Will Arbery


Playwright Will Arbery--shining young light of the New York theater scene and a recent Whiting Award winner (and Dallas native)--dispatches a Shelf Life list that has him waxing nostalgic over a boyhood love of movies and poetry, and freshly considering a certain photograph of Giacometti and Beckett.

+ This strange and beautiful video about horses from an instructor named Kyle Clement at Wyoming Catholic College, where my parents teach. "Intimacy is built over time, intimacy is built by proximity, intimacy is built by wordless communication." 

+ The plays of Maria Irene Fornes, a beloved artist whose exuberant, fearless, uncategorizable work inspired countless playwrights: 

"You see, that which is exposed to the exterior... is smooth and dry and clean. That which is not... underneath, is slimy and filled with fungus and crawling with worms. It's another life that is parallel to the one we manifest. It's there... if you don't recognize it, it eats you."

from Fefu and Her Friends 

The Branch Will Not Break by James Wright. A perfect little book, whose meaning increased exponentially once I went to Kenyon College, where he also went, and where he likely wrote some of these sad Ohio poems. I inherited my dad's faded old copy, and it's the first possession I'd rush to save in the event of a fire. 

There is this cave

In the air behind my body

That nobody is going to touch:

A cloister, a silence

Closing around a blossom of fire. 

When I stand upright in the wind, 

My bones turn to dark emeralds. 

Hard Damage by Aria Aber, which I discovered only in the past few weeks, upon learning we were in the same class for the Whiting Awards. I haven't felt this way about a poet since James Wright -- the way these poems get words stuck between my teeth. The way they make me breathe.

To miss my life in Kabul is to tongue 
pears laced with needles. I had no life
in Kabul. How, then, can I trust my mind’s long corridor,
its longing for before? I have a faint depression
polluting my heart, sings the lake. That there is music 
in everything if you tune into it
devastates me. Even trauma sounds like Traum
the German word for dream.

+ Incidentally, Aria and I recently had the chance to connect, and we bonded over our love of Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack, and Honey. Aria reminded me of this passage, which, just, guhhhh:

Passage from Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures


+ The songs of Bill Callahan. "I used to be darker, then I got lighter, then I got dark again." I wonder how Bill is during all this. 

The Criterion Channel: this pandemic has given me the feeling of being a boy again, when I would watch as many movies as I could, often staying up till 4am, skipping my homework, worrying my parents. The fact is I was falling in love. Nothing does me in like a great film. I'll clutch my heart and sigh on my fainting couch. I'll look up the filmmakers and mistake them for the Thing. Lately, I've fallen in love with: La Cienaga by Lucrecia Martel, Memories of Underdevelopment by Tomas Gutierrez Alea, An Angel at My Table by Jane Campion, Losing Ground by Kathleen Collins. Also, The Souvenir by Joanna Hogg, which is not available on Criterion, but available to stream from other platforms. And returning to the Three Colors Trilogy by Kieslowski. 

Yoga with Adriene - Adriene Mishler has a remarkable ability to speak to the body. She intuits its fears, twitches, tweaks. A shelf can only give you life if you have enough energy to reach towards it. 

Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
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