leaving the bubble–Rauschenberg Residency 29

On Friday, I return to New York City, to Brooklyn after 5 weeks on Captiva Island in Florida. The Rauschenberg Residency has been an enormous gift to my mind, my spirit, my writing and creativity.  The staff is so open and helpful and skillful and happy to be working in a place that is all about allowing artists to make whatever work they can while here.  I stayed in the Print House with an International Artist , Minouk Lim,

North Captiva

on North Captiva–boat trip day

who has started to make huge waves in the art world.  I met dance theater people who have worked or known people I’ve known from the theater and dance world. One of the artist is disabled but makes super huge sculptures.  One of the writers here was working on the first major book on Norman Lewis.  Every residency I’ve done reminds me of how many amazing poets, painters, dancers, composers, actors, scholars, etc there are and how this culture allows a few of us to be part of places designed to take care of our needs, our desires.  RR29 has lived up to all it has set to be be.  A place where the staff will help you do what you want to do or show you that you can do it.  Amazing.  I wrote new poems.  Drafted essays on June Jordan and poetics. Read Angela Jackson’s bio of Gwendolyn Brooks, Eudora Welty’s wonderful book One Writers Beginnings and of course We’re On: A June Jordan Reader (Alice James Books), a must have for serious students of American poetry.  And Laura Penny murder mysteries.  With fellow residents I saw The  Post where Meryl Streep chewed up some lovely scenery and journalism is celebrated.

Now I have to leave this beautiful bubble and return to the “real world”  but of course this too is the “real world” just not the one we get to hang around in too long.

The Print House patio

patio The Print House

Dog Tags by Jane Hirshfield on tree in “the Jungle”

Beach House writer’s studio

sunset spectacular

beach front


the Jungle


No longer quick

Over the past several years ghosts and spirits (the words, the concepts) have found their way in my poems sometimes invited, sometimes not.  I remember many years ago hearing Ishmael Reed respond to a questioner’s skepticism about worlds other than the one we encounter daily.  He said that we live in many worlds and at times we can enter the other ones when we are open to that visit (poor paraphrasing on my part here).  I think I understand what he was saying.  There’s a membrane between the living and the dead.  When I was a child, the Episcopal creed used the phrase “the quick and the dead”—that “quick” has been altered to simply say “living” but the sound of “quick” is more focused and startling.  I can remember it 45-50 years later.

At this moment when so much of my life is overfull with accolades and support, I think of ghosts, of those whose showed me ways to move, to write, to think, to act.  Who listened to me and understood what I was trying to do and who said, keep going.  Their love and dedication and stories and gestures, their tender mercies towards me kept me from going under, fading away.  Oh how I wish they were here:

David Earl Jackson

Peter Dee

Brenda Conner Bey

Lynda Hull

Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Weiss

good friends make life a little sweeter

Audre Lorde

June Jordan

Lorenzo Thomas

Ruth Maleczech

David Warrilow

Julius Hemphill

Butch Morris

Jayne Cortez

Ray Hill

Betty Ruth Merrick

Adrienne Weiss at one of my Cafe Loup birthday bashes–she had fun.

Brenda Conner Bey in the middle.

Brenda Conner Bey at Book Fair, 2009-2010?