Before heading to Seattle, I checked out the Museum of Anthropology at U of BC. Here are a couple of fragmented images from the totem poles by artist Susan Point (Musqueam) who uses new colors with traditional story figures who predate Ancient Greece.
A plaque beside one of Point’s totems says one of the figures holds a “fisher,” which was a healing force with powers neither good nor bad. At that moment I thought about my poems and revision. We want all our poems to be good, but…. Sometimes I feel good while writing a poem, but reading the poem never seems to make audiences feel as good as I did while writing it (“Saturday A.M. Parade”). Sometimes I feel terrible writing a poem, but audiences respond enthusiastically to something in it (“Hymn of Enough”).
As I walked around the Museum of Anthropology, I marveled at how people have appreciated and, nevertheless, revised. Revision is neither good nor bad. With Point’s sculpture, she has used new applications of color to make traditional stories more of what they are. The stories survive as people do.
I also found more artists at work at W2, a big arts & media center in downtown Vancouver. A 30-by-20-foot painting hung on one of the walls. Although flier nearby said the painting focused on “Canada’s dirtiest secret”—the tar sands of Alberta—that secret was tied to all North America. So the tar washing up on the gulf coast is not the only tar to be concerned about. Although the painting was Canadian, a Californio like me could find himself in it.
How can we cover our carbon footprints?
How do we divide the impact?
How aware is the poem of the tree its page came from?
How far can we trace the electrical charge that brings you to the lighted pixel at the bottom of this question mark?