Poem, Today, 4th Thursday of July (2014)

I wander down streets losing
things I gather up again:
parts of my life
that have turned up from far away.

– excerpt from “Everything is Filled With You”, by Miguel Hernandez (1910 – 1942)

* * * *

Self loves this poem.  She stumbled across it in The New York Review of Books. Hernandez wrote it from prison. He was sentenced to 30 years for his role as a cultural ambassador for the Republican Army during the Spanish Civil War.

The translation is by Don Share.

She’s quoted from it on this blog before, but this morning the section above seemed especially moving.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Containers 3: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

What a good idea, Red Hen Press!

They promoted Type O Negative, Joel Tan’s poetry collection, by handing out these chocolate candy bars at the AWP Book Fair, several years ago.

Candy Bar Wrapper (designed after the cover of Joel Tan's new poetry collection!)

candy bar wrapper (designed after the cover of Joel Tan’s new poetry collection!)

Containers # 2 is a fresh coconut:

In the Philippines, there are roadside stands selling fresh coconuts with straws so you can sip the juice.  This was somewhere near Sum-ag, near Bacolod City.

In the Philippines, there are roadside stands selling fresh coconuts with straws so you can sip the juice. Self took this picture on a beach in Sum-ag, just outside Bacolod City.

In January 2012, self went to India for the first time.  She flew from San Francisco to New Delhi, and spent the next two weeks traversing Himachal Pradesh.  She made it to Dharamsala.  It was freezing cold.  These hot braziers were brought into the dining room of the Colonel’s Resort in the village of Bir.

It was so cold, self's last two days in Bir, that the Colonel had a fire brought in.

It was so cold, self’s last two days in Bir, that the Colonel had a fire brought in.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

2014 Mendocino Writers Conference, July 31 – Aug. 2

The Mendocino Writers Conference starts Thursday, July 31 and runs to Saturday, Aug. 2 at College of the Redwoods in Mendocino.

The conference is now in its 25th year, which is pretty amazing.

Kudos to the Mendocino Art Center folks, who work so tirelessly to Read the rest of this entry »

The Reading List, 3rd Wednesday of July (2014)

Time for self to get serious again with her reading.

These are the list of books she plans to read.  It is telling that they are all novels.

Well, the last one, by Alan Furst, is more of a thriller.

She’s never read him before, so she’s glad for a chance to get to know him.

Without further ado, the list:

  • Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture (Self adores Barry)
  • Richard Price’s The Lush Life (It’s set in New York City.  Self loves New York City.)
  • Janice Y. K. Lee’s The Piano Teacher (It’s set in Hong Kong.  Self loves Hong Kong.)
  • Alan Furst’s Dark Star (Self doesn’t know where this is set.  In fact, she hardly knows anything about this novel except that it was recommended in a back issue of Condé Nast Traveler)

Here’s a passage from The Secret Scripture, pp. 11 -12:

It is funny, but it strikes me that a person without anecdotes that they nurse while they live, and that survive them, are more likely to be utterly lost not only to history but the family following them.  Of course this is the fate of most souls, reducing entire lives, no matter how vivid and wonderful, to those sad black names on withering family trees, with half a date dangling after and a question mark.

My father’s happiness not only redeemed him, but drove him to stories, and keeps him even now alive in me, like a second more patient and more pleasing soul . . .

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Last Workshop, 2014 Squaw Valley Writers Conference

The Squaw Valley Writers Conference ends tomorrow morning –  WAAAAH!!!

Self had the greatest time.

Here’s a picture self took at the end of the last workshop today:

Members of Workshop # 6:  Roxanne Barish (kneeling), Jean Bertelsen, Cathee St. Clair, Nicky Loomis, Today's Moderator Michael Jaime-Becerra, Vish Gaitonde, Wei Wei Yeo, Catie Disabato

Members of Workshop # 6: Roxanne Barish (kneeling), Jean Bertelsen, Cathee St. Clair, Nicky Loomis, Today’s Moderator Michael Jaime-Becerra, Vish Gaitonde, Wei Wei Yeo, Catie Disabato

The week simply flew by!

Self bought a copy of Michael Jaime-Becerra’s story collection, Every Night is Ladies’ Night:

Michael Jaime-Becerra moderated her workshop today.  He's a fantastic teacher.

Michael Jaime-Becerra moderated her workshop today. He’s a fantastic teacher.

Here’s an excerpt from “Lopez Trucking Incorporated,” one of the stories in the collection:

Evelyn’s going nuts in the passenger seat because Mario still isn’t done with her wedding dress.  My sister’s too nervous to drive, and since I’m the only one home, I’m taking her for her fitting.  Evelyn’s wedding is in four days, on Saturday, and she’s the kind of person who plans everything in her life, from buying wrapping paper for next year the day after Christmas to ordering all her keys by color and size.  She gets her craziness from our mom, and while I’ve had sixteen years to get used to it, Lupe’s only had two.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The New York Review of Books, May 22, 2014

Today, self got to see Paul Haggis’s new movie, “Third Person,” and it is seamless and complex and lovely and moody.  It focuses on odd couples.  The woman who most aroused self’s sympathy was the woman played by Mila Kunis.  Having said that, James Franco gives such a wicked and sly performance, as her ex-husband.  He projects such smugness, with just a glance.  His partner, a beautiful, long-legged French gazelle, is the third leg of a triangle, and she also delivers a performance that is complex and moving.  In fact, all the actors in this movie were at the top of their game (well, maybe not Liam Neeson, who gets by on looking worried, all of the time)

Now, self has been weeding her Pile of Stuff of unnecessary materials.  She has so much catch-up reading to do!

One of the back issues self picks up is The New York Review of Books of May 22, 2014.  There’s a review by Masha Gessen of a translation of one of Dovlatov’s works:  Pushkin Hills.  Gessen quotes another Russian emigré writer, Joseph Brodsky, who says of Sergei Dovlatov:

His stories rest primarily on the rhythm of the sentence; the cadence of the narrative voice.  They are written like poems: the plot is secondary, it is but a pretext for speech.  It is song rather than storytelling.

Self wonders how Dovlatov could have escaped her notice until now.

Another excellent review is by Michael Gorra, on Starting Over:  Stories by Elizabeth Spencer.  Spencer wrote The Light in the Piazza, which has such an audacious plot self is sure that Spenser, if having to pitch to a publishing house today,  would never be signed on.

Another of the reviews that stood out is Francine Prose’s review of Emma Donoghue’s latest, Frog Music.

Self is currently reading Richard Price’s Lush Life.  She hopes she can do a better job of finishing it than she did with Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story collection, Unaccustomed Earth.  Self kept obsessively going back over the first page of Unaccustomed Earth because of course the writing is lovely.  If only it wasn’t so stately and dolorous.  She got about halfway through it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Reading Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz in PANK No. 7

This is an excerpt from Cristin’s poem, “After Reading Your Poem About Hawaii,”  which was in PANK No. 7.  I bought four back copies of PANK from their Book Fair table at the last AWP, in Seattle, and am only now, four months later, finally settling down to read them!

I really liked Cristin’s poem — a lot!

Poems are phone calls you can eavesdrop on.
When you are a poet, poems are everywhere.
I still read your poetry. Sometimes I think
I still see me in there.

But other times I know that’s not the truth.
The truth is that we both know where we are,
and it’s not next to each other anymore.
So what am I to make of this poem?

Where you are the you I am speaking to,
when in real life we are not speaking at all.
Ring ring, my brain says. Or maybe, it can
just be my poem waving to your poem.

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and her work has been published in Conduit, Rattle, Barrelhouse, La Petite Zine, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, among others.  For more information, visit http://www.aptowicz.com

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Contrasts 5: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Examples of CONTRASTS from artwork currently on exhibit at the Cantor Art Center, Stanford University campus.

ALL artists succeed by working off contrasts:  contrasts of color, contrasts of shapes, contrasts of mediums (mixed media, collages, and so forth), contrasts of texture.

Here are three of self’s favorites:  Julian Schnabel.  Wayne Thiebaud.  Frank Stella.

Julian Schnabel, USA, b. 1951:  "Portrait of Hope Makler, 1989" at Cantor Art Center, Stanford campus

Julian Schnabel, USA, b. 1951: “Portrait of Hope Makler, 1989″ at Cantor Art Center, Stanford campus

Wayne Thiebaud, USA, b. 1920:  "Lunch Table, 1964" at Cantor Art Center, Stanford campus

Wayne Thiebaud, USA, b. 1920: “Lunch Table, 1964″ at Cantor Art Center, Stanford campus

Frank Stella, USA, b. 1936:  "Nightgown 1990" (On wall)

Frank Stella, USA, b. 1936: “Nightgown 1990″ (On wall)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

A Poem About Dentists on EUNOIA REVIEW

Self has a dentist appointment, later today.  She is not at all looking forward to the prospect.

This morning, she checks in on Eunoia Review and what does she see?

A poem about dentists.

How’s that for synchronicity, dear blog readers?

Here’s the first half:

Inheritance

by Katherine La Mantia

The dentist showed me
the x-rays where the
radiation lit up my teeth
like strings of lights at Christmas.
can you imagine how
marie curie glowed
And she pointed with
her pen tap-tapping
on my molar
or bicuspid, I don’t know.
the metal rings shrill
hammer on enamel

She showed me where
she would put metal brackets
and metal wires
and how she would
pull

What a beautiful name.  The poet has.  Katherine La Mantia.

Katherine La Mantia is an undergraduate at the University of Georgia.

Stay tuned.

Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition, June 21-22, 2014

It is the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War, as self was being constantly reminded when she was in the UK, a few weeks ago.

Those kinds of commemorations seem to get lost in the welter of American politics — Are we going back into Iraq?  What should/can we do about Putin?  — but the Review section of the June 21-22, 2014 Wall Street Journal is entirely devoted to articles about the Great War.  On p. C3, at the bottom right corner, is a tiny article by Amanda Foreman on “The Poets of Devastation.”

All the familiar names are there:  Rupert Brooke (gorgeous), Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon.

After a few mentions of these poets’ iconic works, Foreman delivers the meat and potatoes:

“. . .  the war poets’ greatest contribution wasn’t their rediscovery that war is truest hell, but their reinvention of poetry as a democratic mode of expression.”

She mentions the “broadening of the canon” with works like Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.

“. . .  there is no other war in history,” Foreman writes, “. . . with the exception of the Trojan War, whose poetry has so shaped a nation.”

(Self thinks the Vietnam War definitely served a similar function for American literature.  Think Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War.  Think Frances Fitzgerald’s Fire in the Lake.  Think Michael Herr’s Dispatches.  Think Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.  Think Robert Stone)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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