Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Blackest Ink

Alberto Blanco, star poet, sent me "a little gift" by e-mail: a Spanish translation of "The Blackest Ink," one of my poems just out in the new issue of The Bitter Oleander. Thanks, Alberto! It's so thrilling see a piece reborn in another language, even if my Spanish is incredibly rusty. Here are both versions:

The Blackest Ink

Hair still wrapped in a towel,
I rush to my notebook,
urgent words overflowing.

As I write, a drop of water
falls into the stream
of still-damp cursive.

The miniature puddle
swirls with orchid and blue:
a delicate oil slick.

This morning
even my blackest ink
bleeds secret rainbows.

-- Christine Boyka Kluge

La tinta más negra

Con el pelo todavía envuelto en la toalla,
corro hacia mi cuaderno de notas,
las palabras urgentes se desbordan.

Y mientras escribo, una gota de agua
se precipita en la corriente
de letras cursivas todavía frescas.

En el charco en miniatura
se forma un remolino orquídea y azul:
una delicada marea negra.

Esta mañana
hasta mi tinta más negra
sangra arcoiris secretos.

-- Christine Boyka Kluge
Translated by Alberto Blanco

The poem is reprinted here with permission from The Bitter Oleander. The translation is printed with permission from Alberto Blanco. To read a post about one of Alberto's poems from his book, A Cage of Transparent Words, click here: "Life by Halves."
The photograph of the coleus leaf was taken 8/18/08 in Rhinebeck, NY.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Yesterday's Light and Shadow

Yesterday, as I stood at the counter cutting spirals with my favorite little scissors, I looked up to see this fantastic show of light and shadow. Sunlight from the windows behind me flowed through a gold vase of hydrangeas on the counter to dance with shadows on the kitchen wall. The heat rising from the radiator below caused a rippling, flickering effect. The picture changed constantly. I couldn’t look away. I couldn't tell if time was softly flowing past or strangely blossoming outward for those minutes.

The photos were taken 11/22/08. Click on images to enlarge.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Miniaturist

Sitting here finishing my Chicken Marsala, I just remembered that I had a poem, "The Miniaturist," that would be so fitting to post on this cold and blustery November night. Then I realized that I also had new photos that I took at a strange little doll museum in Vermont. Synthesis.


Here, in his cellar workshop,
a human sneeze could topple a world.
He confines his vision to the rooms
of the red and blue dollhouse.
Within a cone of golden light,
his hands are steady,
everything perfectly focused.
He balances a poppy seed bead of glue
on the tip of a toothpick,
attaches fringe to a rug
sewn from a scrap of his robe.
For his silent family,
he snips the hair from his head,
paints their eyes and smiling lips
with a single-bristle brush.

At dusk he lights the tiny lamps
and dreams himself inside.
Admit it, you're in there, too --
feet propped on the tapestry footstool,
hands clasped behind your neck.
An Afghan the size of a stamp
cozily rests across your lap.
You've turned your back to the missing wall,
to November's early darkness.
A bulb is ablaze
in the miniature fireplace,
its orange glow mistakable for warmth.

-- Christine Boyka Kluge
From Teaching Bones to Fly (2003)
Bitter Oleander Press

The poem was first published in Tar River Poetry, then in Teaching Bones to Fly. The photograph was taken 11/6/08. For more on things miniature, see the June 30th post entitled "The Poetics of Space," complete with a photo of a dollhouse doll. To enlarge the photos, just click on the images.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cloudy Windows

In the Winter 2007 issue of Tin House, Anthony Doerr wrote a wonderful essay about Alice Munro’s stories entitled “We Are Mapmakers.” (I even enjoyed the description of the essay as “a writer charts his own course through Alice Munro.”) Parallel to his reading of Munro’s fiction, Doerr takes the reader on a trip through his own past. We begin with him as a twenty-two year old, camping on Great Barrier Island off the coast of New Zealand, reading his first Munro story by flashlight in wind and rain. After finishing the story, moved, Doerr falls into a dreamlike trance. When he wakes, “the rain has stopped. I unzip the tent door. The stars are violently bright, electric-blue. The Milky Way is stretched south to north. Orion is upside down.” Later he says that Munro’s stories “cracked open my understanding of what a short-story writer can do with memory and time.”

Doerr feels strongly that stories become a part of the reader, their fiction blending with reality. He says, “I think we build the stories we love into ourselves. I think we digest stories.” Doerr found that Munro’s stories expanded and worked on many deeper levels. The surface aspect “swerved, it inflated: it became about memory and imagination, the urge to know scraping against the inability to know for certain. We peer at the past through cloudy windows; we see shapes, figures. How much is real? And how much is merely threads, tombstones, conjectures?”

I agree. Our individual worlds are hybrids of what we observe and sense, our memories, and our dreams. What we read also takes root inside of us, becomes part of our personal history, like other lives we’ve experienced. As Doerr notes, “A good story flashes around inside, endlessly reflecting.” At the end of the essay he concludes that “… the fictions of a few writers are stamped like rivers into the landscapes, flashing and strong, deep through the channels, with countless forks and filigrees and branches. Alice Munro’s river is one of the brightest.”

The photograph (granted, not a great one, but a match to the topic) was taken in Rhinebeck, NY, on October 7, 2008. Those eerie descending figures / religious statues were much more fascinating and evocative in reality.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pottery and Fine Art Sale Tomorrow

You are invited!
Katonah Art Center Pottery and Fine Art Sale
Pottery, Jewelry, Glass, Sculptures
Sunday, November 9, 2008
10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

31 Bedford Road, Katonah, NY 10536 (opposite the A&P)

My Shrunken Worlds paper sculpture ornaments are already there, just waiting for you ...

The photograph of the ornamental cabbage was taken in Rhinebeck, NY on 10/7/08.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tomorrow, Glimmering

After endless months of build-up, suddenly we're on the cusp of Election Day. I feel both incredibly excited and a bit anxious. It looks more and more promising. Possibilities. Vote.

Fittingly, here's the final stanza from the beautiful "Dust from Dying Stars" by Julie Suk:

Like night-eyes in a forest
tomorrow glimmers
without a discernible body.

The full poem can be found in The Dark Takes Aim, published by Autumn House Press in 2003. The photograph was taken on my road on 10/30/08. Click on image to enlarge.