Eating Poetry

Posted by on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

Eating Poetry
by Mark Strand

 
Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
 
The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.
 
The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.
 
Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.
 
She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.
 
I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

 

Inspiration Rachel and I relied on for our poetry blog, and a beautifully fitting image of how I view reading.

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I envy them their public love

Posted by on Thursday, April 5th, 2018

“I envy them their public love. I myself have only known it in secret, shared it in secret and longed, aw longed to show it—to be able to say out loud what they have no need to say at all: That I have loved only you, surrendered my whole self reckless to you and nobody else. That I want you to love me back and show it to me. That I love the way you hold me, how close you let me be to you. I like your fingers on and on, lifting, turning. I have watched your face for a long time now, and missed your eyes when you went away from me. Talking to you and hearing you answer—that’s the kick. ”
“But I can’t say that aloud; I can’t tell anyone that I have been waiting for this all my life and that being chosen to wait is the reason I can. If I were able I’d say it. Say make me, remake me. You are free to do it and I am free to let you because look, look. Look where your hands are. Now.”

from Toni Morrison’s Jazz

I adore Morrison.  

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The Song of Wandering Aengus

Posted by on Thursday, April 5th, 2018

The Song of Wandering Aengus
William Butler Yeats

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
 
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
 
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun.

Michael Gambon reciting the poem
Need I explain?  This is gateway Yeats.  I’ve loved it since I was a child. 

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Wherever You Woke by Dermot Bolger

Posted by on Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Wherever You Woke
by Dermot Bolger

There only ever was one street
     One back garden, one bedroom:
Wherever you woke you woke beneath
     The ceiling where you were born,
For the briefest unconscious second
     An eyelid’s flutter from home.

I found this in a compilation called Soho Square Six the first time I went to Ireland.  I was a college student, and I was achingly homesick and very very happy by turns. Bolger’s words comforted me in exactly the moment I needed them, and I managed to scrounge up enough cash to buy another large book I’d have to tote around and squeeze into my luggage. 

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from Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby

Posted by on Thursday, April 5th, 2018

“a girl has got to be a daughter first. She have to learn that. And if she never learns how to be a daughter, she can’t never learn how to be a woman. I mean a real woman: a woman good enough for a child; good enough for a man – good enough even for the respect of other women.”
Ondine, in Morrison’s masterful Tar Baby, one of my favorite examples of Magical Realism. 

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Gathering up my Commonplace Book

Posted by on Thursday, April 5th, 2018

At some point, as a strange child who decided to write the Great American Novel (whatever the hell that even means), I stumbled across the concept of a “Commonplace Book.”  And I started sort of keeping one.  The things I would include in my Commonplace book pop up in my journals, in notebooks, on slips of paper and via highlighted sections in text books.  Many people encourage hand-written Commonplace Books for a myriad of excellent reasons.  But my journals have no concordance, and that is unlikely to change.  So it’s time to start building a digital one here. Hence the new category and the browsing of countless pages of my own messy scrawl.  And now to begin . . .

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Warping and dressing warp faced band on a Gilmore Big Wave loom

Posted by on Monday, February 19th, 2018

Some friends have asked questions about my favorite loom recently, so I figured an explanatory post was due.  I have a Gilmore Big Wave loom, which I bought several years ago.  

It was significantly more expensive than my previous inkle loom, but in has a number of features that make weaving much easier on my poor achy hands, so I think it was worth every penny.  It is structured much like many floor looms, which makes it stronger than most open-sided inkle looms.  It has a warp beam and a cloth beam, and both are tensioned via those self-braking gears.  It holds beautifully even tention.

Those texsolv heddles seem to last forever, but I have extras if they wear out.  Using this method to change sheds is much, much easier on my hands than any similar loom I’ve worked on in the past.  

This loom obviously isn’t set up for a continuous warp, so I have to warp on a warping board and transfer the warp to the loom to weave.  That allows for a much longer and/or wider warp, so it opens up a lot of possibilities my old loom didn’t offer.  

To begin a project, I gather supplies and review some notes so I can begin plotting a draft.  

I’m making a tone on tone white belt for a friend, so I plot out some color options in the best light available to me, and then design a warp on the board.  Rather than tying the warp, I secure it with some clips.  I am going to transfer it to the loom immediately, so I don’t bother chaining the warp. You can see I have the cross clipped in two spots, just in case.  This warp will make a band that’s about three inches wide. 

Recent

My current habit is to load the warp onto the warp beam and then sley the heddles as if they were a reed, but I am sure you could dress it the opposite way.  

Recent

I’ve pulled the warp off the board and just draped it over the heddle tower, separating out the two arms of the warp cross.  The loom came with two maple dowels to help dress the warp and cloth beams in whichever way you prefer.  It also comes with two lease sticks and has holes drilled to use them or store them–I generally only bother with one for these bands.   

Here, I’ve begun winding the warp onto the warp beam.  The loom also comes with these pins that help keep the warp from spreading out too far on the beam and generally allow you to wind on neatly.  I’m using some scrap cardboard as warp separators.  I wind on carefully, combing the warp with my fingers and attempting to maintain even tension as I go.    

Once the warp beam is dressed, I move to the front of the loom, trim the ends of the warp even, and dress the heddles in whatever pattern I’ve come up with.  When I do these patterned white on white bands, good lighting is vital for this task.  I thread the heddles and tie off using larks head knots, which is pretty standard.  

And then I weave until I get too close to the end of the warp for things to work happily.  

Recent

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Linen postcard scrap quilt

Posted by on Saturday, December 30th, 2017

I came across Postcards from Sweden a few years ago, and loved it, and promptly forgot about it.  But then a friend made one, and I gave some thought to the ludicrous piles of linen scraps in my studio, and jumped in.  I will end up with a different palette, because my scraps tend to be darker or sadder than the colors in the original, but I can accept that. I also reached out to friends to see if they had scraps they wanted to part with, and a couple of people were very generous.  I have enough to piece the top without cutting into yardage. 

I opted to start with 6″ squares and cut those into half-square triangles, knowing I’d wind up with much smaller blocks once seam allowances and the difficulties of working with linen came into play. 

Using linen for quilts requires a lot of seam finishing, so I tend to piece with my serger to keep the whole thing from disintegrating.  I build in big seam allowances as well, and try to make up for an increased risk of biasing and stretching when I use garment fabrics.  You can see that the serged seam is larger than the standard scant 1/4 inch most quilters use when piecing.  That is all damage control, so I work with it.  As I piece and press, I  am careful not to stretch that biased edge I’m joining.  Linen quilts call for lots of pressing, of course, so I tend to save them for the winter when my studio is otherwise cold.  I do sometimes also starch or use some other sort of pressing spray to try to make up for the stretch and give of garment fabrics.

Once I had the fabrics all cut, I set up the stacks and did my best to select pairings randomly.  I had to coerce myself to put some colors together that I normally wouldn’t. 

And then, the trimming.  I kid you not about linen’s tricksie ways.  That is a relatively well pieced block, but the looser weave, the biased edges, and the serged seam all come together to cause some oddities.  

Aggressive trimming is necessary.  I opt to do most things as if I’m on a production line, so I turned to a good ruler with a 45 degree mark and a rotating mat.  I’m trimming batches of four at a time.  If I didn’t plan to start joining blocks soon, I would wait on this.  Trimming is taking off those chains of stitches that help make serged seams last, so the trimmed squares are fragile. 

Now, to play with layout options.  I still need to piece 100 or so squares, but I want time to mull over setting in the meantime.  I have a lot of deep blues and reds, so I can rely on them for structure if I want it, or I can fight that urge and lean on improvisation for movement.  I’m not liking diagonal striping. 

But this could work:

I will likely haul out the design wall. 

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You call yourselves Bards?

Posted by on Monday, October 23rd, 2017

This was my challenge for the Celtic component of the Bardic Quest at War of the Wings, 2017.  Boasts have a particular prominence in Celtic mythology: the most famous is the Song of Amergin, but the boasts in Mac Datho’s Pig are also notable. 

 
You call yourselves Bards? That word is mine–
My Mother Tongue gave it breath.
My mouth its home.
My lungs its fuel.
My eyes its guide.
My hands its weapons.
My head its hearth.
Call me Fili, Ollam,
And know what heights I reach.
I speak the féth fíada to wrap my kin in mist,
Then call up War itself
To tear my foes asunder.
I tangle my enemy’s bowels
And rob sleep from his home with a quip.
I pull tears from your eyes or
Laughter from your belly on a whim.

My knife is sharp–my tongue much sharper.
My wits keen and true.
My lips speak a spell to capture multitudes.
I break ensnaring fetters with my voice alone
And call all eyes to see an unjust man
Or a woman’s unbreakable strength.
I sing of the struggle not the fight,
And praise the rabble who resist the strong
Until they themselves rise victorious
To supplant their masters in the minds of men.
One who claims yesterday’s triumph
Must fear my song today
For ere long my verse will recast the tale
In favor of those whose deeds
Most please the Muse.

If you would claim My Word as your own,
Prove your worth. Speak your power.
If Bright Brigid blesses you, take your place at my side.
If you fail, utter “minstrel” only when you name your trade
And speak not of yourself as “Bard” henceforth.

© 2017 Lanea verch Kerrigan/Amy Ripton

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Song of Amergin

Posted by on Monday, October 2nd, 2017

It dawned on me I had never translated this most famous passage from Irish mythology, so I set to work.  From Lebor gabála Érenn: The book of the Invasions of Ireland. I worked from the text here. 

Audio file

Am gáeth i mmuir. ar domni.
Am tond trethan i tír.
Am fúaim mara.
Am dam secht ndírend.
Am séig i n-aill.
Am dér gne.
Am caín.
Am torc ar gail.
Am hé i llind.
Am loch i mmaig
Am briandai.
Am bri danae.
Am gai i fodb. feras feochtu.
Am dé delbas do chind codnu.
Coiche nod gleith clochur slébe.
Cia on cotagair aesa éscai
Cia dú i llaig funiud grene.
Cia beir búar o thig Temrach.
Cia buar Tethrach. tibi.
Cia dain.
Cia dé delbas faebru. a ndind ailsiu.
Cáinté im gaí cainte gaithe. Am.

 

I am the wind on the sea–the depths.
I am a wave storming the land.
I am the roar of the Ocean.
Mine are the seven antlers.
I am a falcon on a cliff.
I am the Sun’s own tear.
I am Beauty.
I am a boar of fury.
I am a salmon in a pool.
I am a lake in a meadow.
I am the Pinnacle of Poetry.
I am the flaming word.
I am the spear of the spoils– War’s work.
I stoke the fire in the head.
Who marks the path to the mountain’s peak?
Who invokes the ages of the Moon?
Who guides the setting sun?
Who leads the cattle from Temrach’s abode?
Who do Tethra’s Sparkling kine adore?
Which Poet?
Who hones the sharpest edges, the fortress fosters?
Who sings the Spear-Song, the Wind-Song, but I?

Translation © 2017 Amy Ripton

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