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November 25, 2007


To be illuminated...Let me tell you how much I have fell in love with this word. It makes me happy to hear it, and I don't think I've ever said it so much in my entire life until the past few weeks. I have been asking others through text messages, emails, and just random strangers "what illuminates you?" I love it. They are always taken a back, and a moment to think about it sometimes needs to take place. Its a word that carries a lot of volume, weight, depth. I have been continuously redefining this word for myself. After the past few classes, I have never spent so much time thinking about this word and what it means to me, and how it has been a part of my life for so long. Now.. to begin the documentation of how I have been illuminated over a period of 48 hours.

...lets see...Over the break wednesday morning I woke up to bad news that had happened. My sister had hit a mailbox while driving to work late and it shattered the windshield and broke the side mirror off the car(1400 dollars worth of damage). She also took out a mailbox in the process. How you ask? SHe wasn't paying attention to the road, and had too many things going on at once, trying to do too much. To get to the point quicker, my mother was off of a 12 hour shift as a nurse, and came home to this bad news. Now the whole family was upset cooking thanksgiving dinner. My sister felt very depressed, foolish, and pathetic. My mom has a way with words when she's angry to make you feel smaller than an ant. Anyways, time passed, and near the night time, my mom called us all together to talk. She grabbed us all very close and told us that she loves us very much and that we are all each other have. She's apologized for being so hard on my sister, and explained that her anger is because she loves us so much and only wants us to make it in this life. Be happy, successful, and comfortable. We hugged close like a tight family huddle and she asked us to give thanks to God for our blessings, and that we have each other. Even though our dad had passed away last year on Nov. 27th we are still making it together, us four women, stronger than ever because of him and his strenght he has given us. We shared this moment together, family embracing one another, our hearts together meeting eye to eye with each other and recognizing what matters most in this world. We all were illuminated.

-Other illuminating moments was the time i spend with my sisters. We are very close. THey are my best friends, I would die if I ever lost them. Well, since I'm away at school, I don't see them as much anymore and find myself homesick missing them often. Well when I was home, we laid around together doing absolutely nothing, nothing at all, but just sharing that time and company with them made me feel illuminated. So lucky to have a bond so strong with my siblings, and feel them as my backbone in life. A feeling I can't describe, but it is absolutely beautiful and extraordinary our connections and relationship to each other.

-I get illuminated just looking outside my kitchen window and seeing the same view after so many years. I have aged, yet i barely notice anything different about this window I stare out of. I have changed though, looking through this kitchen window while drinking my coffee in the lazy morning, my mother talking in the background and me staring. I look and notice the years have happened, I have grown up so quickly, and this beautiful scenic view I meet with in the morning has reminded me of how beautiful life is when you take time to notice what has always been there. Peace of mind is how i feel when i look at the woods that face my house.

-Spending moments with my mother discussing life...i also don't see my mom that often, nor talk on the phone with her much. She's not really a phone convo person, so i wait till i get long breaks from school to talk with her face to face over coffee, food, ..or just about anything. Her words have never meant so much to me until now.. i am older, and realize how much sense she has always probably made, even though when I was younger I had a hard time seeing that. She is such a beautiful women, so strong, elegant, and full of grace. I hope I can amount to her amazingness someday.

-my sisters artwork... she is so talented, and never shares it with us, i have to search her portfolio to see her latest stuff..man she has grown so much in every way. I stole a piece out of her portfolio this morning to hang in my room..now i have a piece of her here with me all the time, just looking at the drawing fills the room up with her presence and style.. i love it. It's different than having her picture up hanging on the wall, this is something she did, she made this herself.

-Dancing with an old crush out at the bar the other night. This was a crush from elementary school. Never have I ever thought in a million years I would run into him again, and share a moment with him as I did. It was so surreal. He goes to school in New Jersey, studying to be a surgeon, it had to have been like 11 years since I last saw him. It absolutely stunned me. We werne't ever really friends either oddly enough. We always knew of each other. He went to my elementary school, one year ahead of me. He lived in my neighborhood, and one time I remembered we played together with neighborhood friends one summer day when I was probably 9. It is crazy. Well we somehow got to talking, and caught up. We went to dance and probably danced 3-4 songs together. IT was so great!! that moment dancing with him, on the dance floor, feeling really good, and knowing that I looked good was illuminating. Here at this very moment in between the beats, I felt the rhythm in my bones, and held his hand in mine..i felt like I was right out of a movie. I was dancing in that moment, thinking of nothing else, smiles so big my cheeks hurt mixed in with laughter. It was indescribably great. And then he was gone, gone forever maybe, who knows the next time I may run into this guy. It could have been the last dance I would ever have with him. BUt let me tell you it was the best dance I could ever have with him. I bumped into other old friends from the past and it was wonderful.


see the pics in the drop box to relate to my illuminations..

Posted by maxell at November 25, 2007 07:35 PM


How beautiful this is --on multiple levels simultaneously,both the manner of expression and the content. How illuminating. (There is poetry embedded throughout your post --let us not become confused that "poetry" necessarily refers only to or even mostly to those text formations on paper pages; aestheric forces inform both the expression and the content. Keep this in mind as you prepare your enclosure[s] for this semester.)

Thank you.

I'm sorry about your father --as I've said on a number of occasions (please forgive the repetition) my most recent book "Tokyo Butter" is an attempt to understand persistence and to prove (to myself) that persistence exists, that in some forms on several scales, some aspect, some allness of my cousin exists.

I too lost a father; he died the year before I graduated first in the class from Oberlin --that would have pleased him so much, but... That was so many years ago. We moved into the house my mother still lives in when I was nine, when the neighborhood had only one brown-hued family, a mixed family like my own. Thst was many, many years ago; decades since we moved into that house and fewer decades, but still decades, since the death of my father --I was the one who drove him to the hospital in my first car --but not fast enough; this was the occasion (there's been other emergencies) when he could not be revived --bur he persists of course, literally in my own biologically composition and the parts of him passed on to my son genetically, but also he persists psychologically, emotionally as I am able to construct versions that I believe to be reliable of his response to the achievments I've enjoyed, all of the notable ones in my profession after his death. You don't know how badly I wish he could have witnessed my winning of a MacArthur Fellowship, known as the genius award (worth a half million dollars). He was such an intellectually vital man....

Anyway, it is the house he bought in a neighborhood that bears no resemblance to what it was --every fruit tree is gone (refer to my print poam "The Culture of City Peaches" --a part of "Tokyo Butter-- the first few lines of which are:

"Teresa's peach tree sprouted from her roof. If nothing interferes, this slow start of this world's Angkor Wat might make it, roots like thighs of every world's biggest woman. The peaches were ripe when they matched Naveen's face twelve houses down the odd-numbered side of the street where the Mabreys had only Coke or root beer with every meal, because they were Primitive Baptists and fruit flavors were spiritual pollutants --as were questions Naveen couldn't ask. The women Mabreys covered their heads..."

--as quoted at http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/callaloo/v028/28.4moss_t02.html--; this print poam explores the loss of fruit trees and an illumination that arose from the loss of sources of obvious sweetness)

--The point is there is demise. The neighborhood has been so dangerous (compared with how I define what it means to live safely). Houses are delapidated; some of the patterns of ruin are quite compelling, but this ruined environment is where people live, where a neighborhood persists, but quite a different neighborhood from the one I knew. Abject poverty is the rule --but I can't say the lives are poor; it is possible, that even there, residents experience moments of illumination --the sun rises there as everywhere, stars (other than the sun) emerge whenever there is darkness not caused by storm clouds; there are opportunities to see the moon. I am confident that at night, many of the human brains in this neighborhood function as the brain should in REM mode, when we are unable not to dream, even if we wake unable to recall that we have dreamed at all.

So the changes in the neighborhood have not wrecked illumination. Some aspects of illumination of course have been reconfigured.

And that is how it is for my mother; a reconfiguration of what it means to still be with my father, her refusal to move from the home he boughr for her so that he is still providing for her, taking care of her.

Had he lived, he and my mother would have moved away years ago, but since he did not, my mother cannot abandon their home.

--Had I not married so young (I've been married 34 years); had I not married so young, in adolescence (not because of pregnancy; my children did not arrive until almost 20 years into the marriage); I will say again: had I not married so young, my father would not have been present at my wedding, would not have walked with me down the aisle of my mother's storefront chirch (my father did not accept organized religions), would not have left the configurations of existence which are the most accessible knowing that I was with a man who would persist in my life.

My father died on a summer date that was a week (exactly) after the anniversary of my marriage, a date that is five days before the birth date of son.

Posted by: thyliasm at November 30, 2007 10:49 PM

Please don't overlook the poam configurations that exist within a scale that seems like incredible brevity from the human scale --poam configurations which may endure only as long as a lightning flash --sometimes the evidence is only a radiant pulse we (think) that we feel, we believe that we have experienced even when there is no proof but our commitment to belief.

So please watch some of the videos in the link below about the poam configurations that occur. often incredibly briefly, in the work of "nature collaborator" Andy Goldsworthy (don't you find how he self-identifies so illuminating? He tags himself with identifiers in a manner that maybe perceived as similar to Elizabeth Bishop tagging her sestina poam "Sestina." Consider the certainty that something has been correctly identified in such tagging).

You Tube excerpts from "Rivers and Tides," a documentary about Andy Goldsworthy in acts of making:


What can you say about intention when the poam melts, floats away, collapses, is carried away in its components by water, etc.?

Who is this for?

What is the value?

Why work so hard for something that does not result in the kind of monuments that often indicate human presence? Monuments perhaps designed to outlast us --why?

How do we study such poams that no longer exis? --only the record of the poam having happened remains

But then again, and I urger you to think carefully about this; but then again, why assume that what is on the print page IS the poam? In some ways, is not the print object a record of the event as it occurs in the mind and feelings of the maker? Is not the illumination something that (sometimes, when the maker is lucky) occurs in the impulse to make, in the act of making? And while the print object may illuminate those who experience it, what is being experienced may be a model of what the maker experienced to produce the print object and not the actual poam event.

Posted by: thyliasm at November 30, 2007 11:24 PM

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