Clifford and Susan at M Coffee, 2/21/09

Artists Clifford Hunt and Susan Friedman will be conducting a collaborative visual poetry performance. They have also produced book featuring Susan’s photography and images and Clifford’s poetry. Come check it out on Saturday night.


The Book of Qualities

I went into Coastside Books today. I don’t know why. I was hoping I would come upon something quickly that I just had to have. I was supposed to be working on a powerpoint presentation – weird I had not been doing those is a long while and now I find myself doing two presentations on art in the last month.

Well anyway, the book. I found the book I had to have. A small book called “The Book of Qualities”, by J. Ruth Gendler. The author (who is also the artist) has written and illustrated a book about a cast of characters. These characters have names like: Truth, Blame, Beauty, Joy, Harmony, Panic, and more.

Here is the story about “Faith”.

Faith lives in the same apartment building as Doubt. When Faith was out of town visiting her uncle in the hospital, Doubt fed the cat and watered the asparagus fern. Faith is comfortable with Doubt because she grew up with him. Their mothers are cousins.Faith is not dogmatic about her beliefs like some of her relatives. Her friends fear that Faith is a bit stupid. They whisper that she is naive and she depends on Doubt to protect her from the meanness of life. It is the other way around. It is Faith who protects Doubt from Cynicism.

I googled Gendler and found out that she is a transformative art and poetry teacher in Berkeley!

And she is speaking on her new book “Notes on the Need for Beauty” 7pm, September 18 at the Gateways Bookshop, in Santa Cruz.

Check out more about her at her website:

Number thirty-four

Today the corresponding Tao Te Ching reading is #34:

The Great Tao flows everywhere, both to the left and to the right.
The ten thousand things depend upon it, it holds nothing back.
It fulfills its purpose silently and makes no claim.

It nourishes the ten thousand things,
And yet is not their lord.
It has no aim; it is very small.

The ten thousand things return to it,
Yet it is not their lord.
It is very great.

It does not show greatness,
And is therefore truly great.

Do Not Ask Me – Pablo Neruda

 Oh how I love this poem. I very much identity with what he is talking about.

Do Not Ask Me

Some people ask me that human affairs
with names, surnames and laments
not be dealt with in the pages of my books,
not to give them space in my verses:
they say poetry died here,
some say I should not do it:
the truth is I do not want to please them.
I greet them, I tip my hat to them,
and I leave them voyaging in Parnassus
like happy rats in cheese.
I belong to another category,
I am only a man of flesh and bones,
therefore if they beat my brother
I defend him with what I have in hand
and each one of my lines carries
the threat of gunpowder or steel,
that will fall over the inhuman,
over the cruel and over the arrogant.
But the punishment of my furious peace
menaces neither the poor nor the good:
with my lamp I search for those who fall:
I soothe and close their wounds:
these are the chores of the poet
of the aviator and of the stonecutter:
we should do something on this earth
because we were born on this planet
and we must arrange man’s society
because we are neither birds nor dogs.
And so, if when I attack what I hate,
or when I sing to those I love,
poetry wants to abandon
the hopes of my manifesto,
I’ll follow the letter of my law
accumulating stars and armaments
and in my steadfast duty to America
one more rose does not matter:
I have a pact of love with beauty:
I have a pact of blood with my people.

Pablo Neruda

Dropping keys

In yoga today Courtney shared this poem during shivasna.

the small man
builds cages for everyone
he knows.

While the sage,
who has to duck her head
when the moon is low,
keeps dropping keys all night long
for the beautiful rowdy prisoners.

– Hafiz

I really love this poem. To me it is about lifting up your fellow human to be the best they can be if they choose that. I see a beautiful fairy tale like image of a woman in moonlight dropping keys like precious seeds.

pieces of what you were thinking

a long and narrow fishing net to catch dreams of what may have been but got away,

strips of cloth from Tibetan Buddhist robes, blood red and sacred,

a bright white egg with a painted scene by an unknown artist,

words from a gray book on the poetics of space,

petals of roses, marigolds, lavender from gardens along the road,

a piece of drift wood which lapped in the waves along the shore,

weary sandals, shoes, and strappy heels in many colors,

a long tail of kelp dried on the sand,

a golden gilded seashell.

a show about 12 women, “What was she thinking?”, Enso Art Gallery, Half Moon Bay, July 2007