translated by Sarah Luczaj
Life is a Long Song
“Дивіться! А цей таки визнав,
що боїться смерті”, –
показав на мене пальцем
один розумаха з нетиповим блиском в очах.
Зрештою, то могли бути скельця.
Останнім часом мене люблять публічно запитувати
Наприклад, який мій найтяжчий гріх.
Що мені снилося із середи на п’ятницю.
Чи подобається мені найвище керівництво країни.
Чи хотів би я бути сумлінням нації.
І чого я боюся.
Відповідаю переважно так,
Коли розмова при чарці або з похмілля,
то значно відвертіше. Коли
на тверезу голову – то вигадливіше
й химерніше переважно.
Того разу я сказав,
що боюся смерті
Головним чином від нещасного випадку.
Хоч насправді наше життя довге,
ніби пісня про Довбуша,
і смерть мусить сприйматися,
давно очікувана через те, що стомлюєшся співати.
Але в цитуванні найважливіше — це
своєчасно поставити крапку,
про що розумаха
знає ще від батьків-наставників.
І поставивши крапку де хоче, самостверджується як може:
“Він визнав! Дивіться всі на його
Так, я справді не боюся сказати, чого я боюся.
Так, я справді боюся нічних телефонних дзвінків
та і-мейлів із записом sad news у суб’єкті.
Дивіться всі на мій страх:
от як я боюся.
В усьому ж іншому це просто пісня,
довга прекрасна пісня про шлях до прірви
чи, скажімо, не менш прекрасна –
про кулю в потилиці.
Life is a Long Song
“Look! One guy admitted
that he’s scared of death!” –
he pointed at me
a certain wise-guy with an unusual glint in his eye.
I suppose it could have been glasses.
These days they like to ask me in public
about the most intimate things.
For example, my greatest sin.
What I dreamt of from Wednesday to Friday.
If I’m happy with the leaders of the country.
If I would like to be the conscience of the nation.
And what I’m scared of.
I usually answer
as best I can.
When the conversation is accompanied by a drink, or after one,
much more openly. When
sober – in a mercurial
and capricious way. Usually.
This time I said
I was scared of the death
of those close to me.
Mainly through accidents.
Although really, our life is long
as a song about Dovbush and death should be seen
as a resolution
long awaited, because you became tired of singing.
But most important when quoting –
is putting the full stop in the right place,
which the wise-guy
still remembers from his masters.
And, putting the full stop where he pleases, he justifies himself as best he can:
“He admitted it! Look everybody, look at his
No, I am really not scared to say what I’m scared of.
Yes, I am really scared of the phone ringing in the night
and emails with sad news in the subject line.
Look, everybody, look at my terror:
this is how afraid I am.
But apart from that, it is just a song,
a gorgeous, long song about the way to the abyss
or, and no less beautiful, let’s say,
about a bullet in the head.
* * *
Кікабідзе, твердо сказала вона,
єво фамілія Кікабідзе.
Що за дурна ідея – частувати пивом повію
о другій ночі,
видаючи себе за бізнесмена з Прибалтики
у київському відрядженні!
І все ж – яка нагода
почути, що собі знає тутешній народ
про країну, в якій живе,
про тих, кому вже ніколи в ній не жити,
про тих, кому не жити зовсім.
Єво убілі, розповідає вона,
он слішком много копал,
он бил самий лучший журналіст
Я не можу виправляти її помилок,
я не можу знати, як усе було насправді,
яка насправді в нього фамілія.
Просто хочеться вірити власній брехні:
я – бізнесмен з Прибалтики
(так, бізнесмен з Прибалтики!),
і мені вже з раннього ранку
у цій країні
підписувати угоди, обмивати їх,
жлуктити каву, коньяк, ковтати атенобене,
слати факси і есемеси
і звалювати пошвидше до своєї Риги,
все повторює і повторює:
Кікабідзе єво фамілія.
Kikabidze, she said, firmly,
His name was Kikabidze.
What a ridiculous idea – to buy a prostitute a beer
at 2 a.m.,
pretending to be a businessman from the Baltic States
on delegation in Kiev!
On the other hand – what a chance
to listen to what these people know
about the country they live in,
about those who will never live in it,
about those who won’t be able to live at all.
They killed him, she tells me,
he stuck his nose into lots of things,
he was the best journalist
in our country.
I can’t correct her mistake,
I can’t know how it really was,
what his name really was.
I just want to believe in my own lie:
I am a businessman from the Baltic States
(yes, a businessman from the Baltic States!),
and all day long
in this country
I’ve got to sign contracts, drink to them,
down coffee, Cognac, sip Atenol,
send faxes and text messages
to get out of here all the sooner
and back to my Riga.
repeats and repeats:
Kikabidze was his name.
Translator’s Note: The original title is “Familya Hruzina”: “Georgian Family” with an “H” instead of a “G” to reflect a rural Ukrainian dialect. Georgij Gongadze is the name of the young Ukrainian journalist killed, presumably by security forces, in 2001. Kikabidze is the name of an elderly, popular Georgian singer, famous in Russia.
Yuri Andrukhovych was born in 1960 in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. In 1985, together with Viktor Neborak and Oleksandr Irvanets, he founded the popular literary performance group “Bu-Ba-Bu” (Burlesque-Bluster-Buffoonery). He has published four poetry books: Sky and Squares, Downtown, Exotic Birds and Plants and The Songs for A Dead Rooster. Andrukhovych’s prose works, the novels Recreations, Moscoviada, Perverzion, 12 Rings and Mystery, have had a great impact on readers in Ukraine. Andrukhovych also writes literary essays, and together with Polish writer Andrzej Stasiuk, published My Europe. Translations of his books have been published in Poland, Germany, Canada, USA, Hungary, Finland, Russia, Serbia, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and Croatia.
Sarah Luczaj is an English poet and translator who has been living in rural south-east Poland since 1997 with her husband and daughters. Her first chapbook, An Urgent Request, was published by Fortunate Daughter Press in 2009, and her poems and translations have been widely published in journals in the States and the UK, including The American Poetry Review, The New Statesman and Modern Poetry in Translation, and online in The Other Voices International Project, Pedestal magazine, and The Drunken Boat, among others. Sarah leads occasional creative writing workshop sessions, and has been known to carve her poems in walls (Zero Meridian installation exhibition, Krakow, 1992). She works as a psychotherapist.
Duration: 1 hour and 52 minutes
Start times of selections:
0:55 Jessamyn Smyth and Allan Peterson — issue summary (read by Jessamyn)
1:55 Mario Milosevic — Red Shift
3:15 Barbara Smith — On Not Seeing Inside the Sistine Chapel
4:51 Robin Sontheimer — We Are Astronauts or The Pornography of a Backrub
6:03 Jo Hemmant — Typhoon
7:28 Ann E. Michael — Lot’s Wife
8:10 Pamela Hart — anecdote of air
9:03 Sonia Hendy-Isaac — Tailor
10:06 Angela France — A Fallow Blooming
11:43 Janet McCann — The Young Woman Who is President
13:20 Liz Gallagher — A Breeze in My Hair
14:54 K. Alma Peterson — Transitory Particulates Become I Ching Hexagrams 57 and 59
16:20 Judith Bernal — Touched
17:33 Matthew Hittinger — Uncle Remus Denies the Ethnographer
21:38 Katherine Durham Oldmixon — Hiroshima
23:09 Oriana — St. Joan Speaks to Me
24:18 Christopher Hennessy — Alice in Rehab
25:21 Evan J. Peterson — Clay
27:10 Dana Guthrie Martin — Letter From a Parasitic Head
29:00 Mario Milosevic — Pulling Strings: A Quantum Story Cycle
37:42 Daniel Hales — Microphone
39:11 Zoe Polach — Pandora Opens Schrödinger’s Box
41:47 Katherine Williams — A Poet Takes His Girl Dancing
43:09 Jessica Fox-Wilson — Inside My Glass Coffin
45:08 Lisken Van Pelt Dus — The Latch Once Lifted
46:09 Chris Clarke — Bighorn
52:01 Michael Brant Demaria — Transformation (sample)
53:01 Scott Wiggerman — Berdache
55:18 Richard Garcia — Untitled
57:00 Susan Meyers — Melons
58:57 Penny Harter — Blessing Dream, Santa Fe
1:00:12 Tammy Ho Lai-ming — The Fisherman’s Wife (read by Hanani Cha)
1:01:48 Chris Clarke — Sea Change
1:04:29 Charlotte Mandel — Sandbar
1:06:42 Susannah Lang — Virgin Appears on Highway Viaduct
1:08:14 Nicolette Bethel — Sevenling: Life is a Drying
1:09:13 Caitlin O’Brien — Smoke
1:10:17 K. Alma Peterson — Pressed for Light Her Thinking Eye Decides
1:11:26 Dax Bayard-Murray — Frida Kahlo
1:12:25 Pamela Johnson Parker — Cameo Appearance: Here Carved
1:13:43 Bobbie Lurie — Paradise of Sadness
1:15:45 Farideh Hassanzadeh-Mostafavi — Spider
1:17:08 Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld — Gray Cheek
1:19:23 Melinda Wilson — Common Birds and Their Songs
1:20:11 Darcy Bruce — Against Atmosphere
1:23:54 Nicolette Bethel — The Granddaughter Sings Lily Home (1994)
1:25:10 Tom Sheehan — Slow Motion Barn
1:26:37 Richard Garcia — The Three
1:29:24 Moira Richards and Barbara Taylor — Another Day
1:31:48 Clare Grant — Three Beautiful Things
1:32:53 Suzanne Grazyna — Dia de los Muertos (1) (read by Dave)
1:34:21 Monica Raymond — What the Echo Knows
1:35:18 Pamela Johnson Parker — Cameo: Epithaliamion
1:37:16 Matthew Hittinger — Local Lepidoptera Adopt Municipal Pool for Epic Opera Debut
1:40:15 Susan Roney-O’Brien — Lepidoptera
1:41:56 Joe Hyam — The Thought (read by Dave)
1:43:25 Paul Selig — Commencement Speech
Transformation is so basic to life and so central to our own work, it was an almost immediate choice for our theme. Its success, of course, depended on the artists drawn to it, and we have been pleased at the wide range of responses received. From many excellent submissions, we chose work we felt best embodied the active moment of transformation rather than describing it; artists sent an abundance of impressive work and gave us rich material to craft a strong and lasting beauty with this issue of qarrtsiluni.
It was an honor to be invited to be guest editors, and a pleasure to see our expectations realized. We hope the examples of media such as music, book arts, flash fiction, digital imaging, and video will continue to be part of future submissions to qarrtsiluni along with the established work in poetry, photography and prose, and that new friends have been attracted to its open and engaging format.
—Jessamyn Smyth and Allan Peterson
Click on the contributors’ names to see all their publications in qarrtsiluni to date.
C. Albert is a collage artist who often includes poems in or along with her collages in exhibitions. This interdisciplinary work has recently been featured in Mannequin Envy and the Houston Literary Review. She has two online portfolios: Runaway Moon and Aerial Dreams.
Dax Bayard-Murray (a sad gold) has had poems published in Redivider, Sawbuck, 42opus, The Caribbean Writer and Otoliths. He grew up in the Virgin Islands on a hillside overlooking farms and the Atlantic. Now he lives on a hillside in Boston and makes spreadsheets at a biotech company. In real life he is a person.
Judith Bernal has been writing poetry for ten years. After decades of translating, social work and administration, retirement has energized her passion for writing and reading poetry.
Nicolette Bethel was born and raised in Nassau, Bahamas, where she currently resides. She has lived, studied and worked in the UK and Canada, and is now apprenticed to the Government for her sins and others’. She is a playwright, a poet, a fiction writer and an anthropologist. She blogs as Scavella at scavella.wordpress.com, and links to her other online poems can be found here.
Darcy Bruce is currently a student and an employee of the Book Barn in Niantic, Connecticut, where she is a full time used book putter-awayer and coffee maker, and a part time goat and cat rustler-upper. She enjoys books, writing, coffee and cats with varying degrees of equality, but while she is rather fond of the goats, they are somewhat further down the list. You can read some of her works in progress by visiting her Xanga site.
Chris Clarke (Coyote Crossing) is a science and nature writer currently residing in Nipton, California, a town in the Mojave Desert with a population of thirty people and perhaps ten times as many bats.
Dr. Michael Brant DeMaria is a psychologist, author, poet and musician with 25 years of experience in the work of guiding others on their life journeys. A diplomat in expressive therapy, he integrates nature and creativity (poetry, play, music, movement and art) in his therapeutic work. He has also created 3 CDs of ambient world music, “The River,” “Ocean,” and “Siyotanka,” and is the author of several books and a couple of plays. He is the founder and director of ONTOS, a consulting company which specializes in helping individuals and groups live more creative, meaningful and effective lives. Find out more about his work at www.ontos.org.
Lisken Van Pelt Dus is a high-school teacher and martial arts instructor, raised in England, the U.S., and Mexico, and now living in Massachusetts. Her work can be found in Conduit [pop-up], Main Street Rag, The South Carolina Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Umbrella, and other journals and anthologies, and has earned awards from The Comstock Review and Atlanta Review. A chapbook, Everywhere at Once, is forthcoming from Pudding House Press.
Jessica Fox-Wilson is an educator, writer, and poet who lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two cats. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Motel, Rive Gauche, and Gin Bender Poetry Review, among others, and her book reviews have regularly appeared at Read Write Poem and the Uptown Neighborhood News. She is also the founding editor of Asphalt Sky and blogs at 9 to 5 Poet and Attack of the Movie Watchers.
Angela France (webpage) works with challenging teenagers and, for relief, makes her brain leak out of her ears by trying to write poetry. She is enjoying middle age and is spectacularly bad at housewifery.
Liz Gallagher (Musings) has poetry, fiction and non-fiction work published or forthcoming in Magma, Stirring Literary Magazine, Dead Drunk Dublin, The Pedestal Magazine, The Stinging Fly and others. She was selected for the Best New Poets 2007 anthology from Virginia University.
Clare Grant meant to send in some things about cobwebs drying in the sun, daffodils under a sudden fall of snow and the sunset draining out of the sky. But instead her blog, Three Beautiful Things, gave her a handful of posts about loose coppers and five pound notes.
Suzanne Grazyna is really a robot.
Daniel Hales (website) has poems currently or forthcoming in Bateau, Slant, Slipstream, Cranky, Upstreet, Taiga and The Comstock Review. His poem “Licorice” was recently featured on Verse Daily. He plays guitar and sings in The Frost Heaves, The Ambiguities, and The Wherewithal.
Pamela Hart is a former journalist. Her chapbook, The End of the Body, was recently published by toadlily press. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in journals like BigCityLit.com, Rattapallax, Lumina and Kalliope. She is writer in residence at the Katonah Museum of Art and teaches writing at Long Island University’s Graduate School of Education. She blogs at A Walk Around the Lake.
Penny Harter (website) is published widely in journals and anthologies. Her recent books include The Night Marsh (WordTech, 2008), Along River Road, Lizard Light: Poems From the Earth, and Buried in the Sky. Her illustrated alphabestiary, The Beastie Book, will be out early in 2009 from Shenanigan Books. She has won three poetry fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, as well as an award from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Mary Carolyn Davies Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the William O. Douglas Nature Writing Award. She lives in Summit, New Jersey, and visits schools for the New Jersey Writers Project.
Farideh Hassanzadeh-Mostafavi is an Iranian poet, translator and freelance journalist. Her poems appear in the anthologies Contemporary Women Poets of Iran and Anthology of Best Women Poets. She is the author of Eternal Voices: Interviews with Poets East and West and The Last Night with Sylvia Plath: Essays on Poetry. She has extensively translated World literature into Persian. Among her several publications are: Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot, Anthology of Contemporary African Poetry, Women Poets of the World, Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry, The Beauty of Friendship: Selected Poems by Khalil Gibran, and Love Poetry of the World, Classic and Contemporary.
Caren Heft (website) makes letterpress books. Cave Canem2 was a small edition done out of love of a dog, Dillenger, now gone. “For those of us who love dogs,” she notes, “we sign up to break our hearts with every dog as, with any luck at all, we will outlive the latest dog.” Heft is the director of the Edna Carlsten Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, in Central Wisconsin.
Jo Hemmant (florescence) is an ex-journalist and editor, relatively new to poetry but completely obsessed. Her work has appeared in Canopic Jar and Word Catalyst and is upcoming in blossombones, Equinox, Decanto and Fire. She’s a founding editor, along with Christine Swint, of a new poetry and art journal, ouroboros review, which will appear online quarterly and in print biannually. She lived abroad for many years — Sicily, Amsterdam, Hong Kong (the inspiration for this poem) — and can now sometimes be found in the ‘burbs outside London, but mostly up, up in the clouds.
Sonia Hendy-Isaac loves shoes, wine and poetry — not necessarily in that order. Her poem in this issue is from her debut collection, Flesh, due out from Bluechrome in summer 2009. She is also an editor at iota and her most recent work has been published by Snakeskin and The Shit Creek Review.
Christopher Hennessy (blog) is the author of Outside the Lines: Talking with Contemporary Gay Poets (University of Michigan Press) and his poetry appeared in Ploughshares‘ special “Emerging Writers” edition. His poetry, interviews, essays, and book reviews have appeared in American Poetry Review, Verse, Cimarron Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, Crab Orchard Review, Natural Bridge, Wisconsin Review, Brooklyn Review, and elsewhere. His poems were anthologized in This New Breed.
Matthew Hittinger (website) is the author of the award-winning chapbooks Pear Slip (Spire Press, 2007) and Narcissus Resists (Beauty/Truth Press, forthcoming 2008). Shortlisted for the National Poetry Series and Walt Whitman Award, Matthew’s work has appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Fine Madness, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mantis, Meridian, and elsewhere, including the anthology Best New Poets 2005. Matthew lives and works in New York City.
Tammy Ho Lai-ming (website) is a Hong Kong-born and -based writer. She edited Hong Kong U Writing: An Anthology (2006) and co-edited Love & Lust (Inkstone Books, 2008). She is also a co-founder and co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, the first and currently the only Hong Kong online literary journal. Ho wishes soon she will experience a great transformation that normal mortals can afford.
Joe Hyam lives in Tunbridge Wells, UK. He was a journalist, but now spends more time writing poetry and growing vegetables. Every day at Now’s the Time he posts “three fine or strange things, which, day by day, give me pleasure, and which I hope will amuse and give pleasure to others.”
Dick Jones (Patteran Pages), a musician and recently retired drama teacher, has been writing seriously for the past 20 years. His poems and short stories have been published in a wide range of magazines, both on- and offline, and he is currently preparing a selection of poetry for submission to publishers.
Lucy Kempton is British, living in Brittany with husband and dog, and sometimes teaching English. She blogs at box elder — subtitled “meanderings of a displaced dilettante” — and the microblog Out with Mol. She also supplied the photographs for an online project called Compasses, in a call-and-response pattern with the travel sonnets of British blogger Joe Hyam. She co-edited qarrtsiluni’s Water issue with Katherine Durham Oldmixon.
Dorothee Lang edits the BluePrintReview, an experimental online journal, and is the author of Masala Moments, a travel novel about India. Her work has appeared in Pindeldyboz, Hobart, Eclectica, The Mississippi Review, Juked, No Tell Motel, Subtletea and numerous other places. For more about her, visit her at blueprint21.de.
Susanna Lang’s collection of poems, Even Now, has just been published by The Backwaters Press. She has published original poems and essays, and translations from the French, in such journals as The Baltimore Review, Kalliope, Chicago Review, New Directions, Green Mountains Review, Jubilat, and Rhino, winning a 1999 Illinois Arts Council award for a poem published in The Spoon River Poetry Review. Her book publications include translations of Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy. She lives with her husband and son in Chicago, and teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.
Bobbi Lurie’s third collection of poetry, Grief Suite, is forthcoming from CustomWords. Her other books are The Book I Never Read and Letter from the Lawn. Her work has appeared in numerous print and on-line journals including New American Writing, the American Poetry Review, Otoliths and diode.
Charlotte Mandel’s seventh book of poetry is forthcoming from Midmarch Arts Press. Her other titles include Sight Lines (read sample poems on her webpage) and two poem-novellas of feminist biblical revision — The Life of Mary and The Marriages of Jacob. As an independent scholar, she has published a series of articles on the role of cinema in the life and work of poet H.D., and studies of May Sarton. She teaches poetry writing at Barnard College Center for Research on Women.
Dana Guthrie Martin (My Gorgeous Somewhere) lives and writes in the Seattle area. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, Canopic Jar, Juked, Boxcar Poetry Review, and Blood Orange Review, Weave Magazine, and Coconut Poetry. She edited the Hidden Messages issue of qarrtsiluni with Carey Wallace.
Susan Meyers (blog) is the author of Keep and Give Away (University of South Carolina Press, 2006), which received the SC Poetry Book Prize, the SIBA Book Award for Poetry, and the Brockman-Campbell Book Award. A long-time writing instructor, she lives in the rural community of Givhans, near Summerville, SC.
Ann E. Michael (website) is a poet, essayist, librettist and educator who lives in Eastern Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and is a rostered Artist-in-Education with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and in newspapers, family magazines, poetry anthologies, educational and academic publications as well as on radio. Her chapbooks of poems include More than Shelter (Spire Press), The Minor Fauna (Finishing Line Press), and Small Things Rise and Go (FootHills Publishing).
Mario Milosevic lives in the Columbia River Gorge, one of the most beautiful places anywhere. His day job is at the local public library. He writes poems, stories, novels, and a little non-fiction. For a complete list of his publication credits (and more bio), see his website.
Lucy Morris is an explorer, anthropologist and humanitarian worker. She is based in London, and works for an international aid agency supporting projects in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Lucy is usually found carrying either a camera and/or notepad. She writes a work blog.
Katherine Durham Oldmixon is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Writing Program at Huston-Tillotson, an historically Black university on Austin’s East Side. A poet active in the community, she also serves on the board of Texas Folklife, is the current president of Austin Poetry Society and is a Research Associate of the Humanities Institute of the University of Texas at Austin. She and Arturo Lomas Garza blog about their artistic projects, many of which are collaborations, at Katudi Artists Collaboration. She co-edited qarrtsiluni’s Water issue with Lucy Kempton.
Oriana lives by the sea, the cold Pacific Ocean near San Diego.
Evan J. Peterson (Poemocracy) is a native Floridian, and as such has difficulty distinguishing between the surreal and the merely absurd. His writing has recently appeared in/on The Pinch, The Southeast Review, CaKe, and LaFovea.org. He studies and teaches at the Florida State University.
K. Alma Peterson is a graduate of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The New Orphic Review, Perihelion, Skidrow Penthouse and others. In 1999, her poem “Between Us” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rosemount, Minnesota.
Zoe Polach is a high school student in the DC metro area. She is a devoted student of everything she can find, and enjoys few things more than making puns, poems, and connections.
Monica Raymond, who was selected as a 2008 finalist in poetry by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, recently moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Minneapolis to take up a Jerome Fellowship at the Playwrights Center there.
Moira Richards writes accounting textbooks and poems in South Africa. Her tanka and collaborative work appear in journals in a half-dozen different countries about the planet.
Susan Roney-O’Brien teaches, reads for The Worcester Review, and writes. Her work has appeared in Yankee, Prairie Schooner, Diner, Concrete Wolf, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, Margin, Rock and Sling, Ekphrasis, and other magazines. She has won the Worcester County Poetry Association Contest, the William and Kingman Page Poetry Book Award for her chapbook, Farmwife, and the New England Association of Teachers of English “Poet of the Year” award.
Marjorie Stamm Rosenfeld has been published both nationally and internationally in journals, books, and anthologies and on the Internet. A former SMU Press editor, SMU English instructor, and Navy missile analyst, she has also done poetry therapy with forensic patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital and has made and maintains three Web sites for JewishGen on perished Jewish communities in Eastern Europe.
Paul Selig’s work for the stage has been produced internationally. He is the director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College and makes his home in New York City. A practicing intuitive and energy healer, his website is GuidedReadings.com.
Tom Sheehan’s Epic Cures won a 2006 IPPY Award, and A Collection of Friends was nominated for Albrend Memoir Award. He has nine Pushcart and three MillionWriter nominations, a Silver Rose Award ART and the Georges Simenon Award for Excellence in Fiction. He served in 31st Infantry Regiment, Korea, 1951. He meets again soon for a lunch/gab session with pals, the ROMEOs, Retired Old Men Eating Out, aged 92, 80, 79, and 78. They’ve co-edited two books on their hometown of Saugus, Massachusetts, sold 3500 to date of 4500 printed. He drove out to Oak Park, Illinois for the birth of his latest grandchild, Cavan Thomas Sheehan, on July 25.
Barbara Smith (Barbara’s bleeuugh!) lives in the Republic of Ireland with her six children and partner. Doghouse Books published her debut collection, Kairos, last year. Her work has been published in Europe, the US, Canada and beyond. She is currently enrolled in the MA in Creative Writing programme with Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, truly making her a ‘Cross-Border poet.’ Listen to an interview with Barbara here (mp3).
Robin Sontheimer is a graduate student at the University of Missouri Kansas City. She studies linguistics and 19th century American literature, writes poetry, and takes photographs.
Barbara A. Taylor’s haiku and short form poems have appeared on Poemeleon, Moonset, Stylus, Wisteria, Ribbons, Lynx, Simply Haiku, and others, including MET anthologies Landfall and Atlas Poetica. A native of Australia, her diverse poems with audio are at her Tripod site.
After more than ten years as a still-life photographer, Maggie Taylor began using the computer to create her images in 1996. Her images have appeared in one-person exhibitions around the world, and are in numerous public and private collections. For more about Maggie, and for samples of her work, visit her website.
The photography of Jerry Uelsmann (website, blog) has been exhibited in more than 100 individual shows in the United States and abroad over the last 30 years. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967 and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1972. His work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Biblioteque National in Paris, and many other museums worldwide.
Scott Wiggerman has published one book of poetry, Vegetables and Other Relationships (Plain View Press, 2000), and been published in dozens of journals, including Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Windhover, Midwest Poetry Review, Spillway, Poesia, and Concho River Review. Most recently, he has been published in the anthologies Queer Collection (Fabulist Flash, 2007), The Weight of Addition (Mutabilis Press, 2007), and Only Connect (Cinnamon Press, 2007). In addition, he is one of the two “cats” (i.e., editors) of Dos Gatos Press, which publishes the Texas Poetry Calendar, now in its eleventh year.
Bev Wigney is a photographer, writer and naturalist living on a farm in eastern Ontario. She blogs at Burning Silo, and maintains in addition a website and an online photo gallery for her nature-related photography.
Katherine Williams, while making transgenic mice at UCLA, authored three chapbooks, published in various anthologies, and received a Pushcart nomination. She does marine research now on James Island, SC, where she lives with her husband, Richard Garcia (see above) and their dog Louie.
Steve Wing (PBase gallery) is a visual artist and writer whose work reflects his appreciation for the extraordinary in ordinary days and places. He lives in Florida, where he takes dawn photos on his way to work in an academic institution. His work recently has also appared in Flutter, Perigee, Pequin, BluePrintReview and Eclectica.
This address was given at the Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing Program graduation ceremony in June, 2008. (The audio recording was made especially for qarrtsiluni, and is not a recording from the actual ceremony.)
I like days like this. I like any occasion where people who care about one another convene. I like the opportunity to celebrate the work of our graduates and to sing the praises of the faculty who work with such love and care to develop the next generation of writers. I like the opportunity to address a community that is conscious, and by that I mean people who are aware of who they are beyond the things that separate them from one another.
When I was in my 20’s, most of my friends were dying of AIDS, or at least it seemed that way. And I was absolutely terrified of dying as well. I suspect this fear, as much as anything else, was the reason I began to study energy healing. It was a way to ensure my own continued well-being as much as it was a way to care for those friends of mine whose bodies were beginning to unravel and waste away before me. I began to study healing, I think, because it was a gesture that was gentle, and while some friends of mine were marching in the streets, fighting for change, I found myself studying in a seminary, because I had begun to believe that all change occurs first within the individual, and that it is out-pictured — manifested — in form only after it’s been given form in the mind.
I suspect that I bring this up to you as a way of explaining that prior to this time, I was a deeply unconscious young man. I valued career over just about everything else, and I suppose that if, in those days, I believed in God at all, I would have believed in a deity that favored one man over another.
I’ve been through a lot in the last 20 years, and while I do not feel that I have come into consciousness, I do feel that I have woken up a bit, and that this allows me to say that things I am going to say to you now.
Now, I want to talk a bit about unity and separation. I am actually of the belief that we are all connected in a vast and outrageous way, and that part of our task here, in this life, is to remember that, and not in an intellectual way, but in a way that’s completely experiential and profound. Our job is to get to that actual place where we can walk down the street and bear witness to the creation that is before us, to the true magnificence that is inherent in each man and woman.
I believe that the struggle of our time is in the remembering of this, in pushing up against the resistance that demands that we remain in the illusion of separation, in the duality of right and wrong, red and blue, black and white and any other way that separation out-pictures itself in our world. I believe it is our duty, finally, to witness the divinity or the humanity or whatever you want to call it in our neighbors, because that is the only way that worlds can heal, and I believe that it is our duty as artists to enter into those places that are kept most secret in ourselves, and bring them to light not so much that we may be healed, but so that others might.
I found myself in an odd conversation several months ago with someone who was asking me how our program was progressive, and how it related to the mission of the college, which is a progressive school with a firm commitment to social justice. And I found myself becoming frustrated by my own lack of agility in the rhetoric of progressivism because I was not able to articulate the obvious, which is that the role of the artist is to reflect humanity in order for humanity to be able to see itself, to feel itself, and consequently to accept itself and thereby change itself.
We are the agents of change. We have always been. We have always been the alchemists who brought forth the Word into manifestation.
What happens here at Goddard is, in my opinion, alchemical. And the reason that people leave this program so profoundly changed is because Goddard requires the whole person to come to her learning, and as the whole person is taught, the whole person is then engaged, and the whole person leaves, transformed, more in command of her craft and more aware — that is to say, more conscious of herself as an artist in the world.
I want you to have left this place more awake. More awake to yourself as an artist, more awake as a co-creator of your reality and more awake to the limitlessness that is your consciousness. I want you to be aware that the only separation that exists between you and the person sitting beside you in that which exists at the most superficial level, that in our essence, we are all connected and unique and magnificent in our being. I want you all to understand that the charge you have now, as a graduate of this place, is to bring your work forward into the world and to demand that it be work that matters to you, and that it calls others to it, so that they too may become aware, or conscious, or awake.
Now I want to tell you a little story that I like. It’s a true one, and it speaks directly to the role of the artist as a social activist, and, perhaps, to the mission that we all have before us.
A number of years ago, a woman I knew, the literary manager of one of the most important theaters in the country, was having a spiritual crisis. She felt that the work her theater was producing was meaningless and the only people who could afford to attend it weren’t the people she wanted to reach. And she was afraid of all the choices she had made, because she believed that theater had become an elitist art form and she had become one of its de facto gatekeepers. And Mother Theresa happened to be coming to town and this literary manager had always harbored a secret wish to be of service.
So she took the train and stood with the crowd outside the U.N. where Mother Theresa was meeting with delegates, and when she came out, my friend shouted to her from behind the barricades, and Mother Theresa stopped, called her out of the crowd, and asked her what she wanted.
And my friend said, “I want to come work with you — I want my life to matter!” And Mother Theresa looked at her and asked her what she did for a living here, and my friend, embarrassed, said “I work in the theater.” And Mother Theresa smiled and said, “In my country, there is a poverty of the body, and that is the work that I do. In your country, there is a poverty of the spirit. Stay in the theater.”
I believe that this is a time of great and finite change, and that we have been called, as artists and as teachers, as those in touch with the Greater Creative Mind to call into being the forms and the stories and the lessons that will assist this planet in transforming itself into what it’s desiring to become, which is a conscious world, one that is fully awake.
So I give you praise now, for your work here, and I give you to the faculty who will present you, I am sure, with far more eloquence than I have addressed you with today. If you don’t know you are valued here, you are, and if you don’t realize how magnificent you are as you stand before us, we are very proud to be your witness.
by Paul Selig
The thought is enough to make it happen
Out of nothing, out of nowhere, a bolt of light
With a mind of its own, animate, wild,
Trembling flesh and hair and small claws;
And wings that grow (though growing must hurt)
As they break from their cage of bones and unfold;
Astonishment on its face, the gift of language
Its inheritance, and the chance of grace;
Something which, in dreams, is much like us,
A remedy for loneliness and isolation,
An imagined friend or distant confessor,
Which defies what we believe in, and changes
All the time as, now, we scan across the clouds
The staggering flight of something never seen before.
by Joe Hyam
Fused in sleep, we lie back to back, our fingers
reaching toward opposite windows
from beneath the pale green comforter.
In dream the metamorphosis is complete:
we rise as one creature, our veined wings
stretched taut across rumpled sheets,
our body, that crooked stick, pounding
with shared life as wings lift.
There are no flowers on our earth,
only stars, bright-haloed, and between,
the black stramonium petals encircling
the yellow moon. We drink light,
within the moon’s calyx, our wings wither,
fall from our sides. We siphon
night’s nectar, coiled tongue uncurling,
sip the healing that rises in us like waves
and step out from the light, the fragile staff
we have become bursting into flower.
Stars swarm beyond our leaftips.
One of us cries out. I open my eyes.
You turn to face me in your sleep.
The lashes against your cheek
are pale shadows of wings.
by Susan Roney-O’Brien