The danger of a single story

Thanks to Kathie Jacobson for referring me to this TED talk by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the power of story, and how our stories influence so much that is critical in the world.

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Art is…another knowing

george okeeffe I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.

Georgia O’Keeffe

georgia okeeffe painting

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The Writers Studio – San Francisco has a Facebook page

I’ve been having fun setting up and posting to The Writers Studio’s new Facebook page. If you’re a Facebook user, I hope you’ll come “like” us, and comment on “Why Write?” “Moving from writing to being a writer” and
quotes (from those who do) on writing and creating.

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Joni Mitchell and me, 1969

I played the album CLOUDS on a record player in my room (small speakers attached, on a turntable that folded down to play and up to store) almost continuously, singing along along until finally my mother would say, Gail! stop! and I would, for as long as I could stand to stop, not long, then sing sing sing.


What a voice. And so seemingly effortless.

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Adrift …can sometimes be a gentle place

Thanks to photographer Simon Christen and composer Jimmy LaValle for their love of SF fog

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With thanks…

I am delighted.

Look at this and guess what you are seeing…(double click to get a closer look)


Answer? thousands of these:


With gratitude to the wild, to Open Culture for twittering the link; to The Daily Mail Online, UK for publishing the images; and to Martin Harvey for being such a wonderful photographer. What a crazy world we live in that takes me down this path sitting at my kitchen table, all the way to Kenya and a pink glorious mystery.

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Art…what’s love got to do with it?

Ruth_Bernhard (1)220px- Ruth Bernhard, born in 1905 and died 2006, was a towering photographic talent in a small and lively package. In the early 1980’s she gave a presentation about photography and I still hear her words, “To do it justice, you have to love your subject.”

bernhardclassictorso1952 Specifically about this image, she commented on how fascinated she was by the tremendous length of the models leg from ankle to knee. What an insight in a few words into the kind of attention she paid in order to make this photograph.

Bernhard-Burgoyne1998 Listen to what the maker of this image says about the interaction involved: “As we approached the lodging, I timidly asked if I could take her picture. She replied, “yes, but make it snappy.” I stopped the car, grabbed my camera, leaned over the car hood and as I got into position, she leaned forward, crossed her hands under her chin and looked through the rain-drenched windshield, right into my eyes, as if she knew what the results would be.”

For more, see this great tribute.

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Rhythm before words?

I woke up this morning with the whacky idea of starting a piece of writing, not with the content, but with the rhythm.

As I think about it (applying mind not dream), it’s not so whacky really: some of my best writing has come out of the rhythm of my footsteps on the pavement and some songwriters report starting either with words or with music, then working on the interplay of laying one on top of or into the other.

So here’s the deal: make up a series of beats and emphases that pleases you.

tum te tum, tum tum, tum tum, tum tum tum

then dream into the words

a river, a boat, a smile and the sea.

Why bother? the river the boat the smile the sea came like invited guests to a party, in response to the rhythm. I didn’t think my way into finding them, they found me.

My Mother Goose child mind of course wants to rhyme, but that’s a choice not a requirement nor an unavoidable mire.

And how is rhythm related to heat?

tum tum TUM. tum tum te-tum. tum tum te tum, tum TUM.
I am MAD. Mad as a hatter. Wearing a coat of flame.

Gotta go now…tum tum te tum…too much fun tum tum tum.

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Art is …passion

Jake Shimabukuro plays the tiny ukulele. He reminds us that it only has four strings. But look at how this instrument becomes an extension of his own life force.

For writers, our instrument is the words; but it’s the passion to celebrate, understand, grieve, conquer, hold, release, that is the beginning and the end.

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Marie Howe

This is amazing. It’s worth hearing more than once.

Marie Howe is a powerful, engaging, thoughtful, funny poet, a teacher at Sarah Lawrence, and New York’s 2012- poet laureate. Threads that I think are particularly great, start at these markers

  • listen at 12+ minutes for her comments that “poetry holds what can’t be said”
  • or at about 40 minutes, at a very moving end to her stories about attending to her younger brother as he died from AIDS, her reading a poem culminating in “This. This is what you’ve been waiting for.”
  • at 45 minutes, “it hurts to be present” and her assignment to write 10 observations of the actual world, resisting all thoughts about the thing (no metaphors, no abstractions, no interpretations) and then to learn “why metaphor?”
  • at 56, “the silence at the heart of everything”
  • at 1hr 8, “some things have happened that I know I don’t understand, and they are the most true/real things I’ve known…the most important things that have ever happened to me.”
  • at 1 hr 11, the deep feminine
  • at 1 hr 25, art helps us to let the heart break open rather than close. “All art holds the knowledge that we are both living and dying”

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