For the cover of her book with a theme – dreams, running throughout the powerful, prophetic poems.
I selected the drawings from two sketchbooks filling simultaneously, slowly, sometimes on the subway, sometimes in a cafe.
I work in these sketchbooks, as well as accordion sketchbooks, on and off, sometimes obsessively & intricately, sometimes less so.
I love ink drawing and the history of ink drawings – the contrast of line, design. To be honest I don’t want to do ink drawings, it’s inescapable & too pleasurable. An addiction of sorts.
My early heroes were Aubrey Beardsley and later Jan Toorop.
Today I find myself mesmerized by the line of Pict or Runic art and the heavier B&W contrasts in lino & woodcuts.
I have a book from the early 1900s & the author is railing against modernity in ink drawings.
He’s right about traditional, technical skill but quite misses the point.
The quest to return to what was lost in our origins is not determined by accuracy in depiction.
But rather seeing the spirit of the thing.
Or what we imagine is the spirit of the thing.
Around here we measure everything
words, costs, speeds–
so nobody gets hurt
be sorry et cetera.
Define and predict: the span of germs,
the time of dinosaurs,
the era of humans.
Expiry dates on foods
favour short-lived romances
over the lifetime ones.
We’re being practical.
We measure tumours.
Sizes disturb us
same as their unyieldingness.
We keep notes. Calculate and file.
Out of stubbornness
we look for equals.
The whereabouts of clouds
we know precisely. Not so sure
about our thoughts,
we get near them,
and wave –
young hands inside a steep creek.
Realm of flesh fingers that measure
the cruelty of flow.
Born in Albania, Majlinda Bashllari is the author of two poetry collections, Një udhë për në shtëpi (A road to home), published in Tirana, Albania (Morava, 2007) & Love is a very long word, published by Guernica Editions in 2016. Bashllari’s work has appeared in numerous Albanian art and literature magazines and in Albanian anthologies of essays and short stories. She lives in Toronto.
All I wanted was a can of rice pudding. After a long day I wanted a reward. Not a drink. Not dope. Just some rice pudding.
In other stores I’ve seen cans of rice pudding beside the Devon cream near the condensed milk or in the baking goods section.
I thought of her, who I lost, and how she would heat pudding and serve it topped with Devon cream. I wondered who she was serving now.
The staff had no clue. One said aisle 13 with a blank stare.
‘Isn’t it with the pudding?’ said the one with centipede eyebrows.
I was determined to find the rice pudding section.
A woman without a shopping cart or purse or umbrella studied a jar in aisle 13 and then a bag in the organic section freezer. I figured she was the store detective or an immigrant figuring things out or maybe somebody lonely looking to get picked up.
I checked every possible location. No luck.
I walked away half an hour later in the rain wondering what sort of loser looks for rice pudding at ten o’clock on a Saturday night.
I thought of Rumi saying sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
But I didn’t have any cleverness to sell.
Was it a mistake to throw out the old drafting table during my decluttering blitzkreig with its thousands of hours of receptivity to mark making, creating & colouring upon a flat screen opening to the unknown through seasons of catastrophe, celebration, and hope
Only to discover new ones at the same price, half the size, rickety, like stacking plastic toy soldiers until they fall to the floor beside the laundry and a coupon expired
Standing half as tall – is this how people live today – cramped / like ceilings pressing at odd angles, like too much irony or TV news or variety shows with varieties of one crop farming
In the city I discarded what I could squeeze into a hole, after it made itself known, who could fail to notice this hole, brazenly tapping at the doorway like trance drumming & insisting on action
As loud as a hole can be without attracting the attention of other shapes competing for psychic food although that might be a personification best for allegory or proverb
& Even vibrations (especially vibrations!) passing into wood or metal created in the right spirit, I’m sure it was the right spirit, know they are the right size for the hole, the circle, the absence, the sun
Though saying goodbye to memories vanishing into & beyond the hole might be a mistake, if there are mistakes in the ecology of memory and in the shadow of labour – no I am sure there cannot be, and a goodbye is never a forever, yes it often is
In this new world, either squatting, or hiding from the enemy, or working within form shrinking from moisture or heat or time, one realizes a newer price will have to be paid for a full size, it’s no longer one size fits all, it’s no longer all at all
One might reclaim discarded memories in the hole though they float away forever, but the idea of agreeing, I think, is to create another hole, a flourishing courier system arriving in the future at the other doorway, or now, and how can any mistake be made while awaiting couriered delivery
Of it all & with a great sadness, goodbye
He fell in love with a visionary
who cared for a tree.
Her visions became commonplace,
as she cared for the tree.
The knight sometimes
at a leaf dangling in the wind,
or a branch bent low, or bark,
or beds of moss
on the edges,
Recently in Canada we had a minor brouhaha in Parliament. A satirical magazine depicted the former Leader of the Opposition wearing a neck brace with his caucus in body casts, wheelchairs, etc…
I cropped the photo in a circle & added text to make my own satirical statement. No. I decided. Something else. So I began to manipulate the images. Emerging psychedelic shapes with the politician becoming 19th century-like wearing a clerical or clown collar.
Shapes emerged as I worked intuitively with Photoshop.
A symbol began to emerge. Or something that looked like it wanted to be a symbol.
Recently my investigations have led me (in books & online) to India where the Celtic God Cernunnos is preceded by a similarly depicted figure revealed by artifacts from the Indus Valley.
The similarities of the visual language are striking. Mythologies are a bit like dreams, arising from the same ‘bedrock’ of consciousness. Or from somewhere beneath the bedrock.
Jokes also lead to interesting places. And who might be both psychedelic and from an earlier century while wearing a clerical – clown collar. The depictor. Or the depicted. Or someone else entirely. And where is the poem in that?
Original photo credit: The Beaverton