Friday, April 30, 2010

The Last Poem--in more ways than one

I've just concluded facilitating a 16 week Creative Meditation class.  In honor of National Poetry Month, we spent the last two weeks  writing  poetry.  They wanted to compose a group poem, feeling safer in having company with an experience that was very new to a few of them.   We threw around some topics, and settled on a generic word, "Opening."   The instructions were to add a line about opening, using memories, images, senses, descriptions, or any other creative phrase related to the topic.   Each person wrote a line, with no one knowing what someone else had written.   Then we gathered all the index cards and laid them out.   It was amazing how  it all seemed to fit together.    With some rearranging like a jigsaw puzzle,  some clarifying gender pronouns, and a great title, we hereby present our final offering in salute to all budding poets everywhere.

Falling Through the Crack

How did she find the courage to break the seal
Allowing a tiny shard of crimson-rosy light to enter?

She feels her skin prickle,
Hears a creaking,
Catches her breath,

Fear, strong and mighty,
Arrogantly stands at the doorway
Proudly dripping blood
on the white carpet of her mind.

Flowing juices from her heart
Crack open the threshold of time.
Falling thru eons
She opens deep self-knowing.

Thanks to Wendy, Cindy, George, Pearl, Chris, Dineh, and June  F. (aka Marie "B") for enduring to the very end, and additionally, kudos to Colleen, Shirley, Evelyn, Jill, and Paula for your participation.     May we all continue endlessly creating with intention and presence.
Love to all.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Winter Sprinter Spring ? ? ? Before and After

Here is the quiz of the day......Which is the before, and which is the after?

The Answer......The beautiful top photo was taken two days ago, the lower two were taken 10 minutes ago (noon), and yes, they were photographed in full living color, outside, on my deck, April 29, 2010.We have 5 inches of snow here, with no let-up in sight.     I'm just sayin'..........

National Poetry Month is coming to an end  (and so is winter, we hope), and I've found a wonderful selection to share.
"The Book of Hours" by Joyce Sutphen

There was that one hour sometime
in the middle of the last century.
It was autumn, and I was in my father's
woods building a house out of branches
and the leaves that were falling like
thousands of letters from the sky.

And there was that hour in Central Park
in the middle of the seventies.
We were sitting on a blanket, listening
to Pete Seeger singing "This land is
your land, this land is my land," and
the Vietnam War was finally over.

I would definitely include an hour
spent in one of the galleries of the
Tate Britain, looking up at the
painting of King Cophetua and
The Beggar Maid, and, afterwards
the walk along the Thames, and

I would also include one of those
hours when I woke in the night and
couldn't get back to sleep thinking
about how nothing I thought was going
to happen happened the way I expected,
and things I never expected to happen did--

just like that hour today, when we saw
the dog running along the busy road,
and we stopped and held on to her
until her owner came along and brought
her home--that was an hour well
spent.  Yes, that was a keeper.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Phoebe, the Hummingbird LIVE and other blogs of note

There are so many wonderful blogs around, we could all live to be 100 and never visit them all.   I've found a few treasures, and you can usually find their links on the right.

One of my creative heroes, Lori Vliegen, introduced  this adorable little hummingbird  which you can view 24/7 on a live feed from ustream.   Thanks, many times over, Lori, for your cheerful view of the world.  ( You will be seeing more of Lori's artwork here in the near future.)

Another of my online teachers, Sue Bleiweiss, is a guest curator on Jenny Doh's ART SAVES blog.    Sue is most gracious, and has tagged my Zentangle Shoes ( my March 2 post) in her recommended links.  Maybe I'll get my 15 minutes of fame, d' ya think?  All of us can agree that "art saves" in any number of ways. 

You might have noticed my new little photo icon.   I owe the "no longer silent "K" for that one.  Kass is so creative, she keeps several blogs running.   That photo is from her "Shooting Strangers in Restaurants" blog, although I was not THE stranger this time....just being my usual strangeness.

If you just want to feel peaceful and calm, check out Just....A Moment .  All I have to do is open here, and I feel a breath of fresh air.  The title says it all, but the entries are inspiring.

June always amazes me.   I learn so much from her, and she's completely supportive and personable.

I hope Martha forgives me for inadvertently leaving her out yesterday.   When I was trying to bring back my calligraphy hand, I took her wonderful  Calligra-Fun class with brush markers.   It was really well presented, and Martha is an amazing, versatile artist in many mediums.  I can't keep up with her.  Art du jour, indeed.   She also teaches a traditional italic hand at Creative Workshops.  (More info on her blog page)   I LOVE taking online classes in my jammies.

Of course, my family members make me proud, and blogging is one way we stay connected.

Thank you to all the wonderfully dedicated, generous, and creative people who take time to make this human life more interesting and creative.
May we be peaceful, May we be healed, May we be a source of healing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Zentangles in Education

As a retired educator from the Salt Lake City School District, I was invited by my artist/teacher friend, Trish Clay, to teach a zentangle workshop for art educators.  There were 10 participants who used the ideas in their classrooms.  East High School (yes, the REAL High School Musical setting) produced two fine bulletin boards at the District Office.  Three different activities are presented here;  single black and white six inch squares, large 9 x 12 inch background watercolor wash with zentangles added afterward, and small panels of four by a single artist.   The best thing about this type of lesson is that it's something everyone can do and feel excited about.  I only wish the teachers had put the student's name on the work.   Everyone deserves to be recognized for their accomplishments.
Here is a gallery of some of the pieces.  It is only limited by my very poor photography skills.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Poems I Have Not Written

by John Brehm
(Oh course I don't need to explain why I chose this poem, do I?)

I’m so wildly unprolific, the poems
I have not written would reach
from here to the California coast
if you laid them end to end.

And if you stacked them up,
the poems I have not written
would sway like a silent
Tower of Babel, saying nothing

and everything in a thousand
different tongues. So moving, so
filled with and emptied of suffering,
so steeped in the music of a voice

speechless before the truth,
the poems I have not written
would break the hearts of every
woman who’s ever left me,

make them eye their husbands
with a sharp contempt and hate
themselves for turning their backs
on the very source of beauty.

The poems I have not written
would compel all other poets
to ask of God: "Why do you
let me live? I am worthless.

please strike me dead at once,
destroy my works and cleanse
the earth of all my ghastly
imperfections." Trees would

bow their heads before the poems
I have not written. "Take me,"
they would say, "and turn me
into your pages so that I

might live forever as the ground
from which your words arise."
The wind itself, about which
I might have written so eloquently,

praising its slick and intersecting
rivers of air, its stately calms
and furious interrogations,
its flutelike lingerings and passionate

reproofs, would divert its course
to sweep down and then pass over
the poems I have not written,
and the life I have not lived, the life

I’ve failed even to imagine,
which they so perfectly describe.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Poems, Poetry and Discovery

If you haven't heard the rumor yet, it's National Poetry Month.   I thought I was a lover of poetry, but in getting lost while clicking at everyone's blog links, I find I'm such a baby novice beginner.   
I have discovered a few things, or at least made them up.
1.  Good poetry is accessible to the general public, because it addresses the human condition trying to make sense of it all.
2.  My favorite poems make me think, feel and imagine.
3.  I feel more alive after a good poem.
4.  A great poem may not necessarily make me feel better....maybe wiser, though.
5.  I also love ecstatic poetry and poems that reach for the numinous.
6.  If I could have the Magic Wand grant a wish, I would be able to write poetry.

Here is today's offering, which stopped me in my tracks.  To think it was written by C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933) and not yesterday is mind boggling.  Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, I discovered it in a book I bought yesterday at Borders for $1.98, titled Speaking to the Heart, 100 favorite poems, chosen and introduced by Sister Wendy Beckett.

       Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?
      The barbarians are due here today.
Why isn't anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?
       Because the barbarians are coming today.
       What's the point of senators making laws now?
       Once the barbarians are here, they'll do the legislating.
Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city's main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?
       Because the barbarians are coming today
       and the emperor's waiting to receive their leader.
       He's even got a scroll to give him,
       loaded with titles, with imposing names.
Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?
       Because the barbarians are coming today
       and things like that dazzle the barbarians.
Why don't our distinguished orators turn up as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?
       Because the barbarians are coming today
       and they're bored by rhetoric and public speaking.
Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people's faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home lost in thought?
       Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven't come.
       And some of our men just in from the border say
       there are no barbarians any longer.
Now what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Barbara Close, with Textured Letters, Comes to Town

Waaay back in Spring of 2007, I picked up the new Somerset Studios Magazine and fell in love with the textured versal exemplars of Barbara Close.  I've looked at the article so many times and wanted to try it, but the old F-E-A-R demons kept telling me I needed to learn more, know more.....
No More.  I've just spent two wonderful days playing with my lettering artist friends (who are far more talented than I), and here is a little sample of our time together.  (The best thing about posting on a blog is you can't see the other artists'  work, so you can't compare, and now that I'm home, neither can I.)
I used my own hand marbled paper to cover the journal.  Inside are black accordion fold pages where I will glue my finished samples.  They are still a work in progress, and hopefully, you'll get to see some new ones soon.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, April 9, 2010

E. B. White poem The Spider Web

The Spider Web

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.

E.B. White  written as a love letter to his wife. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kindness, a Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

April is National Poetry Month, and you all know how much I LOVE poetry.  So, here is one of my favorites.  May you be touched deep down in your soul, and show kindness to all you meet.


Before you know what kindness really is
You must lose things,
Feel the future dissolve in a moment
Like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
What you counted and carefully saved,
All this must go so you know
How desolate the landscape can be
Between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
Thinking the bus will never stop,
The passengers eating maize and chicken
Will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
You must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
Lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
How he too was someone
Who journeyed through the night with plans
And the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
You must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
Catches the thread of all sorrows
And you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
Only kindness that ties your shoes
And sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
Only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
And then goes with you everywhere
Like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab-Nye

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Zentangles for Third Grade @ Jeremy Ranch Elementary

Doodling is conducive to even the youngest children.   The owners of a creative preschool/art class/daycare center have been taking my Creative Meditation class, and found that zentangle activities really focus and calm the little ones.   They put out a large sheet of paper and let all the kids participate.   
Zentangles are non-fail projects which encourage even the most timid.   Here are our photos from Jeremy Ranch.   For these kids, I stepped away from the  tiny 3.5 inch squares of the traditional zentangle and gave them die cut shapes of their choosing.   LOVE IT !   We created a large group project where everyone got a space, and each child could make as many individual ones as an hour could hold.   You can see their intensity and focus.   ( I wore my zentangle shoes, of course.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Birthday to Jonas

Yesterday was Jonas's (Jonas' ?)  big 6 year old birthday.  He has replaced his fascination with dinosaurs to fish and aquariums.   We're going to the Sandy Aquarium for his birthday party.  I  think his interest was fueled by a trip to Mexico and their fabulous ocean zoo.   I broke out of my comfort zone and painted some fish on the tie dye.  I think he'll like it.