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.