“Thaw” by Luisa A. Igloria

Surprise, surprise, it snowed! In the late afternoon. Self was supposed to go to a reading, but with the snow and all, she chickened out.

Self is rooming with Luisa A. Igloria again. (We were roommates also last year at AWP Seattle) Luisa is very good at attending panels, which is great, because self has been holed up in her hotel room just reading, and if not for Luisa’s recaps she would be in a great blizzard of Know-Nothing.

Self totally bombed about attending the Karen Russell reading this evening. Luisa loved it.

Here’s a poem from Night Willow (Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing) one of two books Luisa had published in 2014 (The other is Ode to the Heart Smaller Than a Pencil Eraser)


Warmer days. Light that fades later and later. Finally we can fling the
windows open. The clasps grate and rasp, like throats gargling salt
water first thing in the morning. Rooms crammed with more than
winter’s fat; eaves with bits of leaf and twig, blinds lined with ledgers
of dust. The drawers groan with socks and scarves, the pantry
shelves with unopened cans of beans. I want to scrub all the corners,
scour the tiles in the bathroom with bleach — even the stripes of
grout between each one. I want a pot of yellow strawflowers, a bowl
of blood-red tulips, nothing else but the mellow gleam of wood in
the middle of the room. I read about ascetics and what they chose
to renounce. Sometimes I think I want that. Sometimes I want to
be both the mountains emerging from their heavy robes of ice and
snow, and the streams they feed below, rushing and teeming with
color and new life. Sometimes I want to be the clear unflavored
envelope of agar, other times the small mouthful of sweet azuki bean
entombed like a heart in the center.

Luisa A. Igloria is the author of twelve books of poetry and numerous awards, including the 2014 May Swenson Poetry Prize and 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize.

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.

The Annotated Alice: The Mock Turtle’s Story (Chapter IX)

Funny how each of her residencies always seems to revolve around different types of books. She placed an order with Gallery Bookshop for The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition (Published by W. W. Norton) when she was last in Mendocino. The Annotated Alice is a beaut, with introduction and notes by Martin Gardner. So glad to have it in her personal collection.

Here’s how Chapter IX, “The Mock Turtle’s Story,” opens:

“You can’t think how glad I am to see you again, you dear old thing!” said the Duchess, as she tucked her arm affectionately into Alice’s, and they walked off together.

Alice was very glad to find her in such a pleasant temper, and thought to herself that perhaps it was only the pepper that had made her so savage when they met in the kitchen.

“When I’m a Duchess,” she said to herself (not in a very hopeful tone, though), “I won’t have any pepper in my kitchen at all. Soup does very well without — Maybe it’s always pepper that makes people hot-tempered,” she went on, very much pleased at having found out a new kind of rule, “and vinegar that makes them sour — and camomile that makes them bitter — and — and barley-sugar and such things that make children sweet-tempered. I only wish people knew that: then they wouldn’t be so stingy about it, you know — “

She had quite forgotten the Duchess by this time, and was a little startled when she heard her voice close to her ear. “You’re thinking about something, my dear; and that makes you forget to talk. I can’t tell you just now what the moral of that is, but I shall remember it in a bit.”

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


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.

“Place, Memoir, Journey” Workshop, This Saturday & Sunday

Self’s primary purpose in coming here to Mendocino is to teach a workshop. A travel writing workshop. A workshop on writing about place. About a physical location. Something that exists. And damn self is going to make the students write as hard as they can. Write write write write write write, dear students. The funny thing about travel writing is: you’re writing about place, but you’re also writing about memory. And damn we will mine those memories to the max, dear students! Especially those of you who arrive in Mendocino from far away. From, say, Louisville! So, in order to prepare the students for this wonderful two-day hard writing weekend, self has been immersing herself in manuscripts. She’s looked at Zack Linmark’s Leche, which is tremendously inspiring for voice work. And she’s reading Tony Robles’s about-to-be-published manuscript Cool Don’t Live Here No More, which is amazing for being about a specific place that he loves so much: San Francisco, South of Market (which may be disappearing under the onslaught of construction and high-tech companies moving in)

She’s also reading the absolutely heartbreaking memoir by Sonali Deraniyagala, Wave. Deraniyagala lost her entire family in the tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004. She lost her parents, her husband, and her two sons. And everyone told her: You’re so lucky you survived! Which just goes to show, people are stupid when it comes to pain. They either don’t feel it, or they feel it but they don’t want to feel it so they fight it and end up doing things like telling a woman whose entire life has been wiped out in one day: Thank the Lord you survived!

She’s also reading Thomas Lynch, who’s a poet but also an undertaker and also a memoir writer. She’s reading Nandini Dhar’s Lullabies are Barbed Nations. She wishes she had something by Atul Gawande and Abraham Verghese but after all, she could not bring her whole personal book collection to Mendocino. She’s still reading Roberto Bolaño and on the basis of the individual sentence, he is amazing. She thinks he has one sentence that goes on for two pages (Translator Natasha Wimmer, self salutes you) She will include the first page of her story “Rufino,” because it’s so far the only one of her short stories that mentions Neil Young. And Luisa Igloria’s poem “Oir” from her collection The Saints of Streets. And that’s as far as she’s taken her reading list at the moment. Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Fairy Tale in Question This Morning

Fairy tales are brutal. That’s why self loves them.

The Baba Yaga (Russian)

Once upon a time there was an old couple. The husband lost his wife and married again. But he had a daughter by the first marriage, a young girl, and she found no favor in the eyes of her stepmother, who used to beat her, and consider how she could get her killed outright. One day the father went away somewhere or other, so the stepmother said to the girl, “Go to your aunt, my sister, and ask her for a needle and thread to make you a shift.

Now that aunt was a Baba Yaga. Well, this girl was no fool, so she went to a real aunt of hers first, and says she:

“Good morning, Auntie!”

“Good morning, my dear, what have you come for?”

“Mother has sent me to her sister, to ask for a needle and thread to make me a shift.”

Then her aunt instructed her what to do.

— from Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales, in the section “Witches.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Rapunzel”: in The Annotated Brothers Grimm, Edited by Maria Tatar

This fairy tale has always fascinated self because of: the tower; the maiden with the plait of hair; a wife’s insatiable cravings; and a devoted husband who, in attempting to satisfy his wife, brings down ruin upon his family.

In Tatar’s de-construction, the opening sentence — “Once upon a time there lived a man and a woman” — indicates “that the story will center on procreation.” (Always look for the Freudian meanings in fairy tales!)

An excerpt:

As night was falling, he climbed over the wall into the garden of the enchantress, hastily pulled up a handful of rapunzel, and brought it back to his wife. She made a salad out of it right away and devoured it with a ravenous appetite. The rapunzel tasted so good, so very good, that the next day her craving for it increased threefold. The only way the man could settle his wife down was to go back to the garden for more.

As night was falling, he returned, but after he climbed over the wall, he had an awful fright, for there was the enchantress, standing right in front of him.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

This Evening, Tomas Transtromer

When self was with Angela Narciso Torres in Venice Beach in November, Angela took self to A Small World, a fabulous bookstore fronting the beach. Self ended up getting poetry collections by Neruda and Tomas Transtromer.

This evening, self is looking through Transtromer’s collection The Great Enigma (Pretty fabulous, that title!), translated by Robin Fulton.

The back cover has the New York Times quoting Transtromer as saying, “My poems are meeting places.”

Oh. Wow. Self can’t even. Just. Kill her now.

Here’s an excerpt from Transtromer’s Balakirev’s Dream:

 The black grand piano, the gleaming spider
trembled at the center of its net of music.

In the concert hall a land was conjured up
where stones were no heavier than dew.

Love, love, love those images.

Stay tuned.

Marcus Cumberlege: “Sun”


Pours at daybreak like wet gold
From a trove of its own finding
Under the stones of our hill

The trees are saturated
It spills over all the grass
Flooding towards the cottage

Puts enough light
For the whole of Ireland
Into a green glade

Cities rust in the shade.

* * * *

Discovered a collection by Marcus Cumberlege in the main house of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre when self was doing an artists residency there, last May.

The poem above is from Cumberlege’s second collection, Firelines. She called Stairway Books in Galway and they had one used copy, which they mailed to her.

From the artists bio:

Marcus Cumberlege, born in 1938, has also lived and worked in Peru, France and England. In 1972 he moved to Bruges in Belgium, where he lives with his Flemish wife.

Firelines is his second collection. “These poems were begun in 1970 – 1972 when he lived on the west coast of Ireland.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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