Words, whether they are part of poetry, or prose, are all interesting to me. Those little black marks on paper that we decipher by the time we are 7 or so infer meaning; some kind of meaning. I have been an avid reader since early grade school and have this amazing older sister who kept bringing me books and bringing me books. Today, we still do it. This year my Christmas box from her contained 3 volumes that she had finished reading and mine to her included the same, along with our usual small Christmas trinkets. The most important item in the box to me was the books. It’s now the middle of January and I have finished two of the three. Devoured might actually be more accurate. What form those little hieroglyphs come in matters very little to me. I read them all.
Yesterday, I picked up a copy of Artillery, an LA magazine, as I was dropping off work to a gallery for the big LA Art Fair. Last night, with a drink in hand, I read the rag cover to cover and about 10 pages in, there was a poem by John Tottenham. John is an LA artist and poet who likes to call himself a failed visionary. I love his work. So much so that I actually spent money and purchased two of his books to keep.
Here is the one I just clipped out of Artillery and pasted into my art journal, which honestly is a journal full of words and work of other artists as well as my own. This poem made me laugh out loud…in my room…all alone. I suppose, because in January of this year, I reached an age of irrefutable maturity, I could certainly relate. But still relate with such pleasure at someone who can express life in words that so completely capture me. I had forgotten how much I liked his writing. He puts his reality and his heart on the page. It’s also something that I try in an entirely different genre to give to every painting. “ Put your heart” on the canvas was something a professor once told me. I think that it’s possible in every art form. That’s what brings about the goosebumps hearing a beautiful piece of music, the tears, screams or roaring laughter from a movie or the sadness at the end of the book you just finished. And not least of all, the satisfaction of looking at an amazing piece of art. Tottenham’s work is irreverent and modern and cool. Hope his language doesn’t offend. Just a warning, this is not for the sensitive or underage
So, after finishing the magazine, I took a stroll through my art journal and found pages of his work that I had torn out of Arillery ages ago. They are crisp with being folded and having water or coffee spilled on them, but every poem was readable. Thanks goodness. Fingering through the rest of the pages in my journal, I found another singular poem I had pasted into the journal. His ability to slay me is beyond explanations. As I close this blog post, I am leaving you with this one.
Look him up. He’s worth your effort.