.L.Y.F.E.

sits in the curve of a duck's bill

Month: May, 2013

Work in upcoming journals

During the months of June and July I have poems coming out

here:

Hue & Cry issue 7

You can order Hue & Cry online here, or get it from Auckland City Art Gallery / ARTSPACE  / Unity Books / UBS Auckland / Crane Brothers / Timeout Book store / City Gallery Wellington / Dowse Art Museum etc.

Also here:

 41 sport flyer sae

Sport 41 is available at all good bookstores or can be ordered as a magazine or an e-book online here

And one poem here at the Australian website – the Cordite Poetry Review.

Bad Cartoons #2 – The Mysterious Case of Yemaja and Oshun.






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Oshun (Oh-Shoon)

The Animals of Itaparica at Night

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Night Animals 2

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Technically Challenged

Some little, badly drawn cartoons.

I’ve spent (wasted) most (all) of today trying to get my new printer to work. It’s been infuriating in the kind of way that makes me want to do an Office Space on its a#$ …. take it out into a field and beat it to death with a baseball bat. So to kill the time between fits of rage I drew some pix.

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How to (?) Build a Coherent Galaxy

Been contemplating this whole minimalism thing in my own writing, not that I write at all in a minimal style at the moment, but have been thinking that maybe I should investigate. What I think is that I am not *actually* thinking about minimalism per-se but rather about simplicity of language and strong placement of words. Letting the language speak for itself rather than trying to say it all, or fill in all the gaps. 

During my MA year I developed a style of writing which involves the gathering of interesting language (total stealth magpie styles) and then rearranging this random cosmos of words into some kind of functional solar-system. Will the moon (word or phrase A) sit closely enough to the earth (word or phrase B) to have a sufficient magnetic pull on the earth’s ocean? How many words do I need to make up the moon, to make it strong enough to have adequate influence? How much can I scalpel out and still have the language relate and work and move and be real and convincing in the separate universe that is the poem? 

So what I do, and what I will continue to do is gather language, and like a kid making a collage from magazines, cut and cut and cut the language into tiny squares of paper, and then begin to arrange and pin and glue them into new blocks of sense. It doesn’t have to look anything like the original pages of the magazine, but the final product, much like children’s art so often does, has to have its own distinct mana. 

My current process (aka shoddy work system) looks like this: 

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This way of writing lets me do a few things. The first is that I get to see how many uneccessary words there are in the box of language I have cut up …. articles, modal verbs, prepositions and so on, while they can be really useful in the right places, aren’t needed in such prolific amounts. So I can see this whole pile of ‘the’s in the box and can choose not to use them unless I really have to.

The second and I think most important thing that it helps me to do is find new voices. I can take sentences I’ve heard people say in real life or sentences I’ve stolen from T.V. or other poets or novelists and I can cut them up and arrange them into sentences that don’t really sound like me. It’s not my voice and the register of the rearranged and odd sentences often sounds almost like normal language but not quite. Something is a bit off or on or out about the register and I love that. I get so tired of my own voice, my overuse of the words ‘totally, ‘hardcore, ‘oh my god’ and ‘weird’ among many others. And it’s the same with the stories I have to tell and the way I tell them, there is such a ‘me’ ness to the way I tell about the world, and it gets really f%$cking boring! 

This way of writing gets me out of that. Phew. 

The other thing on my mind with this whole simplicity of writing thing, is how strange it is that the final part of my thesis last year was about magic, and included magic spells, and here I end up in a part of the world where magic truly still exists for the local people.

Candomblé and its voodoo style practices and rituals is alive and kicking here. Yesterday we visited a shop where you could buy different coloured candles to burn for your own personal Orixá (God), beads to make necklaces to wear in honour of the Orixás, shells to throw like runes as messages from them … and so on.

The owner, a towering, handsome Candomblé priest, told us casually (translated from Portuguese) how earlier that morning a woman who wasn’t supposed to be practicing Candomblé rituals at that time (I think that what he said is that she had her period and so was forbidden until it was finished) had practiced anyway, and as a result had been possessed by an Orixá who was angry with her, and so had possessed her angrily and caused a scene in the church. It was a laughing matter, as if it happened regularly – although I think only retrospectively as I assume the practices are taken seriously when happening. 

So, I wonder if minimalism / sparsity in language should be my main concern at the moment, or whether it’s more wise (wiser?) to pay attention to the clear signs that this experience here on the island of Itaparica is related in an obvious way to my already established interests. 

many mother

It’s All Kinda Ridiculous Here

Below are some snaps of the Instituto Sacatar

Photos by Vilma Samulionyte

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So …. I’m here on the island of Itaparica and it is stunning. The institute is phenomenally, bordering on ridiculously beautiful – a large gated piece of land which sits right on the ocean front, with one of those tropical movie style piers that leads into clear, warm, blue sea. My studio is a huge old hall in the Portuguese style with an ocean deity (mermaid) sculpture set into a wall recess which glows blue at night.

At night with all the lights out and the goddess Yemanjá glowing all sorts of dark sea colours, I actually get a little spooked. Not so much in a ‘is-there-the-spirit-of-a -goddess-in-here’ kind of way but in a ‘are-there-sharks-in-the-dark-corners-of-this-room’ kind of way. I’m sure the voodoo fear will come later.

The main building in which most of us have our bedrooms sits around a central courtyard with vines growing up trellises and a statue of the Virgin Mary lit from beneath. She stands in front of a fountain and watches over the house. At night, with the ocean sounds and the bats swooping … the courtyard is dark blue and amber and the Virgin is white and calm and it’s all kinda magical.

We are looked after so well here. The staff here are THE kindest and most patient people. It’s a completely new experience for me to have my food cooked, room cleaned, washing done and bed changed by someone else (hi mum), and while it feels SO ridiculously luxurious and amazing, I also don’t feel totally comfortable with it. But …..I.am.sure.i’ll.get.used.to.it.in.no.time.

The food is amazing, at each meal there are trays of mangos, strawberries, melons, bananas and other fruit I’m not yet familiar with and there are always two big jugs of freshly squeezed juice, like mango and ginger or orange and watermelon. For lunch we have local fish and prawns with big salads and rice and so on and so on. I know. I know. Sorry.

So much has happened here already and I only arrived the day before yesterday. I’ve seen a spider-monkey, had a spider in my room, seen what I believe to be a dinosaur bone, had a bat in my room swooping over my head like a sky dolphin, petted a tiny kitten and a puppy, petted a huge brazilian dog the size of a small horse, taken a photo of a casual night-horse, eaten chocolate made from the cocoa trees in the chocolatiers front yard, heard voices in my room at night, been introduced to the concept of ‘zero art’ by the local one eyed French artist Serge, contemplated minimalism in writing, thought about my own penchant to over-ornament my writing, thought that maybe I should stop doing that, thought that maybe that’s just the way I write and fuck anyone who doesn’t like it, listened randomly to this mini Grimes interview in which she randomly talks about the very same issue of minimalism vs over-ornamentation and how minimalism is the harder, ultimately more revealing way to go …..

SO …. that whole creative connectivity thing is starting already, the one where you simply start thinking along creative lines and the world sort of seems to open up and mysteriously sign-post a way forward. Or at least, I hope that’s what is happening. It’s possible that I am just seriously jet-lagged and my brain is doing that heightened awareness thing that brains do when dehydrated / hypothermic / hungover etc and / or close to death. Either way it’s cool.