Take a deep breath.
Imagine a field of snow.
Move your arms and legs like you’re doing a jumping jack.
Yes, make an angel.
Imagine one half of you, one side waves to the past, the other to the future.
Pretend your body, the center, is the present.
For a moment, lie still within your own wings.
This poetic metaphor is a gift I offer for 2022, and beyond, should you need it.
Why am I giving you a time angel? Well, it’s January, the month of resolutions, when we vow to spend time differently, pledging more for good habits, less for bad, so my gift is thematic. Also, based on conversations I’ve had over the past two years, many of us have expressed that since Covid, time feels different or weird, so I thought I’d explore our collective consciousness.
To begin, I review a previous issue of Methods & Muses, where I describe drawing my cat Trampoline and ponder some words of wisdom from two of my Art instructors:
“As I worked from Tramp’s general shapes into the finer lines of him, I felt myself move into what my Drawing teacher, Kathy Moyce, liked to call Art Time. Art Time occurs when everything slows down and gets quiet. Surroundings blur and fade as you and your creative task become one thing.
Art Time happens when you are content to be lost.
Kathy swore that drawing had the power to stretch time. I believed her. I also believed my Visual Images professor, Suzanne Cohen-Lange, when she said that artists understand liminal space, the space in between. She said artists are comfortable with the unknown because we live in this space.”
Be content lost.
Be comfortable not knowing.
This is easier said than practiced, especially after a trauma like Covid. As the pandemic continues, I think we want to feel like we’re finding answers, so we can move on, focus on our goals, get back to the familiar. Maybe we feel strange about time because we feel we’ve lost some.
Still, I’m trying to apply the tenets of Art Time, not only as I create, but more practically, as I move among my life. Please note that I’ve written ‘among’ and not ‘through’ to describe my motion. ‘Through’ suggests a linear structure for time, and it’s a bit aggressive, while ‘among’ helps remind me of my time angel, the shapes of cycles and the thought that maybe “the past, present and the future [are] all one.”
Whoa! That’s wild! It’s philosophical, and I’ve quoted it from Robert Grudin, who borrows this transtemporal concept of time from Einstein and explores it within his book, Time and the Art of Living.
I don’t usually read philosophy. I’ve dabbled, but it makes me dizzy, like I’m on the carnival ride The Scrambler. The writing tends to twirl, as if the philosopher is saying the same thing three-hundred different ways. In fairness, poets whirl too. We use appositives, we’re famous for our imaginative leaps, and we get excited, really excited, when we see connections in the spin. Poets see a lot of connections, and I suppose like philosophers, we strive to make sense of the world through our craft.
Benjamin has read and studied philosophy, so I asked him about the circles. He said that thinkers explore ideas from a variety of angles to ensure that no one sees holes in their concept. I find this relatable. I want readers to enjoy the journey inside my poetic imagination, and I do move all over the place, hoping each reader will find at least one place to land.
So while I don’t usually read philosophy, my friend and visual artist, Jen Coon, sent me Grudin’s book. She and I send each other seemingly random stuff all the time (books, postcard art, collage tools and materials), and most of it eventually finds an artistic use. Lo and behold, I am now reaching for Grudin, not only for this post but also for a few poems I’m currently composing. Everything connects.
Here are a few excerpts from Time and the Art of Living.
May you find at least one of them useful or comforting.
Chapter III- Past, Present and Future: “But a few happy souls achieve, usually near the end of life, a seeming transparency of self, an awareness which dissolves the barrier between selfness and otherness and immerses itself in the continuity of life around them.”
Chapter XII- Memory: “Frequently and with deliberation and respect we should revisit our early memories–memories which do not fade and which hold the incorruptible essence of emotion.” In this chapter, Grudin goes on to say that these early memories can bring “a partial sense of that poetic fullness, a ghostly residue of unqualified being.”
Chapter X- Time and Art: “Good artists, even those who work quickly, turn to every detail, every passage, as though it could if necessary be given an infinite amount of time. This readiness to delay paradoxically adds to their effective speed; for the awareness that they never let the pressures of time cheapen their effort gives them the confidence and hence pace.”
From my notes, here’s a composite paraphrase that I turn into a haiku:
“Trans-temporality is rare vision, a unified scope of time, a quiet pulse of universal meaning triggered by chance, contemplation and art.”
Chance, a field of snow,
contemplation a kid-thought–
dive back and fly!
Grant Me the Tooth, Give Them Archer
I’ll close this issue with a couple of pieces of good art news:
Porkbelly Press has chosen my micro chapbook, Grant Me the Tooth, for publication!
“Porkbelly Press is an independent micro press specializing in handbound, small & open edition runs of chapbooks, micro chapbooks, zines and broadsides (letterpress & lithograph & screen print).
“[They] welcome works from writers all along the identity spectrum; [they’re] queer friendly & feminist. [Their] catalog favors lit & poetry leaning heavily toward fabulism, folklore, & magic—often confessional or intimate poems or personal lyric essay. All work should be tightly linked.
No hate speech.”
Given my love of the book arts and all things witchy, of course I was drawn to this lovely press’s approach and aesthetic. Additionally, two of the finest poets I know, Sarah Ann Winn and Sally Rosen Kindred, have published with Porkbelly and both testify to how lovely it was to work with Editor, Nicci Mechler.
I wholeheartedly agree with my colleagues. Nicci is communicative and collaborative. She asks good questions, offers specific feedback and includes me in the process. In a phrase, Nicci rocks! I’m thrilled and honored to be part of Porkbelly’s catalogue. As soon as I have dates and details, I’ll share these in my next newsletter, on my website and social media. Stay tuned!
Also, Half Wild’s album, Give Them Archer, has been released!
Half Wild is my band, my beloved trio. Kelly Smith-Campbell, Benjamin Dauer and I write songs inspired by our dreams, past lives and passions for nature. Blending spoken and sung vocals, layers of low harmonies, bass and guitar, we write Earth Hymns and Echo Poems. If you’d like to listen, you can purchase or stream our album on Bandcamp.
Kind community, thank you for sharing my ‘mews’ and news.
May your time feel less weird and may you have many things to celebrate.
Happy New Year!