MIEL 2015 gift guide

As in years past, it’s my pleasure to show you some of the beautiful things I’ve found online. If you’re looking for a present at this or any time of year, here are my recommendations.

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Itsuko Naka (Kyoto) makes absolutely beautiful paper and textile objects. I love her pouches and tenugui (thin cotton towels) especially. She’s also on Instagram. The ‘Clover’ pouch here is about $15.

A small handmade pouch printed by the maker with an abstract 'pebble' design in various blues.

A gouache painting of a goose standing on a fox, looking at some plants.Twamies is a longtime favorite of mine (I nurture the hope of printing a book of Alan Brown’s illustrations one day). Alan and Katie make beautiful, whimsical things, all with a tinge of the weird. This is “Cosy“. I also love “Hoppit” (grasshopper!) and “Berries“.

If you happen to be looking for a new planner, let me recommend “The Weekly Times” from the Korean stationery company Seeso Graphics. I got mine at Fox & Star in the UK. The pages are undated, so if you skip weeks or neglect it for a while, it doesn’t ‘go bad’. There’s also a monthly version (and a large-format desk calendar), but the week works ideally for me—I can see everything at a glance, without being overwhelmed. © shadra strickland

Shadra Strickland‘s best work is evocative and direct all at once: her illustrations of black life in the US don’t gloss over the ways in which
white supremacy has been its constant companion, but her paintings refuse to concede their subjects’ dignity, power, and beauty. I especially like “Lineage” (right) and “After the Flood“.

The acorn necklace from Bullseye Beads (below) combines the artificial with the actual in a very pleasing way. And if you have $150 for a coffee mug (!), these are beautiful (from BDDW). If you don’t, just go look; looking’s free. Here’s a t-shirt with a pigeon and the shipping forecast. Lots of justice-oriented prints, posters, books, and zines in bullseye beadsthe Just Seeds shop. If you know a knitter or crocheter you’d like to spoil, I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong here (although how far you’ll get is dependent on the depth of your pockets).

Of course, should you be so inclined, there’s always the MIEL shop: try a 2016 subscription (which arrives in four batches at your recipient’s door), a calendar (two to choose from; free shipping), or a chapbook (25% off with the code WINTER2015 at checkout).







“‘Successful’ art means something to my whole body…
[it] involves having an experience.”

— Metta Sáma

LE ANIMAL & OTHER CREATURES by Metta SámaReading * le animal * & other creatures … is visceral. Waiting for the terrors that “always find a way to enter … you turn your alarm to shiver”; we feel ‘hot slick sharp teeth breaking our flesh’; a “dry spleen” is moved; lovers hear “the grinding crunch/of pigeon bones”. Metta Sáma’s creatures are mostly unglorious: fly, spider, cockroach, human, cat, dog. Through observation, humour and the various interactions enacted in her poems she explores what is beauty and what is perceived to be ‘merely’ pigeon, and endows these unsung creatures with a magnificence of their own. We share her weeks of horror spent with the cockroach in the corner of the house, but she invites us to laugh with her at the ridiculousness of this epic battle: “You imagine a contraption akin to cat stilts and laugh until your fear hurts.” The cat she trusts is going to help her out is, finally, “belly up staring into the ceiling fan imagining you hope an end/to these terrible days.”

LE ANIMAL & OTHER CREATURES by Metta SámaSáma is acutely aware of the irony that “many of us whose ancestors helped build the institutions that kept us out are now financially supporting those same institutions.” But she wants “to transform these realities into art & into questions that are not heavy-handed … or rhetoric.” Despite the poet’s resentment of those who have access to ‘a safe world I can only imagine’, and despite the sound of necks and bones breaking that bubbles as a soundscape under her work, Sáma seems fundamentally optimistic. Rather than the “expectation of cardinals/fiery in the wintered sky”, she says, “Give me the rabid face/of the pigeon… always pointing toward the next hustle.”

*le animal * & other creatures is available to pre-order now and will ship beginning August 14.