A big box of my new chapbook arrived this week. I’m still feeling completely stunned by it. Teeth & Teeth is the winner of the Charlotte Mew Prize, selected by poet Natalie Diaz and published by Headmistress Press. Here’s how Ching-In Chen describes it:
Robin Reagler’s Teeth & Teeth is a wild-mouthed dispatch from the cities of mourning we all inhabit, a desperate love letter to the waiting selves which grow out of exile from normalcy. In the face of the wearing down of the body, despite loss, these poems demand gratitude for the fierce habits of the living. —Ching-In Chen
I’ll be reading poems at Public Poetry on Saturday, January 6, 2018, with Corinna Delgado, Amanda Ortiz, and Miranda Mahoney. Join us at 2 pm at the Jungman Branch (5830 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas 77057) of the Houston Public Library. FREE
I’m mesmerized by these swimmer images created by artist Maria Svarbova that are based on old Soviet photographs of swimming pools. A native of Slovakia, Svarbova’s human subjects become mechanisms in rigid composition. I find a cold comfort in her work. For more examples and information, see this post at Colossal by Kate Sierzputowski.
Endangered Harlem by Gaia, photo by Tara Murray[/caption]
This weekend in NYC my friend AQ and I took a slow bus through Harlem. We got to see some of the endangered bird murals sponsored by the Audubon Society. I’d read about the Audubon Mural Project, but it was fun to search for them out the window of the M4.
Here’s a story about the project from the New York Times. For a great set of photos by Tara Murray and Lois Stavsky, check out the Street Art NYC blog. The art is done by well-known grafitti artists such as ATM, Gaia, Hitness, and Iena Cruz. The Audubon Mural Project now depicts over 300 species of birds that are identified as either endangered or climate-threatened by the Audubon Society. On their site you can find a map of some of the murals in Upper Manhattan.
April 1st marks the beginning of National Poetry Month. If you’re crazy enough to try writing a poem a day during April, home base for this dizzying enterprise is NaPoWriMo.Net. They will offer writing prompts and encouragement all month long. Write About Now is leading a 30/30 group on facebook with prompts and feedback loops. Other sources of inspiration include:
Although Black Mountain College no longer exists, the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center continues to celebrate that unique community of artists in Asheville, NC. A current exhibit, Begin to See, features photography by artists who are best known in other media. The list includes: Josef Albers, Hazel Larsen Archer, Josef Breitenbach, Harry Callahan, Trude Guermonprez, Robert Haas, Clemens Kalischer, Barbara Morgan, Beaumont Newhall, Nancy Newhall, Andy Oates, Robert Rauschenberg, Aaron Siskind, Cy Twombly, Stan VanDerBeek, Susan Weil, and Jonathan Williams. If you’re in Asheville this spring, perhaps check out these related events, as well as the exhibition.
book cover, the sea that surrounds us by Maureen Drennan
Photographer Maureen Drennan was featured in a recent Huffington Post piece on artists repositioning themselves for the upcoming Trump presidency. I was moved by her strength and faith in the power of the artist.
“I believe the role of an artist is more important than ever and ideally should compel and challenge us to think in different ways. Artists can be powerful dissenters and transgressive to political and societal conventions.
Good art often comes from an uncomfortable place. While it can be painful to explore, the creation and consumption of such art can be very therapeutic. In such a divisive time that we live in, the hardest thing we can do is to show compassion to those in opposition to our beliefs.”
Although Drennan’s art does not read as perhaps obviously political, there is an immediacy and an unapologetic honesty that graces her portraits. She explains,
”I feel enormously privileged to be an artist and to have met and photographed such inspiring people. My goal is to deepen my understanding of other people’s experiences and share those stories with a wide audience. Stories and narrative foster empathy and compassion, something that is sorely needed during this contentious time of anti-immigrant rhetoric. My advice to fellow artists is to not be afraid to explore things that are uncomfortable.”
A recent article in the Huffington Post asks 21 contemporary artists what it will be like to be practicing during the Trump presidency. Nina Chanel Abney, whose work already boldly addresses issues concerning human rights, police brutality, and Black Lives Matter, sees the upcoming era as demanding more. Much more. In the interview, Abney asserts:
“Artists should not be safe. We are in the unique positions, through our respective mediums, to elicit a response without using violence or direct action. Why not push the boundaries?”
Abney is know for her courageous confrontations of social injustice. She was refered to as one of the “Next Irascibles” by Paper Magazine. Abney’s first solo show, Royal Flush, opens on Feb. 16, 2017, at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
I love this map from Rebecca Solnit’s new book, Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas (University of California Press, 2016) which was co-edited by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. Like so many of life’s most wonderful things, I was made aware of this map by Maria Popova in her blog, Brainpickings. Having read several of Solnit’s books in the past, I’m really looking forward to reading this one, especially since I’ve lived in New York and love it. And of course there’s my love of trains!
If I were still a college professor, I can imagine creating a whole course around this one map. I think it would be the best class ever.
This is the last week for Houstonians to go spelunking in the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the MFAH. The show features two of her famous Infinity Rooms, Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity and Love Is Calling. If there’s any doubt about Kusama’s rock star status in the art world, take note of the myriad postings of her social media hashtag, as well as the 24 hour visitation on Saturday. O brave new world! For more on the Houston exhibit, check out Houston Arts & Culture and the MFAH website.