January 27, 2020

Invisible Procession: Writing and Reading, Reading and Writing

Words written in long hand arrive into the hands of a reader. It's a new encounter, like a letter found in a bottle. While reading, an intimate and silent dialogue occurs with the past or with another life experience. Here is part of an exquisite poem "The God Abandons Antony" by C.P. Cavafy that uses the phrase "an invisible procession"-- here is an excerpt:

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.

Aside from the narrative of Antony, the leader losing his country, aside from underlining the need to face one's losses with courage, and other meanings, the poem identifies an individual's cascade of images, memories, and associations.

As the world changes, we might apply this metaphor to our experience.  In our imagination, an invisible procession occurs that can lead to our own creative work. I want to create new works that are evocative and have openings that invite the reader to make multiple meanings.Artists court change. Virginia Woolf said, "...we can read ... with another aim, not to throw light on literature ... but to refresh and exercise our own creative powers." Writers are good readers. Readers are open to enchantment and meditation. Readers are thinkers and dreamers. In the exchange, there is a potential transmission of energy and breath and intimacy that extends beyond one's own life.

Text has two sides, writing and reading. Reading opens doors. It triggers writing.  For me, it is a steady chase. Using an insisting image or something stirred by conversation, writing is an exploration, a way of discovery.  I begin with no expectation—because that is the best way—simply moving my hand across the page, writing the most mundane things and in this process from somewhere comes a word or a phrase that I follow. Getting lost is necessary, and so is way-finding.  I read a lot, and many things at the same time. It's a constellation of other's writings: contemporary and not contemporary essays, stories, poetry and newspapers. I watch movies. I record dreams. I record events and ideas.  I walk.  I bring up dreams, associations, experiments, and reveries. I find an image. This develops into a series of images.

In books, I find stillness and escape. The lamp on my desk shines books splayed downward and others fallen in stair-step patterns up and down. Books I’ve read are turned titles down, spines to the right, and books I plan to read have titles up, spines to the right. I love to read sitting by a window turning the thick pages fragrant with the scent of old libraries and women who wear glasses on gold or silver chains.

I arrived at e-books reluctantly. E-books are static—static as a print book (although this is changing)—but do not give the reader the sensation of a unique object that pleases the sense of touch and smell. The web provides new and different perspectives and languages: virtual reality, online gaming, multiple media and interactivity. A story that goes from print to film often contracts. The visual language and music will carry meaning as well as the words. If that same story is used in interactive gaming, it will expand. Digital media offer new artistic opportunities to make the invisible processions visible. 

With an increasing range and breadth of communication and networks, we select and arrange multiple things, people, places, and experience. We see memes, and we like to participate. We like our videos to go viral. Curation is a system of collecting, organizing and presenting. Patterns have become more apparent and necessary.

As a poet writing on paper and an artist presenting in digital online environments, I consider the reading and writing exchange. I can best describe the web films I've worked on as innovative ways of reading. The projects arrive, and they depart in code. They are mobiles of text, sound, and image. I call them choreotextographies.

I look for metaphors of movement: flows of rivers, wind, and water, bird and animal migrations, human travel and migrations. Also I’m drawn to transformations—metamorphosis, organic growth and decay, alchemy.

Creative work can demand this same process. People change residences, relationships, and/or activities in order to complete an artistic work. Even the choices of words convey how radical the process can be: one executes a piece of art or music.  In current slang, if one is mastering or superbly performing, one is "killing it.'   The old way of doing dies, and a new one arrives. We become part of the artistic piece at the same time as separating from it. Every creative work is an exchange and an act of change.

January 19, 2020

Runeberg Day: In Honor of the Poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg

Poetry Reading: Runeberg Day 
Feb 5, 2020 at 7:00 pm, Zenith Bookstore, 318 N. Central Ave, Duluth, MN 55807: 

Join the Finlandia Foundation Northland Chapter for a celebration of Runeberg Day, the Finnish holiday celebrating the poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg. Free admission, donations accepted. Special treat: Taste the famous Runeberg Torte (Runebergintorttu) made by Beatrice Ojakangas.  

Gary Boelhower
Daniel and Sandra Oyinloye
Jim Johnson (read by Marlene Wisuri)
Sheila Packa
Steve Leppälä
The work of Johan Runeberg (read by Hanna Erpestad)

Johan Ludvig Runeberg became the national poet of Finland. One of his poems became the national anthem. It's titled "Maamme" (Finnish: [ˈmɑːmːe]) or "Vårt land" (Finland Swedish: [ˈvoːrt ˈlɑnːd]; both meaning "Our Land").  


Our country, Finland, land of ours
sing its golden word!
No valley, no hill,
no water, shore more dear
than this northern homeland,
the dear land of our fathers

Our land is poor, and so shall be
To him who gold will crave.
The strangers proudly pass, but we
Shall ever love this land, we see,
In moor, and fell, and isle and wave,
A golden land, so brave.

Thy blossom, hidden now from sight,
Shall burst its bud ere long.
Lo! from our love, shall rise aright,
Thy sun, thy hope, thy joy, thy light,
And higher, once, more full and strong,
Shall ring Our Country’s song.

(Trans. from Swedish by Anna Krook, except the first two lines, which I have translated)

More information about Maamme: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maamme

Listen to the Finnish national anthem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5mTKv40Svg

For a recipe for Runeberg Tortehttps://www.scandikitchen.co.uk/runeberg-cakes/