Regional Haiku

An interesting well-done feature at

With some new haiku of mine:

beautiful than the whole—


a pot of freesia,

the neighbors also

bring all the gossip

quite suddenly


something else

Poetry Corner will be sponsoring a regional reading at Haiku North America conference in Santa Fe in September.

At LewAllen Galleries in Santa Fe

A great modernist and a great Native American painter…

The opening reception for Fritz Scholder: Figures of Paradox will be held this Friday, June 30, from 5-7pm. This show is a historically significant, first-of-its-kind exhibition of paintings, bronze sculpture and works on paper from three of the world’s most prominent private collections. The show extends through July 23rd.

Meetings with Remarkable Men: In Memory of Paulus Berensohn

Paulus Berensohn, the influential potter and thinker, died earlier the month. I had the amazing experience of co-teaching a workshop about writing and clay with him twenty-eight years ago at Penland. The experience was serendipitous. I fell into it–I was pinch hitting for another writer. And the original clay artist who was supposed to teach also cancelled–Paulus just stepped it. I was breast feeding my 7 month old daughter Isabel and it was all very complicated. Penland agreed to pay expenses for Isabel’s godmother Debora to come. Debora took the baby in the morning when I taught and she studied with Paulus in the afternoon as I was mommy tracked. En route, the airline lost our luggage. Penland, thinking we needed quiet, put us in a far-away cottage full of flying squirrels. When a flying squirrel burst through a poster of the Alps when the baby was in the bath tub, Debora and I became semi-hysterical. The next day we were moved to a more central trailer for housing.
Then I entered the classroom with Paulus and realized I was having one of those rare magical experiences. A former dance, he was charismatic, almost in a guru way. He taught us to keep diaries in clay—slapping clay on to tree bark, our own bodies. The class hung on his every word, and he lectured us on our posture, as he modeled the correct way to walk across the room.
But unlike most guru types, Paulus did not dominate. My teaching went well—the class and I were in synch. After a day or two I was less uptight about separating the teacher from the mom, and I brought the baby to class and let her sit and watch from a table top.
“Look at the baby” Paulus exhorted.”Her posture is PERFECT! Her stomach is relaxed, her back is gently curved. When you work with clay, SIT LIKE THIS BABY!”
Dale Chihuly was also there teaching, although at the time I had no idea who he was. He offered to hold the baby while I was on line for a meal. I hesitated—after all he was a one-eyed tough looking biker. But he had a good vibe and the baby liked him. After that, he often took her as I carried my tray. It wasn’t until decades later that I realized who he was.
No matter where you are as an artist or writer, I think we need reminders from time to time about our our purpose. Paulus was completely dedicated to art—and to simplicity. He is one of the very few people I’ve ever met who had the mix of compassion and focus one might associate with a bodhisattva or a saint. He was a bit acerbic, too, which made him more likable for being less perfect.
So I was fortunate to meet him. And I think the big take away of the experience was that being a mom was going to work just fine as part of my artistic adventures.


“In his later years he continued to advance the idea that money ought not be the goal of the creative process. He championed the creative potential of the average person. At a young age, he said, he developed a ‘desire to de-professionalize my interest in art.’

‘I am very interested in the behavior of art rather than the achievement of art,’ he told The Juilliard Journal in 2010. ‘I see all the arts as apprenticeships for the big art of our lives.’ ”

Father’s Day FB Post, the Extended Version: Some things I learned from my father. By Devon Miller-Duggan

I read Devon’s post on Facebook, and was very touched by it. Here is a somewhat expanded version for Miriam’s Well. I’m grateful to have it, because this past Father’s Day I didn’t feel up to writing about my own dad.
This seems like a good time to express my gratitude to Devon for being a contributing writer here. One of her fans recently told me that she was struck by DEvon’s ability to write about things as they were happening. As little in life is ever truly resolved, I am continually impressed by Devon’s ability to express ambiguity, and levels of meaning.
—Miriam Sagan, editor Miriam’s Well


Father’s Day FB Post, the Extended Version: Some things I learned from my father.

1. There is no end of interesting things to look at in the world: no museum too small, no scenic turnout not worth stopping at, no person whose story isn’t worth collecting, no restaurant someone else has recommended not worth trying.
2. Knowing how to do lots of things, both random and specific to your main focus, is great fun. He was a splendid dentist, and his huge hands (think Michelangelo’s “David”) could finesse the smallest, most precise work. He could also fix all sorts of stuff, ski, shoot, cook, butcher, raft, wrap gifts exquisitely, and when he was young, excel at most sports.
3. Craftsmanship doesn’t just matter, it MATTERS. I’ve had to unlearn this one a bit—perfection isn’t always useful or necessary, but that which is done beautifully is a benediction to the world. He also regarded this as a matter of character. I pretty much do, too.
4. The pleasure of arguing. He raised me to be very aware of politics, but was not altogether happy about how my politics turned out. My husband and his wife used to leave us to it and go talk cooking in the kitchen in peace.
5. Very good people can also be very bad people and still be very good people. (work that one out…) My father did a lot of good in the world. He was perhaps happiest when he was saving someone, or helping someone save themselves, or giving gifts. He was very much the person you wanted around in an emergency—calm, competent, reliable, and decisive. But he was also other things.
6. Love looks pretty weird sometimes. Sometimes it looks like extraordinary generosity and great warmth. Sometimes that generosity can become a form of manipulation (for both parties), and that warmth can turn frighteningly cold, or turn violent.
7. Never to stop living or looking for new things to learn. When he had to give up skiing, he took up whitewater rafting. He also read all those historical markers along roads.
8. He taught me that men are unsafe and capricious. My maternal grandfather taught me that men are strong and loving. My husband taught me that men are human.
9. It’s both possible and good to love people even though they’re much more complicated than they want to be.
10. Communication is a good idea. Argument is not necessarily communication, though sometimes it’s all you’ve got.
11. Even if you’re a hard-core introvert, it is possible to enjoy making yourself act like an extrovert for chunks of time. He was both charismatic and genuinely interested in the other folks in the room. I’m interested in the folks in the room, but would mostly rather not have to talk to any of them until I’ve been in the room with them lots of times and talked to other people about them—not gossip, research.
12. Beauty matters–everywhere and in everything. And he could never quite deal with the fact that I wasn’t—at least not as far as I knew. Near his death, he told me that I was for at least some part of early adulthood. You could have knocked me over with a gnat’s breath.
13. Never tell your children they’re not good enough.
14. Your children are not there to make you look good. I lost track of how often folks would tell me how proud of me he was of me, my artwork, my brains, my skills. I took up poetry partially because it was an art he couldn’t show other people. Mostly he told me what a disappointment I was.
15. The joys of storytelling.

I miss him. I didn’t for a long time, but I do now. I hate his not getting to meet his great-grandchildren. I hate his not getting to see how wrong he was about so many things in my life, and not getting to tell him how wrong I was about so many things in his. I also regret never getting to forgive him face-to-face. It would have done both our hearts great good. So, for today, I wish him great peace.