Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuesday Poem - About Blue

Hello. I'm back after having been away again - life keeps taking unexpected turns. Maps don't exist for certain uncertain territories so it's been a case of staying present to the moment, being vigilant, trusting my gut; the upside is that by 'taking our waking slow and going where we have to go' (I'm scrambling Theodore Roethke dreadfully here. . . apologies ;) ) we discover new ways to keep our rudder more-or-less straight in the water; we pick up new tools for our toolboxes, learn better fire-building skills, come to know better where to look and what for, what to bring and what to leave behind. And we discover to our relief that there are ways to introduce light and warmth to dark, unfamiliar landscapes.

My older son Daniel spent last week enjoying in the physical world a number of maneuvers I was finding challenging in my emotional and spiritual one. . . jumping out of airplanes with flimsy parachutes, crossing deep river canyons on spaghetti-thin steel cables, surfing white water rapids. . . From soar to dump to tumble, he loved every moment of it and returned home glowing with health; I swear he looks taller, more tautly muscled and bright-eyed because of his adventures. I, on the other hand, feel a little puffed and out of breath on my separate marathon and have a way to go yet before I can untie my laces and lie back on soft, cool grass. 

But enough of that for now. . . It's Tuesday and I'm already seven days overdue with last week's poem. I don't want to miss another week. 

Just a few quick words about my boat-making process, because the exhibition's opening an hour from now. Making these boats has been enormously soothing during these past hectic weeks. I finished mounting the installation in the Blue Oyster gallery yesterday. . . they're in a room of their own, occupy one full wall from North to South and West to East. For many reasons, I have more depth of feeling for this piece than any other I've made in thirty years of art-making - which says something, doesn't it? It has peeled back the shadows and opened up a myriad new spaces; has contained me and taken me traveling in ways no other 'static' piece has. I've come to see myself and my loved ones more clearly as a direct result of my involvement with this work; these are truths to be grateful for. My hope now is that Drift will go on to bring a sense of calm and replenishment to others who come to experience it. 

As I mentioned, the exhibition, titled A Museum of Obsessions and curated by Jodie Dalgliesh opens to the public at 5.30PM this evening (please come along, anyone who's near enough?). It will be up until 24 December. (You can read more about this group collection here and here.)

(I was thrilled to find that the paper boats become transparent when the film is projected across their surfaces; they look as though they're made of ice or glass. This allows for all kinds of intriguing spatial ambiguities.) 


For today's TP, I've chosen a poem that relates to this current project quite by chance. I wrote it years before embarking on these bamboo and paper flotillas and years before Antarctica was anywhere in the frame. . . (Don't you love it when your unconscious runs up ahead of you, showing you the way forward even though you might not know it at the time?).    


Blue is vagabond amongst colours.

Reckless, untamed, it disembodies
whatever becomes caught in it.

Once, I brushed the surface 
of a boat blue; within moments 
there were the ocean and sky - 
no longer a boat in view. 

And have you heard? Blue 
has an appetite for monsters.
Stampeding and bellowing 
like shapes fall into themselves
slip down the throat of blue 
into water the inside colour
of glass.

Imagine a slow drunkenness
on vapours of blue. Easy it is 
to spin dizzy just at the thought
of it coupling some distance 
from shore, at sea with rose madder 
or gold. If you close your eyes
tightly, I think you will find blue
coiling a wind rope, coaxing lines 
of water and air from currents 
of emerald and indigo. 


For more Tuesday Poems, please visit the hub where Brian Turner's wonderful poem Fisherman begins. . . 

"When the fisherman found
he could no longer row his dinghy
the tide went out with his heart . . . "


  1. Gosh, what a host of nautical/blue inspired poetry this week! It is fabulous. I adore the tactile quality of the lines 'Once, I brushed the surface of a boat blue'. Gorgeous! Thanks for posting, Claire.

  2. There's something about blue - and your poem and photos both bring out its haunting quality

  3. Congratulations on posting through such a hectic time - and fitting in so perfectly with the "blue" theme.
    "Blue has an appetite for monsters"

  4. stunning claire - the effect of the film projected over the boats - and the poem - all that blue... Catherine has a blue poem up this week, too, and - as you say - Brian Turner's poem is apposite...

  5. Dear Claire, oh, how beautifully it came out. It's lovely. I wish I could see it in person. And the "Blue" poem is just what I thought you would say! L., M

  6. oh yes..all floating and yet fixed, claire, your beautiful small boats; do you use the word "dory" in your part of the world? or "dinghy"? boat words, nautical terms, watery images: here at my window overlooking the cove, i want to drift...and not do a bit of work!
    look what you've done!

  7. Hi Elizabeth - thanks for coming by. Yes, blue and boats seem to have been themes this week. Isn't it mysterious how this happens? There's something synergistic each week. . . speaking of which, I have just been over to your blog to read your TP (a complex labyrinth of gorgeous images and sounds - I will say more there ; )) and want to mention the name of one the artists who also part of this Museum of Obsessions exhibition - Darren Glass. He makes miniature cameras! I'm not sure if he has a website, but will google him and see if I can find a link because I think you will find his work fascinating. L, C

  8. Elizabeth - here are a few links to Darren Glass's work (he is not to be mistaken for the Australian footballer!)



  9. Hi Catherine - there IS something about blue, isn't there? Have you read Paul Thoreaux's book 'The Primary Colours?" It's a series of essays on red, yellow and blue - and much else besides. I recommend it - and, too, Victoria Finlay's marvelous 'Colour - Travels Through the Paintbox.'

    It's great you've joined the TP community - the poem you posted yesterday changed something in terms of how I see water and ice. Thank you.

  10. Imagine a slow drunkenness on vapours of blue...something so altering, so heady, not unlike my feeling seeing your boats floating up under the ice. Drunk beyond speech. There is such magnitude you all you have achieved here, a feast spread before us. Thank you for allowing our witness. xo

  11. John, John, where have you gone? I am ever so sorry to see you have removed your words when they meant much to me.

  12. Hi Alicia - it has been a hectic time, yes. Things will hopefully start settling down now, what with summer holidays imminent and this year's work almost fulfilled.
    As I said to Elizabeth, it's fascinating how the TP community manages to 'theme' itself from week to week. I'm happy you like the monster line, thanks ; ) (and I really do think blue has that kind of an appetite!)

  13. Dear Mary
    I've been a little out of the loop lately but I do believe a little space might be opening up soon (praise be!). I've just been enjoying catching up on the past two week's Tuesday Poems and appreciating the trail you have left. You are such a dedicated reader, leaving words of encouragement and delight here and there. If we could thread them together, what a splendid necklace they would make. I know I am not alone in thanking you for all you bring. (And, of course, Blue and you are kind of synonymous!). L, C x

  14. Dear Melissa
    I wish you could see this installation in person, too. You have been unquestioningly supportive of this idea from the first fold to this final composition. Thank you. And Melissa, in the end (after drawing those carefully measured wall map with sums and grids and primes. . .) I chose to leave my plumb bob and spirit level in the studio and to trust my eye! I thought you'd chuckle at that?! L, C x

  15. Hello, dear Susan

    I do know a fish 'named' John Dory, the dictionary definition for which is rather wonderful. . .

    dory 1 |ˈdôrē|
    noun ( pl. -ries)
    a narrow deep-bodied fish with a mouth that can be opened very wide

    . . . a definition that makes 'picture perfect' sense in relation to your 'dory', the small, flat-bottomed New England rowboat (with 'a high bow and stern, originally used for fishing'). I wonder which 'dory' was named first?

    I think our homes have similar outlooks, Susan - you have a cove to look onto, I have a harbour. Both are quasi-protected water systems, mirrors for our moods. . . Do you find looking onto water/living in proximity to water as essential to your spirit as I do? I feel daily grateful to have the sea in reach and in view.

    Your words 'floating and fixed' capture this installation in a nutshell! It was interesting mounting the boats in such a carefully structured grid, but sacred geometry has an inherent harmony and I so wanted that as a foundation over which to set the moving boats adrift. It seems to me our brains are happiest when the right and left sides are in hearty conversation with each other - and the same can be said of intuition and reason. And, too, certainty and doubt? (I'm rambling, aren't I?)

    I must admit I do like the thought of you drifting happily above your cove, Susan. Do drift? (At least for a while. ; ))

    Love, Claire x

  16. Dear Marylinn
    You are ever-generous. Thank you for entering these waters with me - life is a vast ocean and it's reassuring to know we are not alone in our voyage through it. I keep recalling a comment someone posted in the blogosphere not so long ago (I wonder, was it you, Rachel or Rebecca?). . . it was about the ocean being in us as much as we are in the ocean. . .

    I'm humbled by your response to this piece, Marylinn; it means the world to me that it resonates with you. Thank you. L, C xo

  17. Claire, I love the boats--and the "About Blue" poem (amazing how that was a mini theme this week?)

  18. --"slip down the throat of blue"--thank you, dear Claire, for taking me with you, with blue, with the marvelous boats, and giving glimpses of your son returned safely.

  19. Claire, today while commuting to work on the Lake Washington Floating Bridge (rising fog, emergent sun, the lake's surface shifting from grey to, yes, blue) I was listening to Joni Mitchell's "Blue" and thought of your poem, and reread it when I arrived home. I so love these cross-continent connections, how our lives twist around each other, poetry rising forth in the midst of rush-hour traffic.

  20. HI Helen
    I'm happy you like the boats - thank you. And yes, blue was a theme this week; and it wasn't limited to TP either! It managed to slosh, splash and spill its way right around the blogosphere's coastlines. But then again, water's like that ; )

  21. Dear Mim, it is always a pleasure to find you here. Thank you for joining the boat trip. I'm looking forward to your next post and wonder how your current writing project is progressing. Happily, obligingly, captivatingly, I hope. L, C

  22. Hello T

    ". . . Hey Blue, there is a song for you to ink on a pin, underneath the skin, an empty space for you to fill in. Well, there're so many sinking now you've got to keep thinking you can make it through these waves. . . " Jodie Mitchell's amazing. There's no one quite like her, is there?

    I Googled your floating bridge, T, to 'see' it and imagine you in your car making that crossing in the 'rising fog and emergent sun. . . ' what an impressive structure it is. And I read that they - the engineering magicians - replaced a number of the underwater anchor cables recently. The mind boggles as to how they begin to do such a thing whilst the bridge continues to float and carry out its regular bridge functions? Amazing, really.

    Thank you for thinking of my blue poem while you were driving. . . As you say, it's wonderful to know there are these intercontinental links, moments of connection in rush-hour traffic. I appreciate the way you put these things into words for the rest of us, T. Thanks. xo