Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lagoons Sessions


Poster by Paul Ryan
Friday, May 20, 2016
Uptown Arts Center
941 W. Lawrence
Chicago, IL

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Poison Ivy & Arsenic Lobster

My son was a big Batman fan as a kid, and he grew up to draw this Poison Ivy car! You can see more of his drawing and design at his Sketch Blog, and I offer this today in celebration of the new issue of Arsenic Lobster, which contains a poem of mine called "Poison Ivy."
There's a whole array of wonderful stuff, as usual, in this issue, and editor Susan Yount's introduction is like a poem in itself.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Collaboration

Such a busy month! But so far, I do have 27 new poems! They await re-reading and revision, and I have more to write before the month is out. In the meantime, here are two poetry posts involving collaboration:

1) The new poetry feature at Escape Into Life: Lissa Kiernan and Maureen Alsop, with art by Sara K. Byrne.

2) A lovely blog post by Maureen E. Doallas in Writing Without Paper, with poetry, art, and video by Lucien Stryk and Suzanne Stryk.

Plus, random Sibling Revelry by the Callaway sisters!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

It's Over

It'll be hard to kick the habit of reading, and I may fail, but I am entering a super busy time, and I can't read any more novels for a while! Ack! I'm glad I went out in a blaze of gold-feathered glory with The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. It seems people either love this one or hate it, so I am among the lovers.

One friend found it "tedious." I never found it tedious, but I did bog down a bit in the parts about casual drug use. I guess that's tit for tat with the narrator talking about "the boring part" of It's a Wonderful Life, referring to the love scene and singing of "Buffalo Gals." So we're even steven on that.

But I loved being dropped in a Dickens-like or Dostoyevsky-like plot with plenty of characters to care about and cringe at, and I loved the philosophical moments, earned by both narrator and author.

Here's one:

Only here's what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can't be trusted---?  What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight towards a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster? 

You hear the narrator's earnestness here, and also the terrible danger.

If your deepest self is singing and coaxing you straight toward the bonfire, is it better to turn away?Stop your ears with wax? Ignore all the perverse glory your heart is screaming at you? Set yourself on the course that will lead you dutifully towards the norm, reasonable hours and regular medical check-ups, stable relationships and steady career advancement, the New York Times and brunch on Sunday, all with the promise of being somehow a better person? Or...is it better to throw yourself head first and laughing into the holy rage calling your name? 

I don't know the answer to these questions,* but 1) I think it's important to ask them and 2) I have known people who had to throw themselves into the bonfire. I don't want to judge them! I want to understand them, and this book helps me with that, and it also comforts me, as I am, while not as wild as this fellow, still not on that path-to-the-norm that leads in the opposite direction. I'm on a meandering path, as I've mentioned before, and I like "the boring part" of It's a Wonderful Life as well as the sometimes cut-from-late-night-television scene of the floor over the swimming pool coming apart, etc. It is a wonderful life, but much harder for people with PTSD or disaster or crappy circumstances. They don't get to fall laughing from a dance floor into a perfectly safe swimming pool when the earth opens up and swallows them.

April is about to swallow me: poem a day for National Poetry Month, various events and writing deadlines, work, and the daily chores. Much as I'd like to be a slattern on Slattern Day, I'm doing the laundry....

*Nor do I know why it's "towards" in one spot and "toward" in another. What is the difference between the two? (OK, fine if this the boring part of the blog post.)

Thanks to Wikimedia and the public domain for Jimmy Stewart and Red Kimono on Roof by John Sloan. Thanks to Donna Tartt, Carel Fabritius, Mother Nature,and the Audubon Society for the goldfinch.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

While I Was Reading...

While I was reading The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, which I am still reading, as it's a long novel, nature's first green, which is gold, appeared outside. Yes, the forsythia has bloomed! Many green things are pretty darn far up out of the ground. On the trail, bright blue scilla is blooming, as it is, in a very pale blue, almost white, in my mom's yard, where it is gently spreading.

Today I was out in my own yard raking--again!--the last of the fall leaves, which have been protecting one of the flowerbeds. I heard a wee bird with a big voice--it was a chickadee!

But the goldfinches will be back for the catmint. The catmint has not yet poked up from the ground, but an actual cat pokes around daily, eyeing the birds from a perch on the air conditioning unit behind a mugo pine, where cardinals nest annually. Nobody is safe out there!

Thanks to Wikipedia for The Goldfinch, by Carel Fabritius.

Don't tell me what happens. I already know not everybody likes the ending. But, yes, I am...chained.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Touchy Subjects

We've had a lovely Easter weekend with family, involving jelly beans, a car wash, ham, card playing, Jesus, chocolate in various shapes, got-your-nose eggs (filled with jelly beans), and a long walk into town and back, Saturday, before it rained, Sunday. I read through chapter 33 of We Make the Road By Walking, by Brian McLaren, before a class on it this morning, and I finished Touchy Subjects, by Emma Donoghue before everybody arrived for the holiday, so I wouldn't be pulled away from conversation and games by the need to read a short story! I remember reading a review of this one when it first came out, and sort of shrugging internally, but after reading Room I wanted to try another book by her. I appreciated the variety/focus on relationships & babies and "touchy subjects." Somehow this probably helped me stay away from touchy subjects at the gathering!

And here are two bunnies touching each other and some bagpipes.

Because bunnies.

Also, my son left his car top, newly washed, in his bedroom. Hard to explain. I guess that would have been the picture to show you.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Temptation

I thought I had resisted temptation at the library book sale. But the last day is the free day. And I went back. For literature!* Poetry!** And, OK, a Mandy Patinkin CD.

He's singing, "Not a Day Goes By" from Merrily We Roll Along. How could I resist?

And last night we saw Youth, with Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel--what a combo!***--at the Normal Theater. It's an art film and a wow film! It's about music, film, relationships, and being human. I laughed, I cried, and I sat there stunned and recovering all the way through the credits (in part to see all the music credits!!) Talk about more cowbell!

*Jose Saramago, Susan Sontag, May Sarton, William Styron

**Kay Ryan, Lisel Mueller, Tess Gallager, Richard Howard, Reginald Gibbons

***Plus Jane Fonda, Paul Dano, Rachel Weisz, and a fabulous array of other humans! Kudos to Sumi Jo and Paloma Faith for being themselves! And fearless!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

On Borrowed...Books

I have a lot of books. In my house. Some mine, some borrowed--some borrowed from friends, some from the library.* They are stacked here and there in every room, because I might need a book at any time, right? So in addition to reading This Old Man, by Roger Angell, borrowed from my mom, I am reading The Shell Collector, by Anthony Doerr, borrowed from a friend. It is eerily beautiful. As I looked at the cover, I realized, I have all these shells. Where?

I pictured them in a Betsy McCall's Travel Pac with a broken handle, where they used to be, but when I opened it up, I found little wooden trains and disassembled tracks from my son's toddlerhood. Then I pictured the shells in cookie tins, Mermaid and Riberhus Butter Cookie tins!** Yes!

**also from my son's toddlerhood, gifts from his babysitter!

This blog entry was going to be about something else altogether. I planned to quote Roger Angell, waxing patriotic about Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades. "At ninety," he writes, "I belong to the generation that was called into service almost en masse, sixteen million of us, in 1942 and 1943, and went off to war." Because his was an "easy war" by comparison with fellow soldiers who died or were wounded or damaged, he says, "I've always felt a bit awkward with that Greatest Generation wreath that Tom Brokaw generously draped on us." Then he shares this insight: "yes, mine is the Greatest Generation, but despite the compliment, the people who are really feeling good about that aren't us old guys, I notice, but everybody else, anybody who's younger. If we're great, then they're a little great, and America itself is great all over again." Perhaps you see where I am headed.

Donald Trump recently came to town, and so did the Dump Trump and other peaceful protest groups, to voice their dismay with this candidate, mostly outside his rally. The few inside the rally were escorted peacefully out. I was struck by the fact that two of my acquaintances in town shared the same Dump Trump event post at Facebook, one in support of the protest, one criticizing the protest as being against free speech. Then a local newspaper columnist posted a funny picture about cheese, the Wallingford sign, that, to me, seemed to be anti-Trump in a good-natured way. So I "Liked" it, with the suddenly old-fashioned plain old thumbs-up Like button, not a fancy new emoticon, but so did the sincerely pro-Trump thumpers. The truth is I don't know how to read the world anymore! 

I guess this makes me This Old Woman. The kind of person who loves this sentence by Angell: "Art waits for us to catch up, and never goes out of date." He's discussing New Yorker cartoons, growing up with them, loving them even before he "got" them. "A contributor friend of mine once announced that there should be no more cartoons in the magazine. 'That time is over,' she said firmly." That time is indeed over, for many publications, a fact bemoaned by cartoonist and comics columnist Phil Maish over at  Escape Into Life, but Angell is glad still to have them, as am I. Even when I don't "get" them.

But now I "get" this, the Mermaid Butter Cookie brand from Denmark. Because my son has been to Denmark and seen the Mermaid. She's "The Little Mermaid" of Hans Christian Andersen, and my childhood is washing over me again, and I've found my shell collection. Oh, this! Go see this beautiful shell art by Shell Rummel, also at EIL!

Oh, it's a Random Coinciday in the blog, and, if I don't get this posted before midnight, also/almost a Slattern Day!

**Today (or yesterday) I almost resisted temptation at the library book sale. But I didn't. I bought a rocking chair! To read in.
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