Sentence of the Day: “The Boy Who Left Home To Find Out About the Shivers”

from Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm, edited by Philip Pullman:

He had just sat down again when from every corner of the room there came black cats and black dogs, each of them wearing a red-hot collar with a red-hot chain.

— from “The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers”

Liu Xia: “June 2nd, 1989”

— Liu Xia dedicated “June 2nd, 1989” to her husband, Liu Xiaobo, imprisoned since 2009 on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power.” It’s in her collection Empty Chairs, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern (Graywolf Press, 2015)

The poem begins:

This isn’t good weather
I said to myself
standing under the lush sun

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: Aimee Nezhukumatathil (The Writer’s Chronicle, Sept 2016)

“I do think persona is helpful in however heavy or light the disguise, if only to announce to the reader that if my persona says or does something they don’t find agreeable, it’s just a character, not the person.”

— Aimee Nezhukumatathil, in her interview with Eric Farwell, The Writer’s Chronicle, September 2016

Liu Xia: “June 2nd, 1989”

June 2nd, 1989

— for Xiaobo

This isn’t good weather
I said to myself
standing under the lush sun.

Standing behind you
I patted your head
and your hair pricked my palm
making it strange to me.

I didn’t have a chance
to say a word before you became a character
in the news, everyone looking up to you
as I was worn down
at the edge of the crowd
just smoking
and watching the sky

A new myth, maybe, was forming there,
but the sun’s sharp light
blinded me from seeing it.

An Excerpt from Liu Xia Because, Because, Because

Give me a glass of wine.
Let me play the game with you
regardless of ending with a full house applauding
or one person alone crying
to the night

— from Liu Xia’s “Game” in the collection Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Liao Yiwu About the Poet Liu Xia (Whose Collection EMPTY CHAIRS Self Is Currently Reading)

From “The Story of a Bird,” Liao Yiwu’s introduction to Liu Xia’s collection Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015):

When we first met, we were very young, and knew nothing but writing poetry. The bird called Liu Xia lived in a large, cage-like room on the twenty-second floor of a building on West Double Elm Tree Lane in Beijing. I traveled from Sichuan to meet her and climbed up the stairs as the elevator was broken. From the moment I knocked on the cage door, Liu Xia never stopped giggling. Her chin became pointy when she smiled, and she laughed like a bird, unrestrained. No wonder she wrote this:

Then, we started to hate winter,
the long slumber.
We’d put a red lamp
outside overnight
so its light would tell our bird
we were waiting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreading: Sally Potter’s Screenplay for YES

Last year, self saw Sally Potter’s Yes at the London Review Bookshop and the filmmaker herself was present to do Q & A afterwards. Self asked Potter if the screenplay had been published, and when Potter said yes, it was available in the U.S., self almost broke out into a Happy Happy Joy Joy dance.

Can she just tell dear blog readers how she adores this screenplay, the fact that it is written in iambic pentameter from first to last is glorious.


Scene: An Irish woman (played by a luminous Joan Allen) who’s moved to New York returns to Belfast to visit her dying aunt in a hospital. The following passage is the aunt’s interior monologue:

AUNT

No one explained to me when I was young
Why time only goes forward. Hold your tongue
Was what they said when I asked them about
The universe and such and why we can’t
Do all that much about it when we make
A mess of things. If only a mistake
Could be corrected. Wind life back and start
Again. The second time we’d know the art
Of living. But we only get one go;
No dress rehearsals, this one is the show,
And we don’t know it. I don’t see the rhyme
Or reason in this so-called grand design . . .

(A priest enters the ward quietly and rapidly gives the last rites, making the sign of the cross and softly muttering a prayer)

But then I don’t believe. There is no sign
Of him up there as far as I’m concerned.
See . . . if there’s one thing that I’ve truly learned
It’s this: it’s down to me.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Names

Self’s second post on this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge: NAMES

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Dragon Papa: Grant St., San Francisco

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What Self Read, Summer 2016

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Iconic Chinatown: San Francisco, Fall 2016

Quote of the Day: The Hunter

The hunter does not lay the same trap for a wolf as for a fox.

Even “persons so insignificant and so inconsiderable . . .  may, some time or other, have it in their power to be of use to you; which they certainly will not, if you have once shown them contempt. Wrongs are often forgiven, but contempt never is. Our pride remembers it forever.” (Lord Chesterfield, 1694 – 1773)

— p. 144, The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene

Quote of the Day: Suzanne Collins

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  • Having no work, grief buries me.

— Katniss Everdeen, Mockingjay, Chapter 25

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