from one junkie to another!

2012 Summer Writing Program Goodness: Week 1 July 27, 2012

Filed under: Naropa University,Writing/Words — Annie Maier @ 1:32 pm
Tags: , , , ,





  • establishing, relating to, or deriving from a standard or   norm, esp. of behavior
  • conforming to or based on norms
  • prescribing norms

In reference to and in direct opposition of:



  • (of a product or idea) featuring new methods; advanced and original
  • (of a person) introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking

I could ramble on endlessly about the wonderfulness that is Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program. Rather than spend hours trying to distill four insanely packed weeks of literary exploration into any kind of coherent narrative, however, I’ve decided upon a decidedly non-normative approach. Quite fitting, as Naropa is a place where stuffy academic terms such as rhizomatic (adj; of, relating to, or resembling a rhizome) and nonnormative (adj; see above) are tossed around with great sincerity in an environment that was developed upon and now embodies, encourages, and promotes the antithesis of academia, ie, the individual.

Here, then, are several lists, to be presented in weekly installments, chronicling but a few of the many, many thoughts, ideas, sentences, theories and people that propelled me into and through a month of sleepless nights and frantic, word-filled days. If even one of the following stirs you in a similar fashion, I’ll count this blog a success. 

SWP 2012: Week 1: Archival Poetics and The War on Memory 

Prageeta Sharma (http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/2060), an impassioned poet and instructor who inspires not only through her own heartfelt writing, but also through the work of an array of artists and writers who stretch their work well beyond anything remotely resembling normative.


  • Peter Greenaway: A Walk Through H (http://www.ubu.com/film/greenaway_walk.html), an amazing film (by an amazing artist/filmmaker) in which the “I” is presented as a fictional entity. Curating his own paintings, Greenway takes viewers through a maze of maps that contain images representing scarlet brick roads, letters, cities (Antilipe, Canterlupis, Hesgarden), windmills, bald eagles, an exiled pianist, blood oranges, and lots and lots of references to birds. What does H represent? Many things it seems, but H is definitely “not Heron”! Grab a cup of tea (or glass of wine, shot of vodka…) and give this one a watch.
  • Anxieties of Existence: Anyone who has read even one post of this blog knows that I am engaged in a more or less continual struggle to understand what roughly seven billion blobs of water and skin are meant to be doing while whirling about on this molten yet watery rock located three planets, a term which is itself remarkably fluid and open to contradiction, from the sun. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to guess the meaning and origins of the term “Anxieties of Existence,” but, intrigued, I nonetheless went in search of additional information. Enter philosopher Eric Voegelin (1901-1985). Voegelin didn’t coin the phrase, but did discuss it to some length. (http://www.voegelinview.com/ev/anxietyofexistence.html) As per Prageeta, Anxieties of Existence is also the name of an art installation, but I haven’t been able to locate any information on that. (If you have, please leave a comment!) Dead philosophers and existential artists aside, what I find MOST fascinating is that Anxiety of Existence has become the mantra for a whole host of sites and forums devoted to OCD! No shit! Just think of the artistic possibilities of THAT gold mine!
  • Blind Contour Drawing: Compliments of artist Cynthia Miller (http://www.cemillerart.com/image03.htm). Because this takes such discipline and patience, BCT is a great exercise in stilling the mind. To make your own: Take out a sheet of paper and pencil. Sit at a table. Turn sideways so your dominant hand is next to the paper. Hold up the opposite hand, but in such a way that you can’t see both hands and the paper at once. Now draw your opposite hand WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE PAPER! Do not lift the pencil. Do not peak. This may take a few tries. Once you have a complete drawing, think about how the process can inform your writing.
  • Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: The title of this book immediately intrigued me on a pretty basic level: I am a woman and I love fire and other dangerous things. That it turns out to have been written by a man (George Lakoff) and is about linguistics and the naming of things was, I admit, a bit of a disappointment. Whether it will prove to be an un-surmountable one (as in will I or won’t I read it) remains to be seen. http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780226468044
  • Tibetan Monastery Dance:

             Cham Dance photo courtesy of Core of Culture website

Another term of which I am woefully ignorant, but interested. This ritual dance, which is reported to have originated in India around 760 AD, is performed to familiarize believers with the deities they might encounter after death. Initially only monks performed the dances, called Cham dances, which could last up to 24 hours. Today lay people (and tourists) participate as well. Like many indigent languages, the culture and practice of Cham dances is endangered. http://www.coreofculture.org/cham.html


  • What would happen if you curated your own work?
  • How can we create poetry that exists on and off the page?
  • What do I (you!) want my (your!) poem(s) to do?
  • Let in bewilderment/ambivalence; not everything needs an explanation.
  • What happens if we look at our poem(s) on the SENTENCE level? (Prageeta Sharma)
  • What if we risked madness and stared at our lives? (Richard Froude)



  • New friends, especially Ginger Teppner, Katelyn Hope, AJ Reavey, and Franco
  • Old friends, especially Raki, Rachel Melville, Melanie Klug, Kevin Gunnerson, Julie Kazimer, Lisa Birman… Oh, hell, this particular list is endless, but I am grateful for each and every one of the people who comprise and create SWP.
  • The Dushanbe Tea House, makers of sparkling hibiscus tea and the oh-so-tasty cucumber martini!
  • My bicycle, which allowed me to be wild, happy, and fuel-free for five blissful weeks.
  • Chickadees, which sweetly sang me awake every single morning (except for that one Saturday when the ass next door vomited for two hours).


To be continued…


Thoughts? Questions? Comments? All are welcome!

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