Broken Just So: A Writer Wednesday Post

October 30th, 2013 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (10 Comments)


BrokenBroken Just So, photo and all text © Irene O’Garden, 2013

To listen to this post, please click here: Broken Just So

Sad events happened this week, not so much to me directly, but in the lives of people close to people close to me. Business disappointments, unexpected hospitalizations and the untimely passing of a young mother here in our community darkened many hearts.

What do we make of such pains, such losses? The vase above came to mind.

It belonged to my mother, and is an object whose form I have ever loved. Earlier this year it broke.

As you can see, it did not shatter, but broke just so. It will never hold water and a live bouquet again. Yet I could not bring myself to throw it out. I kept it in my studio with the broken places turned from view.

This morning I was inspired to take a little fixture and refrain from cursing the darkness, so to speak.


Light Illumination, photo © Irene O’Garden, 2013


Had the break not been just so, this beauty would not be possible. But neither would it be possible had the break never happened.

Let us hope that in those times life breaks our hearts, they break just so. To let our light shine forth.



LiveBlessingElemental Sentiment, photo, lettering and text © Irene O’Garden 2013

To listen to this post, please click here:Elemental Sentiment

Mercury is now in retrograde. According to star folk, it’s a good time to be flexible, since travel, computers, plans and communications can veer a bit awry. Intuition is high, extraordinary coincidences may surface and you may bump into long-lost friends. Not that I’m hook, line and sinker into this, but I did run into long-time-no-see-Susanna on Monday, and three friends are now messing with glitchy technology.

It’s a propitious period to review projects and plans (though not finalize them) and to reflect on the past. Good time for files and old notebooks, I thought. While shelving them in my new studio, I found this old piece of calligraphy. It propelled me past my own past, through our human past, and slid me right down the banister of evolution into the great biological soup some say bubbled into cellular life. (Which has as lovely a mythological timbre to me as Mercury in retrograde.)

For me, mythology is truth too big to fit inside the facts. Just as life is more than bodies. Just as the elemental sentiment above is known beyond us, known by all our cellular relatives. Including the dear old plant who asked to illuminate the border. She’s blessed my blessed life for forty years.

Have you been reflecting lately?

Im happy to say I will be joining other readers for the A Slant of Light reading at the East Fishkill Library tonight, Wednesday Oct 23 from 7-8. I’m pleased my poem “What You Will Believe” is included in this marvelous anthology of Hudson Valley Women Writers.A Slant Of Light

If you are unable to make tonight, I will also be at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY for their reading on Friday the first of November also at 7. Hope to see you there! If not, you can order the book now from this fine independent bookstore.

Angle Matters: A Writer Wednesday Post

October 16th, 2013 | Posted by Irene in Essays - (4 Comments)


Pisa1Tower Angle, photo and all text ©Irene O’Garden 2013

To listen to this post, please click hereAngle Matters

You know her, but do you know her from this angle? Fine-boned, luminous, pearly-white, she rises from the vivid green in the company of well-proportioned alabaster relatives.

From this angle, we enter and climb this narrowstepped, carefully-restored marble privilege. Feel the tower’s kinesthetic truth in the angle of our ankles, our limbs teetering out, then in, our tilting spines spiraling up the dim cramped stairway like passing through the tight and curling body of a dark seashell until we dizzily emerge into the blinding blue air at the top.

From this angle, terracotta roofs lead the eye like flagstones to the brushy olive hills and the iris-blue Appenines. Who knew she was so beautifully sited?

There’s a definite jolt of pleasure in seeing a famous landmark (or a person) from the angle you expect. Even if a pizza box trained you.

But we live in a world of three dimensions, a world of innumerable angles.

Let’s look around, above, beneath, behind the flat screens in our hands and our minds. Let’s play with a few acute and obtuse angles before we declare the “right” angle. Sometimes the rightest angle is several degrees from plumb. So Pisa teaches.


Finding a new angle lately?


Had a wonderful time at the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival. Frank Becerra of the Journal News took this great shot!


Chez CezChez Paul, iPad Art and all text ⓒIrene O’Garden

Alas, a cold prevents a decent recording of today’s post.


Another “postcard” from our trip:

One of the pleasures of travel is the unplanned stop.

We set sail from Gaudi’s Barcelona on a ten-day Mediterranean cruise. First port: Marseilles, where we boarded a tour bus to Aix-en-Provence for history, fragrance and Platonically-ideal strawberries.  Here, life itself waxes poetic.

But the grand surprise was when our tour guide said “It’s closed, but we’ll pass Paul Cézanne’s house. Shall we stop?”

Cézanne. After seeing an exhibit of his work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I found my face wet with tears. For me he conveys not just how things look, but how they are. A vigorous sense of love and companionship in physicality.  And of course, sheer beauty.

“Yes!” we all replied, and shortly thereafter found ourselves gazing down this allée.

I want to share what I felt that gleaming morning at the home of the master. Cézanne, however, resists words. The photo I snapped wouldn’t do. This sketch is my humble attempt.


Have you ever visited the home of one of your icons?



Poetry trail





If you are near Cornwall, New York this Saturday from 4-6, I’ll be opening up a new Poetry Trail at the beautiful Hudson Highlands Nature Museum. Please join us for the delight of children’s nature poetry, and the delight of children delighting in their poetry!




A Slant Of Light

Also, I’m proud to be part of “A Slant of Light,” a brand new anthology of Hudson Valley contemporary women writers. There are readings throughout the Hudson Valley and I am glad to be part of the 7 pm November 1st reading at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck. Please stop by!

Gaudi eyeDivine Eye, photo and all text © Irene O’Garden, 2013

To listen to this post, please click here:Soulgrowing

Greetings, dear friends. I missed you in September, yet felt you at my side pointing out things and asking questions during our three-week spirit-quenching sojourn in Mediterranea—

While I’m not sure how much of the trip I’ll share here, or even what wants to be worded or painted,  this image feels like its emblem.

Sagrada Familia is the colorful, starry-pinnacled, unfinished basilica whose towers grace many a Barcelona guidebook.  It was designed by Antoni Gaudi, and the photos I’d seen made me think his work quirky. Novel, but arbitrary.  Travel throws my ignorance in high relief, and thereby grows my soul.

The exterior is indeed colorful, syncopated, idiosyncratic, but for now, step out of the hot Spanish noon through the massive bronze doors into cool dim, which in a moment opens on a silver grove dappled with light: golden and white and the rotating wheel of the spectrum.

You are in a spiritual translation of a forest. In this shapely generous space, stone trunks rise, twist, branch, uphold a curved and jagged honeycomb of sky. At one end, through Gaudi’s mastery of mathematics, construction, light, design, and materials, saturated in his love of his work, of nature and of his divine “Client,” he translates the sun for us. It becomes the very Eye of God, and unlike our sun, we can look into it.

Free of cliché, of visual dogma. “This interior gives me faith in the future of human spirituality, “I whispered to John. Fresh, harmonic, flexible. Room for souls to grow.

Gaudi began work on the basilica 1883 and completed but a quarter of his design in his lifetime. He was at peace.  “My client is not in a hurry, “ he said.  Work continues, and according to today’s Huffington Post, plans are to complete it by 2026, the centennial of the architect’s death.



Omission Resolved!

Apparently the file I recorded of My Shadow (as requested by more than one reader) malfunctioned. Here is is again for My Shadow fans!

My Shadow


The Lit Biz

Busy times ahead—this Saturday, October 5, I am proud to be part of the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival with the gifted artist/illustrator Pat Schories. 2pm Sunday, I’ll joyfully be at the Gardiner, New York Library, where Carol Montana is producing a reading of my Off-Broadway play Women On Fire. Q and A will follow. Please join me if you are in either neighborhood! News next week about a wonderful print anthology in which I am delighted to be included.



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