Monday, October 5, 2009

Poem by Nancy Kiefer: "Royal American Show"

Hello everyone!  Hope this Monday finds you well.  First, the Poetry Project & I are starting to get a little press around the Quad Citites.  Check it out here.

Next we have an outstanding contribution from Seattle artist & Rock Island native Nancy Kiefer.  She has been following the project literally since day one, and wanted to contribute some work, which I think we're all happy that she did.  When she first contacted me about thr Project, here are some of the things she related to me regarding her feeling about her hometown:

"I am sort of watching on the side since I live in Seattle. I grew up in Rock Island, though. I've never loved a place more. I love it not only because it is beautiful, and the light shines on the river so uh...19th century like, but also because it contains this midwest gothic thing that is hard to express. Something to do with humidity, big chain smoking ladies buying baloney at the market, corner taps, hard work, racism, birds, and old houses. I'd say most of my work has to do with that in some way. Recently I've been looking at Mauriac's short stories and I read in the introduction that he placed all his stories in the little French town he grew up in--he walked the streets, the rooms of the house, etc. I can understand that as that is the way I make art, with the QC in mind. In my case, the 1960-1970 version of it." 
                                                       Nancy Kiefer, Sept. 3, 2009

Very cool & to me, she is getting at the heart of what I hoped this whole Project would be about-- those connections we have with place & the various terrains places have: topographical, emotional, aesthetic, memories.  So I want to thank her for her insights and her contribution, "Royal American Show":

Royal American Show

Must have been payday because Lila packed up the Cadillac and drove us over the Centennial Bridge to the carnival then gave us each a fat roll of tickets. Bruce had a broken arm but that didn’t stop him from getting in the rocket ship with me and there were no belts so we slipped all over and his cast came down and hit us both on our heads. The Mississippi Levee smelled of tar the hawkers sweaty and swearing and yelled hurry up buy this cinnamon treat and Lila said sure why not so we all got one and it was a piece of red glass wrapped around an apple something from a fairytale it almost broke our teeth. Cotton Candy on a humid day in June doesn’t last you have to eat it fast before you go into the Fun House so we did and on that day it was hot like an attic in there and someone had peed on the slide the one you need to exit so we had to make our way backward out of that dark crooked unfun house in the chaos someone slammed me against a wall with their body then in the dimness one kind-voiced boy wearing a robin hood hat with a tall feather walked me out saying I was going to be okay. Wasn’t that me sniffling when we came out into daylight? Evidently because Lila said honey let’s take you home But Please Lila not before we see the woman with no head I begged and she said okay baby. I loved Lila that day and every day after because this lady neighbor with Jane Mansfield platinum hair and cat blue glasses called me baby on such a June afternoon while the woman with no head turned out to be fake an optical illusion I knew because I looked close and could tell.

Bio: Nancy Kiefer is a visual artist and writer living in Seattle who grew up 8 blocks from the Mississippi in Rock Island, Illinois.  You can find her online here.

1 comment:

  1. I love this story! I can smell that carinval atmosphere and feel the topsy turvy combination of sugar and side shows and rides.