aboard the M/V sonofagun, books + poetry, Inspirations, life

dragonfly

giant dragonfly

The dragonfly at rest on the doorbell—
too weak to ring and glad of it,
but well mannered and cautious,
thinking it best to observe us quietly
before flying in, and who knows if he will find
the way out? Cautious of traps, this one.
A winged cross, plain, the body straight
as a thermometer, the old glass kind
that could kill us with mercury if our teeth
did not respect its brittle body. Slim as an eel
but a solitary glider, a pilot without bombs
or weapons, and wings clear and small as a wish
to see over our heads, to see the whole picture.
And when our gaze grazes over it and moves on,
the dragonfly changes its clothes,
sheds its old skin, shriveled like laundry,
and steps forth, polished black, with two
circles buttoned like epaulettes taking the last space
at the edge of its eyes.

The Vanity of The Dragonfly, by Nancy Willard

Update: Yes, it’s real, I found it half-drowned in a rainwater collecting drum the night before. I took it out and set it in a pot plant for the night, but by morning it was dead. It was easy to find and identify, simply by Googling “large dragonfly”. It is a member of the dragonfly family Aeshnidae, called ‘Darners’ in English. This one is Epiaeschna heros, called a Swamp Darner in English. It occurs, as a native taxon, in multiple nations. In many places in the U.S. it is classified as vulnerable, in some states it is ‘imperiled’ or ‘critically imperiled’.

What I find most intriguing about this particular dragonfly is that it has the markings and colouring found on Darners in North America. The Australian Swamp Darner, Austroaeschna parvistigma, is black and dull-coloured. I understand that this family of dragonflies is migratory, though it is hard to believe that my nighttime visitor came from quite that far away!

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books + poetry, Inspirations, journaling + mail art, stuff i've made

Alexa Selph : : Market Forecast

an old love affair with words...

Adjectives continue
their downward spiral,
with adverbs likely to follow.

Wisdom, grace, and beauty
can be had three for a dollar,
as they head for a recession.

Diaphanous, filigree,
pearlescent, and love
are now available
at wholesale prices.

Verbs are still blue-chip investments,
but not many are willing to sell.

The image market is still strong,
but only for those rated AA or higher.
Beware of cheap imitations
sold by the side of the road.

Only the most conservative
consider rhyme a good option,
but its success in certain circles
warrants a brief mention.

The ongoing search for fresh
metaphor has caused concern
among environmental activists,

who warn that both the moon and the sea
have measurably diminished
since the dawn of the Romantic era.

Latter-day prosodists are having to settle
for menial positions in poultry plants,
where an aptitude for repetitive rhythms
is considered a valuable trait.

The outlook for the future remains uncertain,
and troubled times may lie ahead.
Supply will continue to outpace demand,
and the best of the lot will remain unread.

Market Forecast by Alexa Selph

P.S. the photograph is of a many-leaved list of words that I compiled simply because I loved them and wanted to gather them all together. This is in another old seedbook, with pages of faux parchment and neat, flourishing penmanship in sepia ink using a dip pen. The book has spent its whole life coverless, and the deep yellow smoke from our daily smudge fire (back when we lived in a primitive bamboo hut on the beach in a remote part of the Philippines) gradually tinted these pages an intense café au lait.

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books + poetry, Inspirations

A challenge no bookbinder can resist!

Sixfold dos-à-dos binding: Detail

A book in the National Library of Sweden that opens 6 ways…an example of sixfold dos-à-dos binding, it incorporates several text blocks bound between just one set of covers (though each cover is hinged down the middle, and really two covers), but clasps on each side make it possible to read just one of the text blocks at a time, without all the others falling open.


An irresistible challenge as far as a bookbinder is concerned! What fun it would be to make something like this. An OCD planner for today’s renaissance man or woman? Or a journal for a multiple-personality individual, perhaps? LOL
Sixfold dos-à-dos binding

found on Erik Kwakkel’s tumblr, more photos on the National Library of Sweden’s flickr

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art + design, books + poetry, Inspirations

The Sandwich Book by Pawel Piotrowski

Such a great idea for a book…besides being a humorous take on the book form, I love that it brings to the fore qualities of the book that are often overlooked.

When we read an ordinary book, we take its construction for granted and forget that each page is, in itself, a plane…that is, a level, stratum, a stage, an environment, a microcosm of the world, a surface upon which unique things happen.

That these surfaces are bound together at one end of a book introduces sequence…this before that, and then this…usually a continuation from the previous page, though the possibilities of using the turning of the page—to rattle or to slow the viewer/reader by dropping her in some completely unexpected environment or by keeping her in suspense—have been explored by artists and writers, alike.

Ultimately, a book is a working model of Time. The time it takes to read a book. The time it takes to introduce a world and follow an unfolding story. The time it takes to make a sandwich…or deconstruct it…or eat it…

The Sandwich Book by Pawel Piotrowski via strictlypaper.

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The Cat in the Hat

books + poetry, Darwin, Australia, life

;)

Image
books + poetry, clay, stuff i've made

Questions the clay has asked

bone white stoneware minaret

You work with what you are given,

the red clay of grief,
the black clay of stubbornness going on after.
Clay that tastes of care or carelessness,
clay that smells of the bottoms of rivers or dust.
Each thought is a life you have lived or failed to live,
each word is a dish you have eaten or left on the table.
There are honeys so bitter
no one would willingly choose to take them.
The clay takes them: honey of weariness, honey of vanity,
honey of cruelty, fear.
This rebus—slip and stubbornness,
bottom of river, my own consumed life—
when will I learn to read it
plainly, slowly, uncolored by hope or desire?
Not to understand it, only to see.
As water given sugar sweetens, given salt grows salty,
we become our choices.
Each yes, each no continues,
this one a ladder, that one an anvil or cup.
The ladder leans into its darkness.
The anvil leans into its silence.
The cup sits empty.
How can I enter this question the clay has asked?
—Rebus by Jane Hirshfield

stoneware pendants

Ta da! These are the very first objects I have ever made with grown-up clay (that is, bisqued, glazed, and kiln-fired stoneware clay.) Jacksons is Darwin’s main supplier of clays and ceramic materials/tools, so I bought a bag of whit stoneware and took it home after work about three weeks ago. My lovely manager, Ingrid, is a professional ceramist and a wonderful sculptor, so I picked her brains every day for tips and guidelines. Also watched a few videos and read Ingrid’s books. Then I cautiously, hesitantly opened my bag of clay up, made these tiny little things, and promptly fell in love.

I wanted to see what the fire would to my first little offerings; when Ingrid gave them back to me today, and I saw that none of them had cracked, exploded, warped, or stuck to the kiln shelves, I knew that here was something I wanted to keep doing, and that I wanted to grow in mastery and make bigger and more complicated pieces over time.

I adore working with the stuff. The sensation of working with my hands—getting slicked up to the elbows with the wet white mud, playing with the slips and glazes—feels a bit like a homecoming to me. I have never worked with the stuff before, but I felt as though I have always known how to work with it. Something about it takes me back to memories locked in my DNA, maybe. It comes so naturally and it feels so good.

And then the pieces go the kiln and get fired at incredible temperatures, emerging hard as rocks, glossy with the silica, and making little clinking musical sounds as I hold them, like fancy pebbles or seashells, in the cupped palms of my hands.

I didn’t need yet another medium to fall in love with, or another craft to pursue, but this really is a special one, and I’m glad I let it seduce me.

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books + poetry, philosophy

Snowden…

Catch 22

The first thing I thought of when I heard about the man called Snowden, currently running from the heavy-handed arm of paranoid U.S. law, was this:

Yossarian was cold, too, and shivering uncontrollably. He felt goose pimples clacking all over him as he gazed down despondently at the grim secret Snowden had spilled all over the messy floor. It was easy to read the message in his entrails. Man was matter, that was Snowden’s secret. Drop him out a window and he’ll fall. Set fire to him and he’ll burn. Bury him and he’ll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden’s secret. Ripeness was all.

It gave me goosebumps.

Literature has been an oracle all along:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Maybe we should have paid better to attention to what our writers/seers were trying to tell us, from Yeats to Orwell and Heller.

This one’s creepy, too:

“Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”

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