Friday, November 21, 2014

Flying High on the Words of Hannah Stephenson @ Huffington Post

Hannah Maynard and Happiness 

On a rainy Friday night, home with a cold, I received a message from Hannah Stephenson with the subject line Guess What's Up. Hannah had just sent an email this morning saying that she'd sent the article on the the Huffington Post but that it might take quite awhile before the piece was live.

I can't thank this 21st century Hannah (whom I've never met) enough for giving 19th century Hannah Maynard a place at the table. The symmetry is not lost on me. How could it be? What follows is a little bit of Hannah Stephenson's introduction to Cloud Pharmacy followed by a little of my response to a smart question on my use of borders, railroad tracks, bridges, etc.

HS  The condition of looking creates longing--or maybe it's the other way around. Art always finds a way to dance between desire and distance. Whether that distance is located in geography or time, art allows an artist to speak to a viewer located in the future.

In her newest book, Cloud Pharmacy (White Pine Press, 2014), poet Susan Rich communicates with painters, photographers, and past selves. What I appreciate most in her work is how keenly aware of her reader she is. Yes, she's talking to a photo, and to the photographer, but she's also speaking to the reader. Wistful, vulnerable, and unapologetic, Cloud Pharmacy's poems prescribe mirrors, light, lust, love. Rich offers back to us "our art/ imperfect and striving." To continue


And a little bit from my part:


SR So yes my art does "travel in by window." Art--whether we're talking about visual art or poetry amplifies our own range of experiences. And not only the actual objects which drew me to them as remnants of my own thoughts, but the human lives behind them, too. What choices were open to Hannah Maynard, a 19th century woman? Did she recognize her own artistic genius? What happened to Max Liebermann's imagination as he watched the Nazis' slow climb to power? Will any of our art be remembered by those who inhabit the earth after we're gone?


The window into art is the window into our own obsessions, our own pulsing of the blood.


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