Thinking About August

Last week, as I continued my study of contradictory abstractions, I looked at freedom in constraint and constraint in freedom. Studying opposites inspired me to think about photo negatives and negative space, so I tried putting the sections I cut out to create my filters into their own filters, creating negatives of my filters in a way. The result was exciting.

Man in a Box by Maria L. Berg 2022

My further study of freedom and constraint led me to attempt using flowers considered weeds over a piece of clear plastic, so I wouldn’t get pollen or petals in my lens. Again, to happy results.

Free to be Appreciated by Maria L. Berg 2022

Today’s Poem

The Poetic’s prompt at dVerse Poets Pub was to write a poem about August. I didn’t get the poem done on Tuesday, but it got me thinking. Today, is the Open Link, so I gave it a go.

Here in the Puget Sound we just endured an extensive period of excessive heat (for here), so I’m actually looking forward to a cooler August. Even today, the coolest day in a while, I have the fan going because it’s humid.

One of the things I love about ExperienceWriting is it acts as a record of my work over the years. I looked back at what I was posting in August the last couple years expecting one or two posts, but it appears August is a time of discovery for me. Last year I was working on my first bokeh and poetry video “Pathways.” That feels so long ago. The year before that, I was writing and revising a short story as part of Writers in Motion. If I didn’t have this record of it, I wouldn’t believe it. So what is August deep in my bones? Work, exploration, discovery, and sweat.

Another August

The fan whirs in the window
chopping boat motors
and children screaming
into beads of sweat

suntan lotion coconuts
and pineapples fight
UV rays breaking through
ozone and the odor of scales

working outside in the shade
every break a dive in the lake
and yet somehow I burn and yearn
to create which makes more heat

sweat drips on the page
under my breasts and down
and allergic to myself
I recognize the coming boils

and pain like an anniversary
of a coming storm swirling
a time to reevaluate
wind and water and fire

Calm in Agitation and Agitation in Calm

Heron Tree published my poem “Repent” as part of a series of poems created from materials published before 1927. Their call for submissions inspired me to explore a book of fairy tales I’ve had for a long time that was published in 1907. I talked about it in my post A Fun Found Poetry Project when I first started working on it back in January. Please check it out, and enjoy the great work they do at Heron Tree.

Calming Agitation by Maria L. Berg 2022

Calm & Agitation

This new way of studying abstractions really appeals to me. The idea of spending a week with contrasting abstractions and immersing myself in them is exciting and fun.

I finally figured out how to use the reflection balls in the lake. I made them a floating barrier by threading rope through some pool noodles. The color added by the pool noodles was I nice surprise. I like the effect so much, I ordered four more reflection balls of the same size. They arrive tomorrow. This weekend is going to be fun. Now I’m thinking of pool noodles as a color palette.

dVerse Poets Pub

Today was Open Mic Live (online) at dVerse. I always want to attend, but never make it. It starts at noon here in the PNW, and today it was 1pm before I finished making my filters and taking my photos. But I can still join in by posting a poem, so here’s today’s exploration of calm & agitation:

He says calm is the wind

I ask him what he thinks of
when I say calm
he waves his arm
majestically and says this

I turn from him, taking
in the entire day:
the sun, the lake, the sky
the warmth, the waves, the houses and trees
the moment we are sharing
as he pauses in his constant labors

Do you mean the lake?
Or the sun? Or? I prod
always wanting more
Actually, wind, he says,
Calm is the wind

I think of the gentle breeze
that guides a floating lounger
where I don’t want to go
I think of the wind that steals
my papers and pushes them
into bushes I think of the angry
wind that lifted the glass table
and threw it through the sliding door
I always think of the hurricane
that stole everything

I ask him what he thinks of when
I say agitation
He laughs, as if I should know?
Or he doesn’t want to say?
A disagreement of some kind
he answers, turning

That’s funny, I say, because
I always think of wind as agitation
because it makes things move
he moves on, and we both
continue our labors

Contrasting Abstractions: The next phase in my study

The Writer’s Games have ended! I sent in my final story yesterday. Guests have left. The family is busy. I might get a full day to myself. And the sun is out. 😎

Hope and Despair

Last week, inspired by some abstract art books:

and a writing tip from the Shaelin Writes video below, I started a new phase in my study of abstract nouns. Each week I’ll choose two opposing abstract nouns and attempt to create an image representing both. To inspire my work, I’m expanding my research from studying the words, history, and philosophy, to collecting music, paintings, photographs, poems, stories, scientific studies, and anything else I can find that represents the two abstractions, immersing myself for the week.

Using the statement, “Find the despair in hope, and the hope in despair,” I created several filters and tried different techniques. Here is one of the images:

Hope & Despair by Maria L. Berg 2022

Calm & Agitation

This week, expanding on the idea, I am exploring “Find the agitation in calm, and the calm in agitation.” Let’s start with some definitions:
agitate: 1. a. to give motion to b. to move with an irregular, rapid, or violent action 2. to excite and often trouble the mind or feelings of: Disturb 3. to discuss excitedly and earnestly
calm: 1. a period or condition of freedom from storms, high winds, or rough activity of water 2. a state of tranquility: free from agitation, excitement, or disturbance

So what could possibly be the agitation in calm? It depends on the person and situation. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to lie still for long, so my own thoughts are often the agitation. On the beach, the agitation could be the sand fleas; at the lake, the music from the boats going by, or mowers and chainsaws. The waves themselves are the definition of agitation, though the sound of them hitting the shore may be the calm in agitation.

For today’s images, I noticed light glinting off spiderwebs, and experimented with creating my shapes from that light. It worked! And with the very cool effect of making smaller shapes than the light on the leaves behind the webs.

Agitation in the Calm by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s Poetics prompt, Lisa challenges us to consider fractals in relation to poetry in subject or form.

Rapid Irregular Movement

agitation nags                               it's tickling                               through the calm
little bits build                      to agitate with malice                      while lying calmly
in the sun                               even after the years                            have passed to
a calming age                             all is distraction                dizzying feelings of ions
commingling                                 I see them                              behind closed lids
and the gate creeks           commensurate to the spots                             gyrating

Motivation to Wade into Cold Water

Motivation 2 by Maria L. Berg 2022

Motivation

Today I’m re-visiting motivation. When I explored motivation in April, I talked about it as a force toward pleasure and away from pain. Motivation came up again when I explored need and talked about Maslow’s pyramid. Today I looked up some definitions and found that motivation is a force that imparts motion as if from a store. In other words, I’ve got a whole bunch of motion stored up somewhere and the force “motivation” will dole it out to me. But what is this force, and how do I trigger it at will? I think my definition still needs work.

The sun was out this morning, so I took my net-lights outside for the first time. I am definitely motivated by the surprise of trying something new.

Imparting Motion by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s poetics prompt, Merril invites us to think about summer with an ekphrastic prompt. I wrote to the image by Edward Henry Potthast, Summer Day, Brighton Beach which shows children wading into the ocean. I waded a bit into the lake this morning, wasn’t quite motivated to swim.

The Poem

Wading In

Hear them shrieking in the distance
oh, they must be having fun
the waves crashing against them splashing
oh, I can’t wait now let’s run

But it’s freezing, my feet are tingling
oh, this bite has just begun
up it’s reaching, and soon numbing
then forgotten in summer sun.

The Beauty of Dissonance

Beauty by Maria L. Berg 2022

Beauty

Today is the first time in this exciting study of abstract nouns that I’m revisiting a word to study it more deeply. When I first approached beauty on the second day of the A to Z Challenge in April, I found a thorough definition on dictionary.com. My Merriam Webster’s defines it only slightly differently (the quality or aggregate of qualities . . . gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit: Loveliness), so I still have the same questions about inherent beauty and perceived beauty. This morning I thought, if beauty is defined by culture and/or group-think of an era or time-period does it really exist at all?

To start to explore these questions, I turned to philosophy. In the book Does the Center Hold? by Donald Palmer I found an interesting passage about Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872)’s thoughts on beauty. He believed that a human being is fundamentally good and from the beginning of the species every human community has aspired, consciously or unconsciously, to achieving: love, truth, beauty, happiness, wisdom, purity, and strength. The book says “among others,” but sticks to that list. Guess which abstractions I’ll be focusing on further 😃. Next month?

This got me thinking about the famous ending from “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats :

 “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all

                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Does that narrow down Feurbach’s list–and my study–to only two abstract nouns? Or only one? And how would I choose? I would think that would include wisdom. If truth and beauty are indeed the same, if I focus all of my images on beauty, will I be making images of truth? Will I eventually look at my beautiful image and see truth equally in the image?

Looking at beauty physically, many people believe symmetry is beautiful, others like asymmetry. Some look at a mole on a face and see a blemish, others see a beauty mark. Looking at beauty mathematically, the artists of the Renaissance believed in the golden ratio. I think of this when I include the curve from my metal mirror in my photos like I did for Value.

Looking back at the images I created for beauty before, I can see what I was going for: the shapes, a geometric representation of flowers and leaves, shows the conflict of the wild beauty of nature and the human desire to tame it. I also see this dichotomy of beauty in the glowing primary colors: yellow (sun and flowers), red (flowers, some berries), blue (water and sky). And the green–a combination and a contrast–a union of blue and yellow contrasting with red, but also representing the leaves that surround the red flowers or berries, the grass that meets the water, the floor to the ceiling of sky.

When I look at those images, I see all of that, but I also don’t see beauty. I think the images may try to do too much. They feel busy. Though the colors and shapes give pleasure to my senses, the images don’t exalt.

How do I want to explore beauty today? This time around I want to look for beauty in simplicity. I think there’s graceful movement in beauty, or beauty in graceful movement.

Looking Forward, Looking Back by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft prompt, Björn invites us to explore dissonance in our poetry. I love dissonance, especially the discordant combinations I create in my songs. I guess I haven’t really thought about the poetic tools of linguistic dissonance before. Great prompt!

The Poem

An Unexpected Irritation that Lingers

There is a man in the bushes to my left
He crunches and snaps, rustles and breaks
His every movement is destruction–
I believe he thinks–in the name of clearing,
taming nature to his will

I cannot see him through the thick
rhododendron he stomps and the
Japanese camellia he mangles caught
under the cherry-plum, but I see
the hedge move with a crack and a snap
and I know he has crossed

under the cherry-plum into the
leaf-shadows of this rhododendron
shuffling and crackling the crisp, dry
leaves as irritating and attention hoarding
as a jay or a spotted towhee, but his caw
is much worse than the jay’s screech.

When he finally speaks
the only thing he says is
cut your trees, cut your trees
cut your trees!

In Awe of Water

In Awe of the Possibilities by Maria L. Berg 2022

June’s Abstractions

Here we are already starting June. As I mentioned yesterday, this month’s daily abstract nouns include a mix of new words and further study of previous words. And, as before, Sundays are homographs to guide visual poetry (vispo) from the images created through the week.

Awe

While defining “poetry” for my online poetry class, What Is Poetry? An Introduction to Literary Analysis, I found that dictionary.com provides circular definitions for everything, not only abstract nouns. I found a much better definition in my physical dictionary, so from now on, I’ll be mining for meaning in my Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Tenth Edition.

Awe is an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime. What an intense combination: to fear greatly, respect, and be excited with amazement and admiration all at the same time.

I am in awe of the flow of ideas and joy of process I’ve found in this study of abstract nouns. Awe describes

For today’s images, I put the two new reflective balls in the mirrorworld to see what they would do.

Awe by Maria L. Berg 2022

Today’s prompts

On Wednesdays, Robert Lee Brewer offers a poetry prompt on Writer’s Digest. Today’s prompt is to write a water poem.

The Poem

I Water as I Walk

The air is thick with it
the clouds fat with it
and yet they hoard their
precious cargo, leaving the
new seeds thirsty

It makes up seventy
percent of me, sloshing
about somewhere in there
as I tread–new sprinkler head in hand,
length of hose uncoiling,
dragging behind–

staring out at the lake as
I shower the crusted earth,
the irony is not lost on me
that there is water everywhere
but the land needs me
to drink

A Wealth of Options

A Wealth of Sunlight by Maria L. Berg 2022

Wealth

These last couple months studying abstract nouns have provided a wealth of discoveries, great quantities of new ideas, an abundance of new techniques, a profusion of thoughts, and a plentiful amount of new tools. I feel like these last two months have been a 101 course in abstractions–an overview–and now it’s time to take a more advanced look at the ideas I’ve only had a glimpse of so far. But there is still a wealth of abstract nouns to look at and explore. I’m having trouble deciding, so I think I’ll do both.

Continuing this study into June, I will choose some new abstract nouns and some that I want to revisit. I’ll post the new calendar tomorrow for those of you interested in looking ahead at what I’ll be exploring through the month.

Today’s weather was beautiful, and I’m hoping June will bring many more sunny days, so I can bring my new net-lights outside to play with the sun on the lake. And today I got two floating reflective balls that I’m excited to float on the lake. I’m already excited about their potential for bokeh shapes from a few pictures I took of them in the yard.

I hope you’re enjoying this wealth of content and that you are as inspired by the study of abstract nouns as I am. I’m really looking forward to revisiting some of the words I’ve already explored and diving deeper into sensory perception and imagery associated with those abstractions. If you have a suggestion for an abstract noun to revisit, or one I haven’t looked at please let me know in the comments.

Flower Thoughts by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s poetics prompt, Punam inspires with the work of Amrita Pritam. The challenge is to choose one of her lines from a list and use it to inspire our poem.

The Poem

In the Little Empty Space

“Look further on ahead, there between truth and falsehood, a little empty space.” ~Amrita Pritam

I believe I can squeeze through
the jagged rocks
and hard place threaten
but a slim, distant light
still begs me on.

If I suck it all in tight
and purse my lips
and set my jaw
and close my eyes
and never breathe again,
I might distract them

from the original question
concern them enough
to forget, and not suffer
while I emerge
on the other side

Enjoying My Solitude

Solitude by Maria L. Berg 2022

Solitude

This week is the first week of a three week course I’m taking on FutureLearn.com called How to Make a Poem offered through Manchester Metropolitan University. This week’s assigned poem is to collect language by observing an environment in the style of George Perec’s exercise in his essay. “the Street.” As someone who enjoys her solitude: seclusion; state of being and living alone in an area that is remote and unfrequented especially on rainy days, this is a bit of a challenge. The idea is to capture overheard language or signs, menus, etc. Solitude isn’t very conducive to this exercise as described, but the exercise also doesn’t exactly lead to found poetry in the way I understand it.

For today’s images I have two new tools to play with: net lights and printable transparency paper. I think I’ll hang the net lights in the mirrorworld since it’s supposed to rain for about a week. My original idea for the printable transparency paper was to print some of my black and white photos to use with blackout poetry, but I’m also curious how it might work for printing a filter. So many possibilities.

As you can see, I still haven’t been able to fix my printer, but in this case, I like the lines and color stripes.

To Take Dreams verse one by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

It’s Open Link Night at the pub, so I thought I would start try my printable transfer paper as a blackout to “find” poetry.

The Poem

To Take Dreams verse two by Maria L. Berg 2022

To take dreams

some mediate, contain
by providing that
highest provocation
and that dream
of mind from mystery
matter outdone
their equal
these two dreams
that wheel

by symbols at one
and world be else
said key to the dream self
dual one as thumb
as not fruit
converse of is beauty
the dream add
the little soul
the devil
how his counting
on no self objective
them also

found from Rose Windows by Painton Cowen ©1979




Being Sensitive to Sensitivities

Sensitivity by Maria L. Berg 2022

Sensitivity

To a vision scientist like me, sensitivity is only a semi-abstract noun. If you look at the state or quality of being endowed with sensation; having perception through the senses, that’s measurable through scientific experimentation. However, the state or quality of being readily or excessively affected by external agencies or influences and having acute mental or emotional sensibility; aware of and responsive to the feelings of others is not as measurable and easily pained, annoyed, etc. is probably measurable per person, but not as scientifically, since we’re getting into moods.

I’ve always been highly sensitive, both emotionally and perceptually. I was told by my advanced biology teacher in high school that I should never have children if I was so sensitive to the smell in the room that I needed to leave. He sent me to the library, and I never had children. He must have had an amazing sixth sense. Now approaching the mid-century of life, I still have perfect vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch: though my sensitivity to others and ideas of my sixth sense have diminished, for now, in exchange for contentment and sanity, I think. Which brings us to another definition of sensitivity: requiring tact or caution; delicate; touchy: a sensitive topic.

As for my images I like how my sensitivity made me think of anxiety and squiggly lines of too much, but when I looked at the images I saw another definition of sensitivity I enjoy which is: constructed to indicate, measure, or be affected by small amounts or changes~ as a balance or thermometer or microscope.

Overlapping yellow and pink triangles that have the texture of crinkled plastic and squiggly lines drawn with sharpie on that plastic.
Too Sensitive by Maria L. Berg 2022

dVerse Poets Pub

For today’s poetics Ingrid brings corvids to spring. I am surrounded by raptors and corvids and find it fascinating that crows chase bald eagles around the sky. It’s the craziest bird behavior. One would think that eagles would just take out the crows, if they were a threat; the eagle could turn and destroy them: toss their nests, eat their eggs, or eat the crows. But from what I’ve seen, they don’t react much at all. However, this spring I’ve had two rather aggressive Blue Jays, and I am sensitive to their presence.

The Poem

Strike a Pose

So bold, look at you
in my morning window
blinds closed, I know you’re
there, when I let in the spring
sun your striking blue feathers
somehow bluer than the bluest
sky: not cerulean, not royal, but
playing in between, you contrast
with the giant pink blossoms of
the monster rhododendron
not a plant, not a flower, but
a life choice, and you have chosen
it, next to my bedroom window
with your deep, thoughtful,
striking pose, I can’t help
but admire your bold stare
and then you
SHRIEK
SCREAM
make unbird noises
not even the semi-annoying
CAW which is never at my window
but still loud from high above while
harassing an eagle and remind me
that you are the kind of bird
who raids other bird’s nests
and may decapitate other birds
Am I being sensitive to your
horrible sound, or would it
bother me so much if I didn’t
know you were a murderous
tyrant striking such a strong
contrast of black and blue

#SoCS: Clearly Relieved

Relief by Maria L. Berg 2022

Relief

I’m excited for a little relief today. I’ve had stomach pain the last couple days, so alleviation, ease, or deliverance through the removal of pain, distress, oppression, etc. is greatly appreciated. A rain-free day with some sun is also something affording a pleasing change, as from monotony: release.

While thinking about visually creating relief, bas-relief came to mind. Bas-Relief is a sculpture technique in which the shapes only rise slightly from the flat surface of the background. In this case relief means the distance of the carving; bas-relief is low relief or a short distance, close to the surface compared to high relief. Coins are a good example of bas-relief images.

Because I finally have some relief from the rain and clouds, I can play with all my new transformer filters on the lake. The images I create using the glints of lights on the lake are like bas-relief in a way as the shapes stay connected to the water’s surface.

Relieved by Maria L. Berg 2022

Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Today’s prompt is “clear.” Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s journal:

A clear blue sky. Finally. A faint half-moon lingers just above the all firs behind the house across the lake. Today’s mission is clear: to plant. I looked at the seeds I have, the herbs my sister gave me for my birthday, the vegetable seeds left from last year: lettuce, spinach, cabbage, radishes, and beans are all going to find homes in the soil today. Here I go.

Clearly, I did not expect pulling that dead plant out of the bed and putting my sister’s little birthday flower in its place would be so difficult. The dirt was hard as concrete and full of rocks. The wayward grass did NOT want to come out. I hope that little flower lives after all that effort. I’m glad it’s supposed to be nice tomorrow too because my nieces are here, and now I clearly have other things to do.

Maria L. Berg 2022

The Poem

Brief Relief

And when I finally find relief
release from pain and mind left clear
blue sky cloudless and half-moon near,

I hope the moment isn’t brief
the sun set free is quick to sear
and blinds all thought to steer or veer

Since time is such a greedy thief
a heart remembers cupid’s spear
a pain that aches renewing fear,

relying on our group belief
of control and measured hours: we’re
among our peers existing here

to smear the days with its mischief
the half-moon leers then disappears
leaving a trail of relief’s tears

And when I finally find relief
I hope the moment isn’t brief
since time is such a greedy thief
relying on our group belief
to smear the days with its mischief.


Release by Maria L. Berg 2022