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Posts Tagged ‘Van Gogh’

When Feeling Stuck




Sometimes I forget I’m surrounded
   by whirl, forget the earth’s turning,
     forget our galaxy’s spiraling nature.
   But it helps me today to remember myself
as swirl, from the whorl in my fingerprints
   to the curl in my hair to the twirl in my step
     as I move through the rooms of a house
       that somehow feels solid and stable. It helps
     to think of the day as a twist,
   an infinite trip on a mobius strip,
and suddenly stuck isn’t quite so stuck,
   and whatever in me is wedged
     isn’t quite so wedged, and I become more
       like a starry night, ethereal, dreamlike,
     as I start to recall the joy in the spinning,
   the freedom in the churning,
and I open again to a magic that invites me to play
   far beyond the frame.

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August 15, 22, 29

Join Rosemerry and pianist/composer Kayleen Asbo for a three-week ekphrastic exploration–writing poems about art that explore the work of van Gogh and our own heart awakenings. Each class will include a brief historical talk, a conversation between Kayleen and Rosemerry about how to meet a work of art with music and words, plus two writing times and a chance to share what you wrote. Sliding scale. On Zoom. 

To register and for more information, visit here

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Oh Vincent,

There is in my heart
a small yellow room
with a small wooden table
with a dull yellow cloth
and a rounded clay vase
with your name scrawled in blue,
and it’s bursting with sunflowers,
all of them open, all of them turning,
turning toward the light,
which is to say the flowers face every which way.
There is light everywhere we dare to turn.

Consider this a love letter, Vincent,
a letter sent back in time,
a letter that impossibly arrives
just when you despair,
just when you believe no one cares about your art,
the letter that reaches you to say you are loved
in that exact moment you feel unlovable.

Let this be the letter in which you see
the sunflowers you sowed a hundred thirty years ago
have re-seeded themselves in me
and now grow rampant in my days,
golden petalled and flagrantly lovely.
And your stars, swirling, your wheat fields goldening,
your cypress reaching, your church bells unsinging,
you will find them all my words.

This is how love replants itself—
more love, old friend, more love.
Because you were so truly you,
so full of hope, so full of fear,
because you risked your everything,
I, too, will risk, will dare.

Consider this a love letter, Vincent,
the one that helps you see
how your life is linked to eternity.
Let this be a letter that says thank you, Vincent,
for teaching us new ways to see beauty.

Perhaps this letter will arrive
when you are in the yellow room,
or perhaps the asylum, perhaps in Neuwen,
and you, surprised to find it addressed to you,
will receive it and let the words in,
then hear your own startled voice saying,
It matters? as you pick up your brush
and begin again.  

*

My dear friend composer/pianist/historian Kayleen Asbo and I want to offer you the video recording of our hour-long conversation about Vincent Van Gogh, loss and The Art of Creative Collaboration– click here.This project has been such an important part for each of us in holding on to hope and beauty during a dark and challenging time. If it speaks to a part of your own aching soul and you want to share it, you have our blessing to forward it to whomever you wish.

If you want to offer a donation in support of our work so that we can professionally record our project in both audio and video format, click here for our Go Fund Me account. And we have an anonymous donor who will match all funds donated before July 30! 

If you want to engage in the full collaboration–Vincent’s paintings, Kayleen’s music, and my poems–I hope you will join us in “Love Letters to Vincent” on July 29, the day Vincent died, at 11 a.m. mountain time. We will present the entire collaboration, sending love letters back in time to honor this man who changed the way we see beauty. There will also be a chance to participate in a group creative activity, responding to his work, creating a giant love letter for Vincent. Sliding scale. It will be recorded and sent to all who register.

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inspired by “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh and the piano composition by Kayleen Asbo by the same name

Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough.
―George Washington Carver


You teach us how to meet the night,
the quiet shadowed pools of night,
the night outside the glow of home,
the night beyond the sleep-warm bed.

You teach us how to fall in love with night,
the violet night, deep fields of night,
the swirling, churning curves of night,
the whirling, sweeping waves of night—

and oh the stars in their spiraling
you share their gold and pink and green,
a twinkling, a burst of shine,
a firmament in which to dream—

but there’s no way to see stars
if you don’t first befriend the dark.
You teach us how to love the dark,
the verdant, fertile wholesome dark.

Oh, to love what frightens us—
to meet dark with curiousness,
Though it’s mighty, tumultuous,
you teach us the dark is generous.

Vincent, you didn’t paint your asylum’s window bars.
You showed us only night. And stars.

*

My dear friend composer/pianist/historian Kayleen Asbo and I want to offer you the video recording of our hour-long conversation about Vincent Van Gogh, loss and The Art of Creative Collaboration– click here.This project has been such an important part for each of us in holding on to hope and beauty during a dark and challenging time. If it speaks to a part of your own aching soul and you want to share it, you have our blessing to forward it to whomever you wish.

If you want to offer a donation in support of our work so that we can professionally record our project in both audio and video format, click here for our Go Fund Me account. And we have an anonymous donor who will match all funds donated before July 30! 

If you want to engage in the full collaboration–Vincent’s paintings, Kayleen’s music, and my poems–I hope you will join us in “Love Letters to Vincent” on July 29, the day Vincent died, at 11 a.m. mountain time. We will present the entire collaboration, sending love letters back in time to honor this man who changed the way we see beauty. There will also be a chance to participate in a group creative activity, responding to his work, creating a giant love letter for Vincent. Sliding scale. It will be recorded and sent to all who register.

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each line taken separately from his letters or speech
 inspired by his unfinished painting “Tree Roots,” which was first hung upside down,
and by Kayleen Asbo’s piano composition “Roots”

you will find beauty everywhere,
the root of everything—
and the sadness will last forever

*

the sadness will last forever,
the root of everything—
and you will find beauty everywhere

*

My dear friend composer/pianist/historian Kayleen Asbo and I want to offer you the video recording of our hour-long conversation about Vincent Van Gogh, loss and The Art of Creative Collaboration– click here.This project has been such an important part for each of us in holding on to hope and beauty during a dark and challenging time. If it speaks to a part of your own aching soul and you want to share it, you have our blessing to forward it to whomever you wish.

If you want to offer a donation in support of our work so that we can professionally record our project in both audio and video format, click here for our Go Fund Me account. And we have an anonymous donor who will match all funds donated before July 30! 

If you want to engage in the full collaboration–Vincent’s paintings, Kayleen’s music, and my poems–I hope you will join us in “Love Letters to Vincent” on July 29, the day Vincent died, at 11 a.m. mountain time. We will present the entire collaboration, sending love letters back in time to honor this man who changed the way we see beauty. There will also be a chance to participate in a group creative activity, responding to his work, creating a giant love letter for Vincent. Sliding scale. It will be recorded and sent to all who register.

Read Full Post »


My dear friend composer/pianist/historian Kayleen Asbo and I want to offer you the video recording of our hour-long conversation about Vincent Van Gogh, loss and The Art of Creative Collaboration– click here.This project has been such an important part for each of us in holding on to hope and beauty during a dark and challenging time. If it speaks to a part of your own aching soul and you want to share it, you have our blessing to forward it to whomever you wish.

If you want to offer a donation in support of our work so that we can professionally record our project in both audio and video format, click here for our Go Fund Me account.

Read Full Post »


inspired by Pietà by Vincent van Gogh and a piano composition by the same name by Kayleen Asbo

When Chopin wrote his prelude in E minor,
its melody descending like sundown in a field,
he could never have guessed how
Eugène Delacroix would listen to the song relentlessly
when he painted his Pietà, how the haunting notes
would infuse themselves into the twilight
of the Virgin Mary’s blue dress,
into her outstretched hands and her oddly angled neck
as she held the dead body of her son.

And Delacroix could not have known
how, two years later, Anna van Gogh
would give birth to Vincent Willem,
his heart unbeating, his lungs unbreathing—
how Anna would long to mourn like the Virgin
and hold her own dead child, but her husband
would forbid her to even speak of the loss,
calling her grief a sin.

And Anna could not have known
how a year to the day when her first son died
she would deliver another boy
and name him Vincent Willem van Gogh,
and he would grow up seeing his own name
and birthday carved into a gravestone.

No surprise then, perhaps, that when Vincent
painted his own version of Delacroix’s Pietà,
he painted the dead son in the likeness of himself—
his own slender shoulders, his own red beard.
In Virgin Mary’s eyes, he painted dusk.

And van Gogh could not have known
how over a hundred years later
a woman named Kayleen, inspired
by Chopin and the agony in Vincent’s painting,
would write a song for piano, a song infused
with heartache and beauty, eventide and gloaming.

And Kayleen could not have known how,
months later, another woman would hear
in the slow rolling bass of the minor key
a mirror for her brokenness,
the spilling of her own golds and blues,
how she would seek out Vincent’s Pietà
and see in the painting
her own empty hands, her own dead son.
She would understand in an instant
she was not alone
in meeting the darkling swell of unbearable loss
and the light of bearing it anyway—




 *

Today (Monday, July 12) at 11 a.m. mountain time, I hope you can join me and composer/pianist/historian Kayleen Asbo for an hour of conversation about the “unfolding delight of collaborating on a multimedia project for Vincent van Gogh. No charge, but if you want to donate in support of our work, we will accept gratefully! Above all, we want to share the joy we have discovered in weaving poetry and music in response to van Gogh and each other. 

To register. cut and paste this link: 
https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ej9t6q9ac30328ce&oseq=&c=&ch=

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Dear readers, 

As you know, I’ve been sharing lots of poems inspired by van Gogh’s paintings and the music of the incredible composer/pianist/historian Kayleen Asbo–and finally, a chance for you to hear her work!  We will have two events together: the first one is Monday, July 11 for a conversation about collaborating across the arts. We’ll share about the process of creating “Love Letters to Vincent,” piano compositions and poems all conversing with the art of van Gogh, who was, in turn, responding to other artists of his day. Join the big conversation! It will be practical and passionate! Donation based. 

for more info and to register, copy and paste this link:
https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ej9t6q9ac30328ce&oseq=&c=&ch=

The second event, “Love Letters to Vincent” on Friday, July 29, will have all the pieces she composed, all the poems I wrote, all the art, plus a chance for you to write your own love letter to Vincent. This online salon of love and memory on the anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh’s death will be a heartfelt communal ritual of creativity.

Available on a sliding scale donation and also recorded for later viewing. for more info and to register, copy and paste this link:
http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07ej8dm76j7c30686c&llr=q9rr4nabb

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after the painting “The Bedroom” by Vincent van Gogh and the piano composition “Yellow Bed” by Kayleen Asbo

In the tilted room with the yellow bed,
hope waltzes on the wooden floor—
one, two, three, one, two, three—
 
not that you see it there,
it’s not obvious like the windows,
the paintings, the mirror, the pitcher, the chairs.
 
Hope is what you don’t see.
But it is there, beside the water glasses,
beside the long towel.
 
Hope sways so keenly
to snatches of melody
the whole room seems to sway.
 
And it’s one, two, three,
one, two, three; Who, hope says,
will dance with me? It promises
 
friendship. It promises rest.
Will you dance? it asks, a dizzy mess.
It promises community. It promises fame.
 
Will you dance? it asks, but it smells
of paint and faraway dreams.
It smells of madness and longing to be seen.
 
Will you dance? it says, its arms flung out.
Here is where Vincent said yes.
Some see a still life, but others see
 
the whirling, the twirling, the beautiful
spinning of hope, reeling hope,
fragile hope.

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     inspired by Landscape at Auvers in the Rain by Vincent van Gogh and Rain at Auvers by Kayleen Asbo

 
Sometimes when it rains
I forget it will ever stop raining.
The rain, it falls,
it falls for days, it falls,
and the rain becomes
a metric imperative,
insistent as a stop watch,
familiar as the pulsing
of blood in the heart,
a throbbing, a beat so adamant
I forget any other tune.
Did you forget, Vincent,
the rain would stop?
Did you feel inside you
a storm as urgent, as bold,
as the rain you painted
long diagonal strokes?
 
I can’t look at your painting
without feeling inside me the rain,
the rain, feel it slant across my world
in thick dark lines.
I can’t look at the purples
and yellows of Auvers
without remembering how days
after you painted these hues,
you would take your life.
 
But how could I vilify the storm
even knowing what I do?
You found in the tumult
light.
You fueled the dampened, darkened world
with ecstatic gold.
You didn’t push the storm away, Vincent.
You let it drench you.
You shared with us all
how struggle, too,
is so terribly, terribly
beautiful.


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