Selasa, 24 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


I still have not seen "Glee," the new Fox television series that everyone seems to love. I don't generally watch television, which is why, I suppose, I have not seen "Glee." And I do not generally trust public opinion about television. But something about the dialogue about "Glee" is different -- maybe because "Glee" is different -- and I really want to settle down with a bowl of popcorn and turn on the T.V.

Sunday's New York Times featured an article (a "mashup") by Charles Isherwood about Barbara Cook and "Glee." Here is an excerpt:

"The process by which a gifted singer evolves into a real artist is probably impossible to delineate clearly. It may well be a mystery even to the artists themselves and probably has much to do with age and endurance and learning not to escape into music or stand outside it, judging the performance as they give it, but to live more fully in it. Great singers fold into their songs the scars that life's inevitable setbacks leave upon everyone (and the satisfactions too) without turning singing into raw, formless confessional."

One could substitute "poet" for "singer" and "poems" for "songs" and it would still make good sense.

Kamis, 19 November 2009

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Last year, I bought Lawrence Ferlinghett's Poetry as Insurgent Art at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. It's full of statements that feel like aphorisms, some of which seem a little too simple. But they are fun to read, and the book is the sort of thing one can pick up and consume quickly in one sitting, or, as I sometimes do, pick up and browse one or two pages at a time. Last night, unable to commit to a new book, I read it all again. It's also been several days (oh let's not count) since I've started a new poem, and so I feel restless and unsatisfied. Ferlinghetti's book is the just the thing for these times. Here are some highlights, all quoted directly from the book:

Your language must sing, with or without rhyme, to justify it being in the typography of poetry.

Your life is your poetry. If you have no heart, you'll write heartless poems.

Can you imagine Shelley attending a poetry workshop?

Pursue the White Whale but don't harpoon it. Catch its song instead.

Write short poems in the voice of birds.

And this, from the section titled, "What is Poetry?"

It is private solitude made public.

Jumat, 13 November 2009

Mini Fuzzy-haired Troll - Free pattern

I made these for our school's Christmas Bazaar last year - they're quick, easy and fun to make.

Some mohair yarn for the hair
Plain yarn for the body
Black yarn to embroider the features
3.5mm hook
A wire pet brush to make the hair fuzzy

ch = chain
st = stitch or stitches
sc = single crochet (US), double crochet (UK)
dc = double crochet (US), treble crochet (UK)
ss = slip stitch
tog = together
FO = fasten off

Special stitch instructions:
3 dc popcorn stitch: Work 3 dc into 1 sc, remove hook from working loop, push through both loops of first dc and pull working loop through.
3 dc bobble stitch: Work first part of dc 3 times into 1 stitch, leaving 4 loops on hook, pull through all 4.
This troll is made in rounds. Do not join rounds, use a stitch marker to mark the start of a round - a small piece of different coloured yarn placed under the stitch at the start of the round will do.

Mohair yarn:
Round 1: Ch 2, work 6 sc into 1st ch - 6 sc.Round 2: 2 sc in each sc around - 12 sc.Round 3: [2sc in next sc, sc in next sc] 6 times – 18 sc.
Plain yarn:
Round 4 – 5: (2 rounds) Sc in each sc around – 18 sc.
Round 6: To make ears: Sc in next 4 sc, 3dc popcorn stitch into next sc, sc in next 8sc, 3dc popcorn stitch into next sc, sc in next4 sc – 18 sc
Round 7: Sc in each sc around – 18 sc
Round 8: [Sc 2 tog, sc in next sc] 6 times – 12 sc.
Round 9: Sc in each sc around – 12 sc
Round 10: To make arms: Work sc in each sc around until you get to the sc under the first ear then make arm as follows: ss into sc, ch7, 3dc bobble stitch into 3rd ch from hook, ss into next 4 ch, ss back into original sc. Work sc in next 5 sc, make the other arm, sc in each sc until the end of the round - 12st.
Round 11: Sc in each sc around – 12 sc (you sc into the first ss used to make each arm).
Round 12: Sc in each sc around – 12 sc.
Round 13: [2sc in next sc, sc in next 3 sc] 3 times - 15sc.
Round 14: Sc in each sc around – 15 sc.
Round 15: [2sc in next sc, sc in next 4 sc] 3 times - 18sc.
Round 16: Sc in each sc around – 18 sc.
Round 17: To make feet: Find the stitch in the front middle of your troll. Then count back 4 stitches before that (not including the middle stitch) and mark this stitch. Work sc in each sc around until you get to the marked stitch. Make toes: [3dc popcorn stitch] 3 times, sc in next 3 sc, [3dc popcorn stitch] 3 times, sc in each sc around to the end of the round.
Now stuff your troll and embroider the eyes and mouth with black yarn.
Round 18: [Sc 2 tog, sc in next sc] 6 times – 12 sc.
Round 19: [Sc 2 tog] 6 times – 6 sc. FO.
Complete stuffing and sew up hole neatly.
Use the wire brush on the mohair to make it fuzzy, and your troll is now complete!

Kamis, 05 November 2009

Memphis or Nebraska

I started my morning with a walk and I came home to a sunny kitchen, which spurred me, somehow, to clear old newspapers from the table. I can't do this without flipping through each section and making sure I didn't miss something good. "Something good" often means something from Verlyn Klinkenborg, who often contributes a short editorial at the back of section A in The New York Times. I found one of his pieces in Monday's paper. Most of his editorials concern "The Rural Life," but Monday's is titled "Memphis" and falls into the miscellaneous category. It begins with this statement, "If I had to name the best short story in the form of a song lyric, I suspect the winner would be Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee," first released as a B-side in 1959."

This might be my first disagreement with Verlyn Klinkenbourg. Berry's lyrics reveal a desperate man, and they are sad and haunting. But in the genre of the two-minute song (give or take), the 10 songs on Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska tell some of the finest, and saddest, tales. It's hard to pick a favorite among them. "Highway Patrolman," "Used Cars," "Open all Night," "My Father's House, " "Reason to Believe"....these songs straddle hopelessness and hope so deftly that one can sink into a deep meditative funk during one listening.

I listened to Nebraska over and over in my senior year of high school, and despite the violence, loneliness and despair depicted on that album, I did not depart for the badlands with a sawed off .410 or mess with the gamblin' commission in Atlantic City. I smiled at customers when I scooped their ice cream and I headed off to college with a sunny take on life. I think this will be a useful memory to keep in mind in the years ahead, when Tom will, most likely, slink off to his room to sink into that deep, ruminative space we all sometimes need when we listen to music. And I think I'll always feel fiercely loyal to Bruce Springsteen and Nebraska.

Senin, 02 November 2009

Minggu, 01 November 2009

West Branch

Coffee and eggs and good news! The fall/winter issue of West Branch is out, featuring my poem, "Isle Royle, 1928," AND two poems by my friend, Karin Gottshall, "Operative" and "Household Gods."