Saturday, May 21, 2011


A Month at the Met is long over. I have returned to the museum often, but not to write. However the experiment has had a lasting effect on my writing in other ways, for example I now often write poems in a notebook instead of on my laptop.

Seven of the poems originally written as part of the project, were revised and have been published since September. I have removed them from the blog, as part of that process. However links to many of my published poems can be found on my website, Also as the summer approaches, I am gearing up for a new project called a Month at MoMA. More details are available on the website and it will be continued to be updated over the next few months, so keep an eye out.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 30th

This is the last day. I am not ready for this to be over, and yet I am. Tonight I will attend a Gaslight Anthem concert, wake up leisurely in the morning, write in the afternoon at Four and Twenty Blackbirds (they have the most excellent pie) with Jacob and attend a New Yorker Festival panel involving Dave Eggers. Nowhere in that equation will I have to attend the Met, I will in no way be obligated to post anything on the internet. Although on Saturday I will be back at the Met with my friend Fawaz, who is visiting from California. I am going to be missing the Met already by then, I suspect.

Today was uneventful. I arrived early just as things were opening up. The Museum had very few visitors but there was a fair amount of staff moving and dusting pieces.  I walked around a bit, spending most of my time in Arms and Armor (where there is no seating, unfortunately) before writing in the medieval section.

Sakura (Prunus serrulata)

You laugh uptown. The man
we only know about now,
by your side with his American smile.
The white of teeth from a mid-teen bleach.

In photographs you are altered, 
no longer my twin by sight,
in that bed, hair shaved. 
eyes narrowed from lack of sleep.

Day of the Week: Thursday
Occupancy of the Museum: Empty
Arrived at: 9:30
Departed at: 10:45
Read on Commute: Finished Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath which I recommend.  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Not to reduce a poetry project to numbers but here are some numbers that are relevant to this project. I had many readers from 12 different countries,  17 states, and 3 provinces.

Notebooks: 3
Average number of poems written per day: 4
Percentage of time the first poem I wrote was the one I posted: 50%
Average time spent on commute each day: 2 hours
Guest Writers: 16
Number of Met ticket/pins collected: 27
Amount of time spent on writing the blog entry each day: 30 Minutes
Average amount of time spent on this project each day: 5 hours

September 29th

Tomorrow is my last day at the Met.  I will return there and write, I may even post those poems but I will never again visit the Met on a daily basis. As thrilled as I am to have some more free time and less of a commute I must say this saddens me. This experiment has been successful and far more enjoyable then I expected, due in part to creative blessings, the Met itself, and the many lovely guest writers.

Today I went to the Japanese portion of the Asian wing. It was quiet, peaceful, and empty.

Five Miles to the Nearest Town

It was not a devastation
for us. No hammock vanishing husband,
or mid lake misplacement of our sons.
The house, bricks interconnected
and standing, three stories tall.

Of course we lost the stars,
but we had this luxury of space,
of still surrounding ourselves with my grandmothers
books and his fathers hunting riffles.

At first the boys left only for a day
up river, some camping trips,
normal for their age, this wild country.

Then it was weeks and they'd come
home uncomfortable in clothes,
barefoot, dark, pleased by grime.

Now, I sometimes hear footsteps
on the floor above me, wish it to be them,
but I see only the clothes, the book's,
a quilt they left behind, a year ago now.

Day of the Week: Wednesday
Occupancy of the Museum: Moderately busy
Arrived at: 12:30
Departed at: 1:45
Read on Commute: Rouges Gallery by Michael Gross, which is an unauthorized, controversial book on the history of the Met. So far I am not impressed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September 28th

On Friday Hossannah and I drifted into the Robert Lehman collection, a hodge podge of European decorative arts, Goya, El Greco, Botticelli Impressionism, post impressionism, enamels, and bronze. I had been there before, when part of the Atrium had been taken over for a special exhibit, however I had never ventured further in. I was a little surprised by the tone of the section, it is much less polished then the rest of the museum, and there really is no centralizing theme.  After doing a little digging I discovered that the  Lehman foundation donated close to 3,000 works of art to the museum and that his wing is supposed to feel like a museum within a museum. It is supposed to evoke the interior of Lehmans townhouse, and reflects his personal taste preferences. When it first opened the Lehman wing received mix reviews. 

I wrote on a sofa that would have seemed more at home in Starbucks and I must say it was a lot more comfortable then the standard issue Met bench. I could not help but notice that the vast majority of the visitors to this section were Eastern European tourists.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Next to the stone,
        a paper crane, gifted
        folds, indented finger prints,

a signature felt by the palm of my hand,
      ledge of window,  light
      touches objects, grants them
      a momentary gold.


Day of the Week: Tuesday
Occupancy of the Museum: Not very Busy
Arrived at: 9:30
Departed at: 11:00
Read on Commute:  Cider House Rules (better) by John Irving, and Made to Stick (good) by Chip and Dan Heath

Monday, September 27, 2010

September 27th

 Since I came up with this project in July, a certain friend has been saying that one of the Monday's at the Met better be rainy so that I would have to write outside underneath an umbrella. I teased back that if that happened he would have to come with me and hold the umbrella while I wrote. Today it rained. All day. However I did not carry through with my threat and I wrote outside on a wet bench all on my own. I checked an hourly forecast before I left and so had scheduled my writing period to coincide with what was supposed to be the least rain filled part of the day. It really wasn't that bad at first just a little drizzle, although by the time I left it had worsened.

Kingdom Without a Monarch 

The Midtown fog
has developed feelings
for the Plaza, 

affection for the Central
Park Zoo. Pigeons pass
the Met, dip beaks into puddles.

Ladies do not come out
in the rain. Watch it
through binocular's,
order a cab.

Day of the Week: Monday
Weather: Rainy
Arrived at: 3:00
Departed at: 4:00
Read on Commute:  Cider House Rules by John Irving (improving, maybe?)

September 26: Lane Falcon

My dear friend Lane Falcon is in her final year at Sarah Lawrence in poetry although she's managed to cover a fair amount of fiction as well. Her poem and observations follow.

Jackson Pollack’s  “Autumn Rhythm”
To him, to live
was to be entwined— to stand outside
that nest of rusted wire
was to die. 


As usual, lovely to see Caitlin, with whom I can talk in tongues about art and poems and people. Going to The Met made me want to get fired from my job and collect unemployment for a few months, like my sister. If only we were allowed to drink coffee in there, it would be the perfect place to hibernate. I almost ran over a couple of little old ladies but that’s nothing new and luckily no one cursed me. Caitlin seems very at home among the sculptures and canvases and, at the same time, tentative, respectful. I’ve never been so close to a Pollack painting, I don’t think. Just prior to us sitting down, I’d been telling Caitlin how I never really thought of Pollack paintings as visceral, despite something I read recently that compared his painting to the poems of Sharon Olds. His stuff always seemed so abstract to me in comparison to Sharon Olds’ version of urgency. Sitting there, though, I kept thinking how art is a metaphor for the artist’s perception of the world (duh!) and how immediate and seething his painting is. Not every emotion has a perfectly carved image to represent it. I think, in poetry, this sort of effect can be likened to the use of diction, music as opposed to image. Music is as immediate as image, right, as far as plucking at the soul strings (pun intended, but only after realizing it was there)?