Monday, July 31, 2006

Anne Carson

On Sylvia Plath

Did you see her mother on television? She said plain, burned things. She said I thought it an excellent poem but it hurt me. She did not say jungle fear. She did not say jungle hatred wild jungle weeping chop it back chop it. She said self-government she said end of the road. She did not say humming in the middle of the air what you came for chop.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Margaret Atwood

from Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing

"Dante begins the Divine Comedy - which is both a poem and a record of the composition of that poem - with an account of finding himself in a dark, tangled wood, at night, having lost his way, after which the sun begins to rise. Virginia Woolf said that writing a novel is like walking through a dark room, holding a lantern which lights up what is already in the room anyway. Margeret Laurence and others have said that it is like Jacob wrestling with his angel in the night - an act in which wounding, naming, and blessing all take place at once."
p xxiii Introduction: Into the labyrinth

Friday, July 28, 2006

Wendy Cope

From the British Council Arts author website:
"Wendy Cope is a classic English humorist, updated to take account of changing times, but in her deflationary humour, bathos, and rueful wisdom she is absolutely the classic article. The poets she most resembles are John Betjeman and Philip Larkin....

She received a Cholmondeley Award in 1987 and was awarded the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse (American Academy of Arts and Letters) in 1995. Her poetry collections include Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis (1986), Serious Concerns (1992) and If I Don't Know (2001), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award."

An Argument with Wordsworth

'Poetry...takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility'
(Preface to the Lyrical Ballads)

People are always quoting that and all of them seem
to agree
And it's probably most unwise to admit that it's
different for me.
I have emotion -- no one who knows me could fail to
detect it --
But there's a serious shortage of tranquillity in
which to recollect it.
So this is my contribution to the theoretical debate:
Sometimes poetry is emotion recollected in a highly
emotional state.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

the writer's edge workshop July 28-30 in Portland

the writer's edge workshop will be held this weekend at the downtown campus of Portland State University with the following faculty:
R.M. Berry
Michael Martone
Lance Olsen
Susan Steinberg
Lidia Yuknavitch.

The writer's edge workshop is produced by Fiction Collective 2,
"an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction. FC2 is supported in part by Florida State University, the Florida Arts Council, Illinois State University, the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and private contributors."

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Andrew Dalby

I'm currently fasinated by Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece, but the reason Mr. Dalby is in the news these days is his new book on Homer, which posits that the bard was (gasp!) a woman. I have the Homer book on request from the library, and will post when I have read it. For now, I'm hugely enjoying Dalby's book on the food of Ancient Greece. Here's a taste:

"Little will be said here of political history. The appearance of new foods and new methods of cookery has usually nothing to do with politics but much to do with trade; it usually comes from the interchange of peoples and ideas...It is necessary to set the scene by saying something of the social context in which these foods were eaten..."

Which makes his book an entertaining and efficient way to do writing research.

As he says on his website, "Food history and language history are the two focuses of my research, and Greek and Latin texts are often my primary sources. I call myself a historian and linguist."


Sunday, July 23, 2006

more Tin House

Jim Shepard:

Write for the best reader you have ever had...What is the problem that is hard to face? Interrogate the dangerous aspects of the story...Pay attention to the rate of revelation. Keep continually building on points you have made instead of explaining again what you have already explained, shown...The emotional adgenda must dominate the structure of the story. This is the organizing principle...The heart of your story is why poeple are reading it. Do not keep it a secret. Start with it. Go back to it.

Elissa Schappell:
Write the story that only you can write. Write to save the life of someone like yourself.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

more about Tin House Summer Workshop

If you want the real scoop, check out blog entries by two of my new friends:

Stephanie Anagnoson (scroll down to Sunday, July 16)
and Katrina Denza (scroll down to July 19.)

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Jim Shepard again

correction to poetry
Here are the poems we heard:
James Merrill The Black Swan,
Thomas Lux Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy,
Lawrence Raab Attack of the Crab Monsters,
Louise Gluck Youth,
Richard Wilbur Love Calls Us to the Things of This World,
Adrienne Rich Fantasia for ? (dead mountain climber, sorry, cannot read own handwriting!),
William Stafford You Reading This, Be Ready.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Jim Shepard

I was fortunate enough to study with Jim Shepard at the recent Tin House Summer Workshop. And now I am reading and re-reading his short stories.

Jim runs his workshop in a manner both respectful and hilarious, and the outpouring of laughter enables him to go deep into the text. This method is disarming, enlightening, and instructional. Oh, and did I mention profoundly funny?

He starts each session by reading a poem aloud. We heard Thomas Lux The Black Swan, Lawrence Raab Attack of the Crab Monsters, Louise Gluck Youth, Richard Wilbur Love Calls Us to the Things of This World, Adrienne Rich Fantasia for ? (dead mountain climber, sorry, cannot read own handwriting!), William Stafford You Reading This, Be Ready.

Here are some of my notes:
"The great sentences instruct us...Your intuition is a greater genius than you are. Follow your intuition...Plug into your preoccupations...Write for the best reader you have ever had...Look for the weirdness in the story; there is the clue to the story's heart...In hard-boiled fiction the man does something he is ashamed of, therefore the woman must die...Great literature is interested in human agency and responsibility."

I am particularly fond of the title story, and the oddly compelling The Creature From the Black Lagoon, which is hilarious and disturbing and sad.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

blog hibernation time July 8-17

The blog will resume sometime in the third week of July.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tin House Summer Workshop July 9-15

Tin House Summer Workshop starts this Sunday. The lineup of workshop leaders is stellar.

FICTION: Dorothy Allison, Steve Almond, Aimee Bender, Ann Cummins, Charles D'Ambrosio, Anthony Doerr, Lee Montgomery, Antonya Nelson, Elissa Schappell, & Jim Shepard. (I'm in Jim Shepard's workshop.)

POETRY: Nick Flynn, Matthea Harvey, & D. A. Powell.

MEMOIR: Karen Karbo & Anthony Swofford.

Here's the list of Seminars & Readings. They are open to the public. The evening readings are held in Cerf Amphitheater ($5 at the door.) The afternoon seminars and panels are held in Vollum Lecture Hall ($15 at the door.)

And there are two guest speakers:
Lorrie Moore is reading Sunday night at 8pm.
Michael Ondaatje is reading Wednesday evening at 8pm.

The following are free events:
Tuesday, July 11, 5:30 pm Reading with Tin House senior editor, Michelle Wildgen, author of You're Not You. Free event. (Cerf Amphitheater)

Saturday, July 15, 5:30 pm Tin House Books Reading with Alex Lemon and Karen Lee Boren. Free event. (Cerf Amphitheater

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog is a delightful read. I am particularly fond of guest blogger Katherine de Swineford. Here is a taste:

"Teest teest teestynge

Sin neither dere Geffrey ne me can no thynge about computerie there hath been doubte as to howe wele he hath setten up thyse "geste-blogger" acounte. Here endeth my teeste poste...

Geffrey hath sayd I ought to speke of affayres presente and of courtlie gossip. Here is some gossip for yow: Constanze de Castelle is a bytch and I hate hir...

Whan in my chaumbre, I may goon about with myn wimple off, my sleves un-bouttoned, my skrits pullen up with my ceincturette and my hosen casten wey, and then hit be nat so badde, but whan I nede appere for othres, unlees hit be my Johne, hit is dredful and I growe reed and drenched, and stynke lyk a stable. My Johne hath sayd he lyketh the mannir in whych I stinke; he is so swoote! But ne myn own selfe lyketh how I stinke, so goon I shale to the bathes thyse weke."


Monday, July 03, 2006

Ogden Nash, THE EEL


I don't mind eels
Except as meals.
And the way they feels.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Beauty Tips for Ministers

Beauty Tips for Ministers is my new fav blog. Her photos are great. Scroll down to see what she says about men wearing kilts. I don't know why I am so enchanted with this blog. I'm not a minister. I insist on wearing jeans to church, when I go to church, which is mostly to hear my husband sing, as he is in the choir. But this blog, it makes me snort and bounce in my chair like a toddler. Here are some recent posts:

"Only the LORD Can Get Between You And Your Calvins.
Precious ones,let's not wear jeans to church on the Sabbath, okay? Even if they're stylish, and even if we're scheduled to spend the morning with the squirts down in Sunday School.
Calvin is fine.
Calvins are not."

"What's with these people who dare to get more attractive as they age while I am valiantly fighting off jowls and grandmotherly upper arms? I have a 60-something year old retired colleague who, damn him, looks younger now than he did ten years ago. As much as I love him,
I know that he uses no skin products whatsoever and that his only real beauty regime is to regularly imbibe good Scotch. I cry out to the Lord in my bitterness and envy. Lord, hear my prayer."