Wednesday, December 04, 2013
an interesting new books blog underway from one R. T., someone I encountered first on critic D. G. Myers's book blog, and later via novelist Scott G. F. Bailey and . . . here. He is especially keen on Flannery O'Connor, but seems to have a wide range of concerns. Why don't you pop by and help him launch? He's posting frequently and has lots of questions!
Monday, December 02, 2013
|Makoto Fujimura's Dark Shalom, 2012|
This morning I feel like bundling all my thoughts into tiny packages--perhaps I shall place them under a metaphysical tree, and hope they are not simply waste of breath! Aphorism too often becomes Polonial, and adds nothing to the accumulated thoughts of the world. Perhaps it is now impossible to add an aphorism that has not been conveyed already in other words.
I don't try in words to be better than some other writer; I try to be better than I am, to increase what is me.
Surely it is just as sad to achieve only the expected and conventional--that thing we too often like because it is comfortable--as to do nothing with a gift in the realms of art.
Poems without joy in sound are dead leaves that will never dance in the wind.
The problem with much criticism of the novel and poetry in the past century is that it attempted to replace art, not realizing that art is an experience that cannot be replaced.
Each of us is a secret that cannot be revealed; the portrayal of character in its ideal gives a sense of person and mystery.
An artist of any sort needs the understanding of what he or she can do, joined with a yearning desire to topple over that boundary--and the next, and the next.
After hearing many words in various orders read by many poets, I found myself longing for mystery.
The element most often missing in our arts is the sense of abundant life.
Even a ruined shack is a chamber of mystery if people have lived and died there.Well, that was an interesting exercise. Evidently I find mystery to be more important than any other element this morning...
Friday, November 29, 2013
|One of many images made|
by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
for The Foliate Head
|Image by Clive Hicks-Jenkins|
All moods pass on like the leaves, drifting on a stream.
And so once again I am content that my time was spent in that lonely joy, making stories and poems and tossing my bottled words onto the great sea in hopes that my letters to the world would be found. In that careful, careless manner I gave my hours and dreams away.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
He did not let go of his strange, unconventional muse but followed her over hollow lands and hilly lands, even though it caused him sorrow--he gave the gift but clearly often felt that it was not received. Then he died in 1968 of a rare degenerative neurological and psychiatric disease. It's hard not to think that the mad figures of Gormenghast were a kind of prefiguring of his own early degeneration. I have seen what it is like to be with someone dying by inches of such a thing--my father died of a dreadful neurological disease--and the pain of slow slippage, the ability to interact and to do the work one is meant to do draining away into nothingness.
My mother gave me the books when I was in high school . . . But it wasn't until I was nineteen that I discovered more of Peake's illustrations and fell in love with the marvelous Alice drawings. It wasn't so easy, back then, to see the scope of an artist's work.
In the BBC Bookmark film, it's recounted that he once sat on the bed of a dying girl, drawing her face and abruptly feeling astonished at his own ability to do so, to bear it, to be calm in the face of what he was seeing and doing . . . Hasn't every writer or artist felt the same, that the curious, examining, describing part of the brain was guilty of looking at people in a wrong, blameworthy way? And yet his imagination could never get over that visit to Bergen-Belsen, could never forget what his eyes saw.
He became ill; he saw the end of all his dreams, and his work had not become beloved--as it would be shortly after his death. It's as sad as any story of a Melville or a Bruno Schulz. Today he is an artist and writer treasured for his singular way of seeing and making, but the change and popularity came too late for him to have its sweet reward. He left us such magical gifts. When in the world's madhouses and still able to know himself, he ended his longing, loving letters home to artist Maeve Gilmore and their three children with "God bless you all."
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Thank you for the deluge of birthday wishes on facebook and elsewhere, and here's another post about A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage by novelist Scott G. F. Bailey.
Here are a few clips to entice:
A couple of days ago I finished Marly Youmans' beautiful 2012 novel A Death at The White Camellia Orphanage. I come here not to review the book, except to say that it's a wonderful novel and I recommend it to you. I can't review it because not only do I not know how to write a proper review, I'm not sure what to say about the novel. I don't know how to talk about it without diminishing it.Or this:
Youmans gives us a nontraditional story arc, which surprises and succeeds entirely.Or:
...and the novel, as I say, or should have said by now, works beautifully on this symbolic level just as it works beautifully on the surface level. It's quite a feat.Or:
It is, however, a deeply moral book, written in gorgeous glittering prose, entirely earthbound in its story and not afraid of poking into the dark corners of real life but also fearlessly--if in a more subtle way--pointing away from that darkness.I am grateful to Scott Bailey for visiting and re-visiting the book . . .
Friday, November 22, 2013
|credit: Rebecca Beatrice Miller, 8/2013|
With battalions of candles
Frizzling the icing.
I started celebrating yesterday with a studio visit with Ashley Cooper and then lunch. So glad to see her new work . . . And for dinner my husband made a grand feast for friends, and afterward painter and soprano Yolanda Sharpe sang Haydn and Handel arias for us. Lovely.
Of course, today is drear and rainy (a real Ishmael November day), more appropriate for the deaths of Kennedy and poor C. S. Lewis, overlooked in the wake of presidential assassination. It's also pee day in Rome, New York for the wrestling team . . . a tedious boy duty that seems to take eons longer than it should and is in the way. Nevertheless, frolics shall be had!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
The day after my (gigantic) birthday and conflagration of candles, I'm going off to the Bright Hill Center in Treadwell, New York to meet writers and readers and read for a few minutes in celebration of the center:
Twenty-one years of readings, workshops, art exhibits and more will be celebrated Saturday as Bright Hill Center marks its anniversary with an open house and marathon reading.
From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. [on November 23rd], the Treadwell arts venue will invite many of those who have been involved with Bright Hill during its 21-year history to join in the celebration. Refreshments will be served throughout the day, with “anniversary cake” served at 6 p.m. during a closing reception. Works from Bright Hill’s archives dating back to 1992 will be on display...
Scheduled to participate, along with founder Bertha Rogers, are Evelyn Augusto of Jefferson, Mermer Blakeslee of Roscoe, Richard Bernstein of Norwich, Richard Q. Downey of Otego, Ernest M. Fishman of Treadwell, Jesse Hilson of Delhi, Ginnah Howard of Gilbertsville, Sylvia Jorrin of East Meredith, Susan King of Walton, Tommy Klehr of Oneonta, Andy Morris of Downsville, John O’Connor of Franklin and New York City, Sharon Ruetenik of Delhi, Annie Sauter of Oneonta, Pamela Strother of Oneonta, Julia Suarez of Oneonta and Marly Youmans of Cooperstown.For more information about the celebration, go here. (Yes, there will be much cake!) I'll be reading in their Word Thursdays series next year.