So I’ve tried to do my bit for Poetry Month and Decorating Month. I want to wish everyone a positive May and end the month with a quotation from Rebecca Solnit. This is from Recollections of My Nonexistence, which I recommend to Creative People. She’s writing about books, but I think it applies to all Creativity:
“The sheer pleasure of meeting new voices and ideas and possibilities, having the world become more coherent in some subtle or enormous way, extending of filling in your map of the universe, is not nearly celebrated enough, nor is the beauty of finding pattern and meaning. But these awakenings recur, and every time they do there’s joy.”
Both beautiful and true, I think. Wishing you all some joy. Or, re: my photo, something to be your ground and bedrock, something to be your growth, and something to be your fluid freedom. See in you in May.
Working Poetry Month, another work in progress, responses welcome
The silence circles its fingertip
on the rim of a glass, and the tone
comes, strung ice-water tight.
The afternoon looks out the window.
An old chair offers the body
ease, and neither speaks.
Senses float, here and there
exclaiming their hunger like gulls
that slice across the view outside.
The willow’s winter straws cross
and twist. How can these knotted strings be
eternal, simple, yellow since
before and after your words?
How can this tree not
know you, when it flows as you breathe?
Since a number of Creative people spent Sunday night thanking other Creative people for their contribution to whatever the first Creative people accomplished, I’d like to do the same.
Since I mentioned the many designers and foragers whose books inspire me, I thought to list them here. It’s by no means all of them: Turns out the Boston Public Library doesn’t like it much when you take down a whole shelf of books and park on the carpet right there. The ones I own, and some of the ones I love, are:
You know, I literally have five more days of Poetry and Decorating Month, so don’t rush me.
I have seen segments of the British Antiques Roadshow with a host, three similar objects, and an expert in those particular objects. The host and surrounding onlookers try to figure out which object has the highest monetary value. All the objects are aesthetic delights.
I told my friend Sandy (link to her blog post about my blog) that I would post during Decorating Month about the bone we pick with the Boston Globe Sunday magazine “home” features. The theme of our rants is simple: How to Decorate Big Space with Big Money is of little use to a lot of us.
Frankly, I love looking at “real estate porn”, and most simple/edgy/boho/unusual home design fascinates me. I am also a fan of Marni Elyse Katz, who writes these features now. She’s good!
My own object/decor jam is more thrift, gift, and foraging. People write about that, too. I have six books on the topic and counting, and they’re mostly second-hand. And I practice. My glass square that came from an old job when they closed contains a highly curated collection of park tree branches, pond driftwood, and a stick I grabbed out of a community garden compost area. I mean, this thing is curated. It’s an arrrrrrangement.
I have framed book covers, book pages, and postcards on the wall. The pleasing display above my desk contains a thrift-store glass cylinder of stones and shells in colorful layers, a birch log, two ocean stones, a framed collage I made from a beat-up book, and the fired clay figure I made in Sunday School crafts class, who vaguely resembles Buddha in a beret. This is how I roll, and a lot of interesting authors have encouraged my roll.
So let’s play the Roadshow game and decide what is my most valuable work of art in the photo. If the Ansel Adams were the real deal, then yeah. But it’s posterboard in a frame, and someone left it in the building when they moved out. So it cost me nothing, but it is full of value. First thing I hung in this apartment, it connects me to the tree outside, and my gaze often wanders into its deepness when my gaze needs to wander.
The one on the right is a print of King’s Chapel, the wonderful 18th-century historic site where I used to work and hope to work again. It’s likely from a re-issue the artist’s son did in the 1970s. I know this because artist Jas Murray did a lot of local scenes and still seems to be very popular. I found it in a charity shop, hanging there waiting for me, which I’m sure is what it was doing. It fills my heart up every day, like a lover’s portrait.
The piece on the left is by artist and parfumier John Biebel. The pensive woman carries a long-stemmed flower and has a lovely old home growing out of her head. It was gift to me from my friend John. I find it exquisite and inspiring, and it represents the generous kindness of a friend I love.
Cost winner? King’s Chapel at $6. Value winner? Nope. Each one is beautiful to me, makes me happy when I look at it, surrounds me with Creativity. The Creative finding of Creative things is decor my way.
Happy National Poetry Month and National Decorating Month, two of my favorite forms of creativity.
Enough of that for today: It’s April 3, and on April 3 we say, as my dear friend, whom I met 39 years ago today when I saw him play Sherlock Holmes, said on Facebook, Happy Hound Day!
I was already a ma-ajor Sherlock Holmes fan at 14 when I went to this play, adapted and performed by The Rhode Island Shakespeare Theatre in Newport, RI. Because of that night, I was about to become a ma-ajor theater devotee and hard worker in that, and several other, companies. It was the night I met people who are among my oldest and dearest friends and family, and others came soon after in other productions.
So when I say this particular piece of creativity looms large for me, you get it, right? I’m dedicating my future book to TRIST and a big ol’ puppy.
For now, I would like to honor that book and that play on April 3 by listing the acted versions I have seen. It’s not all there are, or why would I go on?
I will list them by who played Holmes, although it’s always the whole team, including the puppy.
Donald Wight (TRIST actor and friend, will always be my favorite. Not a real puppy in that one, but whatever.)
And now, in no particular order:
Basil Rathbone (Mmmmmm….Watson, the needle…)
Peter Cushing (LOVE me a Hammer Film)
Peter Cooke (and Dudley Moore, yes)
Tom Baker (Dr. Who. Really.)
Ian Richardson (Bless him for every role he ever played)
Jeremy Brett (never to be outdone)
Benedict Cumberbatch (Indeed!)
Richard Roxburgh (odd choice, most obvious suggestion that Watson was “kept”, quite worth seeing)
Matt Frewer (In college we loved Max Headroom, and that’s ALL I’m going to say about this. Except maybe, um, Yikes.)
Do YOU have a favorite version, or a favorite actor who played Sherlock Holmes, whether they did Hound or not? PLEASE DO COMMENT.
The illustration, taken from Wikipedia, is by Sidney Paget. I mentioned him last post: placer of the deerstalker on the head of Holmes. See the flow I’ve got going here? Happy Hound Day.
You know, one of the names in my family is Schwimmer. I’m pretty close to being one. So there is no hesitation about the following statement:
I. WAS ON. A BREAK!
(I’d say ask someone who watched TV in the 90s, but I understand it has come roaring back among the young people.)
I’m not sure why I was on a break, and more to the point, I’m not sure why I’m blogging again. I refer you and myself to the framed cartoon by James Thurber on my bookshelf: a woman is speaking to two other people about a fourth person on her knees tending flowers. The first woman explains: “She has the true Emily Dickinson spirit, except that she gets fed up occasionally.”
So there that is.
I will not bore you with that with which I was fed up. Yeah, snappy syntax was not one of those things.
I’ve found myself again jotting down unrelated trains of thought on creativity and liking how unrelated they are. Maybe I was fed up with a sense of set destination for the blog.
So here’s April: National Poetry Month and National Decorating Month, starting with a day for fools, with Shakespeare’s birthday on the way. Perfect time to begin blogging again, I guess. I think I plan to drop Creativity on you from lots of angles, including all those above, and even ideas and bits for a book I’m dreaming up.
NO, the blog’s re-birth is not to tugboat the book along. Shhh.
So, April 1. Let’s talk hats. Specifically, let’s talk about the jester’s hat, aka the fool’s hat or the “cap and bells”. Perfect, right? I always thought this headgear with the two or three jingling tentacles was an act of creativity, Someone’s image of court jesters of olden times that somehow stuck.
After all, it was illustrator Sidney Paget who put the never-mentioned deerstalker on Sherlock Holmes’s head. Talk about some serious branding and an immortal hat!
Several years ago, the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA had a wonderful exhibit on hats, both as fashion history and artistic creation. And, Lo, there was jester’s hat from days of yore. I was so surprised the icon was for real, and I blame Paget.
The “hat” in today’s visual is a miniature of the ship Belle Poule, an 18th-century frigate that did France proud in battle. Adorning already highly dressed hair with a ship as a chapeau became most fashionable. Yes, my book involves historic objects, why do you ask?
There are books I read every few years. Do you have such books? I circle slowly back around to them like the orbit of Neptune because I’ve noticed interesting change between the first and second, and subsequent, readings.
Some books, read again, reflected back a new (older) reader with different responses. That helped me know my mind and sense of language better, as well as opening the vista a good piece of Art is.
Sometimes I return to writing of my own with the changed perspective of time. I understand them differently. Even the way I want specific words to communicate has changed
This poem started with a round burn on my hand got not long after noticing a small, dark rose in falling snow; it bloomed late, into a tight knot of petals, ready to face winter. The poem slid around on those two images, sort of a narrative about my own observations.
Buddhism likes to say…well, Buddha said….the world is burning. Our senses are burning. This simple, complex statement has to do with the nature of the world and our attachments to things. It’s a wake-up call about how easily we make ourselves suffer. It’s also now a new layer of the word “burn” for me, and there it is.
So what happens when I go back to this poem? The actual hand burn once got lifted into something higher through the image of the rose. Now my hand provides the poem with the metaphorical Buddhist burning the real rose can’t escape. Once the burn “bloomed” like the rose, and now the rose is burning. (If I’m not careful, I will justify the false impression that exists in the world that Buddhism is a real downer.)
The poem before was imagining connections, and I feel as if now it’s reporting a real connection I finally paid attention to. I have another “thinky” poem that is struggling to go in exactly the opposite direction and soak its reporting in imagination, to revel in imagined connections. My smile at this knowledge of my own tangled Creativity is both wry and satisfied.
The stove’s sharp blue heat
invaded the pot handle
you grasped without attention.
The burn asserts itself
like the red fist of a rose
opened late, defying snowfall.
Take note. The earth insists.
The undulation of your palm
has always resembled a drift,
snow crept upon by claws
of sunset, bloody hue under bare branches.
There have always been things on fire.
The body burns to say it. So
your same grasping hand sets
it down, sears white paper darker.
as landscape begins
to change. Or that
is just eyes
to gritty air.
do the encircling,
shines or clears
ripples, swans’ feet.
Pass a wine-stained,
winding a tree,
a potion. Yes
and no. Leaves
not the pacing
of minds. Sit
on a stone
by water. Pick up
with its dark
Hear the greens
you. Pond wind
cold coming fire.
After a six-day heat wave, any thoughts for an essay-like post are bobbing around my head like semi-cooked pasta. But the poetry is enough of a practice to have things to share.
I think these are two parents and their two fledgling cormorants at Jamaica Pond (Boston), and I’m always thankful to have them in my day. This poem was inspired by a beautiful online-gathering talk “at” the Greater Boston Zen Center.
Finished semester grading blahblahblah had about a week to get read for first fully remote class blahblahblah gig economy juggling blahblahblah
Hello. As much as I have things to say about Stones that have been wanting to burst out of me for weeks, I want to revisit Sticks. The stick building in the park, featured in the first part of Sticks and Stones, continues to grow longer and more complex. It has many more doors and skylights now. Of course, it, um, always had skylights, obviously, but these seem to be intentional. There are wonderful patterns and clever weaving from end to end. I’ve been in it, and it’s fun. Creative fun!