Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Solace of Coincidii

Day 187 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project and Cynthia is reading Nickle and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich, for her book group. In fact, she is generously gathering used/affordable/recycled copies of the books at Babbitt's, where we can put them on the Local Hold shelf for her temporarily!

Before my time, Brian Simpson, the owner of Babbitt's, featured in yesterday's blog and in the Illinois State Alumni Magazine, used to offer a "wishlist" at Babbitt's, but it got too unwieldy. Who knows, though? If we can add t-shirts and tote bags, maybe we can also revive the wishlist someday!

I read excerpts from Nickle and Dimed when they were published in Harper's and other periodicals, and it was good to know the nitty gritty about how hard it is to survive in the United States on limited income. (Which I have also known firsthand, at various stages of my life!) Some of the details reminded me of a film called Ruby in Paradise, about a young woman trying to get a good job in Florida--a coming of age story, not social criticism or economic critique, but definitely about personal insight and responsibility. Googling Ruby for you, I realize it stars Ashley Judd, early in her acting career. No wonder I loved it!

Meanwhile, I read on in In the Next Galaxy, by Ruth Stone, and a poem a day, my chocolate indulgence, in What Feeds Us, by Diane Lockward.

Diane's poem is "The Summer He Left" in which yellow takes over the world, turning to gold. It begins, "The lawn filled with dandelions," which the speaker finds beautiful, coinciding with my love of the modest, nutritious "weed," poet Martha Silano's respect for edible weeds, and my neighbor Karen's love of the beauty of dandelions in blossom and in wish mode.

Yellow is everywhere, in weed and flower and beyond, and this poem made me turn back to Ruth Stone's poem "White on White," in which white flowers are present alongside other white things--Chablis, "old woman's piss," "white pear bottoms," and"[w]hite mucus from healthy vaginas." Stone's poem evokes, but is of course strikingly different from, Robert Frost's sonnet, "Design," about a white spider on a white heal-all.

But, for me, the other freaky coincidence with stumbling upon "White on White" this summer was that I'd just drafted a sort of list poem about all the white flowers I'd accidentally arranged (not by design) in my own back yard this summer. When I get back to it, it will be deepened by awareness of the other poems, but must be its own "new" thing.

And now, solace. This morning in my inbox, I found the proofs and contract for works submitted to an anthology on solace that Ellen Beals began shaping in response to 9/11. It will finally be published now, in ebook and POD formats, and I'll tell you more about that later; there will be a blog, etc. The solace is of various sorts. We have lived through, mourned, and considered the events of 9/11, as a country and as a world, and we seek solace for all kinds of things all the time, and Ellen's book is a repository of solace.

My essay on what I was reading for solace at the time mentions Mary Ber, editor of Moon Journal Press, from whom, coincidentally, I received an email yesterday morning, as, recovered from cataract surgery, she'd had a chance to read my chapbook, Living on the Earth. The book somehow comforted her in her recovery, and coincided with her recent experiences on earth in the second half of her life. I feel honored.

1 comment:

Julie Kistler said...

I have been listening to two cds with songs including white, both of which came to mind when I read your post. And no, neither is Mellow Yellow!

One is Cat Steven's "Into White."

I built my house from barley rice
Green pepper walls and water ice
Tables of paper wood, windows of light
And everything emptying into white.

A simple garden, with acres of sky
A brown-haired dogmouse
If one dropped by
Yellow Delanie would sleep well at night
With everything emptying into white.

And the other is "Home," by Vanessa Carlton:

Some live in towns
Cardboard shack on concrete
All bluster and bustling life
They search for the color they can never quite see
Cause it's all white on white

Interesting that both are about houses and where we live and how we live. Love them both!