Monday, January 19, 2015

Memorable Quotes from "Henry Miller on Writing"

In Henry Miller on Writing, Thomas H. Moore edited together a broad selection of texts on the subject of writing from the great body of published works by Henry Miller, including letters and excerpts from novels.

As I read the collection of writings on the theme, I was struck by many of the texts and anecdotes, and wanted to highlight some of them here in my blog, including his thoughts on censorship and obscenity, which continue to be all-too-relevant.

"A great work of art, if it accomplishes anything, serves to remind us, or let us say to set us dreaming, of all that is fluid and intangible. Which is to say, the universe." (pg. 23)

"Since I was convinced that I could write about anything under the sun, and excitingly, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to make up a list of themes which I thought of interest and submit them to editors of magazines in order that they might select what appealed to them. This entailed writing dozens and dozens of letters. Long, fatuous letters they were, too. It also meant keeping files, as well as observing the idiotic rules and regulations of a hundred and one editorial bodies. It involved altercations and disputes, fruitless errands to editorial offices, vexation, disgruntlement, rage, despair, ennui. And postage stamps! After weeks of turmoil and effervescence there might appear one day a letter from an editor saying that he would condescend to read my article if and if and if and but." (pg. 39)

"COMMANDMENTS

1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to "Black Spring."
3. Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can't create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don't be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it--but go back to it the next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards." (pg. 161)

"Viscount Brentford is the gentleman who tried to protect the English public from such iniquitous works as Ulysses and The Well of Loneliness. He is the type, so rampant in the Anglo-Saxon world, to which the words of Dr. Ernest Jones would seem to apply: 'It is the people with secret attractions to various temptations who busy themselves with removing these temptations from other people; really they are defending themselves under the pretext of defending others, because at heart they fear their own weakness.'" (pg. 178)

"The sordid qualities imputed to the enemy are always those which we recognize as our own and therefore rise to slay, because only through projection do we realize the enormity and horror of them." (pg. 183)

Friday, January 02, 2015

Art Book Festivals in Berlin, Part 2

This is part two of a two-part report on recent art book festivals I attended in Berlin. To read part one, click here.

-------------------------------


Report on Friends with Books: Art Book Fair Berlin 2014

On 13/14 December, Friends with Books hosted Art Book Fair Berlin 2014, a “festival for contemporary artists’ books and periodicals by artists and art publishers.” Friends with Books is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 with the goal of “offering greater visibility to contemporary artists’ books and art publications.” The group’s activities include – in addition to the book fair – public programming and partnerships with art organizations to facilitate the engagement of a variety of audiences with the book works of artists and publishers. (Information taken from the program for the book fair.)

Café Moskau


Art Book Fair Berlin 2014 was held at Berlin’s famous Café Moskau, a historic building opened in 1964 on Karl-Marx-Allee and meant “to symbolise the fraternal relations between the GDR and the Soviet Union, and provide insights into Russia’s culinary and cultural customs” (from the Café Moskau web site). Considering it was the organization’s first book fair, an impressive number and variety of exhibitors filled the showroom. The more than 100 exhibitors included book publishers, artist organizations, as well as arts-related periodicals from countries including Germany, United States, Great Britain, Iceland, Japan, Australia, Belgium, Portugal, and Switzerland.

A good showing of attendees at the book fair.

The event featured presentations on a variety of art-literary topics, including “Synaesthesia and the Unseen,” a conversation with Rebecca Partridge and Lauren Reid on the occasion of the launch of Partridge’s book Notations, by Broken Diamanche Press. On Sunday, 14 December, Art historian and curator Dr. Sophie Berrebi, author of The Shape of Evidence spoke with German artist Susanne Kriemann to examine the role and use of visual documents in contemporary art.

The table of Slovenian publisher Zavod P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E.

Many authors and publishers offered book signings on-site, including Yuji Hamada (Photograph, 2014, lemonmelon books), Moritz Frei (Ölbild für gebrauchtes Aut, 2014, MMKoehn Verlag), and Zora Mann (Zora Mann’s Magical coloring book, 2014, Motto Books).

Also as part of the event, a variety of “interventions” and projects were installed around the ground floor of Café Moakau to provoke discussion, often in conjunction with performances and lectures during the event. One such installation was “Good Times & Nocturnal News”, by Egle Kulbokaite and Carl Palm, which consisted of the first two magazine editions and a “dripping ice moon.”

Friends with Books also produced Poster Editions for the Art Book Fair. Four posters were commissioned by Berlin-based artists. Twenty-five of each edition were signed and numbered by the artists, while the rest of the limited editions were offered for free to attendees. The signed and numbered posters are being sold to raise funds for the projects of Friends with Books. Posters can be purchased directly from Friends with Books via email inquiry (info@friendswithbooks.org).


Broken Diamanche Press - http://www.brokendimanche.eu/


Friends with Books – www.friendswithbooks.org




Zavod P.A.R.A.S.I.T.E. - http://www.zavod-parasite.si/eng/




Thursday, December 18, 2014

Getting Back into Travel Writing

When I worked as Director of Outreach for a trade association, I had the pleasure of traveling around not only the U.S., but internationally to conferences and meetings. My travels inspired my poetry, but I also wrote occasional non-fiction about the places I visited, or travel tips.

Living in Berlin, I have learned a lot about the city's history, its architecture, and its cultural attractions. Because of this knowledge, I wanted to get back into travel writing. Finally, after nearly a year and a half of research, topic brainstorming, and pitching, my first two articles are now published.

"The City behind the City of Berlin," GoNOMAD Travel, November 2014

"Kunstquartier Bethanien," Slow Travel Berlin, December 2014

I feel like I am now getting some traction with my efforts. Of course, having two very recent writing clips will help tremendously as I pitch ideas to other outlets.

As 2014 comes to a close, I am already beginning to think positively about the prospects for 2015.

And keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Art Book Festivals in Berlin, Part 1

Berlin is well-known for its art scene, so it is not surprising to find that it also has a fine selection of book fairs dedicated specifically to “art books.” I had the pleasure of attending two of these fairs in late-2014, and am happy to provide summaries of them.

------------------------------------------------


Report on artbook.berlin 2014 at Kunstquartier Bethanien

On 21-23 November, artbook.berlin held its third convention for art books, and artistic editions of books. This year, the event showcased the work of more than 100 art book publishers and graphic design artists from Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, and Switzerland.

Kunstquartier Bethanien

The event took place in Kreuzberg’s historic Kunstquartier Bethanien on Mariannenplatz, the former Central-Deaconess-Institute 'Bethanien' (Central-Diakonissen-Haus Bethanien). Following the signs for artbook.berlin, I wended my way through the vibrantly muraled hallways of the ground floor to the smaller of the two exhibition spaces, which contained a series of cozy linked rooms. The larger of the exhibit spaces was on the first floor, in a brightly-lit two-story hall.

View from the 2nd level of the larger hall

The event featured readings and discussions by authors including Pètrus Akkordéon and Rainer Stolz, as well as book-launch celebrations and signings by artists such as Anne Wenkel and Kat Menschik. On Sunday afternoon, visitors were treated to a guided tour of Kulturwerk’s printing studios by Mathias Mrowka, Assistant Director for the studio. Kulturwerk is a facility of bbk berlin, an association for professional artists in Berlin.

Many of the publishers showcased books presenting the art of individual or select artists – with the motivation of allowing a broader access by the public to works of art they may not be able to afford as originals. Also exhibiting at the event were an impressive number of publishers presenting art books featuring wonderful graphic designs to accompany fiction and poetry, for example:

Officina Ludi – This Hamburg-based publisher offered among its books the Kurt Tucholsky work “Der Hund als Untergebener,” illustrated by Klaus Ensikat. Also featured at the table was “Typoeten – Typographische Dichterporträts von Ralf Mauer,” wonderful portraits of famous poets and writers, crafted by Ralf Mauer.

Ralf Mauer's portraits of poets

edition offizin parvus berlin – This local publisher of hand-printed books featuring original graphics, offered a gorgeous selection of “folded books,” with excerpts of text from writers and poets such as Hermann Hesse, Georg Trakl, Federico Garcia Lorca, and Tatsuko. All editions are in German.

One of the "folded books" by edition offizin parvus berlin

On 13 December, I will attend Art Book Fair Berlin 2014, hosted by Friends with Books, a newly-formed non-profit organization dedicated to offering greater visibility to contemporary artists' books and art publications.



edition offizin parvus berlin – www.offizinparvus.de

Friends with Books – www.friendswithbooks.org

Kunstquartier Bethanien – www.kunstquartier-bethanien.de

Officina Ludi – www.officinaludi.de


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Percentages

Yesterday, I sent out what will likely be the last poetry submission of the year. Because it's been a bit of a crazy year, and because I am trying to focus on writing that pays money, I haven't been writing or submitting much in the way of poetry this year. But, since I was curious, I did a tally of my submissions to literary journals.

I sent 39 batches of poems to litmags. I am awaiting response from nine. I had four acceptances, but one of them was for translations and if I can't get the permissions fee waived (due to the fact that I, myself, will not receive any money for the translations), then that drops me back to three acceptances out of 30 responses so far. I consider 10% to be pretty good, considering that I've been extremely selective and aiming at some pretty high branches.

Nine batches awaiting response. If I keep up the percentages, that means one will likely be an acceptance. Which will it be? Hmmmm....

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Back to Work

The two-week fall break has ended and we are all back to work or back to school.

For me, two classes have ended. A new one starts this week, while the second is slated to begin next week. After that, I break from teaching until the new year.

Fountain in Bremen
October was a month of ups and downs, fits and starts, and then stops. Lessons were learned in the area of book image rights, travel plans were chaotic due to nationwide train strikes, the water pump on our dryer ceased to pump, and much tea was consumed to soothe the colds obtained from a chilly and rainy visit to a little island on the North Sea.

On the up side, family visited, Oktober was "fested", several kilograms of Halloween candy were eaten, we discovered the beauty of Bremen, Peter & I had successful meetings with potential clients and associates, projects were completed, movies were seen, an island was explored from coast to coast, and I even managed to get some scribbling done in my journal. No poems for now, but there's hope that one day soon.

Tonight, I will be one of the featured readers at Curious Fox Books. I'm looking forward to getting back to participating in Berlin's literary scene.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Looking for Inspiration Before the Holiday Rush Hits?

For those who are seeking some inspiration for poems, I'll be leading two online workshops in November:


Online Poetry Workshop II
Begins: 3 November 2014 (4 weeks) via "The Writer's Center"
With the same structure as Online Poetry Workshop I, this workshop will provide different topics for generating new poems. Lessons will be posted weekly, featuring example poems and links to additional reading. Participants will share and comment on each other’s work and will receive individual feedback from the workshop leader. Completion of Online Poetry Workshop I is NOT required for Workshop II. US$195.00 (members of The Writer's Center receive a discount). For more info or to register, visit
https://www.writer.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=353&__nccssubcid=69&__nccsct=Online+Workshops&nccsm=21&__nccspID=3805.

Poetry Exercises to Jump-Start Your Muse - II
Begins: 10 November 2014 (4 weeks) via "Women on Writing"
Are you tired of sitting around waiting for the muse to bring you the gift of an idea for a poem? Jump-start your muse with this workshop. For four weeks, you will receive inspiration for generating new poems, ideas you can return to time and time again to reinvigorate your writing. Themed lessons will be posted weekly, featuring example poems, articles, essays, and links to additional reading. Participants will submit drafts weekly for thoughtful, individual feedback from the instructor. (NOTE: This workshop is similar in structure to Poetry Exercises to Jump-Start Your Muse - I, but features four different thematic exercises.) US$100.00. For more info or to register, visit

http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/classroom/BernadetteGeyer_PoetryExercisesToJumpStartYourMuseII.php