Posted on January 28, 2016
On December 21 of last year, a dear friend and amazing human being said goodbye to planet earth. His name is Walt Pascoe. Intense and luminous artist. Witty, wry, and intelligent crafter of words. Wise spiritual seeker. And a mentor of sorts to so many of us–artists, writers, and anyone who found themselves on a life journey they hadn’t necessarily planned. In this Creative Thresholds, we’re doing a reprise of an essay he wrote in 2012 (which, incidentally and uncannily, was published December 21) in which he writes brutally honestly and with humor about his struggle with colon cancer. He also includes his art in the essay. Please check it out. His words are wisdom for all of us who are human: “A Tribute to Walt Pascoe: Savage Uncertainties On The Road Home Reprise.”
Posted on August 16, 2015
The second Creative Thresholds issue in July was a very special one and perhaps one of the most important ones we’ve done. It was a series of poems dealing with attacks by Boko Haram in the city of Jos and other areas in northern Nigeria. The cycle of poems began when poet Laura M Kaminski (who grew up in northern Nigeria) posted “Call Me Down the Rain” on her Facebook page. Poet j. lewis responded with one of his own, beginning a conversation. amu nnadi contacted Laura and his poem was added to the collection. They continued the dialogue in poetry form from there. Creative Thresholds has the entire series, in two parts: “Call Me Down the Rain” and “Call Me Down the Rain, Part 2.” Artist Robert Rhodes’s paintings accompany the two posts. Please visit and experience the power of art as witness. Here’s the poem that began it all:
Call Me Down the Rain
work-song honoring those attempting to return home to territory reclaimed from Boko Haram
I must dance a circle
bring the monsoon
call me down the rain
pray like someone greedy
give me give me give
more than my share
of this year’s water
bring it bring it bring
the water, carry me the river
call me down the rain
and flood the plateau, bring
rags and buckets to me
you will find me on
my knees and scrubbing
more than red dust
more than harmattan,
I must scrub the northland
clean down to the bedrock
how can we return
to farm and village, how
can we plant new crops
in this earth from which
we’ve lifted the broken
bodies of kin and country
washed them, taken them,
them all, to mourn and bury?
how can we till land
charred from bomb-blasts,
how can we plant when
we keep finding bullet-
casings in the soil?
our lips will not permit
yam and cassava grown
in blood-soaked dirt
to cross them, our bodies
will refuse such tainted
nourishment. no. you
must carry the Benue
here, bring bring me
water, call me down
the rain so I can first
scrub the stains
of blood and bitterness,
scrub until there’s
nothing left but dancing
here, until the stain is
gone from memory,
from sole and soul —
call me down the rain
–Laura M Kaminski (Halima Ayuba)
(first published in Synchronized Chaos, forthcoming in Dance Here, 2015)
Posted on February 6, 2015
I’m a little late getting this up due to illness, but I still wanted to share the enchanting and provocative latest issue of Creative Thresholds.
Moni Smith specializes in pinhole photography, and her photographs are pure delights. There’s always more to see with her work, each extra moment of looking rewarded. Check out “Time In-depth.”
Christopher Hutchinson, our writer for the “Postcolonial Thoughts” column, is back with another essay sure to make you think of an artist’s work differently, if not turn everything you thought on its head in “Post Colonial Thoughts: Lyle Ashton Harris Lecture at the HIGH: Indecisive Moments.” Read Christopher’s trenchant comments about Lyle Ashton Harris’s Blow Up IV (Sevilla) and other works.
Posted on January 10, 2015
I just finished Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas—which was a Man Booker Prize finalist—and Number9Dream among others). It’s a coming of age story, recounting one year in the life of thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor, who lives in a small village—Black Swan Green—in Worcestershire in 1982. Cold War England.
I came away from the novel feeling that Jason’s character and voice were pitch perfect in representing the life and experiences of a sensitive and aware thirteen-year-old. Yet when a reviewer on Goodreads said that Mitchell needed to decide whether the narrator was a thirteen-year-old boy or a 35 year-old man—that Jason was too eloquent and insightful for a thirteen-year-old—I said, “Yes, that’s true.”
Not to whether Mitchell needed to make a choice, but to the complicated phenomenon of Jason being in some ways both a boy and a man—and perhaps that is exactly what enables so many readers (not just me) to experience him as being so authentic.
One could argue that Jason isn’t so precocious as to be unbelievable as a boy. He’s a sensitive, observant kid whose sensibilities have been developed and refined due to his experiences of being “outside” (and bullied) as a stutterer. A kid whose command of metaphor as a poet will not only allow him to be an eloquent narrator, but be more perceptive about his experiences.
But I agree with the reviewer in that Jason’s precocity goes beyond mere precocity. There is a maturity that only accumulated experience in the passing of many years gives, a maturity that (re)contextualizes experience into an ever-enlarging and (one hopes) inclusive web of meaning that isn’t available to a thirteen year-old.
Yet it is exactly the use of that web that can “fill out” a teenaged experience and make it even more authentic for the reader. It functions as the larger world within which a teenaged viewpoint roams. In Black Swan Green, Jason’s world is fuller and placed within a context that is able to make more meaning both to his own experience (and teenaged experience in general) and the time period within which he lives.
Black Swan Green is semi-autobiographical. Perhaps that is why Jason feels so adolescently real and yet mature beyond his years. His life has already been set into the context of a grown man looking backwards. Memories are always already set in a wider world of experience that can’t simply be dumped when one looks back or re-imagines the past.
But the restraints and possibilities of memory and experience are precisely what every writer must negotiate no matter what her genre, and its effect will linger even if she feels she should purge its particularity. So maybe it’s not a matter of choosing to offer a “pure” experience in the quest to write a much younger voice, but a matter of embracing and embodying one’s own self more fully as one writes.
Posted on December 31, 2013
The last issue of CT for the year–and the last issue before going to a twice-monthly format–ROCKED!
Michael Dickins explores the blunting of awareness and empathy by our mass media in Michael Dickins: PreOccupied.
J. Adam McGalliard works the layers of reality in “Projections“:
“The projected image works as a double-edged sword. It can starkly reveal something that is hidden, like the writhing tattoos of the Illustrated Man, or it can mask an individual as a concealing veil or garment that creates a protected outer hull.”
A fantastic end-of-the-year meditation and killer playlist in Rebekah Goode-Peoples’s “Pay Attention (and then do something).”
In the “Postcolonial Thoughts” column Christopher Hutchinson reviews leading art theorist/curator Nicholas Bourriaud’s The Radicant.
Stellar reflection by Daniel Boscaljon upon the nature of relationship in “all that I had in you was only myself” (image by me).
Posted on November 4, 2013
I’m excited about the latest Creative Thresholds. Screenwriter and graphic novelist G.A. Gallas shares pages from her graphic novel The Poet and the Flea, an ode to William Blake. My nerd self totally swoons over this.
Michi Meko. Flux 2013. Atlanta. One heck of a performance. Christopher Hutchinson discusses why it’s so good in “Postcolonial thoughts: Michi Meko’s The job of the resurrectors is to wake up the dead.”
“A sound theater of Negro prison work songs will be played to wake up the souls of Negro men that were forced to lay the tracks in and around Atlanta as the re-enslavement of Black Americans increased during the Civil War up to World War II. Most of these free men were imprisoned on bogus charges enforced by Penal Labor/Servitude laws allowing the cycle of supremacy to continue….”
The first chapter from Jillian Schedneck’s book Abu Dhabi Days, Dubai Nights recounts her two years teaching English in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. “I longed to be pulled and pushed, to journey to places that seemed unknown and less travelled, whose names held some kind of mystery and magic to my ears.” Definitely worth the journey.
It’s no secret I love mobile photography. If I ever wondered what some of the creative possibilities were for its apps, Maarten Oortwijn gives more than enough of an idea…and plenty of inspiration in “the digital painter.”
Letters to You by Daniel Boscaljon (with images by me) continues with my “best for your worst.” “some words have power….”
Posted on October 6, 2013
Photography, flash fiction, experimental writing, critique, and iPad drawings: the latest Creative Thresholds.
Go behind the scenes of photographer J. Christopher Matyjasik’s latest project: dixie’s s-bahn.
See the continuation of Daniel Boscaljon’s and my collaboration in confession: the nature of my crime.
Read our new columnist Christopher Hutchinson’s look at Rashid Johnson’s work in Postcolonial Thoughts: Afrofuturist Rashid Johnson’s Message To Our Folks.
Hang with Rachel Troutman as she sketches her iPad drawings in Sofa Drawings.
Check out Maria Protopapadaki-Smith’s mysterious flash piece Dreamhealer.
Creative Thresholds looks forward to your visit!
Posted on September 3, 2013
The online magazine I curate/edit/sometimes contribute to, Creative Thresholds, came out last Thursday with the August issue. (It comes out the last Thursday of every month). It’s a great issue with work by Peter Ciccariello, Seana Reilly, Pascal Gault, and Daniel Boscaljon (with an image from my In and Out of the Frame project). We’ve also added a new Twitter page to join our fairly new Facebook page.
Posted on July 26, 2013
Last year, in between my first and second surgery for thyroid cancer (I ended up having three), I came up with the idea of having a magazine-style blog called Creative Thresholds where I shared some of my work but also showcased some of my super-talented friends’ work. That was about 7 months ago and the circle of writers and artists has grown to include new artist and writer friends. I’m constantly amazed and thankful for their generosity and creativity.
The July issue just came out (CT comes out the last Thursday of the month), and, as usual I’m excited! This issue includes
Critiquing “Question Bridge”: Representing Black Male Identity in America: An incisive essay about Black male identity in art, particularly the Question Bridge project, by Christopher Hutchinson
Honorarium: Brent Houzenga’s multi-media art that transforms the images of those long dead.
everytime i write i feel myself disintegrate, written by Daniel Boscaljon, with images from me–the first in a series of posts called Letters to You
Maxwell Sebastian explores his ambivalent relationship with Atlanta in Dispatches from Atlanta: Love and Hate in the South