Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Opportunities and Exciting Challenges

I have been quite busy the past 6 weeks working on an exciting project. I was selected along with another 11 artists from Creative Souls to illustrate a book of 42 poems by a British poet. Each artist chose the poems they wanted to work on - I chose 4 pieces. The poet's work is epic, very allegorical and has a medieval quality I believe. Needless to say, it has been a real challenge connecting with another person's mental and emotional images arising from his own imagination and incredible breadth of vocabulary. The latter has doubly challenged me this past week as I volunteered to proof read the approximate 75-80 page work. First of all I was amazed at how many words - English words - that we Americans spell differently from the people of Great Britain. For instance words such as "color" or "harbor" the Brits spell with a "u" in them, "colour", "harbour". That is just one difference. I soon got used to checking the dictionary and seeing the British spelling at the end of the definition. Then too even though I was an Art major in college I was also a Creative Writing major at that time - many years ago. I have spent my life writing and many times while working as a free-lance graphic artist I was called upon to proof-read text for the printers - long before computers or spell-check. So proof reading comes natural to me. But as I mentioned, this British poet has an incredibly voluminous vocabulary. I learned at least a dozen new words - words that I never saw or heard before. Plus like many creatives, myself included, he makes up his own words occassionally when "real" words just don't suffice. So it has been an interesting experience. As far as the actual book to be produced and published, I will keep you posted. I have produced many digital pieces for this assignment, many more than were needed, but again I was learning along the way. I am sharing one of my pieces here that was excluded from the final selection. It is a favorite of mine.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Under Siege

Note: For days now as the radiation settles over Japan, I have been preoccupied, haunted by thoughts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And my heart cries. Maureen

Excerpts from "Under Siege"

by Mahmoud Darwish
translated by Marjolijn De Jager

Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.

A country preparing for dawn. We grow less intelligent
For we closely watch the hour of victory:
No night in our night lit up by the shelling
Our enemies are watchful and light the light for us
In the darkness of cellars.

Here there is no "I".
Here Adam remembers the dust of his clay.

When the planes disappear, the white, white doves
Fly off and wash the cheeks of heaven
With unbound wings taking radiance back again, taking possession
Of the ether and of play. Higher, higher still, the white, white doves
Fly off. Ah, if only the sky
Were real [a man passing between two bombs said to me].

Alone, we are alone as far down as the sediment
Were it not for the visits of the rainbows.

Oh watchmen! Are you not weary
Of lying in wait for the light in our salt
And of the incandescence of the rose in our wound
Are you not weary, oh watchmen?

A little of this absolute and blue infinity
Would be enough
To lighten the burden of these times
And to cleanse the mire of this place.

Resisting means assuring oneself of the heart’s health,
The health of the testicles and of your tenacious disease:
The disease of hope.

Greetings to the one who shares with me an attention to
The drunkenness of light, the light of the butterfly, in the
Blackness of this tunnel!

Greetings to the one who shares my glass with me
In the denseness of a night outflanking the two spaces:
Greetings to my apparition.

My friends are always preparing a farewell feast for me,
A soothing grave in the shade of oak trees
A marble epitaph of time
And always I anticipate them at the funeral:
Who then has died...who?

©Maureen Kavaney Tillman

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Layers by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
"Live in the layers,
not on the litter."
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Madison, Wisconsin, March 5th, 2011: What A Lovely Day for a Protest

It was thrilling! Wrapped in solidarity 50,000 like-minded, commited people converged on  capital square in Madison on a cold, crisp Saturday morning to show their passion and love for their home state of Wisconsin. Unity, pride of purpose and a long history in this state for labor's rights brought people out in droves for the 19th straight day of protest against Gov. Walker's union busting agenda. And I was honored to participate.

I do not intend to get "political" on this blog very often, in fact in two years this is the first time. But one cannot live in Wisconsin these days and ignore this firestorm. Every community no matter how small seems to be hosting their own protests repeatedly. It's everywhere and it's hot.

A group of us drove the two hours from our homes early Saturday morning to Madison. We were excited to experience the demonstration and to finally be a real part of it. The crowd was lighter in the morning but still huge. It grew exponentially throughout the day. So did the fervor. There was a continual line throughout the day to get inside the rotunda. Once inside we were immediately put through a search and metal detectors, police passing the detection wands over our bodies.

To explain briefly what the protests are really about - it's not about the budget as the Governor and his people like to parrot - the Democrats have very early on agreed to the concessions the Governor requested. But he stubbornly refuses to drop his demand that unions give up their collective bargaining rights. Their rights! Americans do not like anyone curtailing or stealing their rights.  What this really is is a Republican Governor trying to turn the future Wisconsin electorate forever in the Republican's favor. It is really a nation-wide anti-democratic, anti-American effort at an abhorrent, disgusting power grab by Republican Governors and the National Republican Party. You see if you can bust the unions in Wisconsin, you can bust them everywhere. Why would they want to do that? Because the unions are the only source of "big money" for the Democrats at election time. In 2010, of the top 10 big money donor institutions for campaign coffers only 3 of them went to Democrats - and they were all unions. The other 7 were corporate interests and they all went for the Republicans. If you kill the unions you can desimate the Democratic Party! But I believe their greedy power grabbing has awakened a sleeping giant in this country and the Republicans will come to regret their actions!

Unions and Wisconsin have a long and bloody history. Some of the "perks" every working American enjoys that came from unions in Wisconsin are: the Worker's Compensation Law won in 1911 in Wisconsin, the first state in the union (USA) to achieve it; unemployment benefits, a right won in Wisconsin first in 1932; collective bargaining rights granted in 1959. Wisconsin had the first national union to survive established in 1859. And that everyone have the concept of "weekends off" or the equivalent, the securing of  a 40 hour work week, 8 hour work day. It was a hard fought nation-wide battle won in 1886 in Miwaukee, Wisconsin. Following is a short discription of that bloody episode that took place at Bayview Rolling Mills in Milwaukee when 7 people including one child were killed by the Wisconsin state militia.

On 1 May 1886 about 2,000 Polish workers walked off their jobs and gathered at Saint Stanislaus Church in Milwaukee, angrily denouncing the ten hour workday. They then marched through the city, calling on other workers to join them; as a result, all but one factory was closed down as sixteen thousand protesters gathered at Rolling Mills, prompting Wisconsin Govorner Jeremiah Rusk to call the state militia. The militia camped out at the mill while workers slept in nearby fields, and on the morning of May 5th, as protesters chanted for the eight hour workday, General Treaumer ordered his men to shoot into the crowd, some of whom were carrying sticks, bricks, and scythes, leaving seven dead at the scene. The Milwaukee Journal reported that eight more would die within twenty four hours, and without hesitation added that Governor Rusk was to be commended for his quick action in the matter.

This is why this battle is being fought in Wisconsin, why it has to be fought here, why so many of us are so passionate about this issue! It's in our DNA!

We may lose this battle, but we must, we will win this war! Beware, the awakened sleeping giant awaits! On Wisconsin!

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