Monday, November 21, 2011

A-writing Life

There's a coffeeshop cafe in town that's one of our main meeting places and hubs, and where I was the main cook for three years. Sadly, I came to hate the place, yet continued working there long past when I shoulda bailed. When I did finally leave, I was so bitter, angry, and worked up, it took a full year before I was again able to step foot in the place. And even then not sure I'd ever be able to forgive them.

But life is funny; or maybe it's just me. When a local magazine emailed, requesting love-themed essays and such for their upcoming February issue, I found myself writing an essay telling why the cafe held such a soft spot in my heart. As these things happen, when that February issue came out, the page containing my essay was torn out by one of the cafe's owners, laminated, and given a prominent place on the front counter.

However, life (or I) wasn't done yet. A handful of months later, when fulfilling an assignment for another magazine's "Sacred Spaces" issue, I found myself, once again, writing about the cafe.

Currently, I'm polishing a short piece for NPR's, This I Believe, and guess what I'm one more time again, using for the central metaphor---that's right, the cafe. (And this blogpost makes yet another one.)

I smile while shaking my head in pondering how a place I was so wrecked asunder by now presents itself as such a fecund and verdant source of positive material.

"This is the sorcery of literature. We are healed by our stories."  -Terry Tempest Williams.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


On her blogspot, Sherrie York's two most recent entries show the final stages of her "half" of our collaboration on the library's upcoming (in three weeks!) artist/writer show. OMG, but the woman has further dropped my grateful jaw with her response to my haiku.

Many unexpected and nifty things began happening when Sherrie agreed to join me in this project. Of course, the first thing was her agreeing to work with me, and also her treating this, from the get-go, as seriously, and as worthy of her time and attention, as one of her paying projects. But there's been an aspect of this project, (essentially, again, from the get-go), which has made me very glad I invited her to co-conspire with me.

For whatever the reason, Sherrie began playing, experimenting, attempting this thing, trying that thing. Previously she's done her printmaking by hand, but this library gig seems to have been the tipping point in causing her to finally buy a small ("baby") press. She's bought mica to add to one of the inks as it dried, and tried her hand again at embossing, after many several years. Maybe this experimenting can be blamed on the project's more open-for-interpretation nature. Her previous forays into illustrating text have been, "darn literal."

Further, and what really delights me is, Sherrie says she suspects that much of what she's learned and picked up over the course of bringing this project to fruition will likely arise to serve her in future projects (i.e. her paying gigs).

Hunh, maybe this is what should be meant by, "playing to win."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Skinning the Cat

The past few weeks, I've been back-and-forthing, via facebook, with Steve Edwards, author of, _Breaking into the Backcountry_. (For a brilliant review of Edwards' book, check out Susan J Tweit's blog-review:
Steve had posted a line from Springsteen's, "Atlantic City," which led to the aforementioned back-and-forthing.

In my most recent FB message to Steve, I mentioned Springsteen's development as a songwriter, musician. How his newer songs are far more hope-filled, less dark and negative. Further, and what I didn't mention to Steve, is Springsteen's taking audience requests for songs (not his own) during his recent concerts, and then he and the E Street Band would play them.  *sigh*  To have such depth of knowledge of one's art---'twould be a wonderful thing. I hope to get there, myself, regarding my writing.

The past handful of years have brought me into occasional working contact with Susan Tweit. I've been able to see, up close, how one particular writer makes it work: the "doing of the thing." With my current collaborating with Sherrie York, I'm seeing how another artist, and in a different medium, "makes it work." Will I take either's way as my own? Hopefully, I'll figure my own way. But will both of these craftswomen inform and influence the forging of mine own path? I hope I'll be so wise.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What Have I Done?

Okay, roughly a month and change ago, I kinda closed my eyes and did a slightly scary thing, asking a local artist, Sherrie York, to be "my artist" for an upcoming regional library art show. For this show, artists and writers would work together: the writer creating a haiku, and the artist creating the corresponding/matching artwork.

Now, I've had several book reviews published in a local monthly (Colorado Central), and a few essays in a quarterly based in Crestone (Desert Call), but otherwise, there's not much for me to point to regarding my writing, other than scrawled spiral notebooks. Sherrie York, however, is a "real artist." She has folks asking for her stuff, asking her to lead classes and the like. And her work is phenomenal. (Hence, folks asking for her artwork and instructionings.) Thinking of asking Sherrie to be my co-conspirator made my nervous system crackle. Nonetheless, I had little to lose in asking, just my pride, so I emailed her.

She agreed, but you already know that. What you might not know is to what degree Sherrie has taken my invitation and run with it, to stretchy and experimental places. She's teasingly blaming me for "costing me so-o-o-o much money!" Seems my haiku has nudged her to experimenting and playing around with various aspects of her printmaking: inks, mica to be included in the ink (because my haiku uses words like, "sparkly," "glistens," and the like), and even a "baby" press.

I was honored when she agreed to join me, was gladdened to hear she was playing around and having fun with her "half" of our collaboration. However, I never expected her to go this far. Yikes, what have I done, this time?