These ekphrastic poems are selections from the “Second Order” group who observed the Bioart Society-sponsored “Field Notes: Ecology of Senses” in September 2018 in Lapland, above the Arctic Circle.
These works are responses to the contemporary artworks and processes by international artists working at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Finland. Each is paired with the relevant artwork.
More at: https://bioartsociety.fi/projects/field-notes-1/pages/second-order-2
In your outdoor moorish room,
the fabric drapes head to clouds,
the womb of the lingonberry’s bud
is the flower of your belonging
in the fantasy of a tent-living room,
a yurt I once visited that smelled
of goat’s idol form and a ting
of scalp sweat, though I would
have laid down under the pasture
before I told them how
different it smelled from the forest
or even home, so when
you offer mellow delights of new wax
from water, from a blue oyster inlaid box
I pinch just the corner, more to feel
it, than to taste the salt.
Hannah Star Rogers
Hannah Star Rogers’ poems and reviews have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Boston Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Tupelo Quarterly, The Carolina Quarterly, and TSR. She received her MFA at Columbia University, her PhD at Cornell University, and is currently a visiting scholar the the University of Edinburgh. She led the Second Order group at Field Notes’ Ecology of the Senses.
Interfacing AM Frequencies Through the Core of a Willow Stem
to Make a Divining Rod for the Future
With the care required to
Pack and ship lichen beginnings worldwide
The prize the moss from its long term
Abode the only home it has ever known,
Estranged from plants by our insistence
On the move, our nature against theirs
Electro-pulses we knew we knew where
There before the stars could be measured
and using up.
Hannah Star Rogers
Sketches for Field Notes from the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station
1. The magpie: one for sorrow, two for joy. No birds on this hill, but we turn our attention to great fortune besides.
2. We call it the devil’s field. Too many rocks to cross.
3. This next part implies the cold. Your face will not be enough. Sit alone and see if you can feel the direction of the whole wind against the rock.
4. Just before the gulley a pile of tin cans and metal scrap. Remains from the prison camp at the end of the war. The nazis didn’t make it up here until almost the end.
5. We never find the crash site. Instead we circle two wire reindeer pens and cross a dry riverbed. You instruct me in irrigation and salt. We prefer not to know what’s lost.
II. Reindeer Life
1. I cannot bear to see such tight landscape, he tells me, one arm still before the window. There is no room for them to move. No room to wander. Twenty years later we are still on this question of space.
2. My mind is not a reindeer’s mind. But I know that they have a turn in their mind. A turn to spring. The new growth takes them north.
3. They have a taste for lichen. But in the summer they trample this lichen they like and eat other green things and flowers. Whatever flower you choose they eat it. And also the red berries that flood the fell.
4. They follow the winter into the wind. The winds are changing. They have to behave in time. Time on the slope falls differently.
5. Human beings are not such ecological animals. The reindeer has another logic.
1. The dogs sit on the prow. We sit below deck. There won’t be anyone there to check passports. I forgot my money anyway and the clouds carry us over.
2. We look to the water to tell us what we already know. It’s hard to look past the shadow of the mountain.
3. Three countries claim this corner. And here a woman who has swum around all three. I have also studied the names of all the trees and flowers, she tells me bending. And I was glad to do so.
4. Wooden boards keep our feet dry. The suture holds for now.
5. At the top a sleeping hut piled over with rocks. We add one rock more and do not lie down. Rain falls beneath us and we descend.
1. We thought they might give us the mountain to celebrate. But they kept it for themselves. We’re a nation apart.
2. Soil, rice, jam. I eat the soil and pull three rocks from my mouth. They could have been teeth.
3. The ice age recedes. The medusa succumbs to her burns.
4. I do not hear you for the water at your back. Later I will be jealous at the water at your window, the angle of your roof. Your beds in a line.
5. I buried my face in the soil but did not open my eyes. I do not play at death.
V. Bird Thoughts
1. We are the noise. We are looking through the noise. Birds correspond to thoughts.
2. The sun doesn’t leave the shadow. It’s the plants. They know their own mind. The mushroom flowers across the screen.
3. I pull a woman from the water. White like the moon and as distant. She tells me: your future is now. Our future is now. She breaks in two.
4. Sound travels like a nerve on the spine. I collect it here, you say, showing me your copper wires and tree branches. Can you hear it, can you hear anything? A clearing upon the hill. The lightning above the door.
5. Hands flat upon the table. A smokescreen and a skull. The noise comes in waves in light against the sky. Trees lit up like eyes upon the shore unblinking. We turn back toward the sensing dark.
Karen Elizabeth Bishop
Karen Elizabeth Bishop teaches literature for a living. She lives in Sevilla, Spain.
(1) I went to Ecology of Senses? Field_Notes
What was that?
Socratic dialogue – it's not what I want.
Were they artists
No I’m not an artist.
Were they scientists
I was trained as a scientist, but no I am not.
Practitioners Praxisters Prax-schm-ishiners...
I am not being contrary, but no I am not.
Well who are they ... are we then? ...
(2) What do we want. A process?
But no-output expected…. Or wanted?
Would you like to see my no-output?
Is there a no-process and no-dynamic to go with it? How about a presentation?
No it's not a presentation I don’t like that word.
I think we are getting somewhere – perhaps maybe I don’t know perhaps not?
(3) What can I say? What can I contribute? Second Order?
Whose order? Disorder! Self-order-(an/ anodon)nized? We are a slime mould?
But we are doing our own thing.
We are rather loose.
I think it is framed -
I don’t like the term frame.
From the centre in own directions -
No not quite that.
Can you help – no help - too much wisdom from you!
Banned words pungent · droplets · in a landscape- no more facts
In a post-fact, neo-truth fake news world – no clichés allowed
(we all know what you mean)
and that’s bounded, restricted not unbounded restructed
Everyone goes to Berlin so I go to Seoul – a new …
There is nothing new – no, maybe perhaps not
It's not essential, Arduino, Android, PowerBank
Breathe the earth, take your clothes off and rub yourself with something soily
Artistic stereotypes (but we are not artists – no, maybe perhaps not
How do I say, what I do not want to say, what I say AYE SAY!
Marcus Petz studies rural resilience at the Department of Philosophy and Sociology at Jyväskylä University, Finland.
Embedded Second Order
Sanna and Malla embraced in warmth my arrival in an Arctic summer’s wain
As a Humus sapiens, I would delve ʽn’ dive where rangifer and salvelinus dwell
Peili fjord á pied-à- mer sand blackstones, bladderwrack and jellyfish pain
Rain in the face so cold nice for a quick dip sauna etiquette- mixed? up face in soil smell
life and electrics, smokey turvekota, Aurora, Feminist moment – Field Notes with children
waves, ripples, currents moiré patterns in the hydrosphere-cum-atmosphere-soilsphere-me-as-well
slime mould, talking so much talking big words and strange books, growing, divine, thinking silence again
this plant with teeth: an exercise in reverse ekphrasis
this plant with teeth
this plant with teeth
mouth lips heaven-
ward turned like two
new deer in profile
against the treebank
suck young cheeks
toward the sky tendons
tight in advance of
the leap petals back
anther and filament
raised in relief this
morning i overflower
this morning i over-
flower this morning i
leap antlers blooming.
Karen Elizabeth Bishop
Sam Nightingale is a visual artist based in the UK. He uses experimental modes of photographic image production and speculative fieldwork to make sensible the temporalities and spatialities of environments that we are a part of but that also persist beyond the limits of human experience.
Patricio Hidalgo Morán es un artista multidisciplinario que reside y trabaja actualmente en Sevilla, España. Una gran parte de sus numerosos trabajos visuales, escénicos, y fílmicos se dedican al mundo del flamenco y la pintura viva, lo cual se puede ver representado en la página web: www.patriciopinceles.com. Ha colaborado también en varios libros infantiles, producciones audiovisuales que trabajan en el intersticio de la poesía y el arte visual, y dirige la revista Mordisco. Su arte ha sido galardonado y expuesto en galerías de arte y exhibiciones en España, Europa, las Américas y Rusia.
Patricio Hidalgo Morán is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in Sevilla, Spain. A great number of his numerous visual, stage, and film productions focus on the world of flamenco and live painting, all of which can be accessed at the gallery housed on his website:
www.patriciopinceles.com. He has also collaborated in the writing and drawing of various children’s books, audiovisual productions that work at the intersection of poetry and visual art, and he directs the magazine Mordisco. His art has been the recipient of numerous awards and exhibited in galleries and expositions in Spain, Europe, the Americas, and Russia.
The Lost and Found Department
There is no Lost and Found department at the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station.
I went looking for a lost thermos. I heard someone yell, “I can’t find my other sock!” We all found ourselves searching for belongings in a place that doesn’t have a Lost and Found department.
Here’s a guide to finding things around the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station:
Shruti Sunderraman is a writer and journalist based in Bangalore, India. She is a culture vulture and writes about music, art, gender and environmental science. She finds comfort in mushroom soup and blades of grass. Read her work here and here.
In Thrall of Tininess
Large things never wonder their purpose. They settle as landscape and
await eternity. Their peace is traditional. Their self-assurance, alien.
Tiny things wander.
sometimes, into wonder
most times, into trouble.
Curiosity never killed their cat.
they have exceptionally smart cats.
A Nordic mountain is a lesson in royalty. Buckingham is a toilet on its
landslide. A glacier in the distance laughs unbearably at humanness. Social
cachets tested on ice are but punchlines to the immortal.
a patch of lichen, meanwhile,
It is coy. You never saw it spread
across the riverside. This is
the nature of patience.
Standing on the precipice of largeness, my tiny heart heaves a Tundric sigh.
We are terrified,
we are relieved.
Stepping away from desks lights
and tall paper bills,
we are joyous to be tiny again.
The mountains dismiss me; not unkindly.
Insignificance is beautiful.
The Ekphrastic Review
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