3.6: where what hovers is possibility | Rebecca Olander & Elizabeth Paul [mixed-media collage collaborations]
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3.6: where what hovers is possibility | Rebecca Olander & Elizabeth Paul [mixed-media collage collaborations]

This exhibit illustrates the shared interest in creative vision that brought Olander and Paul together and sustains their artistic partnership. More than any subject matter, genre, or form, it is the creative process, itself, that intrigues them and appears thematically time and again in their work.

Olander and Paul met in the low-residency MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Olander concentrating in poetry and Paul in creative nonfiction. In a workshop on translation during a ten-day residency, they collaborated on experimental projects and continued working together along with poet Gail Hanlon during the following semester. The three exchanged postcards for six months, taking the postcards as starting points for writing. Their stated goal was to play, and the rules of the game were to spend no more than thirty minutes on the writing and to work in the space of the postcard. They didn’t discuss the project until it was over. In their subsequent collaborations, Olander and Paul have continued to embrace play and experimentation. They have also maintained the rule of not discussing projects during the making, allowing each one to unfold and reveal itself, and giving each artist the opportunity to experience the project on her own terms.

Our Edges Away is Olander and Paul’s third collaboration and second manuscript. Their How the Letters Invent Us is a correspondence in prose poems, and selections of it have appeared in Duende’s August, 2018 spotlight and They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press). Read more about Olander and Paul’s collaboration in their guest blog in correspondence for See Double Press.

The four text-and-image // mixed-media collages and poetic analogues–are from Edges Away: A Collaboration, a 48-page collaborative project by Rebecca Olander and Elizabeth Paul. Rebecca and Liz completed this project over the course of a year, during which they made and exchanged collages each month and responded the following month with a poem inspired in some way by the collage each received, along with a new collage. Thus, they are both artists and poets in this collaboration. Selections from Edges Away: A Collaboration have been published in The Indianapolis Review (collage selections), Les Femmes Folles, and petrichor; several others are forthcoming in Aperçus.

Collage, August 2017
Liz Paul
mixed media
5.75 inches x 7 inches
©2017

Portrait of the Young Man as an Artist
He sits on the ocean, the petaled ground
of purple flowers, the sky. On his lap,
a makeshift desk, his chair a cinder block.
He’s looking up, to catch what hangs
there, before bringing it down to earth
on his page. It’s a thought, a jellyfish,
a cloud. It’s whatever he wants it to be.
It’s the whole world, populated with circles
inside circles, kaleidoscopic, scaled
as trout, spangled as a costume. See
how open his eyes are, his awestruck heart.
He’s under ten, doesn’t know about
dissection, circumnavigation, division.
Hasn’t seen cells split, worlds collide,
rivers disperse into sea. But he is also
a kind of Atlas, too much on his shoulders
for one boy, around his neck a knotted
swatch of blue—Hero’s cape? Scout’s
honor? Noose? Let us not play fast
and loose with his wings. Let him stay
where what hovers above is possibility.

caption needs to be added
to image before uploaded

Collage, December 2017
Rebecca Olander
mixed media
5 inches x 7 inches
©2017

an unseen smaller one
it’s too easy to mourn him
and too hard to celebrate apples
too tempting to dwell on the absent and cut off
too easy to miss the shale, orange blush, and brush strokes
it’s all backwards, you see—
how big the one bad thing is when there’s so much good
but we’re in the business of improving:
assess, accrue, evaluate, repeat
but you—
you lift it up, this brave o’er hanging firmament
you show us
form and moving express and admirable
the green everywhere
the apple treasure
the music and gesture
ocean at sunset
the things we imagine we might do in an orchard
secretly
at twilight

Collage, January 2018
Liz Paul
mixed medium
7.25 inches x 8 inches
©2018

Let Them Be Uncontainable
Do you remember what it was like,
to pretend another world, a jungle, or
a different planet, or the ocean floor?
Remember how the scene enveloped you
and you could see it, even though
it wasn’t there, because it was there,
the hot breath below the equator
on your face, moon dust underfoot,
a shark coming at you over a brilliant
ridge of coral? You could be alone
in that place, or you could go with
your best friend, the dirt of your yard
a corral if you wanted it to be, bulls
chasing you down and ready to gore you
with their horns, or last year’s poppies
gone to seed and scattered now across
the median, eclipsing you, papery petals
blown open like sails and you hiding
beneath, wind loosing pollen across
shoulders. Would it help, to go back
there, when this world constricts,
catches you in its crushing embrace?
Let the blooms make for you a shield,
uncontainable in their abundant opening

Collage, January 2018
Rebecca Olander
mixed media
5 inches x 7 inches
©2018

Rebecca and Liz invite you to read about their collaborative process in their guest blog post at See Double Press and to check out a selection of their first collaborative manuscript How the Letters Invent Us at Duende.
biographical note

Creative Correspondence on Text and Image (Rebecca Olander & Liz Paul)

How the Letters Invent Us: A Correspondence Rebecca Olander & Liz Paul

biographical notes:

Rebecca Hart Olander and Elizabeth Paul attended Vermont College of Fine Arts together from 2013-2015, Rebecca concentrating in poetry and Liz in creative nonfiction. Rebecca teaches writing at Westfield State University in Western Massachusetts and is editor/director of Perugia Press. Her poetry appeared recently in Plath Poetry Project, Solstice, and SWIMM Every Day, and she is a winner of the Women’s National Book Association Poetry Award and a Pushcart nominee. Liz served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan and currently teaches ESOL and writing in the Washington, D.C. area. Her chapbook of ekphrastic prose poems, Reading Girl, was published in 2016 by Finishing Line Press; other creative and critical work has appeared in Cider Press Review, Cold Mountain Review, Ekphrasis, Carolina Quarterly, and Assay. Rebecca and Liz’s collaborative writing has appeared in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing from Black Lawrence Press and online at Duende.

Elizabeth Paul’s work has appeared in Cold Mountain Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Briar Cliff Review, Sweet Lit, and CutBank, among other places. Her chapbook Reading Girl is an exploration of the art of Henri Matisse. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan and currently teaches writing at George Mason University. Her website is elizabethsgpaul.com.

Rebecca Hart Olander’s poetry has appeared recently in Crab Creek Review, Ilanot Review, Mom Egg Review, Plath Poetry Project, Radar Poetry, Solstice, Yemassee Journal, and others. Her chapbook, Dressing the Wounds, is forthcoming from dancing girl press. Rebecca teaches writing at Westfield State University and is editor/director of Perugia Press. Her website is rebeccahartolander.com.

links, we’ve included our websites in our bios, but we would also love the following to be included:

Rebecca Olander
Jonathan Olander, photographer
©2019

Elizabeth Paul
Stanislav Miachkov, photographer
©2019

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3.5: trajecting trauma–Mark Blickley, Amy Bassin, Nancy Kiel, & Katya Shubova | text-based art collaborations
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3.5: trajecting trauma–Mark Blickley, Amy Bassin, Nancy Kiel, & Katya Shubova | text-based art collaborations

[very brief intro my kjj]

text-based art

Taking a Knee
Katya Shubova/Mark Blickley
archival inkjet print
18 inches x 24 inches
©2018

CRIME SCENE: ICE the Bodies
Nancy Kiel/Mark Blickley
18 inches x 24 inches
archival inkjet print
© 2019

translated from the portuguese

six pounds of sin

gravity grateful

ekphrasis

The Biology of Courage
Katya Shubova
archival inkjet print
18 inches x 24 inches
©2019

Mark Blickley
Frog Concerto 1
collage
!8 inches x 24 inches
©2018

weathered reports
brief intro
3 images

dream scenes
intro i have
series of 10 images

videos

Meconium Aspirations by Mark Blickley from Mark Blickley on Vimeo.

Widow's Peek: The Kiss of Death from Mark Blickley on Vimeo.

Speaking in Bootongue from Amy Bassin on Vimeo.

Samorin Dream Archeology from Amy Bassin on Vimeo.

"Real Realism: An Art Manifesto for the Disenchanted" from Zoe Anastassiou on Vimeo.


artist statements

links

artist biographical notes

artist photos

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3.4: finally an answer | Jon Wesick — poetry, photography, and flash fiction

fortress walls 2 jon wesick 11 inches x 8.5 inches ©2018

diaphanous micro
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3.4: finally an answer | Jon Wesick — poetry, photography, and flash fiction

whimsical chaos–introduction by Krysia Jopek

The poems and flash fiction of published American novelist and poet Jon Wesick–create intricately-scaffolded/layered worlds/microcosms. His acute linguistic precision (his language is highly “textured”), rendered in colloquial American English that is (misleadingly) readily accessible/seemingly “transparent” to readers– startles/surprises/arrests–with bizarre turns of whimsy, logic, political commentary, and “poetic density.”

Please enjoy this diaphanous micro issue, 3.4–finally an answer by Jon Wesick!

< < < new poetry by Jon Wesick

ITALO CALVINO EXPLAINS DOGEN’S MOUNTAINS AND WATER’S SUTRA

I don’t mind green mountains
wearing fedoras of clouds
or eastern peaks dipping toes in the surf.
But when they play basketball,
they slam the full moon against the backboard
sending my terrified dachshund
scampering under the bed.

For centuries the wise have escaped
this racket by moving to the river.
While some see water
as a smorgasbord for sushi lovers
or bachelor pad for horny dolphins,
the sage knows it as a raw ingredient
for espresso.

©2019

* * *

ALCOHOLIC BREAKFAST

Secrets
between the pancakes, recriminations
in the coffee. She pours suspicion
in a juice glass. He spreads excuses
on the toast, passes the butter dish of abuse.

Eggs stare in awkward silence.
Heaping home fries of denial.

©2019

* * *

GENTLE WORLD

An inventor modified AR-15s to accept
PEZ dispensers in their magazine feeds.
Fighters traded boxing gloves
for teddy bears; doctors
discovered chocolate and espresso
worked better than surgery; and Cuddle Ryu,
a new martial art, swept the nation.

Cops traded pistols for squirt guns
loaded with craft beer and disarmed
suspects with the phrase,
“You look like you need a hug.”
States converted prisons to animal shelters
burying inmates in squirming puppies.

The military joined in. Cruisers
bombarded shores with blueberry muffins.
The Air Force dyed its uniforms purple
and re-purposed Minuteman II missiles
to deliver pizza in thirty minutes or less.

Russia responded
with SS-19s loaded with kasha and pirozhki.
Not to be outdone, North Korea sent bottles
of fiery soju marching across the DMZ
after exploding its largest rice-and-kimchi bomb yet.

Smallpox and Ebola mutated
so the worst that sufferers could expect
would be a mild, paisley rash.”
so the worst sufferers could expect
was a mild, paisley rash.
Hurricanes apologized, dropping granola bars
and bottled water in their paths.
The San Andreas Fault
worked off its aggression
by swaying to the Grateful Dead.

Somewhere
in a fiction writer’s mind
swarthy terrorists kidnapped
the president’s daughter
and forced her to pole dance
on a burning American flag.

Noting the remote control’s power button
existed for just such an emergency
a top CIA analyst acted.
Outrage collapse
to a glowing, white dot
on the TV screen.

©2019

* * *

CREATION STORY

In the beginning was nothing
and nothing was carefree.
Then nothing thought
it would be nice to have something.
Then came rocks and stars
along with the responsibility
of obeying the laws of physics.

And the rocks and stars thought
“This is boring.”
Then came life
along with the responsibility
of eating, excreting,
and reproduction.

And life thought
“This is boring.”
Then came intelligence
along with the responsibility
of paying student loans
and saving for retirement.

And intelligence thought
“This is boring”
and longed again to be
carefree.

©2019

* * *

PLAINS OF ABRAHAM

With macaroons, duck confit, and maple syrup at stake,
I reenact General Wolfe’s conquest of French Canada.
Backed by divisions of tourist dollars and a robust
exchange rate, my anglais marches north
toward the français’ fortress atop a fifty-meter cliff
(but anglais doesn’t know what a meter is).

A fusillade of unintelligible vocabulary
repels my attempted landing at Tim Hortons.
Grilled cheese and two-dollar coin in hand,
I flee to my voiture, abandoning my latte
in a panicked retreat.

My anglais gains a foothold in a hotel.
Behind makeshift defenses of cable TV
streaming CBC news and old reruns
of Murder She Wrote, my ego prefers
the blood-soaked glove of genocide
to the shame of standing carp-mouthed
at some incomprehensible phrase.

Scouts report parapets of unpronounced consonants,
howitzers of passé composé, mortars of gendered nouns,
muskets of strange accent marks, and field guns
of adjectives following nouns. I know
what I must do.

In dress uniform
I march to the nearest pâtisserie
and stammering my first, halting
words in a foreign tongue,
lay down my sword.

©2019

* * *

SOMEWHERE

Astronauts perch
atop two hundred tons of explosives
that will rocket them free
from gravity’s hidebound views.

A martial-arts master
shifts his body millimeters,
dodging a razor-sharp
whirlwind of steel
that barely ruffles
his silk kimono.

Scientists focus massive lasers
on a peppercorn of hydrogen
and bring a star to earth.

A Zen master’s thoughts still,
in the anechoic chamber of his mind,
revealing the motherboard
of consciousness.

Here,
(as perhaps fitting)
are only my stuffy nose,
bursitis, tattered blue couch,
and unpacked moving boxes.

The sun sets
in the winter, gray sky
while a frozen burrito warms
in the microwave.

©2019

< < < 2 poems from Jon Wesick's full-length book of poetry Words of Power, Dances of Freedom
(Garden Oak Press 2015)

WORDS OF POWER, DANCES OF FREEDOM

A woman sets a plastic bag in front of the stage
and puts her purse inside. Her gray hair hangs
to the small of her back and her blue, summer dress
covers a body that is slender but losing the curves at its hips.
Arms now free she dances when the band begins.
Her right foot touches. She lifts it, then plants,
and pivots her body one full turn.
Touch, plant, pivot, touch, plant, pivot.
Uninhibited by onlookers and at ease
she glides across Pioneer Square.

A crippled man in a motorized wheelchair is there too.
His body is a wreck – slumped posture, tongue protruding,
and neck bent locking ear to shoulder. The woman
takes his twisted hand, moves in and away
shortening and extending her arm to keep contact
dancing a modified Western Swing. The crippled man
fingers the controls. His chair dances forward and back.
She twirls. The chair circles. The two orbit
and for a moment infirmity is forgotten

©2017
first published in Magee Park Poets Anthology

* * *

DILETTANTE ZEN POEM

The real Zen students were sitting in full lotus before dawn
wearing their black robes and rakusu1.
I stayed up too late watching TV.
Real Zen students don’t have TV’s.
Eventually I wake up,
light a candle on the altar,
and kneel on my meditation bench.
A gasoline powered edger begins its serenade,
and a lawnmower joins in the chorus.

By now the real Zen students are constructing monastery buildings,
working with the dying, or reaching out to the homeless.
I drive to my wrong livelihood job,
where I’m harassed by my wrong livelihood boss.
Real Zen students call this “good training.”
I call it a pain in the ass.

Real Zen students vow to return to this world of patience
for countless lifetimes to save all beings.
I wonder how I’ll get through another day.

I’ve given up trying to be a real Zen student.
I think I’ll become a dilettante instead.
If you’d like to be one too,
we meet at 7:00 most nights in the meditation hall.

©1988

1. A rakusu is the bib like garment worn by Zen teachers and students.

This poem appeared in the Three Treasures Zen Community News in December 1998, The Thinking Post Anthology of Haiku and Zen Poetry in October 1998, PATHS, Vol 1/2007, and in the Sounds of Solace Anthology edited by Nick Haler of Local Gems Press, November 2013. It also appeared on Art and Zen Today April 23, 2016.

< < < photography by Jon Wesick
images of quebec city 2018

fortress walls 2
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

hotel frontenac 1
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

hotel frontenac 2
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

champlain monument
jon wesick
8.5 inches x 11 inches
©2018

quebec city gate
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

house of literature
jon wesick
8.5 inches x 11 inches
©2018

cannon over river
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

fortress walls
jon wesick
11 inches x 8.5 inches
©2018

< < < new flash fiction by Jon Wesick

Commodity of Dreams

The white noise of background conversations flooded the exhibit hall, drowning out all other sound. All the major publishers were there from the big, New York houses to the university presses and independents. D. Comm Press had a huge display with wall-high shelves and Chester A. Author signed copies of his fantasy series for eager customers to take to the cash registers. With his shaved head and gold earring, he looked like Mr. Clean with a fountain pen. I wanted to look at the latest in the Skateboard Armageddon series but couldn’t elbow my way through the crowd. I suppose it was a good thing. People were reading, after all. I put a catalog in my canvas, tote bag and moved on.
The book displays consisted of a dozen rows each fifty exhibits deep. I stopped at stands offering free book marks, pens, and even cookies. A small press out of Iowa offered free copies of its magazine. I took two. I passed up a historian hyping his new biography of Millard Fillmore and briefly thought of re-subscribing to a comic I used to get.

I was about to make another circuit when I spotted a poster with my name on it in the far corner by the bathrooms and water fountain. Underneath sat a thin man with a single paperback lying on the cloth-covered table. Wrinkled, translucent skin that showed the veins underneath betrayed his age as did his threadbare shirt and graying beard. Since my name is unique, it couldn’t be a mistake. It had to be some kind of joke. Expecting my laughing friends to spring out from behind the curtains, I approached.

“Now that I’ve found you, I can finally return to my wife and family.” The thin man’s voice was high and reedy, almost as if it came from another world.

“What is this?” The cover showed a picture of me as I might look in twenty years. I turned the book over in my hands. There were no reviews or plot summary on the back.

“A book written only for you.”

“You don’t understand how the publishing business works.” I chuckled. “You need to print more copies, man!”

“Anyone else would find this work boring and incomprehensible. For you, it is a magic spell. The first pages will enter your bloodstream like a slow-acting poison. If you reach the antidote in the final chapter, you will attain your deepest, most secret wish.”

“How much?” I asked.

The thin man wrote the price on a notepad and showed it to me.

“That’s very expensive.”

“It barely compensates for my toil. Do you know how many hours I spent reading public records and interviewing your friends and family to get insight into your character? Or how many months I struggled to craft a premise that would unlock your heart? I suffered a dozen false starts and spent years at a lonely desk before I had a rough draft. It took three more revisions to forge the plot into something plausible yet surprising. Another two to get the characters right. And then ten more to make the language sing. Then there were months of painstaking editing, not to mention the cost of cover art and printing.”

I didn’t buy it. For what the thin man was asking, I could get a hundred books. Besides, I was in the mood for something lighter, maybe an adventure. Vampires are really hot right now. And teen romances.

©2019

* * *

Finally, an Answer

After a painful, lingering death, you anticipate God’s revelation. Why was Joanie taken from you? Why did your career flounder after reporting Mr. Blumtrapster’s fraud while he went on to become CEO with a private jet and photo on the cover of Forbes magazine? Your life had to have meant something.

You wake in a waiting room. Gray carpet. Gray walls. The comfortable chairs are cloth-covered and gray. A coffee machine and bowl of plastic K-cups sit on a table in the corner. You stand to get a cup but the instructions are in Aramaic. It’s just as well because each of the two-dozen K-cups is marshmallow-cinnamon mocha.

You’re not alone. A disembodied, scarlet-robed monk sits in lotus position on the opposite side of the room and a receptionist types on a laptop at a standing desk behind a bowl of chocolate-covered, marshmallow Easter eggs.

“His meeting’s running a little late,” she says.

“How much longer?” you ask.

“Time means nothing here.”

“Is He even real?” You look around and realize there’s no exit.

“Do you believe He’s real?”

* * *

Popper’s Undergraduate

The Case

When teaching at the London School of Economics, Karl Popper noticed a strange undergraduate student auditing his lectures. One day the student lingered after class and spoke to Popper.

“I am not an undergraduate student. In reality, I am the Endowed Professor of Buddhist Epistemology at the East Lhasa Community College. When a student asked me if karma, the law of moral cause and effect, was falsifiable, I said it was. Because of my error, I have been forced to spend five hundred semesters repeating Philosophy of Science 101. Can you utter a turning word that will free me from this tedium?”

“I can,” Popper said.

“Is karma, with its past causes coming even before birth, falsifiable?” the undergraduate asked.

“No,” Popper replied. “As Wolfgang Pauli would say such a theory is not even wrong.”

“Thank you. I am now free.” The undergraduate handed Popper a textbook. “I’d appreciate it if you would return this to the campus bookstore. You may keep the deposit.”

Popper returned the book and related the undergraduate’s story to the staff.

Kurt Gödel asked, “Is the story you told falsifiable?”

“Stand still and I’ll show you.” Popper reached for the Colt 1911 under his robe.

Sensing deception, Gödel drew his Heckler and Koch 9mm and fired two rounds into Popper’s chest.

“2001: A Space Odyssey, Monte Python’s Holy Grail.” Popper clutched his chest. “It sucks when writers substitute distraction for a proper conclusion.”

Wesick’s Verse
Innocents suffer while the guilty
grow rich? Past lives.
Sideswiped by a bus?
You must have fibbed in kindergarten.
Einstein shuffles Tarot cards.
Carl Sagan reads his horoscope.

Karl Popper was a well-known philosopher of science. The cornerstone of his thinking was the idea of “falsifiability.” That is, one can never prove a theory because one can never test everything. However, a scientific theory must make specific predictions that can be proven wrong. If tests confirm these predictions, we gain confidence in the theory. Kurt Gödel was a mathematician who proved the famous Incompleteness Theorem. As such he here symbolizes knowledge outside the realm of mathematical proof and logic.

©2019

< < < Ontology of Dreams
artist statement by Jon Wesick
(august, 2019)

Twenty years ago none of the stories I saw in media reflected the reality I experienced. For example, why was it so hard to find a job after I spent ten years in college studying physics? I was on my career plan C or D, when I developed carpal-tunnel-like injuries. At the time, it was impossible for me to type on the computer for more than a few minutes a day, and thus impossible to keep my job. Doctors treated me with suspicion, and the insurance company thought one paycheck was enough to compensate me for a ruined career.

I couldn’t do much at my martial arts class, so I filled my time with poetry. I’d had a few experiences with poems exploding out of me after Zen meditation, and I remember watching a PBS documentary about Beat writers, outcasts really, riding around in Jack Kerouac’s car. It was the only place they found acceptance. Not long after that when meditating, I got an image of Allen Ginsberg saying, “I’ll help you.”

I took my poems to open mics in San Diego and discovered a vibrant community of eccentric writers. I owe special gratitude to Chris Vannoy. He was THE MAN in San Diego poetry, and he treated me as an equal. These were heady days. I’d stay up until 4:00 AM filling legal pads, drinking green tea, and reading Bukowski. Eventually, I wrote a story or two. Then I had perhaps the silliest, most wrong-headed idea I’d ever had. If I could write a novel, then fame and money were sure to follow.

I consider myself a servant of the idea. Much of my writing consists of exploring the consequences of some goofy concept. I like to somehow make these inspirations real by writing them down. My other mode of writing is a kind of reporting. My interests and experiences are different than most people’s. This is my way of coming back and telling about them. You’ll find both in this micro issue. Thanks to Krysia Jopek for putting it together.

< < < biographical note

Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual and host of the Gelato Poetry Series, “the best ice cream parlor poetry reading” in Southern California. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals, such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. His poem “Bread and Circuses” won second place in the 2007 African-American Writers and Artists Contest. The editors of Knot Magazine nominated his story “The Visitor” for a Pushcart Prize in Short Fiction in 2015. His poem “Meditation Instruction” won the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2016 Spirit First Contest. “Richard Feynman’s Commute” shared third place in the 2017 Rhysling Award’s Short Poem category. Krysia Jopek nominated “Tee Time at Aleppo” for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry 2018. Jon is the author of the full-length poetry collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom, several novels, as well as (most recently) the short-story collection The Alchemist’s Grandson Changes His Name. Please feel free to visit Jon’s website to learn more about him–Jon Wesick’s website

< < < links
to more publications by Jon Wesick

link to Jon Wesick’s poem “Tee Time at Aleppo”–Diaphanous (Spring 2017)

link to thriftbooks–5 books by Jon Wesick

link to amazon–7 books by Jon Wesick

link to Asinine Poetry–7 poems by Jon Wesick

link to Penduline Press–poem “Looking for Hinemoa” by Jon Wesick

link to Crab Fat Magazine–poem “Robots at a Singles Bar” by Jon Wesick

link to Misfit Magazine–2 poems by Jon Wesick

< < < author photo

photography by jon wesick
south island of New Zealand
750 pixels x 562 pixels
©2007

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3.3 my father was to tell me something | Christine Karapetian — visual art

My Father Was to Tell Me Something, Mixed media on wooden wine crate: paint, fabric, paper, beads, wood. 20” x 13” x 6 1⁄2” 2008

diaphanous micro
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3.3 my father was to tell me something | Christine Karapetian — visual art

art and political exile
micro intro by krysia jopek

august 15, 2019

Christine Karapetian collages a wide range of materials, including wood, material, paint, and fabric in her exquisite paintings. Her visual art immediately spoke to me on spiritual [Kandinskian Considering the Spiritual in Art], emotional, psychological, aesthetic, and sublime levels. The title of this amazing virtual show that I am honored to feature–also resonates deeply with me. Like Christine, I had a deep connection to my late father who shaped me as a literary artist/human being.

On a personal note, which explains the founding of Diaphanous in February, 2017 and diaphanous micro in 2018-, this free platform for visual and literary artists to share their work with an engaged and captivated audience–

I was determined to be a painter as a child and also, like Christine, have fond memories that go back to kindergarten of creating art, painting, gluing, cutting, drawing. . . . However, my non-artist father who was deported with his family for two long years in Siberia–put a kibosh on any plans of mine to pursue a non-lucrative art degree. They had almost starved many times, so why would he permit his daughter to become a starving artist?

As a result of my father and his peers losing their right to continue their educations for two years, he emphasized education and literally afforded me quite an extensive one in the esoteric field of twentieth-century American poetry and poetics. A large part of my research and focus was/is on the symbiotic relationship of visual artists and poets. In my own poetry, I treat the page like a canvas, often a collage or sculpture–and perceive the composition of the poem, short fiction, or novel– as its own world that incorporates/utilizes light, color, tone, image, fragment, found cultural objects, etc. Instead of using paint and other visual media like visual artists such as Christine–my brushstrokes are composed of deconstructivist morphemes and phonemes [because of the Language poets that went before me]–gathered into syntactical (though I often play around with/break syntax to define it–as Christine plays with the syntax of her visual compositions) string necklaces of syllables, phrases, sentences. . . .

Because of Christine’s father’s cultured love of all the arts (see her biographical note) and Armenian background with which he was in dialogue with against the American backdrop/culture [like my own father’s connection to Poland and the world through his post-Siberia exile/wandering before settling in the United States]–she was free/given “permission” to explore her creativity and dual cultural identity, attend college to study painting, and in doing so–create visual objects that function as testaments to her/and by extension the viewer’s complex human experience.

During our troubling current times and the ongoing “mess” at the US-Mexican border where impoverished political refugees, separated from their own family members (so many of whom are young children), await their fate while sandwiched in unsanitary cages, the theme of emigration (from a violent homeland) and exile in Christine’s work should resonate with all of us.

Special thanks to Mark Blickley, NYC renowned text-based artist (writer of very short fiction/visual artist, depending how he feels at the moment), for introducing me to Christine’s visual masterpieces. It was a pleasure getting to know her as we collaborated together on this issue of diaphanous micro.

Please enjoy this stunning virtual art show of Christine’s latest work: my father was to tell me something.

Scar Clan
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, paper, metal, nails, photo.
17” x 13” x 3 1⁄2”
2009

Summer (Triptych)
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, beads, tooth, nails, shell.
19” x 18 ½” x 5 ½”
2005

Earth
Mixed media on wood: paint, glass, fabric, metal, paper.
17” x 8 ¼” x 3”
2006

Water
Mixed media on wood: paint, paper, metal.
15 ½” x 10 ¾” x 4
2006

Dwelling
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, paper.
20” x 15” x 2
2006

My Father Was to Tell Me Something,
Mixed media on wooden wine crate: paint, fabric, paper, beads, wood.
20” x 13” x 6 1⁄2”
2008

Chamber
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, paper, beads, sequins.
22” x 12” x 4”
2008

Totem
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, wood.
24” x 7” x 5 1⁄2
2009

Water from Stones
Mixed media on wood: paint, fabric, paper, wood.
23” x 12” x 4”
2012

How Come I Had Nothing to Say?
Mixed media: paint, fabric, wood and paper on wood.
22″ X 20″ X 3 1/4″
2013

She Let Go
Mixed media: fabric, acrylic and paper on wood.
21″ X 11 3/4″ X 4″
2017

At the Edge
Mixed media: paint and fabric on canvas.
18″ X 24″ X 1 1/2″
2017

Incomplete
Mixed media: paint, fabric, paper on canvas.
18” x 24”
2018

8.11.12
Mixed media: paint, fabric, paper on paper.
6” x 4 ½
2012

6.22.13
Mixed media: paint, fabric, paper on paper.
4 ½ ” x 6”
2013

9.9.12
Mixed media: paint, fabric, paper on paper.
6” x 8”
2012

artist statement
My paintings are visual fictions. They are non-narrative tales that are
deciphered by the subconscious. When my work is successful, it conveys
an intimacy that is mysterious and not easily defined because these fictions
are not telling a specific story; they are the actions and reactions to
experience and observation.

I paint on and use found objects and collage because the elements of
chance and the accidental mirror the process of discovery in how I work.
The process of adding and removing, painting and scraping, takes the
pieces through multiple stages that leads to discovery. My job is to witness
that moment of insight and rescue it, not unlike the method I employ when I
decide what piece of trash I salvage from the street, or along my way.

I am Armenian-American, the offspring of a people whose history is rooted
in Diaspora. My intuitive response to this lack of place and the negation of
history, by some, is to make objects that trace to, and build onto, a
collective memory.

shows of Christine Karapetian’s art
solo exhibition

Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ, 1986

group exhibitions
“Creative Mosaic”, curated by Osman Can Yerebakan, Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY 2019
“Flushing Bound”, Flushing Town Hall Gallery, NY, 2018
“Rock, Paper, Scissors”, Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY, 2018
“Making Connections II Selections”, Henry De Ford Gallery, LIC, NY, 2017-2018
“Making Connections: Artists Working in Queens”, Plaxall Gallery, LIC, NY, 2017
“International Painting NYC III”, Jeffrey Leder Gallery, LIC, NY, 2014
“Curate NYC Top 150”, Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY, 2013
“Selected Entries from Curate NYC” Gallery at 139 Bay, Staten Island, NY, 2013
“Small Works”, 80 Washington Square East Galleries, New York, NY, 1986
“Mixed Media”, Tweed Arts Group, Plainfield, NJ, 1986
“Constructed in Jersey City”, Summit Art Center, Summit, NJ, 1986
“New Jersey Biennial”, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, 1985
“Metro Show”, City Without Walls Gallery, Newark, NJ, 1985
“Surrealism in the 80’s”, Tweed Arts Group, Plainfield, NJ, 1985
“Small Works”, 80 Washington Square Galleries, New York, NY, 1985
“School of Visual Arts Moroccan Study Exhibit”, Tangier, Morocco 1980
“Recent Acquisitions”, Montgomery County, MD, 1980
“Invitational Alumni Exhibit”, Maryland College of Art & Design, Maryland, 1976
“Alternative To”, Market Five Gallery, Washington, DC, 1975
“Group Exhibit”, Bridge Gallery, Washington, DC, 1973

book jacket/poster art
“Return & Tiger”, Hakob Karapents, Blue Crane Books, Watertown, MA, 1994
“American Rondo”, Hakob Karapents, Voskedar Publishing Co., New York, NY, 1986
“Fresh Fatigues & The World’s Greatest Saxophone Player” poster, American
Theatre of Actors, New York, NY 1985
“Intermission”, Hakop Karapents, Mashdotz Press, New York, NY, 1981
“Old Sowers of the New World”, Hakob Karapents, Atlas Press, Washington, DC, 1975
“Daughter of Carthage”, Hakob Karapents, Atlas Press, Washington, DC, 1972

education/awards
BFA, Painting, The Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MD, 1977 School of Visual Arts
Summer Study in Tangier, Morocco, 1980
Fellowship Grant, New Jersey State Council of the Arts,1985-86
Juror’s Award, selected by Allan Stone, “Small Works”, New York, NY, 1985
$5000. First Prize National Competition, Eberhard Faber, Inc.,1975

author photo
2019

biographical note:
Accomplished Armenian-American visual artist Christine Karapetian was born in the Bronx and raised in Maryland. She was a painting major at MICA primarily because her beloved father “loved Beethoven, Paul Taylor, Matisse, and theater–thereby exposing her to glimpses of the sublime.” After a BFA in painting/art, she moved back to NYC, “place of family lore–home to possibilities, love,” a one-person museum exhibit–followed by “sporadic creative output, motherhood, and the eventual escape to the center of the country to find what was always there, like Dorothy.” Now, truly back to her art, her “spiritual calling”–living and working in Jackson Heights. Her most vivid childhood memory still–is of making collages in kindergarten. “I snip, I glue, I scrape, I paint, I make things—things that, when they work, remain a lovely mystery to me.”

Christine can be contacted by email: ckara0909@gmail.com. Her works of art are for sale.

links to more of Christine’s art:
link to The Sketchbook Project

link to Christine Karapetian’s art on Twitter

link to Flushing Bound Exhibit Astounds

link to Art; Plainfield: 80s Surrealismlink to Two Long Island City arts organization

link to Armenia:Art, Religion, and Trade in the Middle Ages

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3.2 fragments from an excerpt | Chris Stroffolino — poetry and interview (poetics)
diaphanous micro
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3.2 fragments from an excerpt | Chris Stroffolino — poetry and interview (poetics)

selected poetry publications
chris stoffolino, photographer
650 pixels by 487 pixels
©2018

I think what I love most about Stroffolino’s poetry—is that every single poem seems directly engaged with its own “philosophy of composition,” its own construct-ion/poetics. It’s as if I’m experiencing the poem as the poet figures out a way to write it. — krysia jopek, founding editor of diaphanous micro

poetry

Gypsophilia
for Krysia Jopek

Forsythia is Syringa. Scabiosa the pincushion flower…
Echinacea the cornflower. Delphinium Larkspur
Helenium the sneeze weed. Nemophilia, baby blue eyes!
“I may forget your name, but not your face.” I may not read
music on the page, but I know that the white keys
only have one name, but F Sharp is also Gb,
as the Hummingbird Vine is also the Trumpet Vine,
the Yellow Bell the Golden Trumpet, & Watsonia is the Bugle Lily
& there’s more women named for flowers than men
(impatiens is the Busy Lizzie, and Erica is Heather!)
& there’s more flowers named for animals than vice versa
(The Flamingo Flower is Anthurium & Astilbe is the False
Goat’s Beard… is the goat false? or just it beard?)
Butterfly bush! Cardinal flower! Cuckoo Flower!
(who needs Oreo Ice Cream Flavored Cereal?)

Looking at a book of Anglo-Saxon words for flower names
evokes what a medieval (or renaissance faire) must’ve felt like.
Would you rather be known as a Cornflower, or a Bachelor’s Button?
&, of course, Sweet William is in the carnation family.
Would you rather be Johnny Jump Up, a Dicenta’s
Bleeding Heart, or Heartease? Does it not elevate the wild carrot
To call it Queen Anne’s Lace (no doubt worth more
Than the mere Amaranthus of a Prince’s Feather….)
Or does “Houstonia” sound more beautiful than “Quaker Ladies?”

Does it honor a Fuschia to call it Lady’s Eardrop,
The Alchemilla a Lady’s Mantle? (dogbane desert rose)
Or serve a lady to name her slipper a Greco-Roman Cypridium
as beautiful as the chance meeting of a Showy Speedwell (Hebe)
& the Wishbone Flower on a spread out Blanket flower in a field
of Lunaria some call Honesty & others call the Money Plant
& if the Narcissus is the Daffodil, am I but daffodilistic (duck)
to rescue the Ptecarya Fraxifolia from the Caucasian Wingnut
who names the Stargazer the Oriental Lily or the Agapanthus
the Star of Bethlehem, while Baby’s Breath loves “gypsies”
more than the people who named it Gypsophilia. Does
the sweetest parsley, sage, & rosemary (for rue)
become placeholder anguish for precision engendering vision
when heavenly gutterals in la-la land carry gorgeous evangelical
spine-tingling sounds? Yellow Archangel is the Aluminium Plant!

We begin to detect more commercial tie-ins, and 360 degree marketing
When the Heliotrope becomes the Cherry Pie plant,
Ibiris the Candy Tuft, & the Bouvardia the Firecracker Plant!
Loosestrife loosens strife, or could we rescue Granny’s Bonnet
from the Columbine Massacre? & the Bellflower from the toxic
masculinity implied in Black-Eyed Susan (also a drink like Bloody Mary):
no wonder the Mimosa’s named “Touch Me Not!”

Not too hard to imagine a think-tank… “second-cousin’s foot?”
“great aunt’s trouble?” “an extended matriarch’s coral,”
“President’s toothache,” “History’s chokehold.” “worker’s defiant pride.”
“Angela Davis’s censored wisdom…” “Talker’s Reprieve….”
In the meantime, Angelonia is the Summer Snapdragon, Clarkia
Farewell to Spring, Anemone the Windflower but it could also be
the Conjure Flower… Can we trade in the Aconitum of the Monk’s Hood
for the Nigella of Love in this Mist? The Evening Primrose is the sun cup,
or the sun drop, Zenobia the Honeycup near the Bee Balm Flower
(& maybe someday I can match these names with faces. . .)

©2019

* * *

excerpt from Healer’s Squeal
“you should write a sequel called Healer’s Squeal”—Michael Gizzi

3.
Surely the rigorous poem refers to no life outside itself, but we could note
that this body of water is called a sound. Seabirds carrying brushes paint themselves
into the sky, & unheard sounds are sweaters that would never be caught dead

oppressing a poodle! &, after being diagnosed with the crime of despair, we doggy paddle
into Poe’s parrot in raven’s clothes, and figured we’d game it. “Will I always be poor,
crippled, underused?” Nevermore! “Will human brutality continue?” Nevermore.

“Can I at least look in the mirror & say I’ve never been a burden to woman?”
& I guess a poet should entertain the notion that chanting certain words, or phrases,
every day has the power to heal, whether it’s “I’m set free to find a new illusion,”

“I chide no breather but myself,” “able-bodied liberty angles,” or even “one person’s
syncretic religion is another’s spiritual dilettantism.” But what of the high words
of humanism? Coleridge calls reason “the sword of the spirit!” Damn, the whole

Euro-idealist tradition is violence! But should we try to rescue reason if the irrational
proved just as irrational as the irrational that gets crowned as reason? & I doubt
the word G-d is strong enough to oppose what’s corrupt about money,

but soul could work with reason as an introvert musician & an extroverted socialist
can have as harmonious a relationship as any couple are wondering to be in
the same mansion (proletarian housing collective) to cut through layers of

complexities to find the soul’s simplicity, like we need it to communicate from,
like it’s already there, but only if we build it precisely so they don’t come, as data
analysts at least (or you just have to be ready for death to be ready for life….)

©2019

* * *

I’m Your Captcha

when we touch a locked door
but don’t see it as a locked door
until we find an open one
locking the others
(or giving us language
as curse & blessing)….

when existence is only form
to essence’s content
if beauty is only an extension
of comfort, the double
meaning of “boring”
cancelling each other out
for kindship…how something
we thought becomes did
than are….
we dissolved
into the solution that made us
problems precisely for that
purpose, and it’s too fluid
to be final….
impatience does
the (next time is the best) time
“whatever you do, don’t take
‘symphony of snakes’ the wrong way!
like when I went out
of my way for them. “
“what was this way again?”
(or was he
just being anti-social to create
an aura of mystery?) Certainly,
mystery has been used
to inflict misery, Mercy!

“Just let the thought
be a voice, we can
sort it out when we’re together.”

©2019

* * *

For Yvonne Henderson

Paint squirted
Eye drops tear from
A bottle made of ears

After the dancer’s injury, she tried
To feel more like a painter instead—
Or at least a couple (of) Brushes

On the black and white chessboard
Floor hung on the Eastern wall
That really faces South

Like civic dizziness chopped
Into the Appendages
That language wants me to other

Like a war on the Canvas
(the canvas started, the wet brush
just the Defense department…)

And I’m lost in a drip,
And when the tears dry,
They will have once been sweat

Was I just too busy seeing
My reflection in you, & then
Everything not you, to truly see?

Or is that like chiding the wet
Brush for not being seen
By the finished canvas?

©2019

* * *

Therapeutic Anti-Performance Bias
for Stuart Wood

“Though the doors will always remain open for the musical expression of personal feelings, what will more and more come through is the pleasures of conviviality. And beyond that a non-intentional expressivity, a being together of sound & people (where sounds are sound, and people are people). A walk, so to speak, in the woods of music, or in the world itself….”———John Cage, 1989

“Democracy…is going to come up in expected ways from the stuff we think are junk,”—Leonard Cohen (337)

Among “people (who) have had this illness or disability that isolates them socially”
Wood’s interested in furthering “(re)creation as social beings against the losses of their illness.”—

Conventional therapists will tell you “putting on a performance”–“acting out,” “being
inauthentic, or hiding behind a persona” is what they’re trying to treat, not encourage.”

Wood’s interested in furthering “(re)creation as social beings against the losses of their illness.”
Her neurological tremor…had ended….job, relationships. It felt like being on a scrap heap

“being inauthentic, or hiding behind a persona” is what they’re trying to treat, not encourage.
She felt useless, scrap…. we could….Make instruments out of scrap! Typewriter, three pails!

Her neurological tremor…had ended….job, relationships. It was like being on a scrap heap
“Failing performance on one level needs performance at another as its remedy.’”

She felt useless, scrap…. we could….Make instruments out of scrap! Typewriter, three pails!
They interrogated the junk they found until they found the music in it (156)

“Failing performance on one level needs performance at another as its remedy.’”
The performance, for instance, of our immune system or motor coordination

They interrogated the junk they found until they found the music in it (156)
“rehearsing, composing, dancing are all part of the performance

The performance, for instance, of our immune system or motor coordination
As an actor moves from “not me” to “not not me”…(irreducible to product)

“rehearsing, composing, dancing are all part of the performance
Among “people (who) have had this illness or disability that isolates them socially”

As an actor moves from “not me” to “not not me”…(irreducible to product)
Conventional therapists will tell you “putting on a performance”–“acting out”…

©2019

* * *

Matter Over Mind

Every bird has known their place in fools who cross the line
And you walk the streets singing “mind fast body slow mind loud body soft”
Or when I kissed a cop down at 34th & Vine he broke my little bottle of love potion #9
For the hosts have known their guests as ghosts until undressed.
So, when knowledge becomes a sea, will you reach for a life boat
Of revolution, a raft of love, a continent of wet-naps

To do away with excess moisture, like the sleep dreamed during naps
When the words that circle roofs in silence walk the line
Or swim the sea of whim until my body becomes a boat
And I cross the sweet muttering “loud and slow” under “fast and soft”
Because you feel you can only be real as a host when undressed,
A host who would never judge her guests, a host who would give me a 9

On a scale of 10, or 100. Does it matter? A meaningless 9
But kind of cute and vertical, even when it naps.
Maybe a little bloodless on the human side, but, undressed,
It leaves me speechless in key changing songs about the line
Where the moon is the ocean and the sky but a boat
Because you have to be lost to wonder, though hard is only loud if soft

Is soft, which is disproved by the roar of the cat and its soft, soft
Fur, or the fact that I rarely wake before 9
Which would mean we’re not all in the same boat
Until the sea of winking blinks rivers when we nap
Blind as the sign I read in the unemployment line
Or the one way street we’ve gone the wrong way on (until it’s undressed).

Ah, where will this lead the already naked nations (who’ve never been undressed)?
Do I have to amplify the quiet to harden the soft?
And why would I want to flatter or flatten, the same old line
Unless I was so doped up on love potion #9
I’d run free like the mouse while the cat of self-consciousness naps?
And this, at last, could mean we’re all in the same boat

Where the birds don’t sink or swim but float until a boat
Of wonder alienates the greed it wears when undressed
For the only reason she always walks in while he naps
Is because she always runs out when he’s awake, but soft,
“I hear the lonesome whip-poor-will.” It peaked at 9
On the country charts. So I’m grounded where once I was out of line

But now I know the line can be soft, the nine undressed
And the boat may win the vote while the rest of me naps.

from Drinking from What I Once Wore
Crisis Chronicles, 2018–John Burroughs, Founding Editor

* * *

Red Tape Sale

You may feel free
to distrust your happiness
with yourself
for choosing
what may very well be
an exemplary action
like, when finding
one of your cassette tapes
in the bag
of a friend
who is crashing
on your sofa
but who is out
roaming the town
at present,
you may get angry
at a violation of trust
& take it back
but soon you mellow
“honor among thieves”
& decide to copy it
and place the copy
in his bag without a word
so when he returns
he may not even know
that you have given him
what he thought he stole
and you may tell yourself
it was just his way
of asking for a gift
and run the risk
of feeling too proud
with yourself
as if it is actions like these
that most characterize you
& not quite see
that it was he
who gave
the greater gift
(and why were you
snooping around in his bag
to begin with?)

from Drinking What I Once Wore
Crisis Chronicles, 2018–John Burroughs, Founding Editor

chris stroffolino “talks poetics!” with krysia jopek –August, 2019

What is your process when you sit down to write a poem?

I never quite understand the poets on Facebook who post, “I wrote a poem today” on a regular basis. I generally need to “sleep on” something for at least a day to feel it might really be a poem. . . . I often start in/find a pre-genre (I think, though it could be merely post-genre) place. “I set out to write poems once, and it turned into a memoir. . . ” I’m a big believer in the brainstorm and revision. I mean, sure, there’s those rare moments when I know right away, “this is a poem!”—but more often not. . . often the “vision” doesn’t emerge until a few days after the “brainstorm” or the “first draft” that gets called the “vision.”

On a nuts & bolts level, one salience (for like 30 years now) is that I begin on paper at least 99% of the time, sometimes with “something on my mind,” & other times with an illusion of blankness with a book (not necessarily of poetry—could even be a student paper on “tech addiction”) as a jump-start, a backseat driver in the car of love, let the book set the terms or the tone, or argue with it, or try to connect it with something totally petty & personal, and seemingly unrelated. Then later, sometimes the next day, or sometimes not for a few months, I go through the tedious process of typing what I wrote by hand onto a computer file—almost everything—lines that seem great, lines that seem weak—still not worrying whether it’s a publishable poem yet. Then I type that up, and go through a protracted phase of “trying to read myself as I read another”– this “recollection in perfunctory which may or may not be tranquil” takes patience & discipline (I’ve definitely erred on the side—-especially when I’m wrapped up in student papers, etc—of posting things clearly not ready yet on FB or sending some half-baked MS…).

Perhaps because being largely a hermit (aside from the job), I went through a (too) long phase where my poems were occasioned by facebook quips (which, even if by poets, were often not poems; still, it influenced my sense of form & neo-personism)—but I tend to need more room to stretch out….(could I send a 5 page poem to Facebook?) so I began to find that thinking in terms of a book helps me revise the poem better.

So collecting poems into a manuscript, and getting excited by the flow and (diachronic) narrative elements that seem to magically appear by placement of (synchronic) lyric moments, but then realizing you have 130 pages and will have to make difficult decisions to get it down to under 100—and then the next day read it again with a more critically severe eye and dump some into the outtake file, shorten others, or discover ways to combine a few…but feeling strangely secure coz now you know you have “more than enough” and “the leaving out business” can begin….swimming in your own words so intensely can be a maddening experience if you don’t have some other activity going on….…I wouldn’t necessarily advise this method for anybody, but it seems to suit my attention deficit disorder well, if time permits….a funny thing about time…. The way a present will dress up like a past to talk to another present? & in the past year, I’ve been attempting to do more “(soma)tic rituals (CA Conrad’s term) and listen to my body more (though putting it that way probably is self-defeating insofar as it implies an “I” always already alienated from an othered body…).

When did you become a serious poem? A published poet?

I probably became a published poet, before I was a serious poet. Ah, am I serious yet? Perhaps that’s the most serious question I can ask. But, more prosaically, early 20s; 1990 was perhaps a watershed year when New American Writing and Sulfur (& soon O*Blek & APR) published me & suddenly others were open to taking me more “seriously”…..but that was long ago….& I guess I “unbecome” a serious poet for a decade, after my third full-length book and a life-changing disability in 2005.

How much has John Ashbery influenced your work? Can you talk about your personal and poetic relationship with him? I personally see him as THE American poet of the second half of the twentieth century.

Perhaps the most important poetic influence/affinity for me (I would’ve said that 30 years ago,–20 (but not 10) years ago, and now in 2018. Spending a year reading all his books after he died certainly helped temper—if not totally wean—my addiction to social media, and helped channel my temptations for strident evangelism. Even when I was a Creative Writing student, people like Mark Halliday and Sharon Olds (& even Tate, who I know loved Ashbery dearly) told me I was reading too much John Ashbery—and it’s hard to find a review of one of my books (90-2004) that doesn’t mention Ashbery’s influence, but John himself was gracious enough not to mind. He put things in poetry that most other poets didn’t call poetic—and that many of today’s poetic gate keepers still are trying to keep out. I still feel I have an unpaid debt to him. And a year later (August 2019), I find myself in a very different place than the pleasures & wonders of getting lost in Ashbery, where living writers are more important to me—and I can relate in many ways to the voice of moral fervor that emerges in Eileen Tabios’ beautiful intense post-mortem to Ashbery: Witness in A Convex Mirror.

Can you speak to your relationship with the New York School and Language School of poetry?

These days, there is none (unless you count reading their books & facebook), though I miss many of those folks. When I lived in New York, I used to joke “I was a New York School poet until I moved to New York.”……Anyway, Back when I was “starting out” as they say (late 80s/early 90s), there was much more antagonism towards the “New York School” from The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets (I should specify, more the east coast-based Language Poets, if not as much the West Coast ones who were more critical of the scene “around Duncan” or what was left of the Beats). And though I was in Philly first—and very associated with a spoken word scene with more of a Black Arts Movement aesthetic, and trying to avoid cultural co-optation— I was more identified as a New York School (with affinities to the what seemed very vital in the Chicago School—mostly women– it seemed New American Writing). Frank & Ashes were like the “twin towers” with a side dish of Kenneth & Berrigan (never quite got into Schuyler as devoutly as Moxley & Peter Gizzi, for instance, though that could change). It was John Yau who first turned me on to these writers. If he was second generation, would I have been third? fourth?

I think I’m a brief entry in that encyclopedia. Is Bernadette Mayer second generation? Ann Lauterbach? David Shapiro has been extremely important to me. I really liked Crase’s The Revisionist. Star Black? Do people consider Alice Notley New York School? I’ve been reading Disobedience again, and it doesn’t seem fair (& probably sexist) to reduce her to the New York School. Still the term has a human warmth I never found in terms like “Black Mountain” (I love Creeley!), & I certainly don’t mind being called that, but I don’t think I’ve earned it.

But I remember there was a time when Mark Wallace coined the term, “post-language poetry” and was including me in that, and indeed, I loved Harryman & Perelman in particular. Never Without One! Scalapino, Fanny Howe & Armantrout (are they language poets?). Andrews could get me to play despite myself. Bernstein and Watten’s critical prose inspired me to argue (despite some scorn that I liked James Tate & did a dissertation on Shakespeare instead of, say, Pound or Zukofsky) —that “intimidating” masculine authority thing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m nostalgic for those poetry wars from my Rip Van Winkle 20-year vantage point.

How much does visual art and music influence your work?

Didn’t Pound say a successful poem should excel at all three—phanopiea, melopiea, and logopiea? I’m generally guilty of too much logo-piea and not enough images and/or a tin ear (even though I’ve played music off the page). I was toying with titling my new MS From Phanophobia to Musicophilia– when I lived in NYC I loved making regular visits to artists’ studios to see them work (and playing piano while my girlfriend painted). Those experiences confirmed for me how painters can help poets remember what a poem isn’t! You know, perhaps poets writing about art (again, thinking New York School—Yau, Ashbery, O’Hara, Shapiro….) has influenced my writing more than the art itself. I feel I’d have to make a concerted effort to develop the word-eye coordination those writers have. I loved seeing John Yau, one of my multi-genre heroes, give slideshows; he regularly posts collaborative poems done with visual artists (at least as good as Clark Coolidge & Phillip Guston’s Baffling Means) & I’d love to collaborate with visual artists…(though not so much by being a model in a portrait!

As for music, how can we tell the feeling from the sound? And I disagree with Pound. I like the metronome. Chuck Berry’s “Too Much Monkey Business” should be taught in post-World War II late 20th-century poetry courses alongside of, say, “Howl,” the poem that “changed America.” But the question that has always fascinated and troubled me is how does one translate across those genres on a neurological, aesthetic and social level? (Is a mordantly recursive post-Ashberian sentence doing “something similar” to a Coltrane sheet of sound, though he would prefer classical?). Insofar as my new manuscript may be said to have a theme aside from trying to cope with, or reinvent myself after, a disability & trauma(s), my existential relationship between the genre of poetry and the genre of music is one of the big themes (: music as water).

I was unable to make music for 5 years (the longest stretch without it), but I’ve been able to slowly reawaken to it in the last 8 months (in private), and I don’t know if it’s making my poetry on the page more or less “musical”—but I feel it’s changing my writing (making it a little more porous, letting sun and fresh air in away from stuffy job mind & hermit tech addiction) even if it runs the risk of being more “vulgar quotidian” (“I do this, I do that” Frank O’Hara New York school) mode as if that’s needed to balance the “heady” stuff like evangelical homages to community music therapists in times of crisis.

I know I’d definitely like to be more involved in multi-media art spaces and at this juncture, I’d much rather lend whatever musical talents I have to record instrumental accompaniment (or even perform a one-off reading/show on occasion) if any of the great poets I love reading on the page would like it—than read my own poetry on stage (though maybe I’ll get over my shyness to read). I did a few recordings a decade ago—with Beme the Rapper, and Delia Tramontina (more on her in the next question—I could send an MP3 if interested).

Who are your primary influences or poets you read again and again?

I hate lists! I always miss a few obvious ones! Even if I sleep on it…. Well, aside from the names I already dropped, Dickinson has been fairly salient for over 30 years, Laura (Riding) Jackson, Gil-Scott Heron, even Leonard Cohen. After Baraka’s death in 2014, I went through a few years where I was so disgusted by the hypocrisies of the white literary establishment and feeling ignorant because of my training in the mono-culture, that I only read non-white authors like Ishmael Reed, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin Audre Lorde, jessica Care moore, John Keene, Craig Santos Perez, Tyehimba Jess, Langston Hughes, Paul Beatty, Judy Juanita, Danez Smith, d. Scott Miller, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Timothy Yu, Claudia Rankine, Tongo Eisen Martin; The Breakbeat Poets Anthology worked great in the college intro to lit course and many more), but in the last few years I’ve been trying to catch up with more contemporary poetry—and feel I’ve been especially helped by writing by women—Brenda Hillman’s Extra Hidden Life, Among The Days, Nikki Wallschlager’s Houses, Sandra Simonds’ last few books, Anne Boyers’ Garments Against Women, Jennifer Moxley’s Druthers, Lisa Robertson, Noelle Kocot, Jasmine Dreame Wagner, Nada Gordon, Virginia Konchon, Christine Howey, Maw Shein Win, Wendy Trevino, Ivy Johnson.

This year a few books of poetry are blowing me away in their brilliant, beautiful, fierce, and playful but deeply serious critiques of what could be called “toxic masculinity,” compelling me to confront how I’m implicated in it. The two books simultaneously released by Danielle Pafunda (The Book of Scab and Beshrew!), Eileen Tabios’ aforementioned Witness, as well as Delia Tramontina’s Constraint. These writers, and more I have neglected to mention here, have given me hope in the possibility of poetry outside of the very white-male dominated 20th-century scenes (not that I didn’t enjoy Anselm Berrigan’s new book, too). So, will I regret saying any of this?

I’m glad you like the poems you’ve selected for this issue of diaphanous micro, Kyrsia. One is dedicated to you.

biographical note

Chris Stroffolino is a renowned American poet, musician, performer (former NYC performance artist), scholar of literary and cultural theory, and college professor. He is the author of 12 books of poetry and theoretical criticism of poetry, poetics, and the American poetic literary tradition in the twentieth-century. Born in Reading, Pennsylvania (like American modernist Wallace Stevens) on March 20, 1963, Stroffolino attended Albright College, Temple University and Bard College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, before receiving a Ph.D. in Poetics at SUNY Albany–with a dissertation on William Shakespeare in 1998. His poems and scholarly work on poetry have been published in many literary journals. His latest book of poetry, Drinking from What I Once Wore, was published by Crisis Chronicles in 2018. Chris resides and teaches poetry and writing at Laney College in California.

Drinking from What I Once Wore–Selected and Recent Poems
Chris Stroffolino
Crisis Chronicles
©2018

“double-column” poem by Chris Stroffolino
Drinking from What I Once Wore
Crisis Chronicles 2018
photo credit–John Burroughs
©2019

link to Drinking from What I Once Wore–Crisis Chronicles 2018

The Death of a Selfish Altruist: Tales & Poems from a Minor League Culture Worker
memoir by Chris Stroffolino
Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books
©2017

link to purchase The Death of a Selfish Altruist on Amazon

“Imagism (with “spot of time”!) –Chris Stroffolino in Diaphanous Spring 2017

I Do This I Do That Poem (April 2016) — Chris Stroffolino in Diaphanous Spring 2017

Day in Night — Chris Stroffolino in Diaphanous Fall 2017

Two Poems by Chris Stroffolino
writers and wordsmiths
©2017

edited by Lisa Jarnot, Leonard Schwartz, and Chris Stroffolino
Talisman House
©1998

link to An Anthology of New (American) Poets–SPD

Hourglass Studies
Krysia Jopek
Crisis Chronicles Press (2017)
cover art by Dale Houstman

link to Chris Stroffolino’s review of Hourglass Studies by Krysia Jopek

link to Hourglass Studies – Krysia Jopek (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017)

links to recent “literary”/scholarly reviews by Chris Stroffolino

May 13, 2019 Constraint By Delia Tramontina

March 1, 2019, Unfurling Futurity: Sandra Simonds’ Further Problems With Pleasure

January 10, 2019 UNKNOWING BEAUTY AMONG: BRENDA HILLMAN’S EXTRA HIDDEN LIFE, AMONG THE DAYS

January 2019 Beyond Complanation Anselm Berrigan Has Something for Everybody

September, 2017 A Few Things Judy Juanita’s De Facto Feminism Got Me Thinking About Konch,

September 1, 2015 THE RUMPUS REVIEW OF [INSERT] BOY BY DANEZ SMITH

August 7, 2015 GARMENTS AGAINST WOMEN BY ANNE BOYER

author photo

author photo by
Jaime Borschuk
©2011

bibliography

poetry & music

Drinking From What I Once Wore (Crisis Chronicles, 2018)—poetry book
“Slumming It” In White Culture (Iniquity Press, 2018)—poetry book
The Griffith Park Sessions (Broken Horse, 2013), music, produced by Jeff Feuerzeig
Predator Drone (self-released, 2012), music, available for free on bandcamp
Single Sided Doubles (Pop Snob, 2010), music LP/CD, produced by Greg Ashley
Speculative Primitive (Tougher Disguises, 2005) poetry book
Scratch Vocals (Potato Clock Editions, 2003) poetry chapbook
Stealer’s Wheel (Hard Press, 1999), poetry book
Light as a Fetter (Situations, 1997), poetry chapbook (republished 207 as ebook by….)
Cusps (1995, Aerial/Edge), poetry chapbook
Oops (1994, Pavement Saw), poetry book
Incidents (1990, Iniquity Press) poetry chapbook

prose books

Death of a Selfish Altruist (Iniquity Press, 2017)–memoir
Notes to a MFA in Non-Poetry (Spuyten Duyvil, 2015)–essays
Shakespeare’s 12th Night (with Dave Rosenthal) (IDG Books, 2001) prose
Spin Cycle (Spuyten Duyvil, 2000) selected reviews and essays

link to Chris Stroffolino – wikipedia

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