THE FOG ROLLED IN ON THE WATER
MARY KATHERINE QUASARANO
THURSDAY MAY 26th, 2011
Cities on the water have long been acknowledged as birth places of artistic and cultural movements. The Left Bank called artists to Paris, Grunge Music burst forth on the music scene in Seattle, and Muskegon is the birthplace of Fogged Clarity an exceptional online journal featuring the work of international literary and musical artists. Ben Evans, the site’s founder and Muskegon native son, credits his access to water as providing an ongoing source of “wonder, escape and curiosity.” Wonder, escape and curiosity are words that also beautifully capture the diversity of work that has been featured since Fogged Clarity’s debut three years ago.
In a virtual sea of thousands of printed journals and art reviews, and millions of online journals, blogs and publications, what has made Fogged Clarity so popular and enduring? The answer in part resides in its Manifesto. Fogged Clarity is the product of its founder’s poetic sensibilities, the promotion of the creative process for all, and its showcase of excellence in literary and musical arts. Another key to its success has been the warm embrace and support of the people of Muskegon and Muskegon County.
As it has grown in popularity and traffic, regular requests are received to advertise on the site. The support of the Muskegon community has allowed Evans, a poet and musician, to continue to support excellence without compromising the integrity of the site. Fogged Clarity has held several large-scale poetry readings and concerts in Muskegon County, and its first printed collection was funded by a grant from The Muskegon Community Foundation.
The evolutionary process leading to the creation of Fogged Clarity was inspired along the waters of Lake Michigan and culminated in the water of a bathtub. Evans eloquently shares the story of moving from darkness to reaching his own Fogged Clarity:
“As for the journal’s impetus, I was living in a small village in France in 2007 afflicted by panic attacks and a general sense of uncertainty regarding my future. In the evenings in my upstairs apartment I would drink wine and take baths in my upstairs apartment to calm down, reading voraciously all the while. In the bath one night I was reading ‘Lolita’ for the first time and marveling at Nabokov’s control of language; his ability to evoke emotion with beautiful prose. One night while reading, a dam inside of me just burst, and I knew I needed to create. I could no longer tolerate simply standing by and being swept up by the human condition. I felt compelled to articulate the struggle, put my own drops in the bucket, if you will. I returned from France two months later, taught myself to play the piano and within nine months had written and recorded an album ‘The Nicotine Heart Attack Premonition E.P.’ It wasn’t good, but it was cathartic and was beautiful in that regard. I understood that if I could accomplish that, then anything was possible, so I hooked up with a good friend of mine (Ryan Daly) who is a brilliant artist and web-designer and proceeded to start Fogged Clarity.”
Since its launch, 28 online issues and one print issue have been released, and Fogged Clarity has received press in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Huffington Post, and Poets & Writers among other publications. Every month, 300 – 400 artists from all over the world submit their work for consideration. The site has featured the work of Pulitzer Prize nominees, Guggenheim Fellows, and well-known artists, authors and musicians from “Japan, Australia, and many places in between.”
Fogged Clarity has given an 18 square mile area (3.7 square miles of water) of natural beauty called Muskegon international prominence. Evans will be leaving Muskegon this fall to begin an MFA poetry program in Oregon. He will live bi-coastally for the next couple of years, shifting between the West Coast of America and the West Coast of Michigan; staying close to the water, sharing the wonder of words, escaping the chains of a life without intention, and exploring his craft with all of the curiosity of the beginner’s mind.
‘An Evening with the Clarity’ – a benefit to support Fogged Clarity – will be held on June 25th at the Howmet Playhouse in Whitehall. The event features an appearance by John Hemingway, grandson of American literary icon Ernest Hemingway, Michael Tyrell the former poetry editor for The New Yorker, and three diverse and talented musical artists: The Great Unknown, Singing in the Abbey, and Fred Thomas. Tickets are $10 and are available at http://foggedclarity.com/events and at the door.