#amwritingshortstory: Manchester Square

Setting, The Wallace Collection, London:

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Fragonard’s “The Swing” Originally, the lady was to have been pushed by a bishop. But this was evidently too much. So, instead, we have an elderly gent sitting on a stone balustrade, in the shadows behind.

  • She walked past the Flemish Masters in the East Drawing Room, strode past Titian’s Madonna and David Teniers the Younger’s the Deliverance of Saint Peter.

Later, self took her notes and added this sentence (while having lunch at Chez Nous, 22 Hanway Street):

  • She was more of a café person than her friend Maxine, who’d set the bar pretty high, whose idea of dinner was to go to the Ottolenghi in Islington, who had impressed her parents into gifting her a trip to London (she couldn’t be bothered to learn French, so London it was) by getting an A on a paper about the Thirty Years War (“1618 to 1648,” she told her mother, Cici, who blushed with maternal pride).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Dystopia: Tyrone Guthrie Centre, 2014

Self is trying to put together a collection. Which involves a laboriously slow process of selection. It is nice, though, re-reading stuff.

from Spores:

(Set in the far future. Very, very, very far. Society’s divided into classes:  Earthstar, Silverleaf, Shag, and Common. The main characters are a pair of lab workers named K and R. K is a girl, R is a boy. The story’s told from R’s point of view)

“We be needing foxes,” I said once.

“You lousy hedgehog,” the boss said, giving me a good one. My right eye swelled up almost immediately.

“You not be asking me to fetch, you lousy Common!” He gave me another good one on the way out.

K trembling there in the corner.

The voice was birthed while eavesdropping at the dinner table in Annaghmakerrig.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amwriting: A Story Begun in Hawthornden

Just to show you how mind-numbingly slow her mind is, there are stories she’s begun five, even 10 years ago, whose words sit in her MacBook, languishing.

Five years ago, while self was in Hawthornden, she met two British poets: Joan McGavin and Jenny Lewis.

After dinner, while we all gathered in the parlor, these two would talk. And if self did nothing in that whole month she was there (June 2012) except listen to the stories, she would count that month well spent.

She also remembers visiting the National Museum in Edinburgh, and seeing there a figure of Dolly the Sheep. And dreaming of a giant Dolly the Sheep looking in through the manor windows.

Dolly the Sheep was the first successfully cloned sheep. She was born on 5 July 1996 and died on 14 February 2003.

Self was channeling sheep apparently because she even began writing a Dolly the Sheep story, which began:

  • The ghost of Dolly the Sheep, and three dun-polled cows.

Hawthornden was the place where self worked on editing Magellan’s Mirror for J Journal. And that is quite a fantastical story (The Philippines populated by a race of giants).

Then she began going to Ireland and started writing dystopia.

Goal for today: Finish that Dolly the Sheep story!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

“Our Gracious Dorotea”: from Self’s Novel-in-Progress

To help self write a love scene set in 18th century Spain, she turns to poetry.

The title of the chapter she is working on today is Our Gracious Dorotea. The poem is this:

Perhaps because within myself
I had already chosen your portrait
here they are in fields of thought
one thousand and a thousand more red poppies.

— Domenico Adriano, excerpt from Da Papaveri Perversi, transl. from the Italian by Barbara Carle

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Winner and Husband of Liu Xia (Poet, EMPTY CHAIRS), Has Died

And self can’t even.

She found out, of course, from Twitter.

There’s confirmation from BBC World News, here.

Heartbroken.

Ursula K. Le Guin on Writing

The sound of the language is where it all begins. The test of a sentence is, Does it sound right? The basic elements of language are physical: the noise words make, the sounds and silences that make the rhythms marking their relationships. Both the meaning and the beauty of the writing depend on these sounds and rhythms. This is just as true of prose as it is of poetry, though the sound effects of prose are usually subtle and always irregular.

— from Steering the Craft: A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, by Ursula K. Le Guin

Emma Rice: Shakespeare and Love

This year, self was fortunate enough to catch two plays at Shakespeare’s Globe: Twelfth Night and Tristan and Yseult.

Both plays were terrific. But only one was truly unforgettable, because self watched it her last night in London, that fabulous city.

Here’s an excerpt from the Tristan and Yseult programme, written by Director Emma Rice:

Love, I celebrate it, practise it, mourn it, and fight for it.

But my appreciation and experience of this most seductive of topics is dwarfed by Shakespeare’s understanding of love. My mind spins when I imagine how his life must have been: how hard he worked, how far he travelled, how dark and scary the landscape he lived in was. If I close my eyes and propel my imagination back in time, I hear the tectonic plates of the planet creak, I see the ground opening up and Shakespeare clambering out of a deep crack in the earth’s surface, dusty, desperate and gasping for air . . . then, with the clarity of clear water, he sings from the earth he was born. Shakespeare gave voice to desire and to grief, to parenthood and to marriage. He charted the waters of courtship and the loneliness of a failing marriage. He mourned for us, married for us and betrayed for us. He gazed fearlessly into the human existence like no other, before or since.

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Shakespeare’s Globe, Just Before the Start of “Tristan and Yseult,” June 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

ORDER: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 7 June 2017

ORDER: “Neat, tidy objects and spaces.”

Monet’s garden at Giverny has a profusion of flowers but it’s the individual blossoms that really show you nature’s genius for order.

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Giverney: May 2017

The flower is ready for its close-up:

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Finally, I. M. Pei’s magnificent pyramid at the Louvre:

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Fabulous: I. M. Pei’s audacity

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

After Violence: Editors’ Note, J Journal, Fall 2012

This morning, self was standing on Platform # 5 in St. Pancras, waiting for the Picadilly Line southbound to Russell Square, when she heard the announcement over the PA system: We invite you to take a minute of silence to remember the victims of last Saturday’s attack on London Bridge.

It just so happens she has the Fall 2012 issue of J Journal here in London, and here’s what she read in the Editors’ Note:

. . .  after muggings in the park or fights on the street, after flood and fire, after 9/11 — why write? Why read? What good comes of either? Aren’t they just flimsy paper shields against what Yeats worries is “passionate intensity,” the eruption of chaos, of hurt and death? No. After violence, after strangeness on the street, after degradation and the jolt of darkness, what do people do? Grab someone and start talking. The writer grabs a pen and arranges events, turns abstractions into images, draws from chaos something to hold, something with meaning. In that way, perhaps writing is itself the first act of justice.

J Journal, A Note From the Editors, Vol. 5, No. 2 (Fall 2012)

Could have been written yesterday.

J Journal is published twice-yearly by the Dept. of English of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 West 59th Street, New York City.

Stay tuned.

Friends 2: Monet’s Garden at Giverney

Two days ago, self had the opportunity to visit Giverney for the first time. She got so lost in the gardens, she didn’t even bother going inside Monet’s house. Go figure! She’s always loved flowers. They are her friends, always. Which is perfect, since this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is FRIENDS:

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Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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