November 20, 2012


Spotted on one of my favorite blogs for visual innovation, Colossal: Arizona artist Ernie Button, is creating a series of photographs that show the bottom of tumblers after that last drop of single-malt scotch is drained. "It’s a little like snowflakes in that every time the Scotch dries, the glass yields different patterns and results," he says. "I have used different color lights to add ‘life’ to the bottom of the glass, creating the illusion of landscape, terrestrial or extraterrestrial." 

There is an ew factor--these are close-ups of dirty glassware--but I find the visual rhythms here beautiful, more so knowing how they're made. Above is "Macallan."

I've been thinking a lot about rhythm this week. It's only a month (!) until I take up residency at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and so I'm saying Yes to every RSVP. Most days include multiple destinations; in particular I've been on the circuit of the Writer's Center, the Folger Shakespeare Library (for both the Hardison Poetry Series and PEN/Faulkner), and the Arts Club of Washington. I see someone at a dinner party one night, and the two days later they grab a chair in front of me for a reading at Politics & Prose. The cumulative effect of these repetitions is that makes DC feel like a neighborhood instead of a city. It's ironic that the anticipation of leaving has reminded me what it's like to really live here. 

The poetry manuscript is still getting turned inside out, as every new draft seems to displace as many pages as it adds. A trusted reader pointed out, "You've got a series of series." Do you present those series in discrete sections, or braided together?  Unity is appealing; monotony is not. Can there be an emotional arc if the narrative is always changing hands? These are good questions, hard work worth doing, but good lordy. If I Was the Jukebox was composed in one-month sprints, this book is the marathon. 

Poetry made an unexpected cameo in the food coverage of the Washington Post today, when Jim Shahin posted Jake Adam York's wonderful BBQ poem "Grace" on the All-We-Can-Eat blog. Last fall, Jake and I talked poetry, food, and the rituals of the holidays in a four-part interview for Southern Spaces. It's worth a listen (I hope); the site is carefully edited, very search-friendly, and an invaluable resource for students.

I'll leave you with Ernie Button's "Dalwhinnie"...a bottle of which waits on my shelf, ready to be poured when I get home from tonight's Story League show.

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