I had written ‘Just Being Honest’ for a year or so for Saathee when I had first gotten going on the road, in 2013, then took a break to write Breakfast in Cambodia which came out of those columns and another one, ‘The Village Report,’ that ran for two years under different editors at Seattle’s Northwest Asian Weekly. Subsequently, I got the idea in my head to do other things like conversation salons that led to things and people and smart, cool moments that reminded me the poetry of writing isn’t in the shaping of words and sentences, but in the connexion that comes of the spontaneous interactions that come up out of nowhere when you just make yourself open to receive them.
Such thinking opens worlds of doors. And luckily, I got to examine a few of them.
That made me do the next thing. Work with a very small team of people who helped me understand this better, clarify it, (thank you!), and then conceptualize the making of our mini-mag, S P A C E. Couldn’t have done this without the new inputs from people I have met since leaving the United States, and discovered on the road, but also, in Cambodia, and learned to be a part of conversations that are longitudinal, carry more weight with the history and time that gives and gives, reminding us that we are not alone but a part of something bigger, after all, even if the struggle to define that exactly becomes unwieldy and eventually falls into a thing that I now understand is ‘post post modernism,’ ie the tossing of definitions themselves, altogether. This is coming into focus for me, in yet another new place, another new country: Latvia. More about that for the next column, of course.
POLITICS x ART. I was going to write more here about how there are political events that are happening right now that are disturbing and upsetting, especially in countries that don’t even care about human rights (including my own country of birth). But I realize that I’m not informed enough to be able to comment on those things. Still, the state of the world and the oppression of voices of illuminating people who could be the ones who bring humanity towards a better, more equal place is upsetting to me, as it might be to many others who are, at heart, poets. I’m writing from a wild, wacky place right now in Latvia that’s fancy and has ‘Poet’ in its title, like for real. Where, there is one very chatty person who has been asking me a torrent of questions about why I write, how I decided to be a poet (does one decide?), whether I believe in knowledge (nope), what I think about my home country (which is where, again?) and what I might do to sell my books (‘I don’t sell’). Ask me about the boiled egg. It’s too funny.
Funny things are going on, around me, left and right, and reminding me of the absurd that I clung to for so long in my writing, and comics-making, at some point, during the late 2000s when I wanted to try my hand at ‘visual artist’ as, say, a job title. That was short-lived, soon as I found out that the reception for the art show, where people met one another in real life because there I was hosting the show and people were there because of the show, but for me, what I found out, for example at the reception for Today I Love You (2012, was it?) and later, the launch party for Breakfast in Cambodia (2016), it was the mix that was most intriguing to me. Real life. The stage of being there,e together, in a framed moment… a box, kind of, a box of ‘where’ and ‘when’…
Which was how I hit on the idea of framing the moments, altogether discarding the art show, the books, etc. Let’s have parties. Let’s call them S P A C E.
Hosting one tonight, in Latvia.
Here we go.
Off to the new chapters, discovering and running into the next.
War, climate, politics, fear mongering… these things are there. News is bad, people don’t care about each other, the modern world is one of disparity and ennui and disruption of the harmony that can come when we are able to enjoy each other’s differences, instead of parrying one another for no reason other than to fill a void, internally, that could have been prevented if we had had better parenting. Societies begin there, right? Good parenting. And here I am, opining. I don’t mean to do this, really.
But really. I can go on and on and on…
But I’ll spare you.
To the work of making art, which is the only thing, I think, that a poetically inclined person can do in this era to stay sane…