Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My Motto

It doesn't take much, but it does take some.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Unceasing Vigilance

“Turning off this hyper-hardwiring after returning from a deployment is not an automatic function of the brain,” he said. “We have virtually no science to guide us in managing these instincts. We need to figure that out, or we’re going to end up with a generation that struggles for much of their lives.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/30/health/veterans-iraq-afghanistan-psychology-therapy.html

Film: The Imposter

The Imposter is a 2012 British-American documentary film about the 1997 case of the French confidence trickster Frédéric Bourdin, who impersonated Nicholas Barclay, a Texas boy who disappeared at the age of 13 in 1994, directed by Bart Layton. The film includes interviews with Bourdin and members of Barclay's family, as well as archive television news footage and reenacted dramatic sequences.
Read about it here.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cheever: You Long for Something

“Homesickness is absolutely nothing. Fifty percent of the people in the world are homesick all the time. You don't really long for another country. You long for something in yourself that you don't have, or haven't been able to find.”
― John Cheever, The Brigadier and the Golf Widow

John Cheever

“It was a splendid summer morning and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

“His stepmother -wearing a nightgown for comfort and a flowered hat for looks- had spent her days sitting in their parlor window in Baltimore drinking sherry out of a coffee cup.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

Cheever: Struck with this Image

“And walking back from the river I remember the galling loneliness of my adolescence, from which I do not seem to have completely escaped. It is the sense of the voyeur, the lonely, lonely boy with no role in life but to peer in at the lighted windows of other people’s contentment and vitality. It seems comical -- farcical -- that, having been treated so generously, I should be struck with this image of a kid in the rain walking along the road shoulders of East Milton.”
― John Cheever, The Journals of John Cheever

Cheever: We will be Reminded of this Fault

“Among the rewards of his expatriation were a heightened awareness of what he saw and an exhilarating sense of freedom. Mixed with the love we hold for our native country is the fact that it is the place where we were raised, and, should anything have gone wrong in this process, we will be reminded of this fault, by the scene of the crime, until the day we die.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

What the Fairy Tale Provides for Him is a St. George to Kill the Dragon

It's the birthday of G.K. Chesterton, born in London (1874). Chesterton is best known for his stories about Father Brown, a crime-solving priest who appears to know nothing, who is clumsy and constantly misplacing his umbrella, who has a habit of falling asleep during police interrogations, but who in fact knows more about crime than the criminals who surround him. Chesterton got the idea for Father Brown when he converted to Catholicism and realized that Catholic priests, who listen to confessions all day long, know more about depravity than almost anyone else in society.

One of his favorite authors was Charles Dickens, and he said that anyone who didn't enjoy Dickens's novel The Pickwick Papers wouldn't enjoy heaven.

Chesterton's book The Everlasting Man (1925) contributed to C.S. Lewis's conversion from atheism to Christianity. He wrote: "Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon." (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)

- Writer's Almanac

A New Twist on Kale

I am an unfussy cook so I generally like simple methods. I decided to rinse a head of kale after I trimmed the ends off and not chop it into one-inch pieces like I usually do. I left the leaves intact. I filled the pressure cooker with water up to the steamer tray and curled the leaves in. Then I pressure-cooked the kale for 3 minutes. Afterwards I made a sauce of olive oil, wine vinegar, salt, sugar, and mustard and poured it over the bowl of greens. Leaving the leaves whole was a fun discovery and the stems were perfectly tender. It was like eating asparagus. I saved the kale steaming liquid for soup or steaming pasta, or drinking as a cold broth. It was delicious.

Grilling Broccoli

We just experimented with grilling broccoli over a hot hardwood charcoal fire. We cut the broccoli into large 'trees' and dipped the florets into various sauces. We found that a mixture of olive oil and soy sauce and a bit of rooster hot sauce was a perfect dipping mixture for grilling the broccoli. Broccoli isn't naturally sweet, so charring wasn't necessary. We dipped the broccoli into the mixture and placed the heads over the coals with the tails pointing out for about a minute or two. Olive oil is flammable - be prepared! There was no need to turn them over. We discovered all this after a few trials and many errors.

Edgar Lee Masters

“Act well your part,
there all the honor lies.”
― Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

“I tramped through the country
To get the feeling
That I was not a separate thing from the earth.
I used to lose myself
By lying with eyes half-open in the woods.
Sometimes I talked with animals…”
― Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

Charles Dickens

“Poetry makes life what lights and music do the stage.”
― Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Presto Pressure Cooker Pasta

I still can't believe I can make wholegrain ziti in my pressure cooker in nine minutes. I did it again using the leftover kale stock. It came out so good!

91 Degrees!

In honor of my Brighton Beach Grandma Sophie I continue to start my day swimming at the pool, coming home and having breakfast at the picnic table wearing my wet bathing suit. The oak, birch, and grasses are letting out a lot of pollen (level 9.7 according to pollen.com). The histamine reaction was so strong my head hurt to the point of feeling dizzy and nauseous. Luckily there's allergy medicine.

The family across the street has a big blue and white inflatable pool they set up on hot days next to the sidewalk. There were four nine-year-old boys sitting in the water splashing each other having fun.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Willem de Kooning

If Elaine [Fried, whom de Kooning married in 1943] found it strange to return directly to work on her wedding day, she never said so. That was the way of life on Twenty-second Street: every woman in de Kooning's life from Nini onward could attest that he was already married to his work. During the time when Elaine was commuting back and forth to Brooklyn, de Kooning's days were devoted to art, and they continued to be so after she moved in permanently. Typically, the couple rose late in the morning. Breakfast consisted mostly of very strong coffee, cut with the milk they kept in winter on a window ledge; they did not have a refrigerator, an appliance that in the early forties was still a luxury. (So was a private phone, which de Kooning would not have until the early sixties.) Then the day's routine began with de Kooning moving to his end of the studio and Elaine to hers. Work was punctuated by more cups of strong coffee, which de Kooning made by boiling the coffee as he had learned to do in Holland, and by many cigarettes. The two stayed at their easels until fairly late, taking a break only to go out for something to eat or to walk up to Times Square to see a movie. Often, however, de Kooning, who hated to stop working, began again after supper and pushed far into the night, leaving Elaine to go to a party or concert. "I remember very often walking by and seeing the lights on and going up," said Marjorie Luyckx. "In those studios, the heat used to go off after five o'clock because they were commercial buildings. Bill would be painting with his hat and coat on. Painting away, and whistling."

Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan, de Kooning: An American Master
source

Routine

source

Artists today don't have the opportunity to paint for an hourly wage.
-Cristina Acosta

Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.
-W. H. Auden

Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work.
-Gustave Flaubert

Get on a daily routine... Working is a process not a product. Success comes from the word, succeed: Latin: 'to under go.' You must keep moving.
-Nicoletta Baumeister

Each time we bring to routine activities an awareness of 'now,' we raise our vibratory frequency and cause the freshness of the moment to fall upon us.
-Dr. Michael Beckwith

A shift in our routines is invigorating.
-Brenda Behr

I paint every day. Sometimes I hate painting, but I keep at it, thinking always that before I croak I'll really learn how to do it – maybe as well as some of the old painters.
-Thomas Hart Benton

Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
-William Blake

Ya know what I do almost every day? I wash. Personal hygiene is part of the package with me.
-Jim Carrey

For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner... I go to the piano, and I play preludes and fugues of Bach... It is a sort of benediction on the house.
-Pablo Casals

Most people can't handle a structureless life.
-Doug Coupland

Wake up as an artist; be an artist each day. Do what is before you to do. Be still, open, and willing.
-Aliye Cullu

One's daily routine is a choice, or a series of choices. In the right hands, it can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources. -Mason Currey

I would go to work from 9 to 6, go home, nap for two hours, then write from 8 to 2 a.m.
-Lena Dunham

I go to the studio everyday because one day I may go and the Angel will be there. What if I don't go and the Angel comes?
-Philip Guston

The only possible way to have it ALL is with structure and the discipline to keep to it, to make it a routine.
-Margot Hattingh

The cumulative power of doing things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind: You're going to be dreaming soon.
-Stephen King

Out of routine comes inspiration.
-Mark Kostabi

Morning comes whether you set the alarm or not.
-Ursula K. LeGuin

-Move a Little, Lose a Lot...
Burn 2,100 calories a week just by changing your daily work routine.
-James A. Levine

Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to achieving your dreams.
-Og Mandino

I like routine. It enables me to improvise.
-James Nares

Perhaps my only secret is that I always bear in mind what my father said: 'Do the smallest things in daily routine with enthusiasm and sincerity.'
-Nerrisa Ng

The quiet people just do their work.
-Joyce Carol Oates

Nothing will sustain you more potently than the power to recognize in your humdrum routine, as perhaps it may be thought, the true poetry of life.
Sir William Osler

Let what is irksome become habitual, no more will it trouble you.
-Ovid

I go to my studio every day. Some days the work comes easily. Other days nothing happens. Yet on the good days the inspiration is only an accumulation of all the other days, the nonproductive ones.
-Beverly Pepper

We need to rewire the brain to work the creative outlet. It needs time just like other more mundane tasks.
-Karen Phinney

-By sticking to a schedule and not waiting for inspiration to hit I am assured of getting work done. No phone calls or other interruptions during work hours. Frances Poole

Man's usual routine is to work and to dream and work and dream.
-Raymond Queneau

I am not naturally organized; in fact, I'm rather lazy, and if I didn't have a schedule, weekly goals, and an organized bookkeeping system, I'd never be able to supply galleries and clients with the volume of work they expect from me.
-Monique Sakellarios

If I don't paint for one day, I don't feel well physically or mentally.
-Raphael Soyer

-I'd rather be in the studio
When you have set yourself a specific routine, all of the pieces of your life fit together to make you a better artist.
-Alyson B. Stanfield

It's a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.
-John Steinbeck

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
-Robert Louis Stevenson

Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.
-Shunryu Suzuki

After so many years, I've learned that being creative is a full-time job with its own daily patterns. That's why writers, for example, like to establish routines for themselves. The most productive ones get started early in the morning, when the world is quiet, the phones aren't ringing, and their minds are rested, alert, and not yet polluted by other people's words.
-Twyla Tharp

Routine is a ground to stand on, a wall to retreat to; we cannot draw on our boots without bracing ourselves against it.
-Henry David Thoreau

So just think how exciting it would be if for once you had your tea at quarter past six? It'd make headlines...
-Shirley Valentine

I have no regular schedule. I get up whenever I can.
-Jimmy Wales

Faithfulness in the performance of small duties gives us strength to adhere to difficult determinations that life will someday force us to make.
- Paramahansa Yogananda

A Backwards Day

I started my day at 3:30 AM with John Cheever and Kim Addonizio stories and poems and then I jumped into the local pool. I walked home wearing my Thanksgiving dress over my wet bathing suit. The air was still cool. I was about to go to the library but when I opened the fridge the bread dough was crawling out of the bucket so I set it up to rise in five greased loaf pans. Next thing I knew I was chopping red potatoes to make a quick a batch of three minute German potato salad in my Presto pressure cooker. (See the recipe on my INSOMNIACS KITCHEN blog.) Then I started making a batch of granola. The potato salad was excellent. I have made this for 35 years. The recipe came with my cooker. It's basically red potatoes, celery and onion cubed and cooked in an oil and vinegar + mustard dressing. The flavors permeate the potatoes especially after they cool off. Today I saved the leftover vitamin-rich broth and pressure-cooked a pound of wholegrain ziti in it. That took only nine minutes. Then I steamed three heads of kale and made the same olive oil vinegar mustard dressing to pour over it. The dough had risen by then so I baked the five loaves of sourdough. I started to vacuum while baking so the good smells would overpower the vacuum cleaner smell. I forgot the loaves were baking in the oven until I started to smell toast. After I took the loaves out of the oven I ran up and down and vacuumed so Bill would see a clean house when he got home and then we could relax a bit. And I STILL had yet to go to the library!

Luciferin

She dreamed she was in The the 50 Foot Woman. All the little police cars roaring out from between her legs like lightningbug sperm.

Everyone knows how fireflies got their name, but many people don't know how the insects produce their signature glow. Fireflies have dedicated light organs that are located under their abdomens. The insects take in oxygen and, inside special cells, combine it with a substance called luciferin to produce light with almost no heat.

Firefly light is usually intermittent, and flashes in patterns that are unique to each species. Each blinking pattern is an optical signal that helps fireflies find potential mates. Scientists are not sure how the insects regulate this process to turn their lights on and off.

source


Luciferin (from the Latin lucifer, "light-bringer") is a generic term for the light-emitting compound found in organisms that generate bioluminescence. Luciferins typically undergo an enzyme-catalysed oxidation and the resulting excited state intermediate emits light upon decaying to its ground state.

Cheever

“She came right up to me and put her snow-white hand on my arm. "You poor boy," she murmured, "you poor boy."
I'm not a boy, and I'm not poor, and I wished the hell she would get away. She has a clever face, but I felt in it, that night, the force of a great sadness and great malice. "I see a rope around your neck," she said sadly.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

Spring Stars

“It was still mild when they walked home from the party, and Irene looked up at the spring stars. "How far that little candle throws its beams," she exclaimed. "So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

A River Light

“These stories seem at times to be stories of a long-lost world when the city of New York was still filled with a river light, when you heard the Benny Goodman quartets from a radio in the corner stationery store, and when almost everybody wore a hat.”
― John Cheever

Cruel and Frail

“She perceived vaguely the pitiful corruption of the adult world; how cruel and frail it was, like a worn piece of burlap, patched with stupidities and mistakes, useless and ugly, and yet they never saw its worthlessness.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

Twyla Tharp: An Act of Defiance

“Creativity is an act of defiance.”
― Twyla Tharp

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”
― Twyla Tharp

“I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read.”
― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

“Life is about moving, it’s about change. And when things stop doing that they’re dead.”
― Twyla Tharp

“Reading, conversation, environment, culture, heroes, mentors, nature – all are lottery tickets for creativity. Scratch away at them and you’ll find out how big a prize you’ve won.”
― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

“When I walk into [the studio] I am alone, but I am alone with my body, ambition, ideas, passions, needs, memories, goals, prejudices, distractions, fears.

These ten items are at the heart of who I am. Whatever I am going to create will be a reflection of how these have shaped my life, and how I've learned to channel my experiences into them.

The last two -- distractions and fears -- are the dangerous ones. They're the habitual demons that invade the launch of any project. No one starts a creative endeavor without a certain amount of fear; the key is to learn how to keep free-floating fears from paralyzing you before you've begun. When I feel that sense of dread, I try to make it as specific as possible. Let me tell you my five big fears:

1. People will laugh at me.
2. Someone has done it before.
3. I have nothing to say.
4. I will upset someone I love.
5. Once executed, the idea will never be as good as it is in my mind.

"There are mighty demons, but they're hardly unique to me. You probably share some. If I let them, they'll shut down my impulses ('No, you can't do that') and perhaps turn off the spigots of creativity altogether. So I combat my fears with a staring-down ritual, like a boxer looking his opponent right in the eye before a bout.

1. People will laugh at me? Not the people I respect; they haven't yet, and they're not going to start now....

2. Someone has done it before? Honey, it's all been done before. Nothing's original. Not Homer or Shakespeare and certainly not you. Get over yourself.

3. I have nothing to say? An irrelevant fear. We all have something to say.

4. I will upset someone I love? A serious worry that is not easily exorcised or stared down because you never know how loved ones will respond to your creation. The best you can do is remind yourself that you're a good person with good intentions. You're trying to create unity, not discord.

5. Once executed, the idea will never be as good as it is in my mind? Toughen up. Leon Battista Alberti, the 15th century architectural theorist, said, 'Errors accumulate in the sketch and compound in the model.' But better an imperfect dome in Florence than cathedrals in the clouds.”
― Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

John Updike

"I’ve never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again."
-John Updike
Article

Gerard Richter

'I go to the studio every day, but I don't paint every day. I love playing with my architectural models. I love making plans. I could spend my life arranging things. Weeks go by, and I don't paint until finally I can't stand it any longer. I get fed up. I almost don't want to talk about it, because I don't want to become self-conscious about it, but perhaps I create these little crises as a kind of a secret strategy to push myself. It is a danger to wait around for an idea to occur to you. You have to find the idea.''
-Gerard Richter
The New York Times Magazine, January 27, 2002

Chris Ofili

I may tell myself, 'This will be the last one I do.' Then I'll do another. That's liberating."

The New York Times, May 8, 2005

Ben Katchor

1) The price of all purchases in all stores should be rounded off to the nearest dollar amount. By this general agreement, we would recoup the time wasted making change and be spared the destructive force of loose coins on the fabric of our pockets.

2) An arrangement should be made so that the buying of groceries can be done in private. No one's purchases should be subject to the humiliating scrutiny of the person who happens to be next on line. The situation, as it now exists, will someday in the future be looked back upon as an inhumane condition of 20th-century life.

Slate, July 8, 1997

Blues and Birds

I woke at 3:AM and was cold. My dog was awake. I turned on the radio and the coffee pot. I listened to stories and then the blues on some station I'd never received out of Dartmouth Massachusetts until the birds took over.

Lucifer At The Starlite - Poem by Kim Addonizio


—after George Meredith


Here's my bright idea for life on earth:
better management. The CEO
has lost touch with the details. I'm worth
as much, but I care; I come down here, I show
my face, I'm a real regular. A toast:
To our boys and girls in the war, grinding
through sand, to everybody here, our host
who's mostly mist, like methane rising
from retreating ice shelves. Put me in command.
For every town, we'll have a marching band.
For each thoroughbred, a comfortable stable;
for each worker, a place beneath the table.
For every forward step a stumbling.
A shadow over every starlit thing.

— Kim Addonizio

Will you let me lift you?

“Will you let me lift you?" he said. "Just let me lift you. Just let me see how light you are."
"All right," she said. "Do you want me to take off my coat?"
"Yes, yes, yes," he said. "Take off your coat."
She stood. She let her coat fall to the sofa.
"Can I do it now?" he said.
"Yes."
He put his hands under her arms. He raised her off the floor and then put her down gently. "Oh you're so light!" he shouted. "Your'e so light, you're so fragile, you don't weigh any more than a suitcase. Why, I could carry you, I could carry you anywhere, I could carry you from one end of New York to the other." He got his hat and coat and ran out of the house.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

In His Guts

“Long ago when they first invented the atomic bomb people used to worry about its going off and killing everybody, but they didn't know that mankind has enough dynamite right in his guts to tear the fucking planet to pieces.”
― John Cheever, Falconer

Streaked with Color

“The world that was not mine yesterday now lies spread out at my feet, a splendor. I seem, in the middle of the night, to have returned to the world of apples, the orchards of Heaven. Perhaps I should take my problems to a shrink, or perhaps I should enjoy the apples that I have, streaked with color like the evening sky.”
― John Cheever

elegant and savage and fleshy

“Everything outside was elegant and savage and fleshy. Everything inside was slow and cool and vacant. It seemed a shame to stay inside.”
― John Cheever

Cheever: a page of good prose is where one hears the rain.

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos… to celebrate a world that lies spread out around us like a bewildering and stupendous dream.”
― John Cheever

“Fiction is art and art is the triumph over chaos (no less) and we can accomplish this only by the most vigilant exercise of choice, but in a world that changes more swiftly that we can perceive there is always the danger that our powers of selection will be mistaken and that the vision we serve will come to nothing.”
― John Cheever

“The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one's life and discover one's usefulness.”
― John Cheever

“Our country is the best country in the world. We are swimming in prosperity and our President is the best president in the world. We have larger apples and better cotton and faster and more beautiful machines. This makes us the greatest country in the world. Unemployment is a myth. Dissatisfaction is a fable. In preparatory school America is beautiful. It is the gem of the ocean and it is too bad. It is bad because people believe it all. Because they become indifferent. Because they marry and reproduce and vote and they know nothing.”
― John Cheever

“For lovers, touch is metamorphosis. All the parts of their bodies seem to change, and they seem to become something different and better.”
― John Cheever

“Literature has been our salvation, literature has inspired and guided lovers, routed despair and can perhaps in this case save the world.”
― John Cheever

“For me a page of good prose is where one hears the rain. A page of good prose is when one hears the noise of battle.... A page of good prose seems to me the most serious dialogue that well-informed and intelligent men and women carry on today in their endeavor to make sure that the fires of this planet burn peaceably.”
― John Cheever

“She cried for herself, she cried because she was afraid that she herself might die in the night, because she was alone in the world, because her desperate and empty life was not an overture but an ending, and through it all she could see was the rough, brutal shape of a coffin.”
― John Cheever, The Stories of John Cheever

John Cheever

"There is some wonderful seriousness to the business of living, and one is not exempted by being a poet. You have to take some precautions with your health. You have to manage your money intelligently and respect your emotional obligations. There is another world - I see this - there is chaos, and we are suspended above it by a thread. But the thread holds."
- John Cheever

John Cheever

"When I wake this morning and feel the old dog pushing against this bed I feel some deep and simple love for the animal, and that reminds me of the love one feels for other women and men. The word 'dear' is what I use. 'How dear you are.'"
- John Cheever

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Growing Private Thoughts

Today I stayed in my yard writing and the baby hawks were screeching high over my head. I am having a day of hiding from people and conversation. I LOVE people but sometimes when a walk around the neighborhood becomes a visit at every turn I am I am exhausted and need another walk to empty my head and recharge my solitude. There are days when I live for little visits on the sidewalk to break me out of my own mind-chattering misery. But lately I want to contain my solitude because I am growing private thoughts. The sudden 88 degree heat and sunshine has brought everyone out!

Mitch Albom: Devotion

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

Charles Simic's Favourite Poetry Sayings:

"Poetry tries to bridge the abyss lying between the name and the thing. That language is a problem is no news to poets."
- Charles Simic

"No man whose sex life was satisfactory ever became a moral censor."
- Mina Loy

"I'm in the business of translating what cannot be translated: being and its silence."
- Charles Simic

"Even as I concentrate all my attention on the fly on the table, I glance fleetingly at myself."
- Charles Simic

"Cioran is right when he says that we are all religious spirits without a religion."
- Cioran

"A poem is an invitation to a voyage. As in life, we travel to see fresh sights."
- Charles Simic


About Charles Simic

Charles Simic (b. 1938) grew up in Belgrade in former Yugoslavia, a childhood in which "Hitler and Stalin taught us the basics". A new life began in 1954 when he and his mother were allowed to join his father in the United States. Simic attended school in Chicago and then began working at the Chicago Sun Times. During this period he started to write and publish poetry and was a passionate self-educator, attending many night-classes. After two years national service in the US army, Simic settled in New York, got married and continued to write, his first collection appearing in 1967. In the intervening period he has published over sixty books, amongst them Charon's Cosmology, nominated for a National Book Award, The World Doesn't End: Prose Poems, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and Jackstraws which was included on the New York Times' shortlist of Notable Books of the Year. He taught English and creative writing for more than thirty years at the University of New Hampshire. In 2007, Charles Simic was appointed to be the United States Library of Congress's 15th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.

The critic, Helen Vendler, has described Simic as a "lover of food who has been instructed in starvation," hinting at the pleasures and privations which inform his work. As one of the "Bombed and fleeing humanity" ('Cameo Appearance') Simic was instilled from an early age with a deep distrust of absolutist thought. In defiance of ideology his poems brim with irreverence and scepticism, revelling in the "Juxtaposition of unlikely things...where one is bound to find an angel next to a pig." A serious surrealist, Simic draws us into a world in which a simple object like a fork can be transformed into nightmare. Unsettling encounters take place with the mad and the marginalised, often against a looming backdrop of darkness. Recurrent images - blood, flies, waiters, angels - hint at symbolism but without ever yielding one single interpretation. This uncertainty is at the heart of his vision which explores a universe of chance, "the world's raffle" ('Shelley'), in which either everything is planned...or nothing is.

Simic reads in a voice redolent of the history that haunts his poetry, an accent equal parts Serbian and New York twang. It embodies the rich tensions in his work, rooted both in the folklore traditions of Eastern Europe, yet at home amongst the wise-cracking rhythms of his adopted city.

His recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 19 November 2003 in New York City and was produced by Jeffrey Wertz.

- source

Martín Espada

Mad Love

No one wants to look at pictures of Puerto Ricans, Frank. – Cornell Capa

My brother said: They harvested his corneas. I imagined
the tweezers lifting the corneas from my father’s eyes,
delicate as the wings of butterflies mounted under glass.
I imagined the transplant, stitches finer than hair,
eyes fluttering awake to the brilliance of an open window.

This is not a horror movie. This not Peter Lorre in Mad Love,
the insane and jealous surgeon grafting the hands of a killer
onto the forearms of a concert pianist, who fumbles with the keys
of the piano, flings knives with lethal aim, Moonlight Sonata
swept away by lust for homicide, his wife shrieking.

The blind will see like the captain of the slave ship who turned the ship
around, voices in the room will praise the Lord for the miracle, yet
the eyes drinking light through my father’s eyes will not see the faces
in the lens of his camera, faces of the faceless waking in the darkroom:

not the tomato picker with a picket sign on his shoulder that says
Reagan Steals from the Poor and Gives to the Rich; not the fry cook
in his fedora, staring at air as if he knew he would be stomped
to death on the stoop for an empty wallet; not the poet in a beret,
grinning at the vision of shoes for all the shoeless people on the earth;
not the dancer hearing the piano tell her to spin and spin again;
not the gravedigger and his machete, the bandanna that keeps the dust
of the dead from coating his tongue; not the union organizer, spirits
floating in the smoke of his victory cigar; not the addict in rehab gazing
at herself like a fortune-teller gazing at the cards; not the face half-hidden
by the star in the Puerto Rican flag, the darkness of his dissident’s eye.

Now that my father cannot speak, they wait their turn to testify
in his defense, witnesses to the mad love that drove him to it.

- Martín Espada

Called by Sandra Cisneros “the Pablo Neruda of North American poets, “ Martín Espada was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1957. He has published almost twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His new collection of poems from Norton is called Vivas to Those Who Have Failed (2016). Other books of poems include The Trouble Ball (2011), The Republic of Poetry (2006), Alabanza (2003), A Mayan Astronomer in Hell’s Kitchen (2000), Imagine the Angels of Bread (1996), City of Coughing and Dead Radiators (1993) and Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover’s Hands (1990). ​His many honors include the Shelley Memorial Award, the Robert Creeley Award, the National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, an American Book Award, the PEN/Revson Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Republic of Poetry was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
source

Eyes Fastened With Pins by Charles Simic

How much death works,
No one knows what a long
Day he puts in. The little
Wife always alone
Ironing death's laundry.
The beautiful daughters
Setting death's supper table.
The neighbors playing
Pinochle in the backyard
Or just sitting on the steps
Drinking beer. Death,
Meanwhile, in a strange
Part of town looking for
Someone with a bad cough,
But the address somehow wrong,
Even death can't figure it out
Among all the locked doors...
And the rain beginning to fall.
Long windy night ahead.
Death with not even a newspaper
To cover his head, not even
A dime to call the one pining away,
Undressing slowly, sleepily,
And stretching naked
On death's side of the bed.

- Charles Simic

Country Fair by Charles Simic

for Hayden Carruth

If you didn't see the six-legged dog,
It doesn't matter.
We did, and he mostly lay in the corner.
As for the extra legs,

One got used to them quickly
And thought of other things.
Like, what a cold, dark night
To be out at the fair.

Then the keeper threw a stick
And the dog went after it
On four legs, the other two flapping behind,
Which made one girl shriek with laughter.

She was drunk and so was the man
Who kept kissing her neck.
The dog got the stick and looked back at us.
And that was the whole show.

- Charles Simic

Late September by Charles Simic

The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.

Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.

This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers.

- Charles Simic

Charles Simic: Hotel Insomnia

I liked my little hole,
Its window facing a brick wall.
Next door there was a piano.
A few evenings a month
a crippled old man came to play
"My Blue Heaven."

Mostly, though, it was quiet.
Each room with its spider in heavy overcoat
Catching his fly with a web
Of cigarette smoke and revery.
So dark,
I could not see my face in the shaving mirror.

At 5 A.M. the sound of bare feet upstairs.
The "Gypsy" fortuneteller,
Whose storefront is on the corner,
Going to pee after a night of love.
Once, too, the sound of a child sobbing.
So near it was, I thought
For a moment, I was sobbing myself.

- Charles Simic

Charles Simic

Why I Still Write Poetry
by
Charles Simic

Brighton Beach Lives on my Street

At the crack of dawn I put on my black and red racing suit and turquoise flip flops and I covered myself in my long green cotton flowered dress and I walked the half block to the pool. I took off my dress and jumped in swimming with fins and goggles and a big blue foam belt. When I was done I put my dress on and walked out the door and back over to my house. I filled the yellow bathtub with scented oil washing up while making my toast and tea. What a great way to start this summery spring day. My grandma Sophie would swim in Sheeps Head Bay on Brighton Beach in Brooklyn before taking the subway into Manhattan to go to work. We both shared a love of water and a love of sensory.
I am a painter who eats poetry to stay alive.

Karma Repair Kit Items 1-4.


1.Get enough food to eat,
and eat it.

2.Find a place to sleep where it is quiet,
and sleep there.

3.Reduce intellectual and emotional noise
until you arrive at the silence of yourself,
and listen to it.

4.
― Richard Brautigan

Brautigan

“Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.”
― Richard Brautigan

Questions

When I was five I said to my step-father "If the world is turning overnight, then in the morning I am breathing Chinese air."

"Where are birds ears," I asked him one day when we were driving in the car. "That's a good question, I don't know," he admitted.

My Plan

“all of us have a place in history. mine is clouds.”
― Richard Brautigan

When I was small I thought about my plan. I wanted to be cremated and painted into a picture of the sky.

Mayonnaise

Article
"I have always wanted to write a book that ended with the word 'mayonnaise.'"

― Richard Brautigan

Routines can be Comforting

Everyone has routines. What works for one person may not for someone else. Routines can be comforting. They may be our jobs. They define our limits and we try to make something constructive out of them.

The myth is that artists are somehow different. That they leap from one peak of inspiration to another. That they reject limits -- that this is precisely what makes them artists. But of course that's not true. Most artists work as the rest of us do, incrementally, day by day, according to their own habits. That most art does not rise above the level of routine has nothing necessarily to do with the value of having a ritual.

Twyla Tharp wakes up every day at 5:30 and takes a cab to the gym. Chopin played Bach. Beethoven strolled around Vienna with a sketch pad first thing in the morning. Giorgio Morandi spent decades painting the same dusty bunch of small bottles, bowls and biscuit tins. Chuck Close paints and draws and makes prints of nearly identical dots or marks, which, depending on how they're arranged, turn into different faces. "Having a routine, knowing what to do," he has said, "gives me a sense of freedom and keeps me from going crazy. It's calming." He calls his method Zenlike, "like raking gravel in a monastery."

Article

Early

I get up early ahead of the people and ahead of the heat.

Silence

Sometimes I swim to hide underwater in the silence. I miss the ice cold winter days where Lily and I would walk for hours and nobody would be outside. As charming as it is I am exhausted by the spring socializing, even in the cemetery!

Alan Hollinghurst

"For a shy person, it strikes me now that my first book was rather bold. But I think shy people often have a strange, compensatory impulse. When they do something, it's ridiculously outspoken."

"I think there is a sort of mystery to being an only child in the way that you make your own unshared world when you're very young. [...] I think being an only child was a good training for someone who takes as long to write novels as I seem to do. It requires a lot of solitude."

“It was the time of year when the atmosphere streamed with unexpected hints and memories, and a paradoxical sense of renewal.”

― Alan Hollinghurst

Miles Davis

It's the birthday of jazz musician Miles Davis, born in Alton, Illinois (1926). His father was an oral surgeon, and he grew up in a nice home in East St. Louis. The family also owned a ranch in Arkansas. He was about seven or eight years old when he started listening to a radio show called Harlem Rhythms. It was a 15-minute show, and it came on at 8:45 in the morning. And Davis started showing up late to school every day because he couldn't bear to miss the music.

About that same time, he started paying attention to the music he heard in rural Arkansas. He said: "We'd be walking on these dark country roads at night and all of a sudden this music would seem to come out of nowhere, out of them spooky-looking trees that everybody said ghosts lived in. [...] Somebody would be playing a guitar the way B.B. King plays. And I remember a man and a woman singing and talking about getting down! [...] That music was something, especially that woman singing. But I think that kind of stuff stayed with me, you know what I mean? That kind of sound in music, that blues, church, back-road funk kind of thing, that southern, midwestern, rural sound and rhythm. I think it started getting into my blood on them spook-filled Arkansas back-roads after dark when the owls came out hooting." A few years later, he started music lessons, playing the trumpet, and after that he didn't stop. He was playing professionally by the age of 15. And when he was 18, he struck out for New York to find his hero, Charlie Parker. Soon they were playing together, and Davis continued to play jam sessions with other musicians, and experiment with new types of jazz. In 1959, he recorded Kind of Blue, one of the best-selling jazz records of all time.

- Writer's Almanac

I LOVE Dorothea Lange's Photos

It's the birthday of photographer and author Dorothea Lange, born in Hoboken, New Jersey (1895). A bout with polio at the age of seven left Lange with a noticeable limp - and a hatred for school, where she was teased and alienated. She cut classes and wondered around New York City, carefully observing the life around her. She soon decided she wanted to become a photographer. While training to be a teacher, she apprenticed with several photographers. In 1918, she decided she could earn her way around the world taking pictures. She got as far as San Francisco, where she opened a portrait studio, and later met and married the painter Maynard Dixon. But by the late 1920s, she was too disturbed by the Depression to make photographs of rich clients.

She began to go out on the street, and took what became one of the most famous photographs of the time, called White Angel Breadline. It depicted a crowd of well-dressed, newly unemployed men waiting for food on a breadline. In 1939, she and her husband published An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion, which dealt with the problems of America's migrant farmworkers.

She said: "One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you'd be stricken blind. To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable. I have only touched it, just touched it."

-Writer's Almanac

His Prophecies are the Arias of their Time.

It's the birthday of American pianist and composer William Bolcom, born in Seattle Washington (1938). Bolcom was something of a musical prodigy: by the time he was 11, he was studying composition and piano privately at the University of Washington.

Bolcom has composed over 300 symphonic works and chamber pieces. He performs often with his wife, the mezzo-soprano Joan Morris. They've recorded popular parlour and vaudeville songs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Bolcom has also composed several operas based on literary works, like Frank Norris's novel McTeague, Arthur Miller's play, A View from the Bridge, and Robert Altman's film, A Wedding.

When he was seventeen, he began what would become a thirty-year-long process of setting poet William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience to music. It became a three-hour long composition for soloists, choruses, and orchestra. Along the way, he realized he wanted to bridge the gap between "popular" and "serious" music, so he incorporated elements of jazz, folk, soul, reggae, and vaudeville. The world premiere was held at Stuttgart Opera in 1984. On Blake's work, Bolcom said, "I've been looking at these texts since I fell in love with them at 17. I thought that maybe they would make more sense sung than spoken. Singing spreads them out. When I read these poems aloud, they make a weird kind of sense. But people have gotten all 'aw, shucks' about reading poetry aloud today. It's like listening to a bank draft. T. S. Eliot was like that. Blake is kind of a gloss on Handel. His prophecies are the arias of their time."

William Bolcom won the Pulitzer Prize (1988) for 12 New Etudes for Piano.

-Writer's Almanac

The Viking of 6th Avenue

It's the birthday of American avant-garde composer and musician Moondog (1916), known as the "Viking of 6th Avenue" because he used to busk on 6th Avenue in New York, between 52nd and 55th Streets wearing a Viking helmet, dressed in a flowing cape, and wielding a sword. When Dizzy Gillespie encountered him in the 1950s, he thought Moondog looked like Christ.

Moondog was born Louis Thomas Hardin in Marysville, Kansas, to missionaries. He always loved music and made his own drums from cardboard when he was five years old. He was blinded at the age of 16 in a farming accident and sent to the Iowa School for the Blind, where he learned to read music by Braille. By 1943, he was in New York City, where he became acquainted with Leonard Bernstein, Arturo Toscanini, and Charlie Parker. He christened himself "Moondog" in honor of a dog "who used to howl at the moon more than any dog I knew of."

His music was a mix of Native percussion and flute, jazz, classical, and ambient sounds like babies crying and ocean waves tumbling. People who passed him on the street often thought he was homeless, but he had an apartment and recorded several records with large labels like Epic. In the 1960s, his song "All My Loneliness" became a hit for Janis Joplin. He moved to Germany and gave up the helmet and the cloak because he was getting so many offers to serve as a guest conductor for orchestras. He was a major influence on avant-garde composer Philip Glass, who brought him back to the United States (1989) to lead the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra at the New Music Festival in Brooklyn.

Moondog was a noted inventor of musical instruments, such as a small, triangular-shaped harp known as the "oo" and the trimba, a triangular, percussive instrument that is still used today. Moondog died in 1999. On what inspired his music, he said, "Mostly silence."

And, "I deny that there is such a thing as originality. All an artist can do is bring his personality to bear. If he is true to himself, he can't help but be different, even unique, for no two persons are alike. I do not strive to be different for the sake of being different, but do not mind being different if my difference is the result of being myself."

-Writer's Almanac

Wake Early

Sometimes when I'm in a good place I go to bed reluctantly but comforted that I will wake early with words in my head. This morning I opened windows and heard the freight train rolling by. It was a hot dry day yesterday. I just turned on the fan to let the cooler air into the house. The birds have just woken up and it is a cacophony of chittering along with the low playing classical music on my radio.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Yiddish Proverb

I'll forgive and I'll forget, but I'll remember.
—yiddish proverb

from That Said: New and Collected Poems by Jane Shore

Nanano Sakaki

If you want to know the land
Learn the weeds

If you want to know the people
Know yourself.

-Nanano Sakaki, excerpts from the poem False Solomon's Seal, from the book Break the Mirror

Nanano Sakaki

In the next life
We will be a persimmon forest.

-Nanano Sakaki, from the poem Persimmon Vinegar, from Break the Mirror

Nanano Sakaki

"To travel light
Why don't you leave your skull here?"

- Nanano Sakaki, excerpt from the poem Travel Light, from Breaking The Mirror

Nanano Sakaki

When your navel starts laughing,
you are a song.

- Nanano Sakaki, from the poem Bellybutton, from the book Breaking the Mirror

Summer City Supper

Tonight on the first hot night of the season, the tenement families are outside having supper. They're in the parking lot grilling and parents are eating sitting in lawn chairs holding their paper plates. Kids are playing soccer and riding bicycles, and scooters around the lot. Our neighborhood is like a happy camp ground without anyone having to leave home.

Simone Weil: Keep your Solitude

“All sins are attempts to fill voids.”
― Simone Weil

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”
― Simone Weil

“A beautiful woman looking at her image in the mirror may very well believe the image is herself. An ugly woman knows it is not.”
― Simone Weil, Waiting for God

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”
― Simone Weil


“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be obtained only by someone who is detached.”
― Simone Weil

“Love is not consolation. It is light.”
― Simone Weil


“Human existence is so fragile a thing and exposed to such dangers that I cannot love without trembling. ”
― Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.”
― Simone Weil


“If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire.”
― Simone Weil

“Everything beautiful has a mark of eternity.”
― Simone Weil, Lectures on Philosophy

“Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.”
― Simone Weil, Lectures on Philosophy

“Love of God is pure when joy and suffering inspire an equal degree of gratitude.”
― Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

“Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.”
― Simone Weil

“There is something else which has the power to awaken us to the truth. It is the works of writers of genius. They give us, in the guise of fiction, something equivalent to the actual density of the real, that density which life offers us every day but which we are unable to grasp because we are amusing ourselves with lies.”
― Simone Weil


“Do not allow yourself to be imprisoned by any affection. Keep your solitude. The day, if it ever comes, when you are given true affection, there will be no opposition between interior solitude and friendship, quite the reverse. It is even by this infallible sigh that you will recognize it.”
― Simone Weil


“The sea is not less beautiful in our eyes because we know that sometimes ships are wrecked by it.”
― Simone Weil, Waiting for God


“We have to endure the discordance between imagination and fact. It is better to say, “I am suffering,” than to say, “This landscape is ugly.”
― Simone Weil


“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.”
― Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

“Every sin is an attempt to fly from emptiness.”
― Simone Weil

“Compassion directed toward oneself is true humility.”
― Simone Weil


“We must not wish for the disappearance of our troubles but for the grace to transform them.”
― Simone Weil


“True definition of science: the study of the beauty of the world.”
― Simone Weil

“The intelligent man who is proud of his intelligence is like the condemned man who is proud of his large cell.”
― Simone Weil

“Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life.”
― Simone Weil

“He who has not God in himself cannot feel His absence.”
― Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

“Humility is attentive patience.”
― Simone Weil

“I can, therefore I am.”
― Simone Weil

“Justice. To be ever ready to admit that another person is something quite different from what we read when he is there (or when we think about him). Or rather, to read in him that he is certainly something different, perhaps something completely different from what we read in him.
Every being cries out silently to be read differently.”
― Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace


“In struggling against anguish one never produces serenity; the struggle against anguish only produces new forms of anguish.”
― Simone Weil

Simone Weil: Grace

“All the natural movements of the soul are controlled by laws analogous to those of physical gravity. Grace is the only exception. Grace fills empty spaces, but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. The imagination is continually at work filling up all the fissures through which grace might pass.”
― Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

The Contemplative Reader

Associate Professor English Dept at Buffalo State
Dr. Mark K Fulk has published a book on May Sarton

The Blog of Mark K Fulk
http://contemplativereader.blogspot.com/

Jane Shore

Their souls disperse,
dust motes in the air

that I inhale.

-Jane Shore, excerpt from the poem, The Blue Address Book, from That Said: New and Selected Poems

Jane Shore

So, I popped it with a pin.
And God's breath, a little puff
from elsewhere, brushed my cheek

-Jane Shore, excerpt from poem God's Breath, from That Said: New and Selected Poems

Jane Shore

who can resist
the moon's bright eye
in this paper sky

- Jane Shore, excerpt from the poem The Advent Calendar, That Said: New and Selected Poems by Jane Shore

Twists, Slugs and Roscoes

A Glossary of Hardboiled Slang

Draw the Blinds

Sometimes denial is a good thing. If every time you look out the window you see a drug deal happening, draw the blinds for peace of mind.

Cruciferous-a-holic

My husband calls me a cruciferous-a-holic. Not a week goes by without a heavy dose of cruciferous vegetables. We ran out of cabbage and went out and bought some last night. Today I made a red and green cabbage coleslaw with carrots onions celery and apples added. The dressing is made from buttermilk, Hellman's mayo, salt, sugar, mustard, wine vinegar, Adobo, and rooster sauce.

Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae). These vegetables are widely cultivated, with many genera, species, and cultivars being raised for food production such as cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts and similar green leaf vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Awake Before the Birds

I was awake at 4 AM, before the birds got up. I stayed in bed for a bit thinking about Bob Dylan's Birthday (yesterday, May 24, he turned 75). I remember when I was 12 I wrote my first poem inspired by Bob Dylan. There was a line I remember when your laundry overflows in the jungle it clashes with the green. Happy Birthday Bob Dylan.

May Sarton

It is true for me that the writing of a novel is that sort of tussle, and that it gives me very little pleasure while I am doing it because the effort is so great. Not so with poems that pounce out of nowhere. The writing of a poem even when it goes through many drafts and even revising a poem cold as I am doing now with the new book, is a kind of intense trance of joy. There is no comparison.
- May Sarton, A Journal

May Sarton: Routine is not a Prison

Routine is not a prison, but the way into freedom from time. The apparently measured time has immeasurable space within it, and in this it resembles music.
― May Sarton

routine

Thomas Hart Benton: If you are to enjoy an art, you must first accept its terms

Art is not life, nor a reproduction of life, but a representation carried out within the specific terms, conversions and limitations of the particular art used. Hence, absolute truth, with reference to objective fact, is not to be found in the business. The most realistic art is considerably removed from reality. Art does not give real things or imitations of real things. The thing that art gives is strained first through the artist's selections and judgments, and then through the specific techniques which he used to present them. If you are to enjoy an art, you must first accept its terms.
- Thomas Hart Benton

-purported to have said...
The artist's life is the best life... if you can get through the first forty years.
- Thomas Hart Benton

You can't change your mind up on a scaffold without the risk of everything going awry. You must solve your problems before you get up there.
- Thomas Hart Benton

The Synchromists extended and intensified Cezanne's color-form theories, in which form was seen as a derivative of the organization of color planes, by abandoning completely the usual colors of nature, replacing them with highly saturated spectral colors and extending them into an area of purely 'abstract' form.
- Thomas Hart Benton

Modern French painting is all right; it has produced many beautiful and interesting things, fully worthy of admiration, but it has also set up response habits among our artistic authorities which have worked against a free approach to other artistic forms.
- Thomas Hart Benton

I paint every day. Sometimes I hate painting, but I keep at it, thinking always that before I croak I'll really learn how to do it – maybe as well as some of the old painters.
- Thomas Hart Benton

I have a sort of inner conviction that for all the possible limitations of my mind and the disturbing effects of my processes, for all the contradicting struggles and failures I have gone through, I have come to something that is in the image of America and the American people of my time.
- Thomas Hart Benton

source

Let's Face it, What Else is There?

I marvel that each day is completely different even when I am doing the same things. Today at the pool it was full and we all had to use different swim lanes. I arrived wearing my suit and jumped right in. Then for a change I used the tiny locker room next to the pool. It's good to switch things up because then everything is new again. I walked a different route with Lily, going through the newly renovated WWII Veteran's Memorial Park and over to Jamie Sullivan's Butcher shop on North Main Street. He was stapling his colorful hand-painted signs to the wooden sandwich boards and we stopped to chat. "I cleaned and re-hung your paintings, go inside and have a look," he said. He had wrapped them in a clear plastic stretched so tight that it looked like glass. "I am so glad they are back up. It's an honor to have a local gallery and even better that it is a WONDERFUL MARKET!!Run by a great guy. Thomas Hart Benton hung his paintings in Saloons versus galleries so people going about their day got to experience them. This is exactly how I feel having my paintings in the butcher shop," I said.
When you shop at Jamie's SHAW'S MEATS you don't just get the best you usually get a great conversation and great advice about food, cooking and life. And let's face it. What else is there?

Dream

I dreamed I was being photographed with a fellow swimmer after our swim. We both had goggle-eyes from swimming.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

To Empty out my Brain

I have a drug addict living upstairs and she fights with her husband scaring my 13 year old daughter. The landlord is 85 and won't get rid of them, she said.
I have a next door neighbor who is a prostitute and the cars come in and out all day and night. I have to pull the shades because it's a trigger for me, he said. I spoke to the police and there's nothing they can do. It's squatter's laws, he said.
On my walks and at the pool people tell me stories. I am a listener but I offer advice too. When I get home I need to take another walk or swim to empty out my brain.

Zen Koan


One night, Chen Chu dreamt that he was a butterfly. In his dream, he had never been anything but a butterfly. When he woke up he didn't know if he was Chen Chu dreaming that he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming that he was Chen Chu.
— Zen koan from the poem Dream City, from the book That Said, New and Collected Poems by Jane Shore

Bookcase of Poems

I would like a wall of poems. A bookcase filled with poetry books. Ever since I saw a photo of May Sarton's house with her bookcase of poetry alongside her rocking chair I thought. "Me too, I want that!"

Our Artifacts

In the end, like the Almighty Himself, we make everything in our image, for want of a more reliable model; our artifacts tell more about ourselves than our confessions.
― Joseph Brodsky

Be Vigilant

Of all the parts of your body, be most vigilant over your index finger, for it is blame-thirsty. A pointed finger is a victim’s logo.
― Joseph Brodsky

Uncertainties

...in the business of writing what one accumulates is not expertise but uncertainties. Which is but another name for craft.
― Joseph Brodsky, Less Than One: Selected Essays

Exile

If there is anything good about exile, it is that it teaches one humility. It accelerates one’s drift into isolation, an absolute perspective. Into the condition at which all one is left with is oneself and one’s language, with nobody or nothing in between. Exile brings you overnight where it would normally take a lifetime to go.
― Joseph Brodsky

History of Consciousness

The real history of consciousness starts with one's first lie.
― Joseph Brodsky, Less Than One: Selected Essays

Rain

The Constitution doesn't mention rain.
― Joseph Brodsky

Skeptical, Dougbtful, Intellectually Uncomfortable

[T]he longer you stay skeptical, doubtful, intellectually uncomfortable, the better it is for you.
― Joseph Brodsky

Memory

If there is any substitute for love, it is memory.
― Joseph Brodsky

Private Infinity

“An object, after all, is what makes infinity private.”
― Joseph Brodsky, Watermark

Snobbery

Snobbery? But it's only a form of despair.
― Joseph Brodsky

An Approach

Poetry is rather an approach to things, to life, than it is typographical production.
― Joseph Brodsky

No Referee

“Life is a game with many rules but no referee. One learns how to play it more by watching it than by consulting any book, including the holy book. Small wonder, then, that so many play dirty, that so few win, that so many lose.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Brodsky Interrogation

“Judge: And what is your occupation in general?
Brodsky: Poet, poet-translator.
Judge: And who recognized you to be a poet? Who put you in the ranks of poet?
Brodsky: No one. And who put me in the ranks of humanity?
Judge: Did you study it?...How to be a poet? Did you attempt to finish an insitute of higher learning...where they prepare...teach
Brodsky: I did not think that it is given to one by education.
Judge: By what then?
Brodsky: I think that it is from God.”
― Joseph Brodsky

An Abominable Fallacy

“It's an abominable fallacy that suffering makes for greater art. Suffering blinds, deafens, ruins, and often kills. Osip Mandelstam was a great poet before the revolution. So was Anna Akhmatova, so was Marina Tsvetaeva. They would have become what they became even if none of the historical events that befell Russia in this century had taken place: because they were gifted. Basically, talent doesn't need history.”
― Joseph Brodsky

Brodsky on Boredom

“...boredom speaks the language of time, and it is to teach you the most valuable lesson in your life--...the lesson of your utter insignificance. It is valuable to you, as well as to those you are to rub shoulders with. 'You are finite,' time tells you in a voice of boredom, 'and whatever you do is, from my point of view, futile.' As music to your ears, this, of course, may not count; yet the sense of futility, of limited significance even of your best, most ardent actions is better than the illusion of their consequence and the attendant self-satisfaction.”
― Joseph Brodsky, On Grief and Reason: Essays

Raking in a Downpour at 4 AM

When I got up it was pouring out. I fed the animals and let Lily out to pee. I grabbed my rake and made two neat piles of muddy leaves on the cement walkway. I hope nobody is awake watching this crazy old lady raking in a downpour at 4 AM.

Brodsky: Try Not to Pay Attention to ...

Try not to pay attention to those who will try to make life miserable for you. There will be a lot of those--in the official capacity as well as the self-appointed. Suffer them if you can’t escape them, but once you have steered clear of them, give them the shortest shrift possible. Above all, try to avoid telling stories about the unjust treatment you received at their hands; avoid it no matter how receptive your audience may be. Tales of this sort extend the existence of your antagonists....
― Joseph Brodsky

Joseph Brodsky: The Eye

The eye identifies itself not with the body it belongs to but with the object of its attention.
― Joseph Brodsky, Watermark

Reverts to Action

What concerns me is that man, unable to articulate, to express himself adequately, reverts to action. Since the vocabulary of action is limited, as it were, to his body, he is bound to act violently, extending his vocabulary with a weapon where there should have been an adjective.
― Joseph Brodsky

Joseph Brodsky: Darkness Restores

For a writer only one form of patriotism exists: his attitude toward language.

After all, it is hard to master both life and work equally well. So if you are bound to fake one of them, it had better be life.

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.

The surest defense against Evil is extreme individualism, originality of thinking, whimsicality, even—if you will—eccentricity.

For darkness restores what light cannot repair.

The fact that we are living does not mean we are not sick.

Man is what he reads.

― Joseph Brodsky

Dreams

I dreamed that a woman had made a bunch of colorful claymation circus-themed dioramas for her portfolio, hoping to illustrate for a children's book. I loved them. I introduced her to my editor. He liked them a lot. This was a conference and many editors and authors were there. I didn't know anyone. People were asking a handsome man in blue shirt for his autograph. Must be an author, I thought. I wanted to make a book of poems like the Japanese poet who I like Nano Sakaki. He just wrote and shared them with his friends and eventually it became a book.

Then I was running in Grand Central Station to catch a train to Larchmont and when I got to the ticket booth everything had changed. They didn't use tickets anymore. They laughed at me. "It's been a while," I said. They asked for my driver's license to overlay some black and white form with oval holes in it for my ticket. There were young women using a Xerox machine to take glammy photos of themselves face down on the glass for their ticket.

My editor had found a place for me to stay while I was in town. He found 'Africa House' on the East Side in Providence. The house was jammed with beds everywhere. One child had a pillowcase printed with a black dog from a Disney movie. The house was crowded with African adults in traditional long robes and caps walking around. I was suddenly claustrophobic and asthmatic. I had trouble finding my way to the front door. I thought the housing inspector of Woonsocket wouldn't like this either. I said to DJ. "I am wide awake and I don't want to keep everyone up. Thank you, but I can drive home. I live only 17 miles away. My old blue Volkswagon-bug awaited me.

My friend Francine was offering me a colorful Indian print dress "for only three dollars" she said. I wasn't sure I'd wear it. I was feeling that three dollars was a lot for something I may never wear. I ought to buy it and give it to someone else, I thought. I woke up. It was 3:50 AM.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Introversion: Sensitivity

Extroverts report the most energy when they’re being talkative and assertive—but so do introverts. This is true when people rate their energy during 45 different hours over two weeks or weekly for ten weeks: the energizing hours and weeks for all of us are those that involve more active social interaction, regardless of whether we’re working, reading, eating, or partying.

This shouldn’t be a surprise: social interaction is the spice of life, in part because it satisfies the fundamental human need to belong. So if it’s not in where you get your energy, what’s the difference between introverts and extroverts?

It’s your sensitivity to stimulation. If you’re an introvert, you’re more prone to being overstimulated by intense or prolonged social interaction—and at that point, reflecting on your thoughts and feelings can help you recharge. But introversion-extroversion is about more than just social interaction. Extroverts crave stimulating activities like skydiving and stimulating beverages sold at Starbucks. Introverts are more likely to retreat to a quiet place, but they’re very happy to bring someone else with them.

Article

I LOVE Nano Sakaki's POETRY

I think you would love this book of poems by Nano Sakaki called Break the Mirror. AMAZING!!!!! I want to follow you around reading them! They are this good. I might have to have a Nano Sakaki poetry reading at my picnic table.

Tribal Culture

In this neighborhood the poor are disconnected from tribes, customs and networks. They worship Disney and Burger King.

Keeping an Eye

I look across the parking lot and the three year old boy Jake and his five year old sister Shantal are lighting firecrackers and sparklers this Monday morning at eleven AM. There are no adults anywhere so I am keeping an eye out. Home schooling? The kids are being orbited by a skittish tan Chihuahua named Max who loves to cross the lot to stick his nose through my chain link fence and cry to my dog Lily. Lily completely ignores him. Something I should learn.

Imagining

Swimming this morning at the pool I pretended that I was swimming to Cuba. The water was warm. I was even keeping an eye out for sharks. I dried off and put on my gown and walked two blocks home to my backyard and sat with my notebook. I imagined that I was in Hemingway's Havana house sitting in his garden with birds and cats and my lioness Labrador who is always beside me.

Alexi Pappas: Terrific Tuber

“I’ve always thought of myself as a potato, where you start out as this thing,” she said. “You can’t eat a raw potato, but you are a bundle of potential. You can become any number of things — breakfast, lunch, dinner. Potatoes can be fancy next to a prime rib or mashed, or you could be fries next to a humble hamburger. I feel excited now because the running and filmmaking are what my potato self is becoming.”

Teicher laughed. “Your potato self?” he said.

“Yeah,” she said. “The other thing about potatoes: They don’t rot the way other food does. They don’t decompose. They grow eyes and ask you to make them into something. I’ve wanted to become something, and it’s always with bright eyes and not fear.”

Article

A Life of Practice

Baking bread since 1976
'soon I will be a beginner' I say

if there is a summit I might ignore it
this is a life of practice.

The perfect loaf is eaten
the next day
I begin again with flour salt water and yeast

occasionally I bake a door stop, cinder block,
or an exhausted molten pond of sourdough

'There is no bad bread when its home made,' my husband reminds me
and slices the loaf neatly on his jig-saw.

and I begin again

Our ancestors knew bread was sacred
The crumbs, born again
bread pudding, French toast, meatloaf.

and favorite shirts worn out
became patches in a quilt

be sentimental about this life
it is all about practice



It doesn't take much but it does take some


Having grown up in a circus family
with sword-swallowing sister

Fire-eating Father

trapeze brother
Somersaulting Mother

I ran away from the spotlight

alone in my room
I am content with a cup of tea and a book
of poems

after spending the day walking
with my dog

Jane Kenyon Poem: Otherwise

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

― Jane Kenyon, Otherwise: New and Selected Poems

Jane Kenyon Poem: Happiness

There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
― Jane Kenyon

Jane Kenyon

Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.

Tell the whole truth. Don’t be lazy, don’t be afraid. Close the critic out when you are drafting something new. Take chances in the clarity of emotion.

The poet's job is to put into words those feelings we all have that are so deep, so important, and yet so difficult to name, to tell the truth in such a beautiful way, that people cannot live without it.

― Jane Kenyon

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Interfaith and Poverty Agenda

Article

Surprising Inspiration

Joe Berube a former Entrypoint caseworker at Connections for the Homeless and currently employed by Northwestern University’s Athletic Department was asked to provide some inspirational quotes for a recent staff meeting. Here is what he said:

“Instead of giving you famous quotes from well known people like Yogi Berra: “It ain’t over til it’s over” or Mike Ditka: “You’re never a loser until you quit trying” I thought I would give you inspirational quotes from people you may not normally look to for inspiration.”

Andrew has been homeless forever says, “Fatigue makes cowards out of all of us.”

Ben, who was an architect but is now in and out of homelessness, says, “Onward if not forward.”

Catherine, who hasn’t worked in 20 years, says, “The world takes care of itself…and me.”

Don who abuses alcohol says, “Surviving adversities makes me stronger.”

Eric lost his job, but is now working. He says, “I’m thankful for help with employment and housing, but I’m most grateful for a kind smile.”

Frank stays with friends. When he called his parents, they hung up on him. He says, “Focusing on others keeps my mind from focusing on me.”

Geo has poor English and can’t get a job. He says “People who care about me – that’s what keeps me going.”
Hank is 50ish and in and out of homelessness. He says, “Tomorrow will be here. It doesn’t end today.”

Joe left them with a quote of his own: “You can find inspiration if you are willing to be inspired.” He brought down the house.

Inspiring Quotes from our Hospitality Center Guests

Rumi

Respond to every call that excites your spirit.
-Rumi

Soul-Sustaining Commencement

Speech

Hypnotized by a Voice

Yesterday after my swim, a class started in the pool. I wanted to be in the water for a few more minutes. The teacher had a soothing rich voice. As she counted up to ten and back down I thought of the number spies. I was hypnotized and stayed for the whole class.

Outdoor Living Room

I have discovered a new addiction. I can't stop trimming back the overgrown bittersweet and maple and quaking aspen saplings in my yard. These clippers are so sharp that they cut through small trees like butter. I am creating an outdoor living room in the green shade. The birds are chattering like mad. It's like a bird sanctuary in the middle of the city.

WAIT by Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Wait.
Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

Galway Kinnell

Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?

- Galway Kinnell Wait

Deceptive

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Boscombe Valley Mystery

Conductor of Light

“It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but that you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle

Lunatics

“There are always some lunatics about. It would be a dull world without them.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Red Headed League

Rebels at Stagnation

“My mind," he said, "rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

Infinitely Stranger

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A Little Empty Attic

“I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

Love of Books

“The love of books is among the choicest gifts of the gods.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle

“It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle

“There is no scent so pleasant to my nostrils as that faint, subtle reek which comes from an ancient book.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle