The painting above is “Breath” by Lee Krasner, which I found in the New Orleans Museum of Art last week, on a breather from work (the new term starts tomorrow). I don’t know much about Krasner, but the exhibit caption says this painting’s “rhythmic marks…call forth the rise and fall of breathing, as well as the more meditative act of taking a deep breath. Krasner’s paintings were often more subtle and introspective than her husband Jackson Pollock’s frenzied ‘action painting’…one reviewer condescendingly claimed, ‘There is a tendency among some of these wives to ‘tidy up’ their husband’s styles.” I was drawn to the canvas for its beauty, but that caption transformed me into an ally.
Looking at art, I’d been wondering about my lack of interest, this year, in making new year’s resolutions. Do I really need another list? I’d also just read this article about resolutions and was considering a couple of points the reporter made. For instance: “Imagine it’s the next New Year’s Eve. What change are you going to be most grateful you made?” Hmm–living a more peaceful life, I guess. Concentrating effort more thoughtfully and taking care of myself so that I can be more open to unpredictable emotions, and to other people. I love January O’Neil’s “Poetry Action Plan”, but I tend to tick so doggedly down checklists, virtue becomes bad habit, in that I get so busy fulfilling promises to myself and others that I don’t take enough meditative, restorative time. Also, one of the experts the journalist interviewed (oh, so many experts out there on self-improvement!–shouldn’t we all be perfect by now?) recommended “reflecting on what changes would make you happiest, then picking a ‘theme’ for your year. That way, even if a particular habit doesn’t stick, your overarching intention will.” As someone who has tried and failed to create a meditation practice about five million times, that resonated.
So, standing in front of “Breath,” I chose my theme for 2019. Breathe.
I don’t know how, yet, that translates into particulars. I know visiting museums fills me with oxygen, but I need to find more air locally, too. For the moment, in addition to cleansing breaths, I’m trying to get ready for the semester without getting anxious about the to-do regimen. Work will be demanding, and both my kids are in their senior years (high school for one, university for the other), so lots of transitions ahead, but one step at a time, right?
Here’s the meta-meditation on how poetry blogging fits in. I posted pretty much weekly in 2018, energized by Kelli Russell Agodon’s Poetry Bloggers Revival and sustained by Dave Bonta‘s brilliant weekly digests. That mega-project has been formalized now into the Poetry Bloggers’ Network (fancy badge below). I hope you’ll sign up here and join the party! But I’m also giving myself permission to be more irregular about posting in 2019–I’m nourished by the project of maintaining this space, which focuses on the intersections among poetry and other parts of my life. But I also have other work that feels urgent, and a blog can be a hungry beast that needs constant feeding. (Breathe.)
In the meantime, in the spirit of movement without frenzy, here’s a first stab at blog redesign. I’d put up an image of an ivy-covered wall when you-know-who was elected and felt a strong need to open that up; I’ve also been craving warm colors. So the new header image is some pinked-up Blue Ridge Mountains photographed by my daughter, although I might keep tinkering with how it all looks. I’ve got a poetry book to name, after all, and choose cover art for–a blog design based on those elements, as they come into focus, would make sense. I’m on the lookout for women artists whose work would resonate with my poems, which have a lot to do with the landscape and history of this part of Virginia. Send me a line if something comes to mind, please!
And in the meantime, I hope the new year brings you light and air, whether or not you get to visit the bromeliads.
Writing from both sides of the brain
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