Where Notable Ladies Uncouple the Braids of Their Hair: A Look at 2011

Northwest

Every year we take a road trip to a different part of the country. This year we went to Washington and Oregon. This photo was taken near Neah Bay, on the northwest corner of the country. These trips have become the most satisfying and enjoyable parts of each year for me.

Association for Mormon Letters Poetry Contest

My poems “Sweetwater,” “Genesis,” and “In the River” won the 2011 Association for Mormon Letters poetry contest. They’ll be appearing in the next issue of Irreantum.

Fire in the Pasture

Five of my poems are included in Fire in the Pasture: 21st Century Mormon Poets, which was published this year. It is the first anthology of Mormon poetry since 1989’s Harvest, and only the second that I know of. It’s an honor to be anthologized alongside former teachers Susan Elizabeth Howe and Lance Larsen, and friends Glen Nelson and Doug Talley. The title of the book comes from Doug’s poem, “Finding Place.”

Waiting for Godot

We founded Sting & Honey at the end of last year, but our first full length production happened this past September. Waiting for Godot. Everyone said we were crazy. But I’ve been dedicated to the play long enough to know that it is not the boring piece of academic rubbish it’s usually taught and produced as. Also, I had an amazing cast gathered around me. David D’Agostini, Roger Dunbar, Cam Deaver, and Cavin Huntsman. These guys cared deeply about their roles, and played them beautifully. We also worked with a great stage manager in Kyle Hess. It’s hard to describe the satisfaction that comes from knowing your audience genuinely enjoys a show. To have that feeling with a show that is often labeled as “difficult” is simply euphoric. When you are working with a masterpiece, you know it. Waiting for Godot deserves its place as the greatest play of the twentieth century.

Taylor Swift Concert

I took my daughter, Rain, to her first concert. Taylor Swift. On the way there we listened her favorite Taylor Swift CD, and she told me the story behind every song. At the concert she was glued to the performance, singing every word. I was impressed by Taylor Swift, but I was mostly focused on Rain. I can’t believe she’s ten.

The String Room

This was my favorite creative moment of the year. The string room in Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. It just wouldn’t come to me. I kept reassuring the actress who played Eurydice that I was just about to come up with something. And since I was playing the father, nobody else was really affected. (The stage manager was a little worried.) I knew better than to try and figure it out logically. The night before we opened, there was still no room. I sat and stared at the place on the stage where it was to be. And then it happened. I love it.

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life was such an overwhelming experience for me, it deserves a place on this list. I had heard that it was long and slow. As a 37 year old man who cares deeply about art, I have no patience for boring pseudo-art. But my good friend Erik Orton said it was amazing, and so I checked it out. It’s simply the most moving piece of cinema I’ve ever experienced. I was emotionally engaged from the first moment. “There are two ways in life: the way of nature, and the way of grace.”

You Come Flying

Here’s one of the greatest poems ever written to bring in the New Year.

Alberto Rojas Jimenez Comes Flying

Between terrified feathers, between nights
and magnolias and telegrams,
between southerly winds and winds from the sea blowing west,
you come flying.

Under grave-plots and ashes,
under the ice on the snail,
under the remotest terrestrial waters,
you come flying.

Deeper still, between girls under fathoms of water,
blind plants and a litter of fish heads,
deeper, still deeper, among clouds once again
you come flying.

Further than blood or than bones,
further than bread; beyond wines,
conflagrations,
you come flying.

Beyond vinegar’s sting and morality,
between canker and violets,
in your heavenly voice, with the wet on your shoes,
you come flying.

Over drugstores, committees,
over lawyers and navies, wheels
and the reddened extraction of teeth,
you come flying.

Over cities with roofs under water
where notable ladies uncouple the braids of their hair
with lost combs in the span of their hands
you come flying.

Close to the ripening wine in the cellars,
with hands tepid and turbid, quiet,
with gradual, wooden, red hands
you come flying.

Among vanishing airmen
by the banks of the canals and the shadows,
beside lilies now buried,
you come flying.

Among bitter-hued bottles,
rings of anise and accidents,
lamenting and lifting your hands,
you come flying.

Over dentists and parishes,
cinemas, tunnels, ears,
in your newly bought suit, with your eyeballs effaced,
you come flying.

Over that graveyard unmarked by a wall,
where even the mariner founders,
while the rains of your death fall,
you come flying.

While the rain of your fingertips falls,
while the rain of your bones falls,
and your laughter and marrow fall down,
you come flying.

Over the flint into which you dissolve,
flowing fast under time, under winter,
while your heart falls in droplets,
you come flying.

You are no longer there in that ring of cement,
hemmed in by the black-hearted notaries
or the horseman’s maniacal bones:
you come flying.

Oh, sea-poppy, my kinsman,
bee-clothed guitarist,
all the shadows that blacken your hair are a lie:
you come flying.

All the shadows that pursue you, a lie;
all the death-stricken swallows, a lie;
all the darkening zones of lament:
you come flying.

A black wind from Valparaiso
spreads the charcoal and foam of its wings
sweeping away the sky where you pass:
you come flying.

There are mists and the chill of dead water,
and whistles and months and the smell
of the rain in the morning and the swill of the fishes:
you come flying.

There’s rum, too, between us, you and I and the soul that I mourn, in,
and nobody, nothing at all but a staircase
with all the treads broken, and a single umbrella:
you come flying.

And always, the sea, there. I go down in the night and I hear you
come flying, under water, alone,
under the sea that inhabits me darkly:
you come flying.

I listen for wings and your slow elevation,
while the torrents of all who have perished assail me,
blind doves flying sodden:
you come flying.

You come flying, alone, in your solitude,
alone with the dead, alone in eternity,
shadowless, nameless, you come flying
without sweets, or a mouth, or a thicket of roses,
you come flying.

–Pablo Neruda

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