Express Yourself: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

EXPRESS YOURSELF is this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

Since self is doing a residency at the Mendocino Art Center, she thought it would be a good idea to focus on the different forms of artistic expression practiced by her fellow artists-in-residence.

One of them, Mary Ellen Campbell, has a piece in this just-published anthology!

Mary Ellen is a multi-genre artist. Her mixed-media pieces are in the Mendocino Art Center Gallery.

Just Published! An Anthology by Child-Free Women of the 60s in their 60s

Just Published! An Anthology by Child-Free Women of the 60s in their 60s

And there are ceramic artists (like the two who live right next door to self: Mitch and Jessie)

Four artists share this studio in the Mendocino Art Center. These pots were created by Mitch Iburg, who hails from Iowa.

Four artists share this studio in the Mendocino Art Center. These pots were created by Mitch Iburg, who hails from Iowa.

As well as visual artists like Kim Thoman who don’t fall easily into any category (Well, neither does Mary Ellen). Self had dinner with Kim one night, and listening to Kim explain her process was like listening to self’s former Stanford Prof David Nivison discuss Zen Buddhism and the Tao of “Nothingness.” Brilliant. Just. Brilliant.

Visual Artist Kim Thoman's Studio at the Mendocino Art Center: Kim comes to Mendocino every January to work on her art.

Visual Artist Kim Thoman’s Studio at the Mendocino Art Center: Kim comes to Mendocino every January to work on her art.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

CHINESE YANKEE, by Ruthanne Lum McCunn

(Not a third-person post, for once!)

Many of the stories in my second collection, Mayor of the Roses, were shaped when I was in a writer’s group with Ruthanne Lum McCunn.

Lives diverge, self hasn’t seen Ruthanne for many years.

But, a month or so ago (first I typed “weeks ago” then decided to double-check the date on Ruthanne’s e-mail — time moves like a river oh me my), I got an e-mail saying she’d written a new book: Chinese Yankee, a True Story From the U.S. Civil War (Design Enterprises of San Francisco, $16)

Here’s something from the Hong Kong South China Morning Post:

Chinese Yankee is an extraordinary story that still resonates 150 years later. With her empathy for the central character and her engaging and accessible prose, McCunn is ideally qualified to tell the tale.

Ruthanne Lum McCunn is also the author of: Sole Survivor, God of Luck, The Moon Pearl, Thousand Pieces of Gold, Wooden Fish Songs, Chinese-American Stories, and Pie-Biter.

More about Chinese Yankee can be found here.

Stay tuned.

The Wall Street Journal’s Holiday Books Issue (Weekend, Nov. 22 – 23, 2014)

The following list is made up of the books self felt most interested in reading after perusing the Wall Street Journal’s Holiday Books (2014) issue:

Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, by Hermione Lee (Knopf, 488 pages, $35)

Offshore, Penelope Fitzgerald’s Booker-Prizewinning novel of 1979

Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History, by Rhonda K. Garelick (Random House, 570 pages, $35)

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, by John Lahr (Norton, 765 pages, $39.95)

Updike, by Adam Begley (Harper, 558 pages, $29.99)

The Novel: A Biography, by Michael Schmidt (Harvard University Press, 1,172 pages, $39.95)

The Age of the Vikings, by Anders Winroth (Princeton University Press, 320 pages, $29.95)

Napoleon: A Life, by Andrew Roberts (Viking, 926 pages, $45)

The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns (Knopf, 528 pages, $60)

The Mantle of Command:  FDR at War 1941 – 1942, by Nigel Hamilton (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 514 pages, $30)

George Marshall: A Biography, by Debi and Irwin Unger (Harper, 352 pages, $35)

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered, by Lynne Cheney (Viking, 564 pages, $36)

Rendezvous with Art, conversations between the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Philippe de Montebello and Martin Gayford (Thames & Hudson, 248 pages, $35)

Frans Hals, by Seymour Silve (Phaidon, 400 pages, $125)

My Favorite Things, by Maira Kalman, a catalogue of 40 items in the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (Harper Design, 160 pages, $35)

The Only Way to Cross, by John Maxtone-Graham

SS United States, by John Maxtone-Graham (Norton, 245 pages, $75)

Surf Craft, by Richard Kenvin (MIT University Press, 192 pages, $29.95)

The Art of Things, an anthology of essays on good design, edited by Dominique Forest (Abbeville, 592 pages, $150)

Globes: 400 Years of Exploration, Navigation and Power, by Sylvia Sumira (University of Chicago Press, 224 pages, $45)

Me, Myself, and Us, by Brian R. Little (Public Affairs, 288 pages, $26.99)

Hope: Entertainer of the Century, by Richard Zoglin (Simon & Schuster, 565 pages, $30)

The Beatles Lyrics, edited by Hunter Davies (Little, Brown, 376 pages, $35)

The John Lennon Letters, edited by Hunter Davies

Mephisto, by Klaus Mann

 

 

Available Now: Your Impossible Voice, Issue 5

Today self heard from the editors of Your Impossible Voice that Issue No. 5 is out!

YAY!

The story they took is “The Elephant.” Self actually sent if from Cork, Ireland. It was the morning she was transferring from Ballyvolane House to Café Paradiso. You know, self just fell in love with Cork and wishes she had stayed there an extra week.

But, back to Your Impossible Voice and “The Elephant.” It is actually quite a disturbing story, but it is what it is. Here’s an excerpt:

For over a week, the elephant’s wild thrashings sent reverberations throughout the ship. It threw itself against the walls of its container, again and again. Sea monsters, the crew awoke thinking. We’re all going to die!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Memories of Trees” : Live Now on PITHEAD CHAPEL, Vol. 3, Issue 9

I’m one of three people still living who can tell what a mango tree looks like.  I’m important because they think they can learn how to make more.

– “Memories of Trees,” Pithead Chapel, Vol. 3, Issue 9 (September 2014)

Digging Ever Deeper (Into the Pile of Stuff): The Sea, Islands, the Poet

From The New Yorker of 3 February 2014, a review by Adam Kirsch of The Poetry of Derek Walcott (Farrar, Straus & Giroux):

A poet who comes to consciousness on a small island — like Derek Walcott, who was born on St. Lucia in 1930 — is doomed, or privileged, to spend a lifetime writing about the sea.  The subject matter for Walcott is as consistent and inescapable, potentially as monotonous, as the five beats in a pentameter line.  But, like so many great poets before him, he shows that constraints do not have to starve the imagination; they can also nourish it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The Chang-rae Lee Version of Dystopia

This is from the review of On Such a Full Sea, Chang-rae Lee’s new novel.  The review appeared in the January 27, 2014 issue of The New Yorker.  The reviewer was Joanna Biggs.

“More and more we can see that the question is not whether we are ‘individuals,’ Chang-rae Lee writes in On Such a Full Sea (Riverhead), his new, dystopian novel.  “The question, then, is whether being an ‘individual’ makes a difference anymore.”  It seems doubtful, in Lee’s somber future.  Afflicted by swine- and bird-flue epidemics, and a profound change in the climate, America, now known simply as the Association, has split into three separate social groups.  At the top sit the Charters, a small professional class that has controlled the country’s remaining resources and withdrawn into gated villages.  Catering their dinner parties and keeping their cars perpetually waxed are the ‘service people,’ who live in the land beyond, known as the counties.  ‘You better have it while you have it’ is the motto of the bartering, hardscrabble life there.”

District 12, anyone?  The twist is that the oppressed classes are “workers whose ancestors arrived from New China a hundred years earlier.”

Biggs then cites a list of dystopian narratives (which fortunately or unfortunately do not include anything YA), starting with “the math genius D-503, in Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, who begins by designing the spaceship INTEGRAL . . .  to the fireman Guy Montag in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 who starts out as a kerosene-wielding book burner and ends up harboring what may be the last copy of the Bible,” to Winston Smith, the “mid-ranking employee” of the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s 1984.

Self has read most of Chang-rae Lee’s novels.  She’s read Native Speaker, Aloft, and A Gesture Life.  Of all his novels that self has read to date, her favorite is still A Gesture Life.  Harrowing.  She’ll never forget it.

What she likes most about Lee’s writing is the quietness of the voice.  The restraint masks sheer agony.  All his main characters are tightly wound but restrained, almost to the point of lunacy.  Feelings are to be distrusted.  They are acknowledged only under great peril.  Which makes him sound, on the surface, like Kazuo Ishiguro.  But self finds Chang-rae Lee’s characters, almost all of them, to be deeply emotional and passionate individuals.  If they do harm, it is mostly to themselves.

She does have a copy of On Such a Full Sea, signed by the author himself after a reading he gave in Berkeley.  Self is sorely tempted to tote it along to Ireland, but it’s hardback.  And self has sworn she’s not going to burden herself with more than a handful of books this time.  The fee for mailing the books back home will be exorbitant, if what she paid after Hawthornden is any indication.  Oh what to do, what to do!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

EKPHRASIS: Jean Vengua’s The Little Book of Haptic Drawings

The word epkphrasis is one of those words, like deconstruction or meta-fiction, that self has heard floating about, here and there, usually in the most erudite settings — like literary magazines.  Like university websites (She used to have “dystopian” on that short list, but ever since The Hunger Games, and its overwhelming popularity, self hears “dystopian” at least 10x a day and it may be moving from the realm of the esoteric to the realm of cliché)

Ekphrasis refers to poems inspired by another art form — visual arts, say, or music.

The Little Book of Haptic Drawings is about ekphrasis.  But you don’t even need to know that.

It’s available now online in pdf format.  You can read it for free online or download it.  Jean would welcome a small donation — anything you can afford.  (There’s a small donation button on the sidebar).   Just click on the link.  Explore.  Enjoy.

And if you fell in love with it, be sure and let Jean know.

Stay tuned.

 

The Essence of Spain

A year ago, I became convinced that I should spend the rest of my life in Spain.

I made up my mind to find the true, true essence of Spain.

I decided that, until I got to Spain, I would listen only to Camaron.

I purchased maps, because I had decided that one of the important things I had to do was walk the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela.

To prepare myself for the Spanish time clock, I disciplined myself not to eat until 10 p.m.

To get used to the idea of “siesta,” I imposed a daily two-hour nap on my hectic life, which resulted in my employment being terminated, which made me happy because I had become extremely worried about exceeding vacation limits.

(Like what you’ve read here? Read the rest of the story on Eunoia Review)

Stay tuned.

Going Live This Week at EUNOIA REVIEW: Two Short Shorts

Self has been reading Eunoia Review for several years now.

She loves the writing.  They publish poetry (beautiful poetry) and a kind of prose self considers “TransGenre.” Fits right up her alley.  Ever since self heard the word “TransGenre,” a few years back (Hotel Amerika featured her piece “Ghosts” in their TransGenre issue, and gave a name to the kind of short short stuff self had just begun writing), she loves the word.  TransGenre: not sure if you need to capitalize the “G.”

Which reminds her:  She has to look and see if Hotel Amerika is at the AWP Book Fair!

She didn’t know anything about the editor, Ian Chung, until he sent her a message yesterday, saying the two pieces he’d accepted for the review were going live this week.

That’s when she decided to google him and found out that he edits the review from Singapore!

She wants to make sure she puts this announcement in before heading to the craziness of the AWP annual conference, this year being held in Seattle.

Self’s head is about to explode.  She got a message from PANK late last night, and then just remembered she hadn’t yet submitted her signed author contract to Philippine Speculative Fiction vol. 9, and it’s due Mar. 1.

Panic attack!  Nice panic attack, though.

This morning, she decided that the best thing for her to calm down would be to take a yoga class, and lo and behold, she got to Peacebank in downtown Redwood City, five minutes early, but after she checked in, there was no space.  Wall to wall yoga mats, and no one wanted to budge even a few inches to give her a chance to squeeze in.  Stone-faced, all!

The two people manning the check-in desk looked so impatient when self said there was no space.  They said, maybe you can ask someone to move?  Are you kidding?  Did you see the grim-faced visage of everyone in the class when they saw self stumble in, clue-less and panting? 

Which meant:  good-by, yoga class!  Au revoir!  Till we meet again!  Whenever or wherever!

In the meantime, self almost forgot:  the link to Eunoia Review!

Here it is, dear blog readers.  Enjoy.

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