Diane Arbus in the Year 1928

from Diane Arbus: A Chronology, 1923 -1971, by Elisabeth Sussman and Doon Arbus:

In September, following in her brother’s footsteps, she enrolls at the Ethical Culture School on 63rd Street and Central Park West, a progressive private school begun by Felix Adler, founder of the Ethical Culture Society (1878). Originally known as The Workingman’s School, it emphasizes moral education, psychological development, teacher training, and the integration of “manual arts” with academics. The academic curriculum is designed to parallel the evolution of human civilization, from tree dwellers to contemporary society. Students in each grade study their subjects through the lens of a particular time period and culture.

The school is still in existence! Self just googled. Here’s the link. The name’s been modified but the address is the same.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Elsewhere: a Lit Mag for Writing About Place

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS, ELSEWHERE:

“We envision Elsewhere to be a space for work that has trouble finding its place. We are interested in creative work that deals with marginalization in some form or another. We don’t think of race, gender, class and sexuality as dirty words or as problems to be dealt with outside of literature and art. Rather, we think of them as central to creative activity.”

So, send them your stuff, dear blog readers.

*    *     *    *

A few weeks ago, self was traipsing around southern California in the company of her ex-Assumption Convent classmates (even just typing those words — Assumption Convent — sounds quaint to self’s California ears!). And one of them agreed to spend the day with self, driving to and from San Diego.

And after almost three hours of driving, the two of us ended up in Balboa Park. In a section that was very very hot, with small trails and a children’s playground. And after some woebegone wandering about, self found the greatest discovery:  THE MUSEUM OF TORTURE. And she persuaded her classmate to venture inside and have a look. And indeed there were so many wonders contained therein, wonders such as:

  • the self-mortifying iron ring
  • the iron chastity belt
  • The “Iron Maiden” of Nuremberg (the last recorded use of which was August 1515)
  • All manner of scourges and flails

Self will not get too much into it, but suffice it to say, this museum is so interesting, situated right in Balboa Park.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Books of The Economist, 22 February 2014 (Can Self Be Any More Behind in Reading

First, a novel. There is usually only one fiction review in each issue of The Economist. This one is in a box — the fact that it is means it must be special.

The Undertaking, by Audrey Magee (Atlantic Books) :

  • The best elements of this novel are intrusions of war into the domestic sphere.
  • A German soldier named Peter Ferber enlists the service of a marriage bureau and weds a girl he has never met in order to get home leave.

Next, a book about climate change:

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt) :

  • As the climate warms, catastrophe looms. Yet it is oddly pleasurable to read Elizabeth Kolbert’s new book, which offers a ramble through mass extinctions, present and past.  Five such episodes in the past have 450 million years have wiped out plant and animal life on huge scales.

Finally, a biography of an American poet whose name seems to be popping up everywhere these days:

E. E. Cummings:  A Life, by Susan Cheever (Pantheon)

  • It was only in New York that he felt free. Surrounded by writers such as Marianne Moore and Edmund Wilson, and photographers such as Walker Evans, he spent over 40 years in Greenwich Village, living in the same apartment.
  • He wrote nearly 3,000 poems, two novels and four plays, as well as painting portraits.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“River, I Have Known Your Source”: Anvil Press Poetry, England

Self doesn’t remember how or why she bookmarked Anvil Press Poetry. She did it a couple of months ago, when she was traveling in Ireland and England. When she was meeting so many artists, so many people.

On the Anvil Press Poetry website, the “poem of the month” is by Nina Cassian. Self loves it:

“Origins”

River, I have known your source:
sparkling water crocheting quickly through
rock’s rigid garment. Yes, I knew,
river, I have known your source.

With my palm I touched your coolness
and beyond, a splendor not to miss,
the new grass was waiting for your kiss.
With my palm I touched your coolness.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Founded in 1968 by Peter Jay and now based in Greenwich, southe-east London, Anvil Press is England’s longest-standing independent poetry publisher.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Reading Poem (Next-to-Last Tuesday of September 2014)

An excerpt from “Nest”

by John O’Donohue (from the collection Conamara Blues)

 for J

I awaken

To find your head
Loaded with sleep,
Branching my chest.

Feel the streams
Of your breathing
Dream through my heart.

From the new day,
Light glimpses
The nape of your neck.

*     *     *     *

The book was given to self this spring by a priest in Dublin. She hadn’t seen him in almost 20 years. He used to work in the Philippines, then in the San Francisco Bay Area. He retired to Dublin. He’s 92 now and suffers from pleurisy. Yet he and a fellow priest managed to drive self from Dublin to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annamakherrig.

The trip was epic. The priests told self things like: a lir is a swan, a kill is a wood, a dun is a fort. The younger priest, self discovered, was from Cavan. (Which is why in her story “The Elephant”, just out in Your Impossible Voice, the main character, a ship’s captain, hails from Cavan.)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Busy Bee

Self is extremely, extremely happy this morning. She was able to wheedle a reading date from her local library for Manila Noir, an anthology that Akashic published last year, and for which she has never given a reading.

She’s only one of — ehem — 15 Filipino writers in the book, it was edited by Superstar Jessica Hagedorn, she loves the pieces in it to bits. Why has she never read for it in her own neck of the woods?  OMG, why?

She wrote a brand new story, just for the anthology. Yup, one winter holiday, almost three years ago, La Hagedorn requested a story from self, and after wringing her hands for nearly a month, and subjecting herself to all sorts of angsty emo feelings, self ended the pity party, grit her teeth, addressed the problem (which had been hovering over her head, a veritable Sword of Damocles, making her incapable of performing even the simplest holiday tasks, such as setting up the Christmas tree) and that very same day, she came up with a story. Turned it in. Got quick thumbs up from Hagedorn. Became pride-ful and slothful. Told the world of her inclusion in said anthology. Crowed about her triumph in her little corner of the world, and then waited for — NOTHING. Everyone in the Philippines and Asia and even the continental U.S. of A. read the anthology, but her story was sandwiched between such greats that no one seemed to have time to comment on it. Nevertheless, nevertheless . . .

She did manage to get Lysley Tenorio (a fellow alum from Stanford’s Creative Writing Program, he teaches at Saint Mary’s in Moraga) to agree to read with her. Quite a feat, as the guy’s got a big agent, a big publisher, and he agreed to make the trek to REDWOOD CITY. And besides, self isn’t sure whether she still can read, it’s been a while. So it is good if Lysley reads with her, for he is an excellent reader. And not only that, he is affable and very used to signing author copies.

Now, since self is so energized, she is thinking of contacting other places, such as Books, Inc. in Town & Country. Hello, they already carry it; she’s seen it there, in their Mystery section. So, what’s the problem, self? What’s taking you so long? Get off your couch and who says you can’t? Get yourself over to Book Passage, while you’re at it.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books.  She's holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Johanna Ingalls, Managing Editor of Akashic Books, at the 2013 Miami International Book Festival, holding up MANILA NOIR: Self is one of the contributors.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

Forgiveness

Below is an excerpt from The Economist obituary for Maya Angelou, who passed away May 28 this year, at the age of 86. Self found out about Angelou’s passing in London. She and an old school friend, Doris Duterte Stanley, had walked to King’s Cross from Euston Station, where self’s train had just arrived from Wales.  In the lobby of King’s Cross, a gigantic video screen flashed the words: MAYA ANGELOU DIES AT 86.

(Self is so way behind in her reading of The Economist. At what point does she say Enough and quit her subscription? One more year, perhaps . . . )

When she was asked what words brought her comfort, she said, “Love.” And, after love, “Forgiveness.” Forgiveness did not mean you would seat your enemy at your table and feed him cornbread and fried chicken (though cooking food, and sharing it, often made peace). But it meant you could move on. In the words of “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she read in 1993 at Bill Clinton’s inauguration:

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Eugene Gloria: “My Bad Uncle” (From HOODLUM BIRDS)

Eugene Gloria’s poems are surprisingly long. Self doesn’t usually read such long poems — they can go on, the dense text, for three or four pages (For the same reason, she doesn’t enjoy reading long stories — A short story should be able to do its work in 20 pages or less, if possible. Just her two cents). But what the heck, she brought this book with her to Southern California, and she’s in Venice Beach, which is all sun and bikers and surfers and funky eateries.

Here’s part of a poem she really likes (because after reading it she thought: “I know this person. Or plenty like him.”).

It’s from Gloria’s collection Hoodlum Birds (Penguin Books, 2006). Self bought her copy from City Lights after a reading in November 2006.:

“My Bad Uncle”

I saw him that night, his hands braceleted
behind his back — our neighborhood lit
like a bad uncle on a pint of scotch.

We all knew his sunnier days,
the perennial garden of his heart,
the shiny coins he doled out on his visits –

How he’d sacrifice himself to woman whims:
his mother’s, sisters’, wife’s, and lovers’. His gold Ford
Falcon that shuttled us back and forth to airports,

he was always available whenever we’d call.
He was a prince of the two-dollar cigarette variety,
a happy man in love.

But goodness is mostly work and hardly pays a thing
to the soul when it has to eat alone.
His own goodness would tell him to drive

all day to his fake errands, or circle round
and around in the El with a hideaway bag.
taking swigs between stops.

So one day when we weren’t thinking,
or were thinking only of ourselves,
he parked outside a Denny’s with his pistol

stuffed in his fanny pack. It was just a last-minute thing,
a quick bite then back to our house to sleep.
Takes very little to rouse the animal crouched in the garden:

The smirk of the local girl at the menu stand,
or the two boys spilling their Cokes on his new adidas.
A loud metal voice he seldom hears wells up

Venice Beach Boardwalk, 17 September 2014

Venice Beach Boardwalk, 17 September 2014

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

2nd Thursday of August (2014): A Poem By Joan McGavin

Met Joan McGavin two years ago, in Hawthornden (where she also met Jenny Lewis; and Alison Amend; and Hamish) and had many wonderful adventures which she looks back on with fondness.

Joan is expecting her first grandchild very soon. Self thought of her today while having her car washed: the Auto-Pride on Woodside Road has a great gift shop, with all manner of gift cards. Self chose one with a cheerful yellow envelope and a parade of babies on the front.

Joan is currently the Hampshire Poet of 2014 and is organizing the Winchester Poetry Festival and is mega-busy.

Her collection, Flannelgraphs, was published by Oversteps Books.

Self likes this poem in particular because she’s just finished writing a short story called “The Freeze.”

New Skills

for the globally warmer world
will include flood wading
taught by out of work
circus performers
ex-stilt walkers
acrobats and the like.

Anger management
will be increasingly called for
with levels of overcrowding
making those living
jowl by cheek
more and more likely
to go for the jugular
of their nearest neighbours.
Our tutors are tried and tested.

Tear control –
though not strictly part of our current
Adult Education provision –
is an old skill;
revision, one-day courses
will be offered
by our highly qualified staff
of tsunami victims.
Haitians.

Joan speaks so pointedly, though softly.

Stay tuned.

Listmania: Six Recently Bookmarked/ 12 Existing Tags

*     *     *     *

Naomi Watts *  Oliver Stone * Owen Wilson * Patrick Leigh Fermor * Paul Theroux * Peter Sarsgaard * Pico Iyer * Rebecca West * Ruth Rendell * Sarah Waters * Siquijor * Tom Hiddleston

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