“Ocean Crag” pictured in stages. Oil on canvas, 16″ by 20.”
“Loomings” is the title given this now completed painting, shown below in various work in progress stages. The piece is 24″ x 36″ x 1&1/2″. For the first time, I used Lukas Berlin “Water Mixable Oil Colour” paints. I did not mix in any water. Though I have wall-hung the painting, the paint is still wet, but not dripping wet. It will take up to a year to completely dry, as discussed in the info. pdf linked above. I like the paints. Will experiment with mixing with water next time. The canvas stretched on wood frame was purchased used for $5 at a garage sale last summer. The black showing through, mostly around the edges, is from the original painting, which I mostly covered over, beginning with a squeegee wash of titanium white acrylic. “Loomings” is the title of Chapter One of Melville’s “Moby Dick.” An alternate title I had considered was “Sailboat with Umbrella.” But that seemed too specific. One wishes not to disambiguate one’s paintings no more than one’s poetry.
The first review of “end tatters” is in, received via cell phone text (place cursor in text box and scroll right):
"Finished End Tatters; especially liked About Confusion, Bells, and To Surf, which I hope to do this morning. Milk made me very sad. Waiting for your next novel. Alma and Penina my favorites."
To drive down, stop, and check out surf spots at the end of a beach town road is part of surfing. A second text from our first reviewer came in that evening, with a couple of pics and a note that he had made it into some waves:
Meantime, still not entirely satisfied with the “end tatters” cover (having already made several changes pre-publication), I made a post-publication cover revision. Copies sold with the blue back cover are now considered to have some increased value for collectors. New cover photos below:
Original back cover shown below:
Go here to order your copy. Write a review and send it to thecomingofthetoads @ gmail dot com, and I’ll post it to the blog.
“end tatters” is now available in paperback. I don’t intend an e-book version. As indicated on the copyright page, “Some of the End Tatters pieces previously appeared, some in different form, in these publications: Berfrois; Berfrois: the Book; Queen Mob’s Teahouse; Sultan’s Seal: The Hotel Cosmopolitan; One Imperative; and The Coming of the Toads.” The book does offer some new pieces also, though, so it collects previously published and new pieces. My primary purpose in publishing the book in paperback form is that I wanted to save, on paper, a number of pieces a bit scattered on-line, while I had some new pieces I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with. Besides that, I enjoy making books, reading books, collecting books.
Distributing and selling indie books is a different matter. Even giving them away does not at all ensure they’ll be read. Nevertheless, I’ll be giving away a few copies of “end tatters” to innocent bystanders. So be on the lookout.
With “end tatters,” I’ve attempted a kind of imprint, the somewhat clumsy, perhaps, “a Joe Linker book.” Below, we see the “CONTENTS” page:
This and That…25
Taking the Call…27
In One’s Dotage…45
And a bit more info. for this post, with some pics:
- Paperback: 105 pages
- Publisher: Independently published (January 8, 2020)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1654268291
- ISBN-13: 978-1654268299
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.7 ounces
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
“Do you want this book published,’ he asked, ‘or just printed?” Said Angus Cameron (editor at Little, Brown) to J. D. Salinger upon learning Salinger wanted no advertising of his forthcoming “The Catcher in the Rye.” Particularly, and peculiarly, from the publisher’s viewpoint, J. D. wanted no author’s photo on the cover (Ian Hamilton, In Search of J. D. Salinger, 1988, Random House, p. 115).
How to launch a book? Advance review copies. Interviews. Author’s book tour. Live readings. Ads in trade journals. Book store displays. Billboards on Sunset Boulevard and in Times Square.
Like Salinger, though they’ve actually few if any other options, the indie writer/publisher eschews the traditional publicity stunts ahead of book store distribution for a blog post or two.
This is the second in a planned series of posts designed with the usual blog accompanied by tweet fanfare to launch, from the author of “Penina’s Letters,” a new book, titled “end tatters,” coming this week. Below, we see the front and back covers, and the back gives a brief description of what’s inside:
Water based oils on canvas: 40″ x 30″ x 1&3/4″.
“Hard to get,” a friend writes. “Why do these social media applications insist on one’s date of birth, indeed, one’s real date of birth? But they never specify which birth. A friend, for example, claims to have been born at least nine times over the course of the last three millenniums. Never the same date of birth, mind you. She’s been born in every season. Rather enjoyed winter births best, she relates. Wake up from the weaning and it’s spring. Slow gathering of the senses. In this current life, she is an artist, oil paintings.”
Mud poor, of course, this artist, this life. Asked to borrow another friend’s email, who created an account for her. Apparently, she wanted to display her work on one of the prominent social media platforms, which required an email address. And a real date of birth. This she struggled with (having recollection of so many births, including several in her current lifetime), the result of which, and after having posted pics of a couple of hundred paintings onto her new web place, came notification the platform deactivated her account.
Yet another friend has now reported to have seen our artist just yesterday, which in these parts happened to be Christmas Day, another of her birth days. But, apparently, she now relates, she may be able to reactivate the account, if she successfully submits to the platform the following stringently produced selfie, described in an email to her borrowed address, to wit:
We’d like to help you, but we need to know your exact and real date of birth, including year, month, day, and time of day (using 24 hour clock time).
The easiest way to satisfy this requirement would be for you to reply to this email with several pics of yourself with a copy of your birth certificate hanging firmly from your neck with blue rosary beads and clearly visible and readable just below your chin.
- Include a front and back view of your face;
- Include side views, left and right, diagonally;
- Include your baby hand and foot prints;
- Smile so that your teeth are visible;
- Eyes open, face recently washed, no makeup.
Comply and we’ll send you a reply, but do not take this as a promise to reinstate your account. Further surveillance may be necessary. For example, we may require a pic of you sitting on the hood of your car with license plate clearly visible, and with time remaining on the parking meter.
We regret that these measures have become necessary, but we are doing our part to protect what remains of the free world. You may of course, avoid all of this potential inconvenience by simply upgrading your account to a business account that uses paid advertising across any one of our popular platforms.
The Purveyance Team
We’ve been growing more herbs these last few years. The Salsa Garden is lost, as well as most of the activities that used to surround it. Yesterday, walking with a beer through the brick bordered herb garden (used bricks salvaged from lost projects, saved from taken down chimneys – we’ve one clinker brick), I noticed three honey bees working the flowers of two elephant garlic plants. The flowers are round, purple and white balls of blossoms, about the size of a swollen baseball, blossoming one each at the top of five foot stalks.
It’s difficult of course to identify the plant a honey comes from, and these bees are foraging freely in urban wild yards up and down the block. And the elephant garlic is on its own, hardly a crop. I don’t know where the bees call home. The rampant peppermint growing up along the south facing wall will bloom soon, and will bring more bees, and butterflies, and hummingbirds. If our yard were a poem, it would be free verse.
I pulled out a prize find foraging in the neighborhood book box down on the corner this week: “Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle…And Other Modern Verse.” This is the 1966 edition that was welcomed in schools for a few years. It’s a textbook, but unlike most intro tos we see nowadays. There’s little discussion, and just one or a few questions for each poem gathered in a rear appendix. The title comes from one of the poems, written by John Tobias: “Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity.” The book includes black and white photos scattered throughout. All of the poems are cast in italics, but not their titles.
This copy is a discard from “School District No. 1: Cleveland High School.” The “issued to” slip pasted on the inside front cover shows 10/15/71 as the first date, issued to a Donald Scott. There is a name ahead of Scott’s, Gene Brown, but no date. There are other dates and student names: Shirley Moe (undated); Felicia Tracy (undated); 4/6/76 Marie Dee. There are eleven names, one crossed out with blue ink such that it’s unreadable. The last date reads 5-15-2000. And seemingly out of place, “Iris Little 6th per” appears at the top of the slip, no date. There is a note “To the student:” which mentions how the book comes into the student’s hands, and includes a schedule of “charges” should the book be found damaged in some way upon return, including: “4. Defacing by pencil…1.00; and “5. General mistreatment (water soiled, burned, dirty, ink, lipstick, paint)…1.50.” This copy is in good condition, the only “defacing” done by school ink stamps: “Property of….” And the slip, pasted to the inside cover, which has so fascinated me I’ve barely looked at the poems yet. 160 pages.
The idea, now an adage, that a picture is worth a thousand words, seems to have come from early 20th Century advertising strategies. A picture might be worth more than a thousand words to an illiterate shopper, and advertising must be short and quick and hit hard enough to leave a brand image on the brain. The problem now for advertisers might be there are too many pictures. We are now uploading upwards of 2 billion photos daily to the Internet. If the early 1900’s advertising adage is true, that’s two trillion words, daily. It’s easy to see why a writer struggling to reach a goal of 500 words a day might resort to posting a pic or two. Or simply trade the blog in for an Instagram account. Digitized images are the algae of the Internet.
A reader of the Toads writes:
“Hi Joe, I have been reading your travel posts . They seem familiar like maybe I’ve seen them before . The photos are recent , though , so I must be wrong about that.”personal correspondence
That is precisely the problem with writing, with, indeed, life, the feeling we’ve been here before, Déjà vu, been there – done that. Yet we continue to imagine our future, awake and asleep, waiting for something new.
“I pity the poor immigrant“I Pity the Poor Immigrant,” Bob Dylan, from John Wesley Harding, 1968.
Who wishes he would’ve stayed home”
“Make it new,” Ezra Pound said, over and over again. But if you make it too new, who will recognize it?
HAMM: Go and get the oilcan.“Endgame,” Samuel Beckett, 1957.
CLOV: What for?
HAMM: To oil the castors.
CLOV: I oiled them yesterday.
HAMM: Yesterday! What does that mean? Yesterday!
CLOV (violently): That means that bloody awful day, long ago, before this bloody awful day. I use the words you taught me. If they don’t mean anything any more, teach me others. Or let me be silent.
A Google search of “Yaquina Head Lighthouse” will bring up over 300,000 results (in .78 seconds, no less). Click on “images,” and you’ll see more than 500 pics of the lighthouse. Nevertheless, I now double back and offer readers of the Toads these entirely original never seen before pics of the lighthouse, freshly taken about a month ago:
A perspicacious reader asked why I haven’t posted any pics from the road trip. I’m working on moving toward a new kind of blog, more like the one I started, back in December of 2007, which contained no pics, just short bursts of writing pleasure. I had in mind the kind of posts the venerable E. B. White wrote in the early New Yorker.
“From 1925 to 1976 he crafted more than eighteen hundred pieces for the magazine and established, in the words of editor William Shawn, “a new literary form.” That form was the magazine’s Comment essay—a personal essay that was, in White’s hands, light in style yet often weighty in substance. As White noted in a 1969 Paris Review interview, > I do feel a responsibility to society because of going into print: a writer has the duty to be good, not lousy; true, not false; lively, not dull; accurate, not full of error. He should tend to lift people up, not lower them down. Writers do not merely reflect and interpret life, they inform and shape life.“Eighty-Five from the Archive: E. B. White,” by Erin Overbey, The New Yorker, June 7, 2010.
Not that I ever achieved anything everyone might call, “not lousy.” In any case, I drifted away, or off, and into a kind of academic stream, where I imagined I might augment my adjunct work at the time. And I tried to bring some attention to the books I was working on, both reading and writing. Then I began to work-in more slant, though never totally “false,” and found the proverbial bottom of the barrel when I started putting up some poetry. And I recently considered retiring The Coming of the Toads, leaving it to sink to the bottom of the archive abyss of the Internet, where some future crab scuttling along might find a few morsels to criticize.
E. B. White’s idea of the short, personal essay (note the importance of that comma) has been replaced in many blogs by the personal pic essay, with and without words, the latter like Beckett’s short play, “Act Without Words.” And I suspect more reading is done on phones these days than when I started The Coming of the Toads on a desktop computer back in ’07, and the phone and other smaller size formats encourage changes in aspect ratios of screen, pics, and writing. And thinking about that, I decided to remove this blog’s header pic, begin writing with a minimum of pics altogether, returning to the short, personal note or comment type essay. I even thought of a new tagline for the title space: The Coming of the Toads: No links, No likes, No comments. I know that sounds a bit anti-social, but what I’m aiming for is clarity, simplicity – a clean, well-lighted blog.
Besides, I don’t get many comments or likes, and many that I do get appear to be from spam and bots, and I lost all the pics I took on our recent trip, mistakenly thinking I had backed up my phone photos to Google Photos when I had not, in the meantime deleting all the photos from my phone, then crashing my Instagram account trying to retrieve what I had at least saved there. Seems poetic justice for an anti-social attitude.
Having at this point already exceeded my target word limit, not to mention having probably lost my target audience, those interested in hearing more about the Road Trip, I give you this portfolio of road trip pics, all taken by my sister Barbara and Susan as I was trying on the lighthouse keeper’s uniform jacket at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, north of Newport, trying to strike poses I imagined a lighthouse keeper might have aimed at were he the subject of a live, on the job photo shoot:
Note: Comments On for this post. Have fun!
“You are the light
of the world.
set upon a hill
cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).
Not to mention something you’ve put up online. What’s posted online can’t be deleted or hidden. That is the poet’s dilemma, who craves publication but still has changes, or will have. But that is only a matter or problem of print. Oral poetry, or song, allows, invites, indeed wants variations. Covers. Over time, cities get covered up. The earth rises, and falls.
I assumed the Queen Mob’s Teahouse poetry editor position back in April, taking over from Erik Kennedy, Queen Mob’s second poetry editor, from May, 2015, who followed Laura A. Warman. The gig is volunteer work, of course, as befits any true poetic enterprise.
I first put up, on April 19, three poems by Jax NTP. It was then the idea came to me to use my own paintings as the header images over the poet’s work. I was struck by Jax NTP’s atmospheric, impressionistic poetry. The poems are packed with energetic images changing with the speed of “Highway 61 Revisited”:
“there’s a giant temple on hazard and new hope streetfrom “how to pivot when you’re paralyzed,” by Jax NTP
blue reptile and green mazing skeletons, keepers of time
how long can you sit there with the pain before you try to fix it?”
And I had just finished a painting, the impressions of which, the symbols within, the colors, the shapes, I thought might complement Jax NTP’s poetry. I don’t mean to suggest any of the paintings necessarily align with the poetry in any literal way. In any case, I continued to look for images within my collection of painting pic selfies for complementary impressions.
Reading and reflecting on Jessica Sequeira’s poems, and later looking for a painting to go with the posting on QMT, I again felt the suggestion with impressions that seems the essence of poetry, particularly of poetical delight:
“The heavens have promised rain for so many days.from “Eastern Variations, style of Ikkyū Sōjun,” by Jessica Sequeira
I think of waiting for torrents from the white sky.
But it might be a long time. Or this could be a dream.
Taking your hand, I guide it below, to my cloud.”
I selected for Jessica’s poems a painting from last year, “City on a Hill,” a large painting that had taken some time to complete. Again, the setting of the poems and the painting seemed harmonious:
“lakes shine like mirrors
reflecting tall mountains
rainfalls are unpredictable
innocent changes in the divine mood
birds sing into great holy spaces
the wind whistles its reply
icy glaciers plunge towards skyfrom “My South,” by Jessica Sequeira
green valleys dive into earth”
I had taken numerous pics of “City on a Hill” when a work in progress in the basement studio:
And I used an early draft of “City on a Hill” to go with Ashen Venema’s poetry:
I sit still, watch him thin the oilfrom “My Painter,” by Ashen Venema
and restore his long gone love
on canvas, standing in
as the young skin
by the window, sunlit among
lilies, fresh cut, and Persian rugs
casually flung across seats.
Well, the setting of Ashen’s “My Painter,” “sunlit among / lilies,” doesn’t quite align with the basement studio, though things are there too “casually flung.”
All my paintings I eventually give away, to family, friends, colleagues, who show an interest and enthusiasm. “City on a Hill” is hanging in my daughter’s den, looking out upon the backyard. The light in the room is perfect. I just want or hope the paintings have a life outside my basement, where, as Ashen puts it in “My Painter”:
“A blaze of light rims his white hair
from under his thick swirl of brows
black humour hides, and surprise”
After all the work on a painting, which isn’t really work, of course, but play, like the work of much poetry, we just might find a true work of art in what we’ve mostly ignored, in the mess we left behind. That tablecloth, for example, now that’s a work of art!
A rufous whistled
at my open door.
She flew at my heart
picked and snatched
hairs from my chest
for her nest.
Me flat on my back on the floor
while she sits on my face
hooked to my lips
slicing my eyes
like an ophthalmologist.
Her every winged flush
as sweet and powerful
as a rush of butterflies
my coughing joy.
To and fro
true and from
she blurted out
and bolted off
as quickly as she came.
I thought she was a unicorn
or a rhinoceros with wings.
She left me
without a prayer.
Across the street from the Estate Sale,
there’s talk if it’s a teardown,
while a couple of bushtits build
a hanging nest in a paperbark maple,
coming and going through the perfect
hole at the top of the sack woven
with string, spider web, tiny twigs
and grassy strands yarned around.
“Go easy,” she yearned. “Go around.”
Then came the night she won’t spring back.
Some do not come back,
even as the buds rise in the rows
heatly lubricated by the bees;
not all the plants pull through
that inscrutable winter stare.
But to turn under? Finished now.
Not to worry, the sun is the poshest one.
His light goes shallow, into the soil,
as easily as through fish water,
a clean singing glow.
The days are gone
this bud was for you.
They look like anyone, these poets and writers, intellectuals and artists, editors and publishers – filling and milling about the Oregon Convention Center for AWP19, sauntering though the book fair and scurrying off to panels and readings and private receptions. The fact of a book must say something about their ability to write, to argue and persuade, to think and entertain, to talk and listen. But which one is the one, the seventh poet of a seventh poet, the one who can “make your heart feel glad,” “heal the sick and even raise the dead,” “make your flesh quiver”? You know when you meet the one who thinks they’re the one, but how do you know the one who is the one, “in the whole round world, the only one”?
I met the poet Calliope Michail at the Berfrois table. She has a book out, “Along Mosaic Roads,” (2018, 87 Press, UK). She also appears in “Queen Mob’s Teahouse: Teh Book,” in the form of an interview conducted by the inimitable Vlad Savich. Calliope is refreshingly fresh, able to speak of poetry in clear and concise terms. She gracefully dances around Vlad’s often idiosyncratic questions:
“I think it’s a coy dance with writing. You choose it and it chooses you, but sometimes the feelings aren’t mutual” (126).
She describes with clarity the writing process:
“I tend to see each poem as a pattern. This pattern consists of layers and links, connections to things in various realms – the personal, the political, the aesthetic, the literary, the linguistic and so on. For me, it’s more of a process that may begin with a line, a concept, or some other preoccupation, that then gets built on” (127).
“Along Mosaic Roads” contains five sections, each beginning with a threaded poem, “Standing in the Sun,” Roman numerals I through V following. There are 17 poems in all. The titles of the poems sound like those of classical music tone poems. The book is a movement through time and place and person. Again we find the theme of wandering, “Going.” I’ll be spending more time in Calliope’s book in a later post, after AWP19 and Portland returns to its normal weirdness.
I also met at the Berfrois table veteran poet Dorothy Chan, a 2014 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship. Dorothy has a book just out, “Revenge of the Asian Woman” (Diode Editions, 2019). Dorothy is obviously a capable writer and speaker and advocate for poetry as a means toward understanding one’s place in popular culture and how to take control of a picture others may have of you (probably very different from the picture you have of yourself), as was evidenced in my brief conversation with her amid the distractions at the table, but also as evidenced in her essay written for “Queen Mob’s Teahouse: Teh Book, “Asian Princesses: Fetishisation, Sexiness, Anime Girls and Poetry” (95).
“The very thing that makes you fetishised, such as ‘Asian girl cuteness’ or kawaii fashion can be turned on its head and become a thing of power” (101).
I’ll also be spending more time with “Revenge of the Asian Woman,” in a future post. The essay is erudite, but the theory behind it is very clearly explained.
“I wonder a lot about the way we command ourselves through how we dress, and how these thoughts can be translated to poetry, since fashion is poetry” (98).
This is the seventh in a series with notes on AWP19 and the concurrent publication of the Berfrois and QM’sT books. I’m reading through the Berfrois anthologies this week and commenting on the writing and the conference as the week wears on.