Still Poetry Thursday: Talvikki Ansel

Eating, from the collection My Shining Archipelago (1996 Yale Series of Younger Poets)

They fed us soft-boiled eggs, six
in a basket covered in a dishcloth. Our mother
with one swift crunch could slice off the tops.
Ralston, grits, cornmeal mush; steel-cut
oats, cooked for a night on the back
of the stove; split-pea soup, heaving
and gumming in the iron pot; cole slaw:

cabbage shredded, peppered and tossed
in mayonnaise; and someone in the kitchen
gnawing on the cabbage stub (for years
I thought it was “costs low”); cod and potatoes,
the fishy-smelling box with the sliding lid
that we all wanted, and the cod soaking
in a bowl, a chunk of dirty snow; the pot
of minestrone our father dropped

coming into the dining room, spectacular,
noodles everywhere, the dog ecstatic, and us
staring down at our placemats not
daring to laugh. And kale, kale
that stayed green and bitter until November,
leaves frosty when we snapped them from
the woody stems. Our mother splitting pods
of cardamom on Sundays and baking
pulla; rowing with our father to an

island where we waded in the chill salt,
pried mussels and periwinkles
from dark rocks, and steamed them in weeds
on a smoking driftwood fire, but that
was long ago, when we crouched
on the beach, sharpening rose twigs
and digging out the meat.

Five Best Heroines Self Encountered in 2019: One Real, Four Fictional (Stay Tuned for Part 2: Heroes)

Anne Glenconner, Lady in Waiting, My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown (memoir)

Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey (novel)

Cora Seaborne, The Essex Serpent (novel)

Nora Gerraoui, The Other Americans (novel)

Rita Sunday, Once Upon a River (novel)

All of self’s favorite heroines were in books written by women. Coincidence?

Kathryn Ferguson: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, A Woman’s Journey

Half the time, self is reading this book with deep anxiety. Why? Because the author is a woman and self’s background is conditioning her to expect an ‘incident.’ But, so far, Ferguson’s encounters have been refreshingly free of ‘Bad Hombres.’

p. 54:

One of my first faux pax in the Sierra is to tell Hiram, a Norogachic vaquero and friend of Santiago’s, that I like his horse while he is saddling up a mule. Politely but firmly he explains the difference. Mules and horses look alike. Except mules have long ears. I have since become a great observer of ears. I don’t want to call someone a jackass who isn’t.

Stay tuned.

Self-Regard

Since finishing The Hobbit, a week and a half ago, self has read two books by women: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, by Kathryn Ferguson (University of New Mexico Press, 2015) and Trick Mirror, by Jia Tolentino (Random House, 2019).

Ferguson undertakes an exploration of the southern border, with a vague hope of making a documentary: she doesn’t have funds, doesn’t know anyone, but stumbles around, talking to whoever will talk to her. And she IS lucky: nothing bad happens to her.

Jia Tolentino is lucky. The daughter of Philippine parents who became Canadian citizens, she is smart as a whip, in-your-face, and funny. Her style is to sit back and analyze everything that happens to her, and everything she does.

In Essay # 2 of Trick Mirror, she recounts her time as a reality TV contestant (She was 16. Never one to miss an advantage, she packs a lot of pocket-sized mini-skirts. Points!). After analyzing her fellow castmates (one was “a sweet guy,” another was “the all-American girl,” still another was “the wacko,” etc.), she asks her castmates what they thought she’d been cast as:

Though I’m sure they would’ve answered differently if someone else had been asking, my castmates guessed I was the smart one, or the sweet one, or the “fun Southern one,” or the prude.

(It is amazing that someone would ever think she’d been cast as “the prude,” given the pocket-sized minis!)

But then she writes, disarmingly, that reality TV “is a narcissist’s fantasy come true . . . everyone likes to have an audience. Everyone thinks they deserve one.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sunday Reading: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, p. 22

  • Later I will see Wenders’s film, Paris, Texas, written by Sam Shepard. Watching … in a dark movie theatre, I will experience in advance what I will later come to see on a desert trail — that we are all the myth of America. The playwright’s American dream of abundance is a fragile thing lined with longing, alienation, and rage, things that … we in the country know, and foreigners who adopt our country come to know.

THOTMB, p. 7

There are some jobs I can’t make myself do. An eight to five is deadly; I need to fill more than my stomach. I can’t work in the mines, can’t work at Walmart, and can’t be a Border Patrol agent. For those jobs, you’d have to wear a hairnet or some ridiculous rectangular uniform, or be there for hours on end, like being in a cage. That would be impossible.

New Book: The Haunting of the Mexican Border, A Woman’s Journey, by Kathryn Ferguson

Found this book in Mesilla! Published by University of New Mexico Press. It begins with a quote:

For those who must leave home and travel to another land.

Introduction:

When you think of fear, you think about the five-foot-long Black Iguana with alligator eyes, ridges of teeth, and spiked backbone. It looks terrifying. As it charges you with world-record speed, you panic. But upon observation, you see that it prefers to dine on flowers and fruit. Such is the nature of fear. It is only imagination, up until the day you are eaten.

Stay tuned.

Calyx Journal 10: Summer/Fall 2019

Look at this beauty!

20191208_150717

Featuring the 2018 Margarita Donnelly Prize for Prose Writing, Michelle Cristiani’s Blessed Are the Breathing.

From Senior Editor Brenna Crotty:

  • This is the issue of transformation. I knew it would be as soon as we accepted two pieces with the word “Molt” in the title. Although they addressed very different themes — the pain of recovery versus the new freedoms of young adulthood — they both flung the windows open on deep feelings of change. And the more I looked for it in this collection of poems and stories, the more I found it. From the grief and catharsis in Ingrid Wendt’s “Blue Morpho” to Michelle Cristiani’s unfolding account of life after a stroke, this issue is filled to the brim with the challenging and exhilarating work of becoming something new.

It isn’t just the words, though. The featured visual art is stunning as well.

Submissions are open through Dec. 31.

2019: Grateful For

When Her Husband Left Everything to Kent, the Servant

As if things were not just getting absolutely awful for poor Anne Glenconner (Her two eldest sons dead, the third in a coma), her husband Colin flees to the Caribbean, and becomes close to a servant named Kent.

A Night at the Opera, p. 294

It was going well until halfway through the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves in the opera’s third act when, to my absolute horror, Colin started to wail and scream beside me. “Colin, what is the matter?” I asked.

“I wish Kent was here,” he wailed.

“Honestly, I don’t think Kent would enjoy it, but I am here.”

But he continued to wail, “No, no, I want Kent!”

By this time, more and more of the audience were turning their heads in our direction. Seeing the rug over Colin’s knees, I grabbed it and threw it over his head, hoping it would shut him up. To my amazement, he didn’t tear it off and, with his wails now considerably muffled, the audience turned their attention back to the stage. Shrinking into my seat, I hoped the saga was over, but the worst embarrassment was yet to come. When the chorus finally ended, the conductor turned to the audience and announced, “Under the circumstances, I think we will have to have that again.” I was utterly mortified as the chorus began again.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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