How to Write an Erasure Poem - Write the Sky

write the sky

different is
years later

without God

and I
had that type
of relationship

we were
not just
an idea
for structure

that is
a different way
of talking
about nature

this is
I don't know

I'm a city
of violence and horror
that existed before
and will exist
in you

you are a dream,
an old memory
writing the sky,
the world

1. A page of printed text from a book, magazine, or any text.
2. Pencil, pen, or marker.

1. Erase words from the text (or bold them as in the example below) to see what poem or flash emerges.

different form is Juan Luis Martínez. Are there others? No. Afterwards, there are. Diamela Eltit three years later, published a book that was like this, in 1983. But these are like two time periods. Here, there are a few translations of Juan Luis Martínez by Steven White in Poets of Chile, and now La Nueva Novela is being translated by Mónica de la Torre. For people who don't know anything about him, why is he important? La Nueva Novela, first of all, didn't have one sentence that was by Juan Luis Martínez. It was constructed purely from found texts. It's an enormous compilation. It can also be explained a bit in terms of the anti-poetry of Parra, but it went even further; Martínez's was a poetry without God. In this book the role of the author was as someone who compiles or organizes more than someone who writes. It's a huge collage. You know, we wrote some of that book together. I don't know if you know that I was married to his sister. And we shared a typewriter. There's part of La Nueva Novela that I wrote, some multiplications and divisions, so we had that type of relationship. So you were very close friends? We were almost brothers. And how did the literary world respond to Juan Luis Martínez? With a profound distrust. But something weird happened, which is typical . . . He died and they discovered his greatness? Not just that. In part when I started getting attention, then they began to pay attention to Juan Luis Martinez. And I think there was originally an idea that he was somehow copying me, but really they didn't understand him at all. And I really got his work. For him, who were models? The French writers . . . René Char? René Char, Raymond Roussell, Raymond Queneau. . . . Not the more official writers . . . He was an incredible person. He never finished high school, and he knew more about French literature than anyone else, but he didn't know French. He was incredible. And so are there now people who write under his influence in Chile, who use collage, etc. . . ? I think there are some who intend now to write like him, but no one is really able to do it, because he was extremely structured. And so those who try to write like him don't have the patience for the structure. I think there is only one writer, a young writer, who has taken Juan Luis Martínez and used his influence well. His name is Andrés Fischer; a young writer, well young for me; he was born in 1971. He constructed a poetry that is syllogistic, influenced a bit by me and a bit by Juan Luis Martínez, but he's different. You spoke a bit about the cow poems. Reading your work, one notices the use of nature and nature as a way of talking about political and cultural ideas, of talking about something other than nature. How did this happen? For me this is a mystery. It's a mystery, I don't know. The truth is, I'm a city person. I began to feel at one point that in the face of the violence and horror, nature had something permanent. That this existed before and it will exist afterwards. But why? But why so obsessively? I don't know. I think this is something that continues to exist in your work, even in your latest book, In Memoriam. Well, on the same subject the poems from La Vida Nueva that you wrote in the sky—how did this idea come about? That idea came about in the most desperate time of my life. I got the idea far before it happened, in 1975; it was at the time I burned my face and then I remembered that when I was a kid, a really young kid, I remembered having seen an airplane write the name of a soap in the sky. I didn't know if it was a dream or if I had really seen it because it was an extremely old memory. . . . And so then it occurred to me that it would be beautiful to write in the sky. This was 1975 and I was totally desperate, but thinking about this helped me to stay OK. . . .I thought about this, and I was able to escape from the horrors of life. And in practice, how did this function? How did you find pilots? Originally, we tried to do it with the Chilean Air Force, because I thought that if these same guys who bombed La Moneda (the presidential palace) for their government are capable of writing a poem in the sky, then it would prove that art would be capable of changing the world. Of course, it didn't happen. The idea went as far up as a commandante. Then we had some friends who were in the U.S. And I wrote to them and asked if they knew of any agencies that wrote advertisements in the skies with airplanes. And so how it happened . . . it was crazy. I had never even been in an airplane. But we arranged it all. Today I wouldn't be able to do it. It was through pure passion. We were able to get it filmed entirely for free. We sold in advance an

from Written on the Sky. Chilean poet Raúl Zurita talks about life after Pinochet by Daniel Borzutzky

Sundance Film Festival - Snowstorm Photos

Snowstorm in the avenues above 7th and Main Street.

Festival traffic on Park Avenue.

Olympic Park on the way out of Park City.

Every year I see at least one film, in Salt Lake City rather than Park City, (to miss all the traffic and crowds). This year I didn't get tickets for a single movie. Big mistake. From all the buzz, local and national, this year will prove to be the best showing in the Festival's history. My stepdaughter attended the women art revolution film, and Gloria Steinem spoke. My brother-in-law saw his first festival film this year and said it was the most fun he'd had in a long time.

My daughter and I drove up last Saturday for the flashmob dance. We got there an hour early, so we hung out at the Starbucks people watching. We saw only one or two holy jeaned, high-heeled, or mini-skirted Festival goers. We also spent some time at the District Gallery taking in Sloane Bib's multi-media art and Ingrid Blixt's encaustic paintings.

Almost everyone we saw on the street was wearing the ubiquitous fur-lined parka, flat knee-hi boots, and fur lined flap hat.

The weather was so balmy at home, (around 45 degrees), that despite the storm warning, despite the knowledge that Park City is in the mountains, I only wore a turtle neck, heavy sweater, and a poncho. I left my fedora home. I thought I'd roast. I froze. So much so, that in case you can't tell, all the photos were taken from the comfort of my heated car.

The snowstorm quickly turned into a whiteout and it seemed improbable the flashmob would go forward, but even so, baby girl walked down the precarious wood stairs to the meeting place, while I waited in the avenues above Main Street. She returned freezing and snow-soaked. The Utahflashmob went on, an hour later.

We're going to the award ceremony tomorrow night, thanks to my sister, who is giving up her tickets.

What to wear? My daughter thinks she's wearing a mini and heels. I don't think so. I have no idea exactly what I'll wear yet, but I do know I'll dress for warmth. It's the mountains. It's Sundance, not the Oscars, so the vibe is Indie, authentic, warm. I can't imagine Harry Winston will adorn every earlobe, wrist, or throat. I may be wrong. I do know I will be wearing leather boots, layering sweaters and turquoise jewelry, and sporting a warm coat rather than a poncho.

Watch the Utahflashmob video on here.

Next year I'm getting over myself, getting a new coat, and going to the Festival. Idea: I think I'll blog from it, have my own version of flashmob, a flashunit where I'll flash interview random people in the streets, art galleries, movie goers, and barflys.

Poem Therapy: January 25, 2011 Beth Bachman - Erato

Beth Bachman

Because of the struggle,
her arms and legs resisting,

you might take one look at the shape in the snow and say,

swan or angel,
something to do with the divine, the light,

always, bending back.
Or you might remember the way

a girl's tongue razes ice or catches the root of the word

muse: an open mouth,
a muzzle.

Perception is reality. Reality is not perception. Which is it? Must it be one instead of the other?

Our eyes lie to us. So do our hearts. We rush headlong to our destruction and negation thinking the mirror before us reflects love, fidelity, veracity, anything but our shadow. In the end the mirror reflects what we brushed away, that which we refused to see. We tell ourselves stories to make sense of our mistakes. We tell ourselves we will be careful next time, vigilant, eyes wide open.

We see what we need to see, hear only that which we can at the moment, accept only that which vibrates with our world view.

We see clear evidence of violence and search for metaphor and image to explain it slant: a rape scene is a lovely, if strange snow angel, as if only Jacob and the angel were come back to Earth and struggling against each other. Persephone is dragged to Hades by her robber groom and in consolation is made queen, her story muzzled in explanation and excuse. Blame the gods.

Blame our blindness on the muse, Erato, so lovely, so desired, she charms us into the vivid realm of our senses.

What I Made Today: Turquoise Cluster Charm Neclace - January 26, 2010.

Turqoise with pearl, cinnabar, turquoise cluster charms and vermiel findings.

The Coffee Project - January 20 - 25, 2011

January 25, 2011. Shaved, showered, and sporting a new shirt.

january 24, 2011. Scruffy and looking forward to a shower, shave, and a new shirt when the painter is thorugh painting.

January 23, 2011. Better.

January 20, 2011. Something of a bleak day.

Poem Therapy - January 20, 2011 at 2a;24 P.M.: The Teacher - Hilarie Jones

The Teacher
Hilarie Jones

I was twenty-six the first time I held
a human heart in my hand.

It was sixty-four and heavier than I expected,
its chambers slack;
and I was stupidly surprised
at how cold it was.

It was the middle of the third week
before I could look at her face,
before I could spend more than an hour
learning the secrets of cirrhosis,
the dark truth of diabetes, the black lungs
of the Marlboro woman, the exquisite
painful shape of kidney stones,
without eating an entire box of Altoids
to smother the smell of formaldehyde.

After seeing her face, I could not help
but wonder if she had a favorite color;
if she hated beets,
or loved country music before her hearing
faded, or learned to read
before cataracts placed her in perpetual twilight.
I wondered if her mother had once been happy
when she'd come home from school
or if she'd ever had a valentine from a secret admirer.

In the weeks that followed, I would
drive the highways, scanning billboards.
I would see her face, her eyes
squinting away the cigarette smoke,
or she would turn up at the bus stop
pushing a grocery cart of empty
beer cans and soda bottles. I wondered
if that was how she'd paid for all those smokes
or if the scars of repeated infections in her womb
spoke to a more universal currency.

Did she die, I wondered, in a cardboard box
under the Burnside Bridge, nursing a bottle
of strawberry wine, telling herself
she felt a little warmer now,
or in the Good Faith Shelter,
her few belongings safe under the sheet
held to her faltering heart?
Or in the emergency room, lying
on a wheeled gurney, the pitiless
lights above, the gauzy curtains around?

Did she ever wonder what it all was for?

I wish I could have told her in those days
what I've now come to know: that
it was for this--the baring
of her body on the stainless steel table--
that I might come to know its secrets
and, knowing them, might listen
to the machine-shop hum of aortic stenosis
in an old woman's chest, smile a little to myself
and, in gratitude to her who taught me,

put away my stethoscope, turn to my patient
and say Let's talk about your heart.

About five years ago I wrote a related flash short story Step into Suffering Not Your Own for a subtitle. Jones's Teacher alludes to this, the young woman holding in her hands the heart of an anonymous sixty-four year old woman who is left to wonder about the details of a life only through the clues of a cadaver.

I almost didn't read this poem because I hate teacher poems almost as much as I hate movies about teachers. I can not abide all the sentimental or vituperous portrayals. I'm glad I got over myself and I read this poem.

Each of us rarely find our true teachers in a classroom. Most of us stumble across our teachers at work, in the grocery store, in marriages, family, animal shelters, driving on the freeway, in a book, through adversity, illness, a crisis, friendship, in an enemy, shopping, at coffee houses, in nature, in the pages of a book, sitting in the crook of a tree.

Strange as it sounds, water is a great teacher for me. So are trees. Not so strange, books have always been my teachers. Now that I've been married twice, I understand the institution has been a great education even if I didn't pass, both times. Of all my teachers, it is my daughter who is my greatest teacher.

The Coffee Project - December 14-19, 2010.

January, 19, 2011. Relief after a day at the doctor.

January 18, 2011. Unexpected reunion eighteen years later with old work pals at Village Inn.

January 16, 2011.

January 14, 2011. Imitation of George Washington or Chief Joseph.

The Book of 2010: The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

Crimson Forest - Lisa Howarth

I read The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy last year, a novel about Nazi-occupied Poland, and of all the books I read in 2010, this is the book that still has me in its grip. Murphy takes the classic fairytale and revisits the nature of evil, stepmother and witch stereotypes, the bleak and devasting period of our shared history. If a story about the Holocaust can be hopeful or have a semi-happy ending, this is it.

From Publishers Weekly:
A provocative transformation of the classic fairy tale into a haunting survival story set in Poland during WWII, Murphy's second novel (after The Sea Within) is darkly enchanting. Two Jewish children, a girl of 11 and her seven-year-old brother, are left to wander the woods after their father and stepmother are forced to abandon them, frantically begging them never to say their Jewish names, but to identify themselves as Hansel and Gretel. In an imaginative reversal of the original tale, they encounter a small woman named Magda, known as a "witch" by villagers, who risks her life in harboring them. The story alternates between the children's nightmarish adventures, and their parents' struggle for survival and hope for a safe reunion. This mirror image of the fairy tale is deliberately disorienting, as Murphy describes the horrors of the outside world compared with the haven inside Magda's hut, and the fear and anguish of the other people who conspire to save the children and protect their own families, too. The na‹ve siblings are only half-conscious of much of this, though they are perfectly aware of their peril should they be discovered. The graphic details-the physical symptoms of near starvation, the infestations of lice, the effects of bitter cold-make it plain that this is the grimmest kind of fable. Eventually, the Nazis indulge in wholesale slaughter, and the children barely survive, hiding and on the run. No reader who picks up this inspiring novel will put it down until the final pages, in which redemption is not a fairy tale ending but a heartening message of hope.

Lisa Howarth's photograph had such a visceral effect I immediately thought of Murphy's brutal revisioning of the fairytale. The blood red forest floor is a compelling visual metaphor for the Nazi's depravity.

The witnesses of the Holocaust are dying off now and with them they take their stories. Murphy's book makes us face our past, and what we are capable of, both good and evil.

This Moment: January 16, 2011 8:14 A.M.

The trees to the west are muted tangles of raw umber with traces of burnt sienna. A lone crow is voicing its dissatisfaction with the morning in attenuated bursts: six complaints, silence, repeat. A thin crust of white covers the front lawn save for lopsided rings of green under the pine trees. In this light the cedar fence is the color of dried blood and begs the question, how is it the body turns traitor and plots to kill its king? Both dogs are padding circles across the hardwood. The old dog finally settles hard on the rug, her hip bumping against the front door. The young dog jumps on my bed and is on point hunting the cars that pass in front of his domain. The sky is a mixture of milk and ash. Storms are coming. Would that they would come and send the darkness scurrying to its corner.

The Coffee Project - January 6 - 13, 2011

January 13, 2011. Marie Callendar's after the last meeting.

January 12, 2011. Mugging for the camera.

Grouch impersonation.

January 10, 2011. Back to the Pacific - Hawaii stories, 1946.

January 9, 2011. hot flash in progress.

January 6, 2011.

Crow Life

animal spirits

The Crow
Crow is always on the alert for trouble—and their loud caws! warn each other of impending danger, Very little escapes Crow’s keen vision—which is why many cultures associate Crow with the keeper of knowledge. Crow has flapped his way into your life today to bring a message of watchfulness—have you built your nest high enough to really understand what’s going on around you?

If I could be anything in another lifetime, I would choose to be a crow. Crow life would be fascinating. I've written my version of life as a crow, My Life As A Crow, inspired by Margaret Atwood's My Life As A Bat.

What I Made Today: Voodoo Collage

Every new year I spend a few hours ripping images from magazines and pasting them on paper to create a voodoo collage as a kind of visual intuitive guide for the year. It usually takes me the year to understand what the images mean.

This collage is too big to scan in full, so I've posted it in sections. The majority are images I've photo shopped.

collage #1.

collage #2.

collage #3.

collage #4. So far, this is my favorite collage.

collage #5

How Not to Lose Your Religion or How to Keep Your Temper

And I mean that in the southern sense of losing your temper and saying exactly what is on your mind, consequences and mortgage payment be damned.

1. Think about what you're avoiding and write it down as simply as possible.
2. Grab a nearby book, (in my case I used Silverthorn and Perry's Word Division Manual.
3. Pair random words for as long as it takes the moment to pass.

Here's mine. Some are pretty funny,

I quit:
band jargon, prolasped forty, confessional death, money sheds,book bombs, rare harships, pictured assurances, merit marsh, dog moral, buddy spice, rushed stockman, impetuous spoons, secret hardwood, preslung couriers, bona-fide gate, scream lords,
pearl ballot, grind putty, wrinkle erosion, devilish locals, pulp deficit, fudge recall, sizzling prayer, swallow error, inexcusable ribbons, bitter optometry, modest sadness, key sucker, poppy counts, unheard sermons, fifth buffalo, sacrum jail, ferric stupor, profane lettuce, rheumatic segregation, table chaos, pet grocery, nasty pudding, radioactive librarians, meticulous stains, complex darkness, telepathy thirty-two, democratic chic, railroad purgatory, pushing coupons, salt conviction, mercurial chivalry, guitar tracks, emulsified whew, marriage spikes, lubricating sou, disgraceful stove, rural seep, relish left, swearing freeze, drag cartoons, proud geyser, attic gasoline.

Poem Therapy: at 2:30 P.M. January 6, 2011 - Enough by Jeffrey Harrison

Jeffrey Harrison

It's a gift, this cloudless November morning
warm enough for you to walk without a jacket
along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing
of your feet through fallen leaves should be
enough to quiet the mind, so it surprises you
when you catch yourself telling off your boss
for a decade of accumulated injustices,
all the things you've never said circling inside you.

It's the rising wind that pulls you out of it,
and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
swirling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and rising above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go.

I believe today is more psychic poetry than poem therapy. This poem captures the moment exact, so much so, I am inspired to write a few lines of my own.


Winter sun glints off crusted snow,
the air is sharp and threatening
as an unsheathed knife,
let this go.

A steady hiss emerges as the day decompresses,
let it go. The sky presents
its frigid blue shoulder,
let it go. An unforgiving wind
soon follows,
let it go.

The words, all the words unsaid,
harbor like fish under ice,
slowly rising to the surface,
for now, let them sink
and swirl away into the dark current,
let them go.

A Year Asking Questions

Mockingbirds are master imitators, and can mimic the calls of many other birds. They’re also fearless protectors of their nest, and will attack any bird (no matter how large) to protect their young. Mockingbird’s lesson for you today is twofold: to listen to how you might be mimicking others—instead of listening to your own true voice; and to examine the value of what you defend. Hmmm?

There are years that ask questions and years that answer them. This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, Zora Neale Hurston. I've really felt 2001 to 2010 have been years of asking hard questions, and was looking forward to 2011 as a year of answers. Nope. A bit naive to think that a new year would usher such a monumental sea change so quickly. Oh, and really, what do I really have to complain about.

2011 has been ratcheting up thus far. As always when traditional sources fail to offer insight into a situation, I turn to the esoteric. Today, it's a quick look into animal totems, which seems to be a developing theme for the new year.

According to the mockingbird, I am to consider that I am not listening to my own voice, and that I should examine the value of what I defend. My immediate reaction is to agree that I should investigate both. Although I am mixing my metaphors, what I know is that I am coiling and uncoiling with restlessness and the impulse to drop the skin of my old life and I'm feeling impulsive enough I may just do it.

Poem Therapy January 4, 2011 -

The Match
Chad Davidson

The burner and the blackout crave you: pilot
of heat, purveyor of the innocent
candle and cigarette, light we tamed
then fed to the night. Cupped, inviolate,
a winter moth, a prayer we never sent
away, you live in seconds what we name
a life, a sudden cleansing. You Prometheus
come as toothpick, the false fire lent
to our fingertips, lightbulb of the lame
idea: may your phosphorus forgive us,
old flame.

I suppose all that any of us need when we've lost our way and need to find our way forward is a flame to light the way .

What I Made Today: Gemstone and Crystal Glam Necklace

Assembled semi-precious gemstones, pearls, with vermeil findings,

To be completely honest, I made this last week. In any case, of late, I've been combining metalwork and beading. Even though this project was satisfying to create, I'm ready to get back to traditional metal work in 2011. I have a few projects in the works and will post them when they're completed.

January Crows

Crows in the cornfield January 2, 2011.

Early Sunday morning a murder of crows were in the field behind my home pecking out the last frozen corn kernels. They flew off to the east when I approached, but soon were back perched in the Honey Locust tree.

Favorite Holiday Images

Amaris in the dining room.

Amaris with the snoozing grandparents.

Christmas Day.

On Willow Pine Lane with Chatlin, Ellie, and Harley.


Amaris and our Charlie Brown tree.

Farm animals during snowstorm.

Harley Christmas Eve.

The Coffee Project - December 16, 2010.-January 5, 2010

January 5, 2010.

January 3, 2010. Happy 83rd!

January 2, 2011.

December 31, 2010. New Year's Eve on the comfort zone.

December 30, 2010.

Afternoon coffee.

December 29, 2010. Coffee at the mall.

December 28, 2010. Although he looks like he's busy with his phone, the man seated us next to us could not resist interjecting opinions into our conversation.

December 27, 2010.

December 26, 2010.

December 24, 2010.

December 23, 2010.

December 22, 2010. Jamie and Cecil flew in from Georgia for a surprise visit during morning coffee at Grannie Annie's.

Afternoon coffee at Einstien's with Ronnie and Cecil.

December 21, 2010.

December 20, 2010.

December 19, 2010.

December 18, 2010.

December 16, 2010.