…I wanted to take a quick moment to share some contributor news.
Songwriter Amy Lou Hettinger, whose song lyrics were featured in our first issue, composed music to the Knute Skinner poem Let us Know. The Alaska Quarterly Review put her to that task for their Midnight Muse: Singing Poems from Alaska project. You can listen, and read an interview with AQR editor here.
Poet Hannah Stephenson, whose poem Miniatures was featured in our first issue (and more to come from Hannah in our next!), is hosting the 4th Paging Columbus event at OSU. If you’re a writer or artist near Columbus, Ohio, I urge you to check out her events! She’s a bright, fresh, supportive voice in the literary world (and one of my favorite living poets right now!).
You can see painter and photographer Neranza Noel Blount’s Skyscapes series is currently featured in the Rothrock Cafe at the Lawson McGhee Library in Knoxville. Neranza will also have work featured in our upcoming issue!
You can full a full list of our contributors to our first issue here. Can’t wait to share our new artists when we publish our second issue!
I wanted to take a moment to thank our contributors and readers for their unwavering support during the submission phase of our sophomore issue. The enthusiasm that’s been garnered for our little project has been breathtaking. I love you all! I cannot wait to begin weaving the For Real issue. Your voices, your words, your art, your SOULS are beautiful!!
Over the course of assisting Chrissy to put together the inaugural and second issue of Far Away, I have written to a number of different people to invite them to contribute. Sadly, my efforts have not been met with great reward and some of my most dearly loved writers, photographers and artists have yet to send anything through.
This morning, in the cool of the burgeoning day – a day which promises to be complicated by enquiries from clients, and legal drafting, frequent coffee trips and inescapable lethargy – I find myself wondering why the response to my solicitations has been so poor.
Is it because, like me, these authors become so absorbed by the minutiae of the day that the time to write, paint, create is difficult to find? Or is it that they want to have a whole day (or week) to devote themself to the development of the perfect piece – a work of art they can proudly put their name to?
I am not altogether sure. But, I tend to think that there is something kind of disappointing by the missed opportunity to be a part of Far Away.
True, we are not a well-known, syndicated publication to be found on local newsstands any time soon. But, we are making an effort (and every effort is valuable) to celebrate art in all its forms and with all its subjective flaws. Why not join in on that parade?
Art can come from hard work, quiet, space and time to think, yes. However, art can also come from impulse, quick flashes of inspiration and invitation. The latter may be the root of the former and either of the two may a celebrated work make.
I suppose what I am trying to say is, there is no time to be found to contribute. Stop looking. The time is now…
When I was small, maybe seven or eight, I would create with a great passion a great variety of art: Lumpy, mottled animals out of air-dry clay and Play-dough, small short poems about God and puppies and stars, rocks painted silver and electric blue, and small crayon drawings of girls in pink skirts. I would take my odd-cobbled collection and try to sell individual works for a quarter a piece, and would station myself beneath an oak tree in the backyard. I’d spread out a blanket and lay my work out carefully, like I had seen artists do at the Dogwood Arts Festival downtown. Our backyard at the time backed into a cul-de-sac, and I thought I might garner some attention there (but not too much as to be embarrassing, because I hated attention).
My mother and father each bought a sculpture, or a poem. My sister came out from the house once to chide, “If you want people to see what you’ve made, you’ve got to make sure they can see you!”
My station was not auspicious. It was barely visible at all. My parents were of course my only customers.*
At thirty-two years old, I’m finally picking up my blanket of work and moving it out into the street where people can see it.
I hope that Far Away can be a vehicle for you to do the same.
Remember, our deadline is just around the corner! We’d like to receive work by midnight, July 15th. You can read our submission guidelines here.
*…and I’ll take the liberty at this moment to formally thank my Mom and Dad for always supporting my artistic endeavors; whether that be by buying a funky-looking Play-dough whale I had made or by schlepping me to rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal. Once they even drove two hours to see me in a college play that I had no lines in, and only graced the stage for less than thirty seconds. My parents are beautiful souls and I love them.
I was poring over the 2011 Writer’s Market a few days ago, trying to see if any of my work would be a good match for publications seeking submissions, and also letting my creative wheels churn a bit to see if there was anything I would be able to conjure out of thin air to submit as well. There are a few publications that I dream about being published in, and I’m sure there are others out there that might like my writing style; I just don’t know about them yet.
One of the publications I stumbled across focused on haiku poetry, which is my favorite style of poetry, and one that I am (I think) quite good at composing. I like its simplicity and the freedom between it’s deceptively simple lines. I love that each bite-sized bit of verse holds a rich history and the culture behind every syllable. I felt my heart beat a little faster as I saw that they had an open submission policy, and even paid a small amount upon publication. My heart dropped, though, when I saw just how rigid they were about the creative process itself and the work that they accepted. They wanted this kind of haiku, not that. They didn’t want anything contrived or cerebral (these words were actually used). Nothing corny or hokey or too thought-provoking. They also cautioned would-be contributors to study up on haiku before composing something. They didn’t want anything in the classic 5-7-5. They didn’t want anything that sounded anything like Basho. They didn’t want you to like popular music or have red hair. Their rules were endless and constricting.
That’s not how we work here*. I get why some publications are like that, though. They have a set goal in mind, a specific vision, and they want work by contributors to conform to that mold. I don’t care about molds. I just really like to look at art and read prose, poetry, and fiction, and want to share as many voices as I possibly can. Art is a subjective process. Something you might enjoy I might abhor, and vice versa. Doesn’t mean it’s not an admirable piece of art or literature (case in point: I can’t stand Jonathan Franzen novels. I don’t think that they’re not good, I just don’t like them). It’s not for me to say, really. I’m no critic, as I’ve said before.
So send us what YOU love, that you’ve made with an open heart. We promise to share it, to foster it and help it grow. And it can even sound a little bit like Basho, and be cerebral, and thought-provoking.
Our next issue is themed For Real. We want real stories, confessions, portraits of the every day and inner lives. But you can take that theme however you see fit. We’re just excited to see where the cards fall.
“All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.” – Federico Fellini
I’d like to see a show of hands – how many of us fell in love with poetry after watching Dead Poets Society? I know I did. Hard. I remember thinking where are these boys? These funny, sensitive boys who recite poetry and listen to Coltrane? If there were any boys like that in my junior high they were still tucked into a coltish cocoon, flinging spitballs and tripping over their feet.
Dead Poets Society introduced me to Byron, Yeats, Whitman, Tennyson, Frost. I immediately copied down Byron’s She Walks in Beauty and memorized the first few stanzas. It also showed me the magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I had only seen performed by stiff and forced actors in a community theatre; never had I seen passion and wit perfected between its verses.
Admittedly, movies were the way I learned at a fairly early age about Mozart (Amadeus), about Rodin (Camille Claudel), about Henry Miller (Henry and June). My sister worked at an indy video store when she was nineteen, and at twelve and thirteen I was able to freely watch whatever piqued my interest (she was given a generous rental allowance). These artists, composers, writers are still strong in my heart today.
What are some other films that opened up avenues to the arts for you?
With her characteristic, terrific devotion, Chrissy has been keeping the coal fires of this project burning and generating enthusiasm for the second issue of Far Away.
In contrast, I have been sadly quiet, introspective rather than expansive about my (creative) work.
The difficulty I am having with writing right now is in part due to the fact that my internal state of mind is not well. As I have written here previously, I have recently suffered loss and this loss has finally, seemingly resolutely, caused me to view the world in a dim light.
So, while Chrissy has indicated a generous reception to all types of ‘For Real’ stories for the next issue of Far Away, I must confess that I am really interested in hearing stories that are good, profound, heart warming, and faith inspiring. I hear these stories far too rarely, as I am surrounded by cynics and working in a profession which often fosters the most malodorous motivations.
Please readers, writers, artists and other contributors, send us your stories and conceptions of love, laughter, guidance, forbearance, patience, acts of kindness, glimpses of good and revelations of God.
What pieces of our modern art and literature will outlive the creator’s name? Two thousand years from now will no one know the name “Picasso”, but still immediately recognize his angular shapes and contrasting bright colors? What will be the next Unicorn Tapestry or Fragment of the Face of a Queen?
Of course, a few hundred years go, artists and writers roles in society were not so full of glitter and glamor. They were commissioned to create portraits of wealthy merchants, to carve statues of dead, ancient gods in marble…to pen an allegoric poem of morals for the church. Artists and writers still are put to these sorts of tasks today, but we make sure that our name is blazoned somewhere in the credits. We worked hard. We refuse to remain anonymous or to allow someone else to take credit for our toil.
But still, as time passes and as our songs, paintings, photographs, novels, and poems fall almost mercilessly into public domain, sooner or later our names will fall off of our work and the work alone will survive.Maybe we should create everything as if our names did not depend on it. Just make something that will endure time and culture and death. Every single last brushstroke and word made to last.
So tell me, do you have a favorite piece of art, literature, or song whose creator is “Unknown” or “Anonymous”? I have mentioned two of mine above, but I also must include The Death of the Buddha. Maybe because I don’t know their names I can make up stories of my own about the creators, as Tracy Chevalier did with The Lady and the Unicorn. The Death of the Buddha, a hanging scroll made of silk, might have been created by a group of monks in the Kamakura period, or it could have been created by Ryōzen during that same time. Part of the beauty is in the mystery. Literature has less ready sources of Anonymous creation: Beowolf is perhaps the most well-known of the unknowns.
If you have a favorite, I’d love it if you’d share it.