Archive for July 18, 2011


Jonny Gray, our new faculty member.

We started out with announcements and introductions.Peggy told us that class members would read at the Bear Gallery September 3. She also mentioned the Wrangell-St. Elias Poetry Workshop, and urged us (at least the poets among us) to attend. She introduced the instructors, most of whom were pictured earlier, but Jonny Gray was a new face.

We’re meeting in an underground room this year, but a large one for a change.

Jonny Gray had us meet one another, introducing ourselves with an object and a gesture to go with our names. I have to admit I leaned a lot of objects and gestures (fabric, aardvaark, alabaster and chocolate among them) but I’m still not sure I can tie in names and faces. He recommended a book: Writing for Social Scientists, by Howard S. Becker and urged us to treat writing as play and not be afraid to be a fool. The final exercise was to tell two truths and once lie about ourselves, without saying which was which.

Room for Creative Writing class, Summer Arts Festival 2011

Jeanne had us read “A Valentine for Ernest Mann” about writing a poem, and then had us write a poem about how you find a poem, using the “wild word” swipe.

Peggy and Jeanne read two selections from Bill Kloefkorn’s work at Lunch Bites.

Frank showed us a short video with an essayist — Scott Sanders? — explaining how he tried to write about the death of his fater, but ultimately is inspiration came from a blue book in which he’d been jotting down things about tools. He emphasized the inspiration can come from the unexpected– let yourself be surprised. Essay writing is often writing to figure something out, and the questions at the end of an essay may inspire the next essay. Our homework assignment was to decide on a topic and start jotting things down in the blue books (yes, exam books) he handed out.

Peggy handed around what she called a poem in process (not yet polished) called “Turning, Returning” in which each stanza began with “I will come back.” She had us try the same thing for at least ten stanzas, using both images and gestures.

This year at least some of what we produce during the class will be made into books, one for each of us, under Margo’s direction. The pages will be copied at the local Dateline, and that is to be done by the first Friday, when the pages will go out for copying. Each page will be illustrated using the Pochior process. I’ll have to get Margo to do a short guest post on what that is, though it sounds like stenciling. The second week we will actually be doing the pochoir and binding the books.

So far, homework consists of picking a topic for our blue books. I’m sure things won’t stay that easy.

Reminder: class member are encouraged to put their work in as comments. I’ll start the ball rolling by putting in my attempt at a poem from Jeanne’s prompt.

Addition: Mago gave us a list of what we’d need to bring and what was optional for book-binding. Definitely get if you don’t have, as you should bring them Wednesday:

Fine-point pencil and eraser
Scissors
a 10 x 13 piece of cardboard.

Bring if you have:

X-acto knife
stiff bristle brushes
non-tipping water jar with lid
tool jar
cutting mat.

She will supply some of this last group, but the more who can bring their own, the better.

Red lychnis

Sunrise this morning was at 4:02 am, and for a change sunset will also be today, at 11:49 this evening. Day length is down to 19 hours 47 minutes, and we’re losing more that 6 ½ hours of potential sunlight a day. Not daylight, really – it’s still light enough to drive all night, and the sun dips less than 4° below the horizon. Granted it’s only a little more than 45° above the horizon at most, but for practical purposes we still have 24 hours of daylight.

Salmon lychnis--this one's about eye level.

The lychnis (Maltese Cross) is blooming, and I’m beginning to wonder if I have a new hybrid variety. I have lots of red ones, all descended via volunteer seedlings from a single red I purchased years ago. More recently, I bought a packet of salmon seed (actually a very light salmon pink) and raised several plants from it. The salmon is a taller, earlier plant, with umbels of small flowers; the red is shorter, blooms a little later and has relatively large flowers. Both self seed freely.

The first large blooms this year were on plants that looked like the reds, and the blooms were the size of reds, but they were lighter in color. Could pollen from the salmons have fertilized some of the reds? At any rate, I like the new color.

Possible hybrid? Flowers on this and the red are almost 2" across; those on the salmon are less than 3/4".

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