Thursday, December 29, 2011

a christmas poem for my wife

let me say it again - this promise. this confession:
i love you.
seasons pass, we struggle and fight, we gain a few pounds
and still, here we are, together

valiant, unshaken, faces set like flint
against arrayed and clamourous foes - knowing we must
never stop walking forward; together.

vital tasks must be determined,
lavishly executed, exhaustively pursued.
i have sometimes failed you in protecting these
essentials, yet still you gift me with
together and together and together.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

merry christmas.

in the midst of these often-too-busy season, may you find the sweet spot of rest. 

may 2011 pale in comparison to the joy you experience in 2012.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

nicholas samaras: rebetiko psalm

Then, sing a psalm of the outsider race –
an entire nation of us without borders,
a conglomerate tribe of exiles recognisable

by the same light in our same eyes.
We were Anatolian and Greek under the Ottoman boot.
We were African and immigrant processed

over the waves of the flat, grey Atlantic.
We came from mainlands possessed by others.
Once native, we were suddenly ethnic.

We came from Alatsata, thrown out of our homes
and our country. Everyone was the Lord’s people –
but we were still cast off from even our Holy Altars, thrown

into the dust of the roads leading
out of every town, disinterred from even
the cemeteries of our ancestors –

evicted from the dust of the world
and plunged into the coldest harbours across the seas –
not even our own abroad wanting us – but repelling

us on from the pocked ports of Bodrum, Piraeus,
Liverpool, and Ellis Island, funneling to the factories of Woburn.
And in exile, what did we ever find but ourselves,

a stark room to decorate – the wind
chugging into our scarves, our rolled-up coats for pillows,
the damp wool souring our breath?

We became alienation and exile from everything we’d known.
We left behind the bones of our ancestors in graves
only the wind would comb.

We were emptied eyes and haunted souls
who established shanty towns outside of Athens, who sifted
into new ghettos of the Mani. What could we do

but become the other of ourselves, until we were irreducible?
What could we do but sing into the wind and darkness,
to cup the breeze of our leaving?

We were blues before blues. We were exile and alienation
until the blues were always with us, until
we couldn’t remember a generation or place or time

without blues. We became Rebetes who sang and played
for all the suffering and lost, played for survival and all
the rag-alley years of missing homes and homeland.

In this way, we lived through transit, subsisted through
the squabbled and claimed neighbourhoods of the world.
We lived through countries. We existed through dictatorships.

We endured through emigration and deportation.
The word was refugee, with no countries wanting us.
Our resting was brief – our homes became transit until

we were citizens of transience. Even the wind, empty of us.
So, we filled our emptiness. We were simple and ordinary souls,
some turning to the narcotic of sorrow for loss and misfortune,

some turning to the melodies of the melancholic and crooning –
a spliff of amnesia and a dancing for sorrow.
We tied up with the baglama. Our daily living became the minor

chords of the gittith. Rootless, we became a roots music,
full of grief and passion, romance and bitterness.
When our lives became a haze of coastal cities and alleys,

the cradles of the tavern and the den became our hearth.
The prison and the boarding house became our nests.
When all we could hold was our breaths –

we breathed Alatsata. We breathed ancestors.
Our breathing accompanied castanets and clattering glass,
the droning of worry beads tapped against a sweating drink.

We sang of Smyrna and Pontos. We sang and the songs
possessed us, so we could possess something –
a life, an identity held in our breaths, individuals held together.

We sang for generations, citizens in nameless countries until
we became our own country of song. Singing our breaths, we moved
into ourselves – singing our breaths to make sure we’re alive,

we were a universal tribe cast into the universe,
singing to be still, 
a soulful psalm of an outsider
nation singing to belong, to be home.


(an audio file of mr. samaras reading the poem can be found here - scroll down)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

nicholas samaras: psalm of waking

Good morning to the birds of heaven.

Good morning to the sun after the insomniac hours.

Good morning to the chenille blanket that held me cozy.

Good morning to the family pictures on the wall, reclaiming their faces.

Good morning to the bedstead of my father and his father before him.

Good morning to my children who, with their stuffed animals,

climb in to cuddle and hold me for more minutes of sleeping.

Good morning to the luxurious stretching of my arms,

legs, and waist—as they reclaim the shape of my body.

A very good morning to the hazy, impressionist trees in early fog

as they rustle the blue sky into solid colour.

Good morning to the free gift that lets me choose a better choice.

Good morning to the birds of heaven as I want to sing

back to them, to give them the company they bless me with.

Good morning to crumbs that feed even the earth.

Good morning to my Lord whom I wish to breathe into my being.

Good morning to my heart that lifts to the birds of heaven

and my fresh chance to again make this one day right,

this one day I hope to appreciate and earn

as I step onto the green and dewy world’s mantled body

and the morning lies before me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

1000 artists' books

in july of this year i discovered an opportunity to submit to a forthcoming publication by quarry books entitled 1000 artists' books. there were several categories to which i could submit, but the most applicable sections were [obviously] objects as books/ books as objects (sculptural books) or conceptual books (installations).

i submitted 5 different pieces for their perusal:

100 pieces
recipes for kneeling (version one)


recipes for kneeling (version two)

in the past few days i have received word that i have made the cut and one of my pieces - recipes for kneeling (version one) - will be included! my friend dea fischer has also been accepted (you can check out her loverly work here and here).

it will be quite an international representation - there will be artists from australia, new zealand, south america, south africa, japan, the UK and parts of europe. i can't wait to see the variety of approaches these artists take as they explore the idea of the book, its form, its functionality and mechanics, its bookness.

i'm so looking forward to this.

Monday, October 17, 2011

john terpstra: the highway that became a footpath

The Highway That Became a Footpath

(after the other side won the civic election)

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,
for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,
and I saw the holy city, coming down out of heaven...
and the holy raving protester who climbed into a tree
to resist the building of the last highway
was still in among the leaves,
but the tree had grown much taller,
and the protester had been living up there for such a long time,
not alone, that several generations of protesters now populated the canopy,
freely trafficking the branches of their swaying neighbourhoods,
as the six-lane highway
wound between the trunks below
as wide only as a footpath,
a red-dirt earthway, busy with pedestrians.
And the highway-that-became-a-footpath
led past the longhouse raised
during the same resistance, down in the valley,
for it still existed (both longhouse and valley existed still)
and other longhouses,
which were standing at that location several centuries earlier,
had re-materialized, their hearth-fires
burning still; an entire village, thriving
beside the hallowed creek that ran through the east end of the city.
And I saw the trees that formed the longhouse walls
take root, and continue to grow, 
forty thousand times forty thousand,
their canopy providing all the roof
that the people needed.
And from a privileged perch at the top of the escarpment,
watching as the new city came down out of heaven,
it was clear that the leaves of those trees
were for the healing of the community.

Terpstra, John. "The Highway That Became a Footpath" The Best Canadian Poetry in English. Markham: Tightrope Books, 2009.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

in my father's arms by carl leggo

all my life I have wanted my father to hold me in his arms and tell me, I love you

I went to a counsellor, empty but still full of fear, and she walked
me through the tangled garden of five decades of living in the earth
to a quiet meadow where my father and I stood all alone with
the dandelions, both dazed and lost. I was once more a small boy.
Faraway I heard a soft voice, what do you want? I began to weep.

all my life I have wanted my father to hold me in his arms and tell me, I love you

We are each shaped by the first years of our lives; we learn how
to live with one another from the stories we have been invited to live
with others. Fathers and sons live in an alien world born in contest,
often confused, where we seldom know how to name our desires.
My father says, I'm a depression baby but I'm not depressed.

all my life I have wanted my father to hold me in his arms and tell me, I love you

In middle age I know my desires with an ache that pushes against
the walls of my heart, and I know I will never lie in my father's arms,
but I will still know my father in love, thankful for all the stories, written,
to be written, all fragments, only, subtending the whole and holy
story that always exceeds the geometry of the heart's tangled lines.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

edward + the alberta museums association

this past weekend i attended the annual alberta museums association conference, where i had the opportunity to do the following:

1. introduce the first keynote speaker, one neil pasricha (pass-reach-ah),
2. moderate a session on 'stealing ideas', and 
3. facilitate a brainstorming session.

conferences are an interesting thing. they're intended to encourage and equip, challenge and inspire. and this conference did do that. this year's experience, however, was different for me as i was involved in different ways than previously - less of a consumer and more of a producer. which i might enjoy more, actually. 

that said, what i was able to attend was helpful and often inspirational. i quite enjoyed neil's presentation. he was honest, funny, humble, transparent. he shared about his life, and why he began his 'blog, and what that has made possible for him. it's really about enjoying the small pleasures of life. i see it as cultivating thankfulness, or a celebration of grace. or seeking out joy. 

i was able to take in 3 of the sessions offered. i chose to attend talks about branding, a presentation of student papers and engaging audiences. i took something from all of them. i really appreciated jocelyn daw's discussion of brands as more than simply a logo, or a website design. a brand is about so much more than the aesthetics of an organization - one's "brand" encompasses one's values, their promises, addresses the user's expectations. it is more about how we do 'x', rather than why. after all, people commit to vision, not plans. a good reminder. 

the student papers were interesting, but i especially enjoyed jessie beier's presentation about the idea of 'play' and its role in "meaning-making". the presentation was fluid, creative (i love prezi!) and allowed her to play. then again, anyone who quotes baudrillard in the first 2 minutes of their presentation has my attention. moderating the session on stolen ideas was a first for me. what i really enjoyed was the generosity of the participants, the realization that stealing ideas requires adjustments (thanks diane for articulating that thought!). we can 'steal' an idea, but as we all engage different content and present that content in different contexts, the end result - whether program, special event, exhibition - will be quite different. we have to trust that, and not fear the sharing of ideas, and approaches.

my own session was inspired by this year's theme of celebrating our successes as museum professionals. over the past numbers of years, i have been a consistent user of the alberta museums association's list-serve. i am more than willing to ask for assistance, suggestions, resources from others - it adds to my own knowledge and enriches me and my work. in turn, i love being a resource for others and sharing what i know and encouraging (or challenging) others. there are so many creative, knowledgeable and passionate people in the museum community, i wanted to offer a workshop where we could take advantage of that collective resource. i sorted attendees into groups and then gave each person the opportunity to get input from the others in their group for a challenge, situation or project. 

when we neared the end of the session, i asked if people had received some suggestions or learned of resources they hadn't previously considered, and approximately 80% of the attendees raised their hands. then i asked how many people had discovered some solutions for challenges, situations or projects they hadn't even mentioned, and the same percentage of people raised their hands. that makes me happy. and pleased. there were some other ideas stirred and plots hatched this weekend, but i'm going to save them. let's just say, i'm looking forward to seeing what unfolds.

once again, i realized that, after more than a decade of working within the arts & culture sector, i am no longer a novice in this field (though there are so many brilliant individuals from whom i can glean and learn), and i felt increasingly affirmed as both a leader and contributor to the larger conversation in and with the community of museum professionals in alberta and beyond. 

i have more to learn. and more to give.

Monday, September 26, 2011

contributions, please

as i work towards a new installation/ exhibition, i would like to solicit input and thoughts from friends, followers and random visitors. obviously i will be working with books and text (both found and generated), but also windows, portals and doors (o my!). 

my request to you is your contribution of quotes, poems or books that explore/ comment upon the following ideas (or any others that may tangentially connect for you within the somewhat vaguely offered context) as grist for the mill: books, communication, text, language, writing, reading, orality, aurality, images, art, creativity, seriality, narrative, travel, journey, pilgrimage, culture, imagination, story, myth, philosophy, exploration, discovery...

here's my [first] contribution: 

of all man's instruments, the most astonishing is, without any doubt, the book. the others are extensions of his body. the microscope, the telescope, are extensions of his eyes; the telephone an extension of his voice; then we have the plow and the sword, extensions of his arm. but the book is something else: the book is an extension of memory and imagination. 
- jorge luis borges

please leave your thoughts, suggestions, questions or comments...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

culture making - an exhibition

this wednesday, september 21 will be the opening reception for culture making, an exhibition coinciding with a conference at king's university college in edmonton, alberta (canada) around the same theme, inspired by andy crouch's book of the same name.

i hope to see you there. if you aren't able to make it, i will take pictures of the exhibition and post them here, including my own piece.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

what's in your name?

something that i do as a more commercial venture are what i call "calling cards". these are pieces that explore the calling that i believe is embedded in one's name. i believe that naming one's children is a prophetic act; which is why it is so important to think through the name(s) you give them.

i research the individual's name(s) and, while [prayerfully] working on the imagery - using primarily collage, though sometimes drawing or painting - i think about a phrase that might encourage, challenge, entreat, remind, provoke that person to live out the calling embedded in, and declared by, their name. it's actually not that different from working on an icon, really. as an example, here is my own name:

edward - "rich guardian", "blessed"; from Old English: ed - wealth, property + ward - guard, "protector" (perhaps both material and spiritual riches?) i.e. a trusted warden of other people's property

patrick - noble, patrician; figuratively, "father"

daniel - Heb: "my God is Judge" or "my Judge is God:, fig. the spirit of all prophecy

van vliet - Dutch: "of, or from, [running] water"

so what are [at least some of] the meanings - dreams, visions - imbedded in my name? what is the [prophetic] calling there to discover? there is certainly a call to be someone who protects, and nurtures. that protection involves wealth - though not necessarily monetary - and both mine and others'. in turn, that wealth is not simply to be squirrelled away, it must be shared, (re)distributed. there is also a call to, and the promise of, maturity and authority; and submission to it. lastly, there is a sense of connection to the spirit of G-d. so how do i encapsulate all these ideas in a single phrase?

perhaps this:

the riches you protect are spiritual

Thursday, July 21, 2011

happy birthday marshall mcluhan!

last night, as a prelude to today's centenary celebration of marshall mcluhan (born right here in edmonton!) i attended a talk at the aga (art gallery of alberta). the evening included a guided tour of the exhibition andy warhol: manufactured with the university of alberta's dr. marco adria, who discussed the similarities between mcluhan and warhol. not only were there a numbver of wonderful and iconic warhol pieces to view, the parallels between the two were striking (and actually reminded me of how much i actually do like warhol's work), and illuminating. interesting points and thoughts:
  • they both saw their function in the world as being witnesses of the changes and manifestations of culture. not judges. not advocates. witnesses.
  • both were devoted, if not devout, catholics, attending mass daily. evidently, warhol always carried an icon with him (and now i need to find out which one) - and the aesthetic of the icon was very common in his work. the centrality of the mass, the communal experience, was core to their projects and work.
  • they were both concerned with the disappearace of a sense of immanence, for the art object first, but also culturally. art, or images, used to contain a real presence. in the age of advertising, and "the retinal flash", images no longer have a sense of immanence, of weight.
  • they both embraced mistakes, and one of the manifestations of this is their love of puns. and while puns are playful, it is serious play. warhol's 'real' name was actually warhola, but he took on someone else's misspelling of his name as his own. similarly, mcluhan's book the medium is the massage was supposed to have been the medium is the message. they were willing to explore those kinds of incidents and mine them to see what they revealed.
after the talk, i took another tour around the exhibition. highlights for me were an early 1959 drawing - fish under glass - that paired a beautful line drawing of a fish with gold foil and collage eleemnts alongside a calligraphic recipe written in ink. there were, of course, soup cans - chicken noodle and scotch broth - but there were also several lovely little stencils, which were hand-cut (and not pre-drawn) for silkscreening.

another room held a number of his portraits - silver liz from '63 is classic and tina chow's 2 portarits, with their ghosted eyes, are haunting - but the most intriguing portrait was his blurred and overprinted small 1962 portrait of warren beatty. the idea of celebrity and identity being fugitive is almost palpable.

i have yet to sit down and watch his films (i tend to find film/ video work tedious) but there were 2 pieces - one of a male store mannequin and one of the statue of liberty - composed of 4 photographs stitched together (2 on top, 2 on the bottom) that were quite nice. the images were taken over the course of 1976-86 and then assembled. the last two pieces that really caught my eye were dollar sign from 1981 (so fun!) and a magnificent and hyoog (20'+) eye-popping pink last supper from 1986. the wigs were anti-climactic after that...

PS. the guide used an iPad for his notes and, after he showed us the marshall mcluhan quote he had inscribed on it - "we become what we behold", i now deeply covet one.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

?rogress is almost over

i recently curated ?rogress at the stollery gallery (in the nina haggerty centre for the arts). this exhibition was part of bridgesongs, a music and arts experience that features two nights of live music, an album release, two art galleries, as well as spoken word and artist workshops. it was also part of this year's the works: art & design festival.

bridgesongs is something i've been involved with for a few years now (this is its fifth year). i love how it's about community. i love that it's taking place amidst the blossoming arts community of alberta avenue, and that it seeks to be a part of the revitalization happening there.

so here's how bridge songs works. a theme is chosen, and announced to a group of collaborators consisting of songwriters and artists. these groups begin writing songs and creating art inspired by the theme. a collection of songs is chosen by the songwriters, and, as the bridge songs collective, they get to work refining and recording those songs. meanwhile, a call for submissions is released to bring in art from the community at large.

the goal is that a dialogue is created between the artists and the community through the creation and enjoyment of art. themes explored range from the serious to the playful, drawing in work and audiences from a broad range of genres and demographics. the end result is a truly collaborative, community driven, one of a kind arts experience.

anyway, the exhibition (and thank you dave for allowing me to do it!) features works by pam baergen, benjamin lemphers and tj mclachlan, is open from June 17th to July 5th. the works in the exhibition explore the idea of Progress through lenses of natural, urban, and personal cycles of destruction and (re)construction. or so i maintain. the closing reception is tuesday july 5th, from 7-9 pm. i hope you'll be able to join us.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

reflections on NextGen: Canada

as some of you know, i was accepted as a participant in NextGen: Canada, a professional development workshop or "learning collaboration" opportunity offered in partnership by the alberta museums association, the getty leadership institute at claremont graduate university and the university of alberta museums (and which is based on GLI at CGU's internationally respected Museum Leaders: The Next Generation program. it was an honour to be accepted, and it was a pleasure to meet the other 18 participants, who came from all over the country, and to represent the next generation of canadian museum leaders.

over the next few days and weeks, i hope to be able to capture some of my thoughts and responses (and plans) about this experience and what particularly imapcted me personally and professionally. it was an interesting, enlightening and curious experience, and one that i shall not soon forget. it provided me with some great tools, but also helped to clarify and stir other hopes and dreams. it was timely in that it intersected and parallelled other activities and intentions in my life, and it will be interesting to see how these ideas about, and tools for, leadership play out in other areas of my life...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

let me hear your voice

let me hear your voice

hmm. there it is again.
that push. pressure of thought,
dream, action meeting.
or not meeting. or meeting poorly.
like a half-heard conversation,
missing some important information,
like a kiss not quite planted squarely.
or surely, or fully.
and that’s what it is –
not full. can’t taste this
thing that should be full of life,
of passion, of desire.
fire of hunger, delight, fear
of falling that becomes flight.

hmm. the hum of dream & expectation
humming ‘neath the skin,
drum beat strain & the eternal song
of yes, here it is, this way, this way,
come closer, draw nearer,
let me feel your breath
as you whisper & murmur
& voice the words curled around your spine,
your fingers unfurled,
your heart the world.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

dave margoshes: becoming a writer

What could be easier than learning to write?
Novels, poems, fables with and without morals
they’re all within you, in the heart, the head
the bowel, the tip of the pen a diviner’s rod.
Reach inside and there they are, the people
one knows, their scandalous comments,
the silly things they do, the unforgettable feeling
of a wet eyelash on your burning cheek.
This moment, that, an eruption of violence,
a glancing away, the grandest of entrances,
the telling gesture, the banal and the beautiful,
all conspire with feeling and passion to transport,
to deliver, to inspire. Story emerges
from this cocoon, a crystalline moment, epiphanies
flashing like lightbulbs above the heads
of cartoon characters. All this within you
where you least expect it, not so much in the head
as under the arms, glistening with sweat, stinking
with the knowledge of the body, the writer
neither practitioner nor artisan but miner, digging
within himself for riches unimagined, for salt.

Margoshes, Dave. "Becoming a Writer" The Best Canadian Poetry in English. Toronto: Tightrope Books, 2009.

Friday, April 29, 2011

marilyn bowering: about your name


If you wish to think about what is invisible,
you start with a loved one,

with their essence, with the touch of lips
in actuality or in potential: as beginning with

electrons and moving to electricity,
and the hydro electric dams on the rivers,

and the changes of names they undergo
according to politics -- that is, you ignore history.

As to the way things are -- this is intelligible
only through a vision of you.

Marvellous colours that are invisible except
to the naked eye, unseen by electronic pulses,

or by mirrors, or by angels talking and drawing
each other's pictures,

unseen by all except me, who happened to find you
in the right place and time.

Because when I look at you I seem to see nothing:
I see the sweetness and light that is above

and beyond all mirrors or the hair combing of angels,
or the polishings of motor cars and mountain bicycles:

it is greatest because it is the simplest, and because it is full
like the air, of the intention to touch.

For that which is most actual is you when I see you
and when I am with you.

You ask how this came about:
it is a question of grace, not practice,

a step in the right direction by chance, 
a desire, not thought.

And I meditated on the mind's ascent to love
the whole world before me, and all the roads,

and I waited for you.

Bowering, Marilyn. "About Your Name" Introductions: Poets Present Poets. Markham: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 2001.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

anne carson: blended text

(from Sublimes)

You have captured:                     pinned upon
my heart:                                  the wall of my heart is your love
with one glance:                         as one
with one bead:                           as an exile of the kings of royalty
of your eyes:                              my heart
you have something of mine:         a torn thing
again the moon:                          now
the rule:                                    (who knows)

Carson, Anne. "Blended Text" Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera. Toronto: Vintage Books, 2005.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

anne carson: and reason remains undaunted

(from Sublimes)

Searching for things sublime I walked up into the muddy windy big hills

behind the town where trees riot according to their own laws and

one may

observe so many methods of moving green—under, over, around, across,
up the back, higher, fanning, condensing, rifled, flat in the eyes, as if

pacing a

cell, like a litter of grand objects, minutely, absorbed, one leaf at a time,
ocean-furious, nettle-streaked, roping along, unmowed, fresh out of pools,

clear as Babel,

such a tower, scattered through the heart, green in the strong sense, dart-
shook, crownly, carrying the secrets of its own heightening on

up, juster than a shot, gloomier than Milton or even his king of terrors,
idol in its dark parts, as a word coined to mean “storm” (of love) or

“waving lines”

(architectural), scorned, clean, with blazing nostrils, not a servant, not
rapid, rapid.

Carson, Anne. "And Reason remains Undaunted" Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2005.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

anne carson: book of isaiah (part II)


There is a kind of pressure in humans to take whatever is most beloved by them
and smash it.

Religion calls the pressure piety and the smashed thing a sacrifice to God.

Prophets question these names.   

What is an idol?

An idol is a useless sacrifice, said Isaiah.

But how do you know which ones are useless? asked the nation in its genius.

Isaiah pondered the various ways he could answer this.

Immense chunks of natural reality fell out of a blue sky
       and showers of light upon his mind.

Isaiah chose the way of metaphor.

Our life is a camera obscura, said Isaiah, do you know what that is?   

Never heard of it, said the nation.   

Imagine yourself in a darkened room, Isaiah instructed.

Okay, said the nation.

The doors are closed, there is a pinhole in the back wall.

A pinhole, the nation repeated.

Light shoots through the pinhole and strikes the opposite wall.   

The nation was watching Isaiah, bored and fascinated at once.

You can hold up anything you like in front of that pinhole, said Isaiah,

and worship it on the opposite wall.

Why worship an image? asked the nation.   

Exactly, said Isaiah.

The nation chewed on that for a moment.   

Then its genius spoke up.

So what about Isaiah’s pinhole?

Ah, said Isaiah.

A memory fell through him as clear heat falls on herbs.

Isaiah remembered the old days, conversing with God under the Branch

and like an old butler waking in an abandoned house the day the revolution began,

Isaiah bent his head.

A burden was upon Isaiah.

Isaiah opened his mouth.

A sigh came from Isaiah’s mouth, the sigh grew into a howl.

The howl ran along the brooks to the mouth of the brooks   

and tore the nets of the fishers who cast angle into the brooks   

and confounded the workers in fine flax who weave networks   

and broke their purpose.

The howl rolled like a rolling thing past slain men and harvests and spoils

and stopped in a ditch between two walls.

Then Isaiah unclamped his mouth from the howl.

Isaiah let his mouth go from the teat.

Isaiah turned, Isaiah walked away.

Isaiah walked for three years naked and barefoot with buttocks uncovered
to the shame of the nation.

All night you could see the Branch roaming against the sky like a soul.

Carson, Anne. "Book of Isaiah" Glass, Irony and God. New York: New Directions Books, 1995.

Monday, April 25, 2011

anne carson: book of isaiah (part I)


Isaiah awoke angry.

Lapping at Isaiah’s ears black birdsong no it was anger.   

God had filled Isaiah’s ears with stingers.

Once God and Isaiah were friends.

God and Isaiah used to converse nightly, Isaiah would rush into the garden.

They conversed under the Branch, night streamed down.

From the sole of the foot to the head God would make Isaiah ring.   

Isaiah had loved God and now his love was turned to pain.   

Isaiah wanted a name for the pain, he called it sin.

Now Isaiah was a man who believed he was a nation.

Isaiah called the nation Judah and the sin Judah’s condition.   

Inside Isaiah God saw the worldsheet burning.

Isaiah and God saw things differently, I can only tell you their actions.

Isaiah addressed the nation.   

Man’s brittleness! cried Isaiah.

The nation stirred in its husk and slept again.

Two slabs of bloody meat lay folded on its eyes like wings.   

Like a hard glossy painting the nation slept.

Who can invent a new fear?

Yet I have invented sin, thought Isaiah, running his hand over the knobs.

And then, because of a great attraction between them—

which Isaiah fought (for and against) for the rest of his life—

God shattered Isaiah’s indifference.

God washed Isaiah’s hair in fire.

God took the stay.

From beneath its meat wings the nation listened.   

You, said Isaiah.

No answer.

I cannot hear you, Isaiah spoke again under the Branch.   

Light bleached open the night camera.

God arrived.

God smashed Isaiah like glass through every socket of his nation.   

Liar! said God.

Isaiah put his hands on his coat, he put his hand on his face.

Isaiah is a small man, said Isaiah, but no liar.

God paused.

And so that was their contract.   

Brittle on both sides, no lying.

Isaiah’s wife came to the doorway, the doorposts had moved.   

What’s that sound? said Isaiah’s wife.   

The fear of the Lord, said Isaiah.   

He grinned in the dark, she went back inside.

Carson, Anne. "Book of Isaiah" Glass, Irony and God. New York: New Directions Books, 1995.