FAQ’s About Miriam’s Well

FAQ’s About This Blog

1. What is the meaning of the name Miriam’s Well?
It comes from Midrash, or Biblical commentary. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, a well of water appeared each evening wherever they made camp. It was associated with the prophetess Miriam, and disappeared with her death. It was an endless source of refreshment.
Of course, my name is also Miriam!

2. What is the mission of the blog?
Basically to publish poetry (mine and yours) and to follow the creative process where it leads. The focus is on writing and art from Santa Fe–but I also welcome work from beyond. I’m blogging about my forays into land art and about various travels, often in search of inspiration.

3. Why Baba Yaga and Patti Smith as two themes?
Well, they are my heroines. Baba Yaga is a scary Slavic witch–but admirable for her compact “green” house on chicken legs. Patti Smith isn’t the only great rock and roller to emerge from my home state of New Jersey, but she was a beacon for many writers of my generation.

4. Who are the contributors? And how can I get interviewed?
I’m entering my fortieth year as a small press publisher (started with an underground magazine in high school) where I published my friends. I still do–particularly as many are very accomplished and well known writers (or about to be!). The blog publishes a lot of student work, and a lot of work contributed by those just passing by. I publish much of what is submitted. Please send me
To get interviewed–if you are a poet with a book, drop me a note.

5. Has all this blogging cut into your writing time?
Weirdly not. I’m writing poems at my usual rate and working on numerous projects–books and text installations. I recently reviewed the blog and in about 10 months worth there was only one prose entry that wanted to be a poem.The blog seems to give me more energy than it takes…then again, maybe I’ve just cut down on housework. Things do look a little dusty.

3 Questions for Robert Lee Brewer

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
My feeling is that each line (and each word for that matter) serves the overall poem. The requirements of each line changes from poem to poem. That said, I do think each line in a poem should communicate with the other lines in the poem. There have been times when I’ve written what I think is a great line, but the line has trouble finding a home in any of my poems, because it can’t seem to communicate with the other lines in the poem. The great line just doesn’t fit. So it travels from poem to poem until it finally (hopefully) finds a poem where it belongs.
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
I do know that the more time I spend writing the less time I spend working out. Then again, I find that activities such as walking and running seem to get me thinking and writing. Long distance driving does this for me too. Outside of that, I suppose I’m always trying to trim a few extra pounds from both my body and my writing.
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
I don’t have any gripes about being a poet. It would be nice if I could make a living by just sitting around all day and writing poems, but that’s not realistic. I’m a poet, because I’m passionate about writing poems. Writing poetry is part of who I am.
Bio: Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Writer’s Market and Poet’s Market. He also maintains two blogs: Poetic Asides (http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides) and My Name Is Not Bob (http://robertleebrewer.blogspot.com). Named co-Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere (with Sina Queyras) in 2010, Brewer’s first collection of poetry, a chapbook titled ENTER, will be released April 1, 2011. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their four boys.
Poem: (originally published in OCHO and featured in my upcoming collection)
Solving the world’s problems
I began as eyelashes blocking the sun,
and my father was a digital clock.
In a dark cave, my father counted
out the minutes as I kept myself
from myself. In this way, we learned to kiss.
Years later, when I became a horse,
I ran the hot blood out of my body.
Father turned into a dream filled
with fire and a horrible laugh. I
burned into a cloud of smoke.
Father became a phone call and then
silence. I worried what I might
transform into next. I worried
what I might already be. Then,
I forgave father.

Why Is There A Piano on the Sandbar in Biscayne Bay?

From the NY Times:

Published: January 25, 2011

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. — From the shore, it looks like an oddly shaped buoy. But as residents here have discovered on closer inspection, it is in fact a grand piano perched upright on a narrow sand bar in Biscayne Bay — a sight that has inspired wordsmiths to compete to name South Florida’s newest curiosity (“piano bar” seems to have won).

The more relevant question, of course, is who might have left the 650-pound piano atop the highest point of the sand bar, about 200 yards from shore, and why.


So–a question for my readers–what do you think? Poetry, anyone?

Natalie Goldberg Paints Paris…and Minneapolis

Here is “Paris Cats” by Natalie Goldberg. I’ve always loved her paintings–in fact own two. Obviously there are about color, but also, I think, about place. And the details of place–how small things give a feeling.

In “Paris Moon” are the antenna dancing because of the moon or vica versa?

And what place could be more different from Paris than Minneapolis?

Yet I know these are two of Nat’s favorite places.

Video excerpt of Natalie leading a workshop here.

Dear Diary, Dear Blog

I’ve now been blogging for a year, and I’ve certainly been enjoying it. It has allowed me to follow out many creative threads–and within a community. When I started I originally if privately defined the blog as a place for my own work and that of my community. I thought of community loosely–including people I saw frequently, students, old friends, family, and lines of connections that would include people like my step cousin’s friends. Of course the internet extended this even further, but it is a definition that works for me.
I like all the usual things–audience, comments, connections, serendipity. I’ve particularly liked interviewing poets and now artists and having a forum for book reviews that less formal than the columns I produced for so many years in newspapers and magazines. Blogging my trips and retreats has been very rewarding–I so want you to see what I saw, taste what I tasted.
Secretly, I think I started the blog “in case something happened.” But what? A brilliant poetic idea, a personal disaster, the collapse of civilization, or access to some great recipes? The blog is a kind of holding tank, although I don’t yet know everything it is holding.
My only frustration, if it can even be called that, is that I feel I’m missing some use of the blog. And what else is out there? Are there couples or households blogging together? I don’t mean a team of three editors–I mean something like three people running an organic farm who don’t necessarily get along all the time. I’m still looking for the intimate, the funky, the bywater…and the collaborative.
What is a secret made public? Or even just the private exposed? Gossip? Wisdom?
I look forward to more.

Poems by Devon Miller-Duggan and Cocoon by Abigail Doan


I have not forgotten how to sew, or where to send to add you to
The Quilt. The velvet shirt I made you more than twenty years ago,
embroidered collar, ruffled cuffs–I could lay it flat, stitch it down.
I could draw, in threads, likenesses of your collected things: Ming
bowls, ladderback chairs, Regency portrait, Federal highboy,
Empire table. Your body turned on you.
I could have sewn a void–a scalloped square the size of an antique
embroidered handkerchief you bought to be my “something old,”
tucked in the waistband of my petticoat when I married. I’d have drawn
my lapis earrings in silk threads, the small black lacquer box, a disc
on which a man’s voice sings heartbroken songs by Schubert. I could
sew enough of your particulars into a square to make a picture someone
else could see and think you’d not been lost entire, that something of
your steady heart and restless mind remained as fabric, some trace
of how your hand felt laid in mine, so strangers seeing it could cry
specific tears for a specific man. Except, by doing so I’d make you be
among the public dead, your life sewn to a stranger’s life. I will not
blur your name into another name, your loss to any other. And I will cut
no gift from you or for you into parts. I will not lay them down, your
name, your things, your death, among so many that I might lose you again.


O, walls of ribbons—
satin to bind the ankles of ballerinas and waists of brides,
picot for spring hats, velvet for winter hats,
tartans for the brims of bonnets, jacquard, grosgrain, holiday prints;
O, buttons big enough that Audrey Hepburn might have had just one or two or four,
to clinch her coat by Givenchy, and mother-of-pearl buttons
small enough for christening gowns, Bakelite buttons for the fitted suits
of broads in Chandler novels, rhinestone buttons fit for Liberace, abalone,
horn, brass, pewter, bamboo, glass, and childrens’ fancies—
checkered, duck-shaped, hand-shaped, flowered, star and cloud-shaped buttons;
O, buckram, bodice boning, horsehair for hems, and china silk for linings;
O, threads in cotton, polyester, nylon, linen, rayon, silk;
O, needles for upholstery, shoes, doll-making, hats, or crewel;
O, folding scissors, pinking shears, tin snips, rolling cutters, leather punches,
dressmaking shears as long as forearms and forged from sword-grade steel;
O, white lace meant for virgins, black for widows, rainbow lace for clowns and girls;
O, sequins, rhinestones, crystals, pearls;
O, hooks-and-eyes in every size, grommets, snaps, and buckles;
O, measures, thimbles, threaders, rippers, pins;
Come to me, each and every. Come, at least, in memory,
called forth with gratitude. I name you.
Ivory lace around the linen collar–like a cavalier’s—on a velvet dress in bottle green.
Spools of satin cording, colored hemp, and leather I spun out and knotted into macramé.
The double-faced, white, four-inch satin ribbon on my wedding flowers;
O, solutions to a hundred minor puzzles, salvations for a hundred minor gaffs.
Whenever I prick my fingers, I’ll smudge the drops on seams and hidden stitches,
my fingers giving thanks in sting and gladness,
marking everything I sew in memory of your amplitude.

Both these poems are from Miller-Duggan’s book “Pinning the Bird to the Wall.”


Cocoon is a work in progress by fiber and installation artist Abigail Doan.

Linda Durham on Paul Sarkisian

Recently I found a remarkable work of art languishing in the nether regions of the Gallery storage area. It had been there for a few months. In the mad and demanding rush of our 2010 exhibition schedule, I almost forgot it was there—all wrapped in plastic and cardboard and tucked into the stacks, safe from forklifts and fingerprints. I carefully extracted it from its secure place, removed the wrappings and hung it on a wall in our private Glass Block Gallery. And then I looked at it…and looked at it. 
Knowing that it is a trompe-l’oeil (“fool the eye”) painting by a master of the genre did not make it any less amazing to behold. How did he do that?! Is it a collage? A photograph? No. It is essentially a painting with just a small patch of glitter and some sort of “secret” process that the artist developed decades ago.  It is, in my opinion, a mid-career masterpiece by an inspiring artist of great talent: Paul Sarkisian.  

Paul Sarkisian
#9 with O’Keeffe, 1981
acrylic & mixed media on canvas
40 x 58 inches
Before my so-called career in the world of Art was even an idea, I was learning something about the difference between “looking” and “seeing” from spending  time with Paul and our two families and our mutual artist friends.

It’s the late 60’s!


…Paul and I are hiking through the high desert landscape near Cerrillos, south of Santa Fe…Every now and then, we stop and Paul shows me something beautiful and natural that I would never have noticed on my own: circles drawn in the sand by the erratic wind on sturdy stalks of gramma grass; intricate patterns of dried, cracked mud on the edges of the arroyo…Paul’s hungry eye saw beauty and mystery and curiosity everywhere. He saw purples and yellows in the rocks where I had only seen browns. 
But, I digress…

This painting belongs in a museum or in the home of special lovers of art who would (eventually) gift it to a worthy public institution. It deserves to be seen. There is so much to see in it: the image of Georgia O’Keeffe (who was a close friend of the Sarkisians), the art review by Carol Mothner, the colors, the composition…
Perhaps you saw Paul’s exhibition at SITE Santa Fe a few years ago. Perhaps you read the introduction by guest curator, Louis Grachos, the Director of the Albright-Knox Gallery, who wrote, in part, “Since the 1950s, PAUL SARKISIAN’S DEEP COMMITMENT to the art and language of painting has been reflected in his extraordinarily innovative and stylistically diverse oeuvre…”


Come see this painting!  Let’s have tea! Let’s talk about seeing…


Linda Durham Contemporary Art

1807 Second Street #107

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505




A Stitch in Time by Kathamann

A Stitch in Time

In tedium time

  pricked fingertips
      neck aches
      cramping fingers of arthritis
   upper back and shoulder soreness
        eyes refuse to focus

Stitches lost in herstory in leather               silk             wool            cotton
                         alpaca           glass buttons           elm bark                shells
                         beads            flax stalks             felt            feathers
                               pineapple fiber  raffia          quills          linen
                                  hemp             sequins         rawhide         agave leaf
                             coins            coral           silver          gold
                           stone            straw           bark            palm leaf
                              sheepskin        mirror          velvet          jute                 
Young girls learn to sew but not read or write
                    learn to stay immobile at home
                learn silence with heads down
                    learn crocheting

Like spiders stitching a web, women get caught in it.
Their psyches sewn into every stitch to reinforce
their isolation and modesty.  Every stitch holding
together culture to celebrate in finery
                   to remove the ordinary
                  to impress others
              to please the gods
                      to identify tribe and geography

How often do they prick their fingertips on spinning
wheels; and become legend in fairy tales.
Sewing circles and quilting bees;  their humble answer
sanctioned by men folk.  Hours spent stitching vestments
for altars and priests at rites they would never officiate.

manuscript binders
      cushion cover
          tent hangings
                  prayer stone wrapper
                                                room divider
                                                       wall hanging
                                                                       floor covering
                                                                cradle cover
                                                    carrying cloth
                bag      boot

“Women should never learn to sew, and if they do they
shouldn’t admit to it,” says Katherine to her lover in “The
English Patient” by Michael Ondaatji.

                     k      g  
                They would s
                             o      u
                             d      r g e o n s.

Call for Submissions: Upstairs at Duroc (Paris)

Upstairs at Duroc, the literary journal published in Paris, France, seeks submissions for its Issue # 13.  We publish English language poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and translations.  We welcome innovative or cross-genre forms, prose poems and flash fiction. Standalone excerpts from longer works will also be considered. Submit no more than 5 poems, or two prose pieces not exceeding 2000 words each.  Include cover sheet with name, address, phone number, email address, word count for prose, and a short Bio. 

We also seek artwork: photographs, drawings, etchings in black and white or color. Send in JPEG format.

Send snail mail submissions to the WICE office: WICE/Upstairs at Duroc, 7 Cité Falguière, 75015 Paris, France.  Send email submissions to HYPERLINK “mailto:upstairsatduroc@wice-paris.org” upstairsatduroc@wice-paris.org with “Upstairs at Duroc Submission” in the subject line.  Copies of Upstairs at Duroc can be obtained at our readings or at the WICE office.

For complete guidelines and examples of published work, see our Web pages at HYPERLINK “http://www.wice-paris.org/” \t “_blank” http://www.wice-paris.org. (click on Free Events). We prefer email submissions.  Deadline: January 31, 2011.
 PS: Issue 12 will come out in January 2011