A POSSIBLE PRACTICE

This page is a virtual commonplace book where we’ll share the thoughts, readings, art, and everythings that are feeding our creative process as we explore this year’s theme. You can share your own artwork and thoughts in conversation by using the hashtag #apossiblepractice. Please clear time to visit again as this page continues to grow. Please help us water it.

meet this season’s featured artists →

A POSSIBLE PRACTICE invites Maine-based artists to create alongside us in conversation with this theme. Throughout 2019, we will host site-specific art installations/open creative spaces around the state, culminating in a retrospective artist’s book that catalogs our time together. This season’s theme is “Etymology of Butch” by Kristin Chang. ↓

Originally published in BOAAT (October/November 2018).

AS IN—
consumption/to consume/to be consumed by [something], 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

AS IN, COME MAKE ART WITH US!—
Do these words slam open a window where the breeze blows wild in you? If yes → make art! Clear the time and space to DO IT. Make art that surprises you. In any medium, in any way. Go deep. Sink in. Read and re-read. Stare into the center of yourself and bring something back. Share it with us at #apossiblepractice. We’ll be doing the same.

A POSSIBLE PRACTICE POPUP at 229 Broaday in Farmington, Maine.
Our creative community living room ran from February 10 – March 10, 2019 featuring weekly open hours and guided workshops—including Going For It: an experimental/amateur talent show with Devon Kelley-Yurdin, poems on the spot with Katherine Ferrier, and a poetry workshop with local poet Audrey Gidman.

IN THIS SPACE, WE…
✧ faced our fear of ladders ✧ wore matching outfits ✧ disco-danced for the whole street to see ✧ received the gift of typewriter poems on the spot ✧ lip synched to Talking Heads ✧ asked ourselves (and each other) what it means to be visible ✧ sung acapella Neko Case ✧ wrote letters to pen pals ✧ peeled fragrant citrus in midwinter ✧ played banjo country tunes ✧ hand painted letters inverse on windows ✧ sung in public for the first time ever ✧ shared illustrations of our daily life ✧ read “Etymology of Butch” in eleven different voices ✧ accepted help from our friends ✧ impersonated David Byrne ✧ planned a speakeasy ✧ shared old family photos ✧ wrote into our personal etymologies ✧ weighed exactly one pound of onions ✧ read original poems aloud for the first time ever ✧ played ukulele to The Cranberries ✧ re-learned the Pythagorean Theorem with illustrations ✧ read original poems aloud for the first time ever ✧ hugged long ✧ listened deep ✧ allowed space for silence to grow our ideas ✧ practiced being possible ✧

Audrey Gidman welcomes us to write inward. Primary colors brighten winter at our opening reception. The keychain we just had to have. Katherine Ferrier‘s wondrous poems on the spot. Speakeasy planning with our youngest artists. Devon Kelley-Yurdin fills the room with song. Caitlyn Mello illustrates our talents.

READING LIST

I.
I see every story, every word as a struggle of memory against forgetting. As a struggle of nuance in the flat face of fascism.
“Why Writing Matters in the Age of Despair” by Lyz Lenz from The Rumpus

II.
“…art endures past governments, countries, and emperors, and their would-be replacements. […] art—​even, or perhaps especially, art that is dedicated somehow to tenderness—is not weak. It is strength.”
“On Becoming an American Writer” by Alexander Chee from The Paris Review

III.
“For me, I always think about writing the things that should exist but don’t yet – things that would save my life, things that would have transformed me if I’d read them growing up–that’s when I kinda know I should go for it.”
“How our bodies domesticate/disaster: An Interview with Kristin Chang, Past Lives, Future Bodies” by Leona Chen from Taiwanese American

IV.
“I’m afraid, ‘What if none of this matters?’ Maybe this is the working-class roots of my family, where I feel like—I sit two days in a hotel, I get 10,000 words—what if it doesn’t matter? What if I could be doing something better with my hands for my community, my people? Maybe, in a queer body, that’s always a question: ‘How can we be of service to one another?’ At least for myself. That’s how I think of art, is how we are service to one another.
“Ocean Vuong on being generous with your work” from a conversation with Amy Rose Spiegel in The Creative Independent

V.
& because I love you, I will gut this distance / with nostalgia, because grief can taste of sugar if you run / your tongue along the right edge
“Still, Somehow” by Hieu Minh Nguyen from The Margins

VI.
No moon in sight, so I howled at the exit sign instead. Red runes, electric. Telling an old story of escape, of wind, a wide cold. A distant car alarm. Otherwise: the dark, and our bodies, two strange women trying to touch each other. Breathing strange. Moving toward or away from each other as the red ghost in the sky opened, called us gone, showed us the door to another world. Otherwise, the dark, and our mouths, tearing at what bones we could find. Grinning and hungry for something — something we couldn’t, with all our words, name.
“Perihelion: A History of Touch” by Franny Choi from Poetry

VII.
“That’s how art functions. There are lacunae in every art work, gaps that we fill or don’t fill, and it’s not by understanding everything perfectly that we are enriched—not in art, not in life.
“There Is No Single Voice of America” by Elaine Castillo from Literary Hub

VIII.
“There have been moments in our shared human history in particular parts of the world where poets and also singers have been banned. But why? What is there to fear? Precisely this: the force of the quicksilver self that poetry sets free—desire that can never be bound by laws and legislations. This is the force of the human, the spirit level of our lives.”
“What Use Is Poetry?” by Meena Alexander from World Literature Today

IX.
“I can use my mind not to punish myself, but to invite a special brand of silence to make room for celebration.”
“I Made Peace With My Body on a Sweaty Dance Floor” by Kimberly Drew from Broadly

X.
“I had to contend with the expectations placed on my writing because of my name and because of the first sentence in my bio: José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. In college, I remember being frustrated because no matter what I wrote […]. It didn’t take me long to figure out that my classmates were not reading my work; they were reading me.”
“José Olivarez: How I Wrote ‘A Mexican Dreams of Heaven'” by José Olivarez from The Androit Journal. BONUS: Listen to this episode of VS to hear him read the poem in full! So. Good.

XI.
“But the foolish hope is that perhaps if we truly take a step back, and look at ourselves, stripped of noise or performance or misgivings, we can hold each other in the light. That somehow, we can recognize each other as whole human beings, whose flaws and sorrows are valid, and dream up a better future together.”
“Giving Up the Gaze: A Conversation with Sally Wen Mao” by Jenny Xie from The Margins

XII.
“Rejection is not always triumphant or empowering. Growing a tough skin isn’t always fun. There’s a reason why scar tissue exists—it forms to protect our body as a wound heals, but it also indicates traumatic changes to cellular tissue. Rejections are a bit like scars, and they tell stories of creative growth in their own way.
“What Collecting 100 Rejections Taught Me about Creative Failure” by Kim Liao from Literary Hub

XIII.
“For I do not know all the faces / of my family, on this earth.
/ Perhaps it will take a lifetime / (or five) to discover every / sister, brother.”
“Spell to Find Family” by Chen Chen from Lambda Literary

XIV.
“All the world is moving, even sand from one shore to another / is being shuttled. I live my life half afraid, and half shouting / at the trains when they thunder by. This letter to you is both.
Ada Limón to Natalie Diaz from “Envelopes of Air,” a collection of poem-letters from The New Yorker

XV.
“…let’s just be ourselves, let’s be loud and messy and talk shit about people in Cantonese while on line at the grocery store. […] Let’s bring our own snacks to the movies. […] We did that and more and yet we believed it was okay to turn on the ones who had less, buying into the idea that there was only room for some of us. Like we weren’t the same, our survival dependent on one another, our spiked and complicated love.
“Who In America Is Allowed To Be Ordinary?” by Lisa Ko from Buzzfeed

XVI.
There is a time for everything. Look,
“Sorrow Is Not My Name” by Ross Gay from Poetry Foundation

XVII.
Don’t tell me that the experiences of a vast majority of our planet’s human population are marginal, are not relevant, are not political. Don’t tell me that you think there’s not enough room for another story about sexual abuse, motherhood, or racism. The only way to make room is to drag all our stories into that room. That’s how it gets bigger.
“The Heart-Work: Writing About Trauma as a Subversive Act” by Melissa Febos from Poets & Writers

XVIII.
“I cannot walk through all realms— / I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark— // What shall I do with all this heartache?”
“Speaking Tree” by Joy Harjo from The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith

XIX.
“Forgive me, for I have been nurturing my well-worn / grudges against beauty.”
“How Can Black People Write about Flowers at a Time Like This” by Hanif Abdurraqib from Gulf Coast.

XX.
“so let’s end this / classist pretend where names don’t matter / & language is too heavy a lift”
“etymology” by Airea D. Matthews from poets.org

XXI.
I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth // so I count my hopes: the bumblebees / are making a comeback, one snug tight / in a purple flower I passed to get to you”
“I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth” by Fatimah Asghar from poets.org


Support for A POSSIBLE PRACTICE 2019 is provided by the Kindling Fund, a grant administered by SPACE as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Regional Regranting Program.

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