Doubly Impressed by The Baker Museum in Naples, Florida

“IF YOU’RE CONSIDERED USELESS, NO ONE WILL FEED YOU ANYMORE.” -JENNY HOLZER

When we were in Naples last December, we visited The Baker Museum. It was my second visit of the year and most of the artworks on display had been updated since my first visit in July. A couple of the new exhibits made a notable impression on me—“The Art of Food” and “Botanical Evolution” by Tamara Kostianovsky.

Text art by Jenny Holzer

The Art of Food exhibit at The Baker features works from Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and other famous artists. I was impressed by the entire collection and intrigued by a simple-looking piece by American artist Jenny Holzer. Since the 1970s, she has been experimenting with the use of language in public spaces.

The line displayed on the plaque above is from a poem she wrote called “Survival.” I’m struck by the line itself, as it says so much in just 10 words. When seen on the wall of an esteemed museum like The Baker, the words are magnified in importance.

Maybe to some, a plaque doesn’t seem like art at all. Maybe it reads more like literature or advertising. Maybe we don’t have a definitive answer for what art, literature, or advertising is. Maybe they all blend nicely at times.

Of this, we can be sure… Kostianovsky’s artworks are pieces that only a visionary artist with exceptional hand skills can make. Standing there gazing at her pieces is powerful. According to The Baker, her suspended cow carcass sculptures demonstrate the artist’s concerns about consumption.

Part of “Botanical Revolution” by Tamara Kostianovsky

I like artists who challenge my thinking and expand my worldview. Artists who make me think, wonder, and appreciate their gifts and exceptional minds. In different ways, Holzer and Kostianovsky both take me to a place of awe and inspiration.

Show, Don’t Tell: A “Help Provided” Prose Poem Campaign

Show, Don’t Tell: A “Help Provided” Prose Poem Campaign

In my desire to “Show, Don’t Tell,” and to chronicle the prelude to my third career act, I’ve been writing prose poems about my career, the communications industry, and some of the philosophies that guide me.

I published more than a dozen of these prose poems on LinkedIn. Now, I’m offering eight of the poems in one package here.

DOWNLOAD PDF: SHOW, DON’T TELL

According to the Poetry Foundation, a prose poem is a prose composition, while not broken into verse lines, that demonstrates other traits such as symbols, metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry.

Poetry Is A Clear Point of Difference

As someone who writes ads and marketing copy for clients, I like the idea that poetry and art can be used to inform commerce. I also like the idea that poetry can be a point of difference for me in my search for meaningful work.

When looking for work, you’re looking for people. In my case, I am seeking to connect with business and community leaders who need help communicating their marketplace value.

There are marketers in the world today who believe they can simply state their offer and win—no personality, charm, creativity, or strategic planning necessary. I’m not looking for these marketers and they’re not looking for me.

I’m a good fit for marketers committed to pursuing a clear point of difference in the marketplace. A clear point of difference starts with the product or service and moves from there to how people inside and outside the company talk about (and think about) the product or service.

To make a brand culturally relevant today, and to give people something to talk and think about, we often infuse brand communications with arts and culture. Lowbrow. Highbrow. It’s all up for grabs.

When I work with clients on a brand communications problem, I reach back to my training like everyone else. I was trained to read and write poems, stories, essays, and news.

Today, I believe in the use of poetry and poetic frameworks to advance the objectives of a business, cause, or political campaign. To get an idea to stick and to get people to share it, there has to be a short powerful punch of words.

To tap one legendary line, “Where’s the beef?” … it is not poetry. It’s advertising that benefits from poetic construction.

Between Tears

by David Burn

Between tears
Room for unbridled fears

A change of gears
Open ears

Seeing with mirrors
Doubt reappears

The unruly crowd leers
There are facetious cheers

A cascading veil of years
A quiver of spears

Between tears
News smears and confusion interferes

Alienation among peers
Rumors that no one and everyone hears

Still, we dream of deers
We reach frontiers

We are brazen cavaliers
We enter far out spheres

The rent is no longer in arrears
Time for starry premiers

More promises from pamphleteers
More conversions from profiteers

New bridges from engineers
Let’s head to the Berkshires

There will be souvenirs
There will be mutineers

Between tears
Love adheres

How are you? I am red white and blue

How are you? I am red white and blue
Pioneer blood, Indian blood, the blood of slaves, the blood of immigrants…

From the heart of the nation our vital fluids flow
Into the dirt of Turtle Island, which wants water

Delicate flowers, found fortunes
So many petals like promises swept
Ghosts of pale riders, disease in their malice pouches
Brittle and blind, the terrible whiteness

Drained of red, erased by white, we the people dwell in our beautiful blues

How are you? I am red white and blue
Mixed blood, the blood of soldiers, the blood of schoolchildren…

Sister buffalo, father grizzly
Soaring eagle, circling salmon
Divine circles of benevolent council
Forever unreceived

Cold dark metal, Medieval fire
The unquenchable thirst
The growing madness
Bodies ripped asunder

Bled of red, replaced by white, we the people bow to our beautiful blues

How are you? I am red white and blue
Shared blood, bad blood, the blood of brothers…

Pacific waves wash me
Inspiration in the thick ocean air
The Liberty torch, the house of light

These blues move the new you
These blues we move through

Born red, bred white, we the people sing our beautiful blues

How are you? I am red white and blue
Born in blood, the blood of Christ, the blood of sacrifice…

Maria from Monterrey

I wrote this poem after visiting a photo exhibit at Mexic-Arte Museum in downtown Austin.

Maria from Monterrey

It’s not terribly far, as a bird flies, from Monterrey to Laredo
Young Maria’s journey was wingless
She moved at night, her thirst unsatisfied
Coyotes and owls shared their star-lit canyons
When she slept she had bad dreams of home

Maria finished fourth grade at Santo Nino Elementary
The family moved to San Antonio for a year
English slid smoothly from her tongue
Sister Sarah said she could go to college
“Do they have scholarships for Dreamers?”

Her softball coach was no Nun
Her history teacher spit white lies
Maria found some solace in science
She played her flute by the lake
Butterflies swooned, Suzy, the poodle exhaled

The people of Laredo named her “Best Dental Hygienist”
Maria was always careful with the instruments
Her husband the handsome highway engineer
They made friends with other parents at the pool
She never served a casserole

When Don descended the neighbors turned
The lady at daycare asked for her papers
The dental group let her go
America turned its lights down
Maria cursed the powers that be

Now, heavy white clouds roll in from the Gulf
Torrential rains pound the dry Earth
Maria bathes half-naked in the yard
Her minerality is pure Meximerican
Her spirit, mighty Texican

Noise Makers, a poem

Noise Makers (Two for One, Today Only)

The Circus is no longer kid-friendly
What’s all this clankity clank?
Who dares to rattle the cage?
Why are all the clowns on stage?
We can’t see the lion eat his tamer

Downward we spiral into the Dungeons of Deceit
Unfree people in patriots purgatory
Shall we cry out?
How do we climb out?

Amplified trash grows and glows
Poets Howl
Filling vacant minds with word gas

Ignited we rise
Distracted we fall
Break glass in case of fire
Fire!

Barking sirens, dogs in chains
The city says tat tat tat
Another hot pistol
The ring has no master
Go ahead — scream!

Still, the beasts roar
You are free to rhyme
With this well-intentioned reason

When the game gets rough
Hotheads go puff puff
Hands off my stuff
I never get enough