Greetings, One & All~
As we approach the autumnal equinox and observe a moment of balance in the cosmos, I am reminded of the Hopi expression koyaanisqatsi, which means life out of balance, and which fairly describes our present condition. In the spirit of finding ways to move forward mindfully and creatively, your September A 440 Newsletter offers an assortment of artful expressions that I hope will contribute to the re-balancing our world in some small way. Be well, be of good cheer and be in touch: we need each other now more than ever!
Yes, there ARE ways to present live performances responsibly, safely and comfortably, and still have tons of fun! The proof is in these newly-released video clips from my June 2020 tour in Colorado with Sherry Finzer, playing music from our duo album The Space Between Breaths. These are the songs Penumbra (our satellite radio hit single), Cliff Dwellers and Child’s Play, performed from a second-story balcony overlooking Boedecker Lake at Mariana Cove in Loveland CO, with the audience socially distanced in lawn chairs and on blankets on the grass below, and on boats docked on the shore of the lake.
The audience arriving by land and by water, as viewed from behind the stage
We are all river people: rivers are the bloodstream of our planet and water is life; so it concerns all of us whenever rivers are threatened anywhere in the world, perhaps most of all in arid climates like Baja Arizona, where the San Pedro River is the last free-flowing riparian ecosystem in the region.
I was invited to speak and perform at a demonstration against the construction of the border wall across the San Pedro River on August 14th, organized by Kate Scott of the Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center: I was humbled and honored to read my poem Quitobaquito and play my Sonoran Desert clay udu, among many presentations by other artists, activists, public officials, candidates for elected office and concerned citizens.
A recent monsoon flood had–quite predictably–wiped out most of the construction that had already been done up to that point; but as you can see, they are wasting no time in getting right back at it. So, far from being done, our work has just begun.
I’m excited and delighted that Medicine Arrow will fly again with a live performance at Enchantment Resort in Sedona AZ on Thursday September 10th, after having our bows unstrung for far too long. We plan to be in the recording studio in September as well, so keep your eye on the A 440 bull’s eye for further musical medicine from your Rx Archers.
Medicine Arrow: Roman Orona, Will Clipman & Aaron White
Your September A 440 Tucson Spotlight shines on this new mural at Mercado San Agustin Annex in the heart of The Old Pueblo, illustrating once again that art is a positive and lasting response to anguish. American Dream: At the Altar of the Ancestors is the latest public art project by muralist, installation artist, painter, fabric artist, singer/songwriter, guitarist, actor, storyteller and atavistic activist To-Ree-Nee Wolf, whose work has intersected many times with mine over more than three decades, most recently in the folk-funk ensemble Temenos Quartet and our new duo Will & The Wolf. To-Ree-Nee’s one-woman show An Evening With the Wolf will be staged at Tucson’s iconic Invisible Theatre on Tuesday-Wednesday September 15-16, with limited socially-distanced seating.
photo courtesy Thomas Veneklausen, Tucson Lifestyle Magazine
Author and personal transformation consultant Diane Wing has posted a lovely five-star Amazon review of Wildly Ethereal, the new cello-and-percussion duo album by Michael G. Ronstadt & Will Clipman, and I invite everyone (explicitly those who received limited edition physical CDs as part of their Kickstarter support and have the full package to comment on) to chime in with your impressions.
Don’t be put off by the comically inappropriate [Explicit] designation Amazon has attached to our music: either the confusion arises from other Amazon products that share our title, or (to the delight of this wordsmith) Amazon literally means explicit in the first, second and third dictionary definitions of the word: fully revealed or expressed without vagueness, implication, or ambiguity, leaving no question as to meaning or intent; fully developed or formulated; unambiguous in expression; all of which DO accurately describe the music!
And speaking of my colleague Diane Wing, she has recently rebuilt the web page for her radio show, including a wonderful interview she did with yours truly a while back on the timeless subject of The Inner Mythic Persona, which can be enjoyed at:
I receive precisely zero dinero for this, I just think it’s too cool an idea not to share: visionary artist Virginia Maria Romero, with whom I collaborate on multi-media performance installations, has rendered images from her mythopoetic paintings as masks. Aside from their artistic originality, Virginia’s hand-crafted masks are the lightest, most comfortable, most durable and most breathable in my collection.
Photos of the Month
Sunrise is a perfect time to be out on the land during summer in the northern Sonoran Desert, as this cool moment of flight framed here at Rancho Improvisoso by nature photographer Shery Christopher beautifully illustrates.
Soaring Saguaro Sunrise, courtesy Shery Christopher Photography
Broad daylight has its delights as well: Harry, the male Cooper’s hawk in our resident family of three, cuts a dashing profile in the late afternoon light on the standing water bowl outside our kitchen window at Rancho Improvisoso, enjoying a cool drink before flying off for his evening activities.
Smoke from the wildfires in California gave our sunsets here in Tucson an eerily Martian hue. This one burst forth from the western horizon through the space between mountains and clouds to spectacular effect. Beauty from ashes, with prayers for rain out west.
Fire in the Sky, courtesy Shery Christopher Photography
And there’s a lot happening after dark, too! This big beautiful Sonoran Desert toad has been frequenting one of our ground-level water bowls in the aloe patch under our desert willow, and was patient enough to pose for a princely nocturnal portrait.
Waiting for a Kiss, courtesy Shery Christopher Photography
Poem of the Month
You reach for the cutting board to slice
a cucumber for this evening’s meal
and witness our resident bobcat
pounce on one of your young rabbits
and carry it off to feed her hungry kittens,
and this intimate moment of wild violence
breaks the dam behind which months
of anger and frustration and sadness
have been building: your wracking sobs
and cleansing tears release, and all
I can do is kneel before you silently,
try to contain your anguish within my arms
as riverbanks strain to contain a flood.
Do all the honeybees I’ve rescued
from the pool with the split end
of a curved carrizo pole cancel
at least some of the packrats I’ve trapped
in the water heater shed, the greenhouse,
the engine compartments and the grill?
Do the collared lizards we feed each day
divide evenly into the mealworms
we feed them, or is there always
an irreducible remainder: one
of those numbers like pi that keeps on
staggering unresolved into infinity?
Hawk downing dove does not weigh less
on the scales of alpha and omega: death
is the flip side of life, all of one coinage,
which doesn’t mean we should cheapen
either with oblivious dismissals, but rather
honor one and cherish the other all the more.
And what about the x factor you plus
predator streaking across driveway snatching
prey contentedly munching carrot slice:
does that form an equilateral triangulation?
Will the equation ever zero out,
the geometry of shock and loss ever balance?
Of course not croaks a raven
perched on the cellphone tower
at the corner of two dead-end roads
who burnt itself black
flying too close to a third-rate star
in a minor galaxy
and who knows a thing or two
about the mathematics of life and death.
Of course these tangential vectors
will never predictably reveal all the points of contact
they’ve amassed en route to this particular nexus
on the curve; to say otherwise is to fantasize
that what is here to stay can simply be wished away.
© Will Clipman 2020
~May your autumn begin in beauty and balance~
Stay awake. Stay aware. Stay alive.
poet ~ percussionist ~ maskmaker ~ storyteller ~ performing artist ~ educator