Saturday, December 11, 2010

Poet's Swaddlings

Cloak Of A Hundred Colors
Here it is, the poet's cape. Vanessa calls it swaddling. Stephen calls it refinery. I call it poor royalty. It's 10 wool sweaters, cut up and reassembled. It's called not getting out of bed. Wool and silk. Thanks to Clinton Bliss for designing and constructing it. I've worn it for three days and have received many compliments. Yesterday, I was even followed by two women in a car who then rolled their windows down to ask, "Where did you get your coat?!"

And what is possible in such a cloak? And what is necessary? You cannot, for instance, just wander down the street in such a cloak with your head down, feeling inconsequential. One is, by costume, prepared and promenading through life! In such a cloak, one might warm two people or more. There is the girth of it to consider.

10am Saturdays
December 11, 18, 25
Maple Leaf Lutheran Church
10005 32nd Ave NE, Seattle, WA
Lyn Coffin is leading silent meditation walks on Saturdays in December. The group will leave from Maple Leaf Lutheran Church, now hosting Tent City 3, and walk silently and mindfully through the neighborhood. I plan to join the walk and hope you will too. It's free and open to all, an invitation to the public and to Tent City 3 residents, an invitation to interface. The walk will last approximately 20-30 minutes. Wear layers, bring an umbrella, be prepared for the weather. Rain is in the forecast.

Interfacing is a textile sewn into the wrong side of a fabric to stiffen a garment. If this is the case then the whole of Tent City is interfacing, sewn into the wrong side of the community to make it more rigid. An interface is also a place where two things meet, a point of interaction between systems or groups. I'm hoping to create an interface between Tent City 3 and the public. Is this desirable? Do all or any parties want this or is it just my idea of a solution? I had thought it would solve some problem, expose some thing, facilitate healing. I've given it much thought and time, in many meetings with various professionals, but I am coming, through my struggles, to realize that perhaps it is just me. I myself am the best and only interface. Just me, being where I am and who I am. That's a hard one. The inactivity has been beaten out of me. I'm a busy person. I do things. I am quick to act. I solve and fix and generate things. Just being, that's meditation, that requires stillness and acceptance. How could I, alone, be enough? I'm better at racing around stirring pots. It keeps me from perhaps from seeing that nothing is getting done. What am I seeking?

A new friend, an architect, met with me to consider what kind of a physical object we might make to define or elicit an interface between Tent City and the community. We talked, we drew, we drafted ideas, then tried to figure out how to implement them. With the multitude of restrictions and pressures on Tent City, each idea posed its own set of problems. Actions and ideas that are feasible and simple for you and me are not necessarily even possible from inside the fence. Noise is one of the biggest issues. You cannot raise your voice in camp or in the vicinity of the camp. Loitering, trespassing and soliciting are issues too. Pick-ups and drop-offs at Tent City are not allowed. Standing at the entrance to Tent City is not allowed. No parking at the church or within two blocks of Tent City. You cannot solicit the church or any place close-by for meeting rooms. The fence around Tent City must be a certain size, height and color. You cannot meet with friends in a pub in the vicinity of Tent City. If you leave, you must go and keep going. If you stay, you must refrain from profanities and keep your voice low. Open flames are not allowed. Catalytic heaters are not allowed. Thus there is no cooking in the camp. There is one microwave and one large coffee machine for all of camp. The two cannot be plugged in at the same time. It takes one hour to brew coffee. There is no hot water or sink for washing things. And on and on..

Our initial idea was to build a porch on Tent City, a physical space to serve as an invitation to the public, with chairs and a roof, a space where people from both sides could meet. After I moved in, however, it became clear such an idea wouldn't be feasible. Stuart and I have met three times to work on this, to identify an appealing, permissible invitation  and interface. Thus far, we have been unsuccessful.

With Words We Win
Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave,
That I, the son of a dear father murdered,
Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell,
Must like a whore unpack my heart with words
And fall a-cursing like a very drab,
A stallion! Fie upon't, foh! About, my brains.
--Shakespeare, Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2)

Whores unpacking their hearts, a multitude of poets. This I have found on both sides of fence, both, my lord, behind and before, in and out. Why just the other night, I was corned and my head rammed with words, even to the point of assault. Yet upon attempting to deflect the blows, I was rammed some more, and more, and more, ten times over and again. What could I do? Where could I go? I chose to stand and observe. How awful! Awful!

1 comment:

  1. I love the cape, and they way you wear it.

    Per Wikipedia, "Interfacing is a textile used on the unseen or "wrong" side of fabrics to make an area of a garment more rigid." Such an interesting concept to consider in the context of your work, the unseen in this definition is considered wrong, but no, it is not wrong, it is just unseen. Maybe the interface you are looking for must be unseen?