Thursday, March 29, 2007

Writing Is a Strange Adventure: Part I

I know I haven't posted an entry in a while. I have been very busy at school. One of the things I got involved in was making a movie of my students in the Imaginative Writing Class. The movie took 30 hours to make and edit and is a little over 50 minutes long. I'm going to make smaller clips of the movie to upload to YouTube and my blog, so the students can have access to them. I hope that anyone else who is interested in the creative life will be inspired by them. The students have all given me permission to upload their images. So this is the first of several clips of my students as they share something of themselves on film. They were great during the filming, so open and willing to be vulnerable. The effect of the original movie is quite stunning; not that it was a perfect effort by any means. But stunning in the fact that I was so moved by students' participation and how the images came together to tell a story about the writing life. So here are some of my best and brightest students, doing their thing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Before Going to Martins Ferry to Visit James Wright's Ghost I stop at Wheeling, West Virginia"

When I went on my Ohio River Journey in 2005, one of the most important stops along the way was Martins Ferry, Ohio. That is the hometown of James Wright, one of my favorite poets. This past Christmas break, Allen, Buddha, and I went back to Martins Ferry to take video footage for a film I wanted to make about James Wright and his influence on me. I worked on the film last weekend, for many hours. It turned out to be 50 minutes long. Tonight, I gathered a few clips together and made a short film. I enjoy making the short films.I consider anything under 10 minutes to be short, but I want to try to stay in the 2-3 minute range. I want to continue working on imagery and pacing. I am finding it a challenge to work with images instead of words. But all in all, it will be good for me to continue practicing. If nothing else, it will, I hope, make me more observant. Plus they are fun to do!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Video Response to Duende

A most startling and beautiful thing has happened. A woman named Yvonne has posted a video response at YouTube to my Duende slideshow (the one with music). Her primary language is Spanish; however she has made the video in English for me. Oh, isn't art just the most powerful way to bring people together? Do watch the video; it is beautiful.

You can watch the movie at YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqxc6y1vvUQ

Friday, March 09, 2007

Tagged!

It has been a long time since I have been tagged. We used to participate in all sorts of playfulness in the old AOL community. One of the best games we played was when we all interviewed each other. We found out a lot about each other by doing that.

I was tagged by Cynthia. This is a meme called the "Thinking Blog Award." Cynthia is one of my favorite bloggers ever. She took me under her wing when I was first stepping out into the blogging world, offering support. By commenting on my blog entries in those early days, she helped me to develop and perfect my ideas. She also helped me to meet many good people. Thanks, Cyn.

The rules of this meme are:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

I used to read a lot more blogs than I currently do. I might have given up on blogging all together if Cynthia had not been so supportive and had I not discovered the following five blogs which fill my intellect, heart, and soul:

1. To Grow is to Be Anxious. Vince's blog delves into psychology and storytelling. From Vince I learned about Rollo May and also a book which has been very significant to my thinking: The Denial of Death. Vince hasn't been posting as often as he used to. I hope this changes because I really miss him.

2. In A Dark Time... This is a blog by Loren Webster in which he discusses nature and art. I found his blog while doing a Google search on a poet (I'm not sure which one it was now). Loren's discussions of books and nature are thought provoking and his logic is impeccable. He also cares deeply about nature and is an avid photographer.

3. Schizophrenia: A Carer's Journal. This is a blog written by a father whose son was recently diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I find his entries to be very honest, raw, and tender.

4. Erin's Everyday Thoughts. Erin writes about life and art from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a serious writer who doesn't take herself too seriously. Sometimes, by her own admission, she can be downright silly.

5. Beth's Front Porch. Beth's writing is beautiful. Her entries often read like prose poems. I love her stories and her honesty about how she sees life.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Roethke had Duende--Shorter version, without music

All right, so I'm messing around and suddenly I find this feature in that catch-all place I never seem to be drawn to for fear of complication-anxiety: "Options." And when I click on "Options" I see I am allowed to lengthen or shorten the duration of each transition and slide separately. The process, mind you, is unnecessarily long and complicated, but at least that feature is there. So I did another version of the Roethke/Duende slideshow. I may submit this one to the Poetfan contest which I discussed earlier. Won't some of you also submit something to "Poetfan"? Like Bukowski and Bono say, "Come on, do it! Do it!"

The details are:

Email a short essay to ebleakney@poets.org by March 15, 2007 describing in 250 words or less why you (or you and a friend—or, if you are a teacher, you and your class) are the number one fan or fans of the poet you have chosen.

We’re looking for the most compelling and creative entries and welcome the use of supporting materials such as photographs or videos after you have submitted your essay. Just mention you would like to submit supporting material in your email and an invitation to post on our flickr.com or youtube.com group pages will be emailed to you.

Roethke Had Duende

This is a shortened version of a slideshow I made for my class, "From Angst to Art" this semester. I had given the class a copy of Federico Garcia Lorca's essay, "Theory and Play of the Duende." (Lorca's essay exists online.) In this version of the duende slideshow, I seek to compare Vaslav Nijinsky's dance to Theodore Roethke's poetry. Both Nijinsky and Roethke experienced a kind of "mysticism" which fueled their art. I highly recommend the film Nijinsky by Paul Cox. The narration is taken directly from Nijinsky's diaries. (It is also very erotic, emphasizing, I think, the relationship of eros and death.) I think at the heart of duende is love, but it is a love that comes out of blackness, out of having experienced sadness to a great degree. Blues music has duende. Frida Kahlo's paintings have duende. Lorca's poetry has duende. Lorca was fascinated by death, even obsessed by it. Tragically, he was executed during the Spanish Civil War. Artistic expression that stands at the rim of a wound has duende. This is the kind of art that I love the best. It is a form of melancholy that cleanses me. Roethke understood this. My favorite of his poems is "In a Dark Time." In the poem he describes his descent into the abyss. He describes the descent as being like the "tearing wind." This descent enfuses his work with duende. Duende is darkness and it is sadness, but it has the power to save. Standing on the rim of a wound, or even touching the wound, as Thomas does in Caravaggio's painting, bestows a special kind of knowledge. Duende is not a technique, it is the soul of the artist finding its way into the work.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Doors of Perception

Wow! I just posted my very first video to You Tube! This is a slideshow I made a few weeks ago. It includes images of Blake's paintings and engravings, of some of my own artwork, and of some photographs I took. My idea was to combine the images and music in a way that would inspire me to dig deeper into my own imagination and to make connections between the artistry of Blake and my own creative life. I eventually would like to do more of these, along with some short films, all of them exploring the imagination and the creative life.

Tom Waits and Bono recite Bukowski

When is the last time you recited a poem????

Friday, March 02, 2007

Robert F Kennedy

Robert Kennedy remembered

Next fall when I teach two response to literature courses, I may use the theme of "heroes and monsters." Under the hero category, I may include some speeches by and about Robert Kennedy, along with eulogies of known and unknown people. I may ask them to try their hand at writing either a eulogy or something inspirational. I would also like to ask them to study the speeches and eulogies for technique and purpose. It seems to me that when the word "literature" is mentioned, speeches get overlooked. Regarding the possible RFK project, I would like students to think about why more people are cynical about politicians these days.

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Northwest Ohio, United States
"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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Fave Painting: Eden

Fave Painting:  Eden

Fave Painting: The Three Ages of Man and Death

Fave Painting:  The Three Ages of Man and Death
by Albrecht Dürer

From the First Chapter

The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

My Original Artwork: Triptych

My Original Artwork:  Triptych

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Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking Forward, Looking Back

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