Each year, A CLEARING invites Maine-based artists, writers, musicians, dancers, et al. to make work in conversation with a chosen poem. We call this recurring creative cycle A POSSIBLE PRACTICE.
Chosen poems for each cycle are announced at the end of each calendar year, typically followed by an open call to artists. Stay up-to-date by subscribing to our newsletter via the link in the menu.
“My loves. You are the only people / I’d surrender my softness to.”
A POSSIBLE PRACTICE: SURRENDER MY SOFTNESS is a collaborative mail art practice in conversation with the poem “Ode to Friendship” by Noor Hindi.
Through this practice, we ask: Where do we turn when we are grief-laden, when our structures have failed and we must create our own systems of support? How can we learn to value and nourish intimacy—within ourselves, with each other, within larger community? How can our creative practice attune our senses to these meaningful connections?
We are corresponding with each other and six other incredibly talented artists and writers: janan alexandra, Serena Himmelfarb, Irina Skornyakova, Stacey Tran, Arisa White, and Golaleh Yazdani.
In the month of April, we invite you to write us a letter in conversation with this poem—and we will write one back to you. Letters can be sent to:
PO Box 76
Vienna, ME 04360
Twice a month, we will also be sharing readings that expand our understanding of the theme.
Then, of course, we’ll make a book about it all.
In 2020/2021, we spent the cycle in conversation with “The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On” by Franny Choi.
When we chose Franny Choi’s poem in December 2019, we could not have envisioned the ways we would each be asked to accept levels of apocalypse and grief into our daily lives. We were floored by the thoughtful proposals we received and are happy to share our featured artists for this cycle: Samaa Abdurraqib, Rachel Alexandrou, Kenny Cole, Elizabeth Kane, Devon Kelley-Yurdin, Mike Lewis, Nicole Manganelli, Andy Mauery, and Stephen Stratton.
F. beauty: beast I aimed to skin / 1. but carved bone-torches of instead.—from “Etymology of butch” by K-Ming Chang
Work created in conversation with “Etymology of butch.” “Rebirth” by EA Kane, “sabotage gods” by Chelsea Ellis, “Bochier” and “Buccus” by Kelsey Halliday Johnson, “hug” by Lavennz Ooi, “Sorry Bout the Egg” by Maia Snow, “Enough” by Jessica Townes George, “Little Bird” by Stephen Stratton.
In 2019, we spent the year in conversation with “Etymology of butch” by K-Ming Chang. Considering: consumption/to consume/to be consumed by [ ], to name as an attempt to know, “language is the fugitive of meaning”, lineage, human as animal, body as home, a fluidity of being, how power is wielded to define us, violence as or against creation…
A POSSIBLE PRACTICE: ETYMOLOGIES
A POSSIBLE PRACTICE: Etymologies. This artist’s book is our love letter to our 2019 cycle of practice, reflecting on our year of deep collaboration with each other and our community—with K-Ming Chang’s poem, “Etymology of butch,” as our guide. Includes work by K-Ming Chang, Alana Dao, Chelsea Ellis, Katherine Ferrier, Jessica Townes George, Kelsey Halliday Johnson, Megan Jones, EA Kane, Lavennz Ooi, Maia Snow, Stephen Stratton, Kyla Wheeler, and meg willing. Order here. $15-$22, siding scale.
A CLEARING X Tender Table
CÔNG TỬ BỘT : Portland, ME : August 6, 2019
Presenter Cassandra Loftlin, A CLEARING co-directors meg willing + Alana Dao, Tender Table founder Stacey Tran, and presenter Asha Tamirisa.
Our dream collaboration with Tender Table! For this food and storytelling event, speakers Cassandra Loftlin and Asha Tamirisa made and shared home cooked dishes, telling stories about their sweet, savory, sour, and bitter relationships to food and its connections to identity, memory, and community. The walls of CÔNG TỬ BỘT were adorned with artwork by this cycle’s featured artists.
Audience visits before speakers take the stage. Stephen Stratton shares his zine, Little Bird, with his child. CÔNG TỬ BỘT’s Vien Dobui. Alana listens to a recording of K-Ming Chang reading “Etymology of butch.” Tender Table founder Stacey Tran introduces speakers Asha Tamirisa and Cassandra Loftlin. Attentive audience. The line for Loftlin’s black-eyed peas and butter beans with cornbread. Maia Snow’s painting, “Sorry Bout the Egg.” Group pic: Cassandra Loftlin, meg willing, Alana Dao, Stacey Tran, Asha Tamirisa. All photos by Megan Jones.
⇩ listen here ⇩
A POSSIBLE PRACTICE Pop-Up
229 Broadway : Farmington, ME
February 10 – March 10, 2019
IN THIS SPACE WE… ✧ faced our fear of ladders ✧ wore matching mustard outfits ✧ disco-danced for the whole street to see ✧ received the gift of typewriter poems inspired by a single word whispered from our lips ✧ lip synched to Talking Heads ✧ asked ourselves (asked each other) what it means to be visible ✧ sung acapella Neko Case ✧ wrote letters to grandmothers, to pen pals ✧ peeled fragrant citrus in midwinter ✧ played old banjo country tunes ✧ hand painted letters in deep concentration ✧ sung in public for the first time ever, accompanied by strangers ✧ shared illustrations of laundry days ✧ read “Etymology of butch” in eleven different voices ✧ accepted help from our friends ✧ placed keepsakes in a box ✧ flipped the record to side b ✧ planned a speakeasy fundraiser to support local food programs ✧ shared family photos from past lives ✧ wrote into our personal etymologies ✧ predicted what exactly one pound of onions would weigh ✧ were wrong and laughed ✧ played ukulele to The Cranberries ✧ re-learned the Pythagorean Theorem with illustrations ✧ read original poems from secret notebooks ✧ pointed the camera and clicked ✧ waited for you to arrive ✧ listened, unknowing ✧ allowed space for silence to grow something un-snow ✧ practiced being possible ✧
A POSSIBLE PRACTICE Pop-Up program. Teatime opening reception. Alana Dao and Frida closing day. Floral table with art by Anna O’Sullivan and Doug Von. Katherine Ferrier writes poems on the spot. Caitlyn Mello shares her drawings. Audrey Gidman leads a community poetry workshop. Katherine Ferrier’s typewriter. meg willing lip syncs to Talking Heads. Courtney Ferrell teaches math. Devon Kelley-Yurdin facilitates GOING FOR IT!: an amateur talent show and plays the ukulele. Erica Emery shares her onion-weighing talents. Final four photos by Megan Jones.
Practice is an intentional act of returning.
Through practice we grow into our possible forms.
Support for A POSSIBLE PRACTICE 2020 is provided by a project grant from The Ellis-Beauregard Foundation. Support for A POSSIBLE PRACTICE 2019 was provided by the Kindling Fund, a grant administered by SPACE as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Regional Regranting Program.