November 20, 2009

Fearful Journey

Fearful Journey is a collaboration with Kathy McTavish, cellist. We recorded this chapbook collection of poems with her experimental, ambient cello sound available on CD and as mp3 files on our websites. We have done several performances of this and other new work. A listener described our concert/reading of these love poems as “hauntingly beautiful.” An excerpt, from “Love Goes On:”

Love is this circle that we’re in,
outside, inside, unsayable, unspeakable,
creator and destroyer. Love, love, love
how grief rises
into dark stars.

It is hard to explain what comes first, the music or the poems. Our work emerges in a mutual solitude and yet music may trigger an invisible procession of images (as Cavafy said) that I make into poems and the poems sometimes trigger new compositions. We are not striving to illustrate either the poems or the music, but to create work that stands alone and in resonant proximity with the other.

Ranier Rilke said, “A togetherness of two human beings is an impossibility and, where it does seem to exist, a limitation, a mutual compromise which robs one side or both sides of their fullest freedom and development. But granted the consciousness that even between the closest people there persist infinite distances, a wonderful living side by side can arise for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them."

Sometimes we have a “word fast” which is a mutually agreed time without talking. As artists, we want to nurture each other’s work and allow enough time and space for creating or simply gazing, musing or meandering in the internal or external landscape.

Even when I work with other writers, I do like to be careful with how I give feedback. There is value in critique, of course. I prefer to make observations and talk about my response to the work instead of telling people how to fix things. It’s a subtle distinction. Advice of this kind may impose an aesthetic or style that is not helpful to developing an individual and unique voice. Solutions best come from inside, from careful deliberation, from the source of the work, from it’s own internal logic or pattern. Solutions come from deep engagement with the work, from disciplined effort, and the attempt to do the best work one has ever done.

Sources: for me, it’s migration. Fearful journey.

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