Make Lists Not War

Dear Cami,

One index of a profitable reading experience may very well be in the marginalia we make.

For instance, I read Ed Sanders’ collection of poetry Let’s Not Keep Fighting the Trojan Wareight years ago. I went through and collected my inked scribbles in the margins in a list:

I read for topics, for intriguing titles, for examples, for my own Emersonian rejected thoughts, such as …

“My political causes are hopeless”
Val’s life

We’re all gonna die
My brilliant non-career

13 years in a theology department
I could do better on Kerouac than he did in “A Visit to Jack’s Memorial Park”

Come up with an entire book of Lists
Work on being a performance artist qua teacher

A poem on Jean-Paul Sartre and…
Scan pages from old notebooks all sizes

Catch myself thinking as recorded in taping down bones transcripts, notebook jabbers, and more
The Book of Mev as therapy

What am I now investigating?
My version of Cardenal’s “Trip to New York” could all be on the Aero action 2005

Make 4514 a salon
Lineages jostling: Jew, Christian, Marxist, Yiddish

More Wacky chapter titles
Ode to Chomsky

In Praise of __________
My next 100 projects

I don’t care how much Dylan “sells out”
Yiddish-influenced Poems

My Kennedy Delusions
A Partial List of All My Muses

Henry Wallace Presente!
Jean Abbott standing up in front of the Guatemala military

Grand Central and Jim Morrison
A Blaze of Mindfulness Bells

Opening lines of a work: The teachings are infinite, I vow to… [5 Beeko stories]
Songs of Longing and Despair

Last Thoughts on Jesus
Am I alone in hearing America the Beautiful and Feeling Ripped?

Just say yes or no/Anything else comes from… [7 instances]
Also, wrote out the following on a Sanders’ page while on vacation in Blue-Eye, MO, a found poem by Joanie’s brother, Joey:

Had a great Memorial Day weekend
Solved all the world’s problems
Then ate ‘smores

Last, I think I sent you a while back Ed’s poem “The Question of Self-Publishing.” Will send you in the next week three more— “Multi-Decade Research Systems” & “Whispering Books” & “To the Revolutionaries Not Yet Born.”

With marvel for your munificence,


Share the Wealth with Cami Kasmerchak:
The Hidden World of Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier’s work was first discovered about 10 years ago when a man named John Maloof purchased a trunk full of negatives at a Chicago storage auction. Maloof did not know it then, but he had stumbled upon a small portion of Maier’s more than 100,000 film negatives. This previously unknown prolific body of Street Photography mostly captures life in Chicago and New York where Maier worked as a nanny. Her mastery of photography and the brilliance of her work have been recognized only recently. We will view some of Maier’s work, and discuss Maier, photography, and what our own “100,000 negatives no one knows about” might be.

Cami Kasmerchak is an amateur photographer fascinated by Maier’s near perfect exposure and focus in her work. Selfishly, she wants your take on some of her own questions about Street Photography and is excited to talk about one of her favorite photographers with others.

Join us
Sunday 30 April
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00
Cami begins sharing at 6:45
Delmar Boulevard Apartment
Saint Louis 63112

Note to Cami on Reznikoff

I read Reznikoff in summer of 2010
As much as I could find

Used, at Amazon
By him, about him

I like his spare style
That was the year

I was generating a piece a day
For my project that later

Became Dear Layla
So he influenced me

Toward that spareness
Most chapters very short

To the point
Like the one on p. 123

Reading influences writing!

The Good News of Monthly Mutuality

Since this past September 2016, Cami Kasmerchak and I have been visiting monthly, taking turns to come up with an agenda to explore topics and themes of mutual interest, such as photography, politics, poetry, traveling, teachers, and, through it all, creativity.

Books I Haven’t Given You (Yet)

Cao Ngoc Phuong, Learning True Love: How I Learned & Practiced Social Change in Vietnam

Chmiel, Dear Love of Comrades, v.3

di Prima, Revolutionary Letters, updated edition [2021]

Salgado, Scent of a Dream: Travels in the World of Coffee

Zagajewski and Hirsch, Polish Writers on Writing

The Way of Photography
by Cami Kasmerchak

I am fundamentally a spiritual person. However, currently I am not a religious one. Those two sentences could be a whole other series of blogs in and of themselves, but that is for another time. One of the ways I practice my spirituality is by cultivating an awareness of the sacredness in everyday life. Many argue phones, cameras, and social media distract from the present moment and distort because of selectivity, but I have found that those results have more to do with the person using any of those things than the instruments themselves. For me, photography can be a meditative experience of slowing down, really seeing what is around me, and focusing my attention on whatever I find interesting/beautiful/disappointing/ surprising/ curious/difficult/fascinating in the moment. Photography has helped me process big life changes like ending JVC or moving across the country as well as more ordinary occurrences like walking through Forest Park and enjoying a hike in the mountains. I would argue photography is one of the most democratic and accessible mediums these days, especially with the integration of cameras into smart phones. So try out this version of stopping to smell the roses: look at the places and people you pass each day and see what you have been missing. Notice what you notice. Snap a picture. Ask yourself, “why this?” and if the answer is “because it’s beautiful,” how wonderful that you’ve found a tiny beautiful thing in this rushing world we inhabit. Let it be your anchor.

Ethical considerations have influenced my relationship with photography in many ways. I still wrestle with whether I should or should not pull out my camera at times. Am I exploiting? Am I interrupting? Am I hurting or traumatizing? Because even if I want my photography to be empowering and uplifting, good intentions do not excuse harmful consequences. Anytime I meet another photographer I ask how they navigate this tricky business of ethics. Their unsatisfactory answers have motivated me to continue exploring the question for myself. Throughout my young adulthood, my life has become intertwined with many people who are suffering, oppressed, and unjustly disadvantaged. And they are all so much more than those few words. My contemplation and meditation throughout this time has been how to use photography as a tool for advocacy. My desire is to use photography as a way to bring attention to the realities all of us with privilege have the option to ignore. This tension between exploitation and empowerment is one I do not take lightly, but also one I commit to continue to grapple with.

This page is part of my book, Dear Love of Comrades, which you can read here.

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