Generation Gap, by Joan McGavin, Hampshire Poet for 2014

DSCN0471
With the Armistice declared,
school was closed
and the children all
ran hilty-skilty
down the brae.
Mum burst into the house —

her brother’s photo
already three years
on the mantelpiece.

Newly
promoted corporal,
he holds
the swagger stick
self-consciously,
glances to the side.

And now she’s gone,
and those questions
one could ask about him
— dead on the Somme —
will need books,
the internet, research,
for any hope of answers —

and between me and my uncle
only the red hair
and my mother
forever saying
how much I reminded her of him.

— by Joan McGavin, Hampshire Poet for 2014

“The Decedent Is Initially Viewed Unclothed”

Self’s story, “The Decedent Is Initially Viewed Unclothed,” is included in Calyx Press’s 40th anniversary collection of prose and poetry, to be published 2016 in partnership with Ooligan Press.

She was particularly happy to learn that “the book will feature an excerpt from the memoir of Margarita Donnelly, who was a founding editor of Calyx.” Margarita passed away December 2014.

And that is all self has to say right now, sorry for this extremely short post.

Stay tuned.

Half and Half: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

The last two WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges have been really interesting. Last week’s was SYMBOL. This week’s is HALF AND HALF:  “. . .  try to focus solely on the visual plane of the photo.”

The prompt is from Ben Huberman, who included a shot of the imposing Devils Tower in Wyoming:

“There was rock, there was sky, and both were stunning.”

Here’s her first post on this week’s theme: three separate shots of special Irish places.

Inchicore, from the Blackhorse stop on the Luas

Inchicore, from the Blackhorse stop on the Luas Red Line

The Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square, After a reading for the anthology LOST BETWEEN: WRITINGS ON DISPLACEMENT

The Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square, After a reading for the anthology LOST BETWEEN: WRITINGS ON DISPLACEMENT

Saint Stephen's Green on Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Saint Stephen’s Green on Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Self loves the wide-angle of her Nikon Coolpix. That’s because, in fiction as well as in her photo-taking, she loves playing with perspective. Most of her favorite shots involve splitting a landscape in two.

And that, come to think of it, is also what happens in her writing: she likes working off contrasts, splitting a landscape into two.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books for Ireland

Mary Gaitskill: BAD BEHAVIOR

Mary Gaitskill: BAD BEHAVIOR

Cassandra Clare: THE INFERNAL DEVICES TRILOGY

Cassandra Clare: THE INFERNAL DEVICES TRILOGY

Poetry, but of course

Poetry, but of course: Dionne Brand and Tomas Transtromer

Suzanne Collins: MOCKINGJAY (Self has read this book at least half a dozen times)

Suzanne Collins: MOCKINGJAY (Self has read this book at least half a dozen times)

AFTER: NINETEEN STORIES OF APOCALYPSE AND DYSTOPIA, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Wandling

AFTER: NINETEEN STORIES OF APOCALYPSE AND DYSTOPIA, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Wandling

and, last but not least:

George Eliot’s Middlemarch

Self is bringing along the following literary magazines as well:

  • Crab Orchard Review’s West Coast and Beyond Issue
  • Witness Magazine’s Spring 2015 issue
  • Bluestem Magazine’s Spring 2015 issue

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Fairy Tale Cottage in Chapter 14 of CLOCKWORK PRINCESS: PARABATAI

Self loves fairy tales. Regular readers of this blog know that very well. She has hardcover copies of both The Annotated Brothers Grimm and The Annotated Alice, both published by W. W. Norton. Her favorite Hunger Games fan fiction writer is Mejhiren, whose bleakly beautiful fairy tales blend Hunger Games and fairy tale elements like the Wild Swans or the Snow Queen so seamlessly. Which brings us to Clockwork Princess.

SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

In Chapter 14 of Clockwork Princess (Self hates the thought of finishing this book. She tried to keep from reading more than a chapter today, but that was an epic fail), Tessa Gray has been kidnapped by the evil Mortmain, and is being taken to Wales in a carriage driven by hideous Mrs. Black. She manages to throw herself out of the carriage, and tumbles down a ravine, and then follows a stream to a little cottage:

She had seen no sign of human habitation for miles, and was beginning to despair of her plan, when a clearing came into view . . .  It had begun to rain lightly, but even through the drizzle she could see the outline of a low stone building. As she drew closer, she saw that it seemed to be a small house, with a thatched roof and overgrown path leading to the front door . . .  The house was deserted.

The door was already part open, the wood swelled with rain.

DUN DUN DUN!

There are many more descriptive details in the passage, but this chapter is so packed that self will have to turn dear blog readers’ attention to another subject.

Chapter 14 is also the chapter when the terrible thing happens. The cord linking Will Herondale to his parabatai snaps, and the rune just above his heart which represents the bond he shares with Jem starts to disappear. Of course, it couldn’t have occurred at a worse time (unrequited love for Tessa etc etc have taken its toll) and Will himself begins to wish his life could end, too. That is, until he’s attacked by a pack of werewolves. And then, Will being Will, instinct kicks in and he fights:

The lycanthrope screamed, and a dark bolt of glee shot through Will.

That Cassandra Clare. When she writes about Will, her writing is as sure and finely honed as a rapier. He’s her best character, the one she seems to know intuitively. And her writing is at its best when she writes about him.

Self read somewhere that Clare is starting a new series, and it’s going to be about the children of Will and Tessa. Wait — WHAT??? Tessa and Will have children ???

Indeed they do! James and Lucie Herondale. And that’s who Clare’s new series will be about.

But self doesn’t want to read about any of Will’s descendants, no matter how many of his fine qualities they inherit. She wants to read about Will. And she doesn’t want him showing up as some kind of oracular ghost, either. Can you do that, Cassandra Clare?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

ANNAGHMAKERRIG: Rosita Boland

Flight Paths

The eighteenth century Swedish naturalist,
Carolus Linnaeus,
like Aristotle long before him,
was convinced
that swallows wintered underwater
in the riverbeds they nested on.

The truth is no less strange
small birds flying south to Africa
navigating only by the Pole Star;
a displacement of the elements either way —
like love, when it arrives overnight
and seemingly from nowhere.

Each time we waved the other off
at airports, we had to believe
what was traveling far
would survive to return by instinct
and seem again to have always been there,
swooping and soaring above our joyous heads.

Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

Before self left the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, last May, they gave her a hardbound copy of a book called, simply, Annaghmakerrig. A compilation of the best of Irish literature, by writers who had all done residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

She brought the book with her to Mendocino, and this evening she finally gets a chance to crack it open. She lets her fingers land on a random page, and finds a poem by Rita Ann Higgins:

Anything Is Better than Emptying Bins

 I work at the Post Office.
I hate my job,
but my father said
there was no way
I could empty bins
and stay under his roof.

So naturally,
I took a ten week
extra-mural course
on effective stamp-licking;
entitled
‘More lip and less tongue.’

I was mostly unpleasant,
but always under forty
for young girls
who bought stamps with hearts
for Valentine’s Day.

One day a woman asked me
could she borrow a paper-clip,
she said something about
sending a few poems away
and how a paper-clip
would make everything so much neater.

But I’ve met the make-my-poems-neater type before;
give in to her once,
and she’ll be back in a week asking,
‘Have you got any stamps left over?’

Well I told her where to get off.
‘Mrs. Neater-poems,’ I said,
‘this is a Post Office
not a friggin’ card shop,
and if you want paper-clips
you’ll get a whole box full
across the street for twenty-pence.’
Later when I told my father,
he replied,
‘Son, it’s not how I’d have handled it,
but anything is better than emptying bins.’

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Lydia Davis, “The Other”

From the Lydia Davis collection Almost No Memory (1997):

The Other

She changes this thing in the house to annoy the other, and the other is annoyed and changes it back, and she changes this other thing in the house to annoy the other, and the other is annoyed and changes it back, and then she tells all this the way it happens to some others and they think it is funny, but the other hears it and does not think it is funny, but can’t change it back.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Orange 2: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Laundry Day! Which meant self had to bring some books downstairs with her, to read while she waited for her clothes to dry.

The book she chose today was The Annotated Brothers Grimm, edited with a preface and notes by Maria Tatar.

The illustrations in this book are simply gorgeous.

Since this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ORANGE, self decided to take pictures of the illustrations that had the warmest orange glow:

Maxfield Parrish illustration of Sleeping Beauty, published in a 1912 issue of Collier's Magazine

Maxfield Parrish illustration of Sleeping Beauty, published in a 1912 issue of Collier’s Magazine

Warwick Goble, Illustration for The Six Swans: "The Queen cast spells on six shirts and threw them over the six boys, who were instantly transformed into wild swans . . . "

Warwick Goble, Illustration for The Six Swans: “The Queen cast spells on six shirts and threw them over the six boys, who were instantly transformed into wild swans . . . “

Warwick Goble, Illustration for Little Red Riding Hood

Warwick Goble, Illustration for Little Red Riding Hood

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Am Reading Today, Last Tuesday of February 2015

blogs

a friend’s novel

Roberto Bolaño’s 2666

tweets about the Oscars

Sunflower Splendor: Two Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry, Co-edited by Wu-chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo

Here’s a poem called “Southern Mountains,” by Han Yu:

So therefore I watched a pool
Whose clear depths concealed water dragons.

Bending I could gather fish and prawns,
But who dares plunder divine beings?

About Han Yu: He was a late T’ang Dynasty poet, and a contemporary of Li Po and Tu Fu. He was born into a literary family of landed gentry in the province of Hunan. He served in several high posts in the government: Vice President of the Ministry of War, Vice-President of the Ministry of Personnel, and Metropolitan Governor. He died in Ch’ang-an in 824, at the age of 56.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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