Artist of the Month: G.C. Waldrep
The poet Donald Revell has written of G.C. Waldrep's poetry: "Christopher Smart and Hart Crane applaud these poems in Heaven because the Earth of these poems is true." That's it exactly: the underlying tension that drives Waldrep's poems is their earthy mysticism. As in his poetry, so in his life: Waldrep spent many years living in an Amish community in North Carolina, though he is now moving through various residencies and academic posts. Again, note that rhythm in his experience: he lives in a community seeking peace by loving the land, and then he inhabits communities that seek peace by loving language. Words and the Word: tilling the soil in order to make the world bear fruit. You could spend as much time with Waldrep's first poetry collection, Goldbeater's Skin, as you could with a hefty nineteenth-century novel. And you should.
Visit our Artist of the Month page on Waldrep here.
First Church of the Higher Elevations by Peter Anderson
When lover of mountains Peter Anderson goes on a hike, he sets out to listen for the voice of God. It's in the high and lonely places of the American Southwest-the Sangre de Cristos, High Uintas, Wasatch, and other ranges-that he finds the stillness he's looking for. In First Church of the Higher Elevations: Mountains, Prayer, and Presence, Anderson writes through the very act of walking-following in the tradition of Thomas Merton and John Muir-describing the mountains through the eyes of a naturalist, hiker, conservationist, and mystic, and paralleling inward and outward landscapes in lively prose with rolling rhythms and consonance. On his and his wife's daily walks up from the cloud-covered valley of Salt Lake City into the surrounding foothills, he writes: "There were times when a little elevation gain was enough to free us from the heavy gray light of the inversion. So too there were times when walking prayer was enough to lift, at least momentarily, an inversion that had hidden the horizons in that big thicket of thoughts, emotions, and memories that I had come to think of as an inward landscape." Each chapter has a different take on what Anderson calls "the scripture of place"-and reserves equal reverence for the mysteries of memory, imagination, and the physical world in which they are manifest. This is no work of airy mysticism: there is a wiry toughness and physicality to Anderson's prose. Without sentimentalizing, he shows us the night-blooming primrose, the coyotes, the names and contours of particular mountain ranges, and the hard facts of what the shape of the land does to the air, water, and creatures that move over it. (The world of the city is present, too, in the distance, with its bustle of politics and sports; the Utah Jazz and the Bureau of Land Management both make minor but consistent appearances.) Anderson also draws on the rich and varied spiritual history of the landscape he explores throughout. Mormons, Native Americans, Spanish Catholics, modern Carmelites, Quakers, and beat poets all appear on the trail. The result is a book that feels profoundly, eclectically American.
First Church is available from Ghost Road Press.
The 2005 HopeArts Festival
The 2005 HopeArts Festival is near! The HopeArts group in Austin, Texas is a ministry set apart, aimed specially at church members who are interested in engaging their faith through the arts. It covers an impressive spectrum of form as well, offering programs throughout the year for writers, visual artists, musicians, and those interested in film and theater, to name a few. This year, HopeArts' three-week summer festival will feature performance, visual, and spoken arts, as well as play host to the Ragamuffin Film Festival, which encourages, in its own words, Christians to "move away from a reductionistic and utilitarian aesthetic toward the large country we call creation: an exploration of the full range of human experience. Instead of seeing film narrowly as a way to preach a religious story, we want it to be seen as a way to tell an honest story." HopeArts considers the understanding and practice of art as a way to experience the fullness of creativity, imagination, and beauty of God-a way of thinking we here at Image heartily endorse. The Ragamuffin Film Festival kicks off the Hope Arts Fest on Thursday, July 14 at 7 pm. The art installations and music performances begin on July 15 and end on the morning of July 31.
For a complete schedule of events, click here.
For information about the Ragamuffin Film Festival, click here.
Blue Venus by Lisa Russ Spaar
Lisa Russ Spaar can turn a phrase-"the quiet bruise of thunder," "this opal brooch of sky, / like milk tinged with blood"-so much so that she can dizzy the senses. That her poetry is also propelled by more complex concerns is enough to snap those senses wide awake. In Blue Venus, Spaar draws on a private cache of longing to utter dense, sensuous lines that lash together the body, nature, and a God who inhabits flesh (and other unknown expanses). The combination creates a delicious tremor of loss and recollection that can be felt throughout the collection, as Spaar's thirsty eye skims from the palpable to the subterranean twinge of prayer and pathos. In "Wind," for example, the "dicker" of "magnolia tongues" on a lazy front porch moves softly into the "friction / of this traveler's old news of elsewhere," which in turn wafts a moth toward the "burning lamp.at the heart of this story." It's in that sway and tug that the confession emerges: "If sadness makes me God's prisoner, so be it." Spaar's ability to merge a ripened image with the sharp taste of revelation tells of a wakefulness that both heightens and disquiets, a theme she deliberately explores in the "Insomnia" series. From the sleeplessness of Thomas Merton (published in Image #39), to Virginia Woolf, to the biblical Adam, Spaar conjures the spirits of historical figures to pace the broken edges of their own loss. With verse as her medium, she coaxes their fitfulness to the fine pitch of epiphany. Looking at his infant son-"the wretched red one, all mouth"-during an original wakeful night, Adam casts up the original question, "for such a risk, can God's vast, inscrutable dream / of us, its split galaxy above, ever be forgiven?" Or Murasaki Shikibu, who feels she will not be unburdened by the dawn, even as "the white root of my body awakens / heretic beneath its layered integuments of winter." Spaar is a poet familiar with the dilemma of troubled beauty-a beauty she describes in Blue Venus: "a blown threshold is not a devastation, / but a glimpse of heaven."
To buy Blue Venus, click here.
For more about Lisa Russ Spaar, click here.
Glen Workshop: A Few Spaces Still Left!!!
For those of you who may think it's too late to sign up for this summer's Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we've got good news! There are a still a few places left, in the following workshops: Mixed Media (visual art), Watercolor, Poetry, Playwriting, and the Seminar on Native American Art. The dates are July 31 - August 7, 2005. The theme this year is "This Great Unknowing: Drawing Near to Mystery."
To register, feel free to call us at (206) 281-2988 or register directly online (starting here).
For general information about the Glen, click here.
2005 Image Conference: New Web pages up; brochure available
We promised to get you more details about the 2005 Image Conference in July, and we're pleased to say we're as good as our word. Now you can go to the Image website to find registration information, a schedule of whens and wheres, and to bask in the glow of our brand new conference brochure, which we'll be mailing out later this month. Held in Houston, Texas November 10-13 and featuring keynote speakers Kathleen Norris and Nicholas Wolterstorff, "The Matter of Devotion: Art, Liturgy, and the Stuff of Worship" will include all the hallmarks of an Image conference-nationally renowned artists and thinkers for plenary talks, music and dance performances, an art exhibition, and several special services featuring distinctive forms of worship, both ancient and new. Hope to see you there this fall!
For more information about the 2005 Image Conference, click here.