So here’s the first exercise of the quarter for my visual poetry class. Cued by our wandering through Tom Phillips’s well known widely loved yet not for all that at all worn out A Humument.
The book’s an object lesson in the power of powering forward not knowing where the sweet bloody fuck you’re going. Glory of the aleatory. Here’s he in his Blakean vein —
The exercise. Treat a page of a prose work as Phillips has treated the pages of A Human Document.
Pointers. Be inspired by A Humument, by all means, steal moves from Phillips, but don’t imitate slavishly. The composition should feel to you like your process. Do take care with your erasure marks. They should do more than just cross out. They should express, manifest, draw eye and mind.
They’re doing beautifully by the way. What lovely conversations we have. We seem already friends in the free and easy wandering in mind I remember reading of in the Chuang Tzu … lessee if I can find it … nope. But this is as good, Chuang Tzu to Hui Tzu, who’s just told him his words are big clunky useless, like a gnarled and lumpy tree, so everyone ignores it, carpenters, painters.
Now you have this big tree and you’re distressed because it’s useless. Why don’t you plant it in Not-Even-Anything Village, or in the field of Broad-and-Boundless, relax and do nothing by its side, or lie down for a free and easy sleep under it?
The sleep I want for my students when they make their poems.
P.S. Speaking of Cezanne, and Mont St. Victoire, saw a pretty indifferent one in Vancouver, apparently the only one he composed in a portrait orientation, and I saw why. But what blew me away, and made me excited about in and for the VAG for the first time in my admittedly little life, was an exhibit I wandered into mostly accidentally of contemporary Chinese art that poked and prodded and nursed and scowled at the long awesomely durable tradition of Chinese landscape painting.
I’ll hope to write more soon on what I saw there and what it seemed to see in me. For now a link to the curator’s intro for you.
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