Moving again

the chaos of moving

the chaos of moving

But, this time it’s just my website and blog!

I’m moving my home page to www.bethejanzen.com and my new blog (which is actually my old blog) is there too. Check it out by clicking here, and please subscribe if you’d like to keep following me. These cold winter days have made me stay inside more, so I’ve used the time to update my web presence.  (And I love the new wordpress themes.)

By the way, I don’t ACTUALLY have to move again until early April. I’ll be back in Charlottetown in the spring.

Advertisements

Art in the Open 2013

Obviously this post is LONG overdue. Apologies. Last autumn turned out to be much busier than I’d anticipated.

Art in the Open took place in Charlottetown, PEI on August 24, 2013. It was a wonderfully clear evening but quite cold after the sun went down! Enjoy the photos. Here’s a list of the artists to go with the installations named in the pictures:

The Creativity Project – Jill McCormack, Janeen McGuigan, Julie Love, Janice McGuigan, John MacKenzie

Disco Ball – Ahmon Katz

In the Ear of the Teacup II – BJ McCarville

Rainbow Valley – Patrick Callbeck & Alexis Bulman

However You Do It…Consider the Stars – Sophie Farewell (Eric Moschopedis, Mia Rushton, Heather Kai Smit & Shawn Dicey)

Space Camp – Nancy Cole

Archipelago – Rilla Marshall

In the Basement II – Jess Palmer

Curiosity: a love letter to abandoned houses – Monica Lacey

Work in Progress – Gerald Beaulieu

Unfortunately, I’m not able to figure out which project the glowing balloons in Victoria Park was part of! If you know, please leave a comment.

To see the pictures as a slideshow, please click on the first photo (or any photo).

 


An extra-terrestrial effect

Tonight I was standing by the pool at the Econo Lodge on Main St in Moncton with an artsy alternative crowd watching figures in white spacey suits (2 sporting silver devo hats) perform some chill electronic music on keyboards while textured projections (stippling, bricks, clouds) floated across the musicians and the kitschy bathhouse behind them. In the middle of the pool a kind of “digital eye” floated. The effect was “tres cool” as I later told the interviewer from the film crew which is going to air a program on the event for Quebec TV in the spring.

“Do you think they achieved an extra-terrestrial effect?” The interviewer asked me.

How should I know? I thought to myself, I’m not an extra-terrestrial.

But somehow…mulling it over, perhaps moving to another city creates an extra-terrestrial effect. I’m only 2 hours away from Charlottetown by car, yet suddenly it seems I’m on a whole new planet.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons that I move, even though I hate packing up my stuff, heaving boxes, making all of those complicated small decisions…. Although it’s often uncomfortable to leave the home territory of earth and ground, there is that new perspective, everything from a different angle, and those strange openings and happenings that I can never predict.

econo lodge, moncton

poolside, econo lodge, moncton


Fiction Panel on Thursday Evening

I’m excited about the fiction panel discussion coming up this Thursday evening. Riptides has been nominated for an Atlantic Book Award and Thursday’s panel will include 4 authors from the collection, and the editor, Richard Lemm. I LOVE talking about writing and process with a bunch of writers, so I’m looking forward to it. There will be questions accepted from the audience as well. If you’re on the island, check it out! Here’s the announcement:

On Thursday, May 9, at 7:00-9:00 p.m. in  Confederation Centre of the Arts Gallery, there will be a panel  discussion, with audience participation, about fiction writing and  editing with four authors included in Riptides: New Island Fiction. This is the PEI event for the 2014 Atlantic Book Awards Festivities. Riptides is a finalist for the Best Atlantic-Published Book Award.

The four authors are Steven Mayoff (fiction writer and scriptwriter), Beth  Janzen (fiction writer and poet), Helen Pretulak (fiction writer), and  Malcolm Murray (fiction writer, playwright, and philosophy professor).  The panel is organized for the Atlantic Book Awards by Simon Lloyd,  UPEI’s Roberston Library Archivist and Special Collections Librarian.

Please join us for a lively conversation, and bring your questions and observations!


zoe and bios

I recently had a watershed moment as a writer when I came across the concept of zoe versus bios in a book by dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp called The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life. In this chapter called “Your Creative DNA”, Tharp writes:

I believe that we all have strands of creative code hard-wired into our imaginations. These strands are as solidly imprinted in us as the genetic code that determines our height and eye color, except they govern our creative impulses. They determine the forms we work in, the stories we tell, and how we tell them.

Later on, Tharp introduces the concepts of zoe and bios as they are described by Carl Kerenyi in his book Dionysos. They are both Greek words that can be translated as “life”, but they have different meanings. Zoe is the eternal life, the life that is present in all things, “life in general without characterization”. Bios, however, is specific. Bios “accommodates the notion of death, that each life has a beginning, middle, and end.” Tharp then describes what a profound impact these concepts had on understanding her own work and the work of choreographers she admires. She writes about her own work:

On the one hand, there was my ability to create dances about a life force. On the other, there was my occasional urge to break away from this and create dances that tell a specific story. The first kind of dances came naturally to me, the latter required more of an effort. In my heart I am a woman more of zoe than of bios.

I realized that I too, in my heart, am a woman more of zoe than of bios.

By thinking about the concepts of zoe and bios in relation to my poetry, I experienced aha! In my second book-length manuscript of poetry (called “Research on my Twin”), I had been trying to deal with “the autobiographical poem”. I have written lots of purely autobiographical poems, but I seldom feel they turn out well. They are a harder form for me to master. The ones that do succeed, I realized, have a strong element of zoe, or, to express it in a different way: they have mythological elements which are beyond my particular life, my particular experiences.

Since joining the DGAP, I have been grappling with some of my old autobiographical poems. I learned that to revise one to a point that felt satisfying to me, I had to let go of “what really happened” and go beyond the experience as it was, connect it to something larger and more interesting and relevant to myself as a person and as a writer now. I also saw that the whole point of some of my old poems was the experience: the details and my reaction to them at that particular point in time. With relief, I acknowledged that I could never revise those particular poems. Goodbye manuscript!

It is wonderful to figure out why a project will not work and to decide to not spend any more time on it. There are poems of mine, even mainly autobiographical ones, that still feel “alive”, pulsing with potential. I am eager to revise those and to play with them, to find a balance of bios and zoe. The others can serve as markers for me–a kind of journal in poetry–their purpose has already been fulfilled.

tatami mat, Kyoto

tatami mat, Kyoto