Thursday, April 15, 2010

poetry, daily: 11

The series. What is it, how does it function? By series I mean both poems in parts and series of separate poems that function together. The series can be a way for a poet struggling to relate things to box them into separate areas but leave them on the same page. More capably used, it can, as in Seamus Heaney's poem "Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication", make us think about two disparate elements in terms of their relation (which in this case is not formal or tonal or imagistic), while the poet clearly composes two objects--and places them together, changing and complicating what they would have been alone. The series means we can't go back to the single poem. It desires the complex relation that moving parts have, because it is composed of parts that relate internally (both vertically and not), relate to the whole, and relate to what is outside (as with any poem).

Poems in a series are train cars, rooms in a house, little worlds with their own rules. And have to merit these. There's no flab on a freight train; everything working, everything carrying its weight.

Michel Foucault, in The History of Sexuality I: Composite bodies greater than their parts' sum (136).



Writing exercise: Write a poem in parts or a series of poems.

See you tomorrow.


All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

poetry, daily: 9

Writing exercise: Write a poem without the word 'I', without the word 'he', without the word 'she'.

Check out the slender, lovely slip of a poem that is Rae Armantrout's "Second Person".

How about this anthology compiled by C. Dale Young?

Our shadow is our second person.

See you tomorrow.

All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

poetry, daily: 8

Check out these words about Michael Dickman's book, The End of the West. Two very different reviews in two quite different outlets, and the second one is not entirely kind (which is fine--reviews aren't meant to be laureates, but this one, unfortunately, has the slightest aura of sour-grapishness about it). I met Michael once, quite a long time ago now, at a party at a friend's house. We talked about Randall Jarrell and then exchanged letters for some months. I wish I had kept up the correspondence, because I liked his poems then and I like what I've read recently.


coats, mirror, sink

One thing I like about his poems is how you enter them. I am drawn to poets who are methodical and considerate, and his entrances feel that way. The dangerous other side is plodding.

Writing exercise: How do you enter the poem? Via what door, tunnel, passage, arch, window? Begin the poem at its entrance.

See you tomorrow.


All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Friday, April 9, 2010

poetry, daily: 7

Tragedy, beauty, and absurdity in the newspapers (and everywhere). For example.

Writing exercise: Find a newspaper story that interests you and write from it. Don't feel bound to a reportage-style recounting of the facts; just use it as a starting point. What does the story call up in you? What is missing from it? Where else could it go? How could it depart from the 'realities' of its situation? How can you step away from what we assume and see those realities in other lights? What is strange about it?

frituur bea

See you Monday.

All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

poetry, daily: 6

"I am not proceeding by linear deduction, but rather by concentric circles, moving sometimes toward the outer and sometimes toward the inner ones.... Rather than founding a theory--and perhaps before being able to do so (I do not deny that I regret not yet having succeeded in doing so)--my present concern is to establish a possibility" (Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge. London: Routledge Classics, 2007; pp 128-29).

#657: Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility--
A fairer House than Prose--
More numerous of Windows--
Superior--for Doors--

Of Chambers as the Cedars--
Impregnable of Eye--
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky--

Of Visitors--the fairest--
For Occupation--This--
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise--


If poetry is the mode of possibility, as both Foucault's poetics and Dickinson's poem seem to imply, then how is that expressed? How to create a form that continues in possibility? How to renew the language (repeatedly) so it can be alive, rather than easy? How can poems themselves be "a project for reconstituting [their own] aesthetic form" such that "a disordering of one's senses of the work would make us dwellers in possibility" (Jerome McGann and Lisa Samuels, "Deformance and Interpretation" in Poetry and Pedagogy, ed. Joan Retallack and Juliana Spahr. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006; p 154).



Writing exercise: Take Dickinson's poem and break it apart. Insert spaces, move words around, break lines, make new lines, extend lines; do everything except add words. Make a new reading or a new poem.

See you tomorrow.

All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

poetry, daily: 3

Writing exercise: imagine you've come home and someone has moved all your furniture.


A beautiful poem: "Sweet Habit of the Blood" by Sarah Gridley in Cerise Press 1.3.


All work here © 2010 and onward to me, Eireann Lorsung. Please do not reproduce my words in any form in print or online. If you wish to excerpt parts from the month of poetry featured here, please contact me: ohbara at gmail dot com.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010


The quest for the perfect mug wasn't something I thought about before I came to England, but then a very neurotic Englishman, an acquired habit of tea-consumption, and time enough to start collecting objects again conspired to make me think about what I like in a mug.

newest ♥ mug

I like a mug to hold enough tea, but not too much. No oversized IKEA fancies for me, please. I like thin china, but nothing precious. I like mugs that feel good in my hands and I like mugs that fit in, roughly, with my other things. (I don't have any matching dishes, but I like it all to hang out together happily.)

My longtime favorite mugs have been a blue Tams Ware one I, er, borrowed from the back of the staffroom cupboard a while back and a Marimekko one with a bright green pear on it that I bought in a Scandinavian design shop in Oxford. But then I went to John Lewis (one reason not to leave England) the other day and saw this:

secret garden mug

...of course, it had to be mine.

John Lewis also has a lot of really lovely Orla Kiely mugs (you can see them here), all of which are bone china, so they're really nice and light. The handles are a good shape, too.

When I was at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park about 18 months ago, I found an Orla Kiely mug with cars printed all over it--ohhh nice. But this one, from Fiona Howard, is even nicer:

bus mug

You can see more of their stuff here. Although perhaps it's better not to look, even. The collection of a thousand mugs begins with a single set. Or something like that.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

this joy+ride

Some poems have been taken by This Joy+Ride, and you can see them there from today (March 15th) til the end of the month. Thanks, Shari and Sheri, for picking me.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010


letter with birds and airmail stickers

Girl of the future, I'm sending you a crown airmail...

If you are waiting for an email about your public transit tickets and your cameras, please wait a little more--it's coming. I've been working on this, haven't had time for much else. But I haven't forgotten. If you're still interested but haven't gotten in touch, please email ohbara at gmail dot com. The project will entail you receiving something in the post, taking a high-quality digital photograph (I'll specify what), then sending me back the photo (via email) and a public-transit ticket of any kind from the place it was taken.

Recently: Benoit P.'s photos. Kyoto Chirimen Museum. Magritte's house is a museum, too. A short video (not new, but still funny) about art school.

And more good mail. (Thanks, Gracia & Louise! Poems soon.)

mail from gracia

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Friday, February 26, 2010

paris, a very small tour.

paris from butte mmtr.

From Butte Montmartre. One of my favorite places because you can sit and watch all the people getting to the top, completely tired from all the steps, and then see them turn around and see Paris like this. I like to walk back down behind the basilica and then (if it is daytime and they are open) go into the many fabric shops. That's where I got the printed cotton with flying geese on it (with my mom when she came to see me).


A small Jewish grocery in the Marais, selling glazed fruits in these bins. The walls are lined with every possible kind of alcohol you could imagine, all different bottles reflecting all different kinds of light. This is where I found a bottle of Izarra for my dad. Right down the street from many little shops, including Petit Pan and many shops selling Japanese goods.

The herbs and plants in my friend's kitchen. Her window looks out on the court but it is the 5th floor, so there is lots of light.

The view from her window. I loved the neighbors' geraniums and the zinc-colored pipes and drains. Even though I remember how miserable living in those old buildings could be, I recognise their beauty (and hope I did, then, too). And the grey sky, against which the buildings of Paris are particularly beautiful, although they are stunning against the bright blue, too.

See? They're just made for that. The colors are so elegant and understated, and then all of a sudden they're right in front of you and you realise how well-planned they are, how they are just made to go together. The shades and shadows the different angles make. That gold dome!

Speaking of exclamation marks, here's one in the Jardin des Plantes, a botanical garden founded in the 17th century. Those trees are so Parisian as to be a cliché, aren't they? But they exist. I sat in this garden many times drawing.

Drawing these bean-poles, specifically. And watching the people. And listening to them talk.

This is Mélodies Graphiques, also in the Marais, very near the Ile-St-Louis. I bought a tiny card (about 1.5" by 2") that had had a pattern burnt out of it: flowers and leaves in an arbor. He collects the beautiful mail his customers send him. I promised to send something, but haven't. Maybe this year.

And this is Austerlitz Station (Gare d'Austerlitz), to which I had a fond connection because of W.G. Sebald's book Austerlitz, which you can read about here. And here. And here. And here. The Métro trains going in are bright turquoise, which is brilliant against the gray stone and glass, and echoes the faded turquoise paint on the façade (you can see a hint of it in the mullions of the window in the lower left corner of the photograph).

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"...but he did have pictures of this apartment. He got the job."


It's the last sentence of this article* that I think speaks most to me--about how our 'training' as thinkers, makers, and academics has to be flexible, and not only nominally so. It's time for a re-valuing of diverse and deep knowledges, and of unorthodox expressions thereof! Why not--why can't a maker be a geographer, or a pattern designer, or an amateur (in the best sense of that word) astronomer? Especially with the amount of information that is available to us now via the internet (not to mention via the more traditional sources--public libraries, museums, universities, etc.), there is so much possibility for deepening and broadening our understandings.

It wasn't so long ago that an apprenticeship--proving one's capabilities, learning by doing--was an acceptable way to learn things. Why not now? Come on, all you auto-didacts: there's a whole lot of everything out there waiting to be known and thought about and wondered at and questioned. And that can change the system as we know it--where at the moment more and more it seems that education is 'just' a means to an end; where things like 'impact' (what does that even mean?!) mean more than passion and wonder; where learning is commodified and curiosity loses ground.

Education in the most open sense of the word--open access to and curiosity about the world, or as much of it as possible--should be for everyone. And it begins in thinking that things are possible, that one can learn about what is interesting.

So what would you do? What do you want to know? Where are you going to begin?


* N.B.: I do find the kind of blithe endorsement of collecting for the sake of the aesthetic of collections kind of bizarre, though. What's the point of having Wellies you don't wear? Okay, they're beautiful objects, designed objects...but they're also functional. Design for design's sake? I think W. Benjamin would have something to say to that.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Sunday, January 31, 2010

color to end the month



After several weeks of grey it was finally bright this weekend. On Friday I taught in Leicester, then took a walk and went to the printshop. Beeston was also bright in the sun.

St. Verde.

Angela Liguori.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

a people's history

I read Howard Zinn's book A People's History of the United States while I was living in France. It was so absorbing I had to consciously pace myself so I wouldn't finish it too quickly. By the end, I knew I wanted to study for a PhD, because I wanted to make work that would make other people feel like that book made me feel: alive. Hopeful. Powerful. I felt an immense love for the strikers who were brave enough, unarmed, to call out 'Cowards!' when the police charged them; the people who risked humiliation, violence, harm, and death to change the way our political system works. And I felt despairing that those things felt like history sometimes. I am not always good at sticking up for what I think is just but that book made me want to be better.

Howard Zinn died yesterday. You can see him speaking and others reading from the People's History here. It's about an hour, but it is worth it. So beautiful, stirring. Overwhelming. Thank you, Professor Zinn, for reminding me that just a few people acting together can change things.

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Monday, January 25, 2010


part of something II
(An unrelated drawing of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis fulfils your recommended daily sketch allowance.)

Poetry readers, writers: I am in urgent need of your recommendations for single texts (NOT anthologies) to teach to intermediate/advanced adult students of poetry. I'm teaching a workshop this summer that will be a reading-as-writers (i.e., literature-based) workshop, and I'd just love to hear what other people would teach. I'm going to choose two books (maybe three); it's a two-week (6-day) course.

Right now my brainstorm list includes My Life by Lyn Hejinian; Glass, Irony and God, by Anne Carson; Residence on Earth by Neruda; Some Ether by Nick Flynn. I'd like books that are challenging formally or thematically but that students who aren't extremely familiar with recent writing could still enjoy (for that reason, the Hejinian is lower on my list). I'm thinking of structuring the course around the construction of the self.

Let the discussion begin. What text would you love to teach? What text inspired you (and/or still does)? What text do you wish you'd been taught? And why, why, why? All suggestions very welcome.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010


waning moon, weeping birch

The grain guarantees the mediation and points me beyond the representation (the photograph) and to the Real (which, despite all postmodern tendencies, I find I do believe in, in my fashion). This is the moon at 5:15 p.m. today. Still a little light in the western sky; I can't believe how fast winter is going this year. I love this flickr group: The Archival Moon and Waiting.

Tomorrow I go back to the library, where I'm writing about textual ontology and reading books about art history. On Friday I start teaching again, as a lecturer in Leicester. Birds, rabbits, some Dutch, some French, some cakes, and probably lots of photographs in the interim. How are you?

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Friday, January 15, 2010



Has adventures. But he is not the only one. You can still email me (ohbara at gmail cot com) or leave a comment if you want to participate in the project I'll begin in March. You need to have access to a public transport network that gives you a ticket, a digital camera, and to be willing to send me a photo (I'll tell you of what) and the ticket.

Full details will come to participants in March (and when they do, your utter discretion is necessary). If you know of people who might like to play along--especially from Asia, Central America, South America, Africa, and Europe--please pass my contact details along.

For now, look at her and this and this.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

there is a light and it never goes out

I didn't listen to the Smiths in high school. Or university. Or graduate school, the first time. I discovered them in April, after two years in the UK and in the aftermath of a cataclysmic breakup. They are so absolutely English to me. The ennui, the feeling of being caught somewhere small. The 'do I dare disturb'-ness of it (yes, I know Eliot was American). The ironic posturing. The sincerity buried underneath it all. The bleakness. The beauty in the damp, dark, watery, days: there is a light and it never goes out. Listening to this song makes me nostalgic for an adolescence that doesn't belong to me.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

no unified aesthetic here, I'm afraid

(I love having a camera that works. Thank you, Jonathan.)

I didn't realise Mieke Willems was two people, or that their shop is in Antwerp. Now I know. The second piece of information is more pertinent to me. Next time I'm in Belgium I'll go there and see the shop.

Drawing as both pushing away (pencil on paper) and pulling near, says WJT Mitchell. That's how I feel about very spare aesthetics (like MW above, or Fine Little Day, or, Martha, or Camilla Engman, or 88). I wish I could do it but somehow I always end up with a riot of pink, green, yellow, flowers everywhere, postcards balanced on pictures, a gingham tablecloth.

Sometimes I feel like I am not serious enough!

How could that possibly be.

Recent find--more of that spareness thing I want but can't: Dear Oly.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

I love this.

above my desk

"But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.

"Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're going to try to see it.

"The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

"That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing."

-David Foster Wallace, from this.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

new finds

uit het geheugen

Poster from Museum Dr. Guislain. I liked the colors and the design. And I don't have anything so serious or stark in my house yet. You can see the museum's webshop here, though the poster isn't there. The link takes you to the catalogue for the exhibition.

NOTPAPER is a blog about collage. Really inspiring. I like this large format collage by Lisa Congdon, too. Found a big book of collage in the library today, makes me eager to get back there tomorrow!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

dr. guislain

inmates' sinks

Last time I was in Belgium I spent my Friday afternoon searching for and then walking slowly through the Museum Dr. Guislain. If you are in Gent, take the #1 tram to Guislainstraat; the museum is just around the corner.

Jozef Guislain changed the way psychiatric patients were cared for, and, with the Brothers of Charity, began a new institution for their care. The hospital is now a museum and teaching facility. I think there is still a working psychiatric facility as well.

Besides the featured exhibition (while I was there, it was UIT HET GEHEUGEN: over weten en vergeten, or FROM MEMORY: on knowing and forgetting), there was a show of outsider art, a permanent collection of artifacts pertaining to psychiatric care from the 1700s to the present, and (tucked away in a trio of back rooms) a collection of curiosities: wax models of well and diseased bodies; a calf with two faces; babies in formaldehyde; skeletons; a photograph of a baby with two heads; a bearded lady. (I had seen some of this at the Wellcome Collection when I ws there for the Exquisite Bodies show in October, and that's what sparked my interest in the museum.) But while I was actually there I was really struck by the ways that humans have tried throughout the centuries to understand the mind and bring its essential incomprehensibility into some smaller fit it into the parameters we understand, whether those are chemical or religious or magical.

wax models of bodies and parts of bodies

* * *
And--just a reminder that if you're in Nottingham, you can stop by and see my kiosk today! It's on Pelham Street, across from Homemade Café, just up from Zara. You can see some things I've made here. We're open Tues-Weds-Thurs this week (1-2-3 December) from 10-6 T/W and 10-5 Th.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

bird woman, a case history

She appeared in my drawings after I lived in Venice (2005). The Plague Doctor is a clear relation. One very rainy night during my first year in England I made the mask. And then, when I needed to sneak around, or startle birds, or be generally wilder than my normal situation allowed, she would come out.

She is very weird. She is fearless. She will come into your garden with a large pair of shears and steal your best rose. She has truck with Papa Lazarou. She has a camera. She disappears. She stares immoderately. Her umbrella is waterproof. Suddenly she is next to you.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Ratae Coritanorum

This is the Leicester Market, recently voted 'Best Market in the UK'. It has existed here for 700 years. The hawkers shout prices and food names; there are tables selling scarves, underwear, socks, magazines, bread, fruit, vegetables, candy. At one point (in Rugby) I made a recording of the sound of hawkers in a market. If I can find it I'll post it. Sometimes I feel as if I could close my eyes and be in the Middle Ages here. The hawkers' voices dissolve into an older English. Buildings on the site of buildings. Roads that have been used for millennia. Leicester was a Roman city (that's its name up there in the title) before it was English, like many big cities here.

I found MetroCentric's photos and weblog and they are pleasing to see.

Today is Fibonacci day: 11/23.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009


more bobêches

I get so many compliments when I wear my star-shaped rhinestone brooch. It's failsafe; every time I wear it, at least one person will comment on it. This is the only thing I wear besides my red shoes that has this effect so reliably. And the red shoes are a different story. Sometimes I come home after wearing them and feel like I need to be invisible for a while.

Recent pleasures: the blue hour. new socks from tabio. knitting with my friends, using a yarn that's wonderful to knit with. miss capricho's fashion girls. making bobêches and designing labels for the market!

Have you seen Fideli Sundqvist's stunning work?

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Monday, November 16, 2009

floating world

mist and fog from the 4th floor.

Good art needs to trust the traces, and print both the thing and its erasure. That's what I want to do and what I struggle with.

I want to start making lithographs again. Read a book about lithography the other day in the library. Made some photocopies from a book: Paris streets in 1900. I really love Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg lately. I would like to loosen up and make more expressive marks.

How much would I love a yard and a half of this? I'd wear it as a scarf.

I need to be back in Paris. Soon. I miss that city.

two white spots.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009


This is the traditional way of preparing flax--it has to rot before it can be used (see retting). We saw these and I wanted to stop and Jonathan said it's pretty rare to see flax this way at all now.

One thing I really like about him is that he always asks me what I think and what I want, but not in such a way that I feel like he's giving up his interests.

* * *

"The question to ask of pictures from the standpoint of poetics is not just what they mean or do, but what they want--what claim they make upon us, and how we are to respond. Obviously, this question also requires us to ask what it is that we want from pictures" (W.J.T. Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want? The lives and loves of images, p. xv).

* * *

No internet at work now; I'm more productive that way. But in recent evenings I've discovered Grijs and Debi VanZyl.

And that's all!

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

here is another sort of mushroom







* * * * * * * * * * * *

For a Christmas market or two that I'll be in in Nottingham. I love making them. I enjoy making their 'clothes' the most.

Recent finds:

You Can Make It Easy
It will stop raining

Two I have liked for a long time:

Flor de Papel (again)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Listening to Garrison Keillor and catching up on some work after a full day of poetry and chestnut-confectionary making. And lots of silly time with Neele and Ben. I've been listening to a lot of MPR lately and it's very nice. I miss having a radio. But I love that I can listen to radio from home (though six hours off the 'right' time) and I love that now I have a landline I can call home for free.

Happy and connected.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

cahier de roses

What is in the notebook? Red one: cabbage with ginger, how to oven-dry tomatoes, poems, notes on poems, notes on readings, quotations from books for the dissertation. Black one (a): every day's to-do list, addresses to mail prints to, books I need from the library, songs from the soundtrack o 500 Days of Summer (which I saw on Sunday). Black one (b): small paper foxes, sketches for a mezzotint, plans for a calendar, birdwoman sneakings, ideas for clothes and toys I want to make.

I use Uniball fine pens to take notes because the ink flows nicely, and Pilot Hi-Tec C pens (.25 and .4), and a Stabilo fine-point marker in magenta to underline important passages in the red notebook.

I want to make a cahier of days here and the things I want to remember and the ways it is strange to me. (She titled her book Cahier de roses et de civilisation and I love that.)


Thursday, August 6, 2009

una flor de papel

Everything she creates and the way she writes inspires me.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

things to look at

printed fabric from Carly of Nest Studio : : just beautiful [her photo]

snow bunny baby : : by Mulysa of Asylum : : made of flower petals [her photo]

finding the next ring in the system

more days : : seeing what I wear, what it means

working on my summer collection

skirts for summer : : shop update : : one-week exclusive : : June 2 : : more soon

* * *