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Posts Tagged ‘poetry found’

The week before Halloween seems the right time to share an image that’s haunted me since I first saw it a few years ago.  “Caroline” is a mixed media photograph created by my old friend Trish Rawlings, an artist and writer living in Baltimore. The photograph is taken from a series called Revenant, meaning “one who returns after death or a long absence.”

Besides, a little beauty on Monday morning helps enormously.

From Trish:

“The mixed-media assemblages shown here are from a series called Revenant, which had its genesis when, some months ago, I uncovered a group of portrait photographs and negatives I’d packed at the bottom of a trunk and forgotten about. While I studied and then began to work with the images, I was struck by how different the faces looked from how I remembered them; I felt I’d never seen them before.
Some bore an air of ghostly wistfulness, as though weakened by the years of confinement,while others appeared bewildered, lost, ironically, in the light.  A few flaunted a defiant expression, as though proud to have survived both darkness and abandonment. You do what you must do, these seemed to say, against invisibility.
Impelled by an irrational guilt–feeling I’d committed an existential crime by consigning them to darkness and obscurity–I tried to return these sea-changed faces to how I remembered them. But no amount of darkroom tweaking had any effect; the haunting images had emerged from their exile as new beings.
When it came time to print, straightforward methods felt wanting. The added layers of time, memory, and longing begged a fresh approach. I hit on the idea of using a shallow shadow box and found materials to set off the faces and suggest complementary moods. While I worked, it felt as though someone–or something–were pressing me to bring about yet another incarnation for these faces from the past.”
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Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey: Download Cover

I’m in love.  I’m reading Parrot & Olivier in America by Australian Peter Carey.  I’m thinking about the book all the time, taking it to bed, and not wanting our relationship to ever end.  Carey’s books have a crazy reckless energy that I associate with Australians in general (oh, my old friend Pippi Woodger!), and this one pops with the same fizz. The book follows the unlikely friendship between a late 18th century Alexis de Tocqueville-like aristocrat and his servant, Parrot, conscripted to follow his master to America to spy on him.

Parrot’s life has not been his own. Terrorized and tricked by those older and more powerful, he’s been shipped around the globe, forced to leave behind family and lovers.  In this passage, Parrot recalls his time in New South Wales, where he was sent as an innocent boy on a convict ship.  Home is England to him, where he left behind no one, his mother having died and his father hung for forgery.

Being a transplant myself, I’m touched by Parrot’s riff on home and thinking a lot about wasted time.  So I send this out to all the other transplants.  And also to those who have had to listen to transplants sing the glories of their home city/state/country.

“I had a wife, a child, a home, but for all that I did not understand it was my home.  She, my wife, would not call it home either.  All around us everyone was the same— soldiers, convicts, even captains with their holds stock-full of rum.  Home did not mean here.  That was elsewhere.  When will we be in our real home at last, we asked each other.  We manured the earth, she and I, and grew cabbage, and toasted the tails of kangaroo, and held each other through the entire night, breathing that perfume that lies on the skin of young boys and girls.  We swam at night, bare as God made us.  We gathered oysters from the rocks and shucked their living juices down our cruel and eager throats.  We laughed and farted. We had fevers and were well.  We were at home, while waiting to go home, while missing home.  We looked up at that cobalt sky, and out at the ultramarine seas, not seeing their beauty but only the cold empty distance between us and home.  And so we made our lives, pining all the while.”

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Experienced bloggers advise newbies, “Post early and often.”  Doggone it, I just can’t seem to do that.  Notwithstanding the fact that I don’t think clearly before 10 a.m., I also couldn’t post one of my long poetry responses every single day.  I’d burn out in a month and so would my readers.

But I do want blog more frequently. My solution is to create short posts of what I call “poetry found,” for lack of a better term. “Found poetry” (more here) refers to piecing together words and phrases from texts already in existence to create another text, a poem.  “Poetry found” will refer to moments, textual and non,  that carry an import beyond their context.

Let me translate that gobbleygook into English.   Everyday we have experiences that need to be pulled apart from the others and examined or appreciated. These moments—-overheard conversations, odd juxtapositions, and snippets of books—-can be poem-like if not quite poetry.  Think of poetry found as pulling a photograph from a jumbly pile of hundreds of photographs and placing it on black matting.

So I begin right now.

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Today in a checkout line, the woman behind me said to the person on the other end of her cellphone, “You’re the first person I’ve been able to tell my stories to.”

Her past loneliness made me sad.  At the same time I admired her honesty.

There was a pause on her end of the conversation before she replied, “I’m respectful of other people’s time, that’s all.”

My thought:  How many people in this world are waiting for someone else to have time to listen to them?

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