I asked the talented and witty John Berry to document our second resident reading, and he did a lovely job. Voilà:
I’m participating in a resident reading tonight, and a lot of people asked if I would be projecting images of the visual poetry I’ve been working on here. I immediately thought of pictures I’ve seen of Jessica reading her poems as they’re projected on a big screen behind her. I would like to be like Jessica.
But, since no other readers will be using a projector tonight, I decided to wait until the final Open Studios of the month to try and share some of my visual work. In the meantime, I promised to post some pictures of my daily Tarot card erasures here. (As always, you can click on a picture to enlarge it.)
I am less interested in the fortune telling properties of Tarot cards than I am in their origin. I like the idea that a rich Italian aristocrat might have commissioned a hand-painted set of playing cards that included extra allegorical trump cards on a whim. I like to imagine a world where people play ordinary card games with Tarot decks. I also love seeing depictions/interpretations of Tarot cards in popular culture. For instance, a particular Tarot card plays a major role in the film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. You might not know this, because you are possibly an adult person who does not read large quantities of YA fiction and/or watch a lot of television and films whose target audiences are adolescent girls. But I watched City of Bones while I was knitting the other night, so I know all about it. Those cards were hand-painted, too. Everything comes full circle.
Several of the other residents, mostly visual artists and nonfiction writers, had questions about The Deletionist, how it works, and how often I use it to make it poems. (I can answer that last question by saying that I experiment with my deletionist button fairly often but find I only rarely get truly interesting results.)
I promised to share another “successful” erasure created by me and The Deletionist, an erasure of a digitally annotated version of “Eurydice” by H.D. You can read the full erasure here. I’ve also included an image of one of the screenshots below.
This morning the first batch of two week residents for January left VSC, and this afternoon the residents who will be here for the second two weeks of the month arrive. It was difficult to say goodbye to new friends, especially Amanda, Laurel, and Steph, who will finish her MFA at George Mason University (my alma mater) this semester. (I didn’t even attempt to say goodbye to Lee Ann. She just needs to stay in my life forever. Burlington and Boston are not that far apart.) In Maverick, we also lost Marie, Pam, and Lisa, so right now the studio feels empty and full of ghosts.
I wore my Camp Fox shirt to protect me from lonesomeness.
Since everything here felt quiet and ghostly, I also worked a little on my private Jane Eyre project, and then I decided to try out my Deletionist button on the Project Gutenberg text of the novel. In this tiny post at The Millions, Nick Moran explains what the Deletionist is:
“The Deletionist is a concise system for automatically producing an erasure poem from any Web page. It systematically removes text to uncover poems, discovering a network of poems called ‘the Worl’ within the World Wide Web.”
I took some screenshots of some of the most interesting early pages (click to enlarge):
So far I really like the way these “deletionist-ed” pages have turned out. I have been listening to Nick Cave, and I think he agrees with me.
My knee looks much, much, much worse today than it did yesterday, so I’m elevating it while I drink coffee and poem. Poem should be a verb as well as a noun.
I am also listening to Taylor Swift. Of course I am.
On my way to the studio this morning, I slipped on some black ice and wiped out hard, landing on my “bad” knee (the one I usually landed on during junior high basketball games). It hurt. I felt ridiculous as I fell, limbs comically splayed like a character in a vintage cartoon or an Adam Sandler movie. Fortunately, I soon learned the benefits of injuring yourself at VSC. If you’re lucky, a gifted essayist with publications in Salon and The New York Times will sacrifice some of her own writing time to walk back the Red Mill and bring you bags of ice, fresh water and coffee to replace what you spilled, and ibuprofen. She will clean off your pants, and your coat, and your winter hat which somehow ended up with coffee on it. Later, a former poet laureate who also writes gorgeous children’s books will give you naproxen and sympathy, the talented writer and painter whom you would like to become when you grow up will lend you some magical gel that relieves swelling and halts the bruising process, a sassy, innovative collagist will buy wine and share most of it with you, and a leading expert in modernist women writers will lend you a fancy scarf to wear to cover up the wine you spilled on your shirt while telling the story of your fall.
In addition, you will receive sympathy and concerns from other artists and writers, from a VSC staff member who offers to take you to the doctor, and from a visiting artist, and by the end of the day, your fall on black ice will have lost its sting.
Tonight Leonid Lerman, a visiting sculptor here at VSC this week, gave a slide talk about his work and life. I am a little in love with him. I found his talk/work so inspiring that I went back to my studio around 9 p.m. and wrote a long (7 page) erasure about prophecy and the future and my obsession with apocalyptic visions.
You can see the first page/section of the poem, titled “Forecasting the Future” below. (Click the picture to enlarge the screenshot.)
My source text for this erasure is What Is Coming: A Forecast of Things After the War, written by H.G. Wells in 1916.