Archive for poetry
A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.
No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.
This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.
His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.
We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.
The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.
My peonies sleep
curled into their red roots
frozen with the ground.
I walk with what is left of winter
and discover a tiny animal, wet and black,
bereft of possibility.
It’s too close to spring to die.
we need a month of sunny days
before we dig and plant.
a hale storm threw
a million tiny pearls
onto tawny fields
as soon as they landed.
One life,-a little gleam of time between two Eternities.
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
“Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”
Lately, I have been pushing myself to get better at black and white photography. A good black and white photo seems a poem compared to the novella you find in most of my color photographs. Simple is better. Clear, clean, brilliant, illuminated and ecclesiastical helps.
Here are my most recent attempts.
Benefit to reading in Cherry Valley? You just might have Charles Plymell drop in for a listen and he just might ask you to his home for tea afterwords and you just might go and hear story after incredible story that makes your realize you have done nothing, absolutely nothing with your amazing life. And you won’t care. Because Charles did and still is.
In London by Charles Plymell
In London in a very neat
and sensible flat,
lives the one true genius
of contemporary American prose.
More like a poet
he veers and speaks both
naturally and subliminally,
Or more like a medium
he chats pleasantly
from a space apart,
or from a chamber
of spirits disguised
in a everyday world.
A tall man, slightly stooped
from the weight of all
the combinations and formulas
of all possible plots,
Mr. Burroughs rises
and leans against the window ledge
…could have been a St. Louis
merchant or farmer
about to speculate on the weather.
“Those birds,” he says, gesturing out
the window to a flock that caught his fancy,
“in mornings they fly one way
and in the evenings they
fly back the other way.”
And with that he reached for his hat
and we went to the local pub for brandy.
(from Neon Poems, 1970)
“Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private. ”
20 liner poets Chris Shearer, Leslie Berliant and yours truly are reading tonight at the Cherry Branch Gallery in Cherry Valley, NY…home to Ginsberg et al.
“Cherry Valley has a long history as an artist and writer’s community. Willa Cather left New York City for the isolated village in 1911, writing O Pioneers! while there. Poet Allen Ginsberg bought a farm there in the 1960s, and the town became a haven and destination point for many of the major personalities of the Beat scene:
William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Peter Orlovsky, Herbert Huncke, Ray Bremser, Anne Waldman, Robert Creeley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Harry Smith, Mary Beach, Claude Pelieu and many others all spent time either living or visiting there.
Poet Charles Plymell still lives in Cherry Valley (and I heard he gave a nod of approval to my iPhoneography show)—he and his wife Pam ran Cherry Valley Editions from their home, publishing small editions of major writers. Jazz pianist Paul Bley and Jeff Palmer are residents of the small town, as is artist/writer Jack Walls, artists Richard Saba and Mark Mastroianni, film maker James Rasin, and National Book Award nominated novelist Dana Spiotta.
The transgender pioneer, actress and Andy Warhol Superstar Candy Darling is buried in the historic Cherry Valley Cemetery. A significant portion of the award winning feature length documentary film about her life, Beautiful Darling (2010), was shot in Cherry Valley. The photographer Ryan McGinley has staged several photo shoots in and around the village, and the artist Dash Snow shot one of his last 8mm pieces, “Sisyphus, Sissy Fuss, Silly Puss”, there in late May 2009.”
Photo of Ginsberg’s farm…taken last summer.
Dear Love of My Life, Jack Grapes…
The day that I met you, so many years ago at The Los Angeles Festival of Books, you told me that if I studied with you my life would change.
I was so lost that day, all I knew was I needed something. Connor was my little hostage as I, unable to spend too much time on any one book or person because there was something waiting for me, pulled him through all those tents and passed all those booths of booksellers.
There was indeed something waiting to be found in the last tent I entered, the Bombshelter Press tent, it was the title of an Anthology that stopped me, ON THE BUS.
“Are you on the bus or off the bus?” A dear friend of mine at the time would ask and we’d laugh uproariously until we were in tears, “I was run over by the bus,” I’d reply, because it was true, I was so lost in life that it was funny. That book title stopped me and then I looked up…
Another friend from that era had told me about a teacher so brilliant so right for me that I must take his class immediately. His name, she said, was Jack Grapes.
And there you were.
You, who opened my heart and my eyes to the artist inside of me, you, brilliant soul, who quenched a thirst I didn’t know I had for learning and love, you who opened my eyes and ears to what is a poem and you who introduced me to all those wondrous poets who stand today and to all of those who’ve gone before…
Oh, Jack, I’d have to create a poem as deep and gut wrenching as HOWL to make the world understand!
Instead, I moved to the middle of nowhere.
Your link, besides the obvious?
Tim Giblin posted a picture on Facebook of a farmhouse for sale in central NY.
Tim Gibin was in your class with me.
Method Writing with Jack Grapes.
Oh, how I loved my Method Writing with Jack Grapes. Oh, how sacred were those Monday nights with my writing trembling in my hand, barely able to concentrate on the poet reading before me, the deep calm that came over the room when I began to read, the silence like the roar of Niagra falls in my ears as finished, as I tried to listen to your words about my words, your words, your words, manna from heaven were your words.
And you, jolly soul, serene taskmaster, Shakespearean actor genius, horse whisperer to all of our madnesses and slayer of our talents (which was not our genius…it is our genius, you said, not our talent that would save us).
And I need to be saved.
I sat in your classes for years until I was saved.
An honorary member of The Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective, I was twice saved.
I started writing 20 line poems inspired by your short poems class.
Because I so loved writing 20 line poems, I recruited other Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective members to write with me, to share the first and the tenth line of a 20 line poem, a collective of poets feeding from each other’s genius.
Tim Giblin joined my 20 liner poetry group.
Tim Giblin and I kept in touch by writing 20 liners and on Facebook when he moved back to NYC.
When Tim Giblin posted on Facebook that he “bought the farm”, meaning a rundown palace in central NY, I followed his journey on Facebook and in the 20 line poems he wrote.
The minute I couldn’t stand to live in LA anymore, the minute the urge to change my life had me by the throat amd was wrestling me to the hard wood floors of my cottage by the sea, the very minute that Tim Giblin posted a picture of a broken down old farmhouse on FB and asked, “Who wants to be my neighbor” I said, “Me.”
I bought that old farmhouse next to his, sight unseen.
I moved to the middle of nowhere, 3 months later.
Because I renovated that house and had neither job nor friends, besides Tim, I started taking pictures with my iPhone.
Because those pictures kept me sane and resonated with my FB friends, I took more and more until I was inside a lyrical love poem to central NY.
And this is ALL because of you, Jack Grapes.
Did I tell you lately, I LOVE YOU?
Here is a link to the images that we will hang at the gallery, they will be limited edition 8 x 8 images of the central NY I fell in love, with printed directly to aluminum.
Here is the press release and a few of the testimonials I have gathered…I send these to you, Jack Grapes, because they are all by your students…fellow members of The Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective.
We are a community of artists that YOU gave birth to.
Subject: For Immediate Release – Photographer, Vicki Whicker, to Appear at Cherry Branch Gallery 4/6/13
Cherry Branch Gallery presents Vicki Whicker’s iPhotography- Dunga Brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently
Saturday, April 6th, 2013….Cherry Valley, NY- Cherry Branch Gallery will be hosting an opening reception for central New York artist, Vicki Whicker. For the month of April, the gallery will feature a collection of her iPhoneography, Dunga Brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently.
“The Cherry Branch Gallery is tremendously pleased to represent Vicki Whicker and her iPhoneography. Whicker demonstrates a mastery of this genre through wit, heart, critical awareness, style, technique, and an infectious appreciation of her subject matter. Looking doesn’t have to get any better than this.” Kristen Henderson, Director, Cherry Branch Gallery
In 2011, Vicki Whicker left Los Angeles for central New York to renovate an 1820’s farmhouse that she found on Facebook and purchased, sight unseen. The rundown property, she would later learn, was named “Dunga Brook,” a once a thriving dairy farm spanning over 2,000 acres in Otsego county.
While waiting for renovations, Whicker explored the area using her iPhone to capture the world above and below her feet. It was this impromptu exercise that marked her personal awakening to the astounding beauty of New York State; beauty that has surely been here since Dunga Brook’s heydey.
Of the contemporary medium and her process, Whicker states, “iPhoneography as a mobile method for making art and as a creative movement was exploding around the world while I was stalking the flora and fauna of my new home. Coming from LA, I was in a paradise- the lush trees, the long country roads lined with Queen Anne’s Lace big as pie plates, the crimson and gold fall leaves, those first pristine snow flakes. The more I shot, the more I saw; the more I saw, the more I wanted to see…by the time my house was done 6 months had passed and I had produced over 20,000 images…through the lens of my iPhone I fell completely in love with central New York.”
Dunga Brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently, is Whicker’s first iPhoneography exhibit and features her evocative 8″x8″ limited edition images printed directly on metal.
Please join us for the opening reception on Saturday, April 6, from 5-7pm. Cherry Branch Gallery, 25 Main Street, Cherry Valley, NY 13320 / 607-264-9530 Facebook: Cherry Branch Gallery / Twitter: @cherrybranchgal
Schedule of Events
APRIL 6th, Saturday, 5-7pm: OPENING RECEPTION Live Jazz with Jeff Palmer,
5-7pm (pre-sales 12-4pm)
APRIL 14th, Sunday, 3-5pm: Seeing Differently: Intro to iPhoneography Workshop w/Vicki Whicker. $40. Fee / Limited to 20 spaces
APRIL 20th Saturday, 5-7pm: Wine & Sweets, Poetry Reading with Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective members, Vicki Whicker, Leslie Berliant and Chris Shearer
APRIL 27th, Saturday, 5-7pm: Closing Party – SALES CLOSE @ 7pm
“Looking at the photos by Vicki Whicker, you realize they were not taken by an outsider, nor are they photos presented of a life through a cinema verite lens. These images are evidence of this artist’s life, but relentlessly filtered through her passion, love, longing, pain, and the unbearably intimate birth of a new freedom.”
Chiwan Choi, Poet, Publisher Writ Large Press, Los Angeles, CA
“Here is Vicki Whicker making us see. Little hidden windows, splashes of
light and color. Look at this ground, she says. Look again and again!
It’s never the same! It’s never boring! Surprise!”
Wayne Liebman, Playwright, Los Angeles, CA
“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Vicki Wicker for almost 20 years now, having first met her in Jack Grape’s writing class in Los Angeles. I was immediately struck by her honesty and vulnerability. She made me laugh, she made me cry, but mostly she made me feel. These were heady times, thick with words wrung from within.
Vicki and I both came from the Midwest, originally, and Los Angeles was both a welcoming place and a hard place to warm up to. Through a sheer force of will, she flourished. But life’s circumstances has led Vicki on a new journey of discovery, ever a poet, she has taken up iPhonography with the same zeal and power as her words.”
Ellen Jantzen, Photographer/Digital Artist, St. Louis, MO
“Vicki Whicker has that rare ability to see the beauty all around her, from the bees feasting on a milkweed flower to the glint of rain drops on a spider web, using just her iPhone and her keen eye she has captured the majestic tableau of Central New York in a series of photographs that tell a story of transformation. Not only does she chronicle the ever changing colors, landscapes, flora and fauna of the area, but she also tells her own journey of falling in love with a place, with an art form and with herself. Her photographs and her story are absolutely captivating and not to be missed.” Leslie Berliant, Blue Moon Group, Le Marais Chocolate, Cooperstown, NY
“Upon first glance it is apparent that Vicki Whicker’s talents are not confined to the page or brush (Whicker is also an accomplished poet & painter). Her images provoke an immediate emotionality. What strikes one, are the details she pulls into focus, the ephemeral beauty of nature captured, whether awash in texture or throbbing with color or sharp-edged and bare. Whicker compresses moments into jewels and holds them up to the light for us to reflect upon —in her images reality mates with imagination revealing layers unseen to the casual observer. The spectator is left aching with the recognition of just how fleeting and magnificent our journey is.”
Ariana Trinneer, Poet, iPhoneographer, Artist Rep
“Through a small lens, Vicki Whicker has captured the grand stillness and raw beauty of this place. Through all seasons, these images invite us to step into silence and experience a changing landscape that is calling us home. Through a small lens, Vicki Whicker has captured the grand stillness and raw beauty of this place. Through all seasons, these images invite us to step into silence and experience a changing landscape that is calling us home.”
Jeremy Stuart, Poet, Documentary Filmmaker, San francisco, CA
“The thing that sets Vicki Whicker apart as a photographer is her ability to capture a story in a still photograph. As in Vicki’s poetry and her painting, she is telling her own story, yet she manages to allow you to dream up your very own. Her photographs inspire deep contemplation on the part of the viewer, which is a true gift. These works of Art are meditations that invite you into a world you wish to explore again and again.” Mary Petrie Lowen, Writer, Los Angeles, CA
Jack, thank you,
I wish we were in the same town, I would love to HUG YOU.
I knew when I said
I love you
that I was inventing a new alphabet
for a city where no one could read
that I was saying my poems
in an empty theater
and pouring my wine
for those who could not
County Highway 19 and a tiny slap of Bukowski…plus Dunga Brook Diary in which I confess my Dream of being an iphone Ansel Adams…
“I loved you like a man loves a woman he never touches, only writes to, keeps little photographs of.” ~Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell
Dunga Brook Diary, looking back, spring/summer 2011…
I bought a farmhouse that I found on Facebook.
I bought a farmhouse that I found on Facebook named Dunga Brook, the original homestead of a 2,000 acre dairy farm built in the 1820’s.
I bought a farmhouse with an acre of land, in a place I had never heard of, for $10,000, because of a post on Facebook.
Why did I do this? Because , because, because, because, because…
Because, I was on Facebook. Because back then I had that much money in the bank. Because I was without ties, because I was over my career in fashion, because I had a number one and only son who was going off to college in August, because if I didn’t do something drastic I would lose my mind when he left, because I had 25 years in LA under my belt (because 25 of those years had been spent wishing I was somewhere small town USA else), because, basically, I had to.
I wrote a poem once with the line, “the tragic leap is the only dance-step I know…”. Melodramatic, yes, but what I meant was, I don’t do things in half-measures. All in or all out.
My moves aren’t predicated on logic, wisdom, reality, time and space continuums, obligations, duty, society…when the voice inside my head says, “its time,” I dance.
So, when Tim Giblin, a man I barely new from an LA poetry class, posted a picture of a farmhouse on Facebook somewhere in New York on an April morning in 2011, I bought it.
Dunga Brook was for sale by owner and Tim, who lived next door, wanted someone he knew to be his new neighbor.
Turns out, you want to like your neighbors in the middle of nowhere.
I don’t think I was what he had in mind but if he was disappointed, he never let on.
That summer, my son and I had to live in a campground while Dunga Brook was being renovated. God knows we couldn’t live in her, she had been torn down by the elements (rain, snow, rain, snow, wind, rain, snow) and had been sorely mistreated by the last tenants who were, literally, squatters.
The squatters had destroyed a few of the things that the elements hadn’t yet (like the stairs to the second floor and the electrical panel in the stone basement) as a good ole country FU and goodbye.
Seems, the owner of the house had called the squatter’s closest relative, an uncle who once rented the house, and told him to deliver this message…”get out or we’ll burn the house down with you in it.” They did get out.
The KOA campground was the only place left for long-term rental that summer. I had no idea when I bought Dunga Brook that she was in the middle of the Cooperstown Dreams Park baseball summer mania.
Turns out that this little nowhere land turns into baseball central all summer long- there are baseball parks, baseball memorabilia shops, The Baseball Museum, baseball Hall of Famers are inducted out here, and the families of all the little baseballers from all over the world rent every little home and hotel room there is to be found while they pursue their mini major league Dreams in that Park.
So, into the last rental camper trailer at the KOA we went. Which thrilled my soon to be off to college son, Connor, to no end. His Dream had always been to live in a trailer.
That trailer magically led to a reconnection to my Dream. I practically grew up in a camper. My dad dragged us to every campground in the state of Florida and up the coast to Maine in back when I was a child. Camping is in my bones, my heart and my soul.
What camping meant to a shy little girl was hours and hours of roam time, commune time, Dream time with all the little creatures and plants and water bodies of the earth.
And here I was, iphone in hand, lucid dreaming in a land of such staggering beauty that I couldn’t understand what the big deal was with all that migration west . Who could leave this place?
Thanks to that migration, CNY – as compared to LA – was essentially empty, save the baseballers and their families crowded into Cooperstown Dreams Park.
Suddenly, I understood what I was meant to do with that iPhone in my hand. Take pictures. Take a million bazillion gazillion pictures of my Dream. Lay down in the grass with my face in the dirt and breathe. Look up to the sky at the clouds marching by and breathe. click. click. click.
Suffice it to say, I took over 20,000 iPhone pictures that summer while I waited for that house to be rebuilt and not one human besides my son and my shadow got in the way of a sunset, a sunrise, a crystal clear lake, a wild flower, a you name it.
By fall, I had carpal tunnel. Turns out you can’t just take 20,000 iPhone pictures, edit them and upload them to Facebook, regale everyone with the beauty you have found, the Dream you have landed in the middle of, without paying a price.
I would lie in bed at night, my right arm in the air and cry, it hurt so bad. I googled iPhone and carpal tunnel and ah ha, yes, of course.
Luckily for me, there are a lot of great people up here, that is the yummy little secret of this place.
Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere, NYC is 4 hours away, Boston, the same, the nearest Starbucks is 90 miles away (this is how a LA person views the world)…but the people who live up here are amazing, educated, brilliant, fun, artistic, earthy, gorgeous, adventurous, and exactly what I wasn’t expecting to find.
Somehow, between taking a picture of everything that did and didn’t move, I met all of them.
My carpal tunnel was cured by one of the best massage therapists I have ever met who also, to my great delight, somehow ended here. Cheryl Rosen of The Spring House Spa in Sharon Springs saved my life. Well, my arm. And a lot of sleepless nights.
This April, 6th, 2013, I have a *photography show at the Cherry Branch Gallery, two years from the day that Tim Giblin posted a picture of a little broken farmhouse named Dunga Brook on Facebook.
*Vicki Whicker shoots all her photos with an iPhone, edits them in iphoto and pic monkey and Dreams of being an iPhone Ansel Adams.