Thursday, April 27, 2006

untitled love poem (see comments, suggestions welcome)


You rise out of flat stone
the shield
of your heart.
The moon crosses the sun.
Do we
become light
when we dream?

The folds of your corduroy
like ridges and hollows
furrows where the Spring runoff
sculpts a geology
in a landscape of tundra.

"passageways and connections that
happen deep within us when in relation
to another..." Nancy Otto

In our Klondike, cross and beams
hold the tunnels we dig through
to find the gold in each other,
rich veins tracing through the rock
like sunlight.


Spring is a tendril
of green;
the leaves a papery mass of veins unfolding.

Cliffs of grass by the old mine ripple
in the wind.

We are like those two trees
ancient, weathered, yet
our roots thoroughly

What is
is what holds us.

The deeper passageways
and connections.


I wear the crescent moon in my hair,
the cold northern air;
you are the sun buried in the land,
illumined from within.

The sharp edges
in each moment
bind us.

My Adoni, my Aholi,

even in this harsh typography
you are a landscape of love,
a cartography of desire.

©Brenda Clews 2006

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Update on my life...

A few days ago, I spoke to the company that moved us from Vancouver to Toronto last year. Very good news. What I can afford the moving company will accept. Negotiations couldn't have gone better. Now my kids don't have to carry guilt over returning to TO (they did not want to stay in Vancouver, even for another year and even though I had a job), which is the only important thing, and the only real reason I'm picking up my burden of possessions and continuing on.

I just have to figure out housing, meaning more space, a lot more space than my daughter and I have at present, to move it all into in the next couple of months. Even if housing doesn't happen as soon as that, I'm still okay with the storage company and the monthly rental we agreed on (the original amount, not the $200./month they tacked on once my stuff got to their storage warehouse in Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto).

Do I feel a sense of relief? Not really. More like I'm putting my heavy turtle shell back on and moving slowly ahead. That I can't just 'leave,' 'exit,' 'start over,' but have to continue on. It'll be nice to get my books back; I've missed them. And my clothes, oh yes. And my paintings - I'm not used to such bare walls as I have here. The family photographs. A dining room table. Stereo and TV. Kilim carpets. My Salton espresso/cappucino machine. Ah. And my yoga mat. My whole alter. Large desks. And bed. It's all nice to consider. Not necessary, as I know now, but nice. The comfort of my 17 year old sectional Italian leather couch from the Art Shoppe. The whole panoply unfolds. And my kids are happy that I've decided to reverse the loss, prevent it from happening, and to land, to stay.

Not there quite yet, but I'll figure it out. Along with some magic. For it's always ultimately about magic, isn't it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Alpha Beta of Scripts

We writers love our scripts. The shape of the letters that form our words are delightful in themselves. Don't you love the sensuality of writing little figures on paper and having them grouped together into meaning that someone else can read, meander, slide, buckle, careen off on? The sounds that those little scratchings correspond to is amazing too.

Our natural landscapes lie behind our alphabetic typographies. The fonts of our language reflect the pure forms of nature:

...scientists have pooled the common features of 100 different writing systems, including true alphabets such as Cyrillic, Korean Hangul and our own; so-called abjads that include Arabic and others that only use characters for consonants; Sanskrit, Tamil and other "abugidas", which use characters for consonants and accents for vowels; and Japanese and other syllabaries, which use symbols that approximate syllables, which make up words.

Remarkably, the study has concluded that the letters we use can be viewed as a mirror of the features of the natural world, from trees and mountains to meandering streams and urban cityscapes.

The shapes of letters are not dictated by the ease of writing them, economy of pen strokes and so on, but their underlying familiarity and the ease of recognizing them. We use certain letters because our brains are particularly good at seeing them, even if our hands find it hard to write them down. In turn, we are good at seeing certain shapes because they reflect common facets of the natural world.

from: Alphabets are as simple as...

In Arabic I see deserts and mirages, genies, a spirit that is as boundless as the open sky, tents under hot sun and blown by sandstorms, lyrical dwellings sculpted out of baked, whitewashed sandstone; I see the sinewy motion of Middle Eastern belly dancers, the crowded markets of barterers. In Hebraic I see a nomadic people, Hanukkah candles, the flame of an inner deified light. Chinese pictographs are as beautiful and intricate as the detailed landscapes of China, and in them I see also pagodas and monuments; they reveal a complexity of thought that I can only marvel at. If our letters mimic plains, mountains, streams, trees, branches, rocks and are shaped by our natural landscapes, our architecture is most certainly a gesture of the typographies of our alphabets.

We are drawing our world when we write.

Our architectures are our calligraphies writ large.

Meaningful marks on the page, jottings limning our natural environments, our sensory apparatus' translating our world into symbols that we can think through.

Arabic calligraphy and architecture

Chinese (Mandarin) pictograms and pagodas

(images courtesy of Google :)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dancing Clock

This inexpensive but clear clock gets a hammock of intricate interlacing metal filligree to tick in. The belly dancing belt that I bought at Dancing Days in Kensington Market has a place to hang.

And the next time I dance to the earthy sounds of African drumming, I can become a tambourine and jingle can't I.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Story of Butterfat Cream

Pulling the tab on a small coffee cream, the last of the four I grabbed as a handful from the box in the fridge, my stainless steel half litre coffee mug sitting in the slot where it is receiving an individually brewed Columbian coffee, it breaks. I look at it in my hand, a butter yellow container of 10% cream, and think of getting a knife to pierce it. Instead I use my fingernail, pushing in one edge. The cream explodes, milk-white drops splatter the arm of my black jacket, slurps of thick cream slide across the faux green marble counter, and over the dark tile floor.

I think of the udder of the cow, of pastures, of bees, of lazy country days, even though I know the cows are milked by machines in highly proficient dairy farms.

Of Krishna, the butter thief who would steal and eat this cream by the thimble-full, even though I know the gods of India don't belong among the fierce warrior gods of capitalism.

Of the greening world flowing over its boundaries and seeping into the corporate surfaces of this high tech kitchen on the 20th floor of a skyscraper in the business core of downtown Toronto, even though nothing organic grows in this controlled environment.

Of gulping the pasteurized cream, the entire boxful, finger broken container by container, letting it pour down my chin, over my business suit, splattering, sliding, oozing.

But I don't. I contain myself, wipe my jacket, the counter, the floor, and pluck out one more cream, pull the tab off, pour it into my coffee.

It is enough that I tell the women that it takes me an hour and fifteen minutes to walk home through the city.

They keep coming and asking me each day how it went, my walk, the air, the sun like dreams in the trains they take to and from this building to homes in the outer suburbs.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Recycled, a hypertext

A whimsical but quite brilliant hypertext I found on my search for hypertexts:

RECYCLED by Giselle Beiguelman, 2001.

Postmodernim at its recycled, self-conscious re-construction of rubble (when the text is fully deconstructed surely we finally find the alphabet). A Borgesian script of cyberstream poetry. Everything is second hand, open source. I could play all day in this playground.

I found it through the Electronic Literature Organization:

In “Recycled,” Giselle Beiguelman has taken an “artifact” of electronic technology, the object-follow-cursor feature, and transposed it into a moving metaphor. Across a field of bright yellow, the letters RECYCLED enter the screen, track the cursor, disappear if gathered, and finally clump together and vanish, only to begin migrating, again, from the margins. The letters, then, are constantly being “recycled” — and the reader is the agent in effecting the transformation. Beiguelman’s piece is an example of the way in which minimal text can join with technological trope in a “reading” of e-lit.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hypertextualities of Web Browsing

(just diddling where I'm temping this week)

an exceeded body

internal links
a map of possibilities
on an ocean of connections
can I write in this
dislocated place

a sky swept
blue by clouds

non-sequential hypertext
departures & links
pixelated pages
of information
on randomly

a web of links

an abundance without
any centre to hold it

but my inclination to anchor

Friday, April 14, 2006

Eostre, Or Cross of Sheer Light

I found myself ebbing
away, and so I fasted.
When my commitment to
life renewed itself, I broke
my fast.

If you've ever been dead and come back to life,
been hopeless and found a way to continue,
thrown yourself into nothingness to find meaning.

An elusive tune,
slender wash of light,
bare opening in the wall,
a sliver, crescent through which.

Or what's a moment but a casting through.
If you've been too tired to get up and then you get up.
Filled with silent despair and then the will to.

Nothing's even, that's the problem. Many impermanent states.
All taking turns or colliding. Interpenetrating or scattering.
Flowing or stuck. Constraining or freeing.

I like to have clean thoughts because then I can live in my mind.
Sometimes the dust, anger, grime.
Throw what's scathing out.

I feel your bright and beautiful presence
even if you feel like you've disappeared into nothing.

The edges of the sky hang like an aurora borealis of silk.

The trompe l'oeil of the moment. Discreet packets of time.
If you didn't tell me I was going to die, I wouldn't believe it.

And then the scaffolding crashed, blocks fell apart,
what resisted melted, and it was time to resurrect.
Passing beyond memory into. Or the rising.

©Brenda Clews
Good Friday, 2006
photographic path: a photo I took of sheer fabric over light, cropped, layered on itself, rotated, made somewhat transparent; then I may have used a marque tool to crop the uppermost layer to better reveal the brocade ribbon below, or was that one of the trajectories I didn't use; various marque tools to crop the right & left edges of the uppermost layer on right angles; the stamp tool to fill in a line that was left over from who knows what process; the burn tool to darken the upper and bottom right corners for visual balance. A collage I composed after writing the poem...

This is a photopoem: I've digitally embedded the poem in the image along with copyright information.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Where, or The State Of

Undo History:
  • open
  • rotate
  • crop
  • auto color correction
  • lighting effects (style: flashlight; light type: omni; intensity: 46; properties: matte, plastic, exposure -27, ambience -23; texture channel: none)
  • replace color
  • color cast

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The clipped post

On the post that was up, I didn't think it a good idea. Nothing yet. I'm working tomorrow and all next week, so I'm not sure when. I'll let you know the outcome, however it goes.

Go read Justin Whitaker's blog on the self and other, love and aversion, being and freedom and possession: 'Sartre on love, with Kant, and Buddhist rejoiners.' Now if I had my library, I could (re)read the section, "Concrete Relations with Others," in Being and Nothingness... ah. Somehow it will work out, I know it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

On Why I've Chosen the Hermetic Path...

When I'm trying to fathom a relationship, especially the romantic kind, where I have a sustainability problem, I use multiple approaches. Besides what's said and done, and the feel of bodies, I carry on a dialogue with angelic beings and plummet my dream imagery, which are often at obverse variance. It never lasts anyway, so it becomes a continuing inner story of love that gets told through multiple fallings-in-love, most of which are never fully realized. Perhaps it's because I'm fickle by nature, or deeply afraid of vulnerability, or that no-one's quite figured out how to deal with the multiple levels of my personality that are attached to the multiple viewpoints. Paradox and ambiguity don't bother me at all. But what can you definitively say when you are saying entirely opposite things? And how confusing is that to the other person? I'd like to flow in one direction, to know what that's like, instead of a general current with trajectories flying off all over the place in very contradictory motions. Attempting to have a relatioship with me, I would suspect, and finally see, could be a most puzzling thing. Since I don't know where I ultimately stand, being in the centre of this contradictorily moving current, where spiritual and unconscious wisdom are at variance, and intellectual probings provide other insights and contexts, too, never mind the emotional floods or the physical raptures, or the loose wire that causes minor explosions now and then, would be a nearly impossible thing. I play no games; but I don't think I'm very containable either. Any suggestions on what I should do?

Meaning I'm ready to leave the hermetic path, although I'm not sure that is entirely responsible of me.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Mint Tea Leaves

On a gorgeous Spring day, why would I post a photograph that's on this side of 'abject'? Something slightly unsavoury, that you draw back from? Perhaps I am in minor rebellion, posting an image of wilted flowers amidst the massive blossoming of flowers in the blogosphere, and now of used mint leaves, drenched, bleached-of-flavour and colour. They hardly look appetizing. I could have asked you to guess what it was. But didn't. Instead I'm going to share some of my process in creating an image.

Barely a meat eater, I do need some meat now and then and bought some lamb chops from a local butcher. He brought out an entire diaphram of ribs, which caught me in surprise, standing behind the counter watching, feeling the size of the lamb whose life had been cast for this. I silently thanked the lamb. After he wrapped six thin chops in brown paper and I purchased them I ambled to a small grocery store. My daughter's been on a vegetable and fruit diet, and I, too, have been enjoying more fresh produce. I buy strawberries, green grapes, green beans, granny smith apples, baby carrots, red pepper, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, and, just as I'm paying, grab a bag of fresh mint. At home the mint gets washed thoroughly and, except for a few sprigs, chopped finely, put in a small glass jar, vinegar and sugar and salt added. It will be the condiment for the lamb dinner I'll have the next day.

The remaining mint leaves are plunged into a half-litre thermos mug of boiling water, a lid screwed tightly on, and left for perhaps an hour. A little sugar, and the cup of mint tea is delicious.

Why did I photograph the remnants? My dog happily ate the bones from the lamb, a rare treat. I didn't photograph that. Instead I offer a sense of decay, a whiff, of something used, that you can't quite figure out in the photograph, but which I'm telling you about so you know.

Of the three photographs, I used two. One had a better rim, the other a more focussed view of the drenched, bleached-of-flavour mint. I use a marque tool to cut out the leaves from one photograph and transposed them to the other, laying them overtop of the less-in-focus wilted leaves. Then I used the rectangular marque tool to stretch the layer forwards, so that the leaves are longer vertically than in the original image, and don't quite fit into the rim of the cup. They are almost spilling out, but not naturally, it's a deliberate imposition, a photographic decision. Then I used the selection brush tool and drew a crude line around the rim of the mug, which was too bright since I'd used a flash, and bothered me. I set the foreground colour to a bright red and used the paint bucket tool to fill in the area marked by the brush tool. I set the foreground colour to black and used the paint bucket tool on the area around the cup, thus masking the parquet floor I had put the cup of drenched mint leaves on. Using the foregound colour tool I picked up the brown that was left in the background and set it as background colour and cropped the image slightly larger than the original so that the brown background colour became a border.

It was a beautifully scented and delicious cup of tea, and I enjoyed every sip. The mint imparted its delicate flavour to the boiling water and onto my appreciative taste buds with a lovely aroma. The simplicity of this. And what's in the cup is what was left afterwards, a memory, the leaves laying far away from the sunlight they grew in, the soil that nourished them, having given their minted essence to me, who remembers them in this photograph.

But my photograph is about the abject, what borders on decay, what's used and cast aside to recycle in the natural processes that overtake our refuse. They were shaken into the organic recycling bin, forgotten.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Trajectories in Photoshop

With Photoshop, I can play with an image, adjusting the colour, lighting, adding and taking out bits, layering, and doing and undoing sequences at an alarming rate until I get something I can live with. The route is impossible to reproduce because it is full of possiblilites and wrong turns, undone histories, duplicated and deleted layers, filters pushed to 100% opacity or retracted to 25% transparency, and there's no master memory of the process. A single photopoem takes an average of 4-5 hours to produce, once the rough draft for the writing is composed. Those hours are spent trying this, and trying that, just to see. It's all exploration, there isn't a 'effect' I'm after; preferring, instead, to trust my aesthetic intuition. Sometimes I make notes of where I ended up in case I want to change something (as in the one on the left for A Dozen Cherry Trees), but that's rare.

The crucial point in the process is where I reduce the size and resolution to post. I have to do that on the original, and save a new .jpg version. If I forget to undo that re-sizing on the original, and inadverdently save it, I've lost something that can become a print. It's happened. How many times have I thought something was finished only to find myself still obsessively working on it, re-sizing and saving over and over until somehow the original gets lost. I'm trying to learn to save multiple copies as I go along, although that takes up a lot of disc space. What I've posted here is one of the earlier trajectories of the 2nd image I posted in the last post. It's just that one of the beams doesn't curve enough... and the lighting filter I used wouldn't let me bend it after I'd saved it, so another perhaps half a dozen versions happened as I attempted to bend the light...

Another day, if perhaps inspiration hits, I'll try again to reproduce the original, though probably it'll be fruitless hours spent on a task that can't be done. Thanks for the feedback, though!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Drawing Down the Muse

The thing is, I sold Disappearing Into Each Other, and promised a print of this too. Only I took and played with lighting on the image last Summer when I was without a computer and didn't save the original, and large, version. Meaning I can't get a clear 7" x 5" print out of it. So I spent 3 hours today trying to duplicate the lighting, approaching it, but...

Not quite. Should I try again tomorrow, or is this good enough?

Older Version, popular, downloaded nearly 900 times at another site, but not enough resolution for a print

Newer Version, in a high enough resolution for a print

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Discussion on the muse for a woman artist

In response to the two comments from the last post on the muse:

Thank you, Laurieglynn, and MB. You've both enabled me to see that my concept of the muse is in need of drastic revision. For me, yes very definitely, my muse is connected deeply to the man I'm in love with. He's my connection to the world, I guess. I write for him, whoever he is, because if I didn't, I wouldn't write. Am I then chauvinistic? A female 'Picasso' sort? My relationships colour my writing, most certainly. But then, I am a lyrical poet, and I work best with the I/Thou structure. Perhaps I ought to work on freeing myself from this muse-addiction, and find deeper roots, as you so eloquently indicate MB, and a place alone from where I can write, as you say with such deep wisdom Laurieglynn.

Who we write for, besides ourselves, is a crucial topic for me and any insights you can offer are welcomed.

When there is no relationship I can dry up. Someone I talked to about this years ago said that when a man loves a woman he fertilizes her. That happens for me creatively.

Sometimes I need to take a break to catch up, but always it comes back to this.

Whoever I am in love with becomes a figure around which my dreams collect.

It might not even be an actual relationship, either. But more of an imaginary one. The smarter and more creative my 'muse,' the better my work. Perhaps it has to do with potential audience, who you're speaking to and at what level the discourse occurs. For me that figure is never generalized, but always particular. A specific 'thou,' a sacred someone.

Sometimes, because of the all too often rigid distinctions between the sexes culturally, and not receiving the kind of support that might happen in a less hegemonic world, I wonder if my muse were female if it would be any easier.

Many women have a female muse. Alas, I don't.

I love men. No way around it.

More discussion, please...


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My Muse Man...

A muse is important in a woman's creative life. He inspires her to do her best work, to produce her finest pieces. He is the embodiment of the man who she can love fully, openly and with complete trust. A woman is passionately open with her muse man. She'd write epics for him; fill books of lyrical poetry with him. She loves his sensitivity and his strength. She loves how he attracts her, makes her frenzed with desire. She is enamoured with how soft and gentle she becomes with him. He gives her total freedom to create, to think, to be. She only wants to adore him, fully, completely, without reservation. She'd like to be his muse too...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Red Chinese Silk

An experiment in informal writing...

Where are you gonna run to? Type and run. The word as bullet?

Screeching off into the distance... license plate just out of reach... oh, those words.

It's been a long time since I've thought of a particular metaphor for what words are.

Words are always reaching into what is disappearing.
Or perhaps are expelled at the last moment from the ultimate mystery.
I'm writing a poem, how about you? It's fair if we use our own words in other words but not each other's words...

They flirt, promise, offer, take you almost all the way there, and then slip off into silence, perfume left by the moment that just passed.

Words tumble, collide, roll, quiver, they never STOP.

They slide under the tongue, sweet as .............. oh, okay. You talk.

Later, we can retrieve them from this rough draft and polish them into bracelets that we can wear while we dance.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Peahen Peacock Mannequin Lady

Reading of this poem (2:05min): Hi-fi (high speed internet); Lo-fi (dial-up).

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click on the image to enlarge

'Pull Down the Northern Lights for Chandeliers,' Zoom video August 20, 2020

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