Seventeen Summers is original lyric poetic prose that tells the story of the famous painter Gustav Klimt
through the study of his landscapes and photos, exciting ephrasktic poetry, through the lens of time by Cole
Swensen and above/ground press. Cole Swensen is born in California, a Poet, translator, copywriter, editor and
teacher. She is much celebrated and has won the Guggenheim Fellowship (2006), 2 Pushcart Prizes amongst others.
She has written 17 literary collections of poetry and translates works from the French.
A postcard in time of life, love and the Artist, Gustav Klimt and his constant companion Emilie Floge from the late 1800's to 1917, a travelogue told through Archives information, impressions of historical photos and the landscapes of the Artist. How Klimt's landscapes play on light and texture, soft, the brilliance of flowers and trees that loom as if through a looking glass. A play on moving flowers and water, the weaving of brilliance, light and Summers. The Poet describes the affect as "not contained by the frame", "as if growing" and uses the image of the broken frame throughout the series of poems, an act of destruction and overflowing that celebrates the Artist and his gift of brilliance. Not only does Swensen bring to life the Artist's work, the poetry is also a celebration of history, how he designed dresses for Floge's dress shop, the emancipation of women by not using corsets, how he painted through opera glasses or a telescope, his love of flowers, how he didn't have a telephone and wrote beautiful poetic lines on postcards to Emilie and his family.
Seventeen Summers, describes a painting lost in a fire, gives an idea of the impermanence of things, a haunting, a play on time, how death comes in the night. The entire series of poems has the love affair of Klimt and Emilie Floge in the backdrop, a quiet revelation that is underdeveloped, they were constant companions since the late 1800's, the poetry reflects their love affair in the subtle brilliance of symbols and in the impressions of the grand beauty of the paintings.
A poetic celebration of the life and work of Gustav Klimt, his life and times, a history, a love affair and a celebration of some of the most beautiful art ever created. On a Summer evening of warm rains, a brilliant read. Seventeen Summers by Cole Swensen.
Available @ above/ground press.
COLLECTIONS-14 is an exciting Art Nouveau experiment in the New Age Renaissance
Republic of Poetry, pushing the bounds of the expected to present an original poetic lament by
Kyle Kinaschuk and above/ground press. The Poet is a PhD student studying English Literature at the University
of Toronto. He is working on a thesis of the poetics and politics of lament in Canada. He has been widely published
Pressing the bounds of broken English, perhaps influenced by the Beat Poetry tradition and the post-modernist edict, this Chapbook has the theme of the death of a father, a series of 14 poems that include rewritten lines from books, sections of lost objects from the Classified sections of newspapers, a letter from the Canadian government demanding unpaid income tax sent to the deceased father's wife, one or two descriptive poems and some poems from the deceased. Most of the poetry is very broken, as if in disembodied grief and/or anger. The notes at the back of the Chapbook say that the poetry for 4 of the poems were gleaned from "the 14th line from the 14th page of every 14th text in my book collection" and once exhausted from the street and the university. So part of this series of poems is seemingly a cento, which is traditionally a form of protest and embellishes the theme of lament.
Juxtaposed with the first letters of disembodied and truncated thoughts is lists of lost objects from the Classified sections of newspapers. These aren't just any lost objects they are special requiring a tithe to publish publicly; beloved pets, a satchel of important papers the loss of which could jeopordize the owner's job, a child's favourite stuffed animal; some are essential like lost glasses, a dental bridge, a lost child's bicycle. As if equating the loss of a father with the loss of essential and special objects, so that even the disaffected half of the population that lives alone in parts of major cities can understand. An overconstructed society of people with multiple lovers so broken that objects replace people, "at least my things don't argue with me." Perhaps a call to less constructed personal lives and better mentoring and discernment in love.
About midway in the Chapbook is a letter from the Canadian government demanding a debt of $45,496.23 in income tax be paid, that is sent to his wife. The wife, probably distraught at the death of her husband is reading "This is a legal warning under the law to collect the loss you owe" repeated 12 times, as if in cinematic compounded grief (perhaps raising the question if income tax debt should be forgiven upon death). There is a descriptive poem about cremation and thoughts on scattering ashes. The last poems are from the father in the first person, very disembodied thoughts about his developing cancer, using a walker, his state of debt. The ending is a bit bizarre, the entire write is very alienated, yet very compelling, addressing the issues surrounding the loss of a loved one in the Canadian landscape.
Haunted, not to be read in the dark of the night. A brilliant write. COLLECTIONS-14 by Kyle Kinaschuk.
Available @ above/ground press.
The process of creating Art begins with silence. Long periods of time alone invites the Holy Spirit in, a communion
with the Godhead, the absolute being of love. In my experience the feeling is warm and happy. In the silence you the
Artist become the crucible for the flow of art. Influences of your past experience, past lives, lovers, childhood,
learning, conversations, dreams, your soul colours, the collective experiences of your ancestors all meld in this
moment, to speak through the inspiration of the Muse, the inspirations of the day so that the present and the past
become a dreamland and may prophesy the future.
If you live alone this is the natural soup for creating. If you have a family it may help to create when everyone is in bed either late at night or early in the morning, or to go on special Retreats to focus on your Art. Meditation, release work, doing deep breathing exercises, prayer and journaling regularly aid in art creation, as if going into a trance, the story, the images begin to transfer from the unconscious to the conscious mind. The easiest way for release is to write in a journal, this with physical exercise or the beating of pillows with deep breathing and asking God to take away the great emotion can blow off the hurt and anger of broken intimate relationships. Creating art can further this release and is a great way of handling stress, grief, depression and strong emotions bringing healing. Saving the writings/drawings from journaling that you find very interesting can be developed into poetry, plays, short stories, novels or other artistic creations.
In my experience the best time for new ideas to occur is when I am just about to go to sleep. I take a pen and paper to bed and in the time just before sleep comes, a time of heightened relaxation, the words come for poetry. Also, throughout the day and night, flashes of inspiration, lines of poetry manifest (or ideas for art/music) and it is important to capture these ideas and write them down.
It may help to join a group of Artists/writers to share your work with and get feedback. Or to find someone who's work you admire and get them to critique your work. General feedback is good, "I didn't like the ending", "I thought there could have been more picture imagery", "I didn't like the particular style it was written in, too many words", hopefully something they liked about the piece and maybe something they thought could have been different. It may be possible to participate in art showcases over the Internet and get feedback about your work while observing others technique and style. Because Art is quite personal and rooted in different schools of style (some people gravitate to certain styles over others) criticism can be quite esoteric. What one publisher/art collector doesn't like another one may like, the Artist has the last say in the presentation of their creation. However, in my experience it takes at least 10 years of regular writing/art creation for the writing to become considered, to develop a voice and skill with style, the Art becomes fully formed. When someone has been writing/creating for a long time and shows alacrity, it is hard to ignore and may become iconic. Someone with a strong calling and a lot of talent may go through stages in their development, e.g. Picasso had a Pink Period, a Blue Period and a Cubist influenced Period, influenced by the Muse, his personal landscape, events and the push of his calling.
To sit down to create I have noticed warmth, relaxation and a certain excitement. As if suspending reality and falling into a trance, a certain state of the new world, creating mythologies from a broken landscape. The ultimate gift from a fantastic write is a feeling of success and healing. When developing your talent, it is important to realize what you like about what you did and what you didn't. Then to take the realization of what you liked and bring elements of it into the next art creation. Do not worry, as long as you like aspects of your work, it will ripen over time. If you achieve a great alacrity in one discipline and become bored, attempt another discipline.
Do you need coursework to be a great artist?
In my opinion it helps to have an education in art/literature history as well as the basics of technique of your craft. However, I do not think you need to have degrees after your name to be a great artist, particularly with the advent of the Internet as a learning tool. If you have monies or access to scholarships/bursaries and a calling for the work of art by all means study. Sometimes self-study and just fulfilling your call to create is enough to be a great artist if you have limited financing. It is my intuition that if you truly have a true calling to do something, often despite the different roads life presents, you end up doing it anyway and usually being successful at it.
What makes great art?
The Artist's work is considered, they have been creating for a long-time and have great skill.
Negative and Positive Space in Creation - In painting the object that is the focus of the image in the work, the rhyme of placement becomes as important as the empty background spaces, when the two are in concordance, it creates the ultimate dance of synchronicity. What you create, the substance of the work, the words you use, the images you paint, the notes of music that are used are just as important as the silence of what words, the images that were not included or not voiced in the background. All elements of an artwork are carefully considered and when combined with years of skill creates a fusion of dance, a celebration. When a considered Artist you have developed skill and get an intuitive feel for composition, spacing, colours, words as if a magic dialogue with the Holy Spirit and the Muse.
The Artist's work is in their own style and is original - By studying the history of Artists, their work and Art styles it is possible to use inspiration from the "Old Ones" and create new genres, or progressions in art forms. One of the cardinal sins of humankind is boredom. When a new Art genre or school of thought becomes popularized usually through the success of an Artist, recognized by the elite, that style may become a benchmark for other Artist's work. Art Nouveau is constantly pushing the bounds of historical work to recreate the present and the future. In my opinion it is a sin for your work to be a cliché for the wrong reasons. In the beginning it may be original Art Nouveau and through public display for a long-time it becomes loved and popularized to an nth degree. There is not much you can do about this and it is a sign of great success. The other reason art may be cliché is because the Artist is using lines or images that are overly familiar and staid, their work is not original enough. The idea is to be inspired by the other Artist's work and spin off it making your own original creation.
The Artist's work is iconic and well loved by patrons - The Artist's work has been made public, magic happens when others enjoy your work, perhaps bringing healing and preventing suicide and violence, creating a synergy with the Community. The artist has patrons and his work may sell.
The Artist's work is recognized by his peers - When the Artist has been recognized and lionized by the press and/or been well received over the Internet. The Artist belongs to a governing rights body. Other Artists recognize the value of the Artist's work and praise them privately and in public. The Artist may have won awards.
The Artist's work is recognized by God - A long-time Art's calling (usually around 20 years) has earned the Artist karmic redemption in a SignfromGod from the Holy Spirit.
Poetry can be anything you want it to be. That being said I suspect after reading a poem anyone can say "that was a
good poem" or "that was a bad poem". Because "bad poetry" is usually quite individualistic and involves an analysis
of each work, I will dwell on the positive and what goes into writing a good poem.
Reading a poem is like falling into a trance, if you do not stumble over words it is your favourite, everything flows and rocks in cadence like waves coming in and receding from the shore. In my experience, over time writing skill will ripen, as a practice it is important to cultivate it by writing when inspiration strikes and/or taking time to sit down and actually write. It is important to have some idea of other people's work - studying the work of the major poets in coursework or over the Internet is a good idea. This will ground you with a sense of history, a study in style/form and motion, trends in literature and an idea of other times and places. You will get an idea of universal themes and the differences in language usage and the life and times of other people. It is also important to be familiar with the post-modern poetry scene and emerging Poets so subscribing to a publishing house (like above/ground press, obvious epiphanies press, Metatronics, etc.) and reading books and Chapbooks will give you a taste for the current trends, issues and personalities in the modern-day diaspora.
Truly great poems, like all great art and great love affairs are divinely inspired; all the planets and stars are aligned in just the right position for the celebration to birth. There is a Muse, the Holy Spirit, the Angels, souls in the Spirit World and a love interest that inspires you as the conduit to write. Inspiration can also come from elements of landscape, the emotions, the weather, news, the natural world (forest, ocean, trees and sky), other artists work (poetry, movies, music, paintings, video) or anything that touches you in your day and inspires you, the Poet, sparks the writing. And for a really good poem, one spark as a catalyst will lead to 2 or 3 other sparks or more, as the poem writes on multiple levels. Often one line of poetry is alluding to different people, a multiple set of circumstances and works as a truth telling, a special magic. The poem is a postcard in time and place. When the Poet is Oracle there may be an element of prophesy to the work. (as if warning a Reader years after the poem was written of some catastrophe yet to occur or some message of import).
A good poem is unique in some way, a certain originality in style or word constructions, in theme, sometimes the Poet will invent new words. With the Internet collaborations between other forms of art are emerging, including video, music and photograph/posters using poetry, aided by the accessibility and low cost of the Internet. Every word is accounted for and carefully considered, it is like carving rock from silence, or painting a picture with words on a white page. Sometimes a truly great poem will champion a cause, it will illuminate a truth, drawing attention to an injustice, spurring change. And the poem may create mythologies, creating a dream space or an ideal place that would make the Poets world better or help to imagine a better situation. Also, a great poem tells a story, sometimes you get the entire story, sometimes you only get glimpses of a brief space in time or you may be inundated with metaphors, sometimes truncated, sometimes grand, all creating a mood, a situation, a feeling, an event. It is an attempt by the Poet to communicate to the Reader and the world. And the poem is a reflection of the Poet's soul. If the Poet has had a conflicted love life with too many lovers, a truly great poem can appeal to the Spirit for karmic redemption (as can any arts calling or calling for work). The act of writing a truly great poem is also very healing, it's something you enjoy doing, it's something that when the work is rendered brings a certain peace and satisfaction, is a celebration for the Poet and may have a positive affect and be a celebration for the Reader.
There is an element of white magic to poetry (and any arts calling) that may manifest a happy love life. Magic spells in old Wiccan lore, if they rhymed in a certain rhyming couplet way would aid, in theory, in manifesting a happy lover forever. And, there is Holy Spirit magic that a special visualization will give a Spirit World intervention and improve the quality of what you are writing (ask telepathically).
An idea of theme and how it relates to form is also a consideration. Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a poem that works, full of images of lost and found paradise, written in 1797 comes after the Renaissance (with Michelangelo and Shakespeare) in a time of growing prosperity in England.
"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea."
It has meter and rhyme and although perhaps on the edge of lost love with some dark nature imagery, seems to be from a more copacetic time than poetry that was to come in the 20th Century.
For example, I find some of the modernist male writers too cerebral, in W. B. Yeat's Sailing to Byzantium written in the 1920's the first paragraph is riveting:
"That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect."
and then goes on to talk about the office of the Oracle but it does not for me have the same bang at the end as it did at the beginning. And you can begin to see the crack in the machine (the Industrial Economy) with the stress of the times (after World War I) in the truncated thoughts projected in the poetry. That being said it is still classic literature.
The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot published in 1922 is a quintessential tome of broken thoughts and the juxtaposition of varying places, speakers and time, bordering on DaDa and perhaps a precursor of Existentialism. As if Eliot had inculcated the war (W.W.I) Indian and Buddhist philosophies and having fallen into a trance spilled out this fantastical prophetic timepiece:
"If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water
Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
- But who is that on the other side of you?"
It is a long poem, as if fed by the disease of war and brokenness with the idea of journey, a departure from other literature, so much so that Reviewers lamented they could not understand what he was saying, yet they understood that it was brilliant.
Juxtaposed with post-modern writers as presented in above/ground press the broken thoughts and mysterious word juxtapositions in truncated metaphors has been reduced from long paragraphs (T.S. Eliot) to a couple of lines or even one line, and often the capitalization and punctuation is irregular, perhaps representing the accelerated violence and broken relationships characteristic of this era.
Vertigoheel for the Dilly by Pearl Pirie:
"she's a Cape Breton seashore, a scent trail
in salt-air, edges touched by red thorn brambles
the cast off skins of who we used to be are piled,
layers of dropped polka dots.
those aren't mine, are they, pinching the cheeks
of her anklebones, a pinch more rough than affection.
thick ankles that hobble our steps yet we will walk
our awkwards, insist on it, hike our miles of dunes.
from Hark, a journal by rob mclennan:
"Mexico City, 1521
Cortes, the kilter. An elegy, worthy of figuring. Appointment to rifle.
Imagine a passion-flower. Trapezoids, drawn. Recording, I am in pain.
Some grey lines, gold. Introduction of letters, lined chocolate. To a certain
Degree, feminine. I am having an atom bomb. The contours of poetry.
North, sentence mountains. Knows only, inferiority. Finger-marking the
Causeway. I heart you, premeditate."
There are also other postmodern poetry forms including Haiku and its derivatives, Hip-hop/Rap style/Beat poetry, poetic prose, narrative poetry. For This Writer's own particular taste I like the last line to bang somehow. I like pared in and considered words, that grab the attention, entertain, inform and capture the imagination, that could possibly change your life. I like poetry progressions in Beat, Imagist and Symbolist work. For favourite genres I like love poetry and Haiku.
If I had to make a list of the best poetry reads it would include:
T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land)
Truman Capote (best Poet of short story writing)
Virginia Woolf (best Poet of novel writing)
Ernest Hemingway (best Poet of novel writing)
Haiku (Ancient Women Poets of China, Matsumo Basho, ai li, Anna Yin, Pd Lietz)
Federico Garcia Lorca
Rainier Maria Rilke
Melinda Cochrane (Behind the Pen)
Kimberlynne Darby Newton
Adrian Ernesto Cepeda
Edna St. Vincent Millay
But this list is in no way exhaustive, there are many others who deserve their names to be written here. When a Poet writes, even the greats, not all works will ring with brilliance but it is the ones that do ring with brilliance that make all the difference. A really good poem read by the window in a big velvet chair as you drink your morning coffee is pure sunlight despite the weather.
The following are thoughts on the psychology of modern furniture design vs. furniture design from the past . . .
The evolution of the chair through time is interesting from benches, and rather fantastic antique designs of the
French 19th Century (Louis XIV, Louis XVI) to the round leather library chair and simple designs of the wood country
parlour chair contrast with the explosion of modern design. In an effort to discourse in originality designers may
have been greatly stressed by conflict in their love lives. Plastic came to the for in Wassily chairs, bean bag chairs,
office chairs, module chairs. And chrome, with steel and bright hard surfaces. A rather new sleek and edge look that
attracts young spirits but sometimes not big on comfort or a particular elegance, the use of new materials, modern
design pushes the bounds of tradition. However, sometimes post-modern design rings with the soul stirring elements
of simplicity, comfort, elegance and favourite texture, shape and colour. The huge Ikea slipper chairs with no arms,
in comfortable upholstery (basically 2 large squares with rounded edges joined at the seat), a beautiful reading
chair by any window is a design that works. Dining chairs called Parsons chairs add a touch of grace. Beds as
standalone pieces of furniture, that can be used as sitting and working spaces are a new developing concept. In some
post-modernist furniture design, as if the light after the great darkness of Existentialism, a certain Zen creates an
elegant design. However, I find that modern design more often than not is not as exciting as the classic style and
textures of antiques.
Antiques can be quite beautiful, a celebration and dance with natural elements, character, soft edges and earlier times. Some antiques are over designed or too rustic, the perfect piece has a certain elegance, rhythm and simplicity. They are quite fantastic, often hand-made and from real wood, some are stand-alone pieces, others made in machine shops. The sense of design is quite wonderful as if harkening to a more copacetic time in love lives. The idea of repairing and recycling furniture (particularly antiques) is a great saver of forests and can be easier on the budget. Bought and sold second-hand furniture is a great way to find an eclectic, one of a kind piece that brightens the living space often for a bargain.
It is interesting how the gateleg kitchen table with its ponderous leg sets was inspiration for the more elegant drop leaf kitchen table. What was really outlandish was the evolution of the steel kitchen table and chairs of the late '50's and 1960's, that now pass for vintage. Very hard surfaces of chrome, it was as if the aliens had landed and as if people had settled in their love lives and mothers were on valium. Every once in awhile I come across a piece of furniture, usually from the '50's that says, "the aliens have landed", usually rather bizarre with edges and corners as if from a different universe.
What constitutes good design? Elegance, a good design knows where to start and where to end, the perfect piece of furniture has a certain soul rhythm, comfort, in favourite colours and textures, in concert with the Holy Spirit. Furniture design is also a product of its time, the issues and nuances of the public discourse, ideas of knowledge, degrees of violence as well as the personal journey of the skill of the artist who is the creator. There is also a dialogue in shape, some people prefer squares to circles and how the overall essence of the piece can give peace to the spirit.
The design and the execution of the piece of furniture is not only a reflection of the designer/artisan (personal life, soul, experiences and skill set) it is also a reflection of that time period in history. There is no one unifying overall design trend for the 20th century, it is very eclectic with the use of new materials, plastic, steel and wicker and wood, with designs that are austere and often utility minded, perhaps suggesting shattered and an undertoad - as if the place was stressed with broken love lives and evolving thought that brought the common man to the fore in the industrial age.
All times bring different issues to light that must be addressed but the brokenness of the morphing from the agricultural economy to the industrial economy was particularly stressful spawning 2 world wars, Vietnam, the use of the atomic bomb and a zenith of oblivion in competitiveness as people were obsessed with money, sex and more in a struggle for resources born of broken love lives and a destructive culture. With the move from the agricultural economy to cities and the manufacturing economy with the ballooning population people may not have been mentored as effectively and some of the wisdom of the very slow Old World society was lost. With the birth of the economic driver scene, and the great suffering of the artist, design had indeed morphed particularly after the Second World War. But for the most part it is not the furniture of a happy people, it is austere as if a world where mass manufacture gave things less value, the potential for garbage/a throw away culture and is a reflection of a hard way perhaps born of people who settled in their marriages (if their lovers were murdered in the war or because the culture was lost and broken) and an experiment in the economy giving people serial lovers creating sexual violation issues, addictions, violence and a death centered mentality.
Whereas antiques in general have more beauty, often handmade, a certain flowering as if from a more copacetic time where people had a better idea of who they were, what it meant and the wisdom to make their love lives work better in happiness through cohesive Community. With Modern design it is as if people didn't know how to handle their sexual violation issues - it was just talk therapy. Post Modern design has discovered some light, a rediscovery of beauty, perhaps with the discovery of release work, an arts calling, exercise, journaling, yoga, massage, meditation, prayer.
Today's household objects are tomorrow's artefacts. Everyone has different soul rhythms, different favourite colours and textures. As speech and clothing say everything about you so does your home environment. Often good design is just as much about what is there as what is not there. With the Second-hand Bulletin Boards on the Internet (Craigslist, Kijiji etc.) it is easier to find exactly what appeals for not too much monies. A copacetic home environment is a reflection of psyche, the setting of our love helps make comfort and well being.