Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Guest-blogger Grace Cavalieri's Favorite Venturesome and Vivid Movers of the Earth

Anyone who has been lucky enough to meet Grace Cavalieri--- or, luckier still, hear her read her poetry--- knows what a light-filled soul and gifted artist she is. It is a very special honor to have her blogging here today. A brief bio: Grace Cavalieri is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, including children's books. Her latest publication is Anna Nicole: Poems (pictured, left). Cavalieri's plays include off-Broadway productions. She's also written texts and lyrics performed for opera, television and film. Her 21st play "Quilting the Sun" was presented at the Smithsonian Institution, and received its world premiere at Centre Stage, S.C. Grace teaches poetry workshops throughout the country at numerous colleges. She produced and hosted "The Poet and the Poem," weekly, on WPFW-FM (1977-1997) presenting 2,000 poets to the nation. She now presents this series to public radio from the Library of Congress via NPR satellite. Grace has received the Pen-Fiction Award, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Silver Medal, and many, oh so many, others. She writes full-time in Annapolis, Maryland where she lives with her husband, sculptor Kenneth Flynn. Over to you, Grace.

I chose 5 great practitioners in the arts because I love to surround myself with energy and light. When I associate with artists who are venturesome and vivid, my own dreams and desires manifest. I love these 5 guys. I asked each artist to describe his/her site.

First, I wish to introduce the work of Holly Picano, a meteor on the art scene. She says, "I capture people's feelings through the expressions and colors that I paint. I enjoy catching the flirty side of life in my subjects." And if you want evidence, click this! What I’d like to add is that Holly is the preeminent portrait painter of celebs in our country and did the portrait cover of my new book, Anna Nicole: Poems. We had a great month looking at her sketches and bantering about earrings and things. And she got it perfectly. On The Mark. So I salute Holly for bringing my Anna to life with humor, style, dignity, and radiant paint. She also did a magnificent cover for DiDi Menendez’s OCHO # 12 (the print arm of MiPOesias magazine) which I guest edited. Holly’s Marie Antoinette art stunned the cover (or was it Madonna who said "Let them eat this cake?!") Check and see.

Next I present Amy King, a heartstoppingly stunning poet of the 21st century who is a teacher, Impresario of a poetry series, (readings at Stain Bar in Brooklyn), an editor with MiPOesias Magazine, and a leader in the field of forward motion in poetry. "Amy King blogs from the isle of New York, where she has resided for the past eleven years. Her posts contemplate a quirky range of subjects typically dubbed 'politics, popular culture, philosophy, and poetry,' but those headings do not truly convey her off-center take on the ethos and pathologies of the day." (And she adds) or, if you want something a little more palatable: "Amy King blogs from the isle of New York, where she has resided for the past eleven years. She considers a range of matter in the realm of politics, pop culture, poetry, and philosophy, with a zest that demands your return attention." Amy uses the objects of the world in her poetry to convey details of emotion and meaning. Her invisible bridges within the text are made of intuition, the highest form of art.

Poet Karren Alenier adds the critical element and theoretical basis for her own considerable take on the arts, specifically American opera, in her blog. Karren’s blog "The Dressing" is on Scene4 Magazine . Her blog addresses what's underneath the art being examined. "As the Dresser, Alenier pulls out her magnifying glass and her telescope to get different perspectives on opera, theater, concerts, movies, books, and lectures. Her curiosity drives her choices of subject matter and she keeps asking and answering question in her quest to understand the value of what she has experienced poems by contemporary poets that speak to the subject at hand." Karren’s poetry is sassy, original and musical. Her specialty is Gertrude Stein about whom she wrote an opera libretto. Her iconoclastic textbook The Steiny Road to Operadom: The Making of American Operas is a necessary resource for any classroom. She is a tireless worker, a literary citizen, and a pillar in the house of Washington DC Poetry. Karren heads the Word Works, a small press publishing house presenting books and poetry programs since 1977.

And now to photography-- where the reigning king of my universe is Dan Murano. He says, "I love landscapes and urban-scapes, street photography, industrial photography, portraits and cats, abstract designs of reflections and shadows and lines, architecture and still life. I classify my work as journalistic/ fine art." By day Dan works for a national newspaper as a photo editor. for its website. However, this is the year we wait for his own beautiful books, combining visual image with poetic image. When he presents a photographed landscape, although no people may be shown, the vibration of human life is always present. His personal sensitivity provides an emotional prosperity to his photos. The material world is his playground. Let me say that photography can be transformed into feeling by the virtue and vision of Dan Murano.

Tragedy is just failed humor, one pundit said. And I say that Birdie Jaworski has made humor High Holiday and Tragedy is nowhere to be seen. Humor is one of the noblest of all arts. Her blog is Birdie explains her journey to book, "Four years ago I paid ten bucks to peddle Avon door-to-door. I was thirty-eight years old, a single mother desperate to clothe and feed her two young boys. I started writing stories the week I started selling cosmetics. I don't know why. When people ask, I tell them I wanted to remember my strange customers, the women who hid Latin lovers in their closet, the ones who paid me in pennies and pumpkin bread. But the truth was something different, something I still can't articulate. My heart pumped heavy blood, swollen red cells that carried the weight of collected memory. I had to unload it." She complains "I haven't written much lately-- I've been teaching middle school this year, and my time has been sucked into some kind of exhausting time warp. Blah! I just wanna write! I hope to figure out a way to be a full-time writer this summer. I can do it!" Well I know one 8th grade teacher with a prize winning novel under her belt: Don't Shoot! I'm Just the Avon Lady!, which every member of my family has read (Sorry Birdie, I should have bought 6 instead of passing it around.) My husband immediately put in an Avon order for some makeup for me and the hope that Birdie will write 10 more books. Her blog about being an Avon Lady, with all the mishaps and near calamities, had so many hits Birdie had no choice but to make it into a book. And we are glad she did. After reading this book, we all wanted to sign up for the 8th grade again just to hang out in Birdietime.

So these are my favorite peeps on-line... dynamic movers of the earth... and while you are in cyberspace, please check on my poetry programs from the Library of Congress for hour long interviews and poetry commentaries on MiPOradio And while we have your attention, click on where as editor I review books and theater, because we need to shine light on those who give us back to ourselves via their own lives in print and on stage. And if we don’t, who will?

--- Grace Cavalieri

P.S. Madam Mayo says: check out Kathi Wolfe's interview with Grace Cavalieri on "scene4" here.

--->For more Madam Mayo guest-blog posts, click here.

Up next--- this Friday--- Tom Christensen.