It is a long poem (25 sections, written in Swansea, Wales, between 2009 and 2011).
There are many threads within the poem, but one of the main threads is: how does the human mind absorb something as vast as climate change? There is an introduction that explains how the poem developed and what it is about.
One of the sections hearkens back to my time at Naropa, in Andrew Schelling’s Eco-poetry class, when we went on a tour of Rocky Flats (before it was turned into a combined superfund site and wildlife refuge).
Bio: I am the author of a novel, A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian Books, 2011) and two books of poetry, On the Side of the Crow (Hanging Loose Press, 2006) and All the Beautiful Dead (Bitter Oleander Press, 2016).
Jefferson Navicky, an archivist for UNE’s Maine Women Writers Collection, recently won a Maine Literary Award from the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance in the Drama category, revealed live at a ceremony on June 1 at SPACE Gallery in downtown Portland.
Redwing Solitaire, is a cycle of five short plays about leaving one’s home and how one can never really escape one’s home.
Before MWWC, Jefferson worked as an archivist for the Djuna Barnes Literary Estate managed by the Authors League Fund. Since 2007, he has taught in the English department of Southern Maine Community College. He earned degrees from Denison University (BA in English) and Naropa University (MFA in Writing & Poetics). His fiction and poetry have been published in Smokelong Quarterly, Hobart, Birkensnake, Quickfiction, Fairy Tale Review and many others. His plays have been produced in The Boston Theater Marathon, and multiple times in The Maine Playwrights Festival. He is the recipient of a Maine Arts Commission Good Idea Grant, and a Maine Literary Award for Drama.
When Jefferson wrote to us, announcing this wonderful achievement, he said, “As always, I couldn’t have done it without my Naropa education, and the friends I made there.”
Thank you Jeff, for Keeping the World Safe for Poetry!
I write to you calm and weary from the transcendent storm of SWP. In this second half of our time, we witnessed endless refractions of light in the form of performance—bright practices of refusal transmitted through our friends and teachers. Knowledge as refuge, as Giovanni Singleton would say. I know you are tired, but stay with me here. I’ve found the connective tissue between these refractions—an alchemical algorithm for shelter, community, and the transition of anger into poetry.
It begins with faith. Moving lightly in fugitive fashion, Erik Ehn restored my convictions. “We can’t transcend ourselves without a sense of faith. Faith is living out of our control, which is a realistic state. When we are out of control, we need help.” Thus, interdependence forms from faith—faith in poetry, faith in healing, and faith in others. Protection takes hold.
Sanctuary then occurs when we realize our responsibility to others. Layli Long Soldier commented on the Lakota people’s gesture towards the innate responsibilities we have in our relationships. From her we learned to keep the sound of our lineage alive so others may rely on us—to contain and preserve.
In this space of humanistic bond, time slows down. We are able to heal. Julie Patton tells us to “Stop. Look. Listen. Make a space for grief.” This is how we begin transition—anger transmutes in stillness (Ronaldo Wilson’s sexual revenge on James Comey comes to mind). The alchemical process of poetics meeting oppression within community is in full force. The shelter creates a restorative delay, and new work is born.
There were so many openings. It felt as if hundreds of blessings hit me at once. We were granted beatific visions from Steven Taylor’s resurrections of Blake. Julie Patton and Janice Lowe dropped us into rivers of elegant, profound music. The little moments linger too—the confusion, hilarity, loneliness. The dancing. I am grateful, loudly and quietly. As we disperse from our pocket of angels, I remember (one of) Anne Waldman’s incantations, given to us during her panel: “minds never come from nothing, or go to nothing.” In this nature, the SWP spirit survives through all of our work, the good work.
Thank you SWP Warriors. Thank you faculty and staff. Thank you students. I hope my passion fuel yours. Your homework is to keep going, and repeat after me: I love you.
Exercise: pick up a rock. Not any rock, but an ordinary rock. or stone. The more ordinary, the better the transmission.
This was a writing exercise shared from the ’93 journal of Laird Hunt (ever faithful to this thing we call archive) the year he attended one of Joanne Kyger’s SWP workshops.
Two days later we went walking and saw a bird’s nest convex on the ground. Inside was nothing but a bed of soft cottonwood where an avian friend had left the impression of their egg. We pickled it up and continued down the riparian path, over the bridge where a friend was waiting.
He had a collection of things: fruit & cheese, tobacco he was smoking out of a fine pipe, books, and a small, perfectly round speckled rock. When I showed him the nest I’d found, he promptly placed the rock inside. It rolled down, exactly where the egg had sat. `
And thus, a simple, ordinary rock became a simulacra, an infinity of mineral hatching.
The evening began with an invocation & prayer from the Tibetan Book of the Dead led by Giovinnina Jobson & Anne Waldman.
Archival collage of photos & poetry as well as a film excerpt of her last visit where she talked about Eco-Etho Poetics, were a loving, haunting reminder of the magnetic cool of her voice.
Sixteen tributes to her life manifested in many forms: poems by Joanne they loved, or poems which captured the very essence of Joanne, poems tied to specific memories of Joanne. Others shared work they had written for Joanne as with Jack Collom and his poem “Kyger, Kyger / burning bright”. And there were songs by Reed Bye accompanied by Ambrose Bye on guitar & Maya Dorn sang a song about love in the digital age which had reduced Joanne to giggles on their last visit.
Bobbie Louise Hawkins read the first story she had ever written & shared w/ Joanne who confirmed it was indeed a story, giving her the encouragement to continue. Later, Joanne would be the first person to invite Bobbie Louise to read publicly.
We were honored by the presence of Donald Guravich, Joanne’s husband, whom she first met at Naropa.
Following the reception we all got a taste of Bolinas, picked up our copies of the beautiful broadside designed and produced by Print-shop Master Julia Seko & Jade Lascelles, printshop assistant.
It was the span of such close kin-ship with friends from California, Naropa, Germany & beyond, that brought her closer to those of us who have only the experience of periphery interactions & lineage. In this way Joanne’s passing on has only heightened the key-stone transmissions of her being: Always give things the dignity of their name. ‘When’ & ‘Where’ is more interesting than ‘What am I’. Do not take for granted the fact that we will have histories.
Margaret Bryant, who attended Joanne’s workshop in 2015 gave us permission to share her poem “Dear Joanne” with you as she continues to write with Joanne on her shoulder.
So thinking back to earlier this week & the stone which became an egg, I know Joanne was with us in this moment. Ordinary, but so not ordinary. It happened instantaneously between us, this reckoning & alchemy of life-forms. It was June 20th, 2017 on the banks of the Boulder Creek.
I write to you, a day past midsummer and a day past mid summer-writing program. The anthropocene continues with a heavy geological and social current. Resisting, delaying, we do the good work—learning and writing and loving—along with these rising temperatures. At SWP, we’ve already experienced with all senses the vast counter-patterns these “New Weathers” have subsequently rippled into with poetics and discussion. Last week, Roger Reeves cited Adrienne Rich in her poem “Dreamwood” when discussing how to dismantle the New Weathers of our time: “…poetry isn’t a revolution but a way of knowing why it must come.” And so, as our bubble of deep thinkers meditate on the skeleton of our country, we have all also created—and witnessed—deconstructions, realms of defiance and prediction, and open pockets of awareness for the healing to come through. We have learned from Brenda Coultas how to document our local manifestations of decay in poetry. Azareen Oloomi encouraged us to “read widely and with vigor.” Eileen Myles told the secret to taking care of ourselves is (sometimes) getting a dog. And always, in the gifted eye of each of us, there is the knowing of watching a poet as they work—Mairead, Jeffery, or Anne weaving fibrous tapestries of SWP magic behind a humble curtain—that gives us the wisdom of generosity and dedication—helping us communally return what has been given to us as writers. In other words, we are becoming meteorologists.
Increasingly we are hearing the cutting truth revealed by our teachers—that these Weathers are not actually New. C.A. Conrad spoke to this on his panel: “Things have been fucked up for a long time.” Following up on his own threads of heart-mind activism, Conrad noted that political atrocities against the gay community have not only been happening for too long, but are also on the rise—with over 300 anti-gay and lesbian laws passed in 2017 so far. “Everybody needs to be an activist, and simultaneously creative,” Conrad said as pens flew across the pages in the windy, high vibrational PAC.
There is a lot to be grateful for. Hope is rising up and we become lighter with knowledge and nourishing poetry. Your homework is to tell the people around you that you love them, stay in the now and the unknown, and read to wake up, my dear SWP warriors. Write to wake others.
—Gabriella Reamer, Faculty Liaison
Photos by SWP New Weathers assistants & Director: Erika Hodges, Shawnie Hamer, Garen-Lavender Whitmore, Swanee, & Jeff Pethybridge
We had the pleasure of hearing from Matthew Pincus, now a PhD candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He writes:
“It feels like it has been so long since Naropa even though it has only been a couple years. This Spring I was able to publish an article on Leslie Marmon Silko titled “Bewitched Policies of Resistance: America’s Legacy of Unknown Soldiers in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Storyteller” in a peer-reviewed journal called Transmodernity. It was a special issue of the journal that focused on Indigenous Knowledges and Indigenous Sites of Memory. The journal is open-access, and I was among other international scholars presenting on research about Indigenous cultures from South, Central and North America. It was incredible to have my work featured in this journal, and certainly the work I did at Naropa started this research and encouraged me to continue my work at UL-Lafayette.”
Congratulations on the publication Matthew!
Here’s the abstract:
Abstract Storyteller (1981) by Leslie Marmon Silko is a unique hybridized text of Laguna Myths centered on topics of Laguna Pueblo Citizens, and more generally Indigenous Southwestern Americans. “Tony’s Story,” “Uncle Tony’s Goat,” and “A Geronimo Story” are three tales where characters are agents of political resistance against injustices enacted by the American Military and law enforcement over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Each story subverts the dominant “white” narrative of American politics and history through use of traditional Laguna Pueblo values linked to the inseparable geographical terrain they call home. In “Tony’s Story,” the protagonist and his friend enact a revenge narrative on a racist cop who abuses his power, thus commenting on modern-day police brutality. A cop is killed, and rain at the end of the story acts as an emergent symbol of freedom creating an age of peace against the violence that has patrolled its borders. “Uncle Tony’s Goat,” about a billy goat who refuses to be penned in, acts as a metaphorical bridge to “A Geronimo Story,” where historical Apache chief, Geronimo, also a mythical folk legend in American culture, escapes and evades the American military. Geronimo was originally captured and imprisoned by American colonial militaristic forces, but in Silko’s reimagining he is an elusive figure only known to the cavalry by name. In these stories, characters become free to interact and commune with the land, and sites of invasion and theft from the indigenous become sites of reverence and remembrance.
After History / Post Palestine
A selection of short films by Artist/Filmmaker Basma Alsharif that explore Palestine’s political history through visceral landscapes reflecting on the human condition and the future beyond history.
Total Program = approximately 80 minutes
[please see event discussion for individual synopses] http://www.internationalfilmseries.com/first_person_cinema/
Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and the University of Colorado Film Studies Program were honored to host Basma Alsharif for the In-Person: Alternative Cinema event on Monday, February 27, 2017 on the Naropa University Arapahoe Campus in the Performing Art Center, 2130 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, CO at 7:00 p.m.
Basma Alsharif is an Artist/Filmmaker born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, raised between France and the US. Since receiving a Master of Fine Arts in 2007 from the University of Illinois at Chicago, she developed her practice nomadically between Chicago, Cairo, Beirut, Sharjah, Amman, the Gaza Strip and Paris.
Basma Alsharif’s work centers on the human condition in relation to shifting geopolitical landscapes and natural environments. Interested in what cannot ever be proven or explained, she uses photography, film, video, sound, language and performance to reveal the fallibility of our perception and of history. Engaging with politics on a visceral level through pieces characterized by their immersive, lyrical qualities, Alsharif creates familiar environments that lure us into unsettling experiences of being comfortable and foreign simultaneously.
Major exhibitions include: Le Prix Découverte des Rencontres d’Arles, les Module at the Palais de Tokyo, Here and Elsewhere at the New Museum, the Jerusalem Show, Yamagata Documentary Film Festival, the Berlinale, the Sharjah Biennial, Videobrasil, and Manifesta 8. She received a jury prize at the Sharjah Biennial 9, the Marion MacMahon award at Images, and was awarded the Marcelino Botin Visual Arts grant. Basma Alsharif is represented by Galerie Imane Farés in Paris, distributed by Video Data Bank and Arsenal, and is now based in Los Angeles.
We Began by Measuring Distance (2009) SD Video ~ 19 minutes. Long still frames, text, language, and sound are weaved together to unfold the narrative of ananonymous group who fill their time by measuring distance. Innocent measurements transition into political ones, examining how image and sound communicate history. We Began by Measuring Distance explores an ultimate disenchantment with facts when the visual fails to communicate the tragic.
A Field Guide to the Ferns (2015) 16mm HD transfer ~ 10 minutes. “Primitive savagery meets the brutality of the modern world in Ruggero Deodato’s timeless slice of visceral horror”. Cannibal Holocaust is revived deep in the New Hampshire woods
where apathy and violence are blurred.
Home Movies Gaza (2013) HD video ~ 24 minutes
Home Movies Gaza introduces us to the Gaza Strip as a microcosm for the failure of civilization. In an attempt to describe the everyday of a place that struggles for the most basic of human
rights, this video claims a perspective from within the domestic spaces of a territory that is complicated, derelict, and altogether impossible to separate from its political identity.
Renée’s Room (2015) ~ 15 minutes. A film on the perpetual present as an enactment of the concept of the eternal return.
“This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence – even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!” Frederick Nietzsche