It was really a pleasure to talk with Justin Marks about his new poetry book THE COMEDOWN from Publishing Genius. We discuss the complexities of memoir/poetry, sobriety, politics and most of all the huge unease of the self and how to explore that in a book of poetry. What I love about this book is how we’re seeing the journey of the self, mirrored in the creation of a manuscript. It is not a surprise that writing a book of poetry (especially one like this where Marks deliberately wanted to explore memoir) is a meditation on a psychic journey. But what also happens is that the creation, editing, and seeing it through to publication, is a whole new journey, that and evolution. Great books of poetry will have layers of understanding, for the writer, reader and the poems themselves, and will never be static, but continue to show and highlight discovery and insights.
How do poets and artists fit into to the political and environmental intensity of the moment? In this follow up episode to the Ruth Stone House January Newsletter, Bianca Stone and visual artist, writer, calligrapher, Candace Jensen, discuss the complexities of action through art.
Original January Newsletter “Can Poetry Save Nature?”
“Thank you for your email on the eco crisis and what poetry can and can’t do about it. I agree with your friend about redirecting our collective focus. More to the arts…and activism. Art is a form of activism, but not in a wagging the finger kind of way. We need more individual expression and mobilisation of individuals. It’s corporations and monocrop media-entertainment-psuedo news that have us in a hamster wheel. How can we forge a new way of living with art and without google and the typical modes of consumer living?”
“In the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets” Jonas Mekas “Movie Journal Aug. 2, 1962”
“I was recently thinking about this topic, and remembered one of my favorite quotes by the great thinker, teacher, poet, Audre Lorde.. ‘poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.’ Thank you for all your good work, Ruth Stone House.”
“I loved that you used an excerpt from “Asphodel That Greeny Flower.” Another favorite poem in that form (I was taught that it’s called a “variable foot” but I’m not totally sure if it’s right… anyway, I love the three stepped lines) is Lorine Niedecker’s “Wintergreen Ridge” which details how women helped protect some of the habitat of Door County in Wisconsin.” –Katherine Gibbel
Candace Jensen is a visual artist, writer, calligrapher and practicing Tantric. She has exhibited work in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, and Antwerp. Her artwork has been featured in Studio Visit Magazine, as well as the Royal Academy of the Arts biannual KoMASK Masters Printmaking publication. Jensen focuses on building and uplifting art communities and regenerative systems of culture and cultivation through both her artwork and environmental activism. She is a current artist member at Amos Eno Gallery, where she collaborates as an exhibiting artist and curator. Jensen earned her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA, in 2018, and her BFA from Tyler School of Art in 2008, also in Philadelphia. She has completed over 1000 hours of advance study in Tantra, Feminine Form Yoga and Ayurveda, and maintains a personal practice and a student-educator relationship to the teachings. Her most recent solo exhibitions in Philadelphia at the Fleisher Art Memorial in 2019, and at Amos Eno Gallery in Brooklyn, NY in 2020, both featured large bodies of visual art and writing rooted in the tradition of illuminated manuscripts whose content highlights ecoliteracy, deep ecology and empathic writing. The artist lives and works in Southern Vermont.