CALL for submissions to my blog Miriam’s Well on the theme LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF

CALL for submissions to my blog Miriam’s Well on the theme

LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF–

flash memoir, insight, advice

A bit off the cuff–no more than 500 words

Deadline: send to me any time in the month of July, 2016

Send in the body of the email AND as an attachment—msagan1035@aol.com

THANK YOU!!!
Feel free to share this with other writers.

xxx,

Miriam Sagan

Writers can be any age–you don’t have to be looking back over decades to do this.

Richard Feldman Interviews Miriam Sagan About Her Blog Miriam’s Well: Part 1

My husband Rich has been brainstorming with my about this blog ever since it started. He said he had some questions, so I was thrilled to answer them. Part 2 coming later this week!

1.  How did the blog originally fit into your mission statement, and how has that changed?
I’m charmed that you even know I have a mission statement! I picked this up from my work with personal coaching.
MIRIAM SAGAN’S MISSION STATEMENT:

–To engage with as many people as possible in creative projects
–To put poetry in unexpected places where it will expand the viewer’s perceptions
–To use metaphor as a way to create connection, community, and a sense of relationship with the world
–To focus on the ephemeral, sustainable, and inexpensive

I think basically the blog still functions the way it was originally intended to. However, at the start there was a learning curve about web presence and presentation. But I do need to focus on that again and again, as in the re-design last autumn.

It also gives me a way to be creative and share writing every single day, no matter what else is going o in my life.

2.  Looking at your current list of categories, which one would you have found the most surprising when you started the blog?
I feel little out of touch with the categories. Baba Yaga and Patti Smith are the blog’s goddesses or guardians or totems, but those areas aren’t that active. Not exactly a category, but I was very surprised by the number of international contributors—that is in large part due to the ever increasingly active haiku community. So I’m surprised at how much the haiku and tanka section has grown.
3.  What do you think is the biggest current gap in the blog’s coverage?
Millennial writers. I need more voices that are different than mine. I’d love more younger perspectives. I’ve had several fantastic contributing bloggers—Bibi Deitz and Michaela Kahn to name just two—who have a lot of readers. But I’d love more from the even younger generation. You’ll note my millennial contributors are often family members—nieces, nephews, daughter—who I’ve begged material from.

***

My greatest support comes from my on-going contributors and readers. I’ve been prpud to publish so many terrific writers, and enjoy their growth and careers.
Miriam’s Well is ALWAYS looking for poetry, short fiction, art, and musings, particularly as related to our categories and in the area of haiku and other forms derived from the Japanese. If you are interested in being a guest blogger at any time, write me at msagan1035@aol.
The Well also runs a series of interviews for poets who have published at least one book or chapbook. Contact me if you are interested in doing an interview.
Miriam’s Well welcomes announcements of art openings, poetry readings, and community evens. Do keep in touch, follow the blog, and best of all—comment!

Upcoming Poetry Reading with Debbi Brody and Basia Miller

Debbi Brody and Basia Miller announce a reading of New Works in Conversation, Anasazi Fields Winery Placitas, NM, July 17, 2016at 3:00pm. This event is free and open to the public.  

Basia Miller and Debbi Brody, have been next door neighbors in Santa Fe for over 20 years. Basia, a former St. John’s professor and author of the bilingual “The Next Village / Le prochain village” is primarily a narrative poet. Debbi a lyric poet, has most recently authored “In Everything, Birds” (Village Books Press, OKC, 2015)  Their conversations through poetry are fun and
fascinating, in part due to their stylistic differences. Both our known for the engaging manner in which they read. 

Introduction by Jules Nyquist of Jules Poetry Playhouse in Albuquerque. Please invite your friends to this free event.
The winery is located at 26 Cam De Los Pueblitos, Placitas, NM 87043
Anasazi Fields Phone:(505) 867-3062

Musings From All Over

rendezvous
yoga by moonlight
summer solstice

a child laughs
picking up fallen blossoms
– thunder rumbles
 
barefoot again-
the dog asleep
on my slippers
 

Neena Singh
Chandigarh
India

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Visionary Art, Baltimore, USA

life’s illusion
the ending starts
at the beginning.

Thomas Canull

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Visionary Art, Baltimore, USA

Autumn Close-Up 
 
in the absence of
an inspired wind, all fallen
leaves fled to their roots

Yuan Changming

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Monday Feature by Michaela Kahn: James Baldwin, Homosexuality, and the Terror of Love

James Baldwin, Homosexuality, and the Terror of Love –

Following in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting I was surprised at the media and politicians’ initial insistence that the act was one of “terrorism” rather than a hate crime. It seems that we would rather believe that our “enemies” are some mysterious and incomprehensible group far away – a group that infiltrates our sleep and attacks in the night, rather than acknowledging that the demons that haunt America have been bred right here. We’d rather look to terrorism than connect this shooting with the other 1,000+ domestic mass shootings over the past 1200+ days, because terrorists are associated with wars, and wars with weapons, and the thought that we are arming our own people to commit mass murder is just too frightening. The thought that this is going to keep happening, with more children dying in schools, doctors in clinics, Muslims in mosques, blacks in churches, shoppers in malls – is something we’d rather forget.

James Baldwin is a writer who I found early on. To me his homosexuality was never really something separate from the rest of who he was. For me his relentless humanity was his most salient characteristic, along with his narrative skill and his undying compassion for his characters.

I found an interview of Baldwin, recently, where he talks about homosexuality in the context of his life, work, and America. Some of what he said felt so appropriate for the times, I wanted to share just a few pieces.

From “James Baldwin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations” with Richard Goldstein.

Goldstein asks Baldwin about the risk that he took and the difficulty he must have had in writing Giovanni’s Room at the time he did (1956). Baldwin says it was tough, but that he had to clarify something for himself…

Baldwin: Where I was in the world. I mean, what I’m made of. Giovanni’s Room isn’t really about homosexuality. It’s the vehicle through which the book moves. Go Tell It On the Mountain, for example, is not really about a church, and Giovanni is not really about homosexuality. It’s about what happens to you if you’re afraid to love anybody…

Goldstein: But you didn’t mask the sexuality … And that decision alone must have been enormously risky.

Baldwin: Yeah. The alternative was worse.

Goldstein: What would that have been?

Baldwin: If I hadn’t written the book I would probably have had to stop writing altogether.

Goldstein: It was that serious.

Baldwin: It is that serious. The question of human affection, of integrity, in my case, the question of trying to become a writer, are all linked with the question of sexuality. Sexuality is only a part of it. I don’t even know if it’s the most important part, but its indispensable.

Goldstein goes on to ask about how difficult it was for Baldwin to personally face his homosexuality and states that he doesn’t believe straight people understand how frightening that process can be. Baldwin replies …

Baldwin: It is frightening. But the so-called straight person is no safer than I am really. Loving anybody and being loved by anybody is a tremendous danger, a tremendous responsibility…. The terror homosexuals go through in this society would not be so great if the society itself did not go through so many terrors which it doesn’t want to admit. The discovery of one’s sexual preference doesn’t have to be a trauma. It’s a trauma because it’s such a traumatized society.

Goldstein: Have you got a sense of what causes people to hate homosexuals?

Baldwin: Terror I suppose. Terror of the flesh. After all, we’re supposed to mortify the flesh, a doctrine which has led to untold horrors. This is a very biblical culture; people believe the wages of sin is death. In fact, the wages of sin is death, but not the way the moral guardians of this time and place understand it.

Goldstein: Is there a particularly American component of homophobia?

Baldwin: I think Americans are terrified of feeling anything. And homophobia is simply an extreme example of American terror that’s concerned with growing up.

To me Baldwin’s points – about hate coming from fear of love, fear of intimacy, fear of growing up – ties in to the reactions we’ve been seeing around the country in the wake of the Pulse shootings. Love vs. Hate. The hateful church group who picketed outside of the funeral of one of the victims – confronted by the mass of counter-protestors, many in angel costumes, who descended to entirely block them out, singing “Amazing Grace”. The self-righteous rhetoric of pundits and the gun lobby – juxtaposed with the massive flood of images on social media of couples kissing.

So in this sense perhaps the shooting at Pulse was an act of “terrorism” — an act born from the terror of love. In which case it is up to us to face our fear, be brave, and love as fiercely as we can.

To read the rest of this great interview, click here: http://www.richardgoldsteinonline.com/uploads/2/5/3/2/25321994/richardgoldstein-jamesbaldwininterview.pdf

Hometown Gay Pride

I wonder if it is true of all smallish cities–but sometimes all the parades in Santa Fe feel like the SAME parade. Gay Pride had enough kids in costume and dogs to resemble the pet parade! It’s not the San Francisco of my youth–with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (bearded nuns on roller skates) but it’s still great. And I’m apt to yell and cheer whenever I see anyone I know, or my workplace’s float goes by.
I may glare at my utility bill, but I was touched to see the gas company marching with posters remembering individuals murdered in Orlando. And you don’t get Gay Rodeo unloading bales of hay just anywhere.
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Little Libraries

When the world feels chaotic

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and I don’t know what to do with myself

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I feel better if I give some books away…

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I’d been hearing about this little library right outside the Farmer’s Market Building, but in an amazing case of serendipity I came across another one en route

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right on Alameda, east of Delgado.

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Thanks to whoever is putting these up!

Bored Bored Bored

Boredom

I recently saw an article about how being bored over the summer is good for children. I couldn’t agree more. Boredom is most definitely the mother of invention. And childhood boredom gave rise to some of my most creative—if goofy—projects.
As the eldest of four, I had bored subjects upon which to experiment. They were pretty compliant, so when I instructed my younger sibs to spin until they fell over they were happy to. This amused us for a while, until I stumbled upon a kind a deranged mantra to expand or consciousness. I picked the composer “Bach.” We didn’t listen to his music, we just said his named over and over…and over. Until we collapsed in hysterics.
Projects were also experimental. I made tiny pops of fruit juice in an old fashioned ice cube tray. With a berry frozen in each section. Just FYI—neither honey or maple syrup freeze very well.
I also grew mold. To do this, just get some grass clippings, add a spray of water, put in a closed plastic container, and leave in a dark closet. Soon—voila! Gross mold. I did this first by accident, then replicated it.(Later on, I was a botany major for a while in college).
Best of all, was the following elaborate event.
It takes two people.
One—the fed—closes eyes and opens mouth.
One—the feeder—gives an elaborate description of what food will be placed on the fed’s tongue. Crunchy salty peanut butter on a thin crisp cracker.
Then…
The feeder serves something else—a piece of melon maybe.
The fed’s sensations go wild!
Trust me, this works.

Maybe it was overdetermined that I become a teacher of creative process…

Internet Resources for Finding Offbeat Roadside Attractions

This blog has been reporting on road trips almost back to its beginning, including an early musing from me.  A road trip includes the objective of getting from point A to point B, but can encompass an enormous variety of recreational and entertainment activities.

Road trips are as individual and idiosyncratic as the people who take them.  The trips that I take with Miriam typically try to address both of our interests and traveling styles.  Prior to the appearance of the Web in the mid-1990s, printed guidebooks were the leading source of guidance for crafting a road trip, but now an overwhelming breadth and depth of information about what’s out there along your route can be at your fingertips within seconds.  Native American archaeological sites, Spanish colonial missions, Civil War battlefields, model solar systems, botanical gardens, giant fruit and vegetable sculptures–you can theme a trip on any or any combination of them and pull together an itinerary from Web sources (or probably from apps, but someone else will have to write that post).

A visit to Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum in February reawakened my curiosity about the range of personal outsider/visionary/folk art projects that were to be found along the country’s back roads, and motivated me promote their place in our trip itineraries (I still regret that one of my favorite road trips, which included a visit to southern California’s Salvation Mountain, occurred a few weeks before the inception of the blog and never got blog coverage).  In addition to my old standby trip planning websites, I found new ones to guide me in my search for roadside attractions that embody particularly individualized creativity.  I’ve written up a number of the websites that were used to generate ideas for stops on the trips chronicled on Miriam’s Well over the last month or so and in mid-March in the hopes of encouraging readers who are interested in seeing visionary artworks (or just giant fruit) for themselves in situ.

Roadside America

Roadside America (www.roadsideamerica.com):  The name “Roadside America” comes from a classic roadside attraction, a miniature village in Shartlesville, PA that dates back to 1935.  As noted on this website, which has been around since 1994, “road trip know-it-alls Doug Kirby, Ken Smith and Mike Wilkins introduced readers to the world of offbeat tourist attractions with their books, Roadside America and New Roadside America.”  The site has allowed them to expand their coverage and keep it current, aided by an eager, crowd-sourcing crew of devotees of the unusual.  The site claims coverage of more than 12,000 distinct places, including a wide range from commercial attractions to personal, visionary creations and from the small to the massive.  Attractions get a “story page” that features a write-up of from one to many paragraphs, along with pictures, comments by readers, listings of nearby accommodations, and links to nearby attractions.  There’s also a blog, round up discussions of particular types of attractions (e.g., “Big Fruit,” “Mystery Spots,” and “Shoe Trees”), state maps, and features supporting the creation of personalized lists and trip itineraries.  An app is available for iPhone users.

Spaces Archive

Spaces Archives (www.spacesarchives.org):  This website is run by SPACES (Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments), described as “a nonprofit public benefit organization created with an international focus on the study, documentation, and preservation of art environments and self-taught artistic activity.”  The site is an extension of the organization’s mission of identifying, documenting, and advocating for the preservation of these environments.  Given its different mission, the site has many fewer attractions than Roadside America, and includes both international and now-destroyed “environments.”  For road trip planning, it’s probably best to use the “Explore by Map” feature on the front page.  One drawback is that many of the map locations are only approximate; I had to refer to other websites for more exact locations.

Detour Art

Detour Art (www.detourart.com):  Detour Art is “dedicated to the sheer joy of outsider, folk, visionary, self-taught, vernacular art and environment discoveries found all along the back roads (and side streets) around the world.”  There is a fair amount of overlap in attractions with Spaces Archives, but Detour Art also notes galleries and museums that feature the types of art that the site finds of interest.  The website describes the places that it covers both as “environments” (like Spaces Archive) and “sites.”  There are regional pages for the West, South, Midwest, and Northeast, and you can search by state, but I accidentally stumbled on what are probably their best geographical aids, their regional Google Maps mashup pages (the one for the South is here).  The most recent blog post is dated two years ago, leading me to be concerned about whether the site is being kept up.

CLUI

The Center for Land Use Interpretation (clui.org):  CLUI describes itself as “a research and education organization interested in understanding the nature and extent of human interaction with the surface of the earth, and in finding new meanings in the intentional and incidental forms that we individually and collectively create.”  Road trippers will primarily be interested in CLUI’s Land Use Database.  As with the other websites covered here, each place has its own descriptive page; sights/sites can be searched or can be accessed from the map at clui.org/ludb.  Much of what they list are things like power plants, dams, and military bases, but they also cover land art and other large cultural installations.  As with Detour Art, there are signs that the Land Use Database content is not being kept up.

Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura (www.atlasobscura.com): Atlas Obscura purports to be “the definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places,” covering over 9,000 places around the world.  It’s similar to Roadside American in its breadth of interest, and its editorial policy seems to allow for articles on a variety of cultural topics, not just physical attractions.  I’ve found the website interface less user friendly than some.  Individual entries include links to “Related Places” that I find somewhat mysterious (e.g., I couldn’t quite figure out why there was a link from Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park in Oklahoma to the Bettie Page Mural House in Seattle).

TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com):  Although I more commonly use it for its lodging and restaurant listings and reviews, the website does have an Attractions category.  Because of the huge number of people contributing ongoing write-ups, the reviews can be helpful for learning about relatively recent changes in the status of attractions.

Creating Your Own Trip/Route Maps

Although I’ve looked at a number of “Create your own road trip” websites, I have yet to find one flexible enough to let me create my desired road trip without a titanic struggle.  I had some success with Google Earth/Maps, but I did feel that I had to spend an excessive amount of time inserting places that weren’t in Google’s database and tweaking routes.  I do find Google’s Street View feature helpful to get a sense for what a place looks like from the road.  One mapping tool that I feel fondly towards, although it doesn’t do routes, is BatchGeo, from which you create a map by pasting labeled data from a spreadsheet, including latitude and longitude.  I’ve used it to create maps for several different purposes; here’s an example of a road trip map (there’s info about each marker below.

Batchgeo