Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow Days


There was no school today. Not much snow last night, but a layer of ice. When I went outside this morning, it was like everything had a crisp sugar shell. J.R. had a little surgery on his face this morning. I went with him and worked on some editing stuff for The Book while I waited. I went to the shop with him afterward to make sure he was okay. I took along a couple of projects and made good progress on them today.
Just got the call -no school tomorrow. It has been icing and snowing on and off all day and it didn't get above freezing so the ice layer has only thickened up. It's probably getting heavy on some branches and power lines. I'll have time to get today's projects done! Time has been hard to come by for the last few months.
Registration for Arrowmont opens tomorrow. This photo was taken last summer. Kate had us tack our prints to the wall as we worked. I am thinking this was probably Wednesday. Cheryl and I will be back, together at the Red Barn. Printmaking again. I LOVED printmaking and I can't envision ever having the equipment to do it at home. Not to mention the cleanup. It's hard to believe I haven't even seen Cheryl since June 9. We wrote a whole book together over the phone and email.
I'm still in the creative writing class and it's still hard, but it's getting better. We have certain assignments where we can write about anything. I am writing about art and the artists and teachers I have met over the last five years. Here is an essay I wrote this past week. The chapters in the textbook were about writing poetry. As I read them, I had the idea for this piece.
The Green Spine
It was lying there on the table with all of the other examples of hand-bound books made by the instructor. All the bindings had names: Dot-n-Dash, Single Signature, Five Station Pamphlet. He said to look at them when we had a chance, to get ideas and see how they are correctly made. I needed to examine his craftsmanship. He had scolded me earlier for going over a cut twice with my exacto knife. This book had a green kangaroo hide spine and marbled end papers. I picked it up to examine the careful stitches binding page to cover. I opened it. He said to look at the books. I am sure he said to look at the books.

I flipped through a few pages. My eyes fell upon one stanza of the poem inside and I read something I will always wish I hadn’t. It wasn’t any of my business, but he told me anyway. I didn’t want to know, but I do. I was ambushed by a poem.

That book wasn’t a book. It was a tool. Or a weapon. It was his axe and, baby, he was grinding it. Rightfully so . Why do we have to write about bad things? Is it so we can say, "See. I’m over it. I’m so over it, in fact, that I don’t care who knows!"? Is it so we can say, "See, I told you I was damaged and here is proof."? Is it so we can say, "This bad thing happened to me and I want you to hurt, too."?

The poem in the green spine book had the last effect on me. I hurt for him. I’m sorry he’s ever had a day of pain. I wish I could make it leave him alone so he wouldn’t have to waste his soft, creamy German Ingres paper on letter-press printed poems about it. I had known the instructor for one day when I read that bit of that poem. I can’t cry too much about it being unfair, can I ? I only read about it. I didn’t go through it. I can’t empathize. I’m not saying he shouldn’t write about it. I’m saying I wish I’d had a choice about reading it.

What’s he supposed to do? Put a warning label on it? That would work. It’s like that journal that says "Keep Out" on it. It’s the one you really want to snoop into.

What does it mean to openly tell strangers something personal? Is that the ultimate creative freedom, to be completely unbound by some idea propriety? If this is the test, I shall never pass. I figure everybody’s got bad stuff and mine isn’t anything new or cute or interesting, so I’ll keep it to myself and write about something good.

The instructor who made the green spine book is very well-known in the book community. I am sure many others have read the poem, but I have never heard anyone talk about it. The last I knew of him, he had fallen quite ill. I hope is well and happy and never thinks of the green spine book.

2 comments:

e. beck said...

wow ... there so many levels of blog here ... i'm not sure where to comment .... quite intense ....
so ....
i'll go the easiest route : you are certain to make an A in your writing class....
and i will not go the hard route and i write about hard stuff .... yikes

Cheryl Prater said...

Debbi: The essay is wonderful, but I'm not at all surprise.