Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Good news for the Ainu

On June 6th, the Japanese Diet passed a resolution officially recognizing the Ainu, the native people of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, as an indigenous people.

The act has stirred some debate in Japan, which has long seen itself as a nation of just one ethnicity.

Sadly, it comes at a time when the Ainu have largely been assimilated into the larger Japanese culture; there are few surviving speakers of the Ainu language.


Late 19th century photo of Ainu from the collection of Flickr user Okinawa Soba (used under Creative Commons License).

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

This week: Ken Rumble on Wordplay

Greensboro’s Ken Rumble, one of the founders of the Lucifer Poetics Group, trekked across rivers and mountains to Asheville last Sunday and visited Wordplay. He provided some keys to Key Bridge (that’s a .pdf file, so give it a few seconds to download), his well-received book from Carolina Wren Press, discussed some his favorite poets and working on typewriters, and read some new work as well. One new piece was a two-voiced collaboration, so I got to fill in as the other voice. It was a hoot.

Ken’s work is always adventurous in exploring the dimensions of poetic form - and like, in that respect, the work of one of his favorite contemporaries, Lisa Jarnot. Both seem to draw on the work of Robert Duncan and George Oppen, who drew in turn on the practice of William Carlos Williams, Gertude Stein, and others among the great twentieth century modernists; both go a far piece, of course, beyond the maps defined by Duncan and Oppen into their own territories. But that’s the company, as it seems to me, and it’s a fine company to be in.

Music this week all came from Geoffrey Keezer’s Falling Up; we opened with the title track (long the virtual theme for Wordplay), and also heard “Palm Reader” and “Gollum’s Song.”

Do check it out over on the Archive page (just scroll down to “Wordplay”).

(For the impatient, here’s the direct link to the .mp3.)

The show will be available as an on-demand stream and podcast through Sunday, August 10th.

Update, 11 August 2008: Ken's show has now been deleted from the WPVM server, replaced by this week's show, which features novelist Janna McMahan. Ken's show will soon be available, however, at another place or two. More as we work out the details.

The photo can be found over at Ken’s blog, in his Blogger profile. The closed eyes perhaps testify to its candid occasion …

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Another happy birthday ...

to Wendell Berry, born this day in 1934 - and so yet another Leonine voice.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Happy birthday, guys

Herman Melville, in 1819...

and Jerry Garcia, in 1942.

Quite the Leonine pair. Garcia, though, is much more the Leo than Melville, with four planets in that sign to Melville's one, his Sun. Both had the Moon in Aries, both had Venus in Cancer. Both charts feature major contraries - patterns of squares and oppositions that can show up in internal contradictions and external obstacles or challenges.

Of course.

No birth times available (so far) for either of these men, so the charts are "solar" charts; the solar chart simply locates the Sun in the chart's first house, in its appropriate sign.

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Turning the pages ...

The British Library is using a new technology to present books on the web in a way that emulates the experience of reading a physical book. It's a Shockwave application, and I had to manually download the new version of the Shockwave plugin to get it to work on FireFox 3.01 - but after I did that, it ran fine, and presented the texts ... well, try it yourself. It's definitely a twist on the conventional computer-text paradigm.

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My Favorite Things

Some classic John Coltrane, from 1961:

In 1962 I started college at "the University," as it was then known - the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. That first year I lived in Craig dorm, at the time brand new, on South Campus; it took fifteen or twenty minutes to walk to campus for classes. Many a morning I'd whistle or hum Coltrane's part in this song, in something close to the arrangement Coltrane used on the 1960 album that shared the tune's name, on my way through the pine woods. No telling what I sounded like to my fellow students! I'd listened to the song so many times I felt I knew it inside out, and still always thrilled to its energy and its rich, complex explorations.

Thanks to Susan Weiand for the link.

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