Saturday, May 26, 2012

Clare Doveton Paints Like a Poet Writes

Clare Doveton’s paintings present mists of first creation. The planet is newly formed, and uncertain solids emerge from banks of color. These are images of gestation. The future can be imagined from the shapes just emerging, but certitude dissolves. The artist suggests narrations with horizon lines and interrelationships, but the viewer must complete the stories. Because of the layers of possibilities, sequences of events change, and no viewing is the same. Her genius is to create the moment just before representation. Titles suggest the artist’s intention—“Birds,” “Blessed,” “Morning Fog,” “While You Were Sleeping,” “The Hill.”

 Doveton applies (mostly) oil-based pigments using washes, rubbings, impasto, scratches, and brushstrokes. The physicality of the final painting arises as an essential element to its viewing. These facts of paint and canvas, however, are unsettled by optical illusions—foregrounds shift to backgrounds. The painter’s presence remains, as though she will return and add one more brushstroke, which will change everything. These paintings bring viewers into the studio as the process continues.

 “While You Were Sleeping,” a small painting (8” by 8”) on canvas, suggests fieldrows, which could also be waves or terraces. Horizontal lines scratched midpoint hint at a sky. An overlay of white spotting could be snow or not—and references Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” very obliquely. The title frames the work as sleep time—but is it night, a cloudy day, or dawn? This is a meditative painting, but not one that is quiescent. The second day of creation was one of movement, not stasis. Doveton’s work challenges viewers to share her agitation.

 View her works online or or see upcoming exhibitions: INVISIBLE HAND GALLERY, July 2012; PACHAMAMAS, Sept. 2012; DIVER STUDIO, April 2013; LANDMARK NATIONAL BANK,  July, 2013. STRECKER-NELSON GALLERY represents her work:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ralph Salisbury--Cherokee and Shawnee Descent Writer--Publishes Poetry and Memoir

Ralph Salisbury Ralph has won the 2012 Riverteeth Literary Nonfiction Book Award for his memoir, So Far, So Good, which will be published by U of Nebraska Press in 2013, and an 11th book of poems coming out in the Fall of this year from Habit Of Rainy Nights Press. He was the subject of a "tribute reading" two weekends ago at a poetry festival at the Oregon Coast, and May 15 he gave a reading at the Eugene Public Library, on YouTube.

Ralph Salisbury Windfall Readers Series - 5-15-2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ted Kooser Admonishes Against Anecdotes in Road Trip

Road Trip: Conversations with Writers, edited by Shelly Clark and Marjorie Salser, is a an collection of interviews with distinguished Nebraska writers, including Ted Kooser. The book is worth reading for insights into writing well. Especially, this comment by Ted Kooser sticks with me:

One of the things that troubles me concerns anecdotes. We have always had anecdotes as part of our social intercourse, and it seems to me that the only refuge for the anecdote in literature has come to be the poem. I mean, you can use anecdotes in fiction but they are just an incremental part of it. The only place that an anecdote is legitimate is as a poem today, and as a result we have tens of thousands of poems that are merely anecdotes.
 I go to probably 50 poetry readings a year, and I can attest to the fact that many poems are simply personal stories—about scraping ice in winter, watching birds, overhearing conversations, road trip sights, confrontation with the neighbor’s dog or cat—that do not go beyond the moment with heightened language or other tugs on the strings of poetry’s lyre. Kooser goes on: “Simply to take an anecdote of how you helped your mother wash the car and to cut it up in lines and put it on a page is not enough for anybody” (229). Kooser articulates for me the new kind of poetry cliché. The poem's topic itself becomes a cliche, just a like a commonly used phrase--"Flatter than a pancake." This kind of poem begins implicitly, “Isn’t it interesting how I noticed __________?” This can be ended with a clincher, like a joke. Like a joke, it does not translate well to the page. Try reading a joke book, and then watch John Stewart suppress giggles as he delivers a line. Performance adds the sparkle to the words. A good lyric poem is rich and can be read and reread, with new light reflecting when seen from different angles (of time).
 I appreciate Kooser’s comments on two-dimensional storytelling. I apologize to the world for all the poems of this ilk I have written myself (about scraping ice in winter, birds, cats, etc.). I pledge to do better.
 I highly recommend this terrific book of good sense and wit, Road Trip, available online and through indie The Backwaters Press, publisher Greg Kosmicki ( ). Other authors in the book are: Jonis Agee, William Kloefkorn, Don Welch, Hilda Raz, Charles Fort, Barbara Schmitz, Ron Block, Eamonn Wall, Twyla Hansen, J.V. Brummels, and Brent Spencer. Each interview includes a picture of the author and representative selections from their work.