My sister-in-law, Teresa Genovese, gave me a few big bags of new and old library cards from the library where she works. I take out the bags and sort the cards: old ones without writing, old ones with handwriting, ones that are white, or cream, ones with red stamps, a few are pale orange and green, some are covered in codes, some are personally relevant, some describe people I know. Many are new. I flip over the boring ones and type poetry or found text on the back, glue them onto cradled boards my husband, Peter, makes for me. Paint over them, soak them with encaustic. Dig circles into the wax with a protractor and press oil paint into the inscribed lines. Pull out the paint again with baby oil.
My friend Lynn Behrendt and I co-curate an electronic journal called Peep/Show, “a taxonomic exercise in textual and visual seriality.” It’s a way to glean and sort through the poetry and art that is catching our attention at any given moment
The new biography of John Cage, to get over this bad case of bronchitis. I wish the little magnolia stellata would get bigger, faster. That I could have more time to work. That the Hudson River would get cleaner, faster. That the spring will last a long time. That I could adjust to temperature fluctuations better. That I could adjust better. That I could shed my clichés quicker.
There are so many poets I want to come and read in the poetry reading series I curate. I will do this series as long as it feels fun, and as long as my inner audience feels hungry.
I’m one of those poets who wrote a lot both before and after the Internet. Before the Internet, I was trying to figure out how to write without a map, and the examples I got from my very traditional study in college were not helping. My friend Maryrose Larkin and I spent a couple years going to every single poetry reading we could find, mostly saying to each other afterward, “Nope, that’s not it.” It took me about three years pre-internet to write the first poems that were pleasurably remote from what I knew. The internet now makes everything instantly mappable. I would have found Susan Howe easily, or Mei Mei Bersenbrugge or Leslie Scalapino.
I remember listening to the radio when I was about 14, and wondering if that’s all there was. And then finding a channel way at the end of the dial where the secrets lived. It made me shave my head later. It was fantastic.
In the last few years, I’ve been part of a poetry event that has existed both pre-and post-Internet: The Subterranean Poetry Festival at the Widow Jane Mine in Rosendale, New York. I like the idea of a long-term event that changes, yet continues to exist despite technological change. Maybe that it’s in an abandoned cement mine makes it a little less ephemeral…
My favorite gardening implements are galvanized steel watering cans. I have two–one elegantly welded by my husband with brass to fix a leak, and one that’s bigger with chipped red paint. I collect galvanized steel every time I find it–some rotting in the yard (detritus after our roof was repaired), some as old signs with faded lettering from the dump. I collect these objects and do nothing with them, except look at them once in a while. Something about galvanized steel: its large pixelations, the Johnsian greys, how it’s so cold even when it’s warm out. These pieces of metal may form the basis for paintings at some point, why I let them hang around. Living near the Hudson River, there are so many opportunities to amass and witness debris.
I swear. A lot. Mostly when I talk, but I almost never use it in my poetry or visual art. It becomes less interesting in print. Certain words like to live in the air better than on the page. I was knocked briefly unconscious once for swearing. I swear patriotically. Because I live here and supposedly we have freedom of speech. As poets, it’s our jobs to explore language and make it mean new things. If it can mean at all–it might be another form of paint. No one ever asks music to “mean” in quite the same way.
Is one of my most favorite things ever. As much as, as same as skin. I own a lot of paper to keep my studio stocked. Several years ago, I bought a used stack of flat files (something I had highly coveted for years) to deal with storage for my works on paper. Now, when I get some unexpected money, I buy paper and put it away in a drawer. It’s lovely to follow a paper idea all the way to its end, grabbing sheet after sheet and moving forward. Paper words are the most beautiful things: Fabriano, Rives, Arches, kozo, kitakata, abaca, gampi, hosho, rosapina. I also collect old paper, receipt books, dictionaries, old books with funny titles, typewriter manuals. Anything that might be of use.
Because I don’t own an etching press, and printmaking in one of my most beloved things, I’ve been experimenting a lot with encaustic monotypes. I’ve got a large aluminum palette that can accommodate an entire piece of printmaking paper. Printmaking is like childhood Christmas over and over, being excited about the not-knowing, pulling the page up, trying to find the perfect paper for encaustic monotype: smooth or rough, absorbent or repelling, thin or thick. Kindly asking the materials to conjure the effects I like, hoping too that something happens that I don’t know yet.
Right now, I’m playing with poems that work with Google search suggestions. You know, that drop-down box that appears when Google tries to extrapolate what you’re thinking? The more wrong the suggestions are, the better. These pieces are pleasurably disjointed and pop-culturey. I find things like Minty the Candy Cane and his Mintymix or I make sentences like “the skinny margarita IS the color of New Jersey.”
I’m pretty sure the Colette roses get covered in aphids every year during the summer. But they survive. I stopped growing petunias in flower boxes because of the aphids. Everything I grow must endure a certain amount of benign neglect, or I can’t have it in my garden. Because if I start following a poetry or art idea around, I’m likely to neglect the spraying of soapy water to remove the aphids.
I’m a tennis player, and play competitively. Whenever I have to play a big tennis match, I often listen to classical music first (if I can. The CD player recently died in my car–ack!). Certain kinds: Bach, most Baroque would work, Mozart, Hayden. Some modern classical works too like Philip Glass. It orders my mind in a particular way to let the best possible geometric actions/things/thoughts happen. It’s like the music machetes through the underbrush to let particular paths of thought occur.
I had a dream recently that I was asked to play doubles on a court the size of a twin bed, with low hanging branches over it, covered in an Andy Goldsworthy-like arrangement of brush. It seemed unreasonable.
These particular oxen are exactly between intricate and reddish.
Peter sometimes says, “The oxen may be slow, but the field is patient.”
I am writing love poems to paint colors now, using as source text the paint descriptions of R&F Handmade Paints. “Reds” has moved incrementally into three voices, when in the past, I wrote for two. David Abel suggested today that I buy a copy of The ISCC-NBS Method of Designating Colors and a Dictionary of Color Names. If writing is a form of thinking, I want to know what the writing is telling me. I can’t tell until I write it. And even then, I can barely know anything. Only what the reds are suggesting at the busily ruined edge of language.
Okay, I couldn’t stand it. I ordered the book.
Anne Gorrick is the author of I-Formation (Book One) (Shearman Books, 2010), the forthcoming I-Formation (Book Two), and Kyotologic (Shearsman Books, 2008). She collaborated with artist Cynthia Winika to produce a limited edition artists’ book, “Swans, the ice,” she said, funded by the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, NY and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Images of her visual art can be found at The Rope Dancer Accompanies Herself. She curates the reading series Cadmium Text, which focuses on innovative writing from in and around New York’s Hudson Valley, and co-curates the electronic poetry journal Peep/Show with poet Lynn Behrendt. She lives in West Park, New York.