Monthly Archives: February 2010


Urban Night by Seth Shearer incorporates poetry by Tara Pfeiffer-Norrell.

On Wednesday at dinner at the Norman Mailer House, we were discussing the nature of being a poet, the nature of writing poetry, and poetry’s place in society right now. And while it seems that the “only” outlet available for poetry is to have it published and perform readings, I disagree.

In many ways, the modern poet is at a great advantage: there are so many places for his work to become part of the every day lives of others, because poetry can be anywhere. For example, at The Annabel Lee Tavern in Baltimore, Poe’s poetry is painted on the walls. In the film Telefon, Frost’s “Stopping By Woods” is integral to the plot. I own a scarf silkscreened with Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. I could go on, and I’m sure you could come up with a few examples as well.

That said, today’s world offers many opportunities for poets to have their work in more than just books. When I returned from the dinner, there was an e-mail from my friend and poet Tara Pfeiffer-Norrell, with whom I went to Burlington College. Her poetry has been incorporated into a design for home furnishings by designer Seth Shearer (who also happens to be her brother). He’s entered the tx:style Design Challenge, and all of us have a chance to go vote for his design—URBAN NIGHT—and make it a winner!

If he wins, Mannington Commercial will make a full product line using his pattern. If you believe in poetry in every day life, find five minutes of your time to head on over, make an account, and vote for this great design. A single account can vote up to ten times. Information on how to vote and the design itself is below.

Vote NOW at

From the tx-style website:

Urban Night

DESIGNER: Seth Shearer

This design is inspired by urban life and the urban artist. In my process I drew from urban architecture, street art, wild postings, and graffiti. The concept of this piece draws from the collective unconscious of the global community or global city if you will. Working with poet Tara Pfeiffer-Norrell, this piece has integrated both poetry and design as an abstract representation of community inspired art; a place where visuals and language combine to create a variety of sensations and ideas. As a designer, I used her poetry both as type to create texture and her hand drawn notes as an organic element quoting urban graffiti and stenciled street art. The focus of this design is to integrate the outside world with the inside environment, so that creativity may abound in office, home, or retreat. This piece serves as a reminder of the fount of art outside of our windows. View inspiration board for design options.

Seth Shearer is a designer in San Francisco, CA.


It hasn’t snowed much at all since I’ve been here; there has been only occasional “glitter snow”–a barely-noticeable afternoon squall that glints in the sunlight as it drifts to the ground. Here in P-Town’s East End, my daily experience has been that the sun shines and the temperature is crisp, but not unpleasant.

Back home, this would translate into people out and about and cars on the go. But that’s not the case. Perhaps it’s because it’s winter and the town has pretty much emptied—many businesses close and the homes around me are stalwart and silent. There is an eerie stillness in all this sunshine.

Yesterday, though, I got up, and could see out my bedroom window that the character of the morning light was different: it was dark and close. I pulled back the drapes and was startled to see the dormant rose bushes dusted with white and my tiny yard and picnic table frosted with a quarter-inch or so of the stuff.

I went outside, expecting it to be cold and more silent than usual; expecting what we get at home: the wind cuts through me, and it’s so quiet I can hear the flakes landing on those that had fallen before them.

But it was quite the opposite. It was so warm I only needed a sweater. The birds were singing. A couple of guys were chatting in front of a fence across the street (and one of them waved to me). And in the span of five minutes, a cable van, a heating truck, three passenger cars, two people riding bicycles, and someone jogging all sped past me. At the house across the street, two or three construction workers were banging boards around.

Apparently, there is a paint color called “Cape Cod Gray”—and it’s relatively standard. Behr, Olympic, Cabot Stain, Pittsburgh Paints, and several others (or maybe even all of them) have this color in their palettes. What’s odd is that when this place is the grayest, that is when it seems to come to life.

My yard and picnic table.

The sleeping rose bushes.

I like to call this the Lord of the Rings canopy. It’s in the garden adjacent to my house.

The view out my front door.

The view out my living room window.

My writing space — much darker than usual. I had to turn the interior lights on to work.

This is the house across the street. I love its monolithic quality in this light.

A similar shot, but I included it because, if you look closely, you can see a spot of the sun high above the house.

This is actually the front of my house. My condo is in the back.

Commercial Street, looking toward the Mailer house. Notice how well-traveled the street looks, and that it’s clear even though, at this point, the snow was still falling.

The sea beyond.

The Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony in the snow. It hasn’t looked like this since I arrived.

The beach at low tide in the snow.

Another shot of the beach. I love the wasteland look of it.

This view, especially with the spot of sun above, reminded me of the ice planet of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.


Well, the Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony invited me to stay on for two more weeks, and thanks to the incredible generosity of several people—particularly those at work (who the hell is luckier than me?)—I could accept the offer! I’ll be here, working, until February 14!

The Norman Mailer Writer’s Colony.

My writing place — I’ve totally nested!

A cute new wine I discovered! Yummy!

I’ve had a few awesome adventures in the past week. I had a lovely lunch at Fanizzi’s with Guy (administrator of the NMWC), where I had FRESH Fish ‘N’ Chips. Wow. I grew up thinking they were greasy, heavy, and mealy. Yeah. Not so much. That comes from living in a land-locked place, I guess.

Guy and I at Fanizzi’s.

View from our table at Fanizzi’s.

I helped Peter change batteries in the smoke detectors in a few local apartments, and also, when it was brutally cold, go and check all the water pipes in the sub-basements (it’s just beach sand and dried seaweed for flooring. Totally wild!) Pete and I are Michael Jackson fans, and we were lucky enough that The Cape Inn’s Whaler Lounge was playing This is It. What does that mean? It’s a local thing. It’s a cozy lounge with comfy chairs, cocktail seating, FREE movies, and awesome eats (we had a pizza, and then ended up leaving the leftovers in my trunk for a day. Good thing it was cold out. It probably kept better than it would have in a refrigerator).

Me and Pete the next-door neighbor. We don’t have to look for trouble.  It finds us.

The Cape Inn Whaler Lounge. This is the photo from their website; I didn’t take this. It’s actually so much more classy and elegant than this photo suggests. They’re playing Zombieland next week and we plan to go, so hopefully I’ll get a few shots then.

Charles came up to visit over the weekend, and we had dinner at Michael Shay’s (among Norman’s favorite places to eat) and brunch at Fanizzi’s ($12.95 and it’s breakfast AND lunch – I’ve never eaten mussels over pasta at brunch before). We also visited Norman Mailer’s grave and explored the cemetery, and I have to say, I’ve never seen such interesting stones. It may be because this is such a highly creative town, but many of the stones are quirky works of art.

Mailer’s grave. Note the sea shells and other items which were left behind as tributes by prior visitors.(Please note — I don’t feel funny posting a photo of his grave here, because the link above will take you to FindAGrave with more specific details, including a photo and location.  So this is considered public information).

This is a really cool shop downtown.

DEFINITELY my kind of place!

I just loved this window display. Charles did the best he could to capture it, but with the bright sun and the reflections, it was hard.

Isn’t this cool? It’s all Lobster Traps. They light it up at night and it’s gorgeous.

My short story “Screams of Autumn” is now available at Spilt Milk: an online literary journal! You can read this story at It should be at that link, right on the front page, for a couple weeks, and then after that they’ll move it to the archives, which is down at the bottom of the page. To those of you who’ve read it already, thanks for all the awesome comments you’ve left! You guys rock! It’s especially inspiring to get such great encouragement when I’m up here churning out more.

“Ragnarok” by Patrick Scalisi is our most recent selection for Read Short Fiction and is up on the site now at If you love Norse mythology—and especially if you’re a fan of LOKI—don’t miss this hilarious twist on an old tale told in contemporary language. If you liked my short story “King of Bull,” especially, you’ll DEFINITELY go for this one. And if you read it and have something thoughtful to say, please feel free to comment. We like to hear from our readers!

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