Bianca Stone’s Someone Else’s Wedding Vows is a collection in three parts, each loosely documenting a stage in the poet’s recovery from grief–one assumes this grief stems from the loss of Stone’s grandmother, poet Ruth Stone, whom the younger poet loved “severely” (“Ruth Stone” par 1). The severity of this love shows: these grieving stages aren’t of the hackneyed variety so prevalent in self-help quarters–there is neither bargaining nor final acceptance–but are rather a kind of progressive displacement, with feelings of anguish being dislodged, bit by visceral bit, by feelings of love for another.
At 45, poet Anne Sexton committed suicide. There is no question that Sexton’s work would not be what it is without her depression, since longing for death was a major theme, but does that mean that she wouldn’t have been a poet without her illness? Or would she have been just as creative without it, choosing a different thematic infrastructure?
Poets like Denise Levertov certainly thought so: “We who are alive must make clear, as she could not, the distinction between creativity and self-destruction” (“Light up the Cave”). I didn’t know, until recently, that Levertov had responded this way, but I like her point. There is an entire mythology surrounding “the artist,” and a large part of that mythology is that artists suffer–that it is through that crucible of intense psychological pain that they engender their masterpieces. Continue reading →
Both from the Val Gardena in Northern Italy, a convergence of several small villages in which wood-carving is a long-standing tradition, Demetz and Walpoth are two of my favorite contemporary sculptors. Their work is saliently austere, quiet but intense, commanding the spaces in which it is situated with a kind of solemnity. I have never had the opportunity to see either artist’s work in person, but I hope to visit this valley one day, not just for the art but also for the landscape, which is, like the work of these two artists, a combination of warmth and severity: the valley itself is draped in soft, rolling green during the summer, and the surrounding mountains (the Dolomites) stand in jarring contrast, looking like bleached dragon’s teeth. Continue reading →
A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a lecture Eric Adjetey Anang was giving at AC+D. I’ve been mulling it over in the time since. Mr. Anang was a friendly, articulate man, and I was inspired by the story of how he took his grandfather’s design coffin-building business and slowly began making it into a kind of art empire. He told us that his grandfather, Kane Kwei, began the business rather by accident.
The digital bars shimmer, the shadows
shimmer too, volumetrically, hunching
at the doorframe, and there is no such
thing as white anywhere in the universe,
and shadows cannot keep to themselves.
When my eyelids touch, it all feels white,
granular strain, the galloping horses, huffing
fast hot steam, and the sheets too, feel white
as they mingle in their strange entangling cold.
Best ask, “What doesn’t it mean not to sleep?”
There is a whole forest here that could be read,
pine-sweet smell tossed about. It might heave
of peppermint. I never knew who thought of it,
or why man decided it went well with a mouth.