Thursday, August 20, 2020

Traci Brimhall / Love Prodigal

Anatomical Heart Art Print Coloured — Medshop Philippines

Love Prodigal

I make love when I am bored.
That’s how I know I’m an intelligent
animal. It’s easy to tremble—a pistil
brushed with a bumblebee’s fur—
and who doesn’t want to be golden,
like pearls of fat glistening in an artery
or a mother’s first milk? I want
to send you photos of dead fledglings
on the sidewalk, those perils of the lavish
season, but we are wrong, a news story
tells me so, explaining beauty drives
evolution, not a mate with an advantageous
beak. I wish I could tell you this. Letters
and novels keep seducing me with
their fantasies of closure, but I like
the way your silence wastes inside me.
I am a grieving animal. Let’s not pretend
souls are beautiful. They’re as ugly
as white petals wilting, crisping
and curling in on themselves
in cloudy water and green-rot. But let
them fall into me like loose change
in a leg cast. What’s broken cannot be
healed with anything but superglue
and imagination, but let it be tended to.
Let it be tender. Let’s imagine a miracle
together at a distance, the reunion
of a pronoun and its first verb. I’m not
over it—the elk’s blood blackens the bottom
of the fridge, and when I wipe it, it leaves
a pink quarter, blood-ghost, hunger stain
in the shape of your birthmark.
I’m a regretful animal. My heart tries
to grow as fast as velvet in May.
It’s trying to attract an ending with
a crown of daisies, an archive
of spring, of wants, of waterfalls,
of woods, good God, I know you
won’t take me back.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Monday, August 10, 2020

Mark Strand’s Playful Collages


Mark Strand’s Playful Collages


Rachel Arons
September 24, 2013

Before Mark Strand became one of the great contemporary American poets, he trained as a painter. At Yale in the nineteen-fifties, he studied under the color theorist Josef Albers, and throughout his life he has continued making paintings, prints, and collages. In recent years, Strand, a former Poet Laureate of the United States and professor of literature, most recently at Columbia, has moved away from writing altogether to focus on art. A collection of his collages, made in Madrid and New York, is currently on display at the Lori Bookstein gallery, in Chelsea. Over e-mail, I asked Strand about collage, color theory, and the connection between his poetry and his art. (In the questions, I refer several times to an interview with Dr. Melissa Birdwell—actually, a tongue-in-cheek interview Strand conducted with himself for the catalogue that accompanied an exhibit of his collages last year in Shanghai.)

The collage pieces currently on display at Lori Bookstein are made not from found materials but from paper you made and colored yourself, at the Dieu Donné artists’ space here in New York. Can you explain a little about the paper-making process—what draws you to it and how you incorporate it into your collages?

Well, making paper is fun. Mixing pigment with pulp and adding the blend to the pulp that will eventually become a sheet of paper is wonderfully absorbing. With something called “formation aid” I use my hands to create the various swirls, swoops, drops, and dribbles that bind with the basic sheet of pulp. That basic sheet can be thick or thin, opaque or transparent, black or white or any color I wish. This is the first stage in the making of my collages. I make papers that I believe I can use or that I envision using. I am helped by [the Dieu Donné founder] Sue Gosin, who got me started making paper.

In your interview with Dr. Birdwell, “she” points out that your work has less in common with that of surrealist-collage artists like Kurt Schwitters than with the playful paintings of artists like Paul Klee or de Kooning, who, early in his career, painted simple geometric shapes. Francine Prose, who wrote the introduction to Lori Bookstein’s exhibition catalogue, observed that the torn scraps in your pieces seem to be exchanging “playful, private jokes.” Is making these collages a fun, joyful process for you?

I wanted to make collages that looked something like paintings, and that did not look like other people’s collages. I did not want mine to be literary in any way or to suggest the surreal. I started collaging as an escape from making meaning. I got tired of writing poems, of trying to make sense—verbal sense. It is a relief to make a different kind of sense—visual sense. One must think, of course, but it is an entirely different kind of thinking, one in which language does not intrude. Cutting and tearing paper and pasting the pieces down gives me an immense amount of pleasure. It is as if I were in kindergarten again.

Birdwell also points out that Josef Albers, whom you studied under at Yale, has influenced your artwork by “sensitizing you to the possibilities of color rather than your color performing in the ways that his does.” Can you explain a bit more about how Albers’s colors performed, and how your work does and doesn’t draw upon his color theory?

Albers sensitized me to the possibilities of color, how one color can influence another color, change it even, turning, say, a green into a gray or a brown into a red. I don’t do any of the things demonstrated in his invaluable book “The Interaction of Color,” but having taken his color course twice I am certainly aware of the possibilities that color offers. And then, too, there is the simple fact that some colors simply look good together when one hadn’t thought that they could; the right pictorial conditions have to be created for this to happen.

In your interview with Birdwell, you declined to comment on the relationship between your collage and your poetry, but I will venture to ask about one link between the two: the relationship between control and accident. On the one hand, you have great control over the outcome of these collages, since you made the raw materials yourself. But you’ve also said that “the chance juxtaposition of two pieces of paper” can influence the tone or character of your collages. In relation to your poetry, you’ve said that the surreal elements of your poems often come from moments in writing when “language takes over, and I follow it.” Can you say a little about the role of accident in your collage and your poetry?

Accident plays a major role in both my collage making and poetry writing. I try to combine surprise and inevitability to make something unique, but one can’t do this rationally. The unexpected, the unanticipated must be the determining factor.

You’ve stopped writing poetry in recent years to focus on making visual art. You’ve also taken breaks from writing in the past and then returned to it. Do you think you’re really done writing this time, or do you feel yourself being called back to it?

Who knows? I may return to writing, although I doubt it. Maybe more prose pieces like the ones in my recent book “Almost Invisible.” Right now, I feel like I am on vacation, and I want the vacation to continue.

Art: Courtesy of Mark Strand and Lori Bookstein Fine Art, New York

Rachel Arons is the deputy culture editor of


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Mark Strand / Always

Mark Strand

by Mark Strand

Always so late in the day
In their rumpled clothes, sitting
Around a table lit by a single bulb,
The great forgetters were hard at work.
They tilted their heads to one side, closing their eyes.
Then a house disappeared, and a man in his yard
With all his flowers in a row.
The great forgetters wrinkled their brows.
Then Florida went and San Francisco
Where tugs and barges leave
Small gleaming scars across the Bay.
One of the great forgetters struck a match.
Gone were the harps of beaded lights
That vault the rivers of New York.
Another filled his glass
And that was it for crowds at evening
Under sulfur-yellow streetlamps coming on.
And afterward Bulgaria was gone, and then Japan.
“Where will it stop?” one of them said.
“Such difficult work, pursuing the fate
Of everything known,” said another.
“Down to the last stone,” said a third,
“And only the zero of perfection
Left for the imagination.” And gone
Were North and South America,
And gone as well the moon.
Another yawned, another gazed at the window:
No grass, no trees…
The blaze of promise everywhere.

Read also

Friday, August 7, 2020

Mark Strand / Breath

When you see them
tell them I am still here,
that I stand on one leg while the other one dreams,
that this is the only way,

that the lies I tell them are different
from the lies I tell myself,
that by being both here and beyond
I am becoming a horizon,

that as the sun rises and sets I know my place,
that breath is what saves me,
that even the forced syllables of decline are breath,
that if the body is a coffin it is also a closet of breath,

that breath is a mirror clouded by words,
that breath is all that survives the cry for help
as it enters the stranger's ear
and stays long after the world is gone,

that breath is the beginning again, that from it
all resistance falls away, as meaning falls
away from life, or darkness fall from light,
that breath is what I give them when I send my love.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Mark Strand / Keeping Things Whole

Keeping Things Whole
By Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Mark Strand / Another Place

Another Place
by Mark Strand
I walk
into what light
there is

not enough for blindness
or clear sight
of what is to come
yet I see
the water
the single boat
the man standing

he is not someone I know

this is another place
what light there is
spreads like a net
over nothing

what is to come
has come to this

this is the mirror
in which pain is asleep
this is the country
nobody visits.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Mark Strand / The Remains

Pursuit of Perfection by Xavier Robles de Medina

The Remains
by Mark Strand

Para Bill y Sandy Bailey

I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.

My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.