Azimuth: Writing on Walls

This project has been archived at Santa Fe Poetry Broadside. I’m also adding it here.
Azimuth: Writing on Walls
Miriam Sagan, John Tritica, Sabra Moore, Terry Mulert, Phyllis Hoge,
Dale Harris, Stefi Weisburd, Paula Castillo, Steve Peters, Mera Wolf,
Ephia, J. A. Lee, JB Bryan, Abigail Doan, Suzanne Sbarge, Jeff Gburek

Type and installation design, Kim Arthun; photographs by Matthew Marston

Miriam Sagan

Statement About the Project
AZIMUTH: Writing On Walls
There are several collaborative sources of inspiration for this installation. In 2007-2008 I was a frequent visitor to The Land/An Art Site and created a long poem or “map” of the site. An outtake of this was installed as a sculpture “Laundry Line Koan.” But as in many creative experiences, there were leftover images, poems and ideas about the site. When E. Nuevo asked me to create a text that could be written on the walls of the LAND/gallery I went back to the original experience. Since boundary lines and directions were important, I focused on the four directions for four sections of poetry. As in a planetarium, these directions are both actual (the walls of the gallery) and a metaphoric closed system with each other.
I then set up a collaborative process with four small teams of poets. The North team was given the last line of my North section, etc. The poets added a link or stanza in turn, passing the poem by e-mail. This process was a lose version of the Japanese renga or renku, where all poets involved see the entire work as it evolves, unlike the surrealist exquisite corpse poem where much of the work is hidden until the end. Essentially the teams of poets were writing free verse renga, or linked verse. Of the fifteen poets, the majority are from Albuquerque but are also from throughout New Mexico, the country, and the world.
The last part of the project is a scroll which has one final remaining stanza of the group poem. Visitors to the gallery can add a link or stanza to the scroll at will. Metaphorically, the poem can then roll unfettered into the world. The final collaborative element is the actual writing on walls. Kim Arthun has designed the typography so that the text had its own visual integrity. In this way it goes from being words to being environment, or back to the original source of the poem in the first place.
Miriam Sagan–SOUTH


distance between fixed horizon
and moving object
(from the Arabic)

like a stone wall
and solstice
the body the sea the past

how as a child
you were sure
you’d see Easter Island—
after all
how far could it be
once you got

John Tritica, Sabra Moore, Terry Mulert, Phyllis Hoge–SOUTH


good fortune
of the eyes
took over

you used to wear glasses
for distance
you engaged
in abstract thinking

while sparrow and redstarts
saw with their feet
and dreamt of walking
without fear
of touching ground

yet knowing that dreams do not confront

the real cat hidden in the clover
they fluttered their feathers and took to the air

phrase eye sets flight
sculpts the wing
describes paw track    tendons
relieves light touch freely

fractured burr
one spot of green
they settle and forget

their pantomime

suddenly mistakes drift down through branches
old plums, love letters, cotton parachutes
a portrait of you sitting on the wall

the sound of dead leaves is
a chance

—a meaningless chance-rattle in the chill
and the ringbirds scatter
sketching a flight on blue paper


Miriam Sagan–NORTH


yellow sunflowers
on both sides
of the road
double yellow line
only color
in this overcast
late afternoon


Dale Harris, Stefi Weisburd, Paula Castillo–NORTH


this dry, dappled light
obscures some features,
exalts the rest.

face blurred by a struck match,
a james dean look-a-like,
makes a long shadow in the prairie grass

his flatness a leaf
on the edge
of the pig pen and trailer

from an attic trunk —
smells of camphor, vanilla
ribbon tied letters, an Army hat;
dreams that outlast the dreamer.

come, set your camera down
step into the wind-blown scents,
lie on the grass like a leaf

be tiny and haughty
with rolled up fists and wrappers
the hole in your pocket
provokes the ant


Miriam Sagan–EAST


an unembroidered bird
flaps in the wind
air’s fossil prayer flag

half moon

packrats steal
my clothespins
wedding slip, white gauze dress flap
I danced the feet off
my stockings
stained the shoes
green with grass

half moon hangs like laundry in the daytime sky
moon that scours
the blue


Steve Peters, Mera Wolf, Ephia, J. A. Lee–EAST


face of the hillside
wind whistles through cholla spines
the grasses, reverent

renascent, sweet with
seed reaching firm lament
reflected, burnishing stars

ears of hare, track
center of stone
a perfectly round emptiness
which hangs from
a claw of the juniper

the breeze, shifting, barely rustles
fencepost, cricket, star

nothing to hear
nothing to see
watch and listen
everything trembles

fecundity anticipating flights
not with standing time
plane beyond place

thin river climbs

where shadows
pool under low branches

where’s the moon?


Miriam Sagan–WEST


Venus as evening star
gone (underworld)
rising as morning
twins     east-west

flooded salt flats
choked with clouds

light that limps
on its uneven legs
from equinox to solstice

(what is it)
a nest
for the invisible


JB Bryan, Abigail Doan, Suzanne Sbarge–WEST


old song
as path with same moon
known by aim
& agile glimpse
blinking in the bright light
I hear
wings flapping
bird gurgling
threading & lacing the horizon
with seeded strands of footpath
finds broken twigs,
scratched earth
reveal who has come before
mingled with my own track
dusty boots stumble,
leashes tangle
shiny crows laugh in unison
only the train’s whistle
pierces this sanctuary
like potsherds
that poke through the topsoil
and reveal the migrations of travelers past
as always, what is new is what is old
who listened to what sound then?
eating juji fruit to pass the time
chewing loudly
I drop a few so I can be found
cholla sentinels mark the way
as time resonates
  with lunar feathers


Opening Poem on the Scroll
• Jeff Gburek

By Light, By Dark
(opening poem on the scroll)

by light

stillness of surface, slated
to crumble, when a rage of water rips through the arroyo
no longer seco
water on which torn boughs tremble and bob
waded through, brown stream
full and blinding sun

by dark

the nightlife of quick society crickets
and above, stars near enough
to seem some earth-seeking seeds
rather an image of me, man
seeking beyond
thrown into the limits of his world


About the Poets

Miriam Sagan
Miriam Sagan was born in Manhattan, raised in New Jersey, and educated in Boston. She holds a B.A. with honors from Harvard University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Boston University. She settled in Santa Fe in 1984. She is the author of over twenty books, and directs the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College.
John Tritica, Sabra Moore, Terry Mulert, Phyliss Hoge : South

John Tritica’s translations of Swedish poet Niklas Törnlund All Things Measure Time appeared in 1992. His books of poems are How Rain Records Its Alphabet (1998) and Sound Remains (2008). A spoken word CD, John Tritica Reads at Acequia Booksellers in Albuquerque, NM, was issued by Vox Audio this year. Together with Mary Rising Higgins, he is a founding member of L)Edge, a poetry circle, which began in 1986.

Sabra Moore is a Texas-born artist and writer living in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Her art work is based on re-interpreting family, social, & natural history through the form of artist’s books and sewn & painted “constructed” sculptures and wall works. She sees herself as a “literate” granddaughter who has synthesized the quiltmaking/storytelling traditions of her rural grandmothers into new forms. She has written and illustrated a book on rock art, Petroglyphs: Ancient Language/ Sacred Art (Clear Light Publishers, 1997) and is currently writing a memoir entitled ON THE MOVE: a Memoir from the Womens’ Art Movement/ New York City 1970-1990.

Terry Mulert began writing and publishing poetry in 1980, and he has continued to pursue this art through readings, performances and publication in literary journals. In May of 2003, one of his poems was selected as an award poem by Plainsongs; a critical essay accompanies its publication. Recently, Mulert’s poems have appeared in The Lilliput Review, Mudfish, Mid-American Poetry Review, The Madison Review, Puerto del Sol, The Chiron Review, and others.

Phyllis Hoge taught for 20 years at the University of Hawai’i before retiring to New Mexico. Her creative achievements in her youth were 3 sons and a daughter, a PhD on Yeats, plus as “Phyllis Thompson” 7 books of poetry and a memoir. In 1966 she initiated the first PITS program in the USA—Haku Mele, “song weaver,” received the Hawai’i Award for Literature in 1995, and in 2007 the Red Shoes Award (for poetry) in Albuquerque.

Dale Harris, Stefi Weisburd, Paula Castillo : North

Dale Harris has made her home in New Mexico since 1993. She organizes the annual Sunflower Festival Poets & Writers Picnic at the historic Shaffer Hotel in Mountainair, N.M. From 2002- 2007, she edited Central Avenue, a monthly poetry journal that sponsored poetry readings in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Her art interests include pottery and book making. She is also a nurse practitioner working in HIV care.

Stefi Weisburd is the author of The Wind-Up Gods (which won the St. Lawrence Book Award) and a poetry collection for children, Barefoot: Poems for Naked Feet (Wordsong, 2008). She is the recipient of a “Discovery”/The Nation prize, a Bread Loaf Scholarship and a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, the American Poetry Review, The Paris Review and other journals.

Paula Castillo Born in 1961 in a small town along the Río Grande in New Mexico, Castillo’s work recombines personal and familiar elements in unusual ways. The man-made microcosms combined with the expansive natural environment are the catalyst for her critical exploration of the systems and spaces we inhabit; places our own lives depend on. Castillo says “I believe strongly that this interior connection to nature is essential to our humanity.” Castillo’s work is concerned with bridging the new field of Complexity Science with culture and art in order to understand and visualize our perceptions and connections with our place on earth. Castillo currently lives and works in Córdova, New Mexico, a tiny village in the mountains north of Santa Fe.
Steve Peters, Mera Wolf, Ephia, J.A. Lee : East

Steve Peters makes music and sound for various contexts and occasions. The work is often site-specific, made with recorded sounds of the environment and found/natural objects, or through exploration of acoustic phenomena, as well as normal instruments and spoken text. He also works as a freelance producer, writer, and curator, and since 1989 has been the Director of Nonsequitur, a non-profit that presents the Wayward Music Series of experimental music in Seattle.

Mera Wolf is a peripatetic teacher currently traveling between the provinces of research and writing. Wolf earned her Ph.D. in Educational Thought and Sociocultural Studies from the University of New Mexico. In addition to her research, she is currently working on a serial novel, a chapbook, and a screenplay. When asked by a student to describe the nature of her profession, she responded, “I’m really a cosmologist.” “That’s just wonderful,” replied the young woman, “Do you also do nails?”

Ephia studied dance with Min Tanaka, Kazuo Ohno, Anzu Furukawa, and Akira Kasai in Japan. Following her interest in ritual dance, she travelled to study under renowned teachers in Ghana, Java and Bali. She holds a BFA in dance from Columbia University, New York City. She danced in the company of the late Anzu Furukawa in Berlin, appearing in Furukawa’s final production, GOYA: La Quinta del Sordo. In 1998, she co-founded Djalma Primordial Science, a performative and pedagogical collaboration with electro-acoustic musician Jeff Gburek.

J. A. Lee has written about the arts for several newspapers and magazines and is the author of a chapbook, Memories of Lost Books. As a writer with a particular interest in art, land and language he has curated two exhibitions for THE LAND/an art site and given workshops on site-based language and writing.

JB Bryan, Abigail Doan, Suzanne Sbarge : West

A virgo and a boomer, J.B. Bryan is poet, painter, potter, graphic designer, publisher of La Alameda Press, former bookseller at Living Batch Bookstore, and a cranky advocate of alternative culture. He was educated in one way or another in Iowa, British Columbia, New Mexico, and California. As a book designer, he has a gained a reputation for distinctive style and classic typography. An impresario-of-sorts, please check out Outpost Performance Space, Duende Poetry Series, and many events hosted by New Mexico Literary Arts, including their upcoming Flea Market. His most recent book is the internationally-acclaimed collection Big Thank You. As a saxophonist, he performs with the Thunderbird Poetry Orkestra in Placitas. As a 35-year semi-native of Albuquerque, he and family have a funky but lovely existence in the North Valley.

Abigail Doan is an internationally exhibited fiber and environmental installation artist based in NYC, Sofia, Bulgaria and Italy. Her eco-textile work is featured on, Art Cloth Text, Hiphonest, Landviews, and in the new book, Green Guide for Artists. She has exhibited with the United Nations Environment Programme and was a 2006 artist in resident at THE LAND/an art site in Mountainair, New Mexico. During 2009 her recycled textile forms will be on view in Fiskars, Finland, and in the Hunterdon Museum of Arts upcoming exhibit, ‘Knitted, Knotted, Netted’.

Suzanne Sbarge is a visual artist, curator and sometimes writer. Her mixed media collage paintings have been exhibited nationally in numerous exhibitions, are in the collections of many local, national and international collectors and is represented at galleries across the United States. She received her B.A. degree in Art History and Studio Arts from Barnard College in New York City and her M.A. degree in Art Education from the University of New Mexico. In addition to her visual art work and writing, she is also a gallery director, curator, graphic designer and arts consultant. She is currently Executive Director of 516 ARTS in Albuquerque. Her poems have been published in Earth to Honey (Riverside Ranch Press, 1995).

Jeff Gburek : By light, by dark

Jeff Gburek is a guitarist /electronic music composer/sound artist currently living in Berlin. He employs extended & prepared guitar techniques, signal processing, open source applications and phonography to create richly textural music, wherein extreme pianissimo, organic object manipulation and silence contrast energetic swells of excited electronics. For 8 years he has worked with dance/theater artist Ephia in Djalma Primordial Science, evolving a praxis of body and sound through performance and pedagogy.

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