I’m back!

I apologize for my momentary absence of three weeks too long! I’ve been inundated with the stress of a college semester coming to a close. But now that it’s summer I feel as refreshed as ever to immerse myself in contemplation and creative expression. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I recently listed my top five favorite places to visit if you should find yourself in Tokyo or Paris in the future. (http://quincychilds.tumblr.com/post/118939985866/hey-quincy-how-are-you-i-was-wondering-if-you)

Tokyo

1. Nakamise (仲見世): Set between Sensoji (Tokyo’s largest ancient Buddhist temple) and Kaminarimon (“Thunder Gate”), is a street-lined market filled with authentic Japanese house-hold items, souvenirs, accessories and delicious food.

2. Tsukiji Market 築地市場, is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Tip: go when you first arrive and you are jet-lagged, since the market opens at 4am and most of the fish is sold by 11am. There are amazing sushi places that have the freshest, most delicious food you can get, all in one lively, condensed market! It’s daily except for Sundays and Wednesdays.

3. Zoetrope – The coolest bar in the world! Exclusively whiskey with around 300 different varieties – a lot of which aren’t even sold on the market! The owner is a cinema geek as well, in the best way! He always has movie soundtracks playing and thousands of cd’s/dvd’s he’s collected over the years that you can choose from to play and screen as you enjoy the rarest whisky in the world. I really love this place! Sitting there watching an old silent film, listening to Baz Luhrman’s Rome + Juliet soundtrack, and sipping whisky that was distilled decades before I was born is one of my favorite memories to date.

4. Vintage Shopping in Harajuku – I’ll always choose vintage over in-season collections, and the famed shopping district of Harajuku seems to agree. I went to just explore a lot of stores, and the ones that stick out to my memory (and iPhone notes) are Otoe (also to note is their own brand “Otoeology”), Solakzade (vintage eyewear!), Slow Omotesando (located on Cat Street which is a haven for these kind of cheap and amazing Harajuku stores), Ragtag (amazing designer selection), and Toro (full of character-old time specialities and even tailored remakes!), and Pass the Baton (really well curated second-hand clothes and furniture.)

5. A day trip to Kamakura – Less than an hour from Shibuya Station by commuter train, Kamakura has so many beautiful tihngs to see from shrines along mountainous hiking trails and vast beaches. They also have great local food and shops. It’s a perfect, close getaway into the natural beauties of Japanese nature.

Paris (much more familiar with this amazing city! A less touristic and more personal guide.)

1. La Petite Ceinture – Known as “The Little Belt” in French, it an an abandoned railway route build in the late 1800′s. It is a safe-haven for wildlife, as it is Paris’s last great green space, and dotted with openings to the catacombs (the forbidden underground passage ways of Paris that are traveled in secret by nocturnal urban exploreres known as “les cataphiles.” Along its stretch of 20 miles, the railroad is home to community gardens and nice places to eat on the weekend like The Epicure Shop (bistro cuisine), El Tacot (delicious Mexican fare) and La Recyclerie (open everyday, brunch on the weekends!)

2. Berthillon Ice Cream and Ile Saint Louis – My favorite sweet together with my favorite place in Paris. Berthillon ice cream is truly la grande dame des glaces. Find it’s original store, a tea salon with a stand in front, on Ile Saint Louis, an island that remains romantically frozen in the 17th Century. Take your ice cream to enjoy as you sit along the Seine, watching the boats pass along the river and enjoy the serene oasis from the rush of the city.

3. Les Deux Abeilles – Try their tomato tart and ginger lemonade (cintronnade)! All of there cakes are to die for as well. More of an old English tea room but with perfected Parisian touches from their menu to their ambiance.

4. Le Comptoir de l’Image – photography books and vintage Vogue issues that can’t be found elsewhere. A paradise for any magazine or book lover. A favorite of Emmanuelle Alt and The Sartorialist as well, so there is assured good taste abound in this tiny treasure of a place.

5. Poetry nights at Le Chat Noir – Even if you aren’t particularly into poetry, you will have a wonderful time here. Spoken Words Paris is an open-mic Poetry group that host readings (English mostly but other languages welcome) every Monday night in the basement of Le Chat Noir, a bustling bar in the Oberkampf district (75011).

Supernova Hymeneal

The following is a very personal poem on a matter too ripe and yet too distant to disclose. For the sake of clarity, it begins as a typical elegy, lamenting the (imminent) loss of something treasured. Gradually, a strongly heartfelt look to the future glimmers through questions, bordering the desperate. And finally in the fifth stanza, a supernovan force overtakes the mistral and buried imagery with a galactic declaration.

It is written in Spenserian verse, in which each stanza contains nine lines: eight lines in iambic pentameter followed by an ‘alexandrine’ line in iambic hexameter. The rhyme scheme is “ababbcbcc.” This format was inspired by Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.

✵✵✵✵✵✵

Eventual Ode to a Supernova Hymeneal

(or, an interrupted elegy)

I

The blithe breeze sweeps into the pale roses,

Sifting through their jagged thicket of thorns.

An oath of lucid allegiance closes

On the blighting blade a mistral forewarns;

A tempest spun by imperiling Norns

Alight in bolts of suspended storm cells.

Here brews the remnants of sepulchered scorns,

In the gorge where the Weser River swells.

An augural order wherein the dísir dwells.

II

The beating of my heart has ceased to sound

In the empty arena of cosmos;

Foiling to return to a time unwound

Where our infinite gaze filled the hollows,

Now the yesteryear that clings to my bones

And seeps through my marrow of hushed sorrows.

Filling me with relics that I bemoan,

My keepsakes flicker still beneath the rotting stones.

III

I once dreamt of Aeolic paragons

Coaxed upon the melos of Alcaeous,

That told the tale of ardent carillons

In a steeple built o’er a tumulus;

Even galaxies die in cumulus

As we speed to escape our own shadows

That we have cast o’er trails of humulus,

To catch our fall when we trip into gallows

Where we dangle our last breath above the barrows.

IV

Left in the stillness that mine eyes recall,

The warmth of the sun radiates ochre,

Sweltering swarthy we enter nightfall

And verdure fields are stripped of clover.

Is the glow of amber springtide over?

Shall the fever in our veins burn anew?

A force to shift the embers with a stoker,

To rekindle the faded light in you,

Breathe into my being and let the fire through.

                                                 (I beg you.)

V

Supernovae shall erupt through stardust

And drain the filth of my heart through venules,

These shriveled, corporeal pathways long lost

And these joints locked in hypotheticals.

The candescence of our past flickers,

Mirrored in interstellar mediums;

Shock waves shall sweep up talc celestial

And spew forth the remnants beyond aeons;

We shall rise o’er the seascape, beamed forth as pheons.

By Quincy Childs

The Conquest of Salomé

This is an ekphrastic poem on the Gustave Moreau’s painting, Salomé Dansant Avant Hérode (1876), pictured below. The scene depicts the biblical account of Salomé who, summoned to dance for her the Tetrach of Herod and upon request of her mother, ordered the severed head of John the Baptiste. I followed Moreau’s unique Orientalist depiction of Salome in my poem, emphasizing the symbolic powers of the Lotus flower she holds out in front of her. I refer to the Egyptian god of the sun, Nefertem, and the fertile, rebirthing power of the Lotus flower as an ironic portrayal of this “immortal goddess of Hysteria.”

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A suspended throne poised on high,

Lofty as an altar ‘scap’d to the sky

*

And lodg’d firmly in Immanuel’s Breast,

Towers over an enchased sardonyx chest.

*

Surmounted upon the tabernacle, eyes

Drawn to the right, peering from his guise,

*

Of Cinereal folds, the Herod of Tetrach unthrust

Of veiled desires, seized in a shimmering hour of lust.

*

Summoned by chords and cloaked in a shimmering cirrus,

Salome emerges luminous behind the mitre scepter of Isis:

*

This Lotus-coryphée, enclosing the pining altar,

She glides along the eternal pull of Primeval Waters,

*

Absolved under the surface at twilight. She commences

Her chimerical dance – an improviso act of evanescence –

*

Treading her steps in the wake of sunbeams that loom,

From Nefertem’s crown to the pulsing sickle of the moon.

*

Her covenant dappled in blood, fixing the Tetrarch encased

In ferrous lust, fatally bound by petals of luxuriant chaste.

By Quincy Childs

Comparative Ekphrasis: Kees van Dongen vs. Gustave Moreau

Kees van Dongen. Mlle Geneviève Vix dans le role de Salomé (1920)

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A young woman known as Salome, shown in a green oriental costume, dances with her arms above her head with a green cloth cascading behind her. The severed head of John Baptist is on a platter to the right. Her parents Herod II and Herodias are to the left gazing at the spectacle. The simple style, bold colors and outlines show the Fauvist story. She is the symbolic incarnation of world-old Vice, the goddess of immortal Hysteria.

Gustave Moreau – The Apparition (1876; watercolor)

Moreau was widely celebrated for his ‘Byzantine’ style and flowing, vibrant carnality, most ostensible in his Salome paintings. Indeed, with their polished, flaming palettes, his paintings seem to breathe vestiges of exotic nostalgia into the viewer. His virtuosity is achieved through paradox; it is on the whole visionary, belletristic, and mystical, yet just as easily his poetic value can be waxed on the technique of his physicality, the decorative materialism that prevails in his paintings. Moreau’s use of ornamentation is not by accident:640px-Gustavemoreau

“There are paintings where ornament subsumes the event to become the event, a purely visual, abstract event.”

In his watercolor above, the figure of Salome is emblematic of the ‘femme fatale’, a typical trope of fin-de-siecle decadence. A Symbolist who was enthralled by legends of Orientialist ornamentation, Moreau depicted Salome in the magnificent costumes and surroundings of the Eastern world. Conceived irrespective of any Testament theme he envisaged her as a forceful woman who was wholly cognizant of the entices her sexuality presents. The scene is both extravagant and precise in details, so concentrated that they nearly drip off the canvas in rivulets of lustrous realism. Salome herself is like a living jewel, with her cascade of ochre and cerulean glimmers flowing down to her pointed toe like a diamond cutlet.

Paris in Bloom : My Springtime Agenda

La Nuit Européenne des Musées – May 16
Over 1,200 museums take part in this event, which sees them extend their opening hours for special activities and to allow the public to see the collections after dark. Many are free to the public. At the Musee Carnavalet – the museum of the history of Paris – visitors will be greeted by “Napoleon”. culturecommunication.gouv.fr

Saint-Germain-des-Prés Jazz Festival – May 21-June 1
Each year, dozens of performers from around the world flock to the streets of the chi-chi 6th arrondissement for a series of concerts. This year’s festival will take place across 18 different venues, with acts including Lisa Simone, Agathe Iracema and Kyle Eastwood. festivaljazzsaintgermainparis.com

The Tudors at Musée du Luxembourg – until July 19
This side of the Channel, Wolf Hall has reignited fascination with the Tudors. France has never exhibited painting of those who ruled England between 1485 and 1603, so this is a first at the Musée du Luxembourg. Run in conjunction with the National Portrait Gallery. Admission: €12; museeduluxembourg.fr

Bruce Nauman at the Fondation Cartier until June 21
A major show of the cult contemporary artist including several never-seen-before pieces, with installations, videos and sound works in the glass gallery, underground spaces and gardens of the Fondation Cartier; fondation.cartier.com

Velazquez at the Grand Palais, March 25-July 13
A rare gathering of works by the 17th-century Spanish master is set to be this year’s blockbuster exhibition. Portraits of the monarchy, the pope, mythological paintings and less-known landscapes and tavern scenes shown alongside other masters from the Golden Age of Spain. Admission: €13 grandpalais.fr

Jean-Paul Gaultier at the Grand Palais, April 1-August 3
Multimedia retrospective and new items by of one of France’s most radical fashion creators. His designs often touch the boundaries of art (Pierre et Gilles) and music (Madonna). Admission: €13 grandpalais.fr

GRAND FINALE : 

Keys to a Passion at the Fondation Vuitton, April 1-July 6
The Fondation Vuitton’s first major exhibition gathers key works — including Matisse’s The Danse, Munch’s The Cry, Monet’s Waterlilies and paintings by Rothko, Mondrian and Malevich – that mark key turning points in the foundation of modern art. Admission: €14 fondationlouisvuitton

BLEU : 70 films from 1 st April to 24 May 

70 shades of blue’ a series of 70 films inspired by the color Blue, and all the depth of emotion, symbolism and meaning that exudes. http://www.forumdesimages.fr/les-films/les-programmes/bleu

Vernal Sacrement

Inspired by Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps, this is a quasi-Petrarchan Sonnet I composed with iambic pentameter and the following rhyme scheme of abba-cddc-efgefg. The sestina volta at the end is more of a catharsis (a sacrifice) of the tension that builds in the octaves before. The Sonnet was inspired by the plot and music of Stravisnky’s Rite of Spring. The story is set during the advent of Spring in Pagan Soviet Russia, where various primitive rituals commence including the abduction of young girls, one of which is chosen as a sacrificial victim and must dance herself to death. I believe the phenomenon stems from the culture of Southern Italian Tarantella dance of death (from the Greek ritual of Tarantism) or perhaps the medieval artistic genre of ‘Danse Macabre,’ an allegory of the universality of death. Whatever the origins of this story, I found the imagery of the score and ballet adaptation to conjure rich images of seasonal cleansing (‘vernal equinox’, ‘wintertide sin’) dizzying circles of beguiling entrapment, visions of a vast, isolated landscape, etc. The titles of each stanza are borrowed from movements in Stravinsky’s original score, which is in French since it debuted in Paris. The italicized word khorovod is a form of Russian circle dancing, and niente is an Italian musical term for a dying ending. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Les Augures printaniers

The shrills of vernal equinox ascend

Skyward where treetops turn viridian.

In the depths of shadows obsidian,

A tale begins of a khorovod end.

                       Jeu du rapt

                       Caught twice in snares of watchful conjuring,

                       Prodigal desires of spirits crawl.

                       Dislodged in the veins of silvering falls,

                       Spins the wile of stringent honoring.

                                                    Danse Sacrale

                                                     Lustration of sacrificial rapture

                                                     Under the Aegis of wintertide sin

                                                     An Exodus of wheeling birds unwind.

                                                     At last, found in the silken pasture

                                                     Of Zenith’s end, the niente of martyred kin,

                                                      Tied to the tether of Fate ill-timed.

By Quincy Childs

Suntelia, Unbound

Scene I :

Nafplio. Footsteps pressed by epochs past rise over the Acropolis. A breeze from the Argolic sprays lifts beyond the scalloped shore. From heaven’s height the moon glow dips to dance in the swells of the earth. Human feet pedal upwards to mount the Palamidi steps, rising and longing for a trace of truth. Yet the moon shines on the Elms and in their earnest stillness, the swirls of the sea recede again. The tides fall back. Order is restored. And the footsteps begin their descent. Why stay we on the earth unless to grow?

Scene II :

Athens. An empty court of sepulchral stones. Tablets of the Law thrown down. Cast to the mountain’s base, likes the stone of anathema. Cleric muttering: The sordid ricochet of censure – Niddui folds into Chērem. The gravel of a final cause, and the echo of diaphanous truth, unseen and sancrosanct. Stigmatas printed in the canvas of skin, inscribed to the Galatians. Ever present, ever brooding, life’s fair end is never far away. And yet that does not keep Man from searching. There is no telos on the ground.

Scene III :

Lampasacus. Eunuchs wander through candle lit walls; their shadows escape them. Holy is the place where thoughts must advance unsought. Bedchamber attendants bow and stand. Theophylact of Ohrid ; these truths sift through forgotten sighs. The sun turns freely and time succeeds behind the dipping moon. All entities move and nothing remains still – save for the clockwork of the stars. In the Harem of the Holy Place, all good men die.

Scene IV :

Constantinople. A table stretches beneath folded hands. The abbot sits on his axis of Reason in a Monastery that bounds itself from the bedlam. Outside monks shift in cloaks, brushing softly with pacing thighs. The moonlight circles out to cast its glow on the backstreets of the jilted. A crowd spills into the pale-cloaked streets. Cleaving to civic, they rule and forage their way through the very corners of deceit. A stampede to illuminate truths, doomed truths that will retreat, unarmed yet always ready, to the stasis of the unfound.

Scene V :

Cadmea. A jail beneath the acropolis of Thebes. Enclosed chambers of dampening Time. Feeble limbs sprawled beneath concaved chests. Hollowed dreams beget tomorrow’s trials. Seasoned in their credence, they are further dragged to the destitute Nature of Man. Each the same, yet here they live and die. Forsaken in parallel corridors, vis-à-vis dredging cells. A guard appears on the outside wall : his is a shadow fixed in sight.

Scene VI :

Suntelia, Unbound. The sky radiates downwards where the horizons drains the land. No stone left unturned. The echo cannot sound without a wall. The moon glares into the writhing sea, it douses itself in a thrashing waltz, puling the earth nearer, skirting Time at nigh. The moonlight glows and murmurs, its phantom waves surround us:

i. Why stay we on the earth unless to grow?

ii. There is no telos on the ground.

iii. In the Holy Place, all good men die.

iv. Truths retreat to the stasis of the unfound.

v. A shadow is always fixed in sight.

vi. πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει

[All is in flux and nothing abides.]

By Quincy Childs

Book Recommendation: “The Gazer’s Spirit” by John Hollander

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This marvelous book is a collection of entries in ekphrasis that celebrates the artistic synthesis of poetry and painting. In his book, John Hollander, an outstanding poet and critic, presents over fifty works of visual art—spanning from paintings, photographs, sculptures and more, ranging from antiquity to the present. He matches each to poems that evoke the same imageries in their verses. The effect is enlightening and imaginatively organized, chronicling words and images in conversation, as well as showing how, across Western culture, the most poetic writers have been inspired by visual poetry.

The Gazer’s Spirit showcases delightful surprise of ekphrastic play, such as Edith Wharton’s sonnet that illuminates a new interpretation of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. In the following pages merge the minds of Robert Browning and Michelangelo; Charles Baudelaire and Jacques Callot; Herman Melville and J. M. W. Turner; a personal favorite, Randall Jarrell and Albrecht Dürer writing and drawing about The Knight, Death and the Devil.

Among the poets are some of my favorite writers such as James Merrill, Herman Melville, and Rachel Hadas; the visual displays in the book are both distinguished and abstruse, as various as a Greek sculpture, a Medieval tapestry, Impressionist landmarks, and even a fountain by an anonymous architect. In certain instances, perfect affinities, such as a poem by Vicki Hearne poised to a stationary white horse by Gauguin, produces unexpected poetic results.