Talking with Two Coats Conversations

two coats

Adding this for posterity. A week ago I had a terrific conversation with Sharon Butler whose interview embraced many topics both bittersweet and laugh inducing.

Two Coats Conversations

Here is the archived link for the podcast and below are the discussion topics as seen on the Two Coats Conversations site:


Recorded on June 1, 2022 / Artist Carolyn Zick has published the outstanding art blog Dangerous Chunky since 2001 from New York, then Seattle, and now New London, Connecticut. Find out what she’s up to — from writing poetry, drawing, and making books to dealing with a serious cancer diagnosis. Hosted by Sharon Butler.



Carolyn Zick’s website 

Dangerous Chunky 

Carolyn’s “Poets vs. Painters” List

Chapbook Project

Seattle people and organizations: Sharon ArnoldEva LakeRobert Yoder, Art Dish

DIY organization to bring attention to art blogs: Art Bloggers @

Joanne Mattera’s blog

New York Academy of Art

Kimberly Brooks, The New Oil Painting 

The Crit Lab

“Intimacies,” the exhibition we discussed that features work by Crit Lab members, including Carolyn Zick.

Jonathan Silver at Victoria Munroe Fine Art

Two Coats of Paint website

Sharon Butler’s website

A huge and mighty thanks to Sharon for her generosity, amazing research skills and for being an all around wonderful person to speak to.


A Ghost In the Throat

Doireann ni Ghriofa.

I can not pronounce the authors name, nor many of the words in this book, but I absorbed it and loved it. An imaginative autobiography and one I didn’t realize was somewhat non-fiction until  chapter 3 when I was compelled to ask: who is this woman? That is where you find it is the telling of her own personal tale. 

The book opens with lists and a continuum of chores that monopolize her day. I was in awe of her ability to manage months of housekeeping with love and of no complaint. The writing is squeezed in right there, part of life. There is a curious desire of constantly wanting to have babies (she has four). I have never felt an inkling of yearning to be a mother and if you had told me the plot of the book, I might have said no I don’t think this is for me. Yet she grabs you in and pulls you to ride alongside her days on a pilgrimage to reassemble an erased historical female poet, one who has only been preserved through word of mouth. Subsequently she finds herself as well along the way. A beautifully written and completely original work. 

I think my favorite passages take place in her new garden. I am writing this in February when I am the strongest of gardeners, wanting what I can not have. No responsibility of watering or weeding. 

I love the garden and the garden loves me, but it isn’t mine, not really. I will always share it with the woman who began it,who arrived in a sun-dress to a newly built councilhouse and cared for this garden all her life. I don’t know where she is now, but her bulbs are buried here. The very first morning that I walked through her garden, her daffodils’ buttery hellos were easily translated, they nodded. I nodded back. 

To work this soil is to sift an archaeology of a stranger’s thought. Each time I find an old bulb or the splinters of a broken cup planted for drainage, I am thankful for her laboour. With every month, more of her flowers lift their heads from the soil, waving polite hellos in pinks and yellows and blues. I don’t know their names, but I think of her in every small acto f weeding and pruning, of watering and fertilising. I pat the earth with gentleness. My nails are always dirty, my palms shovel-blistered, my knees drenched, but I don’t care. I am happy here. In mapping my own additions to this small plot, I choose with care, because I hold a specific desire for this place. I want to lure the bees to me. 

Each new plant I chose is both nectar and pollen-heavy, every clump of coulour designed to bloom as a lure. Here will be sunflowers and snowdrops. I tell my husband, holding his hand tight, and over there, lavender and fuchsia. Our peripheries will hold hedges of hawthorn and hazel, I’ll lure honeysuckle along the walls, and we’ll abandon a fat ribbon of wilderness beyond, in which brambles and dandelions will flourish. It will be so beautiful, I say, and press my smiling lips to his in excitement. I am determined to rewrite the air here until it sings the songs of long ago, I want it rewound and purring with bees.

I frequently think of poetry operating in the same place as painting and this book sits there in that realm, using language as ideas. It was an exquisite surprise since it was recommended by a friend and I was not expecting any of it. 

An aside, she has collaborated with visual artist Otobong Nkanga.

Interview in Bomb about Ghost In the Throat

Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s website. 

A Life Well Lived

I am not terribly acquainted with you Mr. W. S. Merwin, but now that you have passed I hold you up as a life to strive for through your gracious poetry and ecological stewardship.

This profile on the PBS site is worth a read.

The son of a Presbyterian minister, he was raised in the urban East during the Great Depression, spent years as a young man in France, Mexico, Spain and England and lived his final decades as a Buddhist in a solar-powered house he designed on an old pineapple plantation, surrounded by a rain forest, on the northeast coast of Maui.

Here one of his poems on passing.


Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

from The Second Four Books of Poems (1993)

(Excerpt from After the Dragonflies)

Dragonflies were as common as sunlight
hovering in their own days
backward forward and sideways
as though they were memory
now there are grown-ups hurrying
who never saw one
and do not know what they
are not seeing

From Garden Time (2016)

Rest in peace and thank you for your words, for your eloquence.



the wallpaper of our lives

To me, in my head poetry and painting are doing the same job.

On Sneaking Poetry in….

My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum, NEKO CASE

“I think the fear began in about fifth grade. Right off the top they said poetry was supposed to have “form.” Even writing a tiny haiku became a wrestling match with a Claymation Cyclops for me.”

Yes, why did they insist on constraining us, putting us in little boxes? Making us follow rules? I am allergic to this. All of my beloved poets, those I’ve accidentally stumbled across have a conversational tone, those picking garbage up off the streets and find ways of sticking it in. As Case says in her essay:

We all have the right to poetry! How could I still think it’s for other people? Smarter people. What’s doubly confusing is I don’t have the same reservations when poetry is accompanied by music. Perhaps I feel that way because there is music all around usit’s the wallpaper of our lives. It’s not considered precious in American culture unless a symphony is performing it. 

On influences:

Lynda Barry and Sherman Alexie save my life constantly. They battle identity crisis with a sense of humor and a language that speaks so hard to me because they came from my home, in my own time, and they talk to me in our special parlance. 

(they saved me too)

I’m envious of the poet for being so mobile. They aren’t stuck with supplies and hazardous odors. They aren’t saddled with a need to store these things you make. You can even keep their work in your head if you have the good fortune of memory.

I too am making a argument. We all have the right to poetry and to not be stumped by it. There will be more.

July 1, 2001

sun dappled lunch

sun dappled skin cancer

eating congealed lunch

of cheesy pizza and

crowded sidewalks

In the library

only a whir of fingertips

at the microfiche

and in the stacks

What’s new?

May 20, 2001


We can accept the unintelligibility of the world, because in the end it is good. It’s good to be alive. The world is happy. We can open the refrigerator and drink a whole liter of orange juice right out of the carton. How delicious is that!
-Adélia Prado

Awhile back (I think more than a year ago)Bomb Magazine published an interview with Brazilian writer ADÉLIA PRADO, which has haunted me for some time now. Recently I have been frantically looking all over my apartment for this said back issue, and I can’t locate it anywhere.

All is fine though,unbeknownst to myself Bomb has kept its magazine on-line and the archives are plentiful.
I do not know much about Adélia outside what I had read in this article,but her approach to her writing is so lacking in pretense,strangely optimistic and full of humility I have been dying for English translations of her work to surface.

I did find Portuguese sites that contain tributes to her writing. Unfortunately, while it’s truly lucky for all of us now that search engines will run translations for you, I’m afraid as they say, a lot gets lost…. I am wary any eloquentness that might be emptied out of the writing. Fortunately Ellen Watson who sought Adélia out for this article has become the English translator of some her poetry. A book titled:The Alphabet In the Park has been published(edit:which I will undoubtedly be seeking out).

At any rate, this is a wonderful interview between two writers. One reason I felt compelled to seek Adélia Prado out again was by the concise tone she speaks in:

“My concern, my obligation is to reproduce the emotion as faithfully as possible. So I write a poem, and then I read it and say, No,that’s wrong, and then I cut it.

A word of caution for your patience. The Bombsite,bless them,loads rather slowly sometimes, but I recommend sticking with it because I think this is one of those gems.

A little FYI, Bomb’s current issue is up now too and there is a great interview with Wong Kar-wai, whose movie In the Mood For Love, was one of the lovelier cinematic experiences I have had this year.

PS Bomb is also responsible for the discovery of another one of my favorite authors, Jenny Diski, but I will save that for another time.