One off: Williams & McElroy

 

Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before, but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirty-five years
I lived with my husband.
The plum tree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red,
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they,
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.

William Carlos Williams, “The Widow’s Lament in Springtime” from The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams, Volume I, 1909-1939

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs from The Thirteenth Month, by Nich Hance McElroy.

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One off: Soth & Wadsworth Longfellow.

There are things of which I may not speak;
There are dreams that cannot die;
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
And bring a pallor into the cheek,
And a mist before the eye.
And the words of that fatal song
Come over me like a chill:
‘A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.’

Strange to me now are the forms I meet
When I visit the dear old town;
But the native air is pure and sweet,
And the trees that o’ershadow each well-known street,
As they balance up and down,
Are singing the beautiful song,
Are sighing and whispering still:
‘A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.’

And Deering’s woods are fresh and fair,
And with joy that is almost pain
My heart goes back to wander there,
And among the dreams of the days that were
I find my lost youth again.
And the strange and beautiful song,
The groves are repeating it still:
‘A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.’

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow My Lost Youth (ca. 1842)

 

2008_02zl0189, from “Broken Manual” © Alec Soth

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Mark Steinmetz lecture

From April of this year, Mark Steinmetz delivers a lecture on his photography, covering a significant proportion of the work he has published in the past decade, at the California College of the Arts, as part of their Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program.

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One off: Michelle Frankfurter.

 

A short selection from the project “Destino“, by Michelle Frankfurter. More to follow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Solnit on the Los Angeles landscape

The world seems to be made more and more of stuff we’re not supposed to look at, a banal infrastructure that supports the illusion of automotive independence, the largely unseen places from which our materials come – strip mines, industrial agriculture, automated assembly lines, abattoirs – and where they end up: the dumps. Los Angeles consists mostly of these drably utilitarian spaces, in part because cars demand them, and it is a city built to accommodate cars. These spaces tend to be grey, the grey of unpainted cement, asphalt, steel and accumulated grime; and they tend to be either abandoned or frequented by people who are also discards, a kind of subterranean realm hauled to the surface. Or not.

Rebecca Solnit, “Check out the parking lot”, London Review of Books July 2004

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Adams on Form in photography

The form the photographer records, though discovered in a split second of literal fact, is different because it implies an order beyond itself, a landscape into which all fragments, no matter how imperfect, fit perfectly.

— Robert Adams, Introduction to Denver: A Photographic Survey of the Metropolitan Area, 1970 – 1974.

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Frank on America

“Even our climate is an excitant. Much of America is subject to great extremes of weather. Save in the low portions of the South and the South Pacific coast, bitter winters follow torrid summers. The range of temperature is enormous; and its rhythm is uncertain. The four seasons are scrambled. One may bake of a morning, shiver by noon, and swelter again by night. Yesterday I went up to the highlands east of the Hudson and lay in the warm grass and watched the grandiose river sparkle and slumber beneath his Palisades. Today there is a driving snow-storm, and it is almost April. Such unceasing climax unsettles the human organism: keys it up: splinters the norm of nervous register into a flux. And the suspense of nerve reacts upon the temperament. The physiography of our world bears the stamp of titanic struggle. America is vivid and vibrant beyond the scales of temperate Europe. The Southwest throbs with shrill reds and golds of earth and blues of sky. Rocky New England swoons every summer in a purple verdure that cries against the browns and blacks of the soil. The entire backbone of the continent from the Canadian Rockies to the Sierrra Madre is a chaos which turns the Alps almost to monotone. Rocks hurled like crumpled comets against the edge of a mesa they have swept smooth as a table. Canyons so deep that mountains are lost in them like stones. Jagged peaks flung through clouds. Rivers that plunge beneath the earth and reappear, walled-in by precipitous mile-high rock. Interminable wastes of thirsty soil, splintered with cactus, spread white with alkali or crystals of salt. Lakes that bubble hot in a bowl of brackish hills. Streams in whose bed gleam phosphorescent fires. Gashes like the Grand Canyon of the Colorado where earth lies disemboweled and men peer down into the stupendous womb of life. Such frenzy is the theater of the American drama. The behaviour of our men and women inseparable from it. (…) Continue reading

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One off: W.S. Merwin.

“I think it is essential to recognize the probable result of what we have done and are doing, but when we have seen that and its roots in human motives, the menaced world may seem more to be treasured than ever. Certainly the anguish and anger we feel at the threat to it and the sleepless despoiling of it can lose their tragic complexity and become mere bitterness when we forget that their origin is a passion for the momentary countenance of the unrepeatable world.”

— W.S. Merwin in What We Bought: The New World – Scenes from the Denver Metropolitan Area, 1970-74

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Fédida on Absence

Absence gives texture to the object and provides a frame for the thinking of distance. Absence does literally not accept the past. The distant is then what brings us closer and the absent – rather than absence – is a figure of return, as one says of the repressed.

- Pierre Fédida

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Mann on Space

“Space, like time, engenders forgetfulness; but it does so by setting us bodily free from our surroundings and giving us back our primitive, unattached state.”

Thomas Mann

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