Now that the contract is in hand, I can announce that Reassurances; Incantation Bowls, Reimagined will have its debut gallery exhibition at Lachaise Gallery, Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA, September 12-October 17, 2014, with a closing reception and artists’ talk on October 16, 2014. There will be a workshop, as well (more info TBA). The show will include other work by Tiffany Besonen. Tiffany is making great progress on the bowls, and I encourage you to follow her blog, here. Today’s post has to do with the image from the bowl pictured here, and with the way crows are manifesting in this project.
The creation of her images has added a whole new dimension to the poems I’ve written. Conversations have started between words and images that we created, yet we are somehow not part of these conversations. They take on a life of their own, and we are merely observers. That is the beauty of collaboration, and of the mixing of media.
The culmination of this long project is both exciting and terrifying to imagine. Will people get it? Will the project spark the kinds of thought processes about fears and protection and history and gender roles (and so many other ideas) in viewers as it has in us? Time will tell, I guess. We hope that the exhibit will travel, and that a new kind of work will begin for us–a new dialogue, not just between the two of us, as it has been throughout this process, but with viewers and listeners, questioners and sharers. We look forward to that broader conversation.
After two years, and much planning, dreaming, and work, Reassurances: Incantation Bowls, Reimagined is getting ready for its debut. We are pretty sure (contracts in the works) that the collection will be exhibited in Pennsylvania in October of this year. It is truly amazing to think back to the inception of this crazy idea (read more here and here) and to realize that Tiffany Besonen and I have actually made it happen, with the help of the Minnesota State Arts Board, Region 2 Arts Council, and a number of individuals, most notably Jennifer Heath, who was there when we had the idea, helped us talk it out, and has supported it all along. Jill Odegaard is doing the same now, helping us finalize all the moving parts, and helping us imagine new moving parts.
The bowls pictured are smaller, more fragile ones, each with one line of a poem called “Litany”–a list of my wishes, for myself and for the world. The small bowls are as beautiful as the big ones, and their fragility echoes the fragility of my hopes. Both require careful handling.
I am continually amazed at the way Tiffany’s visual images enhance and expand my understanding and appreciation of my own words. Writing poetry is such a mystical process, and writing these incantations has been even more so. Listening to Tiffany’s process of thinking, and seeing how her imagery has evolved–now crow and fox are emerging as themes, with all their mythical, metaphorical and symbolic richness–has made my own process deeper and more meaningful. This is the beauty of collaboration. The work of the collaborators intertwines and informs itself and becomes something wholly different than the component parts alone.
Stay tuned for more definite news, and thanks for being interested.
LouAnn Muhm is the recipient of an Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State’s arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.
Just a quick note to say that I will once again be teaching the 8-week, online course “Poetry Inspired by Art” through The Loft Literary Center. Here’s a description, and a link to register. Love to see you there!
Poetry Inspired by Art
Reg $312.00 | Mem $280.80 | Low inc. $312.00
Looking for inspiration for your poetry? This is the class for you! Poets from John Keats to Rita Dove have written poems responding to art. The formal name for this kind of poetry is Ekphrasis. In this class, the emphasis will be on generating new poems. Each week, prompts from various genres of art will be provided. No special knowledge of art is required—students will write whatever the prompt inspires them to write, whether in direct response to the artwork, or in response to their own ideas and experiences brought up by the artwork. Students will generate from 8-16 new poems, give and receive feedback on the first drafts, and get a start on revising.
No class the week of July 4.
Enter Early Bird Promo Code EBSUOL1403 by May 15, 2014 and receive $20 off the regular and member class price. Promo codes only valid for online registrations.
Register here: https://www.loft.org/classes/detail/?loft_product_id=63356 (link at the bottom of the page)
About the Teaching Artist(s)
LouAnn Shepard Muhm is a poet and teacher from northern Minnesota. Her poems have appeared in Dust & Fire, The Talking Stick, North Coast Review, Alba, Red River Review, Eclectica, qarrtsiluni, and CALYX, and she was a finalist for the Creekwalker Poetry Prize (2007) and the Late Blooms Postcard Series (2007). Muhm was a recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in Poetry in 2006 and 2012, and has been featured twice in the What Light poetry series on mnartists.org, sponsored by the McKnight Foundation and the Walker Art Museum. Her chapbook, Dear Immovable, was published in 2006 by Pudding House Press, and her full-length poetry collection Breaking the Glass (Loonfeather Press, 2008) was a finalist for the Midwest Book Award in Poetry.
It’s been a long time since I’ve really written anything here. I’ve been resistant to it, as I have been to most kinds of reaching out. It seems to be a time of pulling in for me now. Lack of light, multiple plunges into the polar vortex, and a lot of silence have led to a kind of cocooning. This past week I was home from work for two days with a bad cold, and then there was the weekend, and today school is canceled due to the cold and the blowing snow. I’ve only ventured out twice in these five days, very briefly, both times blinking and squinting into the wind as if just waking up from hibernation. This is not a bad thing. After all, the things creative people complain most about not having are space and time, right? I’ve had both now for a few days, and I’m loathe to give them up. There is more to cocooning than just the withdrawal, though. Eventually, there is the emergence.
The days are getting longer and brighter (though not warmer, yet), my cold is gone, and school will be back in session tomorrow, in the full swing of a new semester. These are not bad things, either. I’ve enjoyed my almost-week in suspended animation, but life is calling.
Others are taking advantage of the respite, too, including Tiffany Besonen, who is making beautiful progress on our Incantation Bowls project. You can read about how she’s using her windfall of time on her blog post from today. Spoiler alert: she is doing this:
There will be more news about this project very soon. It is getting ready for its own emergence.
In support of Sherman Alexie’s call for writers to volunteer to work at small, independent bookstores on Small Business Saturday (11/30/13), I will be at Beagle Books in Park Rapids, MN from 2-4 pm. I’ll be recommending books, chatting with customers, signing my own book and just generally hanging around. Come on out–let’s talk about books!
Well, not new, exactly, but offered for the second time and open for registrations. There is a discount for registrations before December 13, so I hope you take advantage of that. The scholarship structure is changing at The Loft. I’ll post more about that when I get more information. So, currently, there is not a scholarship available for this class. Let me know by email if this is a serious problem for you, and we might be able to work something out. Here’s all the info:
Triggering Poetic Inspiration: 01/27/14–03/23/14
Reg $312.00 | Member $280.80 | Low inc. $312.00
Where do poem ideas come from? Finding a way to sustain poetry writing beyond those first emotion-driven poems that we just have to write is often the challenge facing poets who have been writing for a while. In this class, we will be reading and discussing Richard Hugo’s excellent book on poetic inspiration and poetry writing, The Triggering Town. Each week we will read one of the book’s eight short chapters and discuss what we find there. We will also write a new poem from a prompt and post it for discussion and feedback. Poets will come out of this class with eight new poems, as well as some new tools for generating inspiration and ideas.The class is structured so that each week, you will follow this pattern. Although the class weeks officially start on Mondays, I will usually post the week’s materials on the previous Friday afternoon, so that those who want to can get a head start over the weekend.
1. Read a chapter in The Triggering Town.
2. Participate in an asynchronous discussion about the chapter.
3. Read and respond to prompts with drafts of their own poems, and give feedback to one another on drafts.
4. Participate in a live chat, at the discretion of the class—this will be scheduled (or not) after the class begins.
Enter Early Bird Promo Code EBWS14P15 by December 13, 2013 and receive $20 off the regular and member class price. Promo codes only valid for online registrations.
Click here for more info and to register https://www.loft.org/classes/detail/?loft_product_id=53943
Hope to see you there!
New things on the schedule have reached the critical mass that equals a blog post. I have a lot of things coming up in the next month! In fact, a bulleted list might even be in order. See my Schedule Page for more information on each event.
- New Online Class: Writing the Short Poem through the Loft Literary Center begins Sept. 16. Click HERE for more info and to register!
- Reading with Kathryn Kysar; Sept. 20, 2013, Nemeth Art Center, 301 Court Ave., Park Rapids, MN 7:00 refreshments, 7:30 reading.
- “Inviting the Muse” workshop for the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc’s Talking Stick Release Party, September 21, Blueberry Pines, Menahga, MN, 9-noon. Click HERE for details and to register.
The Loft Literary Center Creative Writing Conference for Writers Aged 50 and Better;
Breakout Session “Writing the Short Poem,” October 5-6, 2013; TIES 1667 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN. Visit loft.org
or call 612-379-8999 to register.
Whew! That’s a lot of stuff! I look forward to all of it. In other news, I’ve gotten the official approval for teaching “Triggering Poetic Inspiration” online for The Loft this winter (1/27/14 to 3/23/14). It’s a poem-generating course based on Richard Hugo’s “The Triggering Town.”
And finally, I had this nice surprise this week (see? These are the benefits of Googling yourself!)
LouAnn Muhm and her Online Poetry Classes by Linda Lein