ON VOICES OF YOUTH AND THE POETICS OF MOVEMENT(S)


as an artist I am probably supposed to be inspired and I am supposed to be inspired by old dead white men. some old dead white men are in fact inspiring to me, for example jackson pollock and philip larkin. if not old white men I guess I should be inspired by mountains and trees and the size of the sky which do sometime ignite if not inspire me, or women who have done ridiculous things like emma bovary saying screw it and buying accessories and having affairs or getrude stein making syntax her bitch.

more often than not I am inspired by my sisters and reality television and essie nail polish and vogue and advertisements for tiffany engagement rings. and coffee – cafecitos and cortaditos in miami, cappuccinos and triple soy lattes in manhattan, sugared iced coffee and hazelnut coffee and things that grow in the earth and on trees and the sound a whisk makes against a glass bowl when I am baking or the way the engine of my mustang purrs at red lights when it’s 10 degrees outside and still dark and I’m driving to early morning power yoga in south bend.

portrait of some artists as very young girls

I come from an actual genealogical lineage of artists as my ancestors were wandering gypsies and pub singers, and my siblings are all artists, and anyone who has had a conversation with me knows how I feel about art which is that it is bestowed upon one by the divine as is royalty. but I do not think that inspiration is given to anyone and I do not necessarily believe that it exists. when I say I feel inspired what I mean is that I feel there is no way for me to continue living inside of my human body without making some other body in which whatever spark incited this death drive could live. so maybe what I mean by inspiration is a procreative instinct, like in frankenstein, and maybe art or whatever it is that artists make are monsters or monstrous and I think that is probably true.

one time I was at christmas eve mass in new jersey and the priest was talking about how mary was an unwed teenage mother and even though there was this weird vibrating hush in the room I liked it a lot because he did not deny the fact that there was something monstrous, something that was art and divine and monstrous and unasked for, about this creative act.

what I also liked about it was that he did not deny the fact that mary, the mother of jesus christ etc., was a teenager. there was none of this pretending that one must incubate until one is “an adult” before one can produce a thing of value

 

 

one day in december I was watching the hills with my youngest sister who is eleven and who is an artist, a dancer. we had spent most of the afternoon doing the kinds of things girls do when they are together like ordering takeout sushi, doing crunches to katy perry songs, and watching mtv. then she decided it was time to make art and she spent hours in the living room choreographing this brilliant piece for herself, just for the sake of it.

my sister being art, photographed by my sister; they are both younger than 18.

I have been so long enmeshed in some idea of “P”oetry I’ve forgotten what art is. trying to explain anything feels like trying to detail the mechanisms of breathing. inspiration is some totality of bullshit, probably, or a kind of weather in which one is destined to hypothermia. people complain that the climate of contemporary literature is trite and post-ironic and generally awful and it is, it’s awful. it’s stagnant, too still, stuck in the swamp of itself.

my other sister took up poetry-writing seriously exactly a year ago; I remember receiving her first poems via text-message while I was standing outside of raul zurita’s reading because something about the way he read struck some violence in me and I had to leave to be sick, and there was something so absolutely different about them it was shocking. I showed them to other poets who filtered out of the auditorium and we stood in a small circle, nodding solemnly at the screen of my blackberry.

this summer she went away to the mountains to learn to write, the same mountains where I learned to write, from some of the same people, and came to visit me in new york wielding a copy of Poetry magazine with a poem by d.a. powell and a new way of being-in-the-world, a poet’s way. and she’s taken to her books and studied hard and learned about things like consonance and lineation and chuffs out poems like a mini anne sexton, full of teenage vitriol and the careful carelessness of an artist stretching their muscles for the first time.

 

art just spills out of the finn/epstein girls' mouths

right now I’m in this class called voice & movement which is an acting class designed to teach us how to use and prepare our bodies and our voices. we were learning how to stretch our quads and do headstands against the walls and the professor talked about how she’d taken this class when she was about my age and cried during this exercise, because she’d never stretched that muscle before.


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