…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!!
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?
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.
I’ve been thinking a lot today about the confessional nature of our society: our once hidden journals are published publicly, people living in relative obscurity sign papers agreeing to be followed by a television crew, our paintings are unearthed from behind dropcloths; we don’t wait for a salon or a committee to agree that our hearts be displayed on a white gallery wall anymore. We share instantly. We share what’s rough and what we’ve edited to our own vision of perfection. We write raw memoirs that are read by millions. There’s some strawberry fluff out there, to be sure, haphazard works and strewn together messes that can hardly be called art. They can be called entertainment, and there is of course a place for entertainment. I enjoy a bit of fluff myself. Some of the television shows my husband films are light and airy and only borderline educational, but it doesn’t mean they’re a drain on our collective culture. They’re easily digested. We can’t always watch gritty foreign dramas or listen to only symphonies. Hidden in the messy mass of work that’s available for consumption is some really heavenly work, and if you know how to sort it out, the art world will have no borders for you.
I mean, in ancient civilizations they used to kill people in an arena for sport***, so what if we watch celebrities dancing on two left feet or five year olds compete in pageants? So what if I gladly ingest Mackensie Phillips’ wonderfully weird memoir in one afternoon? I still think we’ve come quite far in the higher forms of art – we share, instantly, pieces of our souls with receptive audiences around the world. Instantly. I think this is a beautiful advancement. There’s still a place for the traditional viewing and sharing of art, of course. Just last week I was introduced to the paintings of Xiaoze Xie at our little local art museum. His oversized oil paintings are so precise that I thought they were large photographic prints at first. Had we not decided to visit the museum that day, I wouldn’t have known about him. So I don’t think that the digital sharing of work will EVER replace the physical, nor do I want the new to cancel out the old. I hope they’ll always hold hands to cross the same road, you know?
((I’m sure that a pale army of hipsters is shouting at me right now – ‘What? You’d never heard of Xiaoze Xie before? I knew about him before he even painted that!!’ To this I say, Okay. Eff you. Why is art and literature appreciation a competitive event with you people? Egh, away with you, pretend pale hipster army!))
Far Away is a part of this digital collective movement. What started out as personal websites that showcased portfolios, personal poetry, literature, thoughts and dreams, has grown into a dense, gorgeous world that stretches to infinity. It runs parallel to art seen or read in person; each a part of our individual creative spirits. I think this brave new world of ours is just fantastic.
(I am simultaneously publishing this on my personal site)
***Did you know that in Elizabethan times it was popular to see a “bear baiting” show on a Saturday? They would basically tie a bear or an ape to a pole and let mastiffs attack it. And the people would clap and roar their approval! Bring the kids, buy a turkey leg! Somehow Jersey Shore doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
Photo by Jen Causey
One of my favourite photographers, Jen Causey, operates the website Simply Photo. What I love about Jen’s work is that it always gives me the sense I am seeing the subject with my own eyes. There is something very ‘real’ about her photographs – to me, they are not as unnaturally stylistic as a lot of modern photography – they present a simple, good representation of the item she wishes to photograph.
I am not a photographer (I have always wanted to try, but my camera sits sadly unused) – if you are a photographer maybe it would be nice to experiment with some photography like Jen’s. In the coming weeks we will be talking more about the next theme for the magazine – ‘real’ has a lot to do with it. In preparation, we would love to receive photographs of your ‘real life’ and show them here.