February 15, 2013

announcing your place in the family of things

snwstorm



Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
     love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

–by Mary Oliver, from New & Selected Poems (Harcourt Brace)



(with this soundtrack:)



Internally paired this morning.

Read about Julia Kent’s new found-sound and cello record here, read more about Mary Oliver here. Turner’s paintings go with a lot of complicated, powerful things.

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September 10, 2010

Elizabeth and The Catapult + Leonard Cohen

h1jq_ETCsplitshot

I spent last night listening to a new song cycle from Brooklyn’s Elizabeth & The Catapult, commissioned by NPR and inspired by the challenging, incandescent Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen.

Fittingly, I first heard Elizabeth & The Catapult when I added their rousing cover of Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” to my Stomp Clap Mix at the beginning of the summer. This girl can compose and sing with an immensely strong voice, and loves whistles and claps and stomps as much as I do, so anytime she wants to also be inspired by the genius of Cohen and his words, I can get down with that.

These two songs are fantastic, and each so different. The first one I really loved is called “Go Away My Love” (at about the 38 minute mark), and sounds like it rises up from some riverside bank in the deep South, all feet stomping and hands clapping. The title track “The Other Side of Zero” is right after that one, and reminds me some of the harmonies of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.



The full album The Other Side of Zero is out on Verve Forecast October 26th, and you can hear selections from last year’s Taller Children on Daytrotter.

elizabeth and leonard



There’s also a page of full “liner notes” for the song cycle, dotted with Cohen’s poems and drawings here. I bought Cohen’s Book of Longing last year on a particularly gratifying afternoon browsing trip lost amidst the stacks of Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore. So many of the poems in there have resonated with me this last year, including this, one of my favorites in the collection (or, one of my few G-rated favorites in the largely NC-17 collection, I should say):

You’d Sing Too
You’d sing too
if you found yourself
in a place like this
You wouldn’t worry about
whether you were as good
as Ray Charles or Edith Piaf
You’d sing
You’d sing
not for yourself
but to make a self
out of the old food
rotting in the astral bowel
and the loveless thud
of your own breathing
You’d become a singer
faster than it takes
to hate a rival’s charm
and you’d sing, darling
you’d sing too

September 30, 2009

singing a song about the wildness of the sea

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The Night House

Every day the body works in the fields of the world
Mending a stone wall
Or swinging a sickle through the tall grass-
The grass of civics, the grass of money-
And every night the body curls around itself
And listens for the soft bells of sleep.

But the heart is restless and rises
From the body in the middle of the night,
Leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
With its thick, pictureless walls
To sit by herself at the kitchen table
And heat some milk in a pan.

And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
And goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
And opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
And roams from room to room in the dark,
Darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.

And the soul is up on the roof
In her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
Singing a song about the wildness of the sea
Until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
The way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,

Resuming their daily colloquy,
Talking to each other or themselves
Even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body-the house of voices-
Sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
To stare into the distance,

To listen to all its names being called
Before bending again to its labor.

–Billy Collins

[image: No Cream, No Sugar, by Jeremy Asher Lynch, via]

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August 25, 2009

Star block

lucky

There is no such thing
as star block.
We do not think of
locking out the light
of other galaxies.
It is light
so rinsed of impurities
(heat, for instance)
that it excites
no antibodies in us.
Yet people are
curiously soluble
in starlight.
Bathed in its
absence of insistence
their substance
loosens willingly,
their bright
designs dissolve.
Not proximity
but distance
burns us with love.



Kay Ryan

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April 29, 2009

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.



Wendell Berry

What I am listening during the long convalescence.

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April 24, 2009

celebrate the day by putting things where they don’t belong…

30_sufjan

Today Sufjan Stevens posted a very old cassette-tape recording that he wrote in his college dorm room about Sofia Coppola. Par for the Sufjan course, the song is humble and lovely and pensive (all minute and forty-seven seconds of it), with a taut string of some undefinable wistfulness running through the banjo plucks.

In the accompanying story, he kicks around ideas about names and name-songs, and the time in his life when he wrote this. It is a fascinating insight into his fire-hydrant creative process and the way we grow:

My older self, glancing back over simple chords and hazardous poetry, likes to think I’m older, wiser, more mature, more eloquent, more artful, more poignant, more contemporary. But that’s unfair. The concept has changed but the approach has always been the same….
[read the rest here]

Sofia’s Song – Sufjan Stevens



I’m pretty sure that one reason I like this little wisp of a song so much this week is that the “putting things where they don’t belong” lines echoed this poem, which has been looming large in my brain all week, taking up a lot of my thoughts.

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[lost/found penny, photo credit Nicky Thurgar]

January 25, 2009

“it moves already in eternity, like a fountain” :: Rilke & Bono

This is worth a mention because I’m reading Rilke right now and, well… I always love Bono. Plus it’s a cool scarf. Have at it, hipsters.

store_f

With all its eyes the natural world looks out into the Open. Only our eyes are turned backward, and surround plant, animal, child like traps, as they emerge into their freedom.

We know what is really out there only from the animal’s gaze; for we take the very young child and force it around, so that it sees objects–not the Open, which is so deep in animals’ faces. Free from death.

We, only, can see death; the free animal has its decline in back of it, forever, and God in front, and when it moves, it moves already in eternity, like a fountain.

Rilke-print scarf, via Edun (“increasing employment and trade for developing regions, especially Sub-Saharan Africa.”)

[via]

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November 6, 2008

flame and rust


…You’ll be driving along depressed when suddenly
a cloud will move and the sun will muscle through
and ignite the hills. It may not last. Probably
won’t last. But for a moment the whole world
comes to. Wakes up. Proves it lives. It lives
red, yellow, orange, brown, russet, ocher, vermilion,
gold
. Flame and rust. Flame and rust, the permutations
of burning. You’re on fire. Your eyes are on fire.
It won’t last, you don’t want it to last. You
can’t stand any more. But you don’t want it to stop.
It’s what you’ve come for. It’s what you’ll
come back for. It won’t stay with you, but you’ll

remember that it felt like nothing else you’ve felt
or something you’ve felt that also didn’t last.



[from Leaves, by Lloyd Schwartz - thanks Dainon]

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September 20, 2008

Hipster poetry / makes my morning delightful / cautionary tales

O, hipster nation:
The dive bars, the vintage duds?
Great material.

Apparently a delightful new sub-genre of poetry is forming roots: the Hipster Haiku. In a traditional 5/7/5 metric scheme, one can skew the dark underbelly of indie youth culture with a pointed collection of words. Exhibits A, B, and C:

It remains so cold
In the space between my Vans
And footless leggings

Only blazer-clad
Huddled like bees, our hands hold
hand-rolled cigarettes

When the tattoos creep
Past the sleeve line to knuckles,
Time to quit retail.

Please note: an important distinction is to be drawn between the hipster haiku and the hipster sestina. Being more complex and dating back to the Renaissance poetry of Dante and Petrarch, the sestina is arguably even better (and my love of Vespas just made me laugh out loud at this bit of fantasticness):

Love in the Time of Vespas

At the old café, I like to sit and stare
At women passing by, while watching my Vespa,
Parked at the corner near the bar.
Security in this neighborhood is loose
And I sometimes worry about the thin
Chain lock that protects my ride.

I remember offering you a ride,
Just to penetrate your thousand-mile stare.
You were magnetic, so aloof and thin.
When you climbed on the back of my Vespa,
I loved how you put one arm loose
Around my waist, instead of holding the safety bar.

I took you straight to my favorite bar,
Even though you probably wanted a ride
Home. I warned you, my standards are loose.
I admitted I couldn’t help but stare.
You were gracious, asked about my Vespa.
I didn’t notice your patience wearing thin.

You had a pack of very French, very thin
cigarettes, and the smoke hung over the bar
like a cloud of dust in the wake of a Vespa.
When you yawned, I finally gave you a ride
home. Then I stood outside your window to stare.
I couldn’t shake myself loose.

On an impulse, I pulled my scooter key loose
From its chain, and slid its thin
Promise under your door. I could imagine your stare,
Your surprise. “Meet me at the bar
tomorrow,” I scrawled, “and we can go for another ride.”
The next day: no you. No Vespa.

So I had to buy this new, crappier Vespa.
The law has allowed you to run loose,
Claiming there are other scooters to ride,
And the line between gift and theft is too thin.
I should tell you that you’ve raised the bar—
I see you now in every woman who commands my stare.

I watch you, thin and intense, ride
Your Vespa toward what was once our bar.
Your hair is loose. You avoid my stare.

BONUS: An anthem for Vespa riders (with my stab at lyrical translation in the comments); one of my favorites from my time studying abroad in Italy.

Vespa 50 Special – Lunapop

Buy Hipster Haiku here.
[thanks Ben!]

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March 31, 2007

Let us go then, you and I / When the evening is spread out against the sky

Saturday afternoons are good for reading and thinking and other literary pursuits.

To my delight I recently unearthed a slightly crumpled handout from tenth grade with this poem on it; I was entranced by it from the first time I slid into this world and let the words rush over me (plus it was my first exposure that I can recall to the mellifluous language that would become a great love in my life, trying to decode the Italian opening lines from Dante’s Inferno). There are passages here that never fail to make chills run up my spine in their eviscerating perfection.

This poem resonates with razor-sharp imagery, beautiful self-doubt, and uneasy melancholy. It makes me ache inside and feel a sense of deep beauty all at once, so vivid I can almost taste and smell it. Good poems are like good lyrics and vice versa — it’s amazing what can be done with words in the hands of a true master. If I were a musician and could write a single lyric half as good as this poem, I would hang up my guitar and die a happy woman.

If you’ve never really read it, you must.



The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock – read by T.S. Eliot
from Prufrock and Other Observations. 1917
by T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. If you represent an artist or a label and would prefer that I remove a link to an mp3, please email me at browneheather@gmail.com

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