All the talk today is about this.
Helen who lives in the house I used to live in,
who cooks in my kitchen, makes paper clouds
where we ate, alights on the word translucent,
but moves on – via the deception of clouds –
to what she wants to say all along,
the word I’ve been avoiding perhaps because
I say it vainly every day: clarity clarity clarity
until it sounds like a horse running
down the road without its rider. Helen
doesn’t hear the horses, she only hears the lick
of gauzy rain from gauzy clouds:
ity ity ity –
and is already imagining how hers might be –
layers of paper like onion skin. Really,
she wants to stop the dissembling. See the clouds,
you can touch them. Live in them, even.
Clarity, then. Not just the brilliance
of the tui clawing flax flowers outside
the kitchen window –
black feathers like embers, the comedy
of its throat, ty ty ty as it sucks –
but the way through to other side of the tui and
the flax where a luminous idea resides.
The tenderness of light.
Here at last in plain sight.
With thanks to ‘Meditation at Lagunitas’ by Robert Hass
Yes, I have been Preparing for an Exhibition - for nearly three months now, ever since Helen Reynolds invited me to join the Workbook Collective for a Fringe Festival Exhibition Translucent Landscapes.
There are nine artists (installation, oils, video-media etc), a composer, and me, and we aim to fill up an abandoned optometrist's premises in Ghuznee Street with works that evoke and react to light in various landscapes from the vast to the intimate. We open this Thursday night with readings and music (my son's in the trio: mandolin, guitar and violin), and then we're open daily 11-6 pm until March 22.
Our joint blog explains better than I can what everyone else is up to. My poems are gathered in a limited edition book The Tenderness of Light with the creamiest paper - and they are, without my expecting it, really a sequence of poems about summer in the Wairarapa - a place we go to every year, where we grow things, where there is a Barn, where I write... The poem posted here was a huge challenge because it was about ideas as much as a moment and a feeling - Robert Hass' brilliant poem was a direct inspiration, and I have Tuesday Poets to thank for that: Sarah Jane Barnett and Elizabeth Welsh - both huge fans of his - who have posted a few times on Hass.
The process of writing to a theme for an exhibition has been hugely challenging and stimulating - from working intensely over summer trying to get poems down on the page, to the intense editing process which included unexpected and hugely helpful feedback from two poets I admire - both Tuesday Poets -- Bryan Walpert and Helen Rickerby, to working through how to present the poems (for this I am grateful for the generosity of my printer friend Martin Schaenzel), to the time now when we are working intensely together to make the exhibition happen.
Today, for example, I took young Eddie to the premises to clean the windows and help him get a poster up on the outside wall, I found out about mobile eftpos and credit card zip zap machines, and negotiated with a real estate company to remove a 'For Lease' sign from a key window. I also met with the printer who's printing my book and discussed/designed our next move, and then I hung around a bit supporting the other artists I guess. They're an amazing lot - full of ideas and energy and playing with 'stuff' in a way that reminds me of Playcentre - which I loved when I took my children there. It's such fun to be back.
The print button will be pressed tomorrow on The Tenderness of Light, and then in the evening friends will gather at Helen's house to hand-sew the binding. That will still my nerves, I think. Do come to the opening if you're in town.
5.30 pm Thursday March 1 at 75 Ghuznee Street, performances at 6 pm. Wine and nibbles. Open daily after that until March 22 (11-6pm).
I recommend you check out the Tuesday Poem hub now - a terrific US prose poet is featured thanks to Susan Landry.