Liu Xia: EMPTY CHAIRS (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Liu Xia is the wife of Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize awardee Liu Xiaobo (Liu Xiaobo is currently serving an eleven-year sentence in China for the Charter 08 Manifesto).

The excerpt from Black Sail is in her collection, Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Black Sail (translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern)

You reach out your arms and pull the man
close, quiet, until his hair floats like seaweed.
Then you calm down and light a cigarette — green smoke
rises. The next day, when firecrackers
clear the way for a full black sail,
you become a gust of wind, a cloud, an eye.

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Lake Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

Poetry for After November 8, 2016

Excerpt from “I Copy the Scriptures,” by Liu Xia

Day and night,
I copy the Diamond Sutra
of Prajnaparamita.
My writing looks more and more
square.
It proves that I have not gone
entirely
insane, but the tree I drew
hasn’t grown a leaf.

from the collection Empty Chairs: Selected Poems by Liu Xia, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Chaos 2: Victoria & Albert; AWP Book Fair, Los Angeles; Manhattan, Night

Embrace the creative potential of disorderly randomness.

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

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A Chihuly: Lobby of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London

Below: the controlled chaos of the Annual AWP Book Fair. This year’s was in Los Angeles. Seated: Keith Tuma of Miami University Press.

There have been AWP conferences where self is so buzzed by being surrounded by so many authors and literary panels that she has gone as long as 48 hours with absolutely no sleep.

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AWP Book Fair, Los Angeles, April 2016

Finally: self did a lot of lonely walking in Manhattan last December. The city never ceases to amaze. New York is a grrrreat city for insomniacs!

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New York City: Night, Midtown, December 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Nostalgia for Venice

More from the watershed trip self took with Margarita Donnelly (founder and managing editor of Calyx Press) in April/May 2013, less than two years before she succumbed to cancer. We rented a small two-bedroom apartment in Ca’ San Toma, Venice. Margarita’s adventurous spirit far exceeded self’s.

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The Bridge of Sighs, April 2013: View From the Doge’s Palace

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San Marco Square on a Rainy April Day

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Self on the Rialto Bridge, April 2013: Margarita must have taken the picture. Even though self’s face isn’t visible, she really likes this picture for the mysterious red umbrella.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More Quests

All books are quests of one kind or another. To self, they represent explorations of new experiences.

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New Edition of Don Quixote, at the AWP 2016 Bookfair in Los Angeles

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From the Europa booth at the 2016 AWP Los Angeles Book Fair

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from self’s own copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans, retold by Amy Ehrlich, illustrated by Susan Jeffers

This is how the fairy tale begins:

Far, far away, in a warm and pleasant land, there once lived a king who had eleven sons and one daughter. The princes wore stars on their shirts and swords at their sides, and their sister, Elise, sat on a footstool made of glass. These children were happy from the time they woke in the morning until they went to their beds at night. They never imagined another life.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Currently Reading

Sweet like Sunday morning.

Beginning Ben Ehrenreich’s The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine. The book next to it is self’s newest sketchbook, cover illustration by Irina Troitskaya, whose work you can find in The Exquisite Book: 100 Artists Play a Collaborative Game (Chronicle Books, 2010)

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Sunday, 18 September 2016: Sketchbook and Ehrenreich

Every new book is an adventure.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Hilarity

Self spent late last night combing the web for views (hopefully, conflicting) on the dramatis personae of Northanger Abbey. Principally, for those of the characters she is most interested in:

  • Catherine Morland
  • Mr. Tilney
  • John Thorpe
  • Isabella Thorpe

Her favorite (thus far) is this one, on Tor.com:

Not Born To Be a Heroine

  • Northanger Abbey is hilarious. It’s the story of a girl who wants to be the heroine of a Gothic novel, but who finds herself instead in a peaceful domestic novel.

It’s good to be reminded that the heroine of this book is 17. The same age as the characters in The Hunger Games.

Self just wanted to throw that in there.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

“Something That Stands Out From the Everyday”

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is RARE: Post a photo of something you regard as “scarce and singular.”

Here are some rare things:

Dedication from a novel by Irish writer Maeve Binchy:

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To “dear good Gordon . . . such a supportive and kind person”: That degree of love and support and respect is indeed rare.

Here’s a one-woman press from Boston, MA: Kattywompus Press. It takes guts to run a press, anyone can tell you:

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Independent Publisher, AWP Book Fair, Los Angeles Convention Center: March 2016

Finally, a must-see for book-lovers everywhere. It’s called The Last Bookstore, and it’s on S. Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles. Part of a vanishing breed. Their logo says it all: “What are you waiting for? We won’t be around forever.”

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More Than a Bookstore: A Magic Trip

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Wall Street Journal Books, July 23 – 24, 2016

Self found a couple of books to add to her reading list while perusing the Books section of the July 23 – July 24 Wall Street Journal:

  • Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln, by Charles B. Strozier (Columbia)
  • The Castle of Kings, by Oliver Potzsch (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) — historical fiction, set in 1524 Germany
  • Abahn Sabana David, by Marguerite Duras (Open Letter) — “minimal, dream-like setting” and narration that has “the bluntness of stage directions.” Self adores Duras.
  • The Brotherhood of the Wheel, by R. S. Belcher (Tor) — Resourceful residents of a small town use a HEXapp — an actual HEXapp! LOL LOL — to show the most recent sightings of the local spectre!
  • Richard Cohen, literary critic and Tolstoy expert, shares his favorite British crime novels: The Cask, by Freeman Wills Crofts; Tragedy at Law, by Cyril Hare; Reputation for a Song, by Edward Grierson; The Shortest Way to Hades, by Sarah Caudwell
  • Brazillionaires, by Alex Cuadros (Spiegel & Grau) — nonfiction by a journalist

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

SPARE: Daily Post Photo Challenge, 27 May 2016

Spare landscapes are often quite beautiful in their minimalism (if you choose to look)

— Krista, The Daily Post

Below are a few pictures that struck me as evocative of this week’s theme, SPARE:

Self took a walking tour of Oxford, day before yesterday. The quadrangles in front of the main buildings are surprisingly spare: free of fountains and monuments. Pristine.

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The building used to house Oxford University Press.

The India House was of course a very important building, especially during the days of the British Empire. With true British understatement, there are no signs indicating the building’s historice function: only the elephant on the weathervane:

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Weathervane on top of India House, Oxford, UK

Finally, the Weston Library is a moden structure directly across the street from the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Oxford. The facade is spare, with one banner announcing the current exhibit (in honor of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death): Shakespeare’s Dead:

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A banner announces the Weston Library’s current exhibit.

Hope these are suitable examples of SPARE.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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