BACK TO POETRY: Politics has been dominating the blog for a bit, so time to cleanse the palate for a moment. I've been re-reading Sarah Maclay's brilliant debut collection Whore in anticipation of her arrival in Atlanta to feature at Poetry At Portfolio Center next Friday. I'm excited about this new reading series and the poets who are coming to read, not only Sarah, but a double feature in November with John Amen and Jackie Sheeler. I've also been reading Sharon Olds' Strike Sparks: Selected Poems after being inspired by her letter to Laura Bush.

Tomorrow night is the opening of the Body Maps exhibit at Sycamore Place Gallery in Decatur. I'm excited about seeing these paintings upclose because I'm working on a series of poems in response to the art created by women from South Africa living with HIV/AIDS. I'll be reading this new work with Alice Lovelace at the closing event on Oct. 29. While I'll be attending the opening, I also plan to go back over next week when the gallery is closed and sit quietly with the paintings and let them speak to me. While I have some work that relates to the subject, these powerful paintings require something more.

Body Maps is a project of Memory Box, a community outreach programme initiated by the University of Cape Town that works with HIV+ people to encourage expression and contemplation of their experience through writing, painting and other media. In 2003-2003, Memory Box Project and Médecins Sans Frontières began to document the lives of a group of HIV+ women with access to drug therapies through MSF. With the help of Cape Town-based artist, Jane Soloman, the participants created Body Maps- life size images tracing the contours of their bodies that visualize the virus and articulate each individual history. If you're in Atlanta, I encourage everyone to see this work at Sycamore Place Gallery.

I'll be one of the featured authors at the Atlanta Antiquarian Book Fair on Oct. 21 and 22 at Oglethorpe University. I'll be at the Georgia Writers Association table chatting with guests and selling copies of Better To Travel and HalfLife Crisis. The two-day event will feature 60 booksellers from all over the country selling rare books, as well as author appearances. I'm a book nut, so I'll have to try and control my shopaholic tendencies.

Franklin Abbott, who is coordinating the Benefit For Hurricane Relief at Outwrite Books on Tuesday, Oct. 11 (I'm performing with the Jennifer Perry Combo again - hooray!), sent me an incredible poem by Veronica Patterson called A Charm Against the Language of Politics earlier this week. I can't get it out of my head. I love the way the words roll off my tongue when I read it aloud. I wanted to close by sharing it.

A Charm Against the Language of Politics
Veronica Patterson

Say over and over the names of things,
the clean nouns: weeping birch, bloodstone, tanager,
Banshee damask rose. Read field guides, atlases,
gravestones. At the store, bless each apple
by kind: McIntosh, Winesap, Delicious, Jonathan.
Enunciate the vegetables and herbs: okra, calendula.

Go deeper into the terms of some small landscape:
spiders, for example. Then, after a speech on
compromising the environment for technology,
recite the tough, silky structure of webs:
tropical stick, ladder web, mesh web, filmy dome, funnel,
trap door. When you have compared the candidates' slippery
platforms, chant the spiders: comb footed, round headed,
garden cross, feather legged, ogre faced, black widow.
Remember that most short verbs are ethical: hatch, grow,
spin, trap, eat. Dig deep, pronounce clearly, pull the words
in over your head. Hole up
for the duration.


Anonymous said…
Lisa Allender here, with a big Thank You for the thoughts, and especially those final words from
Veronica Patterson...
Collin said…
Thanks, as always, for posting, Lisa. See you soon!
Friend of T said…
that's the best politico-lingo cleanse i've read in a bit.

darnnit, collin, i can't keep up with all the poetry.months like this, i wish i could be in more than one place at once.
good times in bad times.
maybe i'll get all brooklyn about it and do more than one thing a night, but i don't see that happenin' yet.
if i don't see you on the fly, i look forward to the stories.
~karen g.

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