Found today: “Poets Without Clothes.” It’s a website of—you guessed it!—poets without clothing. Some are half-naked. Some are nude. Some are showing their bare toes. Some cover their breasts. But they’re all vulnerable and rather sweet. The Tumblr was inspired, naturally, by Walt Whitman, he who wrote:
Let us all, without missing one, be exposed in public, naked,
monthly, at the peril of our lives! let our bodies be freely
handled and examined by whoever chooses!
Let nothing but copies at second hand be permitted to exist
upon the earth!
I wonder, which feels more raw: stripping off your clothing for a photograph, or stripping bare your soul for a poem? Which tears at the fabric of your being more? Which induces more shame, which brings more joy? They’re similar acts, but not the same.
Here’s a good would-you-rather for your next party: Would you rather bare your body in public, warts and all, or publish your most jagged and painful personal thoughts? Personally, I’d rather take my top off.
Above: Patti Smith in the nude. More here.
1. From Shirley Jackson, a true master of horror writing and vastly underrated writer, the best way to begin a book:
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
If you don’t have chills after reading that, go ahead and read the whole book. I’ll wait here. (Shirley Jackson is my all-time favorite author. I wrote my college thesis on her—and Poe and Toni Morrison. It was about ghosts in American literature… I was/am/will always be a nerd.)
2. British sculptor Kate MccGwire makes wonderfully nasty and strangely beautiful art installations out of feathers. They’re textural and rich and oh-so-creepy. Plus, they all have fantastically horrifying names, like Secrete (top), Siren (second image) and Slick (below). Some of her other installation names include Purge, Gyre, Corvid and Specter. I love how her pieces feel both organic and naturally occurring, and utterly uncanny in the most Freudian sense. They’re a double gut-punch of pretty and creepy. See more here. Happy Halloween!
Moths! They’re the redheaded stepchild of the butterfly family (no, that’s not science, but it feels true anyway). They’re ugly and furry and yet, in Yumi Okita’s hands, they’re kind of… cute? Cuddly? Fuzzy and warm?
Not since I read A Girl of the Limberlost (a novel by naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter published in 1909) have I been so taken with moths. The book tells the story of a young Indiana girl named Elnora who sends herself to school with the money she makes selling insect specimens. She goes into the Limberlost swamp—what a wonderful, fantastical name for a real place!—where she finds all manner of strange flora and fauna.
I think Elnora (again, that name!) would love Yumi Okita’s textile moths. She makes these beautiful patterned winged things from yarn and string and fiber. You can’t tell from these pictures, but the moths are actually huge—each wing is about as big as a hand.
I particularly like these three, but Okita creates insects (and flowers) in all different shapes and sizes. They mimic real life, but they’re infinitely more beautiful than the average brown moth you see dive-bombing a lightbulb. Just look at the patterns! And I’m really loving this particular color scheme right now. Rose and dust and dusty rose and soft browns and warm ivory. See more of her work here.