The songs of gentrification and capitalism and ghosts and loss

This is a poem I’ve been working on for a couple of months. It names a number of Asheville, N.C.-based landmarks, characters, and artists, but my hope is there’s something of the universal. So many of us are witnessing the loss of our communities to the juggernaut of development and wealth, neither of which ever do much to forward the arts or the creative culture.

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The Merle performing at Vincent’s Ear.

THE GHOST OF GAVRA LYNN

The man took the temperature
of this neighborhood and decided
in his boardroom that, yes, it’s time
to capitalize on what the artists

built. The ambiance of ingenuity mined
from the rubble. Construct a hotel
to tower over the coffee shops and dive
bars, over the thrift stores and book stores, over Continue reading

THE RECLAIMED HYMNAL

Inspired a ukulele made from repurposed church pews by the artist Zeke Leonard at Pentaculum 2019 — a craft and writing residency at Arrowmont School.

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Photo by Dan “Soybean” Sawyer

Say an instrument is born with all of its songs
intact, DNA in the material from which
it’s forged. A ukulele fashioned from repurposed
church pews, the wood still holding ghosts Continue reading

FUNDRAISER/magical poem giveaway

I’m participating in the 5th annual Mountain of Words Write-A-thon to benefit Asheville Writers in the Schools and Community. My goal is to raise $200, and I am hoping that you will help by sponsoring me as I write as much as I can for AWITSC between now and November 17. Click through to learn more and/or donate online or by mail.

LEARN MORE HERE.

Everyone who sponsors me by Nov. 17 will be entered in a drawing for a personal poem, by me, infused with magical intention. Positive magic only!

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WITCHWOOD, part 2

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SKELETON KEY

You collect them. One was stolen from a neighborhood
house empty of all traces of its previous owners except
the crystal knob on the hallway door and the thin
iron key. Whoever bought the house wouldn’t care
about the lives lived in it before, or the echoes of footfall
or the way long shadows took on the shapes of those
who no longer sit at the tables or gaze out the windows. You Continue reading

WITCHWOOD, part 1

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“Spooky house” by Wayne Woodruff. See his photos here.

This neighborhood had a name before it was colonized by Trader Joe’s and an endless stream of SUV traffic. Just because no one who lives here now can remember what it was called doesn’t mean you get to rename it.

You build your house on a graveyard and act surprised when the ghosts move into your hot tub, your gourmet kitchen, your wood-fired pizza oven. There’s a reason why houses from a hundred years ago had such small closets: no space for the dearly departed.

The ancestors are not impressed with your two-car garage, your home yoga studio, your posh amnesia. If you don’t call a place by its true name, you’ll dream of its former inhabitants. You’ll wake to them rattling like mice in your walls.

Mood

Mood

I started making these collages to say something that I couldn’t write down. Beauty is marred, the perception of women is a false narrative, we live in a world that neither honors nor protects what it loves. In the many and loud and frequent calls to change the government by voting Republicans out, I can’t help but think about how heavily North Carolina is gerrymandered and that the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been ratified. So yes, I’ll vote. And no, I don’t believe all votes count equally. I wish I believed that, but I don’t.

Below are my digital collages (in order) of “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer, “Portrait of an Unknown Woman” by Ivan Kramskoi, “Portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci” by Leonardo da Vinci, and “Pinkie” by Thomas Lawrence. The choice to use famous works by white male artists was intentional.

 

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MARIAN APPARITION

Maybe it’s because he’s new to town but already on the rise, already with a convertible and plans for a salon of his own. That kind of fast fame is intoxicating.

Maybe it’s because he’s pretty. Soft-faced. Feminine. Maybe it’s for that reason that his mother gave him a girl’s name and not just any girl’s name but that of a virgin saint. He is no virgin saint but his name implies trustworthiness.

581249c4cab64fee4557585a0ba7be5d--mexicans-guadalupe-mexico Continue reading

NOTES ON PROCESS, part 1

A.

My experience as an artist so far has been that I am led down various life paths, often related to the BIG LIFE ISSUES (marriage, career, friendships, family, health scares for myself or those close to me, minor and major tragedies, national and world events) and make art in response to those experiences. The art isn’t really planned beyond “I think I’m OK at writing, so I’ll study that, and since I’ve studied it a bit, I guess that’s my main media” or “I’m sick of words and need to try to express myself through some other art form so maybe I’ll play the ukulele because it only has four strings so how hard can it be?”

In short: Art Reflects Life.

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Members of Pussy Riot perform at Red Square, January 2012. Photo by Denis Sinyakov/Reuters

But now, in my mid-40s, I find myself wondering if the more meaningful creative path might be Life Reflects Art. Wherein the artist would choose an art form and follow that Continue reading