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Archive for February, 2011

For The Anniversary Of My Death

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what
……………………………….
W.S. Merwin (born 1927)

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Mary Craik. 56″ x 44″ Cotton

“My, how foolish I am!” my friend cries, suddenly alert, like a woman remembering too late she has biscuits in the oven. “You know what I’ve always thought?” she asks in a tone of discovery and not smiling at me but a point beyond. “I’ve always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when he came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as colored glass with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don’t know it’s getting dark. And it’s been a comfort: to think of that shine taking away all the spooky feeling. But I’ll wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things as they are”— her hand circles in a gesture that gathers clouds and kites and grass and Queenie pawing earth over her bone —” just what they’ve always seen, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.” — from A Christmas Memory, by Truman Capote

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Helen Frankenthaler, abstract expressionist, born 1928

“A really good pictures looks as if it happened all at once. It’s an immediate image.”

“One really beautiful wrist motion, that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it. It looks as if it were born in a minute.”
Magic Carpet, 1946. 96 x 68, acrylic on canvas
“There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.”
Rapunzel, 1974. 274 x 206 cm,
arcrylic on canvas

Helen Frankenthaler (right) and artist Grace Hartigan (1922-2008)

1957 From Life
The Bay, 1963, acrylic on canvas

“Whatever the medium, there is difficulty, challenge, fascination and often productive clumsiness of learning a new method: the wonderful puzzles and problems of translating with new materials.”
“You have to know how to use the accident, how to recognize it, how to control it, and ways to eliminate it so that the whole surface looks felt and born all at once.”

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Tonight, I asked my students to share their favorite story. This is what one student wrote:

Once in the ancient land of India, there lived a simple boatman who ferried passengers across the Ganges to a town on the other side. The boatman was down to earth and had no cares for what went on in the outside world.

One day while the boatman was on his daily run paddling across the river, a scholar entered the boat from the city who knew many things. He sat in the boat as the boatman continued to paddle.

This went on for quite some time until the scholar felt something needed to be said. “Oh boatman,” he asked, “Do you know of evolution?” The confused boatman replied, “No, I do not sir.” The scholar’s eyes widened and he said, “Why, you fool. Twenty-five percent of your life has been wasted.” The boatman shook his head and continued rowing.

The scholar could not keep silent. “Boatman, how many planets are there in the solar system?” The boatman shook his head again. “What is this,” boomed the scholar. “Fifty percent of your life has been wasted.” The scholar took time to revel but could not keep silent for long.

“Boatman, when did the first man land on the moon?” The boatman shook his head again and looked at the sky. The scholar looked up also. There were black clouds gathering. “It looks like it’s going to rain,” said the scholar.

As he said this, the clouds grew more dense and the winds started to blow. The boat started to toss and turn violently. “Row faster,” the scholar screamed. The boatman stood up. “What are you doing,” the scholar cried. “It is too strong, sir. I hope you know how to swim.” The scholar sputtered, “Swim? I don’t know how to swim!”

“Then your whole life has been wasted,” the boatman said and dived into the river.

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
………………………………………………………………………..

Troy Jollimore

On The Origins Of Things

Everyone knows that the moon started out
as a renegade fragment of the sun, a solar
flare that fled that hellish furnace
and congealed into a flat frozen pond suspended
between the planets. But did you know
that anger began as music, played
too often and too loudly by drunken performers
at weddings and garden parties? Or that turtles
evolved from knuckles, ice from tears, and darkness
from misunderstanding? As for the dominant
thesis regarding the origin of love, I
abstain from comment, nor will I allow
myself to address the idea that dance
began as a kiss, that happiness was
an accidental import from Spain, that the ancient
game of jump-the-fire gave rise
to politics. But I will confess
that I began as an astronomer — a liking
for bright flashes, vast distances, unreachable things,
a hand stretched always toward the furthest limit —
and that my longing for you has not taken me
very far from that original desire
to inscribe a comet’s orbit around the walls
of our city, to gently stroke the surface of the stars.
……………………..
by Troy Jollimore

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Troy Jollimore

On The Origins Of Things

Everyone knows that the moon started out
as a renegade fragment of the sun, a solar
flare that fled that hellish furnace
and congealed into a flat frozen pond suspended
between the planets. But did you know
that anger began as music, played
too often and too loudly by drunken performers
at weddings and garden parties? Or that turtles
evolved from knuckles, ice from tears, and darkness
from misunderstanding? As for the dominant
thesis regarding the origin of love, I
abstain from comment, nor will I allow
myself to address the idea that dance
began as a kiss, that happiness was
an accidental import from Spain, that the ancient
game of jump-the-fire gave rise
to politics. But I will confess
that I began as an astronomer — a liking
for bright flashes, vast distances, unreachable things,
a hand stretched always toward the furthest limit —
and that my longing for you has not taken me
very far from that original desire
to inscribe a comet’s orbit around the walls
of our city, to gently stroke the surface of the stars.
……………………..
by Troy Jollimore

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