A Tree Born Crooked, Alaska, Cloud Pharmacy, colonized Tlingit women, Common Place, December Book Clubs, Erika Dreifus, Hannah Maynard, John T Biggs, language of the earth, Metzger, noir, Pandamoon, Pen-L Publishing, Popsicle Styx, Practicing Writing, Southern grit lit, Steph Post, Stuart Rojstaczer, surrealist photos, Susan Rich, symbolist painting, Teller poem, The Art of Slow Writing, The Mathematician's Shiva, The Next Best Book Club, Tlingit creation story, Tlingit raven, Walking on Air, Women's Poetry List-Serv, work in progress, Writing for Life
I’ve been working on some symbolist paintings about the Tlingit Raven. Watch a versions of the Tlingit creation story here.
I’ll be trying out some interesting techniques with my new painting mentor beginning in January. Very excited to embark in this new direction. Have also found some support for my collage work in a small studio in California that will allow access to more materials. Always nice.
Enjoyed the math-flecked debut The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer over the holidays. A tale of family angst in the wake of “the greatest female mathematician in history[‘s]” death and the odd bunch of followers that descend on the family in search of her (possible) solution to the Navier-Stokes problem. Recommended to me by Erika Dreifus of Practicing Writing and now a pick by BooksAMillion for its December Book Clubs, this is definitely worth a read even by mathphobes.
I also gave a glowing endorsement to John T. Biggs latest Popiscle Styx from PenL. It’s an impressive sophomore novel that deserves its own category . I”m going with noir/magical realism/Okie local color/crime for now. Good stocking stuffer!
You might also want to pick up Walking on Air if you are in the mood for some Mississippi small town life. I’ll have more on this story collection soon and a review of Steph Post’s latest N. Florida noir/ Southern grit lit from Pandamoon with a full review in Small Press Book Reviews later this month.
The Women’s Poetry List-serv has been having an interesting discussion on writing books. I picked up two of their recommendations: The Art of Slow Writing, which I have yet to read and Metzger’s Writing For Your Life, which has this gorgeous passage:
A poem is a penetration into the essence of something. It begins in a moment, is the thing itself as well as the surrounding space. A poem is in the spaces between the words.
This draws me back to the work of poet Susan Rich, whose collection Cloud Pharmacy was gifted to me by The Next Best Book Club (TNBBC) and very enthusiastically discussed on Goodreads recently.
I fell in love with her suite of poems on the surrealist photographs of Hannah Maynard. So very fascinated by her way of entering into the work, which she describes in detail in her “Statement of Poetic Research,” available with some of the work at Common-Place.
I’m thinking of trying something similar with the “colonialized” images of Tlingit women at the Univ. of Washington, The Alaska Digital Archives and Penn Museum. This would slide in nicely with the suite of Tlingit legend poems I am already working on.
I’ve made a stab towards it with this Work in Progress piece:
I planted myself
in its heart
I grew inside
marrow of history
backbone of myth
body of taboo, image, desire
what a fucking terrifying solid
of communal dream
almost too much oneness for one
nevertheless, die to the fictive selves
so that the “real” voice emerges
But I’m not sure exactly where I’m going with the project yet. I find myself (along with my very patient sponsor/mentor) wishing that I could write much, much faster. This has been a project of long brewing and constant re-immersion in a culture I am somewhat isolated from both generationally and geographically.
Yet, I am finding it very rewarding. I have hopes of making it to Alaska if Grandpa Kashka’s health improves. At 87, he clings tenaciously to the Florida sunshine, but my uncles and cousins are still shucking a living from the rocks.
Thank God we all know how to speak the language of the earth.