I asked for an 8.5 x 11 one but that size was gone, so I have a 12 x 18 one. It’s too heavy to carry, too vast to write a line on or a broken line on—unless I also draw in it. Is that God’s plan? Its way of leading me? My mother said "Make it bigger. You could be an artist." Do I want to be an artist? Did I want her to confirm that thought in me? The over-sized sketchbook matches my grandmother’s. Hers lives unopened on the bottom shelf.
Grandmother’s sketchbooks. I deliberately don’t open them. The sketches and watercolors would be gorgeous, and take me from vase-filled still lives to rocky shores with pine trees. She couldn’t draw people. Or didn’t. How do I know that? I must have peaked once. I imagine blunt irises in her sketch books—mistakes—not the perfection and rules of an art teacher. I imagine people with scribbled faces, circles overlapping with fuzzy edges.
Reflections from the cave, capital I-iris, capital G-grandmother with sounds and smells of brownies and homemade raisin bread. Where is this perfection? Instruction: Hems undone to redo with a measured stitch, not strained. Embroidery undone to hide the do nots and thread knots. Don’t touch the ceramic tiles. Take up the spade instead. Pile the rocks for a fence that doesn’t need mortar. How is it done? Must each canvass, each drama on stage be reinvented?
Invention sparks as the over-sized notebook opens next to colored pencils, water colors, and chalks. I find I like beginning tabula raza, looking out or in, capturing an image-thought my eyes pick up outside anyone else's lines. I wasted paper in smaller scales, but this vision won’t be denied. Gosh it’s creamy, it’s inviting. Here is room for whole new worlds, the only constraint common decency. Wild decency, wild open spaces. Worthy of its own weightiness. I carry the possibility.
Is An Over- Sized Sketchbook a poem?
Written in RAJIV MOHABIR'S WRITING WORKSHOP "At Home in the Moving Body,"
zoomed 6/5/2021 from the Roxbury Poetry Festival Revised 1x.
The directions remind me of my work in Performance art, moving from object to object, association to association.
1. Breathe: Start with everyday image specific to my experiences. (4 min)
2. Breathe. Deeper emotion that expands the original image or deviates from it some self truth (4 min)
3. Breathe. Expand the myth of #2 let mind take me into my experience (4 min)
4. Breathe—return to the original image which is somehow changed 4 min)