Tag Archives: year by year poems

“Everything That Surrounds Us Becomes Part of Us” – Screening, Reading & Workshop at SF Public Library

Author: Lynne Sachs, Poetry Readings Film Screening and Writing Workshop 
“Everything That Surrounds Us Becomes Part of Us”
Thursday 1/21/ 2021 6- 9PM PST – Zoom 
https://sfpl.org/events/2021/01/21/author-lynne-sachs-poetry-reading-film-screening-writing-workshop

Workshop featuring special guest, artist Ann Hamilton

On Thursday night I will read from my recent poetry book Year by Year Poems (Tender Buttons Press) and screen film. I have invited artist ANN HAMILTON to join us to speak about her 1996 SF library installation where she asked local community people to annotate the catalogue cards which “embody the heart of the public library art collection – the text that is folded between the covers of the books and buried within the library stacks.” This is one of the most interesting and resonate examples of socially engaged art that I have ever seen. Very excited to talk with Ann and with the audience.This is also a workshop so all participants will be encouraged to write and interact. Yes, it’s virtual. Sign up and you will receive a Zoom invite.

Thanks to poetry librarian and arts enthusiast John Smalley, librarians Jaime Wong and Anissa Malady


Acclaimed poet and filmmaker Lynne Sachs reads from her recent book Year by Year Poems, a collection of 50 poems which began as a half-century marker in the author’s life. Sachs will also screen her film, Tip of My Tongue, which was based on these same poems. At the end of the screening, participants will be encouraged to write one poem in response to a chosen year in their own life.

Lynne Sachs is a filmmaker and poet who explores the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. Sachs has made thirty-five films which have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art and more. In early 2020, her newest movie, Film About a Father Who, will premiere on opening night at the Slamdance Film Festival and in NYC at the Museum of Modern Art.’

About the Film “In Tip of My Tongue, eleven New Yorkers, including Sachs herself, born in the early 1960s ‘visit’ every year of their lives in a brash, self-reflexive experiment to create a film on what it’s meant to live in America over the last half century. Through poetry and flashes of archival footage, the past is ‘unearthed, turned over and reconsidered in new and astonishing ways.'” (Museum of Modern Art)

About the Book Year by Year Poems feature graceful, diaristic poems, successfully distilling events and themes in the poet’s life and simultaneously, magically, reflect larger movements of history and culture. Intimate and imagistic, the poems unfold a series of miniature stories with sensuous rhythms, telling visual detail and gentle humor.

“Year by Year Poems” on Filmwax TV with Filmmaker & Poet Lynne Sachs –

The experimental filmmaker and emerging poet, Lynne Sachs, returns to Filmwax to discuss a free virtual event taking place this evening, Wednesday, December 2nd at 6:30 PM Pacific / 9:30 PM Eastern. Lynne will be reading from her debut collection, “Year by Year Poems”, and shares some of her recent short films. Register at www.beyondbaroque.org/calendar.html

Lynne lives with her husband, the filmmaker Mark Street, in Brooklyn and is a regular guest on the Filmwax Radio podcast.

“Happy Birthday Twice”, a Pandemitime Poem and Three Images By Lynne Sachs

November 30, 2020
By Robert Fredkenter
https://icefloepress.net/2020/11/30/happy-birthday-twice-a-pandemitime-poem-and-three-images-by-lynne-sachs/

“Happy Birthday Twice” – A Pandemitime Poem

October 4, 2020

Stretched Time 
Maya and Noa home
our two daughters in their beds
again
Here there all at once. Child and adult.
Temporal inversions.

Inside this terrifying middle
eating Mark’s slow dinners slowly
Warm bread, just ripe fruit
delivered by a woman with her own daughters
sleeping in their own beds.

Revisiting each day of an opening act
March 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Friday the 13th
Where I was intending to be and where I was.

Narrative of an unwinding.
The city is ours.
The city owns us.
56 days in captivity so far.
My father calls it the Velcro padlock.
Fear
the only real authority —
when to stay and when to go.

Pages I’ve read as a measure of time
almonds eaten,
cleaning surfaces
cleaning again
bleach and more bleach
again

Masks – to wear or not to wear?
to protect me.
to protect you.
Anger at T.
Anger at the mayor.

Watching “Tiger King” and flattening the curve
social distancing and comorbidity
Pod and PPE
Fauci and Floyd.

Before
I would walk from A –
call it home –
to B
then to C and D
all the way to Z.
Stop and stop again
in a zig
back in a zag
a diagonal
a curve
I used my feet
road on elevators
shook hands
hugged.
You too remember
the long ago here.

We imbibe together.
Family Zooms.
Passover in four different states.
With Mom, sister Dana, brother Ira,
with everyone
but without
No with in space, only time.

Moving my body at home
bra becomes braless.

Hospitals with others.
Hospitals without beds.
Hospitals with 1000s of beds, all full.
Fear of going in
with you.
With me inside.

Ruthless flossing.

Fighting about something that happened six years ago.
Caring about everything
knowing that only one thing matters.
Dreaming like a film.
A film like a dream.
76 days in captivity and counting.

Going for a walk with a friend but without her.
Talking like a crazy person and wondering if I am.
Being with being there.
Being here only.
Not knowing where you’re here is.
Forgetting my mask and feeling ashamed.
Running home.
Looking a stranger in the face
saying hello loudly
droplets on my glasses
the fog of it all.

Hand sanitizer
So raw it hurts.
No need for more.
No
where to go.

Needing to imagine NYC as it is
as it was
even while I am here.
People worrying about me.

Singing “Happy Birthday” twice
under warm water.

Delivering food to a 65-year old friend I thought would starve.
Delivering food to a 90-year old friend who later died.
Our time together
counting and recounting the seconds I was in his house,
dreaded time,
minutes or seconds
count and recount.
He went to the hospital and never came home,
two months alone
Jim died of loneliness
at least in my mind.

People of color become surrogate shoppers.

Andrew Cuomo reading mortality and hospital statistics every day at 11:30 am.
Giving $50 tip to our UPS delivery person, Edison.
Feeling good
About me.

Hearing from a crazy old boyfriend who is worried about me.
Stop.

7 PM noise parties
celebrating the workers, the frontliners
the ones who took the risks
We whistle and hoot
from deep within our mouths
60 seconds
of anger and anxiety in unison with our neighbors
then we four turn around,
180 degrees
sit together for a meal
Talk of our day as if something and nothing can happen all at once.

I don’t miss a meal made in a kitchen I can’t see.
Nothing tastes good in a plastic box.
How I relish Mark’s food
savory and sweet
made hot
just a few feet from our cat’s breakfast and her day-old bowl of water.
Part of our hermetic now.
Part of our daunting.

Looking for a place to pee
I rush home from Greenwood cemetery
preferring not to die
there.

Saturday August 15
Our pod fragments –
Abandoned artificial routines.
I listen for the echo from April and May.
Strange longing for the solitude and the ache.

Less and less in the weather
more weathered
more aware of the weather
Spinning umbrella-less in the rain.

In a city on a lockdown,
doors never locked.
Nowhere to walk
And yet walking every day to somewhere not far from here.
In circles that resemble city blocks.
Tethered by the distance it takes to run home.

Nothing grows so fast
so boldly
as the Morning Glory vine
these late summer days.
I weave its wayward shoots
through the bars of our old wrought iron fence.
Wrought.

Lynne Sachs reads from Year By Year Poems

By Don Yorty 
October 31, 2020
https://donyorty.com/2020/10/31/lynne-sachs-reads-from-year-by-year/

I heard Lynne Sachs read for the KGB Monday Night Poetry Series on Zoom a few weeks ago. She read from her new book, Year By Year Poems (2019), which is a beautifully put together publication by Tender Buttons Press. In it she chronicles every year of her life from her birth to 2011, the year she turned 50.

In reading Year By Year Poems everyone brings their own experiences remembering that year and what it meant. Lynne Sachs is a filmmaker. Filmmakers give the gift of cherished time because every film has to do with capturing it, not just a still photo, but a long or a short span of a year or a day or a few moments of that day.

In the Vimeo below Lynne Sachs reads from Year By Year Poems. Enjoy.

Year by Year Poems by Lynne Sachs at Small Press Distribution:
https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9780927920209/year-by-year-poems.aspx

And you can check out Tender Buttons Press here:
https://www.tenderbuttonspress.com/

Docs In Orbit – Masters Edition: In Conversation with Lynne Sachs

Docs in Orbit
Masters Edition: in Conversation with Lynne Sachs
August 2020
https://www.docsinorbit.com/masters-edition-in-conversation-with-lynne-sachs?fbclid=IwAR0GFg3TSr-leoQrQhmKl9MzMaRiaE3Zxbx0b-lsyos4EzqZDI0CpaXO1IU

Welcome to another Masters Edition episode of Docs in Orbit, where we feature conversations with filmmakers who have made exceptional contributions to documentary film.  

In this episode, we feature a two part conversation with the remarkable and highly acclaimed feminist, experimental filmmaker and poet Lynne Sachs

In part one of the conversation, Lynne Sachs speaks about how feminist film theory has shaped her work and her approach to experimental filmmaking. We also discuss her collaborative process in her films including, her short documentary film A MONTH OF SINGLE FRAMES (for Barbara Hammer), which is currently available to screen at Sheffield Doc/Fest until August 31st.


In part two, we discuss her latest feature-length documentary film, FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO, which will be having its international premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest in Autumn.


LYNNE SACHS’ WORK REFERENCED (in order mentioned)


OTHER INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS AND FILMMAKERS (in order mentioned) 

Maya Deren | Laura Mulvey | Carolee Schneemann | Kara Walker | Bell Hooks | Cauleen Smith | Ja’Tovia Gary 


FILM THEORIST AND FOUNDATIONAL ESSAYS

  • Mulvey, Laura. (1975). Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. Screen, 16(3), 6-18, Link
  • Steyerl, Hito. (2009). In Defense of the Poor Image. e-flux, 10, Link

Lynne Sachs is a Memphis-born, Brooklyn-based artist who has made over 35 films. Her work explores the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences by weaving together text, collage, painting, politics and layered sound design. Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in her work with every new project. 

Sachs films have been screened all over the world, including New York Film Festival, Sundance, Oberhausen, Viennale, BAMCinemaFest, Vancouver Film Festival, DocLisboa and many others. Her work has also been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, Wexner Center for the Arts and other venues, including retrospectives in Argentina, Cuba, and China. 

She received a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in the Arts. In 2019, Tender Buttons Press published Lynne’s first collection of poetry Year by Year Poems. 

Lynne Sachs is currently one of the artists in focus at Sheffield Doc Fest where her most recent feature documentary film, A FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO is presented alongside a curated selection of five of her earlier films.

Rain Taxi Reviews “Year by Year”

Rain Taxi 
Vol. 25 No. 2 – Summer 2020
Lynne Sachs – Year by Year Review 
By John Bradley 

“Everything that surrounds us becomes part of us,” wrote Fernando Pessoa in his The Book of Disquiet. In the author’s afterword to this book of poetry, Lynne Sachs refers to Pessoa’s statement as “an eight word distillation of my endeavor.” On turning fifty, Sachs decided to compose a poem for each year of her life, and that’s what Year by Year provides: fifty poems, beginning in 1961 and ending in 2011. For many of these poems, the book offers an early handwritten draft, adding an extra layer of depth to this intriguing project. Sachs, a filmmaker as well as a poet, wisely avoids trying to encompass every event that transpired in a year; rather, she distills one key moment. Here’s “1969,” a poem that provides an eight-year-old’s view of an historic event that year, in its entirety:

Our telephone rings.
Neil Armstrong on the line.
He knows I stole the Earth’s only moon.
“Give it back,” he says.
I watch him step across the lunar landscape.
I thought we could be friends.
He turns to look at all of us
(from the moon)
I am the only one who sees his sadness.

The poem feels like a combination of a young writer’s diary, a scene from a short story, and a dream. The end-stopped lines convey the sense of a writer used to composing prose, and the last line of the poem surprises the reader with its unexpected perception.

The most intriguing poems are those juxtaposed with the handwritten early draft, as with “2002,” for example. In the top right corner, we see a list of notes for that year: “security/ Anthrax/ gloves/ Susan w wears/ gloves.” The opening lines of the poem quickly remind us of the national panic that year: “Welcome to the department of homeland insecurity./ I’m with my friend in her car, not far from the Pentagon.” This is the year white powder was found in various envelopes, creating widespread fear; wearing gloves (as indeed Susan does in the poem) was a way to protect oneself, or at leastto create the illusion of protection. The ‘heart of that fear is revealed in the second stanza:

Here you’ll find inscrutable dust,
under your tongue, in your nails, your nose,
even the folds of your labia.
Dust that pushes past security bars and screen doors.

Her imagery brings to mind not only the white anthrax powder, but also the dust from the destruction of the two World Trade Center towers.

In the introduction to this book, poet Paolo Javier informs us that the poems of Year by Year led Sachs to create a “feature-length hybrid documentary” called Tip of My Tongue, an indication of how richly resonant these poems are, with their skillful intermingling of private and public.

– John Bradley

Rain Taxi – Volume 25 Number 2 Summer 2020 (#98) Reviews “Year by Year” – Poems by Lynne Sachs

INTERVIEWS
Maggie Dubris: A Prayer for St. Clare | interviewed by Zack Kopp
Wanda Smalls Lloyd: Creating Family Along the Way |
interviewed by Jessica Sparks
Sue William Silverman: The Now-ness of Memory | interviewed by Tatiana Ryckman

FEATURES
Louise Erdrich: An Appreciation | by James P. Lenfestey
Resurrecting Leo Tolstoy | by Tim Brinkhof
The New Life | a comic by Gary Sullivan

FICTION / DRAMA REVIEWS
A Beginning at the End | Mike Chen | by Jessica Raskauskas
Black Girl Unlimited | Echo Brown | by Linda Stack-Nelson
The Resisters | Gish Jen | by George Longenecker
The Shape of Family | Shilpi Somaya Gowda | by Rajiv Ramchandran
The Sweet Indifference of the World | Peter Stamm | by Susann Cokal
In The Beginning: A Stage Play | David Heidenstam | by Bryon Rieger

NONFICTION REVIEWS
Asemic: The Art of Writing | Peter Schwenger | by Jeff Hansen
Me & Other Writings | Marguerite Duras | by Fran Webber
The Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny | Daisy Dunn | by Walter Holland
The Devils | New Juche | by Alex Kies
Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different | Chuck Palahniuk | by Chris Via
The Painted Forest | Krista Eastman | by Dustin Michael
Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, and Triumphs of Americas Youngest Sommelier | Victoria James | by Jack Sartin

POETRY REVIEWS

DMZ Colony | Don Mee Choi | by John Wall Berger
Elementary Poetry | Andrei Monastyrski | by Michael Workman
The Elegy Beta | Mischa Willett | by Lee Rossi
Year By Year | Lynne Sachs | by John Bradley
Maids | Abby Frucht | by Nick Hilbourn
Cement | Sarah Menefee | by Patrick James Dunagan
The Hospice Orgy | Phillip Lee Duncan | by Zack Kopp
Black Case Volume I & II: Return From Exile | Joseph Jarman | by Greg Bem
Amalgam | Sotère Torregian | by Patrick James Dunagan
The Distant Sound | Eliot Schain | by Lee Rossi
Hull | Xandria Phillips | by Tyrone Williams
The Last Love Poem I Will Ever Write | Gregory Orr | by Mandana Chaffa

COMICS / ART REVIEWS
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. IV: The Tempest | Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill | by Greg Baldino
In Dreams | Dennis Hopper | by Ruth Andrews
The Man Without Talent | Yoshiharu Tsuge | by Jeff Alford

To purchase issue #98 using Paypal, click here.

Tennessee Literary Magazine Features a Poem from “Year by Year”

May 1, 2020
Chapter 16 – A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Book Excerpt: Year by Year

About Chapter 16
In response to the loss of book coverage in newspapers around the state, Humanities Tennessee founded Chapter 16 in 2009 to provide comprehensive coverage of literary news and events in Tennessee. Each weekday the site posts fresh content that focuses on author events across the state and new releases from Tennessee authors. In addition, Chapter 16 maintains partnerships with newspapers in each major media market statewide, and our content appears in print each week through the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Nashville Scene, and the Knoxville News Sentinel. Through the site, social media, a weekly newsletter, and our newspaper partnerships, Chapter 16 reaches more than half a million readers on a good week.

When filmmaker Lynne Sachs turned fifty, she dedicated herself to writing a poem for every year of her life, so far. Each of the fifty poems investigates the relationship between a singular event in Sachs’ life and the swirl of events beyond her domestic universe.

In May 2020, Chapter 16 featured a “2010” from the collection of 50 poems.

2010

In the eventuality that preparation for security advanced
signatures obtained life jackets confirmed permanent medical
records sealed pharmaceuticals delivered weather reported
batteries checked tires filled expiration avoided warnings
acknowledged wills signed if-and-only-ifs collected and still
no one anticipated the return of my brother-in-law’s cancer.

A friend forgot to send her payment — a single check
she never put in the envelope, hidden under
a stack of receipts, appointment cards, and electricity bills.
The check, never arrived. Her policy, cancelled.

She who had already given up her ovaries and come
face-to-face in the ring with illness, won that round.
Now no rope to hold onto, no pillows to fall back on.
We two friends of more than twenty years sit at a table
in a café talking of our homes, books we’ve read,
people almost forgotten, purses with zippers, jump
ropes, kitchen counters, projects abandoned.

I ask her about her health. She’s crossing her fingers
That’s all she has until they pass that bill.


https://chapter16.org/2010-2/?fbclid=IwAR2MzQODqLHB7begl6f87tkKXb2GgeTG7cAEGmTHJew-o8f-tVGO0qiGCko

Rob McLennan Interviews Lynne Sachs – Year By Year Poems

rob photo sept 2 2016 by matthew holmes

 

 

 

 

 

02/27/2020

Rob McLennan’s Blog

12 or 20 (second series) questions with Lynne Sachs

By Rob McLennan

https://robmclennan.blogspot.com/2020/02/12-or-20-second-series-questions-with_27.html

Lynne Sachs makes films and writes poems that explore the intricate relationship between personal observations and broader historical experiences. Her work embraces hybrid form and combines memoir with experimental, documentary, and fictional modes. In recent years, she has expanded her practice to include live performance with moving image. Lynne was first exposed to poetry by her great aunt as a child in Memphis, Tennessee.  Soon she was frequenting workshops at the local library and getting a chance to learn from poets like Gwendolyn Brooks and Ethridge Knight. As an active member of Brown University’s undergraduate poetry community, she shared her early poems with fellow poet Stacy Doris. Lynne later discovered her love of filmmaking while living in San Francisco where she worked with artists Craig Baldwin, Bruce Conner, Barbara Hammer, Carolee Schneeman, and Trinh T. Minh-ha.  Lynne has made thirty-five films which have screened at the New York Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, and the Wexner Center for the Arts. Festivals in Buenos Aires, Beijing and Havana have presented retrospectives of her work. Lynne received a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship. In early 2020, her newest movie, Film About a Father Who, will premiere on opening night at the Slamdance Film Festival and in NYC at the Museum of Modern Art. Lynne lives in Brooklyn. Year by Year Poems is her first book of poetry.

 

1 – How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?Writing YEAR BY YEAR POEMS did not just change my life, it was my life. When I turned 50, I decided to reconnect with every year of my life, so far, by writing a poem that explores the relationship I had had with something beyond my control, outside my domestic universe.  The personal confronts the public, and vice-versa.  Writing these poems forced me to carve out precise distillations of these moments in my time and our shared time.

 

2 – How did you come to filmmaking first, as opposed to, say, poetry, fiction or non-fiction?
I have been writing poetry since I was a child and filmmaking is actually an extension of this desire to process my bewilderment and occasional understanding of the world that spins around me.  The personal, experimental, essayistic, documentary approaches I bring to my filmmaking are extensions of the thinking involved in writing a poem.

 

3 – How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
I adore first drafts and for this reason I try to write my poems by hand, with a pen on paper.  I return to them like an archeologist, relishing every gesture that I see on the page. With this in mind, I included many of my first drafts – as images almost – in YEAR BY YEAR POEMS.  So far, readers have generally appreciated seeing these visualizations of the process of writing, moving back-and-forth between the inchoate first draft to the finished, edited, typed version.  My mother was the only person who thought some of the poems were better and more fleshed-out in the original drafts.  I thought this was apt, since her perspective on my life is probably the most complete.

 

4 – Where does a poem, work of prose or film-script usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a “book” from the very beginning?
Each poem in YEAR BY YEAR POEMS begins with a year. In fact, I gave myself the pleasure of inventing a new graphic font for each of these 50 years, and these designs/ doodles became the cover of the book. Limitations or constraints on the writing of a poem actually allow me to work in a more expansive way.  I feel less overwhelmed by the daunting challenge of trying to say something.  In terms of my filmmaking, I have made 35 films, the shortest being 3 minutes and the longest 83.  I just completed FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO which is 74 minutes and will premiere next month as the opening night film at Slamdance Film Festival in Park City and then at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in February. Believe it or not, I started this film in 1984 and just finished it. The only way I could find its structure was to create many short films and then to find search for compelling transitions.

 

5 – Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I have finally discovered the joy of reading from my book in front of an audience.  I have never ever been an actor so it did not really appeal to me before.  Now, when I am reading from my own book, I feel deeply connected to the listeners in the room. It is so much fun to watch people responding. I have recently read or will read at Berl’s Poetry Bookshop, Topos Books, McNally Jackson Bookstore, KGB Lit Bar, Court Tree Gallery, Penn Book Center, and Museum of Modern Art Buenos Aires (with a translator). I will be reading from my book and showing my films at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library for National Poetry Month in April, 2020.

 

6 – Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I think my deepest concerns stem from my visceral devotion to feminism.

 

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
A writer should stir of up thought and encourage a fascination with language.  Writers who have found a place in the community should also encourage others with less experience through workshops that bring in people who have not yet named themselves as “writers.”

 

8 – Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
I absolutely adore working with an editor, both people I know and trust to be honest and kind and people who care only about one thing – making the text better. In writing my first book of poems, I worked with my Tender Buttons Press editrix Lee Ann Brown who had some uncannily astute suggestions that included line breaks, word choices, finding clarity, carving way too much explication and everything in between. Working with her as well as my poet friends Michael Ruby and Michele Somerville was a gift.  In addition, very early on, I actually hired a graduate student in creative writing to meet with me just a few times. She would read the poems with such distance and objectivity. It was refreshing, and I didn’t feel guilty asking her to explain what she thought since I was paying her.

 

9 – What is the best piece of advice you’ve heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Read your poems out loud to yourself. Listen to the rhythm and feel it in your body.

 

10 – How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to fiction to filmmaking to multimedia)? What do you see as the appeal?
Oh, you really ask such insightful questions.  What do I call myself? Am I filmmaker who writes poems?  Can I be more than one thing? Can I just be an artist? Can I change according to my surroundings?  I think our culture is actually becoming more open to these permutations.  Patti Smith (musician and author) and Tony Kushner(playwright, screenwriter and children’s book writer) are two of my heroes in this respect.  Finding visual or textual distillations is at the foundation of both my writing and my filmmaking. In neither situation do I ever call myself a storyteller.

 

11 – What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
On a writing day, I do what so many other writers do. I am not particularly ingenious in any way. I go out to a café, buy a cup of tea (preferably in a teapot) and begin to write. As long as the music is good and people are not talking on their cell phones, I am happy.

 

12 – When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
When my writing feels hampered by the clutter of my life, I set limits. I frame my ambition by a constraint, like only thinking about one particular conceit or finding my way to the bottom of the page.  I try, though I am rarely successful, not to read what I have written as a reader but rather as co-conspirator with absolutely no taste. Taste is dangerous. So is the internet, so I try to reject that in any way possible.

 

13 – What fragrance reminds you of home?
About twenty-five years ago, I was visiting the Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell in Utah. It’s a very strange and other-wordly lake, mostly because it is artificial and built by recreation lovers who didn’t mind filling in a canyon in a naturally arid landscape to create a place for water-skiers.  My sister Dana Sachs and I were together in the elevator descending to its lowest level.  When the elevator doors opened, we immediately turned to one another and remarked that this dark, intimidating, cement space smelled like our grandparents’ home in Memphis, Tennessee, a place we had not been inside since we were children.  Recognizing that “fragrance” concretized our sensory bond as sisters who were carrying so many of the same memories.

 

14 – David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
I am very influenced by the conceptually rigorous approaches of Vito AcconciAna MediettaCarolee SchneemannAdrian Piper, and Hans Haacke.

 

15 – What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
Last week, I finished reading James Joyce’s Ulysses. It took me six months and the experience was fantastic and awful, ultimately ending with ecstasy.  The experience was convulsive and exasperating. I was transformed in a way that was truly extraordinary. I am a different person now that I have read Molly Bloom’s treatise on her body in the book’s last chapter; her one-sentence no-punctuation 25,000 word spin through the sensual made me reel and dream and sing.  I would add to that a few other writers who come to mind today: filmmaker and poet Trinh T. Minh-ha, author and scholar Tera W. Hunter, author Claire Messud, poet Lee Ann Brown, and poet Katy Bohinc.

 

16 – What would you like to do that you haven’t yet done?
Canadian film director François Gerard completed his highly successful film Thirty-TwoShort Films About Glenn Gould in 1993.  In an interview, a reporter asked him what he planned to do next. His response was that he planned to donothing.  Doing nothing for an artist can be transformative. I envy people who claim to be bored.  I do not have ahorror vacui. I search for emptiness and find a sense of tranquility. Ultimately, it is very productive.

 

17 – If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
I did consider being a human rights attorney, a pediatrician or an anthropologist. I also wish I could cook well, though I don’t aim to be a chef.

 

18 – What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?Writing gives me so much oxygen. When you write, you feel like you added one minute to the 1440 minutes in a day.

 

19 – What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
As written above, I recently completed Ulysses, but you know that is a great one.  I also was very taken with Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts which showed me how to weave together intimate personal writing with more theoretical investigations.  I return over and over and over again to filmmaker Ken Jacobs’ Star Spangled To Death, which is his opus film that he bravely refuses to complete.

 

20 – What are you currently working on?
Oh Ida:  The Fluid Time Travels of a Radical Spirit, an experimental, sci-fi essay film that will trace the erasure and recent emergence (in the form of monuments) of the story of activist and journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett who spent her early years in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee and committed her life to nurturing a spirit of liberation in the face of resounding racial violence. I am making this film with author Tera Hunter and a few weeks ago we started shooting. It’s a blissful, intense collaboration.

“Five Star Book:Year by Year — Poems by Lynne Sachs”

By Kathryn W Dennett
February 25, 2020 
Can’t Shut Up About 
https://cantshutupabout.wordpress.com/2020/02/25/five-star-book-year-by-year-poems-by-lynne-sachs/

I had never heard of experimental filmmaker Lynne Sachs before stumbling upon her poetry collection at McNally Jackson on a day when I finished my commute book on my way downtown, but if her films are anything like these sharp, personal, evocative time capsules then I can’t wait to watch them.

This collection, which is comprised of a poem for each year of Sachs’s first fifty, is a perfect example of how making art that’s specific and personal somehow feels universal. She, in telling her own stories of milestones both political (how watching the Watergate hearings with her dad she, “finally became real to him”) and personal (love lost and kept, children’s births, friends illnesses) perfectly captures the way that all of our lives interweave with larger events.

I read this book through 2 times on the day I bought it. Then I copied out lines I liked and took up 2 full pages of my notebook. I have a feeling it will be sticking with me for a long time. Highly recommended.