Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blast Furnace: Poem for Jack Foco

I wanted to celebrate this last day of August by announcing forthcoming work. "Nine days before he died the crows came at dawn", a poem for the late painter Jack Foco (March 1950-November 1998), will be up this fall, prior to Thanksgiving, at Blast Furnace; I will post the link once active.

For seven years I lived in the heartland--staying on past graduate school, "growing up" week after week (in the flounder after formal schooling) with humor and love thanks to a circle of serious, down-home assemblage artists, writers and musicians (including Jack's wife, Jill Foco: writer, artist, teacher, intuitive). Jack's artist statement, "Grateful for the Day" moved all of us to return to our medium day by day; helpless to help him, we could at least pay him tribute by using our time here wisely, working patiently, as he would have were he still here.

Of  his move to Iowa City and its effect on his process, Jack wrote, "I began to struggle with the challenge of painting a landscape that offers more horizontals than verticals. Looking up, the sky presented me with a solution, and I began to render more and more of the sky and its shifting patterns as a part of each painting..."  The painting at the top of this post, with its bouquet of snow-blues and lavendar sky, hangs on the wall in my writing cabin; I adore the range of blues. Here's to you Jack, surely continuing your inquiry into color and form in the afterlife with masters we have yet to name.

I hope you'll consider submitting to the Pittsburg based  Blast Furnace. Here's an excerpt from the site's Mission and Values statement: Our mission is to publish refined poetry by "poets of place,” with themes deeply rooted in place. We value refined poetry that is architecturally functional and distinctive on the page. We value poetry that is stripped—burnt down—to its purest state, in both form and context. We value brave poetry that takes risks and, therefore, resonates with a discriminating audience. We value soulful poetry from the core—recited or read aloud—as it was originally intended.

Look forward to reading your work there should the opportunity present itself.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Announcing The Collaboration Hub

Check out my latest project, inspired by AROHO's summer 2011 retreat. I've posted the text of the Mind Stretch Presentation I gave at the retreat here at my She Writes blog, as well as taken up the challenge of hosting a new group called The Collaboration Hub (for AROHO retreat attendees, She Writes members and anyone brave enough to find us) where collaborataive pairs or those looking to pair and collaborate over the course of the coming year can expect to share support, conversation, questions, resources, and more. Wish us luck, or better yet, join us.

Friday, August 12, 2011

AROHO Retreat 2011: Home Away From Home at Ghost Ranch

I am reveling in the harvest of this year's work that has brought me to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico this week, my heart overflowing with the simple, transcendent power of the weave of synchronicities. Having just newly returned to teaching English at the Santa Rosa Junior College Fall semester 2010, I have been struggling with getting my public personnae up to speed, and I couldn't have had a more welcoming and inspiring experience than the one I've had so far with A Room of Her Own Foundation.

I specifically sought out AROHO's summer retreat because of the way it was framed and offered: as a give and take experience, every woman writer participating, sharing, presenting, receiving. I sensed that the venue resonated with exactly where I find myself on my "writer's trajectory": open, willing to learn, willing to challenge myself, and willing to give back what I have learned as well.

All of my expectations have been exceeded. I knew that in offering to present at one of the Mind-Stretch sessions, I'd have to pull myself together and do my least favorite thing one must do as a writer (for me anyway): speak into a microphone with composure, grace, and with luck, a sense of humor. I managed to get through my talk (Female Power in the Face of Adversity: Collaboration as Excavation) and presented the photo-poem montage Robyn Beattie and I made for Lady Diana.

But more importantly, my notebook is full of ideas from the other 16 Mind Stretch presentations; I have seed ideas for the next five years. What a gift. Can I just say thank you, thank you--to the web of family at home caring for my three children, the Siberian Husky, the new kitten. And thank you to AROHO for its existence, to every single member of the staff, to every single woman who came this summer (and to those participants who came before). I'm so very honored to part of this bloodline.