Friday, November 20, 2015

"Project Faultless," by Jason Gray

To close out the week, a fantastic video poem by Jason Gray. Jason's poems are wonderful (here's a great one, "Your Art History"), and he's also a talented photographer.


Hope your weekend is wonderful, friends. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tsk, Task

"Haywire," by David Asch

I’ve written before on this blog about the dangers of being overly task-oriented (a mindset I have often fallen prey to), especially when it comes to creativity and writing.

Parenthood is very imminent for us…our little guy will be arriving any day now. It’s amazing how much I’ve been forced, already, to let go of the need for control (which maybe is an illusion, anyway). I know that this is one of the great lessons that I’ll be learning, for which I’m greatly appreciative.

I no longer feel the compulsion to write and post every weekday. I still feel compelled to write, and definitely view the world from the perspective of an artist and writer. But my writing practice has indeed undergone some changes coinciding with pregnancy. I don’t sit down with the express purpose to write poems every day—for many years, I did do this. I remember just wanting to generate work all the time, to create space in my day to validate feeling like an artist.

Now, it feels like the urge to write has deepened and taken an inward turn. I already make plenty of space in my life for art and writing—now I want to think more deliberately about what I’m saying with my art. The time and repetition elements of my practice have receded in importance, for me…it’s been thoroughly absorbed into my psyche that I look at things and naturally have a response, that I want to create words where before there was silence or nebulous thought.

A daily, chosen, once-cherished practice can easily become a task. Tasks feel externally-imposed; after all, the word shares linguistic roots with “tax” (as in a duty that must be performed).

Creating a task list can feel really good. Write the actions you are ordering yourself to complete, and when you do them, you get a little thrill from having controlled the future.

Creativity needn’t be so neat, so full of (false) mastery. Little by little, I’m forced to confront the tasks I give myself, as both a creative person and a human, and question their value. While I know that making space for writing will remain important in my life once our son is here, I also know that he is a wonderfully enigmatic variable. Will he sleep? Will he eat? Will he poop at inopportune moments? Yes, all of the above. And my husband and I don’t really get a say in this.

I guess what it comes down to is this: I don’t want daily life to become full of “tasks” to check off. Rather, I welcome the incoming chaos and unpredictability and frustration and joy and even boredom. And I hope my art can reflect this.

Monday, November 16, 2015


"New Myth for New Family," 2011, by Femmy Otten


From nothing a form What makes a home
A table in the entryway raising its head
under your palm to take your keys when
you walk in Sweet and loyal furniture
Increasingly the local expresses itself to me
with deepening sweetness But oh the farther
away rooms of this world hold trauma
This week in Paris What does it mean to hold
strangers in my prayers In the kindest room
of my mind I think unhelpful thoughts like I hope
the wounded heal
and May the children
return to their parents
though I know that
some will not One poet who skillfully handles
death Which is to say cradles its horror
and sadness and absurdity One such poet
is Auden Today I come back to Auden’s
words when Yeats died Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen
and The death of the poet was kept
from his poems
and But for him it was his
last afternoon as himself
God this gets to me
Son you are about to inch your way from me
out into all of the worlds that this place is
Already you are yourself When you are born
the deer and foxes will run between the trees
elsewhere in Ohio elsewhere on our planet
And yes even the wolves who might in running
look up through tree limbs and see how they
hold up the sky or brush past the pines still
so very green so reassuringly green

[Image above by Femmy Otten]

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

"Books," by Jeff Robinson

Currently reading and enjoying:

-Cup, by Jeredith Merrin. I was fortunate to have Jeredith as my advisor in graduate school--she was (and is) so reassuring, kind, and wise! She's a wonderful poet and person. Although she doesn't live in Ohio anymore, she came back to read last week, and I got to hear some of her beautiful poems from this book live. I've been loving these poems...

-This lovely, glimmering poem by Tasha Cotter up at Verse Daily, "Arrowhead."

-This absolutely necessary article in the Los Angeles Review of Books, "Diversity is Magic: A Roundtable on Children's Literature and Speculative Fiction" (a panel led by Rochelle Spencer). The panelists discuss speculative fiction and race, and the (untapped) potential of the genre to bring about social change. Discussions like this are so important to the future of literature (and what our children get to read and imagine!).

How about you, friends? Whatcha reading?

Thursday, November 12, 2015


from "Folding Chairs," 2015, by Ashley Mistriel


Oh ye of the reaching tentacle
Do not despair

I know it feels like you are flailing
but all your appendages are attached
to your body

and under you there is a chair
or floor or dirt

and under all of that a fairly solid place
to which we both belong

The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.