Category Archives: Original Fiction & Poetry

Shadow Sculpting « Kumi Yamashita and “A Shadow of a Chair” by Timothy Kercher

See on Scoop.itThe Art of Everyday

Immensely talented maker Kumi Yamashita uses two of the most basic aspects of the “everyday” as mediums for her artwork: light and shadow. Born in Japan, Yamashita came to America as an exchange student while she was in high school and went on to receive a BFA from the Cornish College of the Arts in Washington State. She then entered an MFA program in fine arts at Glasgow University in Scotland. Through her training and natural gift for understanding the complex relationship between a light source and the objects with which it interacts, Yamashita has earned her reputation at the forefront of shadow sculpting.

“I sculpt shadow with light or sometimes light with shadow, but both function in essentially the same manner. I take objects and carve and place them in relation to a single light source. The complete artwork is therefore comprised of both the material (the solid objects) and the immaterial (the light or shadow),” she explains on her website.

Her 2009 exhibition “Fragments”, featured above, is housed in the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe. Here Yamashita does what she does best: makes something out of, seemingly, nothing. “Fragments” is made up of colored resin tiles onto which is cast the light of one single source. The shadows projected onto the surface are the unique profiled faces of 40 residents of New Mexico whom Yamashita encountered in her travels in the state. “It is both testament and celebration of the people whose names may never make it into the history books or history museums, but who definitely make up the rich fabric of life in a pueblo, city, county, and state,” she writes.

In “City View” (2003), the figure of a woman’s body stands straight, hands perched on a railing — but the silhouette is created entirely in shadows formed by aluminum numbers adhered at varying angles to the wall. The captivating but mindboggling “Lovers” (1999) depicts a couple in motion, their hands nearly, but not quite, intertwined — their shadows separated by the cut aluminum plates that form them.

The down-to-earth artist’s response when asked in an interview with COOL blog to explain the inspiration behind her art is one we can all take to heart:

“Always being happy. If I am happy, ideas naturally spring forth. The more I try to think of good ideas, the worse my work is. The times when I am making good art are the times when I am enjoying making it. If this feeling starts to crumble even a little, I stop working and do something completely different. For example, I’ll participate in a wild flower picking tour in Central Park (laughing), and find that happy feeling in another field. For me, feeling happy is normal and, at the same time, very important“.

Video footage of the construction of Yamashita’s “Dialogue” exhibition is viewable on YouTube. Her personal website is: http://www.kumiyamashita.com/.

 

For your viewing pleasure, this featured “maker’s” work is paired with the following poem, originally published last year in LitCouture.

A Shadow of a Chair by Timothy Kercher

 

Is tucked into a desk, chair
itself gone, tired
of supporting
the ass of this writer—so
far from the seat
of ideas. Across
the city under a single
bulb, a writer’s
shadow in a real
chair at a desk where
his shadowy
hand grips & turns
a pen like a brass
knob with each phrase,
opening the door to
stone.

For more work by Timothy Kercher, check out his poem, “Meeting Yevtushenko’s Translator,” originally published in LitCouture.

3-D Money Sculptures & “Vegas Lights, Hedge Funds, Monetary Policy and Beauty” by Frank Montesonti

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Aptly named “Money Pieces”, this series by Canadian visual artist Kristi Malakoff capitalizes on capital. Using the U.S. dollar, Turkish lira, Euro, and a variety of world currency in between, Malakoff takes advantage of the full color spectrum that passes through our hands as paper money around the globe to create her intricate and beautiful sculptures.

Her process requires the money to spend more time in her hands and studio than it does in typical consumer exchanges, though, as Malakoff must take great care in the folding, cutting, and pasting of her designs. The finished pieces range from geometric displays, such as “Desert Cactus” (above, part of the Polyhedra Series), to portraits of Jamaican school children and a Nicaraguan fruit seller. These and the other “Money Pieces” can be viewed on Malakoff’s website.

While on her site, be sure to check out her innovative stamp sculptures - along the same vein of “Money Pieces”, but featuring 3-dimensional images pulled out and propped up from within international postage stamps – and floral installations.

See on www.mymodernmet.com

In this spirit, check out Frank Montesonti’s gorgeous poem, originally published in LitCouture:

 

Vegas Lights, Hedge Funds, Monetary Policy and Beauty

 

In the hotel room, dust, ground from the edges of the long run

blew under the door. Swimming

pool flush as we slipped in.

 

Heat detectors swung

overhead without a sound.

 

I wished then I could turn to your body

and the odds

would come off with your clothes.

 

There used to be an old kind of sadness

a mom-and-pop sadness,

a sadness you could hold in your

 

hands as you buckled over

on the curb and took off your hat,

 

warm, heavy as a wadded nocturne,

that slowed the passing memories

just enough to feel like you

 

could go back if the wind were slight

and westerly. But the new sadness

is monetized.

It knows what we can afford.

 

I’m for hedging

my bets. Look at me, downright distrustful

of beauty, how it locks the risk from the dice—

 

what should be among us, condensed

in even features— ten thousand ships etc., a sea etc.,

I haven’t been the first to question

 

why we are we so wild for something easy

as the clean architecture of a face.

 

Yet when you slipped into the pool

something clean and brutal

possessed me: I was embarrassed

at being like everyone else.

For you see, I have this secret dream

 

almost the opposite song of the soul

I feel blow through me,

a bright string, where the one

 

who makes the beauty, the

queen behind

the universe shivers,

and for moment drops her spade.

Frank Montesonti is the author of Hope Tree (forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press) and the chapbook A Civic Pageant. His work has appeared in Lit, Tin House, AQR, Poems and Plays, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, among many others. He teaches creative writing at National University in Los Angeles.

Graffiti Hotel Room In France & Some Ridiculous Bullshit About Dragons

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Known as the “Panic Room”, this hotel suite in Marseille’s Au Vieux Panier hotel has been thoroughly “graffiti bombed” by internationall recognized graffiti artist Tilt.

The room features half clean, white walls, and half painted in colorful graffiti by Tilt. Deeming himself a graffiti traditionalist, Tilt “loves demonstrating that basic, primitive graffiti can be as strong as complicated 3D lettering, wildstyles and characters. His focus on fun, high impact shapes and strong colours is a reflection of his history as a true graffiti writer, trained on the streets and in the train yards”. His work with “agnostic fonts” is currently on display through July 7 in Barcelona, and images of all his work are available on his Blogspot site.

See on www.complex.com

Wouldn’t it be cool to “graffiti bomb” a room with Coleman Larkin’s memorable humor piece below (one of our all-time favorites, originally published in LitCouture last summer):

SIT BACK AND RELAX AS I FORCIBLY SUBJECT YOU TO SOME RIDICULOUS BULLSHIT ABOUT DRAGONS

Many moons ago, in the lush forests of Morlop, there lived an elfin wizard by the name of Glarvin. Twas a well known fact that Glarvin was the most pure-hearted of all the wizards in Morlop (there were many) and perhaps the most pure-hearted wizard in the entire kingdom of Exqueematrobe. Indeed, Exqueematrobians spoke at great length of Glarvin’s courage, and it was customary for them to recite tales of his exploits during feasts and banquets, especially the annual Lerfing of the Swynx. “Lerf your melvins high!” the village joops would exclaim. “And drink heartily of thine duggle! For the great Glarvin of Morlop hath delivered us from the wicked Vintrosnog and it is in his honor that we kulm this juicy swynx! May it be a most hunkphorian sacrifice!” And every manling worth his snarkle saddle would lift his melvin to the sky and shout, “To Glarvin of Morlop! Long may his legend be told!

So sit back and relax as I forcibly subject you to some ridiculous bullshit about dragons.

It is said that not since the Cleptruvian Revolution has there been a more fearsome beast than the Vintrosnog. It stands as tall as a full-grown brawsby tree and has a wingspan as wide as the Pludnuffian River. Its skin is like chain mail and its red eyes glow like two embers plucked from the hottest fire. Its teeth are like a ribnut warrior’s daggers, with its foremost fangs, of which there are four, protruding at all times. Down the length of its spine and upon its tail are spikes like jagged shards of nard rock, and its vile tongue lashes wildly like a glumpy mudthicket. One can sense the Vintrosnog’s presence from miles away as it emits from every putrid pore the foul aroma of liblab and rotting sneedberries.

One day, as Glarvin of Morlop busied himself with mickle potions in his treetop laboratory, his nose began to twitch. Liblab and sneedberries were in the air. “And so it begins,” he said to himself, for every summer the Vintrosnog would leave the vast prairies of Nelbung seeking shade and sustenance in the forests of Morlop. His preferred meal, unfortunately, was elves such as Glarvin.

Hurriedly, Glarvin gathered his wand and book of spells, along with a copper amulet and a small vial of womproot extract. He climbed a ladder to his thatched roof and let out a piercing whistle that echoed throughout the land. Almost immediately the dull flapping of wings could be heard in the distance. It grew louder and louder still, culminating in a thunderous sound that shook the long, gray hairs of Glarvin’s beard. The clouds parted and a purple-feathered beast of a bird with a long, slender neck, a silver beak and a suede saddle soared into view. It was Xandeertay, Glarvin’s snarkle. Xandeertay hovered near Glarvin’s roof just long enough for Glarvin to hop onto his back and into the saddle. Glarvin took hold of the rugged belf-hide reigns. “To the Smelmack, Xandeertay!” he commanded. “For we must stave the advances of the wicked Vintrosnog and save Morlop once and for all!”

The Smelmack was a lugent on the nermy stonk of sleem. No doubt it would be the Vintrosnog’s first stop. Glarvin snazzled his brazzlebee and unsheathed his shining dinkly, a weapon bequeathed to him by his father, Trivlyputt, upon the latter’s death at the hands of an Oontharian jinklet during the Drebnettle Uprising. Legend has it that Trivlyputt placed the dinkly in Glarvin’s hand and, with his last breath, whispered, “Glarvin my beloved harble. Inkle this dinkly and melf it in your qualf. The fate of Morlop is in your groodjaw. Sipple your umptugger and slay the vile Vintrosnog.” And then he rujjered.

Glarvin and Xandeertay flew exploratory circles above the yapp bushes of Smelmack. The air was thick with the sickly smell of decayed sneedberries. Sure enough, the Vintrosnog was at hand, his muscular tail protruding from the dense hedges. Glarvin steered Xandeertay closer to the Vintrosnog, deftly maneuvering his trusted snarkle within striking distance. The Vintrosnog lurched and reared its hideous head. Glarvin, undeterred, let out his most blood-curdling Morlopian battle cry.

“AADSFLAAAABBIANDERVERRRRRRR!!” He smelded his dinkly and wurved his markle at the jerbull side of plimy. Six times he mibled the rekward! The flognurd nuggled the buggleby and the hogcurd kleemed off of the jorny’s glarb. “Dumple!” squeered Glarvin. “Dumple mine mert britches!” And the marmut dargled nuddly until its mubber lorfed higglygrubs upon the voodsnatches of zapgravel. The Vintrosnog blerfed Glarvin’s snarkle and drobbered his dinkly. Cloddy mod wallerstein jib numbtruckle doopy. Flarzen mozzle rodd trubly buttle dripcrud mifflipster. Licktrickle hub juggerbeef harf yasser jine larvel.

And they all lived happily ever after.

 

Coleman Larkin is a 28-year-old comedian, artist, writer, and award-winning journalist. His talents are currently wasted as a cook in Lexington, Kentucky.

Decoupaged Globes by Wendy Gold & “Trapped on Djerba, Island of the Lotus Eaters”

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North Bay, California based artist Wendy Gold is in the business of giving others the world – literally. Launched in 2010, Gold’s ImagineNations collection takes vintage globes (some so old as to be geographically outdated!) and turns them into the canvases for decoupage art. Gold has experimented with unusual canvases for the past decade, first breaking onto the scene with transformed toilet seats and bathroom scales, before moving on to globes. She uses only recycled materials in her decoupage, and her globe repetoire has grown to include wedding and birth announcements, graduation gifts, and motivational statements, as well as the world of cartoons and children’s books (Superman and other heroes, Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” and Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” are among those sampled on her website).

These and her other beautifully designed globes, including Ceres, shown above, covered in winding vines, florals, and butterflies, are available for perusal at http://artonglobes.com/. Globes are sold in 6, 10, and 12-inch sizes, with customization (addition of names, dates, spotlight areas, etc.) available on any size globe for fees ranging from $50-1,500 and the base price for a 12-inch globe ~$500.

See on artonglobes.com

In the spirit of wanderlust, check out this poem by Nomi Stone, originally published in LitCouture on May 9, 2010:

 

Trapped on Djerba, Island of the Lotus Eaters

 

You are walking through a long grove. Pebbly sand underfoot. On the edge, a field

of colossal flowers, sagging low with pollen. Have you been here before, you think?

 

The sky phosphoresces, broken triangles between branches and stems.

Above you, gigantic pistils and stamens mingling in the cups of the flowers.

Ticks twitch in grass. You feel alive. Also wary.

 

No one stops you when you climb inside those white necks, breathe into

those white necks and lose all sense.    Like

a girl’s belly, like the smell of her collarbone,

 

Like—And what’s more, the gulf was the same blue as the sky. We

(you were not alone) did not know which imitated which. Heavens stretched

out and up. Out, to that great sea roiling with histories. Up, implying

eternities. We lived equally between those blues. We still do.

 

“How to climb out of here?” asked one.

“Why?” answered another. Nothing exists

except what is one eyeblink below, one eyblink above.

 

Nomi Stone’s first book of poems, Stranger’s Notebook (from which the above poem is excerpted) chronicles her time living in one of the last cohesive Jewish communities in North Africa. She has a Masters in Middle Eastern Studies from Oxford University, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Creative Writing in Tunisia. Stone is currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University. She has received poetry fellowships and grants from the Vermont Studio Center and the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities. To learn more, please check out the Northwestern University Press website at http://www.nupress.northwestern.edu

Murray Guy » “From An Object’s Point of View” & “My Life Imitating Art” by Andrew Miller

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The tagline for the current exhibition (running through June 30) at Murray Guy in New York reads: “Reclining, ambulating, balancing, reflecting, approaching and withdrawing, this exhibition brings together a group of objects that might propose the question:  what is it like to be a thing?”

Half of the pieces in the group exhibition honor American artist Robert Breer (1926-2011). Particularly notable are his “floats”, sculptures made of Styrofoam, resin, or foil, that from a distance resemble more conventional metals or stones, and are powered by motors out of sight to the viewer. The simple forms move almost imperceptibly slowly across the floor of the exhibit space, until they are forced to change direction upon crashing into its confines, each other, and the other works. (Check out a YouTube clip from one of Breer’s earlier exhibitions here.)

The other artists in the exhibition seem to specialize in the animation and manipulation of everyday objects as well. Czech artist Jirí Kovanda plays with the position and interaction of familiar consumer materials in his work; such as a bag of candies suspended along a rope that extends from one room of the display to another, where a hammer is found suspended from the other end, or wooden sticks poking out from the holes of a cardboard box.

Photographer Mac Adams’ work is likewise provocative, taking common home decor items and juxtaposing them with scenes of violence. These metallic objects – a teapot, lamp, or kitchen tray – are photographed in front of a monochromatic studio backdrop and appear innocent enough until one sees the shooting or violent assault reflected by them; a jarring depiction of the experiences to which everyday objects become unwilling witnesses.

“Breath on Both Sides” by Roman Ondák consists of a red balloon inflated through a small hole cut in a gallery window panel, so that one end pokes through the interior, but the other basks in natural air; a statement on the interaction of objects with their surroundings and the context of shared spaces.

More information on the exhibition, which runs through June 30, and the participating artists can be viewed here.

See on murrayguy.com

In the spirit of thingness, check out this piece by Andrew Miller, originally published in LitCouture in 2010:

My Life Imitating Art

By A Toilet Seat

I didn’t ask for this.

It’s not like you wake up one morning and say, ‘Dammit, wouldn’t it be provocative if I hung myself on a white washed wall in some drafty warehouse looking gallery.’

I didn’t ask to be an ‘objecte d’arte.’

This is the fate that was thrust upon me by some hack. Some hack that went to art school, who somehow didn’t get jaded and is now trying to make a career out of it.

When I was young, I just wanted to be amiable, and make it real easy for people to shit on me.

I mean, look at me. If you excuse the context, you’ll realize there is no pretension about me. I’m not even a high-end toilet seat for crying out loud! I just want to be practical. Not gawked at in some makeshift art space with chic lighting and a Spartan sense of presentation.

Of course I see the way you people looking at me. Only one person has taken me seriously in the three weeks I’ve been slowly bleeding from this wall, and he was wearing a tinfoil jumpsuit, so there is not much consolation in his perspective.

I’m with you guys, the mindless masses; I’m just as mindless as anyone. Blue collar guy all the way. Not into bureaucracy, politics or the art world at all. I’d make fun of me too. My tastes are simple.

My dream life? Honestly I could spend the rest of my days affixed to some olive green poly-porcelain throne in an olive linoleumed, fake wood paneled bathroom, in an unrennovated suburban duplex in Schenectady for all I care. And, you can even wrap me up in one of those brown wooly seat covers; I don’t need to be the hero of the lavatory. I’m proud of taking a supporting role.

But what does my life look like now?

I’m forever relegated as a high concept art manifesto for some guy that still thinks it’s original to recontextualize utilitarian household items and is naive enough to call it art.

Ha, laughable man!

Come on buddy, it’s been done before.

The art world is going to chew you up and spit you down its plumbing, which will land you in corporate design, or some meddling half assed career path of America’s choosing. This was your one moment to make a splash; to inflict the sheer will of your personality into the world. And what did you choose as the centerpiece of this grandiose moment?

You started and stopped the conversation by serving up a toilet seat for the world to dote on.

I don’t even want to talk about the price tag to my left.

You’ve made a mockery of my many times over. I was already a universal cheap joke; it’s not like dignity runs deep in these bloodlines.

Pull me off this wall and re-install me somewhere dignified. Hell, I’d even settle for a public bathroom in the subway station at this point. That actually sounds really good right now.

I’m not art.

I’m crap.

Andrew Miller is a writer from Portland, Oregon currently living in Tokyo, Japan. He works as a creative for Wieden+Kennedy making advertising campaigns for clients such as Nike and Playstation. He blogs street photos and commentary on Tokyo at oylintokyo.tumblr.com. You can follow @oylmiller on Twitter.

“A List of Things” by Claire Askew

Last summer we started creating “poetry posters” for some of our favorite poems on LitCouture. This poster, designed by 2011 Summer Associate, Kristine Rodriguez was inspired by the following poem:

A list of things you live among:
the odd socks and the Pringles tubes,
old coffee cups undead with scum,
dust thick as moss.

Curtains hanging slightly off;
a shrug of fading crimson flowers
that fold and clot like lovely cunts.
The sloppy shock of unearthed tupperware.

Tissues slowly unballing their fists,
a snicker of bills, the desk I itch
to take a match to. Hangdog shoes,
the floorboards’ trademark spooky creak.

In the big, wonky elbow of the bed
you blush and sulk, apologise.
Around us, ecosystems thrive:
the room is a hoarse and rustling song.

We lie like a pair of dirty spoons
and I think out this poem
in time with your breath:
I am part of the stuff

you’ve accrued and this
is a list of things I love about you.

On the subject of lists and things, be sure to check out our previous post on everyday life on display.

Claire Askew’s work has featured in numerous publications including The Edinburgh Review, Poetry Scotland and The Guardian. Her first pamphlet collection, The Mermaid and the Sailors, was published by Red Squirrel Press in Spring 2011 and was shortlisted for a 2010 Eric Gregory Award. Claire has also been awarded the 2008 Grierson Verse Prize, the 2008 Lewis Edwards Award for Poetry, and the 2010 Virginia Warbey Poetry Prize, among others. Her poems have been twice selected to appear in the Scottish Poetry Library’s Best Scottish Poems of the Year anthology, in 2008 and 2009. As well as writing poetry, Claire also runs a poetry micropress producing limited print runs of handmade chapbooks, the latest of which is Starry Rhymes: 85 Years of Allen Ginsberg which features contemporary poets’ responses to Ginsberg’s classic works. 

Everyday life on display | Museum & “At Crate and Barrel”

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The objects on display in “Museum”, a recently opened New York gallery, are not in any way adapted to obtain an artistic status. Rather the opposite, in fact. These objects, personal and professional, boring and bizarre, are displayed with all the decorum that would be given to a fine art exhibition. They remain unaltered from their original state, and are accompanied by a story detailing their “lives” and how they came to be there.

As advertised on its website, Museum’s “Current exhibitions include toothpaste from around the world, found paper works from various copying machines, personal possessions from the bottom of the sea, misspelled food labels, hand modified watches, newspaper weights, and more”. The toothpaste display referenced is running for another three days (through June 30, 2012) and is quite extensive, featuring twenty tubes from locations throughout the globe on loan from the collection of Tucker Viemeister.

Museum was founded by Benny and Josh Safdie and Alex Kalman earlier this year. Its focus on “objects, those small, forgotten and often overlooked treasures that have a lot to say about society, the world and its history” is mirrored by its intriguing location: it occupies what was formerly a freight elevator in the back alley of a Broadway paper warehouse.

In Italy, the Museo del Quotidiano (Museum of the Everyday) serves a similar aim. Inspired by teacher and collector Ettore Guatelli, the emphasis of the Museo is on items of past generations, especially those of more rural times. Hammers, shovels, barrels, and other objects that were used day in and day out and over time came to form a very inseparable part of the people who worked with them are laid out for public viewing; but here,”they are not displayed according to a traditional teaching standard, with reconstructed interiors and pedantic explanations; on the contrary, they fill the walls with simple geometric patterns that seem to be inspired by the avant-garde artistic movements of the twentieth century.”

See on www.slowear.com

The concept behind these exhibits reminds us a bit of Nobel Prize winner, Orhan Pamuk’s magnificent, Proustian masterpiece, The Museum of Innocence. In the novel, Turkish playboy, Kemal becomes a compulsive collector of everyday objects that chronicle his doomed love affair with Fusun, a beautiful but poor shopgirl and distant relation.

In this spirit of everydayness, check out Pui Ying Wong’s memorable poem which was originally published in LitCouture on July 5, 2010:

AT CRATE & BARREL

 

We trek deeper and deeper inside the store,

reaching for the faraway world.

 

Here’s the salad bowl,

made of Indonesian mango wood,

stained with the tropical moon.

 

There’s a set of placemats,

made of sea grasses from the Philippine coast,

woven by women who live in thatched houses.

 

Glass wares that satisfy every desire,

the elegant platter, candy dish and gravy bowl, hand blown

by artisans with strong lungs and nimble fingers.

 

Polish crystals, Finnish textiles, the world beckons.

Can’t we love them all?

 

These days it takes more and more

to feed our hungry house.

 

Pui Ying Wong is a native of Hong Kong and is bilingual in English and Chinese. She is the author of two chapbooks: Mementos (Finishing Line Press, 2007), Sonnet for a New Country (Pudding House Press, 2008). Her poems have appeared in The Asian Pacific American Journal, Blue Fifth Review, Chiron Review, DMQ Review, 5 AM, New York Quarterly, Poetz. She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. An interview with her at Southern Bookman can be read at www.louismayeux.typepad.com Yellow Plum Season, her full length book of poems was published last year by New York Quarterly Press.

Mind-boggling surrealist art by Igor Morski & “Head Injury”

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Polish illustrator Igor Morski creates incredible, visually stimulating surrealist pieces that strike viewers for their detail, depth, and unique ability to present what have the potential to be various rich plotlines, all wrapped into one unified image. The featured print evokes a sense of confusion and pain, recalling the darkly vivid imagery of the original poem “Head Injury” by Christopher Michel, which was published on LitCouture in May 2012:

Head Injury

 

          outside the Ascended Masters Temple, 198


I wake to a blue void

flecked with birds, clouds

smeared like spackle. My mouth

tastes metal. Cicadas somewhere

make strange rising noises, the

grubs, anchored in shade,

split along their backs. Grass

clippings prick my skin. My head

sticky with blood, I smell mildew,

willow tree pollen, tar. I sit up

at the far end of the parking lot

outside my father’s church

as chanting bursts from open

windows. His voice is in there

but I can’t pick it out. Cicadas.

My head throbs. I hear the sounds

they sing to make their hearts

split open, to let the light inside.

Christopher Michel has an MFA from Syracuse University, and he received a Fulbright in 2006 to translate poetry from the Republic of Georgia. His work has been published, among other places, in Anatomy & Etymology as well as Free Lunch, where it was nominated for a Pushcart prize. He currently lives in Brooklyn’s secret Chinatown, as a stay-at-home dad.

Yarn-bombing in Paris & “The Saddest Mustache in the World”

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Visual artist Juliana Santacruz Herrera found herself like many city dwellers: unsatisfied with the constant state of disrepair of the streets of Paris. She set out to combat the potholes using colorful scraps of fabric, braided and coiled into the cracks in the street.

Known as “yarn bombing” or “guerilla knitting”, Santacruz Herrera’s work brings crochet art into contact with the everyday in an aesthetically abrasive way. She combines a palette of bright colored fabrics, creating a cheery contrast to the gray asphalt of Parisian streets. However, these bursts of color throughout the city are also intended to call attention to the municipal neglect of the urban streets; a socio-political statement brought about by the eye-catching “repairwork” of an artist’s touch in the everyday sphere.

Here at LitCouture, we love the concept and the execution of yarn bombing . . . and we also think this particular example looks an awful lot like a mustache. Which calls to mind the awesome prose poem by Daniel Romo that is currently featured on our site. Check it out:

The Saddest Mustache in the World

He sits in his bedroom blasting ZZ Top, twirling his wisps longing for a fuller self, betrayed by puberty for a lack of manliness, a mere bristle in a bountiful mop. Mornings are spent looking through the bathroom mirror with his best friend, Magic Marker, simultaneously filling in the sparsity of an upper lip and covering up difficult teenage years. At school, the bigger beards bully him—slam him into lockers and tease him trestleless, relegate him to a social status behind even his third cousin, Bowl Cut! The Saddest Mustache in the World sometimes gets lost in the philosophical dealings of follicles and often envies the Amish, Abe Lincoln, and East German women, wondering how different his life might be given hairier circumstances. As a youngster, he dreamt of flaunting facial locks in front of his peers, being the first one to sprout grizzly stubble from a fresh face. But today, The Saddest Moustache in the World just wants to be loved, his only wish—to have an adoring finger combing through his strands telling him how much of  a man he is. How much of a damn man he is.

Daniel Romo’s work appears or is forthcoming in Gargoyle, The Los Angeles Review, MiPOesias, Yemassee, and elsewhere. His first book of poetry, Romancing Gravity, is forthcoming from Pecan Grove Press. His second book of poetry, When Kerosene’s Involved, is forthcoming from Black Coffee Press. He teaches creative writing, and lives in Long Beach, CA. More of his writing can be found at danielromo.wordpress.com

Henry Hargreaves & Deep Fried iPads & Windows 2668: Home/Office/Starship Edition

See on Scoop.itThe Art of Everyday

Scrolling through the mental amusement park that is Thought Catalog, the headline “Here is a Deep Fried iPad” earned the requisite double take. Over the past two weeks, photographer Henry Hargreaves’ “Deep Fried Gadgets” collection has been featured in reports from Wired Magazine, the New York Daily News, MSNBC, and the Huffington Post, among others.

Now, before you get too alarmed – the image above is NOT a real MacBook. Nor are the iPads, iPods, GameBoys or other gadgets deep fried by Hargreaves the “real” objects themselves, but rather foam replicas. Cognizant of the high cost of these technologies, and not too eager to see the effects of batter and oil on lithium batteries, Hargreaves photographed the devices and printed the images onto foamcore, before slathering on the fat and tossing them in the deep fryer.

After getting past the initial shock of the resulting images, the conscious consumer (no pun intended) should take note of the social message behind this project. As Hargreaves told the Huffington Post:

“I see similarities between tech culture and fast food. Quickly devoured and then discarded.”

In the midst of rampant concern over obesity, the world also faces potential long-term damages caused by consumption of high-tech gadgets. As reported by Wired, each of the United States’ 245 million cell phones only last for an average of 18 months. At that rate, by the end of this year just about one billion will be found in dumps (many of which are in Asia), bringing with them dangerous toxic waste. So, there you have it: the consequences of electronic consumption may not be as different from the fat deposits that result from daily deep fried dinners as you would expect. And now you know what a deep fried MacBook looks like.

See on henryhargreaves.com

Also check out Michael Voll’s outstanding humor piece that originally appeared on LitCouture on November 3, 20120:

Windows 2668: Home/Office/Starship Edition

SCENE: Bridge of a Starship.  A battle commences.

First Lieutenant: Captain, the enemy ship has de-cloaked and is now in range.

CAPTAIN: Computer, fire photon torpedoes!

COMPUTER: You wish to file photo “Tornadoes.”  Is that correct?

CAPTAIN: No.  Cancel.  Fire… Photon… Torpedoes.

COMPUTER: You wish to “Fire Photon Torpedoes.”  Is that correct?

CAPTAIN: Yes.

COMPUTER: Please select a target.

CAPTAIN: The Klingon warship!

COMPUTER: There is no Klingon warship in the firing area.

CAPTAIN: I am looking right at a Klingon warship.

First Lieutenant: Technically, sir, it’s a battle cruiser.

CAPTAIN: What?  Fine! Target the Klingon battle cruiser!

COMPUTER: Klingon battle cruiser selected as target.

Silence.

CAPTAIN: Fire photon torpedoes!!!

COMPUTER: Would you like to make photon torpedoes your default torpedoes?

CAPTAIN: Um, okay…

COMPUTER: The program “Weapons Systems” is attempting to make changes to this starship.  Do you wish to continue?

CAPTAIN: YES!

COMPUTER: To change weapon user settings you must be logged in to your account.  Please state your password.

CAPTAIN: (mumbling) VulcanHammer.

Crew Snickers.

COMPUTER: Your password is over 60 days old.  Do you want to reset your password?

CAPTAIN: No!

COMPUTER: Would you like to store your password on this starship?  This gives all authorized starship users access to Weapons Systems, Defense Parameters, Security—

CAPTAIN: Fine!

COMPUTER: —Controls, Captain’s Log—

CAPTAIN: Oh!  Ah… don’t store password.

COMPUTER: Would you like to receive the Starfleet newsletter?

CAPTAIN: No!

COMPUTER: Would you like to occasionally receive special offers from Starfleet, including deals on warp travel, transporters, and dilithium crystals?

CAPTAIN: No!!! Fire—

COMPUTER: The Klingon captain has Friend’ed you.

CAPTAIN: Deny request!

First Lieutenant: Captain, they have fired their torpedoes!

CAPTAIN: Raise shields!!!

COMPUTER: Please exit from the current menu before making other selections.

CAPTAIN: Oh, for fuck’s sake!

COMPUTER: Unknown command.  Please say another command.

CAPTAIN:  Fire photon torpedoes!!!

COMPUTER:  I’m sorry.  Your session has timed out.  Please log in again to restart session.

Loud explosion.  Darkness.

Michael Voll is a humorist whose work has appeared in McSweeney’s and several above-average Christmas letters.  He welcomes any comments, ideas, or offers to refinance his mortgage at michaelvoll@msn.com

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