead in my tracks when I saw one of these poems in the sidewalk. A few steps later, there was another one. When the weather is more cooperative, I’d love to spend a lazy day walking and reading.

It’s really quite lovely to have poetry in our lives this way…coming up from beneath our feet.

Poetry rising from the Earth. If you are heading into downtown St. Paul to see a show, keep your heart open, eyes to the ground, breath connected to the bottom of your feet.



Zoë Jameson has always enjoyed literature because it helps her get inside other people’s heads. When she isn’t reading, she enjoys running, traveling, playing the viola, and spending time with friends. She attends Central High School and has lived in Saint Paul with her parents and her dog, Perk, for over a decade.

— bio from the book Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

-related to posts: Got Poetry? (National Poem In Your Pocket Day)Celebrate Poetry (Let Me Count The Ways

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My first and probably last food fight was a snowy Thanksgiving in Missoula, Montana. I was in my 20′s, and since my family lived half way across the country, due East, I formed community with other Montana transplants.

There was Bev from Ohio, K.D. from Los Angeles, Mary from Pennsylvania, Gail from Minnesota, Leslie from Iowa, Lynne from Idaho, to name only a few. Many of us came to Montana via college, the University of Montana, and loved it so much we decided to stay. Others followed friends out West. I had always dreamed of living in the West. One day I just did it; I picked up and moved.

The food fight was after a Thanksgiving feast:  big old Butterball turkey, smashed potatoes with skins, homemade gravy and biscuits, cranberries, cornbread stuffing, and pumpkin pies. Back then we all drank, so there was lots of alcohol around. I don’t drink much anymore, a glass of wine on occasion. But then it was different. I would return years later for a reunion of these same friends, and many had gone into recovery. It was good to visit with them sober and clean.

There were a few native Montanans in our group, friends who knew the lay of the land. Some grew up in eastern Montana, Billings, some in the western areas of Great Falls, Missoula, Bozeman, and Helena. I would end up visiting these places over the course of the time I lived there, skiing the valleys, hiking the mountains. I lived in a two-story yellow house on Orange Street near the tracks, when there were no strip malls on Reserve Street, just a series of grassy fields.

The food fight was a culmination of hours of planning, cooking, talking, eating, and playing live music. At the time, we had a drum set, McCartney-style bass, keyboard, and a whole array of random percussion instruments in a basket in the corner. We usually played music together on the Holidays, anything from Joni Mitchell to Neil Young to lots of bluegrass — it was Montana in the 70’s.

That Thanksgiving I ended up with mashed potatoes in my hair. Bev threw a biscuit that landed in a ladle of gravy and splashed up on to our shirts. There were cranberry stains on the table cloth that never came out. I remember those days in Montana as good times, even though we all had our problems. We acted, well, we acted like we had not lived as much life as we have lived now.

Food is a metaphor for substance, nutrition, community, family, and friendship. Food is used to show love and nurturing. Food is mother’s milk. Food is not to be wasted. But it’s not good to take oneself too seriously. A good food fight once in a while never hurt anyone. Still, in some places, food can be scarce.

I have often thought of working in community service over the Holidays, something like a soup kitchen or a food bank. I’ve never done it. But I’m keenly aware this time of year that there are people in this country who don’t have enough to eat. They can’t afford it. You don’t have to go to other parts of the world to see how people without enough money to afford food struggle to make ends meet. How people sometimes have to make choices between healthcare and food.

I know a woman, a single parent, who has five children, temps for work in a corporate office, and has no health insurance. It’s available to her through her temp agency, but by the time she purchases it for herself and her five kids, she doesn’t have a paycheck left. She told me she’s one of those people who falls between the cracks. She works hard but makes too much money to apply for additional support for health insurance.

When faced with hard choices, she chooses nutrition for her family. I guess that’s a different kind of fight — the fight for everyone in this country to have healthcare and plenty of food.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, December 20th, 2008

-related to Topic post:  WRITING TOPIC – COOKING FIASCOS

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A Little Less War, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

A Little Less War, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






A little less war,
A little more peace,
A little less poor,
A little more eats.









I had planned to write another mandala post tonight, but the time got away from me. I’ve been learning to navigate the new WordPress 2.7 release and I think I’m going to like it. It’s faster and more user friendly, and, of course, WordPress support is unprecedented. But it always takes time to learn something new, so I decided to do another short post, more poetry from Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk.

The project, a collaboration between Saint Paul Public Works and Public Art Saint Paul, is the brainchild of Marcus Young, Artist In Residence of the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota. I did a first piece about the project earlier this week (Sidewalk Poetry — Public Art At Its Best) and thought I would post another poem while it’s fresh in my mind.

The untitled poem in the photograph A Little Less War was written by Eyang Wu. If you’d like to take a slow walk down long city sidewalks and view the poetry for yourself, here’s a link to the map of the section of Saint Paul where the poetry is located. And while you are slow walking in the December chill, remember – Awaken, Awaken, Awaken! Do not waste this precious life!


Eyang Wu is a retired Chinese opera artist originally from Hangzhou, China, and now a resident of the United States. His poem was first written on a kite and flown at Saint Paul’s annual Earth Day celebration, Wishes for the Sky.

    — bio from the book Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, December 5th, 2008

-related to posts: Got Poetry? (National Poem In Your Pocket Day)Celebrate Poetry (Let Me Count The Ways

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Sidewalk Poetry, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Sidewalk Poetry, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.









A tourist
in the cathedral
of your silence
I am reverent
for all the wrong
reasons









The untitled poem in the photograph Sidewalk Poetry was written by Esmé Evans. It was taken during a celebration of Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk. The project is a unique collaboration between Saint Paul Public Works and Public Art Saint Paul, and is the brainchild of Marcus Young, Artist In Residence of the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

We attended the opening in Frogtown on a beautiful Fall day last October. The project is the first of its kind in this country and is largely due to Minnesota citizens who, in spite of the economic downturn, continue to support and fund the Arts.

We purchased the hand-bound book created and designed by Aki Shibata and Marcus Young, and had many of the poets sign their poems. It’s important to note that the judging was anonymous — poems were chosen on their own merit, without knowing the poet’s age, experience, or background. The poets in the book come from all walks of life, and include children and teens whose poetry is now letterpressed into Saint Paul’s city sidewalks.

I hope to do a future piece with more photographs from the opening. Until then, I’ll continue to post snippets from the Sidewalk Poetry series.


Esmé Evans works for the State of Minnesota. She is married and has two sons. She and her family have lived in Saint Paul since 1984, and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

    — bio from the book Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

-related to posts: Got Poetry? (National Poem In Your Pocket Day)Celebrate Poetry (Let Me Count The Ways)

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Ready for Take-Off, this angel baby pooch stops to pose before marching on in the Harvest Festival Pet Parade, photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Every year in early fall, our little village holds a Harvest Festival. This used to be a farming community, and although many fields have turned into big houses with lawns, you can still find acres of apple orchards and corn and chile crops. Not to mention the good-sized gardens and non-commercial farms that produce a bounty of fruits and vegetables. It’s definitely a time to celebrate.


My favorite part of the Harvest Festival, hands down, is the Pet Parade. The first year Jim and I moved here, we heard that the festival always kicked off with a parade for pets down the main road in the village. I’d never been in a parade before, and something inside me was hankering to walk with our dog, Roger, as observers lining the street cheered and clapped wildly.

I tied a red paisley handkerchief around Roger’s neck and headed to the staging area where parade participants were gathering with dogs, cats, goats, chickens, turkeys, and horses.

Roger, of course, was chomping at the bit. This was the most exciting thing to happen in his life, too. He pulled me from one animal to another, sniffing the spray paint on their coats and their silly wigs, hats, tu-tus, flower arrangements, polka dots, shoes, and tuxedos. Clearly, Roger was underdressed, and I towered two feet above the tallest human participant.

Still, we marched. We smiled and waved. We posed when Jim snapped our photo and then watched him stagger off holding his stomach from laughing so hard.


Nowadays, entire families march in the Pet Parade. This year there was a “wench wagon” with showgirls dressed in velvet corsets sitting in a horse-drawn carriage. (Forget the kids and pets, I’m taking my bosom to the parade!)

There’s still the odd assortment of animals. One year I saw an iguana in its glass terrarium atop a chariot, looking like Cleopatra. This year my favorite was the Chicken-Mobile (a chicken perched on a Playskool car) and the weiner taco (weiner dog in a taco shell). The goat in a straw hat was a stand-out, too.

After the parade everyone scattered for other parts of the festival. Some headed to the food court—all that clapping worked up an appetite for turkey legs and Indian tacos—while others jumped on hay wagons heading in the direction of the three-mile-long corn maze.

We made our way to the Old Church and Casa San Ysidro, where we bought tamales and burritos from a woman who scooped extra ladles of red chile meat onto your plate if you asked.

We took our food to a bench under an old quince tree and talked about how cool it would have been to take Azul and the Toms, or Sony, Otis, Rafael, or even Baby to the Pet Parade.

There was a time when I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Maybe next year.





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