Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

I love it when I read a book at exactly the right time (for me)! For me, it was exactly the right time to read Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, by Kathleen Rooney. I've been wanting to read it since it first came out, and though I did read the hardback, the paperback has just come out, and Kathleen Rooney will be presenting it, via Surprise Bookshelf series, at the American Writers Museum in Chicago today, at 5:30 p.m.! Wooee! I recently (St. Patrick's Day) visited the American Writers Museum, and it's wonderful. Kathleen Rooney and her husband, Martin Seay, also a novelist, are coming to our town in August to read from their work at the library. I'm sure I will read Martin Seay's book, The Mirror Thief, at exactly the right time (before he comes to town), too!

Also, it's National Poetry Month, and Lillian Boxfish is a poet and an ad writer, the highest paid woman in advertising in America! She is based on the real highest-paid woman in advertising of her day, Margaret Fishback, who was powerful and respected and well paid before the era of Mad Men, to give us some perspective. But it was still the era of having to leave work if you got pregnant, as there was no maternity leave and employers did not hold jobs for women who had babies or men who went to war. To give it further perspective.

This is an utterly charming book. The end papers of my hardback edition show a map of where Lillian walked. As a child, Lillian was inspired by another career woman, her aunt Sadie, a nurse at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City in the early 1900s, which is crucial here due to the flu epidemic of 1918. And Edna St. Vincent Millay got her middle name from that hospital/saint! She's a favorite poet of mine. On with poetry month!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Above the Dreamless Dead

I was wowed to discover the book Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics, edited by Chris Duffy, in our own public library! What a powerful book. Contemporary cartoonists "adapt" (interpret, illustrate) poems from the Great War, whether by the actual Trench Poets (poets who really served in the trenches) or others connected to that war. I reviewed it over at Escape Into Life, and should review more poetry books there this month, National Poetry Month, but I am a fast/slow reader of poetry. Even if I whiz through a book on first read, like eating M&Ms, I then slow down and go poem by poem, taking notes, savoring, mulling....um, to pursue the original simile, sucking off the candy coating to get to the chocolate. No, that doesn't apply at all to most poetry I read! Never mind.

At EIL, we are celebrating National Poetry Month with poems about poetry! Be sure to read the current solo feature by Christine Klocek-Lim, who has another poem in a mini-anthology coming up next week with other EIL poets.

And I hope I do a better job here in April, keeping up with my own blog posts on poetry, reading, and random coincidii. It looks like I missed March entirely.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Call Me By Your Name

I still haven't seen the movie, but I have read the book. My mother had a movie-tie-in paperback copy. Now I will be very interested to see how all the internal musing manifests in the film. I jotted down this snippet of dialogue between Elio and Marzia about readers:

     "People who read are hiders. They hide who they are. People who hide don't always like who they are."

     "Do you hide you who are?"

     "Sometimes. Don't you."

     "Do I? I suppose."

I guess it's mainly the comment on readers as hiders that interests me. Are they? Are you? She is afraid of revealing that she likes reading. Why? Not all readers are hiders, surely. I do think some (many) are introverts and armchair travelers. It's like Emily Dickinson's poem, "I never saw a moor."

It's National Poetry Month, and 1) I am again writing a poem a day 2) as a blogger have recommitted to at least one blog entry per week devoted to poetry. I committed and then failed, dropping into woe over Parkland and snow, marched for our lives in snow....but here I am again, now about to quote more from Call Me By Your Name, by Andre Aciman, this time about poetry.

They are in a restaurant after a bookstore reading. A late arriving guest proposes a toast: "But if the job of poetry, like that of wine, is to make us see double, then I propose another toast until we've drunk enough to see the world with four eyes--and, if we're not careful, with eight."

Then Elio muses on his favorite poem from the reading, the San Clemente poem, and how it connects to his life: "As we ambled down an emptied labyrinth of sparely lit streets, I began to wonder what all this talk of San Clemente had to do with us--how we move through time, how time moves through us, how we change and keep changing and come back to the same. One could even grow old and not learn a thing but this. That was the poet's lesson, I presume."

I connected strongly with this, that "one could even grow old and not learn a thing but this." I feel I have been learning it.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love & Grief

Happy Valentine's Day. As poetry editor at Escape Into Life, I celebrated with the annual mini-anthology of (often unusual) love poems. This year it is called Parted from Love. Poems by Karrie Waarala, about a busted marriage; Michael Meyerhofer, about a cleaving; Kristin LaTour, about a seafaring lover; and Jennifer Finstrom, about a divorce (a darn good one). With art by Eric Finzi.

Then my heart broke again at the news of another school shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida. My broken heart goes out to all in woe, fear, and grief today.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

For the Loyal


Well, the play is up! Yay! For the Loyal, by Lee Blessing, at Heartland Theatre. I never would have imagined myself directing a football play with a pedophile in it, but it has been a marvelous experience, working with a great cast and creative team and a rock star stage manager and her fabulous assistant. Good stuff all around. If you are local (I almost wrote "loyal"), come see it!

The play was written in response to the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State and has similar but different circumstances. It was awful to have the Larry Nasser scandal in the news at the same time we were working on the play, reminding us that this keeps going on and nothing fully protects kids from it. What should we do about that?

The local paper did a great feature story on the production, and the review is up today. Many thanks to all who have been working on the show and helping to get the word out. It takes courage to work on this one, and to see it!