Monday 1.25.10


Spectacular sunrise, well worth the pre-dawn rise. I was headed in for a 9am meeting with Studio 18. I was to read a poem. I chose “Under a Certain Little Star” by Wislawa Szymborska. It is a poem about what can and cannot be, about the polar opposites of life and how we must forgive ourselves if we are to enjoy all the little pleasures and sensations. The meeting was well-attended, lovely and light, with a choir of informative voices all around. They asked how my work was going and I told them what I was thinking of. I asked for help with Alley 24. After the meeting, Thom asked about my rowing. I invited him to row home with me. We decided on Thursday night. In the hallway, as I am leaving, I see Rysia. I tell her I just read a poem by Symborska at a studio meeting and she tells me she is Polish. She's from Wroslaw. Szymborska is one of her favorite poets. She could have read the poem in its original. And there I was, down the hall, reading a translation! O! I tell her I lived in Nowy Sacz and later in Ropczye. We chat for a while about Poland and poetry. Someone standing nearby says he has trouble with poetry. I bring him a collection of poems by Billy Collins. Is it my knee-jerk response to troubles with poetry. Billy Collins is one of the most accessible poets I know and accessible is a very good place to start.


I have lunch with Dawn, a Principal Architect at NBBJ, yet another artist-in-hiding. We discuss many things, including Alley 24 and Dawn’s travels and her passport and the nest she built and burned on the shores of Decatur Island. My alleyway research continues into the afternoon. I speak to Laura in the library and to Jeffery at the work table and Dan in the materials department. Then, in one of the common areas, I am approached by someone looking for poems specific to suffering and healing. I promise to rifle through my archives and collect what I can. I’ve been sending poems by e-mail to a long list of friends since 1998. I call this list the "aka poetry list." Because of this work, I have a many large files close at hand filled with poetry of all kinds.

Alley 24

I take a tour of Alley 24 with Brent who designed the building. I wanted to hear him articulate what the space is meant to be and do and allow. He tells me how a 10' slice was cut away from the 1945 brick building that sits under the roof deck to expose the 1923 face of the building next door. He takes me for a walk out onto the roof deck and through the alleyway to Pontius Street. He shows me the windows and doorstoops, explains how the original canopy was adapted, how the low privacy walls separate private from public spaces. He brings up an interesting question. How do the people whose doors open onto the alley experience it? It would be interesting to talk to them. I agree. It is something I will do.

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