The Haiku Chronicles: Beaver and Pizzarelli

Poet/writer Al Pizzarelli and his wife Tlingit artist/writer Donna Beaver Pizzarelli and their Mini-Coup

Poet/writer Al Pizzarelli and his wife Tlingit artist/writer Donna Beaver Pizzarelli and their Mini-Coup

Eight years ago Al Pizzarelli and Donna Beaver met at a Haiku Poetry convention out there on the East Coast (but pardon me, I forget where!?).  It was love-at-first-sight for Al; Donna didn’t know what to do with his notoriety, talent, charm and wit except to collaborate with him on a project that totally inspired both of them; years later, they are still at it!

Poet/writer Al Pizzarelli

Poet/writer Al Pizzarelli

Alan Pizzarelli is a poet, musician, and artist born in 1950 to an Italian-American family in Newark, New Jersey.  He is the author of 13 collections of poetry.  During the early 1970s, he began a serious study of haiku and related forms in New York City under the tutelage of Professor Harold G. Henderson, author of An Introduction to Haiku and Haiku in English.  Since then, many of Pizzarelli’s poems have achieved worldwide acclaim and have appeared in a variety of textbooks, journals, and anthologies.

Alan Pizzarelli's latest anthology "Frozen Socks"

Alan Pizzarelli’s latest anthology  hot off the press:  “Frozen Socks”

I recently read Al’s “Frozen Socks.”  Each brief piece of writing took me around the block and back again.  It’s the first book of poetry I read from front to back and then again!  I had three nights to hang out and work at Donna and Al’s home in New Jersey.  I divided the book into three sections.  When I tucked myself into bed each of those three nights, I read one section.  The writings brought me to tears, made me laugh too loud and stopped me in my tracks.  I tell you he is one heck of a Raven Trickster who reminds the reader of our vulnerable human condition!

This book is hot off the press available for purchase on Amazon for only $12.95 with additional shipping.  Order your copy today by CLICKING HERE


For his review and input, Donna shows Al the covers of her hand-printed books

A member of the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan (Wolf) Clan, Donna Beaver Pizzarelli was born in 1961 in Juneau, Alaska.  She hails from a long line of artists, most notably her late mother, beadworker/doll-maker Anna Beaver and her late grandfather, carver Amos Wallace.  A media artist who specializes in web-design, research and podcasts, she is a visual artist extraordinaire, a writer and is about to embark on the path of her grandfather Amos:  metal/stone jewelry.

In 2009, hosts Donna Beaver and Alan Pizzarelli produced the first Haiku Chronicles podcast. Today, more than 30 episodes later,  what started off as a grass-roots effort with just a few hundred listeners has now grown to over two million plays of their episodes around the globe!  You may visit their Haiku Chronicles website by CLICKING HERE.


Donna put Clarissa to work in giving a coat of gloss medium to the front and back of Donna’s book of poetry entitled “Rainforest Poems”

Donna and Al have a couple of weeks to complete their website updates, print and assemble Donna’s book of poems, receive their shipment of Al’s books, and pack their recorders, laptops, cameras, etc. into their little Mini-Cooper to drive up to Schenectady, New York State to attend the international Haiku Convention.  Non-stop they work together in their writings, productions, art and music.  Hanging out with them has reminded me of how a pair of people totally in love and committed to one another and their art forms can change a small aspect of the human race.

You may read more about Alan Pizzarelli and Donna Beaver Pizzarelli when their individual websites are back up and running.

Clarissa Rizal and Donna Beaver Pizzarelli

Clarissa Rizal and Donna Beaver Pizzarelli


Frog Woman House Post


Wayne Carlick and Debra Michel sing an honor song to commemorate the Frog Woman house post at the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, NJ — September 27, 2015

Montclair Art Museum in Monclair, New Jersey is the very first museum in the state to host Native American art.  A 9-foot house post carved a few years ago by Canadian Tlingit artist Wayne Carlick, was gifted to the museum by art collectors Carole and Malcolm Schwartz.  MAM acknowledged the gift by a dedication of the “Frog Woman” house post on Sunday, September 27th.  Wayne and his wife Debra Michel were the guests of honor, making their long drive from the remote village of Atlin, British Columbia down the ALCAN (Alaska/Canadian) Highway, then catching the flight from Seattle to Newark, New Jersey.


Montclair Museum staff, art collectors and the general public attended the dedication of the Frog Woman house post; Wayne gave a very moving story about the legendary Frog Woman

Wayne Carlick was born in 1958 in Atlin, Canada and was raised on the Taku River in British Columbia.  He is a member of the Tlingit Taltan Nation and a clan member of the Xooxhitan House.  His Tlingit name is Yaan Dec-kin Yeil, which translates to Flying Raven.

After completing his schooling, Carlick trained in carpentry.  he began carving poles, posts, bowls and clan regalia in 1992 when he apprenticed with famed Northwest Coast Indian artists Dempsey Bob.  Carlick has become a successful, versatile artists and his artwork is in many museums, including a few pieces in the Montclair Art Museum.

Traditionally, Tlingit families lived together in large clan houses often built in a row along a river bank or beach.  Four carved, painted house posts were placed at each corner of the house where they functioned as supports for the wood framework along the massive tree trunks.  If the posts became very worn over time and could no longer serve as supports, they were attached to undecorated posts since they continued to be held in high esteem.

Featured on house posts are crest figures belonging to certain Tlingit families or sometimes illustrating Tlingit legends such as the story of Frog Woman.


Debra Michel, Wayne Carlick, Frog Woman House Post, Clarissa Rizal and Donna Beaver Pizzarelli

After doing business in Seattle last week, I spent 4 days in Bloomfield working and visiting with my friends Donna Beaver and Al Pizzarelli.  Donna is part of the organization crew working on the Tlingit Mentorship Program along with Preston Singeltary and Sue and Israel Shotridge and I.  Earlier this month, Donna pointed out that MAM was hosting a house post dedication at the end of September and asked if I knew the carver.  I shuffled my schedule a bit to make the trip out East.  Amongst several other things I did in the brief visit, MAM’s dedication was intimate and moving, with lots of syncronicities.  I’m glad I attended!


Sho Sho Esquiro and Clarissa Rizal Exhibit


Miranda Belarde-Lewis, Sho Sho Esquiro and Clarissa Rizal plan the floor layout of their next year’s October 2016 exhibit at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver, B.C.

A year after the initial idea of an exhibit featuring traditional and contemporary Northwest Coast regalia and clothing with Sho Sho Esquiro and Clarissa Rizal, we finally met up at the house of Curator Miranda Belarde-Lewis to review the basics of the exhibit!

The exhibit opens at the Bill Reid Gallery in Vancouver, B.C., Canada next year in October and will run for approximately 5 months.  We will be featuring a total of 20 to 30 individual ensembles of which during opening night only will be modeled with the accompaniment of traditional songs set to Preston Singletary’s latest jazz funk band called “Ku’eex.”  Directly after opening night, the ensembles will be placed on their respective mannequins.

Stay tuned for updates on the progress of our exhibit!


Curator Miranda Belarde-Lewis, Contemporary clothing designer Sho Sho Esquiro, and Ceremonial regalia-maker, Clarissa Rizal


Northwest Coast Weavers’ Studio


One of several carved pieces by Lyonel Grant for the Evergreen Longhouse Weavers’ Studio, Olympia, WA

I flew to Seattle for a number of reasons:  alternative doctor diagnosis and treatment, work with Sue on a button robe, meet up with my niece and fellow artist to discuss our exhibit next year, and check out the Maori/Coast Salish carvings for the planned “Weavers’ Studio” at the Evergreen Longhouse campus in Olympia, Washington.


Maori carving by New Zealand’s number one Maori carver, Lyonel Grant

These carvings were designed and created by the top New Zealand Maori carver, Lyonel Grant.  You may check out his website at:


Collaborative piece carved by Maori carver Lyonel Grant and Coast Salish carver Peter Boome


Detail carving of Coast Salish artist Peter Boome and Maori artist Lyonel Grant

MaoriCarvings3 MaoriCarvings7

Site Visit For Tlingit Artists Gathering


One of the most up-town covered, outdoor fire pit shelter seats approximately 150 people in a cozy, intimate setting

A little over 10 years ago, when Preston and I had been talking about putting together the first gathering of Northwest Coast Artists to be held during Celebration 2006 in Juneau, Alaska, he had mentioned Islandwood retreat learning center on Bainbridge Island, Washington State as a possible location.  He felt that the location of this beautiful retreat in a heavily wooded forest would  foster a networking of  life-long friendships, kindle collaborations, and create a very tight group of artists where we could truly focus on any art and cultural issues in a very real way.  10 years and 2 Northwest Coast Native artists gatherings later, we finally made it a point to visit IslandWood yesterday; it was obvious to me during this site visit why Preston insisted on IslandWood as the place for conducting next year’s gathering of Tlingit artists – the location of this retreat is astounding!

The purpose of this gathering of Tlingit artists is to establish a loose coalition of mentors to consciously create a mentorship “guide” for our younger generations so we continue to endorse our future artists in whatever field they work.


The warmth of solid oak and maple dining room

There are five, dedicated, professional Tlingit artists who are at the helm of helping to organize this retreat.  They include:  Sue and Israel Shotridge, Donna Beaver Pizzarelli, Preston Singletary and myself.

At this time, Artstream Alaska and the Evergreen Longhouse are two organizations who will help sponsor this gathering.

We will be re-vamping the Artstream Alaska website where we will have information on the gathering.  The goal for website completion is by November this year.

In the meantime, although all of us work together on all aspects of organizing this gathering, we each have organically “fallen into our main roles.”   Sue and Israel works on cultural values and the administration, Preston works on fundraising, Donna gathers materials to eventually design and create the website, and during my travels, I have been networking and collecting names of Tlingit artists.


Standing at the entry to Islandwood’s main hall, program coordinators L to R: Clarissa Rizal, Preston Singletary, Swil Kanim, Sue Shotridge (missing: Donna Beaver Pizzarelli)

At first we were going to invite any and all Northwest Coast artists from any background and tribe.  Then we got to thinking about the differences in some of the values and we thought the gathering will already be challenging enough with the variety of egos, that we would like to keep it simple.  We will be inviting only Tlingit artists for this gathering.  We envision other tribes will be inspired to create their own mentorship program for their next generations.


The main lobby before the “Great Hall…”

IslandWood’s Story:

IslandWood is a nationally recognized outdoor learning center located across Puget Sound from Seattle’s urban center.  IslandWood’s mission is to provide exceptional learning experiences and to inspire lifelong environmental and community stewardship.  Each year, more than 25,000 people participate in IslandWood’s programs on the 225-acre campus and in communities throughout the region.  In addition to our school programs, IslandWood offers a graduate program in partnership with the University of Washington, summer camps, and community programs for children and adults.  Revenue from conferences and retreats and contributions from the community enable IslandWood to underwrite our outdoor education programs for children from low-income communities.

For more information on IslandWood, you may visit their website at:


Islandwood Program Director Christine welcomes the four of us to tour the small portion of the 250-acre landscape

As I mentioned earlier, Artstream Alaska will be our main sponsor for this project.  When the re-vamped website is launched by November 1st, we will be inviting selected Tlingit artists to check out all the information to see if they would like to participate.  We are inviting Tlingit artists based on their artistic merit, their involvement in the arts and culture and their obvious concern for the health and well-being of our people.


Sue Shotridge and Preston Singletary walk one of the many paths through the woods on the Islandwood Retreat

Currently, the dates for this 3-day  Tlingit Mentorship Retreat is set for next year, September 16 through the 18th, 2016.  This will be a retreat.  We ask that each artist make a clear commitment all 3 days and nights.  We encourage artists to book any outside activities (i.e. visit family and friends in the Seattle area, shopping, sightseeing, etc.)  before or after the 3 days.


Just outside Islandwood’s “Great Room”

Once the Artstream website is re-vamped and we’ve got our ducks in order (goal is November 1st), we will send out our invites to our Tlingit artists pointing them to read about our mission statement, the confirmed dates and times, the agenda of the mentorship project, the cultural leaders who will be helping to guide this 3-day event, and the list of artists who will be committing to attend this historical event.


Islandwood’s Welcome plaque just before the shed of many hand carts

Our space has a capacity limit of up to 50 artists.   The room and board is covered for each artist attending all 3 days.   At this time, we are seeking funds to help pay up to $250 (or less) for each artist’s travel expenses.  This will be invitation only, though we are open right now to receive names and contact info of anyone who you may know who fits the bill for a Tlingit mentor.

Stay tuned!


Swil Kanim and Preston Singletary discuss the meaning of being a mentor


Mentorship project coordinators L to R: Swil Kanim, Sue Shotridge, Preston Singletary, Clarissa Rizal


Buttonrobe by Israel Shotridge

Clarissa pounces the paper pattern of a button robe designed by fellow Tlingit artist Israel Shotridge

Clarissa pounces the paper pattern of a button robe designed by fellow Tlingit artist Israel Shotridge as he points out making sure she does not veer off the lines!

There have been a few times I have collaborated with an artist; they design something and I make it, or I design something and they make it.  In this case, I am preparing to transfer a design onto wool melton cloth to begin making a buttonrobe designed by Israel Shotridge for his daughter, Autumn.

While working on the pouncing (the wheel has many sharp, tiny spokes that punch tiny holes into the paper), Israel asked me if I come to other people’s homes and hang out with them.  I laughed.  Like what?  Do you think I go to someone’s home and help them get a button robe made?  No…

Going to the Shotridges’ house is a special treat.  Why?  Because Israel and Sue are quite the team and they are a kick in the pants to hang out with.  And Israel’s wife, Sue is one of my best friends.  Bottom line.  We talk business, art, Native politics, spiritual stuff and of course, men.  What else?

Clarissa’s Planning Methods

The inside pocket of Clarissa's Franklin Covey Daily Planner

The inside pocket of Clarissa’s Franklin Covey Daily Planner

Nearly 40 years I’ve been a multi-tasking artist, mother, partner, etc.; in order to accomplish the variety of tasks I set for myself (being that kind of intense, goal-oriented kind of personality), I had a college-ruled, spiral bound notebook for every aspect of my daily, weekly, monthly activities.  Each notebook was dedicated to recording all the dates and necessary information to accomplish goals in each of these categories:

  • Household/garden/vehicles
  • My art business Clarissa Rizal LLC
  • Family members & relatives
  • Organizing Community-oriented projects (i.e. theatre and music productions, classes, etc.

I had no idea there were such things as daily planners until about 10 years ago…!  Like where in the heck was I raised!?

The zippered pleather Franklin Covey Daily Planner

The zippered pleather Franklin Covey Daily Planner’

I eliminated usage of spiral bound notebooks; I like keeping all my information in one compact place.  I refer to my daily planner periodically all day long, seven days a week.  I ordered this Franklin Covey daily planner, brand spanking new from Ebay for only $25 which retails at about $70.  I scored.  For a personality like mine, a daily planner is a must for all I plan on accomplishing.

The inside week sheets of the Franklin Covey Daily Planner

The inside week sheets of the Franklin Covey Daily Planner

Of course, I plan the week with standard Franklin Covey sheets (shown above).  Then there’s the daily routine of “chores” which I check off daily in my custom-designed printed columns (shown below) by my daughter, Ursala Hudson.  I indicate phonecalls, emails and texts I must place for the day or week, along with any blog post ideas and/or updates, record the number of hours I weave or number of hours sewing a buttonrobe, contact information for a supplier or appointments at the docs or dates with the family and/or friends.    The most pleasurable act of keeping track of my goals is checking off the box when I complete each task!  Yep, that simple act of defining an accomplishment!

Divider are custom personalized prints of daily and weekly details created by Ursala Hudson, indpendent artist & designer

Divider are custom personalized prints of daily and weekly details created by Ursala Hudson, indpendent artist & designer

Clarissa’s Interview for New Mexico PBS “Colores”

Clarissa weaves "Copper Man" Ravenstail ceremonial dance robe - 2006

Clarissa weaves “Copper Man” Ravenstail ceremonial dance robe – 2006

The New Mexico PBS “Colores” television series recently posted their youtube video clip on me and my work.  Most of the film clips was shot by my son, Kahlil Hudson, with in-studio interview by KTOO radio station in Juneau, and most of the still shots of my Chilkat and button blanket robes were photographed by Jeff Laydon.   The video clip is about 8 minutes: