Friday, March 11, 2016

On retreat 1

I spent the beginning of this week at my twice-annual retreat, just 30 minutes up the road but it might as well be hundreds of miles away.  Something about your work table being 2 minutes away from your bed, and a lack of distractions makes those days quite productive, or at least that's the plan.

This year I repeated my usual approach of bringing paperwork: still working on my longtime series of book review haikus.  I look through old New York Times arts sections, find review of art exhibits, and find haikus in the copy by identifying five- and seven-syllable phrases that put together, not only make nice poetry but faithfully reflect the opinion of the reviewer.  Then I paste the haikus, plus a small picture from the review, into my two little notebooks.

I'm reaching the end of this project, I realized on the first day of the retreat.  Not only are the notebooks getting full, I'm running out of steam.  No wonder, because I've been working on this series for several years, but suddenly this year I detected less enthusiasm than in the past.

I forgot to pack my tweezers, which are indispensable for picking up tiny bits of gluey paper and positioning them for pasting down.  So after fumbling through a half-dozen poems pasting by hand, I decided to simply "write" the poems (the time-consuming part) and wait till I got home to paste them into the book.

I got many finished, but it wasn't a particularly satisfying experience.  I found myself easily distracted by anything else going on in the room, and when you have to force yourself to do art it's a good sign that you should stop making art.  Or at least go make some other art that will make you happier.

I'll tell you about the rest of the retreat in my next post.

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