Tag Archives: collage

Pico Iyer Asks: “Where is Home?” I Say: “Home is Babel”

Standard

poetsofbabelAug28

Pico Iyer asks: “Where is home?” I say: “Home is Babel.”

In this amazing TED talk (I know, I know, ALL TED Talks are amazing, but this one is special!) Pico Iyer just articulated everything I already knew but am just beginning to coherently express about myself. I am debating whether or not to tell you to watch the video Pico Iyer Where is Home first or later. You decide. But if you are a citizen of the world or a citizen of Babel like me then you will feel finally and completely understood, it will feel scientific even.

It’s all the more powerful that I saw this after writing and performing my latest poem “Babili/Home” , my first macaronic language poem, mainly in English with touches of Hebrew, French, Russian and one phrase in Ukrainian. It’s about home. It’s about who I am. It’s an idea I’ve been trying to iron out since I wrote “Multicultural is the New Multiracial” for the Mixed Race 2.0 project (forthcoming) on ‘blackness’ (the African-American brand) coupled with the elusive feeling of detachment from it after (and honestly even before) living within another culture and disdane with having to be defined all of the time. Or  what I wrote in “The Babel in Us” (Hebrew) in the multilingual, Tel Aviv based poetry journal “Space”. about how everyone is a little macaronic these days, multilingualism is everywhere and needs places to be expressed which is why I created Poets of Babel.

Speaking of multilingual or macaronic poetry, there are a couple of poets who I know would dig this talk. You should check them out too. One, I’ve mentioned often, Antoine Cassar, the author of the first macaronic poem I read and loved, “Merħba,” as well as the lingual adventures of the book Mużajk (Mosaic), or the powerfully open-hearted poem “Passaport” , which brought tears to my eyes with the line:

“no one to brand you stranger, alien, criminal, illegal immigrant, or extra-communautaire, nobody is extra, …”

Another poet I just met over the summer at a ‘Mini International Poetry Festival’ in Tel Aviv,  is Johannes CS Frank, the author of  Remembrances of Copper Cream, a trilingual poetry book, in English, German and Hebrew, which is  simultaneously as cosmopolitan as it is a visceral authentically Jerusalem experience, right down to the copper highlighted sketches,

“a full scale model of the universe”

“Merħba” and Remembrances of Copper Cream both appear in the photo above.

You know what, just watch Pico Iyer’s video, & my poem “Babili/Home” and then reach out to me. If you’re a citizen of Babel, not just multicultural or multilingual but have been haunted by the feeling that you basically belong nowhere specifically but to so many places at the same time, collage people, mosaic people, Embrace.

 

Advertisements

“In Media Res” or a ModPoetic Collage: On a Vision, a Course, a Liberation, a Block, and a “Way” to “Eunoia”

Standard

“The Flower Pot” (See, Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain”)

*(Note to reader: This entire piece is an experiment. It is an exercise in “how,” that is, it’s not so much what I am saying but how I am saying it. I try to explain what ModPo has taught me by using it, drawing on elements from proto-modernism, the edge of modernist poetics, found language, spontaneous prose, The New York school, language poetry, prose poetry, chance, conceptualism, unoriginality, and “Al-isms”.  It’s a ModPoetic collage. If you make it to the end, I’ll appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.)

I looked in the mirror and saw a vision of myself. I was speaking in front of students in an auditorium. I was grading papers…and loving it. I’ll drive the second-hand car, Al.

The Way:

-Notational process- taking observations and putting them together into a poem, “found language,” ‘linguistic observations,”  “a collage of voices,” “no fixed I.” Liberation. I am a collagist. I am a poet. Collage poetry. Ambrosia! Validation. It wasn’t the ‘what’ but the ‘how.’ Freedom. This legitimate how. This how. This.

Antoine Cassar’s Mużajk , an exploration in multilingual verse. Tesserae- one of the small squares of stone or glass used in making mosaic patterns. Pieces of things, what mosaics are made of, what collages are made of, what found poetry is made of, pieces of me, pieces of you as some song or album was titled once. My favorite poet called me Whitmanian before I’d understood what that really meant.

“I am a mosaic,” I told him, “a collage, mixed media. I cannot choose only a piece of me.”

~

I pause in the shower, thinking about energy healing and colors of chakras. I think about how I’d come up with Poets of Babel in the shower. And then: Throat chakra. Communication. Communication.

See it all started with that 7 Chakras massage that I did one stressed day after work–

It all started with that throat chakra stone I chose–

It all started with that lapis lazuli pendant I had made–

It all started with that throat infection that wouldn’t go away for weeks. I might still have it. It didn’t even hurt, it was just there

It all started with–

It all started when we were–

It all started–

It all started when Marcia said, “I can’t believe I’m telling you this, because it almost killed me, but I think you should do a doctorate.” She said, “It would give you a voice and you have ideas that need to be heard.” Communications.

It all started when I got released from my job. Yes, I mean that. No, it’s not a euphemism. Lisa said “Haven’t you ever felt the pain of rejection even though you don’t even want what you are losing?” Yes, Lisa, yes I have.

I’m still not sure if it healed or I just got used to it. The throat, I mean, or my life, or whatever’s applicable at the moment. My Life.

I am plagued by a sense of urgency. Cheryl told me once that I was haunted. My solar plexus hurts right now because I am writing this. The truth of it all made me cry 3 days ago. 7 days ago.

It all started when in the job interview she asked me which position I’d loved the most and I realized that teaching was the only one.

It all started when at the job interview Zohar said, “Why are you looking for things like this? Look at what you’ve done. This is beneath you.” (מה את” מחפשת דברים כאלו? תראי כל מה שעשית. קטן עליך.”)

It all started when I went to see Zohar about doing a second M.A. in Communications with a focus on Poetry and he said “you could go straight to doctorate” and I was alarmed. (“What are you afraid of?” Chana asked me.)

You can’t have a name like Zohar and not be zoher (“shining”). The light was too bright for me to bear. Bare.

It all started when Chana said, “this is the story of your life…you are something in your dreams aren’t you?” And I cried. “Yes.”

It all— Summer said, “I see who are are right now, not who you are going to be.”

~

Until now I have been a

synecdoche

Tesserae is about

finally being ALL of me

in all of my parts and

idiosyncracies

          at the limen

coming out of the penumbra

The Beats.

~

Note to self: Write a Dadaist poem!

It all started when Gwendolyn Brooks said, “Come here and open your mouth!”

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

It all started when–Jack Kerouac’s “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose”

Note to self: Do it! 

I did it.

A-mending.

The Aroma. A poem is a cafe.

Poetics stolen. My thoughts are non-sequitor–

Lunch poems. Coffee poems.

It all started when–prose poetry. My stories don’t have to be linear. These poets give me a freedom I hadn’t known existed before.

A continuation.

“Discontinuity is the way these lives get constructed,” my life, all lives

are translations. 

It all started when–

she asked “Who polices questions of grammar, parts of speech…Whose order is shut inside…” indeed, this is the predicament of culture, the new sentence.

for

We are the anagogy

If you listen you will hear

The language is out there

Use the language that’s already out there

The world is always joined in media res, 

in the middle of things

~

“Go behind the veil,” Alaa said.

for

chronic meanings

“That always happened until one. (day when she woke up.)

She spread out her arms and. (decided to fly.)

The sky if anything grew. (and thus the limits.)

Which left a lot of. (questions…and answers.)

………..

Come what it may it can’t. (stop me.)

There are a number of. (dreams, some say too many.)

But there is only one. (me.)

That’s why I want to.” (do it all.)

Wait. Stop. Reverse that. Ok go on.

“A poet is never just a woman or a man. Every poet is salted with fire. A poet is a mirror, a transcriber.”

A translator.

A poet is the priest of the invisible.

~

All artists, poets, painters, musicians, etc. are translators. They are translators of feeling, moments in time into another medium: into colors and shapes, into notes and harmonies, into words and…words. The poet has the most difficult translation job of them all for it is words that fail us first when trying to capture “that moment in time which is imagistic and not linguistic;” for no “moment” is ever really linguistic, not really. This is why O’Hara would rather be a painter. Few words are rarely sufficient but a picture is worth a thousand–

~By a poet who has tried to paint.

Why I Am Not a Painter.

Why I am not a mathematician.

Why I am not a musician.

Why I am not an astronomer.

Why I am not–

I would play the monochord and demonstrate the octaves of the universe in intervals. ‘You are the beautiful, the stress of mathematics.’

If I were a scientist, I’d be Dr. Frankenstein. Taking old things, making them new. Collaging everything.

Confession: I’ve destroyed books.

~

Though it was the natural choice, I couldn’t do the Bernadette Mayer Experiment.There was too much to choose.

Cage. Mesostics. Chance.

Kerouac’s Compass.

jaCk

Of

Mind

landscaPe

fAce

iS

Set

In this final writing assignment- and perhaps all modest writers would say- we are all jacks of the mind, experimenting with a plethora of poetic writing methods, yet mastering none.

~

Calculated

insertiOns

iMage

Peripheral

releAse

S.

reaSons.

“99% of what you want is not on the radar screen and it will come in ways you can’t even imagine!”

It all started when Hagit, out of the blue, asked me to teach improvisation theater in the camp.

So many signs from the universe. I can no longer ignore–

Release reasons.

~

It all started with what is not a cage

“What we make disappear bespeaks what we wish to be all the more present.”

Hmmm, like the first marriage and that religion?

…like the study abroad in Greece, the State Department internship, the wedding ceremony, the vision personified as Eunoia…

~

raCe

tO

tiMe-race

deeP

lAst

wordS

laSt

the most obscure things have already been said–all you have to do is hear the lyricism. BART. now further than I’ve ever gone before the end of the line. (That was supposed to have been my conclusion.

Oh well,)

I want to remember a day in a poem. this is an act. this is deliberate. go out into the world and describe it… If you listen you will hear. The language is out there. Unintentional intent. Dropping Leaflets.use the language that’s already out there. ambient language. There appears to be an order but this is a remix. Experiments in imitation. Photographer Poet?!!!!!!

~

It all started Via

“They are adept at composing in multiple and mixed media. Indeed, they are so comfortable with ‘cross-platform’ writing that they no longer seem to perceive any meaningful disciplinary boundaries between poetry, music and the visual arts

(because there is none)

~the world is always joined in media res, in the middle of things~

“The divinely ordained right way forward has been lost- but it will always remain and ever has been.”

Because my divinely ordered right way forward has been lost-but it will always remain and ever has been.

Because Anna said the big secret of the universe is a hand me down.

“God is a symbol for something that can as well take other forms, as for example, the form of poetry.” I finally found a God that I can pray to.

~

It all started when Ron said, “There’s not a normal letter up there. You’ve got some ways of being you’re not tapping into.” That was in 2009.

It all–

Poetry is the how.

A doctorate in Communications with a focus on Poetry.

A teaching certificate in Theater.

–started

In media res.

But I’m still speaking hypothetically.

Artistic. Social. I didn’t need the occupational exam to tell  me that.

And yet I did.

“What is blocking you?” Chana asked me. That was on Sunday.

-Devastating disappointment.

-Faith.

I was fearless once.

The siren reminded me of this.

  • Poet & Writer
  • Educator~ teacher, lecturer, professor, speaker
  • Film director
  • Artist~ photographer, collagist, calligrapher…
  • Performer~ spoken word, dancer, street theater…
  • Organization founder/project coordinator/workshop facilitator
  • Business owner

When I love a thing I want it and I try to get it. Abstraction of the particular from the universal is the entrance into evil. Love, a binding force, is both envy and emulation…Between revealed will and secret will Love has been torn in two.”

Jack of all trades, master of none. The sin of the dilettante. Mother advised me to do something practical.

Jack

      of

  the

       mind

Eunoia:  It all boils down to Eunoia– the shortest English word containing all five main vowel graphemes. It comes from the Greek word εὔνοια meaning “well mind” or “beautiful thinking.”

…the meaning of the bees that have followed me every time I plan or talk about Thisindustry, action, communication, and our ability to consciously choose the results we want in our lives. 

A vision, a course, a liberation, a block and a way to eunoia.

There’s nothing left to do but to just do it.

No layoffs in this condensery. For occupation this

It all– Daniel said “Not Impossible.” I dare to dwell in possibility.

“קטן עליך”: Zohar meant “it’s beneath your level.” Eunoia meant “you got this.”

It all started–

Tower of Babel

Standard
Tower of Babel by Shoshana Sarah

My Tower of Babel

So…I am obsessed with the Tower of Babel. I’m not 100% sure why although it’s clear to me that this obsession relates to my love of languages. But it’s not just the love of speaking languages or even hearing them, but just seeing the text of another language sends me into an irrationally ecstatic frenzy. I get giddy. Seriously, I do.

I bought a poster of the Tower of Babel. Once, I took my daughters to the museum for kids day, the day the subject was the Tower of Babel, of course, and then took over one of their projects (hey, she let me!). Then I decided that I wanted to imitate that project in a collage. The product is what you see here.

I started off with two A4 papers that I taped together. I drew out the framework of where I wanted things to be. Then I started cutting…it started out normal enough, pictures of skies for the sky (the cool clouds near the top are pics from Hubble)…but this was my first *pre-meditated* collage. Hence, the obsession reached a new level.

I would laugh like a mad scientist when I’d found a new scrap of language to add like finding an marvelous, not so decomposed ear for my Frankenstein. I would snatch papers from the street (one man’s trash became my treasure), take flyers that were clearly not meant for me from the post office, and hunted down as many languages as I could ‘naturally’ get my hands on like a cold-blooded killer.

Ok, maybe I’m taking this a bit too far.

I started with the old yellowed paper at the bottom which I knew- the moment I saw it discarded on the street- would be the ‘sand’ and the first part of the collage. The sky was the easy part (the moon took a while to find). I wanted the languages I found to really be ‘found’- I knew I could Google whatever I wanted to but I refrained as much as possible (couldn’t resist the Sanskrit, Hindi, Celtic and Georgian though).

The collage includes: English, Russian, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Persian (thanks, Yuliya), Arabic, Sanskrit, Hindi, Celtic, Amharic, Ancient Hebrew, Hieroglyphics (my pride & joy), Greek, Georgian, what I am 95% sure is Thai (the post office flyer that clearly wasn’t for me) and Ancient Cuneiform(some of which I sketched on top of the collage).

There are also a variety of flags, symbols- such as the Olympics symbol and the Mayan sun and moon gods, the Hebrew name of god at the top of the tower, as well as strategically placed purposeful English phrases such as: “pillars of creation,” “mysteries of the universe,” and “he loved the people.”

I cut the palm trees outs of images of plants and wood, respectively. The camels on both sides are actually one picture. The right side is the water reflection of the left, which I thought was cool and reminiscent of a mirage. The silver windows are from cigarette packaging and the gold windows are from confiscated gold paper from a certain educational facility (*ahem*).

The icing on the cake is the sun I painted myself- I cut it out of another painting (I am forever indebted to Racheli for teaching me how to mix colors) and the REAL sand, which I shamelessly had my oldest daughter ‘misappropriate’ from the school grounds (she was quite impatient for me to use it which took me the better part of a month).

~*~*~*~

After all that, I started thinking, maybe I should have been patient. I should have researched all of the languages that have ever existed (to man’s knowledge of course) and then arranged them etymologically and chronologically from the bottom up with English at the top as the new lingua franca in one enormous, meticulously planned, ridiculously awesome Magnum Opus!!!

*sigh*

So…I am obsessed with the Tower of Babel…

…I’m also obsessed with words, clocks, maps and compasses (by the way, I’m almost finished with the words collage and I’m collecting maps as we speak).