a gallery of controversys


Another affair with Water

Broken White

Sometimes your art will live in a safe and insular world and sometimes that world will have to open up and acknowledge the outside world too.

This past week has been grief filled. I have often written, in essay or poem, of the unwelcome privilege I have been afforded by the very authority that took the life of a good man, a neighbor. A man who shopped at the same grocery store as me and sat in the same traffic and clipped the same coupons.


Version 2

Continue reading “Broken White”

The Chicago Technique

Let’s show a bit of formatting today. Here is the excerpt of today’s poem, like I would typically post:IMG_2274

and here is the full page, with words blurred out:

IMG_2275Prompt: This poem came entirely from the title.

It is really fun, whether working experimentally or not, to write a poem from a title. You might choose a line from a beloved poem, or even a beloved line from a poem you aren’t head over heels for.

For a more experimental take on this: Remember the container of words you already created? If not, scroll to the bottom of this post and take a look.

Pull three or more words out of your container and arrange them into a title. Write that poem in the ransom-style. Or just write it, with a pen, the regular way poets do. After the leap we discuss copyright. Blah.

Continue reading “The Chicago Technique”

Young Fair Hearts

I admit that I adore this poem. Mostly because the finished product reminds me of a John Hughes movie. It is such a misfit, just like he was.

I kind of want to write a million poems about young fair hearts now.


Speaking of young fair hearts… I recently finished up teaching a little poetry in the Hamline YOUNG WRITERS WORKSHOP. (Meghan Maloney Vinz is a genius for many reasons, but this summer day-camp for budding writers is a crystal clear example of how much she gives of herself to support and build a writing community for the people who need it most.) What I want to say about that group of students is Thank You. I was floored by their talent, their motivation, their kindness, and their heavy journals spilling words.

Continue reading “Young Fair Hearts”

Fish King Part II: step-by-step instructions

This is where we begin to see the fish king take a real shape. This king is a she, naturally, as she was originally a boat. blog fishking 3 - 2Let’s talk about the way these pages are set up. There is some variation throughout, but this is probably the first place I’ve so blatantly mixed the mediums: handwriting, black-out erasure, and ransom-style composition (which I, in this gallery, consider free-writing). Continue reading “Fish King Part II: step-by-step instructions”

Build the Fish King

This “poem” relies on a list of tools to find itself… as it should.

At first, this seemed impossible. But as I stared at it and wondered why it insisted on being so boring, words began to appear that I had somehow missed at first.

Words like SPIRIT, LIGHT, RULE, and RABBET (a step-shaped recess cut along the edge or in the face of a piece of wood) came out of nowhere and suddenly there was some magic in that list. More importantly, there was an invitation for more.

This is one of those poems that threatens to be too insular, too in the writer’s own head to make sense to others, too abstract. I’m all right with that danger. To me, the fish king is a real thing and this is its poem.

And since I have, as usual, worked ahead… I know it will return.

Continue reading “Build the Fish King”

The Damage is Done

For the first poem in the series of “Another affair with Water,” a more language based piece. I counted the steps (originally step-by-step instructions for building a King-Fisher) and … there are 29. I admit, this is overwhelming. I will have to be flexible, I assume, because I know of no brain (writer or reader’s) that can handle 29 poetic instructions.

Either way, here is the first. I like the way this one came together; I’ve always been a sucker for ripped paper. blog - 11

Prompt: Overwhelm yourself. Set a goal that you literally do not know if you can meet. Be prepared to adapt.

Another affair with Water

Another full spread image. These clippings almost give you the full effect. For this, I’ve used the same Stained Glass* effect. It is a style I’ve grown comfortable with.

blog - 8 (1)Simply find an image that has a lot of lines and begin cutting shapes or patterns away, using the lines as a guide.

Use rubber cement to place new colors or images behind the cut away. Voila: stained glass.

Major prompt: Incorporate a quote, an epigraph if you will — common in poetry.

For this piece, I’ve filled in a boat with the word “Water” floating in blue. And look, that W is not a W at all. It is an upside-down M! Wow, mom.  Continue reading “Another affair with Water”

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