Trust me, You must be brave." * * * Sasha Thurmond is a graduate of the Cornell University MFA program where she majored in printmaking. She lives on a farm in South Carolina with her horse and other animals, and sometimes finds time to make art or write poems or stories.
THADDEUS RUTKOWSKI’S latest book “Violent Outbursts” is addictive. You pick it
up planning to read one or two short stories, or are they flash fiction, or
poetry, and then you find yourself unable to put the book down until you have
finished the whole thing. So what exactly are these compelling short pieces, most only one page long?
Alan Catlin, writing in MisFit Magazine states
that “Rutkowski’s pieces are to prose poems what Russell Edson’s are to
fiction. Thad’s work has many of the same elements of Edson’s best work:
absurd, outrageous situations and resolutions, deft biting satirical humor, and
a mock, generally self-effacing narrator. So go with flash fictions. It
works as well as any other designation does. This is good, highly charged,
terrific, distinctive writing no matter what you call it.”
The book has gotten numerous favorable
comments. Author Ed Lin calls Rutkowski; “the original language gangster (who)
tips over words and lets them fall on you.” And Max Blagg states that Rutkowski’s
collection: “skirts the edge of psychological revelation, with hints of darker
meaning coursing below the surface.”
Emerson has said that a writer, in
order to write well, must give oneself wholly to their feelings as one has them,
and not to thesauri or dictionaries. In “Violent Outbursts” it appears that
Thaddeus Rutkowski has taken this direction to a good end.
From the Finger Lakes: A Prose Anthology contains the work of 44
highly-talented local authors of fiction, memoir, and reportage writing both
about the Ithaca area and parts of the world less "centrally isolated." Cayuga
Lake Books launched the book at two readings. The first took place on Sunday, November 8, to a large crowd in the Borg Warner Room of the Tompkins Country Public
Library between 2:00 and 5:00. The second was held on Sunday, November 15
at Buffalo Street Books. The following authors participated:
TOMPKINS COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
Rhian Ellis, Guest Editor, Mary Gilliland, Ann Gold, Daniel Gold, Stephen Poleskie, Jeanne Mackin, David Guaspari, Amber Donosio, Barbara Adams, Gene Endres, and Nino Lama
NOVEMBER 15 AT BUFFALO
Rhian Ellis, Guest Editor, Carol Kammen, Brad
Edmondson, Gerard A. Cox, Katharyn Howd Machan, Douglas Green, James McConkey, Lamar Herrin, Fred
Rabois, and Alison Lurie
Paul West, noted novelist, essayist, and poet, passed away peacefully on October 18, 2015 at his home in Ithaca, New York after a long illness. Paul was born in Eckington, Derbyshire in England to Alfred and Mildred (Noden) West. He was a graduate of Oxford University and served in the Royal Air Force. He taught at Penn State University for many years, and was a literary critic for the Washington Post. Paul is survived by his wife Diane Ackerman, a writer, poet, and naturalist. In his lifetime Paul was the author of 54 books. The last four of which were published by Onager Editions. He has received awards from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Lannan Prize for Fiction and the Halperin-Kaminsky Prize. He was named a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library and a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Government. He has also been a runner-up for the National Book Circle Award and the Nobel Prize for Literature. We are reprinting here one of Paul's poems from his book Tea With Osiris, which was previously published in in this journal in August 2006:
One summer's day in winter when the snow was raining fast, a barefooted boy with clogs on stood sitting on the grass. He went to the movies that night and bought two front seats at the back, ate a big plain cake with currents in, and when he'd eaten it he gave it back. * * *
i always liked blonde girls. they smelled different. tasted
different, too. for some reason blondes and i never hooked up for long. i’m not
sure why. maybe it was me. maybe it was their long term goal to cohabit with
aristocrats or jocks. or that i was too eager and too shy at once. today i
cannot see myself sitting at a kitchen table with a blonde woman next to or
across from me, or at the stove making scrambled eggs, though i can and do see
a dark-haired, brown-eyed mediterranean doing the same thing, and it feels
natural as the day is long. i can also see her in a lot of other rooms, so it’s
not like playing patty-cake, patty-cake on the living room floor in front of
the zenith tv. it’s neither norman rockwell nor roman polanski. not dick and
jane, but a blend of beardsley and parrish, if you know what i mean.
* * *
Mike Foldes is the founder and managing editor of Ragazine, an online literary magazine. He is also the author of "Sleeping Dogs, A true story of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping," and "Sandy: Chronicles of a Superstorm," with artist Christine Devereaux." Download at www.Smashwords.Com and www.Amazon.Com
Mike Foldes' 1997 painting "Oops Blonde" is in the collection of Gabriel Navar, Oakland, Ca.
Blue he is, in his sea; so is nature; blue he is, as a sapphire, in his extreme
distance; so is nature; blue he is, in the misty shadows and hollows – John Ruskin
THE BLUE WE SEE in the Madonna’s
robes, in the wings of Cimabue’s angels, in that ultramarine that speaks of
depth in water and the heavens, once all came from the same distant
source. Oltramarino means beyond the seas and once referred to many things:
spices, cloth, glassware. Eventually
ultramarine came to refer to the blue color made by finely grinding a
semi-precious stone. The finest lapis lazuli came from Afghanistan
from a place called Sar-e-sang, the Place of the Stone. When you look at an old
painting luminous with that particular blue, you are looking at jewels and
history and foreign lands.
husband, a handsome middle-aged man who still had the air of a renegade, of
someone who might as easily pull away on a Harley as in a Volvo, came home from
wearing ultramarine suede shoes. He’d
been gone half a year, exhibiting in Germany,
in Italy and Switzerland,
those countries that still romanced the airplane and artists who use them as
paintbrushes, as did my husband, making of the sky a canvas. He looked tired and harassed, as do those who
come through customs carrying large portfolios and small crates. Half a year. I waited for the sense of
stranger to creep into my perception.
shoes would not allow me the distance with which I wished to experiment. Half a
year, an ocean, many borders between us, yet those barriers were thin as the
air over our heads. When he saw me and waved, they vanished completely. He is of blue; his preference, his art, his
spirit are made of ground jewels, the color of angel wings, of height and depth.
Wherever chiaroscuro enters, colour must lose some of its
brilliancy. There is no shade in a
rainbow, nor in an opal, nor in a piece of mother-of-pearl – John Ruskin
LIGHT CAN BE SLOWED DOWN and made to
reconsider its own path, its desire for velocity. When light passes through glass, it slows and
makes a detour we call refraction. Refraction is matter’s way of saying, “Let’s
rethink this.” Shine light through a
diamond and it slows its speed by almost half because of the density of the crystal. If you lived inside a diamond, you would be
twenty-five when your peers were fifty; you would live twice as long, and twice
as slowly. A water droplet, perhaps the opposite of diamond’s hardness, is also
That thanksgiving it was warm and
humid, so after dinner we went outside.
A triple rainbow hung over the forest. A double happens once in a while,
but in the sky that day after the storm three nestled inside each other, and we
looked, knowing we would never see such a thing again. The rarity of it locked
us into silence; we grappled with the event the way medieval people contended
with comets or halos around the moon. Wonder and fear refract our direction,
bend it into new paths. The wonder takes
hold of us and says “I have caught you.” The fear says “I am going to change
you whether you wish it or not. From now on, up will be down, and inside will
be outside.” But wonder cannot
last. Colors fade, especially in a
emerged from chaos, the first miracle was the creation of light, and with light
came time. When the triple rainbow began
to fade, we came to ourselves slowly and with confusion. We went indoors carrying new desires with us
and I wished I had seen the triple rainbow when I was a child, not a grown up.
I think somehow things would have been different. I cleared the table of our dirtied dishes and
glasses and the vase of yellow garden mums.
Nature is always mysterious and
secret in her use of means; and art is always likest her when it is most
inexplicable. – John Ruskin
FRANCIUM HAS A HALF-LIFE of
twenty-two minutes and a melting point so low this metal would be liquid at
room temperature. It is an element of dream time. At any moment less than
thirty grams of francium exist on earth; it is measured not in cupfuls but in
atoms trapped in laser beams in a magnetic field, floating like snow flakes in
the glow of a street light, casting shadows larger than themselves. We will live our lives without ever seeing
this metal, without experiencing its catastrophically brief existence.
was a boy once, like that. By accident, though there may be no such thing, we
sat next to each other in a Boston
pub, listening to revolutionary songs of a different country. He had black hair
and white skin, the coloring you often find in people who recite Yeats from
memory. We drank brown beer and drew codes in the sawdust floor with the toes
of our boots. He was with his friends, I
with mine, yet we knew we were together. His arm slowly curled around my waist,
under my coat, where no one could see it, but I could feel it. We hadn’t spoken a word to each other yet we
belonged to each other. This is not a
true story, you see. It is a story of unstable elements, of rare metals and all
that we cannot see of existence, all that cannot be imitated. It is a story of solitude.
door opens. A cold wind blows snowflakes
into the pub, and the codes in the sawdust of the floor are wiped away by the
draft. We shiver and leave behind the dream time. His arm snakes back into its private Eden leaving behind this
memory of a boy and that knowledge of rarity, of immeasurability. The memory lasts longer than the moment and
that is how we know we are, and have been. We measure such moments by atoms of
the unexpected, not cupfuls of what is known. We exist in a single moment
surrounded by before and after.
Under the direct yellow light of a
descending sun . . . pure white and pure
blue are both impossible – John Ruskin
WHEN THE SUN DESCENDS, our humanity
is optional; our goodness flees to animal history. Day is not night, and dark is not light.
Twilight obscures, while light illuminates, and under cover we change who we
are. Sunset begins the masked festival of anonymity, when nature overcomes all
the encumbrances of civilization, of education.
Shadows elongate till the children playing on the pebble beach cast
darker outlines of alien origin. White
pebbles turn grey and purple; the wild chicory flowers lose their blue and flee
to burnt lavender. As the children play
outside, inside wives dance into the shadows with other women’s husbands. Frank
Sinatra croons them to the moon.
children, enticed by the music, leave the pebbled beach and the fireflies and
creep to the clubhouse windows to spy on this secret interior. The summer-hot world is divided into two
camps, that of children and that of grown ups, and both camps on this summer
evening are reverting to wildness, to those disremembered spaces formed in
early history around campfires, inside caves.
Music and stories make the night bearable. The grown ups fox trot and whisper. Outside, the children press sticky faces to
mosquito stained windows as lightning flashes in the distance.
The teenagers who are just learning the ritual
of courting dances and hormone bravado splash into the water to play daredevil:
the lightning invades the sky, banging and flashing overhead, ambushing the
lake. The last child to leave the water,
just before the lightning hits it for the first time, is the hero of the
evening. The younger children,
impressed, resort to punching and pinching each other till the very youngest
cries. But no adult comes running. They are fox trotting and two stepping and
whispering on their way to a private moon.
. . . . the angels’ wings burn with
transparent crimson and purple and amber.
IN JAPAN, PURPLEIS A SACRED COLOR, the color of victory, the color of the cloth
used to wrap sacred objects. The author
of the 8th century The Tale of Genji called herself Lady Murasaki –
Lady Purple. In the west the Victorians
chose subdued purple as a color of mourning. Perhaps death and victory are the
my grandmother’s bedroom a black shawl embroidered with purple pansies hung
over her ogee mirror. She loved purple
flowers above all other colors, and filled the house with vases of lilacs in
the spring. The aroma of lilac still brings me back to that mysterious bedroom
I was allowed to visit only once, the bedroom of a woman who had outlived
generations and some of her own children. The furniture was heavy and dark
wood, their veneers crackled with age. When my grandmother began to die they
carried her down from that room and placed her in a hospital bed set up in what
had been the dining room. I was eight, and the process of leaving life
terrified me. We sat in a row of chairs, watching and waiting, hours and days
of watching and waiting, and I thought of that mysterious room upstairs, the
room now emptied of its greatest secret.
She seemed willing to go, not at all afraid. Or perhaps after so many years
of being mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, she had learned to hide the
fear from little ones.
she died and even the hospital bed was emptied of her, the house filled with
the scent of lilacs. This happened in
March, before the lilacs bloom. In the
Mass card that commemorates her death, angels kneel over a tomb and their wings
are white with purple at the tips.
It is at first better, and finally,
more pleasing, for human minds to contemplate things as they are, than as they
are not. – John
WHAT IS MOST UNKNOWN in our world is
the ocean. How do we contemplate the unseeable, that heavy and murky darkness,
the weight and depth of those alien environments? The deepest part of the Pacific Ocean, the part never measured, barely imagined,
is the Mariana Trench, seven miles below seagulls and boats, six miles below
the depth to which submarines dive, four miles deeper than the watery grave of
the Titanic. It is a stratum of ocean
completely unknown to us, a womb where life must survive pitch blackness, salt,
near-freezing temperature and a pressure of eight tons per square inch. But there is life there. Life is.
a spring and summer twilight, color, before it mutes and darkens, glows
brighter as the defiant sun grasps for more time. Is this our central metaphor, more time,
please? Time and life use the same verb: they pass. They are wasted or well used, celebrated or
mourned. Grief glows brighter at
twilight, when memory invades. Memory
illuminates the shadows and varies the color of all other emotions. Every day at twilight my elderly father told
the same story. Something about the pure white light of a Florida sunset reminded him of a day sixty
years before, when he and other boy soldiers clambered over the sides of a boat
and stormed a beach in the South Pacific.
There were so many bodies we stepped on them, he said each time. We
couldn’t see the sand.
my father, as mysterious to me as the deepest part of the ocean, never spoke of
the three years he spent on Saipan except once
when we were watching one of those John Wayne World War II hero movies. My father said: It wasn’t like that. * * *
JEANNE MACKIN is the author of seven novels and has published short fiction and creative nonfiction in journals and periodicals including American Letters and Commentary and SNReview. She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and is an award-winning journalist. She has taught English at Ithaca College and creative writing in the MFA Program at GoddardCollage in Vermont and Port Townsend, Washington. Jeanne Mackin's latest book A Lady of Good Family, the story of the early landscape architect Beatrix Farrand and her relationship with her niece Edith Wharton is available online at this link: http://www.amazon.com/Lady-Good-Family-Novelebook/dp/B00OQRL57U/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-1&qid=1433293389
are those inky dendrites colluding with
is the daubed, swampy pool-tide opposed
drained while it fills the space, and
cresting while it recedes?
are the besotted strokes and the entangled
in the moment's enclosed whoosh, threading
their own back-pedaling motion,
and is it a barnacled trestle, is it a
brush-map of future flight patterns?
is it the outlawed, black-patterned
and the trick of ebony, wearing fine,
melted red and blue residuum
at this arrested opening, then a thrust,
leaping south into the ensuing black reversal?
is it a spring-ploy set in grim winter,
circular and whole, then collapsing, angled,
at sin's synchronous cue, to arc, spin,
halt, turn, fondle and scrum,
is it a coal-go, and an oil-streaked
downdraft and a whirligig blotch that stains
darkens another turnabout?
* * *
Manor Tree, Eddie Johnson 1964
The Manor Tree
after Eddie Johnson
Black thorny spindles
spoil the cold grey pitch,
and spindly and taut
lines bind one frozen branch to another.
A squall coats a
skewed-V and the splayed trunk resembles
the exhausted legs of
a shadowed nude, a bark of pale torso,
skin swathed in
hoarfrost, sated, prone, in a sheeted
bed of snow, snug, drowsy,
under a capacious billow.
Is it a compromised
view on a dozing lover? Or the capsized
profile of a startled
hare, hunkered, breathing desperate breaths?
Sleep to be sure, a
light snore, by the manor tree, as the squall’s
gauze settles down,
or settles in, and on, to no-one, no-thing,
and then to what?
Then end of gray, the end of black in winter's
white erasure. * * *
Tim Keane is the author of the poetry collection Alphabets of Elsewhere (Cinnamon Press). His award-winning writing has appeared in Modern Painters, Shenandoah, Denver Quarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Reader (UK) and numerous other publications. He teaches writing and European literature at BMCC, CUNY, in lower Manhattan. web site: www.timkeane.com The poem Bolero and the Corless painting first appeared in Sleepingfish in 2013 and are reprinted here with the permission of the author, Tim Keane
t was the winter almost everybody in our third
grade class got the measles. While this disease was constantly of concern to my
young mind, I must admit that at the time I had no idea what measles looked
like. Those unfortunate enough to catch it were fortunate to be allowed to stay
home from school until it was gone. My mother told me that measles were hot,
scratchy red sores that you got from other people. I couldn’t understand how
you could catch them if the people who were sick with measles didn’t come to
school—yet every day another one or two of my classmates disappeared from our
was also the winter it snowed and snowed, with thick flakes that froze on my
eyelids as I crunched along on my way to school. As this was before school
busses were popular, and everyone had to walk, there were no days off for deep
snow, even though in some places it came up to my waist.
As it was Saturday, my best
friend Beebus and I had decided to spend the day making an igloo out of the
snow. I can’t remember why he was called Beebus when his name was actually
Robert, but that was his nickname. It wasn’t going to be a real igloo like I
had read about in my geography book. We weren’t going to carve out ice blocks
and stack them on top of each other like Eskimos did. Instead, using borrowed coal
shovels, we had piled up a small mountain of snow in the corner of our
backyard. I call it our yard because Beebus and I lived in the same building.
We shared a two story house in a rundown neighborhood, where the space between
the aging structures was only wide enough for a walkway. We were on the top
floor, while Beebus’ family had the apartment below. The small, fenced-off area
behind the house and between the alley and a garage was common to both
families. As there was a war going on, our fathers had planted Victory Gardens
in a corner of the space last spring, but both of them had been called away
before the beans and tomatoes were ready to be picked.
first idea had been to make a snow castle. However, after struggling for most
of the morning Beebus and I discovered we lacked the skills necessary to create
the towers and turrets we envisioned our castle having. Besides the pile didn’t
look like a castle at all, but was a natural igloo. We carved out an entrance,
and then began hollowing out the inside. This was when I got into trouble.
problem was my mother had a clear view of the backyard from our kitchen, which
was why I seldom strayed from my own small corner of the world. I heard her
window rattle up, and then her voice rattled down:
What are you two up to? ”
playing, Mom. . . .”
what are you going to do with that pile of snow?”
making an igloo, Mrs. Starzinski. . . .” Beebus shouted up. Being a year older
than me, he was in the habit of always answering for me.
not planning to go inside that thing . . . are you Johnny?”
gonna be our camp,” was my unwise reply. I imagined the two of us sitting
inside in the semi-darkness making up stories, and planning and scheming all
sorts of things.
you listen to me . . . don’t you dare go in there. It might collapse on you,
and then you’ll suffocate.”
Mom. . . .”
you awh, Mom me, Johnny. You come back
in here just this minute.”
Mom,”I repeated in a more pleading tone.
Johnny come inside to my place to play instead?” Beebus asked, rushing to intercede
on my behalf.
okay . . . but just for a little while,” my mother compromised. Then she gave
me her usual warning: “But Johnny, you’d better come when I call . . . it’s
going to be getting dark soon.”
was how I happened to end up downstairs in Beebus’ apartment on this gray,
winter late afternoon. His older sister Lilly was home alone as, besides her
regular job in a sewing factory, their mother worked on Saturdays at a five and
dime store in town. Their father was presently hunkered down in a damp woods in
awaiting a German counterattack. According to a pin stuck in a map hung up in
our kitchen, my father was more fortunate. He was at an air base in Mississippi
had pulled a kitchen chair up to the enameled coal stove and was warming
herself in front of the open oven. The stove was kept constantly lighted, being
used as a source of heat as well as for cooking. In those days we all used
coal—the mine was just across the street, its dark colliery towering above our
house as the slack pile towered above that.
was in the fifth grade. I remember her now as being rather comely, although the
word was not then in my vocabulary, and the word has since fallen into disuse,
at least when speaking about young girls. Not that one might suffer
disapprobation for using the word today, which one surely would; however, the
teeny rock princesses who nowadays parade their bejeweled navels and tattooed
arms up and down Main Street in the summer could hardly be referred to as
said I should check you for measles when you got home,” Lilly announced to her
brother as soon as we came inside.
had both taken off our boots at the door, and then our heavy coats, which we
hung over the backs of chairs. I sat down. But Beebus, who had moved closer to
the stove, was continuing to remove the rest of his clothes. He was already
down to his long johns, which I didn’t know he wore, when he looked over at me.
He gave me a self-conscious grin and then removed that last covering also.
still!” Lilly commanded her naked brother.
began running her hands over Beebus’ skin, starting at the back of his neck,
checking behind his ears, under his chin, working her way down his body.
felt out of place just sitting there observing what was going on. Lilly kept
glancing over at me to see if I was watching. I looked around the room, at the
calendar, the clock, the crucifix hanging on the wall, but my eyes kept
returning to the activity going on between the brother and sister.
strange as their theater was I must admit that my main curiosity was still about
the measles. If Lilly found them on Beebus I would finally see what measles
looked like. But then it would be too late for me because I probably would have
them too, having surely gotten them from Beebus.
shuffled her hand around her brother’s stomach, her index finger probing his
belly button. Beebus’ penis seemed to be standing up straight, and was much longer,
not like the time I saw it when we peed together in the woods. Lilly took hold of the knobby thing, bending it
back, checking the underside, running her other hand around his testicles.
Lifting up the whole set, she bent her head down low to give each item a closer
inspection, her fingers smoothing the pale skin. The examination of Beebus’
privates was taking much longer than that of his other parts. I was sure she
must have discovered something.
I felt very hot in my own crotch. Oh my God, I thought, Lilly’s found the
measles, that’s where they are, there between your legs, hot, itchy—I must have
them too. But her hand abruptly moved away from her brother’s penis. She gave a
perfunctory scan to the rest of his body, which apparently was not that
susceptible to measles. His feet were ignored completely.
okay,” Lilly announced decisively. “I found no sign of measles.”
was relieved. Beebus started to get dressed. Lilly turned to me:
about you, Johnny . . . want me to check you for measles?”
didn’t know what to say. I though about the hot spot between my legs, but by
now it seemed to have gone away.
mother checked me this morning,” I lied.
Lilly said. “But I think now you boys had better check me.”
said she began unfastening the front of her dress. It was the kind of frock
that no young girl would wear these days, and not too popular back then either,
brightly printed cotton with a floral pattern, loose, with buttons down the
front. It had probably been handed down to Lilly from her mother.
I must admit until Beebus had taken off his clothes in front of me, I had never
seen anyone naked but myself. And I had not actually even seen myself as the
only mirror in the bathroom, where I got undressed, was high over the sink.
finished draping her clothes over the chair by the stove and then turned around
to us—completely naked.
over here, Johnny, and examine me,” she commanded.
I approached her bare body, I could feel the heat growing between my legs
again. Or was it just the warmth from the coal stove?
eyes were immediately drawn to that place where girls were supposed to be
different. I blinked in confusion. There was nothing there. Where Lilly’s penis
and testicles should be was only a fleshy slot that kind of looked like where
you put the money in a soda machine. I just stared.
don’t just stand there . . . come on, examine me.”
heard the cry thrown outside from the kitchen upstairs. It echoed off the
garage, and then rattled on Beebus’s window.
The cry repeated, louder, longer. I knew there would be one more.
then we didn’t have cell phones. We didn’t even have any telephone in our
apartment, nor did Beebus. When my mother wanted to call the doctor she had to
go to the grocery store on the corner and use the pay phone in the back by the
boxes, where the butcher didn’t sprinkle sawdust on the floor.
the mother’s shouted out the window for their children. I still remember the different
sound of the calls. Grant, was a loud bark; Billy, a shrill note that went down
on the end; Leon,
a kind of bubbly noise; and the two syllables of Beebus sailed out like insects
escaping a hive.
some unwritten agreement there were always three calls, no more, no less. If
you didn’t respond by the third call you were in big trouble, and usually
caught it when you finally did come home. If you were too far away to hear,
which you shouldn’t have been, someone often responded for you, or “told on
you” as in: “I think I seen him with some of the other boys down by the
colliery, Mrs. S. . . .”
was my third call.
Ma!!!!!!!” I yelled up at the ceiling. “I gotta go now. . . .” I said to Beebus
on home, momma’s boy,” the naked Lilly mocked as I headed out the door. “Beebus
will examine me.”
I slowly climbed the steep stairs to our apartment, my young mind pondered the
muddled events of the past hour. I suspected Lilly imagined her fun to be perfectly
harmless. What did I know then of the pleasures of the flesh and carnal life.
The whole business seemed blurred, as cloudy as the gray afternoon. Lilly’s
strange and suggestive maneuvering had offered me no meaning. While it was true
that a great mystery had been revealed to my eyes, my first vision of the
opposite sex, something that I would never forget, I still didn’t know what
measles looked like.
* * *
Poleskie’s writing has appeared in journals in Australia, Czech Republic,
Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines, and the UK, as well as in the
USA, and in the anthologies The Book of Love, (W.W. Norton) and Being
Human, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published seven novels. Poleskie has
taught at a number of schools, including: The School of Visual Arts, NYC, the
University of California/Berkeley and Cornell University, and been a resident
at the American Academy in Rome. He currently lives in Ithaca, NY, with his wife the novelist Jeanne Mackin.
The artist with one of her digital artworks
photo by Ottavio Sosio
Thoughts On My Work Debra Dolinski
remember a wall, it was morning; I can’t have
been more than 5 or 6. The white surface was scattered with a pattern in cobalt
and purple, reflected shadows from the dogwood in bloom outside my bedroom
window. Walls, walls coming together,
corners of the room. Crying for hours in the corner at nursery school. Out and
were my obsessions then, my themes now. Out: the sky: endless, limitless, freedom. In: shadows, neither dark nor light -
I was angry as a child I’d paint flowers. When I finally had a room of my own (my
last year at Cornell, summer session) I found light. I’d set objects on a
paint them. The object didn’t matter: an egg crate; an onion, slightly dented
and with the
green sprout pointing, it was the sculpted light, carving things up. In fact,
later a friend would
say your work that year was like a salami, just cutting up slices. I had a show
at Cornell of that work and a painting was bought by a collector - a trustee’s
wife. It seemed like success.
much later I was already living in Italy - eternal travels. As my daughter was
was always looking at the sky, the abstract of the clouds, the breathtaking
beauty that seemed to mirror the miracle that had occurred in my life. I
started “sky diary”, a daily record
of the sky, marking the compass direction and the time and location. As my
was born this became my hedge against not working. I would do a sky each day, as
necessary in those years as a prayer.
winter my gaze would turn inward. I would stare at white walls, fixate until
they became color. I would paint the subtle mutations of dark and light, thin
layers of color one over the other like petals. Later still, when stretching
canvases and working 60‘s big no longer seemed my scale, I started photography.
I would record the subtle changes on white walls from one hour to the next, the
same crack, the same corner of existence. Like Robert Smithson wrote “look
closely at a crack in the wall and it might as well be the Grand Canyon”.
(Robert Smithson; The Collected Writings). I’m still there and I’m still
outside: in and out, light and dark with all the mystery.
* * *
Debra Dolinski, born in Boston 1950,
started her artistic studies at the Boston Museum School
when she was still in elementary school. A
summer stage at Columbia University with Steven Greene and Alan Kaprow was
seminal in enrolling in the school of Art and Architecture at Cornell
University where she studied with Steve Poleskie, graduating in 1972. In the same year she moved to Europe,
initially for art related travels (which she has not finished) and continues to
travel from her base in Italy. In her first years abroad she became a member of
the Swiss artistic group “Movimento 22”
joining in many group shows held in prominent Swiss museums. She continued her
education at the Brera Academy, Milan under the guidance of Luigi Veronesi spending several years concentrating on color
theory. Numerous one person shows ranging from New York to Lugano, Como, Monza,
Cantù and Milano. Paul Guidicelli, Franco Passoni, Elena di Raddo, and Stefania
Carrozzini have reviewed her work. Debra lives in Como where she has her studio
and continues creative art laboratories for children both in public schools and
privately. You can learn more about Debra's digital artworks on her web site: www.debradolinski.it