Sunday, January 13, 2013

Less is Less Unless it is More Good News

Last week I visited the Utrecht Art store, near where I work, and discovered their big redesign of all their retail outlets meant they dumbed down their offerings. Gone was the large cutting table where I could layout boards and decide how to frame my art. Gone were the useful array of books on art and technique (now down to one woefully inadequate kiosk with a dozen fairly useless titles and not even one book on calligraphy) and the general air of being a place that mattered was gone. I had remembered an energetic knowledgeable staff, dynamic manager, shelves with many good choices of tools, papers, and paints...and discount tables. It is now a sort of E-Z artsy store, akin to the art section in the Micheal's Craft stores. The place was like the cat that had gone to be "fixed" and came back with depleted interests... clearly the digital world is affecting viability of art stores. Will they mostly go the way of bookstores leaving behind just a few small specialty shops catering to real artists?

Lately I've had a "Potemkin Shelf" feeling at the big Barnes and Noble (Broadway and 82nd Street). As if the books being turned face out were the last in line. There's a subtle thinning of the stock...just what Borders went through in its final months. It makes me sad. Bookstores have been a mecca for my cover design eye and a feast for my insatiable reading heart. And big mega stores just means more walking and looking and browsing—a place where I pleasantly split into two selves in one, my body relaxes into a slowly strolling trance and my mind and eye are darting and diving—reuniting at the end of the checkout line. Luckily I still live in a college neighborhood where print books will last as long as there are students and professors to read or assign them. Also, I thank the graces for the New York Public Library....

Yesterday I ran over to Book Culture and bought a used paperback copy of William Carlos Williams book long poem Patterson. I am writing a book of poems about a small urban park—sharing space with my photos. I'm looking for inspiration, other ways of seeing. This tip came from Paul Pines, "one of the best collections of cityscape poetry is by my old friend and mentor Paul Blackburn in a book called The Cities, published by Evergreen. I recommend it highly. And in all of his work Paul had an eye for detail and ear for sounds and speech that was peerless and informs his work. He was a protege of Williams, whose classic book Patterson is another great one (both alluding to Lorca in some way, his Poet in New York). That book by Paul contains his great good-bye to W.C., "Phone Call to Rutherford," that great moment when Williams, unable to speak because of his heart attack, says, " have made a record on my heart."" I had looked at passages from Patterson back in college but what a different rich cornucopia it is to me now! Thank you for the leads.

So this brings me to my news, my book, Pocket Park, will be coming out Fall of 2013 from Marsh Hawk Press!!!!!!! I have 4 months to take the rough manuscript and finish, rewrite, reimagine, and find where I can add or subtract. What are the best city park poems you have read? Let me know, I'm stoking my imagination for the work and play ahead.