What Did You What Me For?

August 25, 2010

posted and written by caroline picard

I received this postcard in the mail (the image further below was on the other side of the card) and, as a response to Sarah, I decided to create the following…

Who is Olaf Borge?

Olaf Borg is not the fellow who threw himself off of household rooftops.

Nor the one who sailed on his one-man ship in search of the sublime, in the fashion of those priests who sailed away on upturned shields in order to meet God proper–

The priests who sailed into unknown seas, into the nothing, most drowned, fulfilling themselves that way. Doubtless they all went mad with dehydration, though some some of the most curious caught a  current that bore them along from Ireland’s coast, through delusion, onto the banks of California.

They must have assumed they’d found a real paradise. They must have stripped down, wandered about looking for the Tree of Life.

Without a God, it was the most lonely and bewildering place to land after a journey.

–The one who sailed the one-man ship he left with a chorus of amateur singers everyone applauding art project  turned  suicide.

Olaf Borg never took such things so lightly. He was, on the whole, a happy man.

Unlike his brother, he did not aspire to be a Tony Stark, chasing after the windmill of some imagined masculine identity. Rather, he bit his nails, spitting a little as he spoke due to some ingratiate enthusiasm.

He admired big ideas but didn’t often posess them.

His last words, “What did you what me for?”

posted by caroine picard

I had the great pleasure of going out to New Hampshire for a few days to see the graduate reading for UNH.

I just wanted to post a couple of clips from friends and poets, Maria Chelko and Sarah Stickney. I also recorded their introductions from David Rivard, as they’re partiucularly lovely and, I figured, provided some context. Those introductions are posted separately, before the actual readings…..

Maria’s intro:

Maria Chelko

Sarah’s intro:

Sarah Stickney

posted by Caroline Picard

This essay, originally written for the ARC Digest boook and then used for FLAT’s publication about apartment spaces was posted on the BadatSports blog. You can read the whole thing by going here, though I’ve included the first paragraph/quote, what was written by one Sarah Stickney who used to live in the space….The quote was taken from a small publication created/curated by Young Joon Kwok and Rachel Shine called “It’s Your Turn.” Their silkscreened, small edition 7″-size publication was also about DIY exhibition practices and how they are important.

On the matter of public (1) space : or my apartment gallery is an arctic explorer

“‘Oh, you have a roommate?’

“ ‘Yeah, she’s actually here right now, but she’s sick….Don’t do that—she’s trying to sleep.’

“I heard them but pretended to remain asleep by keeping my eyes closed; [closing your eyes] is what passed for privacy then. My ‘room’ was in a corner of the kitchen on the other side of a folding screen. If you were tall enough, you could see me from either side at any time. The above exchange took place during the installation of a show when I happened to have a cold. I lived at the Green Lantern from 9/06 to 8/07. Recently out of college, I moved to Chicago to get my bearings. I had just spent two years living in the French countryside with no heat, no car, no Internet, no noise, no zines, no sushi, no shows, no jargon. When I moved in, I had never owned a computer. Suddenly I was in the middle of an art scene.

“Any Chicagoan who’s hip to the jive knows that an apartment gallery poses a unique set of problems. Someone actually lives there—sleeps and cooks and poos there—and yet the obligatory neutral space of the gallery must remain white-walled, spacious, antiseptic. At the GL in the earlier days, the gallery was clean, airy, spare, while on just the other side of a makeshift wall was a seething and barely-controlled chaos. A visiting friend once described the living space as ‘under a great deal of pressure,’ like the lack of density in the gallery half had to be balanced by ultra-density in the living half. This density consisted of, among other things, a large mounted buck complete with antlers, a five foot plaster statue of a fat man with an umbrella, a bong made out of steak shellacked to a milk carton, a taxidermied rooster, two large Chinese screens, many works of art in various stages of undress, two living cats…enough plates and stemware to host a diplomatic gala, a sink doubling as a bookshelf, a home-made up-ended ‘bar,’ an enormous vintage fridge, a miniature vintage stove, an easel, double-stacked books, innumerable trinkets ranging from delicate Eastern figurines to an ancient can of spam, an old-fashioned sandwich press, two Dictaphones, one enormous toaster (not in use) and a tiny one (in use). People liked throwing around comparisons to Alice in Wonderland, but that was legit. The fact that the two-foot high pepper mill was three times as tall as the delicate teapot, for instance, made me wonder if I’d accidentally swallowed a pill. And keep in mind that I’ve listed perhaps a sixteenth of the contents of those two or three improvised rooms. I haven’t even mentioned the huge quantities of building supplies, the aluminum ladder, the planks and tools and cans of paint…” (2)

Bresson’s Movies

December 15, 2008

posted by Caroline Picard – i opened my inbox today and got this lovely poem from a dear friend. It seemed the right thing for a Monday in December.

click here to listen to Robert Creeley Reading reading this poem.


Bresson’s Movies

A movie of Robert
Bresson’s showed a yacht,
at evening on the Seine
all its lights on, watched

by two young, seemingly
poor people, on a bridge adjacent,
the classic boy and girl
of the story, any one

one cares to tell. So
years pass, of course, but
I identified with the young,
embittered Frenchman,

knew his almost complacent
anguish and the distance
he felt from his girl.
Yet another film

of Bresson’s has
the aging Lancelot with his
awkward armor standing
in a woods of small trees,

dazed, bleeding, both he
and his horse are
trying to get back to
the castle, itself of

no great size. It
moved me, that
life was after all
like that. You are

in love. You stand
in the woods, with
a horse, bleeding.
The story is true.

-Robert Creeley

Thomas: A Bed time story

November 11, 2008

posted by Caroline Picard


Thomas the Tale

by Sarah Stickney

Once there was a little boy named Thomas. He lived with his mother in a house that had two doors, one room and three windows. Inside there was a fireplace and two little beds. Thomas’ mother wore a red shawl. She sang him to sleep at night and she made him warm milk in the morning. She wove at her loom during the day and the villagers came to her for blankets, scarves, and other things to keep them warm. Thomas played outside in the sun. He built little houses out of mud and pebbles, he made trees out of twigs and sometimes he chased birds. When it got cold, he wore slippers on his feet to keep them warm.

When he was six and summer was almost over, his mother went to town and bought him a pair of real leather shoes. She gave them to him and told him that now he could climb the rocks and cross the little creek behind the house. She said he could walk into the village and see the other people if he wanted to. Thomas was delighted. He put on the shoes and ran outside. He climbed the rocks and he crossed the stream. He ran along the edge of the forest and saw a fox slip away through the trees. That night he was very tired. His mother began to sing to him and he fell asleep before the second verse. He dreamed of the fox.

He awoke hungry for his milk and bread and ready to put on his shoes and explore. But when he opened his eyes, his mother was not there.
Thomas lived in the house alone for a few days but the wind made him cold in the day and scared in the night. He ate the bread that was left but then it ran out. He looked for his mother but she didn’t come back.

Thomas was cold and hungry and sad. He put on his shoes and walked down the hill into the village.

At first, he was heartened by the sight of the shops and little houses. Then the sun went down. It got colder and Thomas was tired of walking around. He was hungry, too. He passed many lighted windows but he was too shy to knock. Finally, exhausted, he leaned up against the bricks of a back-alley wall. They felt comfortable. In fact, they felt sort of warm. . . they were warm. Thomas kept his hand on the wall and felt along in the darkness until he reached the wood of a door. He pushed on it and it gave. Inside, there was no light and it was dark but warm. He listened carefully but heard no one. He felt his way inside and came across something heavy and solid and covered in cloth. Too tired to investigate further, he collapsed on it and fell deep asleep.

In the morning when the baker’s wife came to the room behind the oven to get the big sack of flour, she found Thomas asleep upon it. “What are you doing here?” she asked in surprise. Thomas rubbed his eyes “my mother disappeared,” he said. “Well,” said the baker’s wife “I can’t just keep you here but I can’t let you wander around without a mother, either. If you think you could do some work for me I could feed you and you could make yourself a bed back here where it’s warm.” Thomas nodded.

Thomas helped the baker and his wife to mix the bread and shape the rolls. Sometimes he served the customers and sometimes he delivered bread around the village. He slept behind the stove where it was warm in the back room. The baker and his wife were kind to him. The baker’s wife was soft and round. She had white skin and little hands. But she wasn’t at all like his mother and Thomas was lonely.  Thomas spent the whole winter with the baker but when spring came, he was tired of flour, tired of bread. One day when he was behind the long counter he saw a man with an old straw hat walk into the bakery. The man had dirty hands and dark skin. He smiled wide at Thomas. Thomas was shy and he asked the baker’s wife in a whisper who the man was. The baker’s wife explained that the man was a farmer, that he worked outside all day until his skin was as dark as the earth and as rough as tree bark. She caught a look in Thomas’ eyes and she asked the farmer if Thomas could come and work for him. The farmer nodded and Thomas left the bakery, thanking them and waving.

Thomas rode with the farmer in his cart. He liked the snorting brown horse that pulled the cart and he liked the funny sounds with which the farmer talked to the horse. They rode through the town until they passed the last house. They kept riding. The trees gave way to wide fields on either side of them and they turned down a track that led to a barn.

Thomas worked with the farmer in the fields, planting seeds. He liked being outside, he liked the shivering snorting horse and he liked how the farmer was quiet. He slept in the hayloft in the barn and woke when the swallows flew out in the morning.
But he was still lonely.

When late summer came and the wheat was high and the hayloft too hot to sleep in, Thomas went down to the river to swim. The water was cool and soft and he was happy to wash the field grit off of his skin and out of his hair. When he came up for air, he noticed a man in a boat. The man held a rod and smoked a pipe. He sat very still. Thomas swam up beside the boat and whispered, “what are you doing?” “I’m catching fish,” said the man simply. “Come up into the boat or you’ll scare them away.” He pulled Thomas up with his lean strong arm and Thomas settled into the end of the boat. They were both quiet. The reeds rubbed against each other and every now and then, a dragonfly hummed through the air.

After what seemed to Thomas like a very long time, the fisherman’s line jumped and tightened in the water. The man pulled back hard and Thomas could see the strain in his shoulders. He pulled the flopping shiny fish onto the boat and whacked it quickly on the head. Thomas was shocked but still curious. The fisherman looked at him quizzically. “What do you think?” “I like this,” said Thomas.  He stayed in the boat for the rest of the day. When the fireflies came out, he flew over the fields to the farmer.

“I want to be a fisherman now” “Ah,” said the farmer. “Alright. Let me give you something to remind you of the damp earth.” The farmer took a sickle-shaped seed and placed it in Thomas’ palm. “I always wanted to know,” said Thomas, “how the seed knows which direction to grow?” “I don’t know,” said the farmer. “Maybe it tries a couple out. It’s dark under there.  Goodbye my friend.”

Thomas lived with the fisherman. When it was nice, they slept on the banks under trees. When it wasn’t they slept on the banks under the boat and the rain beat on its wooden belly all night long. Thomas learned to bait a hook and wait. He learned to breathe in the rhythm of the river so the fish wouldn’t suspect his presence. He learned to untangle knots. He liked being always by the rushing water; it made him feel less lonely.

One day when the sun was still hot but the breeze was sharp Thomas heard a great sound of twigs snapping and feet stepping and bells. Craning his neck he saw a big flock of sheep coming down to the water to drink. Behind them there was a man with a long walking stick and a long coat. As the sheep settled to drink, the man leaned up against a tree trunk and drew a flute from his pocket.

Thomas was entranced.  He liked the silvery sound better than anything he had every heard. He listened wide-eyed, until the shepherd noticed him and, ceasing to blow through his pipe, beckoned Thomas closer. “Who are you?” asked the shepherd. “I’m Thomas.” “Hello Thomas, do you want to try?” and the shepherd held out his pipe. When Thomas put his lips on the top the way he’d seen the shepherd do, and blew, a squawk came out of the pipe and disturbed the sheep in their drinking. Thomas was shocked but the shepherd laughed. “Come with me and help me with my sheep and I will make you a pipe of your own and teach you how to play.”

Thomas said goodbye to the fisherman. He walked far up into the hills with the shepherd. At night they slept in a lean-to using the shepherd’s long coat as a blanket. In the day they wandered with the sheep chasing green grass as the leaves began to turn and the earth grow cold. The shepherd carved a pipe for Thomas and showed him how to hold it. He showed him how to purse his lips and blow gently and to move his fingers over the breath.

When winter came, Thomas stayed with the shepherd. He lived in a cave. He slept under sheepskin. The shepherd showed him how to whittle wood and he eventually whittled himself a pipe that he could blow on just as the shepherd blew on his.
For the first time, Thomas did not feel very lonely. The sheep were around him like a river of wool, like a blanket, like a large ungainly friend that needed taking care of.

When it grew warm, he planted the seed of the farmer and an almond tree began to grow. He made coarse bread from wild wheat like the baker had taught him. Sometimes in the stream he caught a fish like the fisherman. The farmer spoke less than the baker. The fisherman spoke less than the farmer. The shepherd spoke the least of all. But Thomas felt very friendly towards him. Since they were always moving around, the loneliness didn’t have time to settle into his bones the way it did when he was still.

The shepherd showed him how to help a mother ewe birth a spring lamb, how to grab its legs and pull it out. The shepherd showed him how to butcher an old sheep and skin it and prepare the flesh and build a fire and cook the flesh and hang the skin and make it clean and use it for a blanket.

Thomas spent many days on his back staring up at the sky, watching the birds fly over. Watching the clouds, playing his pipe, feeling out where the river of sheep lay and flowed. His limbs grew thicker and he grew a beard. He did more and more of the work and the old shepherd less and less. He learned that when he did feel lonely he could play his pipe and it was as if he had rolled the loneliness up, rolled it up like the baker rolling dough into a long thin tube, make it straight and useful like the farmer ploughing in line after straight line, sit with it and be patient for it like the fisherman holding his line, the tension, the push/pull of all of these was in the pipe and Thomas could make it come and go, (he began to play about the birds in the sky. He played about the river of sheep, he played of the cave and sleep and morning. He went farther, and played about his house with three windows and a door, he played the red weaving his mother wove, he played, finally the story of his mother out into the quiet air over the heads of the sheep against the rocks that surrounded the valley up into the blue sky.