Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Interesting Times"

One of the quotes in Jonathan Williams In the Azure Over the Squalor, which I've discussed over at Eden Hall, is the now familiar "May you always live in interesting times", described there, as it usually is, as "An Ancient Chinese Curse" . Turns out it's not Chinese, and probably not ancient. More here.

Turns out its earliest known use appears to have occurred in a 1950 science fiction story by Eric Frank Russell. Does, or did, Jonathan read science fiction? I don't know; he does read mysteries, but ... Perhaps an email to the author is in order.

A friend writes to thank me for not doing a political blog. You're welcome! Not that I'm not deeply interested in discussion in and of the public forum, but I decided before I cranked this thing up that I'd leave political blogging as such to others. Political Animal Kevin Drum, who posted the article on "interesting times", the kids at Kos, Atrios, Joshua Michael Marshall at Talking Points Memo, and Shakespeare's Sister, just to name blogs that I read every day, do a great job. Lately, as we approach the conclusion of the Fitzgerald investigation into the Bush administration's campaign against Joseph Wilson (and, of course, its coverup), I've enjoyed firedoglake, written by Jane Hamsher; she's experienced as a prosecutor and has had unique insights into what's been trickling out about the investigation. Your mileage may vary, of course, but if you're of a progressive frame of mind, check them out, if you haven't already.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Catching Up ...

The reading with Andrea Selch was great fun. It'd been years since I'd read at a venue other than the Center, and it was a pleasure to see some old friends, like Tandy Solomon, who were also fans of Andrea's. I didn't get photos, but perhaps someone else did. I did manage to record the event on my trusty laptop.

After Andrea and I had finished, Tandy, who was our MC for the evening, announced that Emoke Bracz, Malaprops proprietor, a poet herself, had been so energized by our readings that she'd decided to come out and read a poem herself. Sure enough, Emoke came to lectern, and proceeded to recite from memory a long poem - in Hungarian, her native tongue. It was lovely and mesmerizing.

Before the reading Emoke and I had talked, and I'd had to admit that I was a little nervous, so she told me she had a way of getting through the jitters whenever she read: she always started by reciting a poem in Hungarian - she thought it could be in any language, as long as it was other- to settle herself down. I'll never learn enough Hungarian, I'm sure, to perform as Emoke did, but perhaps I'll start readings henceforth with a poem or two by old favorite Rene Char, in French.

The Transits of Venus chapbook did indeed get finished, and is now at Malaprops.

And now the bigger book, NatureS, a selection of poems since 1972, is with the printer, I'm told, so it may be out very shortly also. I've worked on it over the last two years, and am finally happy with the work it contains, notwithstanding the incorrigible youthfulness, shall we say, seen from age sixty, of some of it. More to come about that project, including some poems that the editor and I decided for various reasons to leave out.

Work on the house, meanwhile, continues. Yesterday, when I took the facia board and soffit off the eave at one of the original corners of the house (between rot and carpenter bees, they were in bad shape), I found some pieces of roofing which must have been, given their location, from the house's original roof. I'd already discovered, in scraping, the original paint, so now I've got a mind's eye glimpse of the house's appearance c. 1911: white, with a brick-red roof.

It'll be quite different when I'm through.

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Reading with Andrea Selch

Sorry for the infrequent posting, but I've been involved in other projects - like the reading last Friday at the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center by Jonathan Williams and Tom Meyer. There'll be a report and some photos of that event up soon at Eden Hall.

In the meantime, though, I'm looking forward to another reading: I'll be joining Andrea Selch for a reading this Saturday the 8th at Malaprops. Andrea hails from Hillsborough and teaches
creative writing at Duke University. She has published poetry in such journals as Oyster Boy Review, The Greensboro Review, Calyx and Equinox, among others. Her work has also been performed on NPR. She's published Succory from Carolina Wren Press and has another book, Startling , out from Wordtech Communications. One of her poems at Oyster Boy Review is here. While I've not yet met Andrea, I'm looking forward to it, given the focus of her work.

My participation in the reading came about by a bit of sheer serendipity. Lee Ann Brown had been scheduled to read with Andrea, but had to cancel to fulfill a personal commitment. She suggested that I fill in - and, after I'd considered it, I decided I'd take her up on the offer. The occasion even inspired me to finish putting together a chapbook of my own work, which I'll have at the reading. Titled Transits of Venus, it collects some of the poems grounded in relationships that I've written from the 1970s to this year.

There's a wine and cheese reception at 6:15, and Andrea and I will read at 7:00 PM. Hope to see you (this is one of those situations where our colloquial "you all" would be just fine) there.

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