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chrysanthemum
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The subject line's from Marianne Moore's Baseball and Writing. The two quotes below are from Elizabeth Bishop to Lowell. July 10, 1967:


Well -- the Village will rejuvenate me, no doubt. I never appear without earrings down to my bosom, skirts almost up to it, and a guitar over my shoulder. I am afraid I am going to start writing FREE VERSE next . . .


July 27, 1967:


Just as I came in now Bob G called inviting me to lunch next week to meet R Straus (whom I've met, but no one, including me, remembers the meeting at all) and the famous Miss Sontag . . . This is almost too much for one day, particularly as I have to be bright and energetic for idnner with Anny that same night. I thought in the SUMMER in N.Y. one could avoid this kind of thing, but apparently not. I do think that was marvellous -- Marianne demanding a "house call" and almost unable to speak at 12 noon, yesterday, and then refusing all help and going to a baseball game. I don't think I can bear to tell on her . . . I always thought she'd die one day on the Brooklyn Express; now I think she'll die in the bleachers.


This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/134856.html.
24th-Jul-2016 01:15 pm - some reading for work
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From Soshitsu Sen's Chado: The Japanese Way of Tea (1979):


The charcoal is arranged in a set pattern in the container. The long, white sticks are charcoal made from azalea branches and painted with gesso. The black charcoal is made from any of a variety of woods (20).



The artisan who crafts the scoops will usually give a specific poetic name to each, such as "Outgoing Boat," "Incoming Boat," "Spring Wind," "Firefly," "Demon's Arm," and so on (26).


This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/134567.html.
16th-Jul-2016 07:43 pm - reaching with caution
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Nitro ice cream demo

The need to catch up on sleep and housework quashed most of my original plans for today, but I did head to Adventure Science Center for the tail end of Summer Science Day, getting there in time for the Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream demo. It was entertaining watching some of the kids creep closer and closer to the stage, yearning to touch the magical fog (and the educators diligently warning them back lest they get burned):

Nitro ice cream demo
Nitro ice cream demo

The ice cream mixture was pretty crunchy at first (solution: add more milk), and bent the first spoon used, but eventually there were two batches -- plenty to go around, and I heard more than one parent telling their kid to not go up for seconds until everyone had gotten firsts:

Kids enjoying ice cream

The 2:30 screening in the planetarium was of Natural Selection: Darwin's Mysteries of Mysteries. A copy of The Origin of Species is on display in the exhibit From Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs:

From Wolf to Woof

The film is lush, and I especially liked the classroom-lessons-on-cardboard scenes, which included a PAC-MAN noshing on circles with spines. On the other hand, the narrative seemed jumbled and erratically paced to me; perhaps all the hopping between different graphic styles and storylines was meant to cover multiple learning styles and attention spans, but I'm still shaking my head at the caveman with the guitar (even though I'm sure some of the other audience members thought it was hilarious when said caveman casually socked a blue-footed booby with the guitar handle).




I started to assemble a blueberry pie Sunday night, but ran out of evening and energy. It's a good thing blueberries keep. Back to it now, and to pickling peppers, too.

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/134340.html.
4th-Jul-2016 01:22 am - sloshing through the sauerkraut
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Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Lowell, 18 July 1950:


Just had a visit from the Dutchman who works here & writes poetry incessantly. I hope he wasn't one of your problems too. One poem this time is about his soul fermenting in a barrel of sauerkraut. He's so grateful to God for sending him such marvelous ideas, but personally I'm afraid God is playing tricks on him.


There is no actual sauerkraut here, as I've despised the stuff all my life. What we do have on hand: kosher dill pickles, salted lemons, and capers. From generous colleagues, fire cider and dried pineapple. From the container garden, belatedly harvested radish greens and arugula, tempered on my stove with cream or bacon and wine vinegar, countered by a orange-skinned cherry tomato I popped into my mouth a day or three too soon. I cut down the rust-plagued hocks a few twilights ago, and in the morning shall steel myself to thin out the zinnias, if rain is not pelting down. The Christmas peppers run the gamut from stunted seedling to shriveling unharvested pod. So too my drafts. So too my sketches and lists.

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/134129.html.
29th-Jun-2016 09:22 pm - been working around things in the way
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There was a storm last week:

our driveway a week ago

Today was the first day I could safely get to the hollyhocks in front. There's some rust to deal with.

after storm vs. tree

There were also quite a few bloodstains decorating the basement floor earlier this week. That, though, was less about tree vs. storm and more about man vs. board, one that propelled him into a nail during his tussle with it. The subsequent tetanus shot and squirts of silver solution seem to be doing their job.

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/133702.html.
8th-Jun-2016 09:34 pm - I only have two hands
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[Subject line source: Kristin Hersh, "Me and My Charms"]

tree man

We have been sawing and chipping away at things, in some instances literally.

Lunch today was at Otaku Ramen -- hot chicken bun and Tennessee tonkatsu with miso butter. At one point, the conversation veered into "things we wish we could have photographed except we were driving." A colleague recalled spotting a friend's graffiti art on a moving train. This morning, on my way to work, I saw a large upside-down wood cross dangling from a short front crane, with a man walking alongside to (I presume) keep the cross from swinging too much, or perhaps to guide it around curves and corners.

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/133483.html.
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(First set of notes here)

Second-half standouts:

Ruth Madievsky, "Paragard": "I was in a lecture hall, explaining how the copper IUD works..."

Brendan Constantine's conversation with Alan Fox. Among BC's provocative statements:


I just had a conversation with a poet I can't name, who was very angry because they felt that the internet was flooded with lots of mediocre poetry. Now anyone can put a badge on their shirt that says "Poet" and communicate with ohter poets and have all this great access, the world, the media, the "readers" are overwhelmed with bad work, and thus can't find or recognize where the "good" work is. That is a paranoia I don't share. It's an argument I've heard, over and over, that bad poetry somehow diminishes our joy and plight. That if the "bad" poets are allowed to publish, it destroys connoisseurship. I don't see that to be the case. I think that every great artist, like every great art critic, will die ignorant of most of the good art in their time. That's been true of virtually every generation. I mean, why else does it seem that half the work that ultimately "comes to define a generation" is discovered posthumously.


And also:


If you're lucky enough to live a good long life, you're going to see most of your cherished profundities reduced to trivia, and virtually every banality celebrated.


This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/133170.html.
4th-Jun-2016 05:18 pm - better mean what you sing
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There's a feature on Dr. Ysaye Barnwell in the current issue of UU World. It includes this:


She turns solemn and angry talking about how "Kumbaya," which means "Come by Here" in the Gullah language, has become snarky shorthand for feel-good or weak-minded groupthink. A soulful cry sung by the Georgia Sea Island slaves, the song was carried on by Southern blacks in the time of Jim Crow and lynch mobs, and later by the Freedom Riders when they learned three of their workers had been murdered by Klansmen. "When people say, 'It was a Kumbaya moment,' it clearly was not a Kumbaya moment," Barnwell admonished. "It's actually an invocation for God to come by here now because things are needed. If you hear people use it mistakenly, gently correct them."


Barnwell elaborated on this at the end of today's workshop at First UU Nashville, whose members will be singing a half-dozen-plus songs/arrangements by Barnwell tomorrow morning (9 a.m. and 11 a.m.). The Freedom Riders sang "Kumbaya" in their camp at a point where calling to God felt like the only option. Barnwell demonstrated how she sometimes opens concerts with a furious, fast, rough-edged rendition of "Kumbaya" that is nothing like the Girl Scout version -- to get the audience toward hearing it as the bone-deep cry for help the words are to convey.

A recurring theme in the workshop: take time to think about the words of spirituals from the perspective of the enslaved, often after being preached to by so-called Christian masters. What is being taught or signaled?

A book to read: Rising from the Rails -- how the Pullman porters led the creation of the black middle class, all the while navigating social tightropes. Barnwell described how the porters closely observed the lives of affluent white passengers , to then subsequently teach about investing and other skills new to most postbellum communities. How the porters would gather up discarded newspapers in the cars, bundle them up, and toss them into towns where newspapers weren't available.

There was much more. I sat, stood, and danced among and between several different people during the course of the day. The afternoon session included a quolidbet that combined "Honor, Honor," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "I’m a Rollin’," "Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray," "My Good Lawd Done Been Here," and "Please, Lordy," with "Honor, Honor" in harmony.

Something for me to work toward and look forward to: taming my schedule enough to sing more marching songs and quolidbets. Someday.

This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/132896.html.
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The subject line is from Edmund Keeley's translation of René Guy Cadou's "Poème d'amour à Hélène" (Love Poem to Helen).

On the morning of 30 May 2009, I walked around Marseille for a little while before catching my bus. I hope to spend a longer while there someday, less encumbered with luggage and better versed in modern as well as classic writing about the city:

Marseille parking meter


The Marseillais themselves [are] today as varied and original as Fisher described them in "A Considerable Town." They stroll, or rather, strut, in colorful African fabrics, or navy blue woolen fishermen's sweaters; in haute couture purchased from the fantastic boutiques along the Rue Paradis; or in skateboard garb. Fisher claimed that her classic university-learned French deteriorated while in Marseille, for she spent many happy hours talking with its inhabitants--Italians, Tunisians, Greeks--who spoke anything but Parisian French.

-- Mary Lou Longworth's 1998 essay on MFK Fisher and Marseille


Marseille market


The mistral is a violent wind that swoops southward from the center of France and along the Rhône valley. It torments the Mediterranean coast, particularly the stretch between Toulon and Marseille. It shakes windows, it tears laundry from clotheslines, it tears clay tiles from roofs. The people of Marseille like to say the mistral even causes temporary insanity.

--Jeffrey Mercer, When the Guillotine Fell


The bus took me to Aix-en-Provence:

IMG_1555

Aix-en-Provence


Thou fair Marseilles, who openest on the sea
Thy haughty eyes and gazest languidly...
...and in this hour
Art proud once more; but other storms may lower.
Forget not, then, amid thy revelries,
Whose tears they are that bathe thine olive-trees!

-- Frédéric Mistral, Miréio


...Oh, that won't do for an ending. Here's Amy Wilentz in a 2011 blog post:


In one fishwife's basket there was a score or more of lovely striped rainbow fish that I was pining for; she was charging a lot.

"Awful," said my friend Grégoire Alessi, leaning in over my shoulder to see what caught my eye. "Don't even think about it."

"But they’re beautiful," I protested.

"Yah, yah," he said, giving a shrug, possibly the most common gesture in Marseille. "They may look good, but they taste terrible. They get caught by accident, I guess. I wouldn't even put one in soup." He pointed to a bunch of ugly, flattish brown fish. "Those are the good ones," he said.


This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/132841.html.
29th-May-2016 09:52 pm(no subject)
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River Arts District
Asheville River Arts District - White Duck Taco parking lot


I have been dipping into the Summer 2016 issue of Rattle during breaks. The highlights so far:

  • Christopher Citro - "The Mutual Building" ("When is someone going / to come clean this up? ... // No one needs the wrong time in the sky / when we're just trying to cross the street...")

  • Jennifer Givhan - "The Cheerleaders" ("What's not feminist / about this, how the sport could send us -- / most of whom had ever been on a plane / since there was no airport in our town / besides barns for crop dusters -- to New York City....")

  • Felicia Krol - "Between Funerals" ("One by one / the white letters...")

  • S. H. Lohmann - "Survival English" ("What I know are just facts: / which vowels gave them trouble...")

  • Peter J. Curry's contributor note: "When I think about the poems I've written, I see they come mostly from that impulse -- to mend something, or to bring some kind of order to an obviously broken world."


  • Now I am off to scrub the shower walls with lemon water (left over from scrubbing the inside of the microwave). Ars longa, housework vincit, vita brevis, laborare est orare, etc.

    This entry was originally posted at http://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/132390.html.
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