a-pencil-portraitHey Kurt,
today was your birthday.
You would have, should have, been 50 today. But you are forever 27, a magic age, neither boy nor man, suspended there forever.
No grey hairs or paunch for you: the girls will always think you’re cute – girls who weren’t born when you died declare their undying love for you. If only you could have known, would you have felt validated by that?
I kind of doubt it. I remember seeing a video of Courtney telling you she thought you were “really cute”, and the doubt in your face. You really believed you were ugly, didn’t you?
People believe strange things, like the conspiracy theorists who insist you were murdered. It might be comforting, I suppose, to think that a clever criminal did it, and not you, despite your reckless drug use and suicidal ideation that pointed to a deep and corrosive despair at your core.
Lets not dwell on the bitter end, not today. Let’s remember you as caring, generous and sweet, a bright and beautiful young man loved by your friends, and by the punk rock community that took you in and released you into the unsuspecting world, adored now by fans the whole world over; a world the breadth of which that boy from Aberdeen Wa could not imagine…
Peace Love Empathy
lets remember and cling to them.
The world needs them more now than ever.
Rest easy, sweet Kurt,
wherever you

Friday Poem: Leaving Aberdeen

Aberdeen MuseumFebruary 20th would have been Kurt Cobain’s 47th birthday, and his hometown of Aberdeen Washington has decided to mark the date as “Kurt Cobain Day”, and embrace the memory and achievements of it’s formerly prodigal son. An event is taking  place in the Historical Museum, and there’s a display in the Library – where Kurt took refuge from the famous weather as a teenager with nowhere else to go, and read widely.

Aberdeen Library

So for today’s poem, I’m posting what I wrote on the morning we left Aberdeen, around two and a half years ago…

Leaving Aberdeen
with its smell of log
trucks in the morning
Biodiesel public buses
Public art
Money lenders pawn
shops mega-banks
Where Rite-aid pharmacy
sells bulk liquor
And Safeway sells

I never saw Walt Whitman
here, or the ghost
of Kurt Cobain.

They have gone elsewhere,
Somewhere with more trees
and a wild river.Aberdeen mural

When we first got off the bus from Olympia, and walked to our motel, we wondered what the hell we’d come to Aberdeen for ( to see where Kurt Cobain came from, but apart from that…), but it quickly grew on us, and by the time we left, we were planning to return some day.Judy's

If only to get inside Judy’s Flea Market, with it’s teetering, beguiling piles of books and more books, LP’s and God only knows what else…

I got a bit carried away with the pictures this week, but any excuse to open up the “Trip” files, and relive a little of “The Trip of a Lifetime”. Can’t wait to go back there… Happy Kurt Cobain Day, Aberdeen, may you live long and prosper!

Creativity II: Altered Books

'How He Died'I love making altered books – these tend to be ongoing projects over months. Initially preparing the book is done over a few days and from then on, bits a pieces may be added at random. If there was no theme to start with, one will begin to develop over time.Make Way For Tomorrow

For some I have chosen an old hardback for its title, which has suggested the theme. With others, the theme has developed organically – perhaps from a collection of bits and pieces of paper detritus – stickers, postcards, labels, sugar sachets – anything that carries an appealing image and which can be stuck down.Deep edge

When I prepare a book, I remove pages to make room for inclusions, and if the paper is a bit fragile, I glue two or more pages together to make a stronger ground to work on.pages I might also glue a stack of pages that I have cut into, creating a niche inside the book. niche Text can be obliterated with paint, blank stickers or plain paper, or pictures glued in. Words of text that may fit into the theme, or have appeal for some other reason, are left uncovered (redacted). Or the unwanted words can be crossed out with a black marker pen, or white correction fluid, or bits of stickers…home in my heart

Then I add quotes, pictures, stamp, doodle, paint etc etc until I am satisfied that the book is finished, which can take weeks or months, depending on how much time I can spend on it.



The two books I have used to illustrate this post are

-“How He Died”, which was a book of indifferent colonial poetry, and which I filled with a collection of snippets, quotes and cuttings about Kurt Cobain. When I started out, I didn’t think I’d be able to fill up a whole book , but I was wrong. Copy of may 2011 052

-“Make Way For Tomorrow”, an indifferent mid-century novel, which I made over as a gift for my elder daughter. Although the title is suggestive, I started out with some random images and went from there.

cup of cheer


Making altered books is a lot of fun, and requires patience and glue more than any great artistic vision. Being raised to value books, I initially had trouble trashing them, even for such a worthy cause. That’s why I pick books that are pretty bad – I figure no one would’ve wanted to read them any way!
hero 1


Today is Kurt Cobain’s birthday. He would have been 46.

He was a hero.

He was ordinary.