Regarding Travel Writing (And Self Sincerely Enjoyed Teaching It Last Weekend)

This past weekend, self taught her second travel writing workshop at the Mendocino Art Center, where she also taught last year.

It was an exciting weekend, with participants writing about Grenada, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Nepal, the Dominican Republic, New York City (just to name a few).

Self does really love teaching this workshop.

How else would she learn that Vegemite tastes like “dirty socks” or that New Zealand’s national candy is something called a chocolate fish? How else would she learn about Pascal’s pineapple lumps (in New Zealand) or about “contracepting elephants” or about “wild game sausage” or that there are hop-on/hop-off buses in Uganda? Or about the delayed reaction time to sand fly bites? Or about Burmese sunblocks made from ground tree bark?

Anyhoo, she used the Best American Travel Writing anthologies for prompts. The 2013 edition was edited by Elizabeth Gilbert and here’s what she says about travel writing in her introduction:

  1. There is no story in the world so marvelous that it cannot be told boringly.
  2. There is no story in the world so boring that it cannot be told marvelously.

Isn’t that such a neat quote?

Self’s next class at the Mendocino Art Center is:

ONE STORY SIX WAYS

Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 6 -7, 2016
9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Mendocino Art Center
Tuition: $200

To enroll online, go here.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Personal Bookshelf in the Mendocino Apartment

Writers travel with a lot of books. Self is amazed at how many she ends up bringing with her.

She’s been in Mendocino most of January. Here’s her stash:

  • Of course, Miguel Hernandez, in the translation by Don Share
  • World of the Maya, by Victor W. Von Hagen, the copy she had with her at 21, when she and her roommate, Sachiko, an anthropology major, rode the third-class public bus from Mexico City to Chichen Itza
  • The Best American Travel Writing, 2013, edited by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Travel Writing, by Cynthia Dial
  • Secret London: An Unusual Guide, by Rachel Howard and Bill Nash
  • Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm, by Phil Pullman
  • Lost Between: Writings on Displacement, edited by Catherine Dunne and Federica Sgaggio
  • Travelers’ Tales Guides to Spain, edited by Lucy McCauley
  • Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia, edited by Teri Shaffer Yamada
  • copies of her first collection, post-Stanford: Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila, as well as copies of the anthology she co-edited with Virginia Cerenio, Going Home to a Landscape
  • Conamara Blues, by John O’Donohue
  • Firelines, by Marcus Cumberlege
  • The Piano Tuner, by Daniel Mason
  • Writing the Memoir, by Judith Barrington
  • Diane Arbus: A Chronology, 1923 – 1971
  • Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories From the New Asia-Pacific, edited by Trevor Carolan
  • Dead Season: A Story of Murder and Revenge on the Philippine Island of Negros, by Alan Berlow
  • Tonle Sap: The Heart of Cambodia’s Natural Heritage, by Colin Poole

Don’t even get self started on the journals!

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Reading Laird Barron’s OCCULTAION on Christmas Eve!

Occultation is soooo creepy. The publisher is Night Shade Books of San Francisco. Self bought her copy years ago, from Borderlands on the Mission.

Sorry, dear blog readers, sorry. It is Christmas Eve. Why is self reading horror?

She thought it would give her ideas for writing a Vampire Peeta fan fic of her own.

It’s about annihilation and transformation.

There is a very smart introduction written by Michael Shae in which he says:

To be transformed, to be remade, is not a passive exercise. It is an excruciating eclosion, a branching, fracturing emergence into a much bigger, hungrier universe.

Shae is right. Can anyone imagine that process — even if it’s a familiar trope like turning into a vampire or becoming zombi-fied — isn’t painful?

(About becoming a zombie: to read a story about just how painful it is, read Carrie Ryan’s in the anthology, After: Ninesteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia. In that story, people have discovered a way to un-zombify the zombies. It’s told from the point of view of one of these un-zombified. And the way she describes the process of recovery is awful. So we imagine what it must have been like to turn in the first place)

Self will leave dear blog readers alone now so they can think about holiday good cheer.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Some Women” by Bunny Ty (from the Calyx anthology GOING HOME TO A LANDSCAPE)

DSCN0272

Rose in the Kitchen: Tel Aviv, 2008

Some Women
by Bunny Ty

some women color their lips red.
not me, i like to color mine with good words instead.

some women curl their lashes hard.
not me, i want mine soft to catch my tears.

some women need to blush their cheeks pink.
not me, mine blush by themselves when i’m tickled pink.

some women close their eyes to show off their eyeshadow.
not me, i want mine open to see the world.

some women take pains to pretty up their faces.
not me, i would rather take pains in prettying up the world.

some women think i look plain and dull without color on my face.
not me, if you look hard enough, you’ll see i am wearing a rainbow.

(from Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas, co-edited by Marianne Villanueva and Virginia Cerenio, Corvallis, Oregon: Calyx Books, 2003)

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.

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,391 other followers