29 December 2012

double blues

"...the entire catastrophe of being a poet..."
jenny boully. 

27 December 2012

a fragment of Sophokles

Ice-crystal in the hands is
at first a pleasure quite novel.
But there comes a point--
you can't put the melting mass down,
you can't keep holding it.
Desire is like that.
Pulling the lover to act and not to act,
again and again, pulling.

reading Eros the Bittersweet by Anne Carson.

25 December 2012

Vlog #3 - Seven Minutes in Heaven // On Reading.

I've still got some kinks to work out in the vlog department... namely how to keep 'em shorter. Turns out, when you read an entire poem on camera the video gets a bit long. I promise episode 4 will be under 5 minutes!!!!

You're gonna wanna watch this though... I blather on about the three kinds of reading (I totally made them up), and put them each to good use on a poem by Anne Sexton. Is there a better way to spend seven minutes? I can't think of one. (& by seven minutes, I mean eight).

VLOG #3 - Seven Minutes in Heaven // On Reading. from Natalie Raymond on Vimeo.

[Under the cut, read the complete poem by Anne Sexton]

24 December 2012

"I hate and I love. Why? you might ask.
I don't know. But I feel it happening and I hurt."

-Catullus 85, trans. Anne Carson

21 December 2012

merry yule to all!

Happy Winter Solstice to everyone! Let's hope this day marks the dawn of a new age for us all.

I'm celebrating with (vegan) dirty rice, some tasty apples, & my trusty maple candle (smells sooooo good). Stormy & I got our hands on some evergreens to dress up the apartment a bit.

Because miss Stormy is an incredibly spoiled cat, she received lots of presents... a new collar (with roses on it!), some treats, a special red snapper cat food feast, & a catnip filled chili pepper. 

The chili pepper was the clear favourite. 

(I have several dozen photos of her going crazy with this thing. I love my cat.)

Merry Midwinter!

19 December 2012


I got this LemeCamera app the other day, & I've fast become obsessed with it. What follows is a brief collection of some of my fave snaps... (some duplicates from my twitter, some not). The double exposure is my clear favourite.

15 December 2012

excerpt from a letter

"[...] I must disagree with you that one does not turn to modern poets and/or poetry for theory. That the merits of poetry are in its craft rather than in its philosophy, and that a poet can “fail” at being a poet while succeeding at being a philosopher. A poet and a philosopher are two sides of the same coin, one cannot fail to be one and succeed at being the other. A poem approached merely by its “rules and traditions and the like” is dead. It is a flat surface, a mathematical equation with no lifeblood. This approach is born of the “fear of poetry” which Muriel Rukeyser talks about. We feel that if we can approach poetry in a cold, detached, and scientific manner it won’t threaten us quite so much. Perhaps this is true, but it does a major disservice to poetry and to ourselves. We are capable of being “amateur philosophers” and it is that capability which poetry seeks to bring out in each of us. The ability to question on a philosophical level is desperately needed in times like ours… and poetry is the mechanism though which we can begin to do this… if we will allow it."


12 December 2012

blessed be, virgin of guadalupe

The Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin in 1531 for three days, culminating in today, The Blessed Day of The Virgin of Guadalupe. Pope John Paul II named her the "Patroness of The Americas" in 1999.

Today is a day to celebrate life, the coming light of the spring, and the blessings of the sacred mother.

Blessed be.

09 December 2012

POETRY VLOG EPISODE 2: or how poems are like bombs & emily dickinson is the shit.

Not JUST Emily Dickinson... Wallace Stevens, & Muriel Rukeyser also rank as the shit. Enjoy episode two of my poetry vlog, in which I rant a bit about education, the importance of poetry, & how to use a poem as a weapon.

POETRY VLOG #2: poetry as weapon & some ranting. from Natalie Raymond on Vimeo.
POETRY VLOG EPISODE 2: A rant about poetry as a force of power, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, Muriel Rukeyser, & F*ckin' shit up.



something I made in illustrator for the occasion. 


babylon from Natalie Raymond on Vimeo.

an older poem written when I was experimenting with longer, Whitman-esque lines. I've since given up on the long lines, but I still like this piece enough to put some energy into it.

07 December 2012


"a work of art is one through which the consciousness of the artist is able to give its emotions to anyone who is prepared to receive them. there is no such thing as bad art."

-Muriel Rukeyser

02 December 2012


special sneak peak audio of a piece I'm working on for my graduate thesis, missoula.

floods/fathers from Natalie Raymond on Vimeo.

01 December 2012

loves: reverend horton heat & X

One of my favourite bands on earth is X. Each time they end up in NYC I always put on my concert shoes & head out. Last night was such a night.

Punk music is catharsis. Completely exhilarating, & enabling you to get out of yourself for a while. A much needed break in a city like this.

rev. horton heat

billy zoom, exene, & john doe
exene & john doe do an acoustic piece

This was actually the first time I've seen The Reverend Horton Heat... they were incredible! I absolutely loved the Johnny Cash cover they did. It inspired me to change my ringtone back to Folsom Prison Blues. 

I'm a little deaf now... & my arms are sore from trying to hold my own along the outside of the mosh pit.... I tell you one thing- you do not want to mess with me in a mosh pit. 


28 November 2012

the day lady died.

Build Up to Breathless
Fran O’Hara takes the air from your lungs. Literally. 

In The Day Lady Died Frank O’Hara fashions an elegy from a breakneck paced laundry list of the “mundane”. He uses his stream-like style to build momentum throughout the poem, until the reader is left breathless at the same moment the narrator finds himself breathless in the 5 Spot club listening to Billie Holiday sing.

O’Hara opens with two stanza’s of his daily routine, bringing in specific “day planner” information from the first line. We know immediately the concrete physical setting of the poem: 12:20 pm in New York City on Friday the 17th of July 1959 (lines 1-3). We see the narrator with a long list of things to do, and think before his 4:19 train to Easthampton (lines 8-19). These two stanza’s (2 and 3) utilise a flowing stream of consciousness enabled by his use of enjambment and his not using full stop punctuation (either here or anywhere else in the poem). Stanza two reads: 

“I walk up the muddy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days” 

each line continues to the next with the rapid fire connection of a person rattling off their to-do list. The following stanza continues this technique; with a first line indented to the end of the stanza before, the sense to the reader is to just keep reading without the moment of breath usually reserved for the stanza break. The momentum only continues to build throughout stanza’s three and four. O’Hara uses the tangent here to bring more information (and speed) to the text. These bits of information serve to provide context to the piece; producing an intellectual context with which to understand the narrator’s perspective. Each new piece of information left unseparated from the surrounding content by any sort of firm punctuation, also serves to give the reader no choice other than continuing the pace. This form mimics the sensation of walking in New York City. The speed and dexterity with which O’Hara moves between ideas and information emulates the movement of pedestrians navigating busy city streets and short lunch hours. There isn’t a moment for reflection. 

Until, that is, the narrator sees a newspaper with the information that Billie Holiday has died printed in the headline. This moment serves as a turn in the poem, when the narrator is forced to drastically slow his breakneck pace and descend into memory (though he doesn’t allow the reader that same luxury). Stanza’s one through four anchor the reader very much in the present with their concrete imagery such as; “I just stroll into PARK LANE liquor store and ask for a bottle of Strega” (lines 20-21), and “It is 12:20 in New York a Friday” (line 1). When we arrive at the final stanza, however, the narrator is jolted away from the present and returns to memory in his moment of grief. The momentum continues its pace, and leaves the reader breathless even as O’Hara reaches that breathless moment of memory listening to Lady Day’s voice in the nightclub of the final stanza. 

Frank O'Hara's The Day Lady Died (full poem).

26 November 2012

life on mars

"Silence taunts: a dare. Everything that disappears
Disappears as if returning somewhere."

-Tracy K. Smith, from The Universe: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack in her pulitzer prize winning book, Life on Mars.

22 November 2012

poetry vlog #1: I really tried not to bore you to death.

POETRY VLOG #1: negative capability, personal poetry, & a tangent about Emily Dickinson from Natalie Raymond on Vimeo.
My apartment is really messy & I move my hands around too much when I talk. Here's my first ever poetry vlog in which I ramble on & on about negative capability & confessional poetics! Doesn't that sound THRILLING?

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urban/nature #1 from Natalie Raymond on Vimeo

19 November 2012

Loves: Madame X

I ventured to The Met on saturday with a friend & sat for a bit in front of one of my favourite paintings, Sargent's Madame X. I have always been drawn to this particular painting because of its simplicity and elegance. Sitting in front of it this weekend I realised also how inherently sexy it is.

Sargent painted it without the presence, but with the permission, of Virginie Amelie Avegno Gautreau, a socialite who was known for her daring fashion choices. Sargent wanted to expand his showing presence & intended the portrait for this purpose. 

The original painting, however, was met with ridicule & astonishment. In it, Mrs. Gautreau's right dress strap was falling down her shoulder & this became something of a scandal. After the showing Sargent repainted the strap to its current position & then stashed the painting away for over thirty years.

He later sold it to The Met with the stipulation that its model's name not be mentioned, saying; "I suppose it's the best thing I've done". The Met titled it Madame X & has had it on display ever since.

Sargent & Madame X
There is something so sensual in the way Sargent paints these upper crust ladies... Something spontaneous and breathless about them. My friend mentioned how the redness of Madame's ear makes her feel alive, & I couldn't agree more. It seems to hint at the blood coursing through her veins. So much of her skin is bare, & the turn of her head revealing her throat is incredibly intimate & trusting. I think it is a very erotic piece.

I also think Mr. Gautreau is a lucky man!


tragic & depressing stories

It's thanksgiving week y'all & while others are planning huge feasts or buying outrageously expensive plane tickets back home I am organizing my movie collection and way over-thinking season one of The Walking Dead (I just started watching). If that's not tragic then I don't know what is!

Perhaps I'll have a diet dr pepper chug-a-thon while watching all six versions of Pride & Prejudice currently in my DVD collection... that sounds like a good day.

(but seriously, the plan is vegan soul food in the village & lots o laughs... there probably will be a lot of diet dr pepper involved though).


13 November 2012

Poetry Is a Destructive Force

That's what misery is,
Nothing to have at heart. 
It is to have or nothing. 

It is a thing to have, 
A lion, an ox in his breast, 
To feel it breathing there.

Corazon, stout dog, 
Young ox, bow-legged bear, 
He tastes its blood, not spit. 

He is like a man 
In the body of a violent beast. 
Its muscles are his own . . .

The lion sleeps in the sun. 
Its nose is on its paws. 
It can kill a man.

-wallace stevens. 

11 November 2012

i found this self portrait today... 
taken in bushwick brooklyn in 2009. 

04 November 2012

after the wind

Yesterday I decided to take a (brisk) walk through Prospect Park on my way to the Community Bookstore in Park Slope. I needed Susan Howe's book, My Emily Dickinson, in order to maintain my sanity. The park has been largely cleaned up since the storm (semi-unfortunately, I love disaster tours) but there were still down trees and a general leaf-mess everywhere. I managed to snag some good video footage, which I'm working on turning into a video piece of some kind... my ambitions in video art are far ahead of my editing abilities (as anyone who's seen my vimeo knows), but I needed a break from regular writing (between MFA thesis, my own little endeavors, and explorations in freelancing, I'm permeated with words of late).

Selections from after the storm:

31 October 2012

samhain tarot spread

Part of my Samhain resolution for the upcoming year is to embrace the dark parts of myself (something I've been needing to do, but was only recently brought to my attention at my astrology session with astrobarry). to that end I thought I'd do a tarot spread revolving around The High Priestess (aka the Female Pope), who is the dark goddess of the major arcana. I used a spread from the book The New Tarot Handbook which I picked up on my last residency at Goddard (it's written by a faculty member). I absolutely love the book (go get it!!) and I've been reading and re-reading it when I'm away from my cards or unable to read for whatever reason (like on long plane flights between the east & west coasts).

I must admit, I haven't been as dedicated to the cards as I was in the past. It's been a while since I've picked them up. So many exterior emotional drains in my life have made it seem impossible to spare the energy to sort through the deck. I was, however, pleasantly surprised with how my intuition came back when I picked up the deck tonight...

See my reading after the jump.

merry samhain!!

have a happy halloween & a blessed samhain y'all!
don't forget to make a wish at midnight for the new year...

I'll be setting out my tarot cards & making my resolutions... lighting candles for mary & persephone & leaving a special something for hecate on the fire escape.

blessed be,

30 October 2012


my part of brooklyn seems to have survived sandy pretty much unscathed.
though when the trains will be running again to facilitate our connection with other parts of the world is anyone's guess... the mta is notoriously slow at these kinds of things.

everyone talks about the weather, 
but no one does anything about it. 
-mark twain

24 October 2012

oregon squares

My grandmother passed away 12 October, & I've been in Oregon the past few days for the funeral. She was a loving and wonderful woman, & I will never forget our conversations about poetry, or the huge amounts of sugar cookies we made each christmas... slathering frosting on them until the sugar soaked into our bloodstream through our fingertips. 

It is nice to be back in Brooklyn, Portland feels like a strange purgatory place now, I've made more trips there this year than I had in the entire span of time since I moved away. Though there are some bumps in my road right now, I'm glad to be home. 

If you follow me on twitter you're bound to have seen these before. But here's a selection of some photos from my trip west. 

I've updated my myspace for the first time in two years if you're interested in checking it out.
My grandmother's obituary is online, for those interested, there is also a guestbook for comments.


16 October 2012

page 78

"[...] But she was young and she had never felt the power of the dance so strongly before, and she wanted to keep it; she wanted it with a great ferocity which she mistook for passion for this man. She was certain about him; he could not get enough of her.

[...] She could have accepted it if he had told her that her light brown belly no longer excited him. She would have sensed it herself and told him to go. But he was quitting her because his desire for her has uncovered something which had been hiding inside him, something with wings that could fly, escape the gravity of the Church, the town, his mother, his wife. So he wanted to kill it: to crush the skill into the feathers and snap the bones of the wings."

-Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony

14 October 2012

journal pages

I like to light pages on fire & use watercolours in my journals. 

09 October 2012

four photos from new jersey

Yesterday I ventured to a place I had never before encountered.... New Jersey.
My lovely friend Heather Mae was playing a gig in Asbury Park and I decided to tag along. Overall, I don't have anything too terrible to say about the state... except that everything was closed at 6 on a Monday and I wandered through a boardwalk wasteland before finally stumbling upon a kind business owner who agreed to fry me some tofu and fries so I wouldn't starve.

me hanging out in the green room like a roadie, Asbury Park via instagram,
the aforementioned tofu & fries,  another view of the green room (everything was covered in stickers).

08 October 2012

western night

"The love I've known is the love of
two people staring

not at each other, but in the same direction."

-Frank Bidart, To the Dead

06 October 2012

animals with horns

Went to see Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros at BAM last night. Performed in French with English titles by Parisian theatre group Théâtre de la Ville. It was pretty amazing. I'm already a fan of French Avant-Garde Absurdism, and this was just another tick in the "love" column. 

Although, I did realise pretty darn quickly that my French is not what it used to be, and I had to rely on the supertitles pretty heavily. 

I loved the sparse set design, and the multi-functionality of all the set pieces. The sound design was also incredible... evoking the Rhinoceros without seeing them until very late in the production. The play closes tonight at BAM's Howard Gillman Opera House. 

images courtesy of BAM

04 October 2012

dear sugar

"withholding distorts reality. it makes the people who do the withholding ugly and small-hearted. it makes the people from whom things are withheld crazy and desperate and incapable of knowing what they actually feel."

I got my hands on the book of the Dear Sugar column from The Rumpus by Cheryl Strayed. I'm only a few letters in, but I love it. It's exactly the kind of thing humans need. The process of waking up can be slow, but it seems to me that this will help.

01 October 2012

under bridges

Went to the DUMBO Arts Festival last night with the lovely Jason Simone for the final performance of "Codex Dynamic" an awesome 3-D visual extravaganza of digital art. Laying on the ground under the Manhattan Bridge Anchorage was a completely new experience for this Brooklynite, but totally awe-inspiring.

Obviously pictures cannot do it justice, but what kind of iphone using New Yorker would I be if I didn't take a thousand "artsy" shots??