This Sunday at noon Barton Sutter and his brother Ross will perform poetry and music at Plymouth Church in Minneapolis.
The program, titled "This is the Day: Rejoicing Anyway" focuses on the spiritual response to suffering, and is part of the church's "Literary Witnesses" program.
Ross and Barton Sutter
Image courtesy of the artists
Bart says about the performance:
"As the Buddha said, everyone suffers. How we respond to suffering is a crucial spiritual question. Billions of people suffer more than Ross and I do, but art always works with particulars, and in our particular case, when we were just kids we watched helplessly as our mother suffered a gruesome illness and died. Such an experience shatters simple-minded religious faith. So then what? We designed our program around that experience and its spiritual consequences."
One of the poems Sutter will read on Sunday is "My Mother at Swan Lake" from his new collection The Reindeer Camps. Sutter says it took him close to fifty years to write.
"The memory of that picnic haunted me for decades, and I didn't know why. In writing the poem, which is mostly just description, I discovered some of the reasons for the haunting. For one thing, I realized this was the last day I remembered my original family as happy and whole. For another, my dead mother seemed to have a message for me in what she'd said that day, but I hadn't been hearing it clearly."
Sutter says he hopes to move the audience to tears, and to laughter.
"We hope they'll go away humming one of Ross's songs or maybe mumbling a couple of my lines. And since all of us suffer, I suppose the best one-word take-away would be--encouragement."
My Mother at Swan Lake
"This is the day which the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it."
A maniac for picnicking,
She'd pack us up to go
The very first thing in the spring;
Sometimes we sat in snow!
But we were well into the year;
The swans had all long gone.
We'd shed, like leaves, our nagging fears.
The lake went pink and calm.
Her hair'd come back; her light, low laugh;
Her cancer in "remission,"
A state that gave us some relief
From pain and vain religion.
My dad had let me start the fire.
I saw my mom was proud
Of how the flames kept growing higher;
They wouldn't flicker out.
I've clutched this day near fifty years
But always felt so stupid
That it could bring the sting of tears
When there was nothing to it:
My sister makes a small bouquet
Of weeds and faded asters,
But I can't hear my mother say
What she bends low to ask her.
My brother's down beside the shore;
I see his silhouette.
My father calls out, as before,
"Now don't go getting wet!"
My mother leans against a tree.
She sighs. I hear her say
Across the half a century,
"It's been a lovely day."
This week's hounds lead us to a wild rock n roll podcast broadcasting live from a revered St. Paul bar, a Michigan born poet making a brief landing in Duluth, and a play about budding thespians who find out a lot about themselves.
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Twin Cities actor, director and teacher Sean Byrd has been to more than his share of acting workshops, but none so self-revelatory as the one that's the basis of the play "Circle Mirror Transformation" at Yellow Tree Theatre in Osseo. Sean says a widely diverse range of characters learn more about themselves than acting through the workshop. On stage Feb. 1 - 24.
Kathleen Roberts, member of Prove Collective and editor and publisher of Proof Magazine in Duluth, is a devotee of Virginia-based poet Bob Hicok. Kathleen says Hicok's freewheeling, deceptively insightful verse takes the reader to unpredictable places. Hicok will be reciting his poems as part of the Warner Reading series at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Friday, Feb. 1, at 7:30pm.
Local music writer Ira Brooker, and current guest editor of Minnesota Playlist, is setting aside Tuesday nights in February at St. Paul's Turf Club as a time to get "Jazzed up and Bonkers." It'll be a weekly live rendition of a podcast hosted by Travis Ramin and Danny Henry, two former local rockers who dive into their whacked out vinyl collection and pull out the weirdest tunes you can imagine.
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If you could send a love letter to a work of art, which one would you choose? And what would you say?
On February 14, visitors to the MIA will be encouraged to leave valentines for their favorite works of art. They can write a message on the red heart, or leave it blank.
Of course, thinking of this sent me straight back to elementary school. Some paintings, like Lucretia, are bound to get piles of valentines tossed lovingly at her feet, like bouquets of red roses. But what about the little guys? I'm already aching for those works of art tucked in corners, chipped pieces of pottery lovingly crafted by artisans long dead, so easily overlooked when you only have so much time to visit. Don't they deserve a heart too?
So if you end up at the MIA on Valentine's Day, do me a favor - don't make it just about the popular kids.(0 Comments)