Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Shoe's Tale

I didn't touch it. I didn't arrange it. There it was, without its mate, in its final resting place of glass shards and gravel. Caked with dirt, gnawed by some mysterious mammal, the suede shoe cast a jagged, menacing shadow. In the stillness of the bright April afternoon, why was a chilling ripple of darkness spreading along my spine? What was the shoe's tale?

Shoe found in the parking area for the Appalachian Trail, Pawling, NY, 4/08.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ferns in Fur

Still wearing winter furs, a fern quartet begins to unfurl. Group hug!

Found among the thousands of daffodils at Laurel Ridge Foundation, Northfield, CT, 4/21/08.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Text: Ur - The New Book of Masks

Text: Ur--The New Book of Masks, edited by Forrest Aguirre, winner of a World Fantasy Award, is a collection of experimental and speculative fiction and fantasy from Raw Dog Screaming Press. On the press' Web site, the anthology is described as "a beautifully surreal masquerade" and a "hallucinogenic spectacle." Just look at the wild cover art by Carrie Ann Baade -- that riveting image is what invites you inside, into the odd worlds of these twenty stories. I have a few short hybrid pieces included in the anthology, which are now part of Stirring the Mirror: "Parchment and Twigs," "No Mooing in the Moonlight," and "Documenting My Abduction."

Authors contributing to Text: Ur are Brian Evenson, Rikki Ducornet, Lance Olsen, Tamar Yellin, Terese Svoboda, Jay Lake/Ruth Nestvold, Sarah Totton, Joshua Cohen, E. Sedia, Nadia Gregor, Darren Speegle, Tom Miller, Joe Murphy, Eric Schaller, Catherine Kasper, Christine Boyka Kluge, Toiya Kristen Finley, and Jason Erik Lundberg.

Publishers Weekly calls the collection "boldly original." Booklist says "stories here display remarkable degrees of creativity and craftsmanship." In Tangent, Text: Ur was described as "experimental, literate, at times cerebral, and overall well-crafted strangeness."

Cover art by Carrie Ann Baade used with permission from Raw Dog Screaming Press.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Daffodil, Asphodel, and Persephone

This Monday we visited the Laurel Ridge Foundation in Northfield, Connecticut, where there are thousands and thousands of daffodils in full bloom over ten acres of fields, hills, and woodland. Daffodils even cover an island in the middle of a small lake. The bright flowers are nestled next to stone walls, line a rustic stone staircase, and surround a large engraved version of William Wordsworth's "Daffodils", (naturally), which overlooks the lake. Thank you for the inspiration, Liz and Lil.

Being such a strange sounding word, "daffodil" demanded a trip to the dictionary. The American Heritage Dictionary says it is an alteration of the Middle English affodil, from the Latin asphodelus, asphodel. Confusingly, asphodel refers to a wide variety of plants/flowers. If you look up "asphodel," you discover that it means a plant in the lily family, or more thrillingly, "in Greek poetry and mythology, the flowers of Hades and the dead, sacred to Persephone." In Greek mythology, Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She was abducted by Hades, god of the netherworld, but rescued by her mother. Thereafter, she spent six months of the year on earth and six months in the underworld. I love the dictionary's rhythmic description of Hades as "the abode of the shades of the dead." Poetic. Standing on the sunlit crest of the hill, looking down over the countless swaying clusters of yellow and orange and white, one feels released from winter's dark captivity.

In 1891, Frederic Leighton painted his version of "The Return of Persephone." Click on the title of the painting to see Persephone, pale arms lifted toward her mother, being guided by Hermes from the netherworld into the light.

For two very different poems referring to asphodel, read William Carlos Williams' "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower" and Alan Ginsberg's "An Asphodel."

Note: Click on photos to enlarge images. Pictures taken 4/21/08.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Snappy the Miracle Dog

Yes, he's mine. A bit ill-tempered, a bit freckled with rust, a bit asymmetrical, but he's a genuine Miracle Dog. Snappy is an antique tin lithographed toy made by Louis Marx & Co. Apparently there used to be a mechanism that would propel him at astonishing speed from the depths of his doghouse. Alas, it's missing.

By the way, I selected "April and Silence" by Tomas Transtromer (translated by Robert Bly) as my poem for Poem in Your Pocket Day yesterday. I couldn't resist the vivid simile in the third stanza: "I am carried inside / my own shadow like a violin / in its black case."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pod People and Poets House

All this week Poets House is holding its annual showcase of new poetry books in the Willa Cather Room of the Jefferson Market Library on Sixth Avenue at W. 10th Street, NYC. The organization's goal is to showcase every book of verse published in the U.S. in the past year. There are more than two thousand titles available for viewing through April 19th. My publisher, Bitter Oleander Press, has sent along A Cage of Transparent Words by Alberto Blanco, Gold Carp Jack Fruit Mirrors by George Kalamaras, and Stirring the Mirror, my new collection of prose poetry and flash fiction.

See the previous post for information about tomorrow's reading at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY.

The pod people pictured above are made from -- you guessed it -- pods, a strange pine cone, and vintage prints sealed with acrylic varnish.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mount Saint Mary College Reading, 4/17/08

I'll be reading at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY this Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 4:00 PM. Join me in the Curtin Memorial Library in Aquinas Hall. It will be open to the public and free of charge. Refreshments will be served. For directions, click on MSMC.

This coincides with the Academy of American Poets' first national Poem In Your Pocket Day. Here's their idea: "Select a poem then carry it with you (poem in your pocket) and unfold it with family, friends, and coworkers throughout the day." I'm not sure yet which poem I'll carry with me, but I'm thinking of something by Tomas Transtromer, Elizabeth Bishop, or Theodore Roethke. Or Emily Dickinson, or Charles Wright...

Happy Poetry Month!

The photograph was taken at the orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunset, Dumpster

Sometimes, when you pull over the car to take a picture of an irresistible sunset, your eyes get tugged to the side by an unexpected gleaming place, by an object that calls out with its own spectacular colors and life. Just like poetry. What you set out to capture, to put down in ink, was really just leading you somewhere else.

Photo taken 4/12/08 off Route 22, Brewster, NY.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

West Side YMCA Reading -- Pedestal Magazine

It was an honor to be part of the first Writer's Voice poetry event held in the new Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater at the West Side YMCA. And an honor to read with the featured reader, Edward Hirsch, and John Amen and George Wallace. Our four very different types of poetry and presentation, along with John's music, made for an intriguing synergy. At least it felt that way to me. The audience seemed attentive and enthusiastic. Thank you. I had great time. Leaving the Y with family and friends, walking west, the crescent moon was perfectly framed by the Empire Hotel (with its red neon sign) and a neighboring building. Did anyone else notice that? It was so unseasonably warm that we sat outside at Fiorello's for a celebratory bite to eat.

Poets in photo, left to right: Edward Hirsch, George Wallace, John Amen, CBK.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Pedestal Magazine Poetry Reading Thursday Night, 4/10/08

You are invited to
The Writer's Voice Visiting Author Series
Pedestal Magazine Event
featuring Edward Hirsch,
George Wallace, John Amen and Christine Boyka Kluge

Thursday, April 10, 2008
at 8:00 PM
at the West Side YMCA
Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater
5 West 63rd Street
(between Central Park West and Broadway)
New York City

Wines from 67 Wine, books from Mobile Libris

The photograph was taken at the Orchid Show at The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY, 4/4/08. Click on the photo to get the full splash of color. Love this camera!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Face to Face with an Orchid

The orchid show at The New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, New York is a mesmerizing splash of colors, patterns, and textures. During these bleak early spring days, it's a spectacular feast for the eyes. We traveled there in Friday's drizzle and were delighted to step into the contrasting lush kingdom of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. Reviewing the photos this morning, the blooms still dazzle. I loved getting face to face with each variety, but the slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum) were my favorites. That's the one in the photo above. Unfortunately, today is the last day of the exhibit. If you live close enough, find a way to get there.

Click on the photo to enlarge and see amazing details!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ghost Doll

You're right. It was WAY too beautiful to stay inside.

(Just click on the photos to enlarge the images.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Devil's Needle: Photographer Stu Jenks

Artists seem to resist strict classification. The creative force wants to express itself regardless of what form it takes. Stu Jenks, a photographer based in Tucson, is also a musician and now a writer. It's fascinating to read what he writes on his blog about his creative process, to follow his evolving methods, to witness his discoveries about the landscape, the people, and himself. He places himself at the intersection of planned location and beautiful accident. He's open to what arrives and captures it on film. Here's a link to his blog post about his visit to The Devil's Needle, Arbroath, Scotland.

Photo by Stu Jenks, used with permission.