R Johnson: the eye may be said to be the sun in other form

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It begins with the laughter of children.  It ends there.
            Rimbaud’s Illuminations (Trans. Don Revell)

We are so grateful to dear friends Mike Sikkema and Jen Tynes for driving down from MI with kiddos Dagan and Celia in tow to bookend our first Ark Series last week.  Ark Press is first and last a proposal of company—Kirsten and I were trying to think of a way to spend time with loved ones, to share a place that we love very much with them (and visa versa).  The Ark Series and summer workshop has already, absolutely, been a realization of the tremendous energy and generosity of friends deeply committed to poetry and to community building, willing to travel great distances on their own dime to share precious time, writing, and resources with others.

The last edge of summer has been a blur of water balloon fights, climbing on old train cars, trying to save the neighbors from zombies on Super NES, listening to incredibly detailed plot synopsis of Dr Who episodes and Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase, watching C draw amazing pictures of dragons in tuxedos (sometimes with her left foot), and catching an impassioned, suspenseful performance of D and C’s new play “Darth Vader Gets Bored at Chucky Cheese” in the backyard, etc.

K made beautiful broadsides of Mike and Jen’s poems that C and D and I hand-pressed on the table.  Mike and Jen gave stunning ambient readings through a summer thunderstorm and hosted a gorgeous talk about memory and improvisation called “A Left Turn at Albuquerque” in exploration of the fact that Bugs Bunny always gets lost en route to Pismo Beach and goes on to have other adventures.  Lovely.

We heard Doc Watson play in the park on Saturday (in honor of Jen’s birthday), standing alongside the river beaming with a thermos full of whiskey: “This is a little Johnny Mathis tune…  My dad used to give it to all the pretty ladies.”  (“12th of Never”).  Amen. 

Returning to packing boxes for our move over to Sugar Grove at the end of the week and class prep (M’s Paradise Lost), it’s quiet up on the ridge this morning on the other side of such warm company.  We are already looking forward to next summer and we’re excited to get started on interim projects in the meantime: posting mp3 recordings of readings, links to commemorative broadsides from the series, etc.  Thanks to the amazing support of our growing Ark family who helped us raise the money we need to make repairs to our antique letterpress, we’re also looking forward to getting started on our first chapbook project.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jen Tynes and Michael Sikkema Reading for Ark Press next week!!


Jen Tynes is the founding editor of Horse Less Press. She is most recently the author of Heron/Girlfriend (Coconut Books) and the co-author, with Michael Sikkema, of Autogeography (Black Warrior Review). A new chapbook, The Black Mariah, is forthcoming from DoubleCross Press.

Check out Jen’s “Solstice Poem and “Promise Ring” at Diode

Michael Sikkema was born and raised in rural Northern Michigan.  He is the author of Futuring (BlazeVox), the chapbooks Saying Things as an Engine Would (H N G M N), I Could Jump Through The Keyhole In Your Door (Horse Less Press), and in collaboration with Jen Tynes, Autogeography (Black Warrior Review). He believes that play's the thing.

Check out excerpts of Mike’s Lake Effects at White Print Inc


Michael Sikkema and Jen Tynes will be reading at the Todd Mercantile Bakery Thurs, Aug 18th at 7 pm.  

They will be giving a talk entitled “Improvisation & Memory” at the Todd Mercantile Bakery Fri, Aug 19th at 7 pm and co-hosting a creative writing workshop that is open to the public immediately after.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Companions are horizons

We were mightily glad to have dear Ark family, Brenda Siezckowski and Eryn Green, with us last week in Todd, NC.  Brenda and Eryn flew in from SLC, UT and Denver, CO respectively, braving long travel setbacks on runways and in scorching hot strip mall parking lots due to a defective co-pilot chair to give amazing readings Thursday night July 28th at the Todd Mercantile Bakery (Mp3 recordings forthcoming) and amazing talks around our kitchen table the following night. Brenda’s Friday night discussion focused on “The Spectacle of the Everyday,” investigated the way that the roles of writer (performance) and reader (audience) blur as they are presented by creative process.  Eryn’s discussion, “Jack Spicer and the Poet as Radio,” explored nuances of Jack Spicer’s assertion that the poet is like a radio, in that a radio receives transmission that come from elsewhere, beginning with Spicer’s admission that the problem with comparing a poet and a radio is that “a radio doesn’t develop scar tissue.”  Mostly, we just drank beers with big-ole grins on our faces, delighted by the generosity and intelligence of friends.

The rest of their stay was centered in the music of quiet mornings on the porch, reading, writing, yoga, running, errands, TV, grilling, and swimming in the New River—we even got Brenda into a beekeeper suit (a dream come true!) at Mathomhouse Farm courtesy of the amazing Lyn Soeder.  THANKS LYN!  THANKS BRENDA AND ERYN!! 

Thanks to everyone who could make it out.  Your friendship and support mean the world to us.  Like R Blaser says, “Companions/ are horizons.”