narrative art

My do-it-yourself MFA consists of:

– formal and informal writing groups. with friends, and writing fellas, former co-workers, professors, and more. We read. We write. We speak our words, sometimes. It can be in a huge mansion or a intimate living room or a bookstore. It can involve treats. And tea. And coffee.

– my writing class with Minter. Always. It happens by scholarship, it is received with gratitude.

-Reading more books like what. Cut out the drivel, the fatty tv shows, and just read. It’s one of the best MFA’s not-money can buy you. I have read more than three books in the past month. Doesn’t sound like a lot until you understand that I also watched mad shows, took care of three kids, and didn’t clean my house.

– Writing hundreds of words on a semi-regular basis.

Writing plus reading plus community equals an MFA. According to DIY MFA, a rather charming website community and resource guide. Also recommended.

– doing research studies on narrative artists and writers that I am intrigued by and admire. This list includes many contemporary fiction writers, visual artists, and more. Also includes some classics. Much reading on all of them.

Stay classy, brain. Let’s get an education.

after this


After reading an elephant’s ton of writer’s blogs, online literary magazines, twitter feeds, Facebook messages, writer’s advice posts, celebrity gossip, and so much more, I realized some things.

1) I’m over-consuming media.

2) I’m on the computer way too much.

3) I’m not creating anything. The balance of input and “inspiration” to creative output is like 70,000 to 1.

4) I do want a blog. I do like putting thoughts out there , in a very specific manner. But I don’t like thinking about who is reading it, trying to figure out what my angle is, etc…. I want a public blog as a writer and explorer of human nature, as part of the documentation of this world and our stories. I like confessions, to a very fragile degree. I like reading writer processes. And I am in the midst of another do-it-yourself writing/narrative art MFA year. I am parenting, in not the best of stressed ways. I am stress eating. I am thunking my heart out on the floor.

So here. I’m just going to use this as my mental cabinet of fodder and cray cray. Writer-style. Narrative art style.

In some universe, I’ll put every goddamn site I signed up for in a big silly list on the side of one website and make it all real-like. In this universe, I will clean my pans, make the house smell like Nag Champa, and pray to the gods of all that is good that I just make it one more day. And the day after that. And the day after that.

the Heavy hand&the Circus

I was outfront the Fox Den, beneath the palms and sipping Herbsaint w/ Katinka, my European girl.  She’s a good one.  She doesn’t bother me w/text messages&other standard, girlfriend-bullshit fare.  She’s a woman.  She knows what its like to live in a country where the Government can come-a-knocking and take you away forever.  The sun had set.  It was quiet&warm on Judge’s Hill.  I was killing time&putting this off.  My flight was at 5:45am.  I was packed.  My ride to the airport had been arranged.  All I had to do was say goodnight to Katinka and write this blog. 

Oh how I have rued this day.  I’ve been putting this off for as long as I can remember and the joke just ain’t funny anymore.  In Yoga circles they call what I’m about to commit Satya, or, honesty.  Satya is pretty important to a Yogi.  Its just under non-violence and compassion on the list of helpers on the path of living right, the Yamas&Niyamas.  Here goes.

People say I’m lucky.  Livin’ the dream and all that.  To call me lucky is to discount all the broke&lean&mean years.  All the slipshot, balls-against-the-wall years when I was laying it on the line.  Going for broke-shit.  Sometimes they ain’t no goin’ you just is broke.

I figure if you’re gonna do something, you might as well have-at-it and fuck-the-rest.  

A young singer/songwriter, up Philly way, said as much to me once.  She said if all you care about is music, eventually it will be all you have left.

And it stuck.  It wasn’t easy-living back then and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now I’m living in Paradise.  I play my rock n roll and I write my “journalism”.  I have spiritual discussions with gorgeous women over whiskeys on the veranda and by the time you read this, I will be in another country, on the beach&w/o shoes for 7 days.

Luck is the closest thing I have to God in my Life.  And grace is the closest I can come to faith.  We’ve been around, you&I.  We’ve gone a few rounds.  We’ve played their game, even though we knew it was rigged and we were born to Lose.

My point?  My point is about Luck.  And faith.  And death&spirituality.  

If fate fucks you will you curse your days&blame your God?
If luck deals you a good hand, will you have the courage to be kind, and accept it?
I don’t believe in God.  And I wouldn’t have spirituality were it not for death.
I’d probably still be swimming from glass to glass or eating shit in the lunch line at St.John’s.  Death has been the motivator, the teacher, the knower, the learner.  I know, a real pick-me-up, right?

For true.

I would not have taken my suitcase into town were it not for death&spirituality.  Death lays a heavy hand in every motion, every moment, every breath and every deal&con.
Death gives perspective.  I can see clearly.  Be it:  the Bad blues or trouble, lust&greed.  Any myriad of distraction that the circus of the mind can throw at me.  Death has been the vision, the means, the end.

It is with luck&grace that I have survived at all.  The bad blues&trouble have imbued in me a compassion for all things living, dying/otherwise.
I am here to serve.  A working-class Bodhisattva bringing presence to the light&dark.  I bear witness and remain all too human, here.  

It all began with a decision to not believe in God.

And it’s only b/c I’ve been there that I can visit sometimes, meet you there, in the light&dark.  I’ve stood on the side of the highway w/a sign and I’ve been “gainfully” employed enough to want to kill the man who signed the checks.  I would never proscribe or ascribe my spirituality to anyone.  But if I tell you something, or if I’m moved enough to write a blog about it, you better believe I fucking mean it.

It cost me the Earth.
-Maya Angelou

Be good babies, and be good to each other.  I’ll see you when I get back from the island.

Jim Trainer
Maya Talum, MEX

Introducing Guest Blogger- Jim Trainer


Introducing Jim Trainer. Jim will be a guest here soon, posting words from his arsenal of life. Jim is a friend of my entire family, an old roommate, a comrade, a brother, a piece of my heart. We met in West Philly, after a summer of punched walls and 22oz Heinekens with my actual brother, he crafting words and music and moments, my brother perfecting recipes with black beans and relationships with Aquarians, and me learning love in bartending, and poetry, and frayed men.

When Jim told me he was studying to be a yoga teacher, I was at first surprised. But it makes perfect sense to me. Jim brings the heartbeat of being alive to every art he explores. His music and writing struggle with the ways we move in the world, in heartbreak and loss, and in ecstatic bliss and joy. Yoga centers, it grounds itself in breath and pose, while at the same time, allowing yourself to let go of your past selves in body and mind. It brings full awareness to your personal history because each pose tells you where your strength and weakness is. Jim writes his personal history of strength and weakness into everything he does. Yoga is made for our expanding minds. We never have to be perfect, and it is continually a process. Thank you Jim Trainer, for being part of my process, and for taking us all on the journey with you.

At My Bedside


After organizing and cleaning, I now have a small bedside nook again, complete with a cute little basket with what I am currently reading. That includes the two latest issues of Poets and Writers, A Year With Hafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky), The Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende ,and The Gangster We Are All Looking For by le thi diem thuy.

Here’s todays’ Hafiz gem:

Coax Your Mind

Who can look each day at a beautiful landscape

in the distance and not at some point want to

explore it?

Who can look out at the ocean every morning

and never venture beyond your common horizon

when a boat I am offering to you, and even willing

to do most of the paddling?

It is good if something gnaws at your innards

until you come to real terms with your potential.

God, like a flea, may bite somewhere to get

your focus to shift.

The Holy, like a good poem, may enter you and coax your mind… to wade out to more

interesting internal space.


What’s at your bedside?

Sewing Paper and Art as a Faith

I consistently list being artist as one of my titles in many bios I put out into the world. I don’t do much art, though. I prefer to think of myself as an artist sometimes the way Ariel Gore considers herself a poet in her absolutely excellent memoir “Atlas of a Human Heart”. She calls herself a poet, and her boyfriend asks, “well, do you write poetry?” She answers no. She just believes in it. As if it is a faith, as if poetry is just something that keeps her soul moving.

That’s how I feel about art. Yes, I do create art on a random basis (I’m obsessed with sewing found objects onto paper right now and building collages out of sewn paper), but really I just believe in it. It’s my faith. It is what keeps my soul moving.

Positive Street Art


I’m a little slow on the uptake for joining in the fun for Creative Every Day 2012, but it’s right on time.  I am starting 2012 on a complete paradigm shift, and this really affects  everything, especially my creative output. It’s a good thing. This past long weekend, with the children home from school, I decided to start a street art/guerrilla art campaign that I’ve been meaning to do for awhile in my slowly rejuvenating city neighborhood. One project was making slips of uplifting words to hide around the hood, in books or cracks or crevices in sidewalks. Sentences like, “Be nice.” “Make art. Be happy.”  “You look nice today.” This was inspired by artist Keri Smith. And the other project was another version of this flyer I found on Pinterest. I’m going to make a few copies, all hand drawn and post them in busy corridors of  my community. Cuz I know a bunch of people that could use a lot of what is written on the flyer, including me.