Sage Advice on Snags

Dani Ortman provides care advice for her hand-woven fabrics. There is a metaphorical pull …

Snag Instructions

Every thread has its place within the cloth. When a snag happens, gently tug it back into place by running fingers along the threads path within the cloth.

Nice to contemplate as I wind the scarf round my neck.

And so for day 1599

Oenophilia Biographia

Lisa Pasold concludes the book Weave by raising a glass of "Saint Émilion"

I am now my own instrument
my own wheel of fortune


it's all in the palate, how you roll
the taste of your life
around in your mouth. do you
spit it out?
Strategically placing the spittoon off the page...

And so for day 1598

Call for Enthusiasm

A 1914 pamphlet, "PLAYGROUNDS: One of Canada's Great Needs" billed as a "Call to service for the children of the future" authored by J.J. Kelso, Superintendent of Neglected and Dependent Children of Ontario.

The pamphlet urges the founding of playground associations and calls for active participation of the officers (as opposed to being mere figureheads).
People should be selected for office who are really interested and willing to exert themselves to make the movement a success. Too often men are elected to office in such societies because of their prominence, and without any expectation that they will be more than figureheads. Enthusiasm can only be sustained by frequent meetings and zealous, active service.
As a fitting prelude to involvement, I like the frontispiece which encourages a snow-ball fight.

No contest she's a winner.

And so for day 1597

Map With Itinerary

Bruce Andrews in an interview with Jeff Derksen and Kevin Davies

Explanation and prescription. My sense of praxis is prescriptive, and it's based on the idea of explanation. The notion is that any explanation has embedded within it a particular prescription for how to change things, and that that very often has to be teased out of the explanation. And in the same way any prescription for change, and therefore I think any praxis carries with it, has embedded within it, an explanation, or a mapping, to use a more currently fashionable term, of the social terrain that someone is interested in changing. So those things parallel exactly my study of American foreign policy. I wanted that change, I wanted to think about how it could be changed, and the only way I could answer that question was to see why it was the way it is.
in Paradise & Method: Poetics & Praxis

And so for day 1596

Seed Scattering: Reclining

Olivia Laing

The Lonely City

She has evoked the dilapidated piers of New York City as both site of danger and utopia. Especially for David Wojnarowicz. One passage is not only poignant but also perversely powerful — a favourite picture as icon.

Years before, David used to buy grass seed from a store on Canal Street and roam the piers scattering it in handfuls, Johnny Appleseed in sneakers, wanting to make something beautiful from the rubble. My favourite picture of him showed him lounging on a meadow he'd planted in one of the abandoned baggage or departure halls: grass scattered with debris, grass growing out of disintegrating plaster and particles of soil. Anonymous art, unsignable art, art that was about transformation, about alchemising what was otherwise only waste.
And Laing doesn't reproduce the picture. We are left to imagine.

And so for day 1595

Sans-abri Signals

A beacon project by Alfredo Jaar

“Lights in the city"

Approximately a hundred thousand watts of red lights have been installed in the Cupola of the Marché Bonsecours, a landmark monument in the old Montreal.

Detonating devices have been placed in the Accueil Bonneau, la Maison Eugénie Bernier and la Maison Paul Grégoire, homeless shelters located within 500 yards of the Cupola. Every time a homeless person enters any of these shelters, they are free to push the buttons and the red light will flash in the Cupola.
Not the first time Jaar engages on the Canadian scene: See 1992 "Je me souviens" in Alfredo Jaar : the fire this time : public interventions 1979-2005 — a photographic installation in a restaurant about the Vietnamese boat people. See also

And so for day 1594

Urine Arcs

The pleasure of peeing

Go in the door on the right
To piss quietly, thinking
What it must be like
To stand alone in the garden
Sending great, glad,
Shimmering arcs
Out into the night.
"Brief Tourist Account"
Tracy K. Smith
The Body's Question

And so for day 1593

Flameless Burn

Smoke. Fire. Memory.

Tracy K. Smith
The Body's Question

I crumple paper to encourage the flame,
And for a brief moment everything is lit.

But the logs haven't caught,
Just seem to smolder and shrink
As the heat works its way to their center.

Getting to what I want
Will be slow going and mostly smoke.


Years ago during a storm [….]
While you added kindling to the fire […]
We sat in that room until the wood was spent.

We never left the room.
The wood was never spent.

The two temporal modes, a present failing to ignite and a past of toasty warmness, resolve themselves into a perpetual potential.

And so for day 1592

Imagist Moment - Gratuitous Link

Fabric. Fabrication.

Tracy K. Smith
The Body's Question

Remember my own bright shirt
Like a defeated flag
Among the heap of clothes

"Night Letters"
The image stands out — all the rarer because there are few similes in this body of work and because of a hint of flutter ("defeated" "heap"). Reminds me of a title full of assonance by Michael Holmes: Got No Flag At All — dropped in here like a name on the pile.

And so for day 1591

Walking, Talking, Poking

Tracy K. Smith
Life on Mars

Let your fingers do the walking.

I think of your hands all those years ago
Learning to maneuver a pencil, or struggling
To fasten a coat. […]
At night, of the fingers wrangling something
from your nose, or buried in the cave of your ear.

Dog walking.
Give a man a stick, and he'll hurl it at the sun
For his dog to race toward as it falls. He'll relish

"Eggs Norwegian"
Walking on.
Perhaps one day it will be enough to live a few seasons and return to ash.
No children to carry our names. No grief. Life will be a brief, hollow walk.

"The Speed of Belief"
The genius lies not only in the control of the enjambement but also in the gestural carrying on and a sense of a constant contemplation. A walk through the hollow. A short walk.

And so for day 1590

Reading Flight

How this fragment of the poem deals with owls remains to be re-segmented.

 this mome nt tha tone th ism omen tt h at on
ethi smo men tt hat o net hi smo mento us is

this moment that one this moment that one this moment that one this momentous is

Rearranged holes:
mome tone omen at men hat net us is

An instance of what earlier was …
my great story / migratory
Selections from Phil Hall The Little Seamstress.

And so for day 1589

Chopping, Shopping and Dodging

charms and amulets
potions and snake oil

Image spam might tell us a lot about “ideal” humans, but not by showing actual humans—quite the contrary. The models in image spam are photochopped replicas, too improved to be true. A reserve army of digitally enhanced creatures who resemble the minor demons and angels of mystic speculation, luring, pushing, and blackmailing people into the profane rapture of consumption.
Hito Steyerl, "The Spam of the Earth: Withdrawal from Representation" in The Wretched of the Screen.

potions and snake oil
charms and amulets

And so for day 1588

Tangle Tumble

Tracy K. Smith
"The Nobodies"

If light is both pow-wow
And tango—
For some reason these lines triggered a memory from a long ago viewing of Bruce Elder's long (eight hour) film-poem Lamentations. I recall a scene with camera peering up through tipi poles to the sky.

One of the trigger words is of course "light". What else could appropriately allude to a filmmaker? And the montage of two cultural idioms calls to mind the techniques of the experimental filmmaker. There's something more. Smith's lines skirt the evanescent: the mention of two musical modes oscillates: the eye sees them in succession as the ear drags them in a bid to occupy the same aural space. We are not sure if we have truck here with layering or with juxtaposition. We sense beauty. And to sense beauty is to recognize mortality. In the words of Bruce Elder:
To say that the beautiful shines within the time-bound is to say also that the beautiful is dynamic, — another aesthetic insight the cinema was created to convey. But if the beautiful is dynamism, and whatever is dynamic requires time, and time implies death, then beauty is allied with death — as closely allied to death as it is to life, as closely associated with violence as it is with charity. Beauty condemns what is beautiful to perish.
From Frame 9 from the 14 frame text on the home page.

Anything that begins with "if" partakes of perishing. Things yoked by "both … and" struggle against this perishing. We are illuminated by the dynamic.

And so for day 1587

Great and Grand

Influenced by one of the translations ("El Gran Collage") I keep referring to John Robert Colombo's 1974 chapbook as The Grand Collage when is it "Great".

200 copies for private circulation by the poet's friends. Translations done by friends.

The Colllage, Great and Grand, is by Ludwig Zeller.

Excerpt (snippet for other collages):
We make and remake the Great Collage; we are made
     and remade by the Great Collage.
We transfer and transform and transfigure and trans-
     fix the Great Collage; we are transfered and
     transformed and transfigured and transfixed by
     the Great Collage.
Colombo has dedicated the poem to Kurt Schwitters, collagist extraordinaire.

And so for day 1586

All About Encounters with Canvas

Throughout War of the Foxes by Richard Siken is a painterly voice.

"Landscape with Rotten Fruit and Millipede" begins

I cut off my head and threw it in the sky. It turned
into birds. I called it thinking. The view from above —
untethered scrutiny.
"Landscape with Rotten Fruit and Millipede" ends
It made no sense. When you have nothing to say,
set something on fire. A blurry landscape is useless.
"Self-Portrait Against Red Wallpaper"
What would a better me paint? There is no
new me, there is no old me, there's just me, the same
me, the whole time. Vanity, vanity, forcing your
will on the world. Don't try to make a stronger wind,
you'll wear yourself out. Build a better sail.
Another encounter with canvas.

And so for day 1585

Of Ghosts and Harps

From the program notes from a performance of the initial section of Beowulf by Benjamin Bagby.

The instrument acts as a constant point of reference, a friend and a fellow-performer, a symbol of the scop and his almost magical role in the community of listeners.
Reminds one of Philip Pullman on the writing life (reprinted in The Observer Book of Books 2008).
Every sentence you write is surround by the ghosts of others you might have written, except while they are invisible to everyone else, you can still see them. Sometimes they gesture threateningly, with accusations in their eyes. But you have forbidden them to speak; eventually they fade and drift away.
And back to the program notes:
The harp is a relatively quiet instrument, but in the ear of the performer it rings with an endless variation of gestures, melodic cells and repetitive figurations which give inspiration to the shape of the vocalization: in the course of the story the vocalist may move imperceptibly or radically between true speech, heightened speech, speech-like song, and true song.

And so for day 1584

Corn and Satisfaction

Scott Peacock on Edna Lewis

From 101 Classic Cookbooks - 501 Classic Recipes edited by Marvin J. Taylor and Clark Wolf.

She spoke intensely about the importance of food organically grown from open-pollinated seed, and how her brother, a farmer in Virginia, had told her that corn grown today yields three times as much as it did when they were children. "But he also told me that he noticed the cows eat twice as much of it, because they're not satisfied," she said. That was something I had never heard anyone speak about.
Makes me wonder if the crows even touched it.

And so for day 1583

Cake, Fork, Next

Richard Siken. Crush

And you can hear the sound of the waves in this bit from "Seaside Improvisation"

and maybe a mouth sounds idiotic when it blathers on about joy
and then "Visible World" throws upon onto the shore
     The light is no mystery
the mystery is that there is something to keep the light
                                                                             from passing through
it could very well be that the blathering on about joy and the blocking of light arise from the same impulse — to transcribe the sensation of contact
your breath on my neck like a music that holds
my hands down, kisses as they burn their way
along my spine — or rain, our bodies wet,
clothes clinging arm to elbow, clothes clinging
nipple to groin — I'll be right here. I'm waiting.
what I like about this suggestive passage in "Saying Your Names" is the unmentioned but sensed or anticipated clinging of the lovers — all that the words really offer is the delectable detail of the clinging clothes: the sartorial drench.

longer bits are required to appreciate the music that build from the small bits repeated like a soundtrack (from No 24 from "You Are Jeff"
You're in a car with a beautiful boy, and you're trying not to tell him that you love him, and you're trying to choke down the feeling, and you're trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you, like a prayer for which no words exist, and you feel your heart taking root in your body, like you've discovered something you don't even have a name for.
here the contractions contribute to the words slipping over the experience almost imperceptible from being (you're) to having (you've)

and a passage from which we glean the title to this blog entry
Here is the cake, and here is the fork, and here's
the desire to put it inside us, and then the question
behind every question: What happens next?
from "Snow and Dirty Rain"

And so for day 1582

Portrait of the Artist as Fly Fisher

He describes a river:

The spate had a channel from the high heather
to the estuary and its runway of water
where running salmon crowded like memories.
He describes the run of fish:
It was hard to think that these stale pools
could host the urgent passage of warriors from the sea.
Here's a fancy ending to a poem entitled "A Discovery" which is sure to warm the heart of the postmodern nerd.
I held my pace steady in my aloneness
and never looked back until now, to revise
that favourite valley into a stage for eyes
and to realize how happily I walked
into the script of my own occasion.
And later in the same book a choice bit of dialogue or a bit of reported speech of Poppy with her interlocutor Harry (though he remains silent and likely smiling) … an occasion in a sequence devoted to the art of angling and to capturing the nuances of a landscape.
'Harry, have you taken my stuff again
for those flies of yours, have you?'
So she chided him in good humour.

'You'd better catch some trout next time!'

The red fly was christened Poppy's Fancy
and it proved successful that year
in Spring for brown trout.
All these glittering bits captured from Seán Lysaght The Mouth of A River.

And so for day 1581


Mixing Creole dance with 13th century Christian lay orders. Rifting on Cole Porter's Begin the Beguine.

Like the image of dancing nuns that stops one from hearing Ella Fitzgerald’s voice continue on to describe a music so tender, so tropical. Beguines: they weren’t nuns. They took no vows. They could slip in and out of communal life. And hence the slanging transfer to easy persuasion, flirtation and innocent crushes. [French “avoir le béguin pour quelqu’un”] and so to the French West Indies and music and dance: the beguine.

And way back and along the progression [Middle Dutch, beggaert: “one who rattles off prayers”] [French, bégayer: "to stutter"], the mumble, the murmur, the mmm.

And so to a stream of English repetition begging:

rap rap tapping
rip rip dripping
rop rop romp
rup rup rumple
Romp-rumple improv from 21/04/2006

And so for day 1580

My Personal Set of Values

Developed as an exercise in self-knowledge. Made public here as an exercise in time-testing: seeing if the statement (and its anaphora) will withstand the test of time.

Integrity I see this value reflected in follow-up to commitments no matter how small the promise.
Leadership I see this value reflected in encouraging savvy risk-taking; connecting people with others so that they can think, experiment, mitigate and circle back to communicate results.
Initiative I see this value reflected in treating even the most minor of interactions as a value-add opportunity.
Decorum I see this value reflected in self-control, grace under stress, and when & what jokes to crack.
Odd mixture of business-speak and Renaissance virtue and civic humanism.

And so for day 1579

Susceptible to Susurrations

Selected from 27 April 2006 entry of flow writing flood.


Expression that is conducive, vibration that is conductive
Turn Twist Stop Pause
Pause Stop Twist Turn
Haltable whispers precipitate.
Arresting transversals are traversed.
Desire attended tracks.
ffffriction spliced to movement.

Ruminate on the trains running on the rains feeding grass.

at play with the matter of language and its bodily expressions
Sibilants sliding slipping …

And so for day 1578

The Pedagogue as Truant

Copied 28/11/00 into a steno pad.

A set of lines from Rumi on the teacher:

Your robe brushes a thorn bush,
and a deep chord of music comes.

Whatever you break finds itself
more intelligent for being broken.
Paraphrased by Coleman Barks with for me repair in mind in a type of kintsugi.

And so for day 1577

Pause Poses

from 28/03/01

Shutter Speed Check
holds for poses
a rest
from stopping
holes for pauses
iris click
       horizon zone
somehow the picture of a flower emerges

And so for day 1576

Side Tones

SEE: The Potential of Place. Issue 6 Spring 2007.

Profile on Natalie Jeremijenko.
The purpose of Natalie's work, it seems to me, is to render the invisible visible. But her nimbleness at drafting technology into the service of pulling away all manner of curtain is astounding. "I look at new technologies and the opportunities they contain for social change," she says. "So the idea that social and technological change are implicated in each other is something I spend a lot of time trying to detangle and understand, because, of course, new technology can be thought of — as a rule of thumb — as a profound and conservative force, given that it's so resource intensive … which means that only rich companies, and the military, and resource-rich sectors of society can really develop and build new technologies." That's a long sentence. It's a quick jump to the implications: "So we see that most new technologies are built in the interests of large corporations and military … because that's who's developing them." Fair enough, but there are two interesting side tones to technology, "One is the notion of unintended consequences, and the other is that technologies are complex. They're too complex for any corporation to predict 'this is how they'll be used.'
An example from Jeremijenko's 2010 TED Talk
And what I want to show you is -- actually this is one of the components of it that we've just recently been testing -- which is a solar chimney -- we have got 17 of them now put around New York at the moment -- that passively draws air up. You understand a solar chimney. Hot air rises. You put a bit of black plastic on the side of a building, it'll heat up, and you'll get passive airflow. What we do is actually put a standard HVAC filter on the top of that. That actually removes about 95 percent of the carbon black, that stuff that, with ozone, is responsible for about half of global warming's effects, because it changes, it settles on the snow, it changes the reflectors, it changes the transmission qualities of the atmosphere. Carbon black is that grime that otherwise lodges in your pretty pink lungs, and it's associated with. It's not good stuff, and it's from inefficient combustion, not from combustion itself. When we put it through our solar chimney, we remove actually about 95 percent of that. And then I swap it out with the students and actually re-release that carbon black. And we make pencils the length of which measures the grime that we've pulled out of the air.
Here's to short stubby pencils!

And so for day 1575

Diptych: dip trick: dipsticks

Matthew Johnson, cosmologist.

A good story tells you something you can go look for.
Liam Durcan, fiction writer.
What is your favourite word to use in a sentence?

No contest: "Unless." "Unless" is the passkey into the conditional tense, away from slogans and cant and into the ambiguities of language and complexities of fiction. "Unless" opens up the possibilities of a thought and a sentence and a story.
Like a compass needle.

And so for day 1574

Working the Materiality

How we speak and think and act.

Consciousness of oppression is not only a reaction to (fight against) oppression. It is also the whole conceptual reevaluation of the social world, its whole reorganization with new concepts, from the point of view of oppression. It is what I would call the science of oppression created by the oppressed. This operation of understanding reality has be to undertaken by every one of us: call it subjective, cognitive practice. The movement back and forth between the levels of reality (the conceptual reality and the material reality of oppression, which are both social realities) is accomplished through language.
Monique Wittig "The Category of Sex" The Straight Mind

from "oppression" as a category to "language" as a field of action

And so for day 1573

"Hummingbird whale vibrations rippling"

Di Brandt in Now You Care provides a note at the bottom of a poem filled with natural wonders and declares that humans are "mere grace notes" in the symphony of sound that surrounds us. Humbling attitude grounded in the following observation:

"On some sophisticated machine he slowed down the hummingbird songs until they were almost a set of subsonic twinklings … For days on end, pods upon pods of whales of every kind came rolling in, breaching and blowing along side the ship, diving and gathering around the underwater speakers, chattering, hooting and cooing in courteous, measured replies between the hummingbirds' phrases. Slightly chagrined, the elated ship's research personnel recorded the whales' exuberant conversation and after speeding them up found themselves listening to some very ornate hummingbird songs!" Martín Prechtel, The Disobedience of the Daughter of the Sun: Ecstasy and Time
David Rothenberg reflects on tail sounds of hummingbirds
Yet that rise and fall is not an unfamiliar pleasure in the animal world. It sounds almost exactly like the song of the bowhead whale, a rarely encountered denizen of arctic seas. Why such sonic parallels between species way far apart on the tree of evolution? There may be more to animal aesthetics than arbitrariness…
Would such research make us humans the Great Listeners?

And so for day 1572

Ringing Ovidian Changes on Love-Making and Nuptials

Ali Smith. Girl Meets Boy

She carries on for pages in a fashion that would make even Anna Livia Plurabelle blush.

Then it changed into a music I'd never heard before, so new to me that it made me airborne, I was nothing but the notes she was playing, held in air. Then I saw her smile so close to my eyes that there was nothing to see but the smile, and the thought came into my head that I'd never been inside a smile before, who'd have thought being inside a simile would be so ancient and so modern both at once? Her beautiful head was down at my breast, she caught me between her teeth just once, she put the nip into nipple like the cub of a fox would, down we went, no wonder they call it an earth, it was loamy, it was good, it was what good meant, it was earthy, it was what earth meant, it was the underground of everything, the kind of soil that clings to things. Was that her tongue? […] and then I was sinew, I was snake, I changed stone to snake in three simple moves, stoke stake snake, then I was a tree whose branches were all budded knots […]
As signifier and signified slide over each other, the bravura performance takes off again in the dream-sequence wedding — some pages later but in the same imaginative space.
But back at the wedding the band had struck up now, and what a grand noise, for the legendary red-faced fiddler who played at all the best weddings had come, and had had a drink, and had got out his fiddle, he was the man to turn curved wood and horsehair, cut-gut and resin into a single blackbird then into a flight of blackbirds singing all the evenings at once, then into a spawn of happy salmon, into the return of the longed-for boat to a port, into the longing that waits in a lucky place for two people who don't yet know each other to meet exactly there […]
A fantasia based on the theme of Iphis and Ianthe from Ovid Book IX of the Metamorphoses.

And so for day 1571

Gallic Terms for the Destined and the Destination

Rotten emails = French for spam.

Pourriels are destined for the poubelle whose origins date back to the 19th century and the decrees of one Eugène Poubelle.

And so for day 1570