Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Am I allowed to be Happy?

Our houseguest is wandering in the dark talking on his cell phone. He has been aourn here for 3 weeks but I'm actually not counting. He is a young shaman, really.  He makes artesianal healing chocolate which s a good trait in a houseguest.  It has things like spirulina, maca from Peru, chile, and tastes lovely if intense.  I am allowing myself to not get in my car today, to nap, after three PL events which each had a beauty.  The reading for kids at the Museum of Art had about 22 in attendance, most of them my relatives, and the sweetness of the poetry and music was stunning.  I mean my Doctor brought three girls who looked bored then jumped in to play air violin for my ballad "The Magic Fiddle." It was rich and calming and I didn't dwell on the non-audience, because each person was totally present, even the three year old named Haven and his brother Coby, and my grandson, Galen, and sweet Kaylee.  The kids were into it and everyone wandered in the museum and wrote.

Alvaro read like a dream and we had a fine time at Collected Works, and Annie Lamott, of which I was but the intro person, was fine as could be.  I am allowed to be happy.  I am letting my tribal leanings go with the cheery Hungarian half of my family right now, and not the dour Lithuanians. Those four Hungarian women never stopped smiling and saying they were proud of us.  I am letting them kvell and tsk with pleasure. Go Beti!  Go Pearl!  Go Ida!  Go Ethel!  Knock wood and all that, a happy day, a breathing day is fine by me.

I got to share chocolate ice cream with Rico, my friend Miriam's husband, and I am not the best sharer but on the Poet Laureate diet it's all about sharing the chocolate.

XXX----JL for the PL

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On the Via of La Vida Local

The first words I heard my old poetry teacher say when I met him was, ”Any place can be Paris.”  That was in 1991 and the man was Gerald Stern, another former Pittsburgher.  It may have been then, or earlier, that I formulated a way of looking at my life.  While many poets have their eyes out there, on the national arena, I realized that in a country as big as the United States, to have a function and presence in the local community was what appealed to me.  New Mexico has a geography half large as France.  I had three children at the time, ranging from 6-17, and didn’t want to jettison my strong family boat.  All along, since moving here in 1973, I have been living la Vida Local only now I named it so.
I have grown my art with my friends in community, and have tried to serve community in a variety of ways. After food coops, play groups, and quilt making I reconnected with poetry. I volunteered at the John Hyson school in Chimayo. I wrote a poem for Robert Winson’s death and Mirabai and Eddie’s marriage.  I wrote with Ricardo on his deathbed for 13 months and published a book of his work and our collaboration.  I wrote with a support group called Write Action for the AIDS community and published two books of their work. The group evolved into more general crisis, illness, and loss focus.  Write Action met for 13 years almost weekly. Three of its members showed up last week to support me on Labor Day.
Even more locally, down the road two miles in Arroyo Seco, for seven years I have hired local artists and run a free monthly art workshop called Artist of the Month.  It serves as a community gathering at The Teen Center of Hands Across Cultures, and celebrates young and not so young artists with art forms as varied as traditional tin work and henna tattoo.
I am not telling you this to brag. I am trying to make sense out of my life and see its trajectory as I carry it into the two years as Poet Laureate.  In my days I have learned to persevere, write grants, publicize the events, and often work for free. New Mexico is my Paris and has everything needed to grow a rich life, even cafés. To live in useful context is my goal and being Poet Laureate helps me to focus on how good the community has been back to me. Tres Chicas Books, founded in 1993, as another small press is another undertaking that flourishes in the 505 as youth calls it after our area code.
This is not to say that I didn’t jump at the chance to teach in Bratislava, Vienna, and Zagreb when it came along in 1994.  But that was a side dish in my locavore life.  I am trying to think of a word for local writer, locascribe, locajot, loca pen.

Live La Vida Local.  Write locally, shop locally, donate locally, dream locally, love locally, dance locally, and sing locally.   
In Amazement ----   Joan Logghe

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What I Forgot to Say, La Vida Local

You'd think with my massive verbiage I'd remember what I am doing here and articulate.   I forgot to say to my interviewer, Jill Battson,  for Pasatiempo that I am looking at these two years as a a chance to practice what I believe in.  New Mexico is my turf, and instead of trying to be national, I have wanted to be of use locally.  I have read poems at weddings, funerals, and baby showers.  I have written occasional poems for some events such as my son's wedding.

Not able to eat totally as a locavore, I write out of New Mexico as my Museum of Modern Art, my left bank. The United States is so huge, that one state could be Germany and another  Belgium. When I first met fellow Pittsburgher, Gerald Stern, I overheard him saying.  "Any place can be Paris!"  I have been flirting,and I mean only flirting, with the idea of reading only local authors for a year.

I don't think I can do it.  I mean, the New Yorker alone would be too much temptation and deprivation.
Or to not read poets from other states and lands.  I can't live a year without Emily Dickinson, Stephen Dunn, or Linda Gregg.

Coming up is the Women Author's Festival, year number three.   I'll be there and get to intro Anne Lamott.
To live a year without reading her would be like a year without salt.   So, I will be living la Vida Local in my own way. If you want to join me, look at the archive for August and see my Dates to Date.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Labor Day Poem

This Monday I am reading at the Railyard Park at noon, right after Major David Coss.
There will be free food and Democrats. Nobody told me about the Democrats, not that
there's anything wrong with them. I was invited as if I would be showing solidarity to the workers of the world. I started to feel extremely Pablo Neruda about it. So I wrote a poem,
as I was asked to do. In case you can't make it, here is my poem:::::

Preface : Pablo Neruda said, a Nobel Prize is good

and I’m sure he could use the money,

but the best is when the miners, coming from deep

in the earth recited his poems to him.

He was that kind of poet, and those odes

he wrote to common things, the socks, the spoon,

the loaf of bread, a violin in California,

to me are stand-ins for common folk

when maybe it isn’t safe to say how much

you love, how close you’ve grown to earth.

And so I dedicate this poem to him,

over the heads of families, under the Santa Fe

blue sky and living wages in at least a few pockets.

I myself have all I need times ten. We built

our house, we carried water seven years.

I volunteered to simplify, here’s how and why.

Labor Day Poem :

The best job I ever had was driving a school bus

right out of college and I thought it a job suitable

for a poet, cruising the upscale suburb in a Blue Bird

bus and my family hoped I wouldn’t be recognized.

the best job I ever had was teaching kindergarten,

the kids in the morning and the kids in the afternoon.

I taught them the hora and the Mexican Hat Dance

and Woody Guthrie. Even now, all in their 40’s

they wonder where they got these tunes.

The best job I ever had was working in a firehouse

with the lost children. Every staff meeting we’d disagree

about autism and how to hold the children when they

couldn’t hold themselves. That was a job I walked to

past a corner bakery on 9th and Judah that sold pirogues.

The best job I ever had was selling garden plants

1973, I watered all the trees, carried bags

of steer manure to cars. I learned to say maybe

you watered it too much, or maybe too little.

The best job was not substitute teaching.

I got the spitballs and the thumbtacks on my chair.

I got the attitudes and how by high school

even then, they’d given up.

The best job was waiting tables at El Paragua in Española

My old boss still knows me, says, “Oh Joanie, I remember

when you dropped the steak and lobster.” And I recall

the sopapilla basket I set on fire, too close to the candle.

But even then I felt the joy of work and customers

treated us as humans not as servants, but still I tip well

in homage to those days.

In Santa Fe, on Canyon Road, I swept the patio

in my apron as the tourist bus passed by the Haven.

I tried to look like local color. Then I was a chiropractor’s

right hand until my third child came onto the scene, I mean,

I was a mother almost all along and that was a hidden

love and job of work.

And all along I gave my life to poetry, which begs

the question, am I management or labor? Thirty years

and here I stand. I always thought if I aimed low,

kept my feet on solid earth, I’d be myself for the long haul.

My self, the best job I ever had,