Category Archives: Creativity

Purgatory, Kentucky (5/7)

I like to have a quiet place to pray,
and sitting, waiting, in my truck, well that’s
about as quiet as it ever gets
because the radio died in ’88.
When a radio dies where does its music go?
They say sound waves never really go away.
I don’t understand what all I know
about that. I guess I believe that sound’s a wave.
I guess I believe there are tiny bones in my ear,
a hammer and an anvil and a horseshoe? Is that right?
I wonder if they’ll be taking questions there.
I wonder if it’s always kind of twilight.
There’s the ferry now—I guess it’s time
I got myself in gear and got in line.

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Ferry on Highway 169 somewhere in Kentucky (a Creative Commons shot from Edlitmus on Flickr)

David Bowie, RIP

There’s so much to say.  I wasn’t ready for this death.  I hope I can say more at some point.  In the meantime, I’ll re-run a little poem I wrote when he released “Walking the Dead” a couple of years ago–a song and album for which I was so grateful. I hadn’t even realized how much I’d needed a new one from him.

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Bowie’s Voice

starched linen right when
it’s not so stiff

piece of paper twisting
in a breeze

sheet of metal
a thin sheet
its sound waves
emerging at the quiet snap
of bending this way
and then that

Bowie’s voice
in “Where Are We Now”
quavery
elegant
sad

exactly how we ought to speak
to the dead, were we to speak
to the dead, were we dead,
were we out walking the dead.

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The Noble Gases

for Max Garland

No wonder I can never remember all eight—
there are only six. I have a placemat
with the periodic table of the elements on it—
I guess it’s time to get it out again.
The ones I never forget are neon
and radon—bar signs and killers in the basement.
I usually remember Superman’s Achille’s heel,
thus krypton, and if I think of Jason, I might
think of Argonauts and thus argon, but
usually I don’t. Almost never will
I think of helium, the most famous one,
the silly voice, the birthday balloon,
the one that can overfill your lungs
and kill you, leeching all your oxygen.

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Working on part 2 and 3 of this poem–will post more soon.

What a pleasure it was to hear Max Garland read at the Aldo Leopold Center on an absolutely perfect Wisconsin summer night. I always enjoy his poems and he spoke so earnestly and well about the importance of art, of making it and supporting it, I found I had tears in my eyes a bunch of times.

Here’s a photo I took as I resisted the mingling part of the evening–I couldn’t bear to be inside on such a gorgeous night.

The Aldo Leopold Center outside Baraboo.

The Aldo Leopold Center outside Baraboo.

This poem came in response to his poem “Hydrogen,” which is available through the Western Kentucky University English Department website.

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I have fond memories of WKU, where I once participated in a marathon poetry reading. We read forever there. We might still be reading there.

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Missing the Magpie

Here’s a long overdue shout-out to my good friend Robert, who contributed to my Indiegogo campaign last year (thanks, and thanks again!). His contribution and others allowed me a “half-battical” last fall, which meant teaching two courses instead of my normal four.  I spent time working on creativity research, and I’ll be offering my first 2-hour workshop this Saturday.

 

You know how everyone is always posting all kinds of everything on Facebook & Twitter and some of it’s great but so much of it is….not?

What if someone had a blog in which they gathered all kinds of awesome stuff in one place, week after week?  That’s what Robert’s “Magpie Monday” did, and even though there hasn’t been one in a while, it’s still WELL WORTH a look-see because he finds awesome stuff, such as Bookshelf Porn and Ask Baba Yaga and a site with details I didn’t personally actually know or remember about the Piano.

 

I’m missing Magpie Monday, but at least there are nests to look back through!
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Doodling the Future

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Trying to doodle how I see my immediate future. It’s atop in this part of this morning’s doodle. Note its blankness.

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The middle is this semester’s “half-battical.” A little more room to breathe.

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Note the drop-off to DON’T KNOW? at the top of this rickety staircase.

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Self-portrait during half-battical.

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The bottom here is a normal semester. Not horrible, but really, too, too much.

Spiraling: Writing the Unthinkable

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Lynda Barry had us draw spirals today.

I got to do a workshop with her in her Image Lab at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, where she is a (jolly good) fellow. It was a writing workshop, but we drew a little. We spiraled.

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When we were getting ready to write, or when we were listening to someone else read, we drew spirals.

 

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We were supposed to draw it as tight and close as we could without having the lines touch. I got too big on this one and it turned into a labyrinth.

 

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Sometimes I closed my eyes and drew.

 

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Here’s more of the labyrinth.

 

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Eyes closed for a bit.

I like how these pics look a little spooky. I went to scary places today, and I even wrote a ghost story.

 

Gentlemen in the Rain, Women in the Sun

How fitting that a play highlighting Proteus
would play on a day with various weathers,
rainy and warm then steamy and warm then pouring and warm
then breezy and cool then cool and calm then warm and calm
with the sun changing clouds into haze and then,
when Sylvia crossed the threshold from backstage,
that moment, I would swear it, did the sun
come out, full on,  and turn her blonde hair into blazing
waves of light. I still can’t see, can’t comprehend
why Valentine forgives his awful friend,
why Sylvia forgives her Valentine
for giving her to an inconstant man.
The woman seeming pitiful I get.
The man offending everyone I get.
I choose to see the Bard as having gaps,
not my heart not my brain with this big lapse.

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Every Thursday this semester I’m trying to do at least one big thing that reminds me I’m teaching only two courses, and have been allowed the grace and space to spend 20 hours a week on my creativity research.

 

Waiting for Two Gentlemen of Verona to start this morning, I was able to touch base with one of the many wonderful folks at APT who do their work offstage—at some point this fall, I’ll be doing some interviews about creativity (and especially, ironically, when they try NOT to be creative).

 

But it was the play itself I was most focused on today.

 

After all—why research creativity without enjoying the fruits of creativity that my fine little town has to offer?

 

Nice job, everyone—very nice to see Marcus Truschinski in another leading role, and Travis Knight right there with him (and very fun watching the high school girls at the matinee get all swoony).  I think no one does fragility mixed with strength the way Susan Shunk does—it’s like glass and steel all curving around each other. Nice job, Steve Haggard as Launce, and Will Mobley as Speed, using their terrific comic timing to sharpen the focus of the students who were, for the MOST part, dealing admirably with the distractions of rain and wind and then bright sun and heat.

 

And I swear, the sun really did come out right at the moment Abbey Siegworth stepped onstage in her tower.

 

This isn’t my favorite Shakespeare play by any stretch, but I’ve seen APT do it well two times now, and seeing it today gave me fond and bittersweet memories of the last time.  Then, it seemed to me and my friend Lee (may she rest in peace), the director emphasized every possible bit of homo-eroticism in the play (which made Valentine’s actions a little more understandable, if he’s as in love with Proteus as Julia is)

“That was hot,” Lee said to me when we chatted in the aisle right after a performance one night. As I remember it, I could only nod yes.

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