unexpected

Woke up discouraged and have not been able to shake this feeling. Everyone I know is “overwhelmed,” or devastated or sad. A general state of disarray. The things that often help do not – not even a brisk walk. Not even the sun at my back.

I catch up on reading, or try to. The newsletters in my inbox – Interviews with artists and writers. Exhibit openings. Email I should have responded to but have not. It’s hard to not repeat myself. I have doubts.

Here’s the New Yorker piece on the recent death of Providence poet and activist Mark Baumer.

Here’s a collection of 400 video interviews with artists.

And here is what seems to be a great resource for anyone interested in interdisciplinary art practices. 

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I am supposed to be revising my manuscript. There are questions I have about it that I don’t know whether I will be able to answer. In part, I want to be done with it. To move on to the new things I have started, half-heartedly. Another part of me wants to keep tweaking it forever. Moving sections around. A new framing device. Introduce new voices. This is a way, I think, of keeping it in the space of infinite possibility. To avoid confronting its limitations. Its visible flaws.

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When I decided to center my life and work around my creative practices – writing, reading, sewing – it felt like a different time. One of openness, positive change. Times feel dark now and when I say that I don’t mean to suggest that times were not – for many – dark before. I do not mean to undermine the experience of others. What I mean to say is that all that made me vulnerable to sadness, feelings of hopelessness, and futility before have taken on concrete and monstrous new forms. It is difficult at times to know what to do first.

I don’t want to say, “make art,” or “don’t make art,” and there never has been any simplistic answer to the question of how to live a life of meaning. I’m stating here what is obvious.

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Yesterday, I finished up a week-long daily poetry project. A group of us send a poem around every day – no commentary, not discussion, just the accountability of producing one small thing each day, for seven days. The best days are, of course, when I write something that surprises me in the writing of it. That the process itself yields something unexpected. That happened once, on day six:

I had already been drinking
by the time you sat down – the cold night
had reddened your face so we were both
flushed and happy for this –
our secret meeting
while we still had the babysitter at home

I remembered that first room
its sloping ceilings
the way the radiator’s low whistle
sung me to sleep. Your bathroom mirror
was too high – only ever saw
the top of my disheveled head.

Those years – before we knew how the past
could sneak up and shake us
could break into locked rooms and overturn
dresser drawers. Could empty out the closets
and throw it all out on the floor
and make us look at it – garish and unvarnished

I had asked you what you wanted –
where you wished you could be
what you hoped to do in this short life
your answer – infuriatingly steadfast, unwavering –
you, right here for this hour, doing this
for each other, with our hands