Ochre & Umber is Lascaux’s micropoetry arm. We’ll consider poems of any form or genre, as long as they contain no more than 140 characters, including spaces. Obviously the character limit comes from Twitter, which is where I cut my teeth on micropoetry.
I’d long wanted to write poetry, mostly for practice, mostly to improve my prose; yet felt intimidated tackling long poems. Micropoetry was the answer. I got to dip my toe in with three- and four-line stanzas and put them on public display—exposure being a necessary habit for a writer, to my way of thinking. Eventually I began writing longer poems, and I presently have several in submission.
I don’t want to leave micropoems behind. There’s an underground community devoted to them, a community to which I now belong. Yet it’s a niche market if ever there was one. I don’t expect we’ll be swamped with submissions at Ochre, but that’s fine with me. Like Gauss’s personal motto—pauca sed matura (few but ripe)—I’ll be thrilled to publish a rare gem now and then.
The original name of the venture was Ochre and Umber (using “and” rather than &) and the url was ochreandumber dot com.
Do you see it? No?
Now do you see it? Wendy and I decided to ignore the anomaly at first, but eventually we began affectionately calling the site “Dumber,” which isn’t good, so the domain name had to change.
Ochres and umbers are of course pigments, and in fact they’re my favorites. Plain iron oxides, they’re the most stable and lightfast compounds on an artist’s palette. They’re also what prehistoric cave dwellers used to paint the walls of their caves—thus the connection to The Lascaux Review.
Tomás de Sabina, who contributes to #micropoetry at Twitter, has supplied the first micropoem. (I have one up as well, to keep his company, but I’ll take it down as soon as a few more have been published.)
Wendy Russ designed the site’s header. Wendy also designs book covers, logos, and other cool stuff.
Lascaux’s first satellite was Lascaux Flash (Wendy designed that header too). Flash fiction contestants should watch the countdown meter in the sidebar: we’re just 50 days from opening the next contest.
I was having coffee with my neighbor Eleanor (she having invited me to carry some boxes from the attic to the basement, payment for which was a cup of coffee) when André Rieu came on TV.
André Rieu, a Dutchman, conducts the Johann Strauss Orchestra. He’s a household name in Europe. His orchestra performs waltzes, mostly, and he and his musicians have fun doing it. The fun part earns Rieu quite a lot of criticism, from people who think classical music must be listened to with a frown on one’s face. I happen to belong to the other club; Rieu is one of my heroes.
If only I could pronounce his name. It’s like a French word that’s been dunked in Sauce au Roquefort and topped with truffles. Hell, it’s so French even the French can’t pronounce it. However, apparently Eleanor can.
“Not ‘rerw,’” she said. “You’re doing it all wrong.”
“Lemme try again,” I said. “Reauer.”
“No, not that, more like ‘reaur.’”
“Isn’t that what I said?”
“No, you said ‘reauer,’ one vowel too many.”
“But it’s a one-syllable word.”
“Right. So don’t add more.”
“Yet when you say it, it sounds like 17 syllables. Except, you know, all at once.”
“Exactly! Now you understand. It’s French.”
I’ll never get it. I’ve had my share of training in difficult European pronunciations. Try the German R—the way the Germans do it, not the way they teach you in school. The word for female teacher is Lehrerin, a villainous sequence of letters with two Rs, separated by an E—a national conspiracy to trip foreigners, then kick them while they're down. After decades of practice I still fall flat on my face.
Try the German Ö without resorting to a simple “er.” Even though it is, in fact, pronounced like “er.” Except . . . not.
Don’t get me started on Ü. In German class they tell you to just say “E,” and Germans will understand you.
And they’re right. They’ll understand you. They’ll also treat you like a semi-articulate rhubarb.
Anyway, here’s my boy André Reiaour at Radio City Music Hall:
Now I’ve done gone and made myself homesick.
Oh yes. This is pretty much how I do it: