A Writer in Every Port

I’m not sure why I can’t stay put — why I always need to be planning the next trip to [insert destination here]. I adore my house on wooded acres, tucked into the hills above a tourist destination. Maybe I caught my grandad’s wanderlust that he caught from his dad’s work on the railroad. Maybe it’s genetics, stemming from the same urge that drove my ancestors to trade one continent for another. But it’s more likely a by-product of moving: having so many loved-ones in such a long string of scattered places. Social media is fine for keeping up with the facts of someone, but it’s no replacement for real-time bonding with someone over a shared meal. Even as a child, my parents made sure we traveled on what little discretionary funds we had to maintain the relationships that were important…relationships I would later rely on after my parents left for Africa.

So it’s no wonder that as an adult I followed their example. And once the internet created the ability to meet and collaborate with strangers-who-become-friends, my string of scattered people became a web that now spans oceans. Since 2009, I’ve made a point of meeting up with writer-friends whenever family-travel brings me into close proximity. I’ve shared pints with Mel Bosworth, toured the Louvre with Dorothee Lang, dined in Beacon Hill with Tim Bridwell, took Yorkshire tea with Samantha Priestley…and New York City? Rose Auslander, Casey Tingle, Elizabeth J. Coleman, Paco Márquez… These meet-ups play a critical role in a key component of my writing life: creative kinship.

Dinner at an Irish pub with Ben Moeller-Gaa in St. Louis

Creative kinship is what sparked the idea for my calligraphic treatment of Ben Moeller-Gaa’s haiku. His guidance on what is and isn’t appropriate for English-language haiku crossed-pollinated with my guidance on what is and isn’t reader-friendly book design. Our geeky discussions yielded a unique approach to a frequently mistreated poetic form. My practice of that approach over the course of four haiku poets’ collections has honed my calligraphic skills while giving me wabi-sabi instincts. Now I can’t write haiku to save my life, but I have enough awareness of their spirit to help another haiku/haibun poet, dt.haase, develop two works-in-progress. The only thing that could have beat dining with dt. one night and Ben the next on my latest train journey would have been for the three of us to dine together! Maybe someday…

Eating the world’s best pizza (Giordano’s) with dt.haase in Chicagoland

I’m sure it’s possible to write in seclusion and only share work with faceless entities, but I can’t imagine it’s much fun. Working for a press out of my home, writing at a desk in my home — the internet makes these possible. Having to drive an hour+ to engage with poets in real life, however, sometimes leaves me isolated. The creative kinships I’ve developed over the years have opened up collaborations that have taught me skills I never would have gained on my own. And it’s the endorphins that come from these intense, trusting partnerships that carry me through the long, dark January nights when the roads are too icy to attend Writers Night Out…or Down Cellar Poets…or Boston Bookbuilders…

If you have grown thanks to creative kinships, please share in the comments. How did you meet? Have you ever met in real life? What works of art exist in the world now because of your creative kinships?

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An Evening of NH Landscape Readings with Three Authors

Very excited to be reading in New Hampshire with my mentor and friend, William O’Daly. The Griffin Free Public Library is a cozy, historic venue with a lovely group of patrons. Hope to see you there!

Bookbinding Workshop at VynnArt

I love my new home! The winter white kept  me inspired from November through April, though I think I was the only person in the Lakes Region excited by all the snow we got. Now that the spring thaw is in full swing, I’ve been getting out and about. Last week I went to New York City for a chapbook festival. Next week I go to Western Massachusetts for a reading at Flying Object

BindingWkshp-SM-0883
Examples of the projects we’ll make. Click for a detailed workshop description.

…and next month I get to teach a three week workshop on bookbinding at the VynnArt Gallery in Meredith:-) I have given talks about chapbooks and bookbinding before, but this will be my first hands-on workshop. I look forward to sharing my passion for paper and thread with others. Maybe even with you?

Introduction to Bookbinding is designed for the absolute beginner, so no worries if you don’t know an awl from bone folder. And where else can you play with a guillotine? While the projects in this workshop are designed with 2D artists and photographers in mind, they can easily be adapted for writers wishing to make their own journals or bind their own writings into a collection. If there is enough interest, I’ll propose an intermediate workshop for autumn. But for now, download the workshop description and consider joining me for three weeks of wicked good fun putting paper in stitches while surrounded by Lakes Region art.

re:lit IDAHO

[water potential]
Item 1 of my Cross-Country Reads project = a photographic response to the following words from Fractals and Haiku by Sue Turner:

she gathers forget
in waters of the pious

Photograph © 2012 J.S. Graustein
re:lit is a series that regards and responds to literature across genres and eras