June 19, 2013

Night Train / Red Dust at the 2013 Fringe Festival in Minneapolis!

I excavate these words from a vein of iron
from stones broken
beneath old growth 
from the open pit – lit by dynamite
Sheila Packa will be at the Fringe Festival with her new work, Night Train / Red Dust, at Intermedia Arts Theater, 2822 Lyndale Ave, Minneapolis (with film and live music by Kathy McTavish):  

Friday, August 2, 8:30 pm 
Saturday, August 3, 1 pm
Tuesday, August 6, 10 pm
Thursday, August 8, 8:30 pm 
Sunday, August 11, 1:00 pm  

These performances start on time, and end within the hour.  

This project is made possible through a fiscal year 2012 Arts Fellowship grant and a Career Opportunity Grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council (www.aracouncil.org) which is funded in part with money from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008; an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature; The McKnight Foundation.

See a sample:

Writing Workshop: Dancing with the Past

June 9, 2013

Breath-rending and Heart-taking

The Art of Poetry
Arte Poética by Jorge Luis Borges

(Borges reading in Spanish with English subtitles)

To gaze at a river made of time and water
and remember Time is another river.
To know we stray like a river
and our faces vanish like water.

To feel that waking is another dream
that dreams of not dreaming and that the death
we fear in our bones is the death
that every night we call a dream.

To see in every day and year a symbol
of all the days of man and his years,
and convert the outrage of the years
into a music, a sound, and a symbol.

To see in death a dream, in the sunset
a golden sadness such is poetry,
humble and immortal, poetry,
returning, like dawn and the sunset.

Sometimes at evening there's a face
that sees us from the deeps of a mirror.
Art must be that sort of mirror,
disclosing to each of us his face.

They say Ulysses, wearied of wonders,
wept with love on seeing Ithaca,
humble and green. Art is that Ithaca,
a green eternity, not wonders.

Art is endless like a river flowing,
passing, yet remaining, a mirror to the same
inconstant Heraclitus, who is the same
and yet another, like the river flowing.

Jorge Luis Borges

Ars poetica is the term for poetry about the art of poetry.

June 3, 2013

The Ethereal Gets a Haircut

Evening Prayer
by Arthur Rimbaud

I spend my life sitting - like an angel
in the hands of a barber - a deeply fluted beer mug
in my fist, belly and neck curved,
a Gambier pipe in my teeth, under the air
swelling with impalpable veils of smoke.

Like the warm excrements in an old dovecote,
a thousand dreams burn softly inside me,
and at times my sad heart is like sap-wood bled
on by the dark yellow gold of its sweats.

Then, when I have carefully swallowed my dreams,
I turn, having drunk thirty or forty tankards,
and gather myself together to relieve bitter need:
As sweetly as the Saviour of Hyssops
and of Cedar I piss towards dark skies,
very high and very far;
and receive the approval of the great heliotropes.

An evening prayer? Maybe our illusions are a form of prayers. The juxtaposition of drinking beer and pissing next to the title of Evening Prayer startles the reader, and breaks the illusion of prayer.

The narrator of Rimbaud's poem, which might be Rimbaud himself, seems boyishly adolescent. There's an edge here that I contemplate.  He's subversive.  Is he simply earthy or rude? I like the line: "an angel/ in the hands of a barber".  There is a sinuous form in all the image: the deeply fluted beer mug, the curved neck, the Gambier pipe (a clay pipe that has a figure for a bowl), the curlicues of smoke.  In this first line, the poet takes us from the abstract into the concrete. The ethereal gets a haircut.

I like this prayer because he makes us wake up. It's a prayer as reality check.  The pipe is an interesting object; imagine drawing on a stem with a clay head, and in the place where the brains would be, fire and smoke.

We're always intoxicating ourselves with something:  beer, tobacco, dreams. The dream of life is Rimbaud's topic. In the poem, “a thousand Dreams within me softly burn” like the odor of excrement in a dovecote.  Another poet might wax romantic or turn sentimental with a dovecote, but Rimbaud keeps it real, and grounded in the physical body.  It is an exact detail, real.   Notice that the droppings are steaming or smoking, and he writes that dreams are burning.  The same image occurs in the last stanza with urine.  Rimbaud creates a stink after stink.