Monday, the Fifth Day After New Year’s (2013)

Angela Narciso Torres’s first poetry collection, Blood Orange, was last year’s winner of the Willow Books Literature Prize! Understandably, she has been extremely busy!  Aside from doing readings from her collection, Blood Orange, she has shepherded a son to Stanford, while still serving as senior poetry editor for RHINO magazine.  Self admires her so much!

Here’s a poem from Blood Orange:

Ironing Woman

Afternoons I’d lie on her woven mat
of lemongrass and burnt leaves,
listening to tales of spurned love
on her bright-yellow transistor radio.
From her I learned what the old wives knew —

never to wash after ironing. Propelling
the gleaming prow along the ripples
of my father’s shirt, she’d tell how the iron
gnarled her wrists, once smooth as bamboo.
How the steaming metal twisted
her veins, brought on “the shakes.”
When I saw the serpentine rivers
on her arms, I knew this was true. Slowly

she’d raise both hands to show how
they trembled like maidenhair ferns
before a storm. Turning to her work,
her eyes reclaimed their stare
as though tracing a gull’s shadow
over the surging sea.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Much to Admire, But Also Much to Deplore

p. 266 of How I Found Livingstone in Central Africa.

Self has posted about Henry M. Stanley’s single-mindedness and steadfastness (which account, in no small part, for why he succeeded in his quest to find Livingstone).

Sprinkled here and there in the narrative are Stanley’s observations about his fellow man (especially the types he encounters in Africa) that clearly reflect some, shall we say, limitations on his thinking about race. But not for a second does self entertain the notion of putting the book down. Looking inside the head of a British explorer of the nineteenth century, self finds it a fascinating place, with very few unlit nooks and crannies. So it is great for her, a writer, because now she knows.

Here Stanley reveals his love of the hunt (Warning:  possibly stomach-churning.  Do not read unless you are ready to be appalled):

I might have succeeded in getting dozens of animals had I any of those accurate, heavy rifles manufactured by Lancaster, Reilly, or Bissett, where every shot tells.  But my weapons, save my light smoothbore, were unfit for African game.  My weapons were more for men.  With the Winchester rifle, and the Starr’s carbine, I was able to hit anything within two hundred yards, but the animals, though wounded, invariably managed to escape the knife, until I was disgusted with the pea-bullets.  What is wanted for this country is a heavy bore — No. 10 or 12 is the real bone-crusher — that will drop every animal shot, in its tracks, by which all fatigue and disappointment are avoided.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


Self has moved about 20 pages forward since Friday.


What self finds so amazing is that Henry M. Stanley, who chronicles his search for the British explorer David Livingstone, never once doubts the worth of his mission.  Never.

(Whereas, in the film self just saw today, Inside Llewyn Davis, Davis keeps searching for external affirmations of the validity of his passion, and sadly it is never forthcoming)

On p. 254, Stanley reflects that he is happy and content just knowing that somewhere in Africa, Dr. Livingstone is breathing the same air.  (Self knows — this is really borderline wacko. It sounds almost as if Henry M. Stanley, who was 53, is suffering from a form of schoolgirl infatuation)

He then asks:

Why is man so feeble, and weak, that he must tramp hundreds of miles to satisfy the doubts his impatient and uncurbed mind feels?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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