#amreading “Salt” from Joan McGavin’s PASSING ARCADIA CLOSE

Rivers fascinate self.

Here’s a poem about rivers from Joan McGavin’s second collection, Passing Arcadia Close (Oversteps Books 2017).

Self met Joan 2012, in Hawthornden.

SALT

by Joan McGavin

The changing taste of rivers
told me where I was heading.
How could I fail to swim faster?
I’d hugged the coast for hours,
kept the lap of landbound waves
to my right, where the tang of fresh water
mixed in with salt would flood
the roof of my mouth
at each estuary.

At night I dozed in the hammock between waves
or beached and slept away from houses
but within earshot of tides.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Selfie! Sylvain Landry Year 2 Theme 1

Sylvain Landry’s blog is a meeting place for photographers. Self loves participating in his photo challenges. The first of his Year 2 photo challenges is: SELFIE.

Self hates posing for pictures, but not when she’s taking a selfie. When she takes a selfie, the inner imp emerges and self’s smiles are always big as big. Thank you, Sylvain Landry, for the start of another great year of sharing!

This selfie is special for another reason: She bought the jacket from an Edinburgh department store, and the dress from a Tesco, the year she did a residency at Hawthornden. She was there June 2012. And that is where she met two British writers who ended up being fast friends: the poets Jenny Lewis and Joan McGavin.

photo-on-3-20-13-at-2-57-pm-2

Self wearing her Edinburgh jacket and a dress she bought from TESCO: 2012

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ghosts, Spectres and What Not

From a WIP:

Our village was visited regularly by ghosts. Of these, the most horrifying were the small ones, the children. They simply sat on smooth boulders by the sea and stared, arms open wide as if imploring for comfort.

Self has a yen for the supernatural.

She can say that boldly now because even though she is alone in her apartment, for the past week, the theatre downstairs, directly beneath self’s unit, has been alive with voices belonging to the cast of the play Quills, which opens on Thursday.

So comforting.

In contrast, last year, in the same unit, self heard the most awful racket, late at night, a woman screaming on and on and on and on. And at first she debated whether she should call 911. But the woman might be DEAD by the time 911 sent troops. Instead, she flung open the door to her unit, and ventured to the (brightly lit, thank God) ceramics studio, and burst in the door, surprising (she thinks) three people, and told them: “For God’s sake, don’t you hear the screaming? Can’t somebody help her?” No one moved a muscle. Finally, one of the three artists there said, skeptically, “Are you sure you’re not hearing the play?”

Oh. My. God.

“But,” self flailed on, “I thought the play was Gaslight. I don’t recall a woman screaming that much (in the movie version).”

“Well,” said one of the artists, “they might be interpreting it different.”

Oh. My. God.

Could a black hole please open up and swallow self whole?

She also doesn’t know if she was influenced by watching too much of The Grudge and The Ring. Or by a conversation at Hawthornden, in which the English poet Jenny Lewis (who once dated Michael Palin) told self: “Ghost children are the worst.”

Or maybe it was the tour of Underground Edinburgh, in which there is a small room piled to the rafters with children’s toys, dolls and such, because people (tourists) keep bringing them specifically for the child ghosts who live there.

Whatever the reason, self does remember cowering in her room in Hawthornden because in one corner was a nook shut off from the rest of the room by curtains, and in self’s imagination, there was a wraith sitting there. Emerging from there. With spectral eyes.

And she has only belatedly realized that Sarah Waters’ novel, The Little Stranger, is next on her reading list, and it’s supposed to be about a haunted house. If so, then the “little stranger” of the title can only be referring to one thing: a child ghost.

YIIIIIIKES!!!!

Heavens NO!!!!!

Sorry, Sarah Waters. May skip you (even though self has read: Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, and The Night Watch, and has loved them all). There’s too many ghost children wandering around already in movies. She can’t take it, simply can’t take reading a big, fat novel that’s just going to end up scaring the bejesus out of her.

Stay tuned.

 

Stories About Magic and Science Fiction

Why is self so attracted to stories about magic?

Don’t really know.

Self’s first experience with angst came from fairy tales. She fell in love with Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid. She always cried at the end of The Little Mermaid.

Then, she read Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris while she was a grad student at Stanford. She found the idea of a sentient planet mind-blowing! Positively transcendent! The movie with George Clooney was terrible!

On to her reading of the afternoon:  the Preface by Maria Tatar to her The Annotated Brothers Grimm (Self has been reading it and stopping every other sentence. This is a problem. Possibly, she won’t finish it in this lifetime. Oh! She also downloaded the episode of Face/Off with Josh Hutcherson as a guest judge. The guy is just too adorable. Too. Too. Too!)

Back to Maria Tatar! Here’s a passage she just finished reading:

Danger lurks in every corner of the world, and the encounter with it has a fierce inevitability that becomes a rule of the genre. Villainy: this was the . . . function that fuels the plots of fairy tales.

It just occurs to self that she has a long list of horror stories she’s written. She’ll see if she can append them to this post — when she has a little more time. But, right off the top of her head, here are a few: Seeing in PANK 9.5, The Departure in Philippine Genre Stories. Ghosts really get to her. Ghosts and the Apocalypse.

The writers she met at Hawthornden (June 2012), Joan McGavin and Jenny Lewis, told the most excellent ghost stories. They fueled her imagination and sent it roaring out of the gate. We’d talk about everything from Dolly the Sheep (whose likeness is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh) to ghost children (Self recalls Jenny saying, “The worst ghosts are ghost children.” Wheeee! Couldn’t sleep after that because she kept thinking there was a ghost child lurking somewhere in her room).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

From Des Dillon’s SCUNNERED

Des Dillon is a Scottish writer and a stand-up comic. Self picked up a copy of his book, Scunnered: Slices of Scottish Life in Seventeen Gallus Syllables, when she was doing a residency at Hawthornden in 2012.

Here’s a piece called ATTITUDE:

Treating every time
Like it’s the very last time
feels like the first time.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

A Poem Two Sundays Before Christmas (2014)

Self found this in the latest issue of The New York Review of Books:

excerpt from IN THE DARK

by Edwin Frank

Further information is sure to be
forthcoming, but for now
our one
recourse is
to wait, and we,

we have been,
we have been waiting now
for a very long time
for something
to become clear, although

everything remains
unclear. The light,
even the light is —
dim like the light in a basement — and these
shambolic trees

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Mission: Lit Crawl 2014

Tonight was Lit Crawl in San Francisco’s Mission. Self attended a reading of Saint Mary’s College alumna, one of whom was the fabulous Rashaan Alexis Meneses.

Rashaan read the story that was recently in New Letters, a story that happened to be set in Bonnyrigg, near Hawthornden!  (Rashaan should send a copy to Hamish).

But, before the reading, we met up at local fave Puerto Allegre (546 Valencia St) for some yummy sopes and guacamole, where self met poet Raina J. Leon and got her to sign a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn:

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

Raina J. Leon signing a copy of her book, Boogeyman Dawn, at Puerto Alegre on Valencia St.

This picture of Rashaan reading was unfortunately a little blurred, but you can still get a sense of her energy:

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

The Fabulous Rashaan, reading at Bay Blend Coffee & Tea, 1905 Mission Street, San Francisco

She happened to take a seat facing the sidewalk, so that as the reading progressed, she found herself watching a building directly across the street. There was a FOR LEASE sign on the front. The ground floor had this rather fabulous home furnishings store (with real-looking white sheep), very “chi-chi” for the Mission.

As it grew dark, the rooms of each floor of the building lighted up. And self has always, always been fascinated by windows.

She remembers staring out the kitchen window of her brother-in-law’s apartment in New York City, just staring at parallel rows of windows, and seeing people doing different things: talking on the phone, reading the newspaper. Each little square a story.

Mission Street, Across from Bay Coffee & Tea

Mission Street, Across from Bay Blend Coffee & Tea

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

2nd Thursday of August (2014): A Poem By Joan McGavin

Met Joan McGavin two years ago, in Hawthornden (where she also met Jenny Lewis; and Alison Amend; and Hamish) and had many wonderful adventures which she looks back on with fondness.

Joan is expecting her first grandchild very soon. Self thought of her today while having her car washed: the Auto-Pride on Woodside Road has a great gift shop, with all manner of gift cards. Self chose one with a cheerful yellow envelope and a parade of babies on the front.

Joan is currently the Hampshire Poet of 2014 and is organizing the Winchester Poetry Festival and is mega-busy.

Her collection, Flannelgraphs, was published by Oversteps Books.

Self likes this poem in particular because she’s just finished writing a short story called “The Freeze.”

New Skills

for the globally warmer world
will include flood wading
taught by out of work
circus performers
ex-stilt walkers
acrobats and the like.

Anger management
will be increasingly called for
with levels of overcrowding
making those living
jowl by cheek
more and more likely
to go for the jugular
of their nearest neighbours.
Our tutors are tried and tested.

Tear control —
though not strictly part of our current
Adult Education provision —
is an old skill;
revision, one-day courses
will be offered
by our highly qualified staff
of tsunami victims.
Haitians.

Joan speaks so pointedly, though softly.

Stay tuned.

Texture: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is TEXTURE. It’s about “the designs created by the water and sand,” about “layers,” and “strata.”

Here’s self’s first take:  Ripples on the sea (Amsterdam);  feathery ferns (Scotland); a designer hat (by Jean-Paul Gaultier)

The Sea, on a Cloudy Day (Amsterdam, July 2012)

The Sea, on a Cloudy Day (Amsterdam, July 2012)

Ferns and Grass:  Hawthornden, June 2012

Ferns and Grass: Hawthornden, June 2012

Textured Hat, Jean-Paul Gaultier (de Young Museum, April 2012)

Textured Hat, Jean-Paul Gaultier (de Young Museum, April 2012)

Spring 4: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

It’s 9 p.m., but not yet dark.  She remembers Scotland, two years ago:  spending an evening in Edinburgh, taking the bus back to Bonnyrigg, arriving past 10 p.m., and still having enough light to walk back to the castle.  She was always alone in these Edinburgh jaunts, but never afraid.

She’s been in Ireland four days and learned some things:  a “kill” is a wood.  Sinn Fein stands for “we ourselves.”  It’s pronounced Shin, not Sin.

The WordPress Photo Challenge this week is SPRING.

It has rained most of the day, but that only means the Irish countryside will be even more lush and green tomorrow.  For which, self will now load a picture of herself in the brightest, happiest mode possible:

Self in happy mode:  This was probably taken at the Negros Museum Café in Bacolod.

Self in happy mode: This was probably taken at the Negros Museum Café in Bacolod.  She only wears clothes that bright when she is in Bacolod!

Here is another picture that breathes of spring to self, even though it was taken in June (technically, summer), two years ago.  She was in Hawthornden.  Which has the same layered greenery of foliage as Ireland:

On the Grounds of Hawthornden, southern Scotland

On the Grounds of Hawthornden, southern Scotland

And here’s a shot taken at home in California.  Those are cherries.  Mmmm, self can eat through a pound a day:

The local farmers markets start up in the spring:  Redwood City's had just started up again, two weeks before she left for Ireland.

The local farmers markets start up in the spring: Redwood City’s had just started up again, two weeks before she left for Ireland.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

 

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