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Archive for December 4th, 2008

ColorJoy is sometimes Action

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I started to title this “ColorJoy is sometimes Performance” but I think the word action is more all-encompassing. I think first of dance and music, then poetry and theatre, as ways we might encompass “Art as an Everyday Attitude.”

However, perhaps sports can be ColorJoyful as well. I’m not a sports fan, but imagine someone jumping a hurdle, doing any sort of gymnastics, perhaps a martial art, even a baseball player jumping to catch a ball. All of these things can be beauty in action, with or without sound.

My dance instructor is sometimes disappointed about some arts events. They tend to focus on things which can be put in place and sit still properly. Things in frames on walls, for the most part. She is right, dance is every bit as much art as a painting but it is much harder to present, and it does not stay put for a full weekend in one place.

And even when music and/or dance are included in an event, very often poetry is left out. I was delighted when the act just before us at the Old Town JazzFest Lansing last August, was a group of poets. That was a delight and a treat! Definitely a move in the right direction. There was dance before the poets, as well. Score! Go, Lansing.

My friend Ruelaine Stokes is a poet (and a photographer). Her words stand alone as pictures/ideas which engage the mind. However, the best part of a Ruelaine poem is hearing her perform her words. Nobody can present words the way she can!

Ruelaine has authored, with three other excellent Lansing poets, a book titled 4 Against the Wall. She has given me permission before to publish one of her poems here.

She has written many wonderful poems, including one which describes a peach so perfectly that you can taste it. However, I return to the one presented below more than others. It is set in the springtime, but although I see snow out my window today, perhaps we all can enjoy her picture of that time of year. My favorite phrase: …the trees will buy new dresses. Magic!

When I read this poem, I can imagine Ruelaine performing it at the front of a room. See if you can imagine a voice which is intentional as it speaks each word. Read it slowly and with meaning. Slow it down to maybe even half the speed of your first instinct, and really hold out the last word of each line. Or read it out loud to yourself, if you can indulge that luxury.

from the “book” of common prayer
wash my heart & call me clean
a hard time is over

yesterday I listened to the grass grow wild
green under the snow

& now I see the water fall
from your eyes

let it rain
let it rain down on me

forgiveness is mine/listen to your lover

the trees will buy new dresses
the birds will flower

I called it a hard time, lord
but it’s over

tea is on the table, honey in the pot
bread and butter
even the radio wants
to be my friend

that hard time, lord
it’s over


Photos: Habibi Dancers in Saudi Thobe dresses at Sparrow Hospital Diversity Days; Dagwoods’ Tuesday night open mic, with Brian and our Japanese visitor, Aki, playing music while friend Phil (may he rest in peace) and Lindsay dance; Jam session in a local living room at a birthday party; four Habibi Dancers at Frances Park overlook in Lansing.