Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tapering of vacationland...

Things feel like they are coming to a close. Like they are falling asleep here and thus the waking world is in fact what will be the dream of here. The return to Paris. The bustle. the work. The teaching. The getting ready for another year. the applying for qualification. The list of to-do items left in some box somewhere before one (I) took off to here.

But I am not yet there. there are a few more seascape days left, afternoons finishing good novesl on the sandy beaches, diving into the blue waters to cool down. There are a few more evenings of gorgeous sunsets over bay and mountains. But alas, so few, so few I must now dash off an savor them!!!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Athens is burning....summer island reading and reflecting

Here, the life on the island paradise continues. The sky at night is red red red in the direction of Athens and the mainland, though so far away I doubt that the sunset really has a thing to do with the redness here. Though who knows? Until this change, the world was all blues and greens.

As I reread Incubation : a space for monsters by Bhanu Kapil last week (click title for spd link), laying in the hot sands so very far from all Americaness that peppers that book, reading through it, reading to write back to myself at times, to my own movements over a life, I drifted, re-re-reading, thinking of the colors in it versus the colors here. Very different tones the greens and blues and browns of here and the reds and oranges in the book.

But with last night's sunset, the palette shifted, indicated the hot elsewheres of the world hovering just beyond our touch in this aquatic life. On p 80 of Incubation, Kapil writes "It is arrival in reverse to approach an ocean. Are you an immigrant? Don't panic, immigrant. There are places to curl up in under a cliff, in a cave, and in the morning you will be covered with starfish opening and closing all over your body. Encrusted, riveted, bright orange, what will you do? What will you do with your new body?" This passage speaks to some seachange in me, some post-PhD emerging, setting sail, drifting that I feel part of at the moment.

Here, I keep swimming out to the rock where Sappho wrote her poems and is rumored to have perhaps killed herself, but as of yet I have not had the luck of seeing the starfish some others have found there. Yesterday, however, many dark and colorful fish circled round my feet as I tread water looking down at them.

Anyway, here are some images of Athens from Zeeinfo and thinkinginpictures, the battle taking place on the Greek mainland while here I head off to lay on the beach, rest, read Amy Tan's The Hundred Secret Senses (click title for the amazon link, though the cover on the edition I am reading is much better!). To see aerial views of Athens, or for more, check out the blog and images at firefighters blog:

Being found: Poets & Writers online

My personal profile just went up online and Poets & Writers. Most of you know this info, but still, here is the link in case you are interested:

I must say, it is exciting to be on the Poets & Writers' online listing of authors, mostly because I love flipping through their catalogue and discovering new people to read, even new presses via listings of who has published what where.

Poets & Writers runs an invaluable series of services for authors, for example both their print and online version of calls for work from publishers and lit mags. This lisintg is varied, and constantly changing. They are also great at informing those interested about what's new online and in print via their email lisitng, which you can sign up for.

Of all the magazines dedicated to info on publishing, Poets & Writers have consistently been the least markety and with an attitude of marketeering, and thus the most valuable for really discovering genuine places one wants to look at work in (new mags, even new authors when they run features on different poets).

What can I say, that is my personal plug for them. If you are interested in subscribing, they of course would adore that support from readers and writers alike. Click HERE for gift subscription info, because perhaps you want to give one of your favorite author friends a subscription to keep them in the P&W loop.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

John Parker--may his life and writings be remembered!

The sad news is that a wonderful writer, artist, spirit and friend has left this world this summer. John Parker passed away in Shanghai last week. I met John while he was completing his MFA at UMASS and while I was an undergraduate at MHC. I would often call him up in the middle of the night unable to contain myself to read him new poems, waking him from various stages of dreaming. He never complained! He was responsible for me meeting many other MFAers over at UMASS and for my taking, with Greg B, the graduate seminar on Hemingway offered by Donald Junkins. Unforgetable times in Amherst and South Hadley! Life was beautiful because John was in it. And here is a lovely photo by Greg Bachar where we see John at the left. Gorgeous, full-of-life picture! Info for those of you able to make the services is below. Read his poems, celebrate his life, feel the joy that was his in living!!! Some of his work appears in the bright blue issue of Upstairs at Duroc, in case any of you have those laying about he house and want to have a re-read of his prose poems in memoriam.
John‘s Funeral Service before cremation

August 19th, 1:40 PM to 2:40 PM (starting time is 1:40 PM)
Yunrui Hall (云瑞厅) on second floor
Long Hua Funeral Home
#210 Caoxi Lu (cross Caobao Lu) (漕溪路/ 漕宝路)
Tel: 64380004
Parking space available

John ‘s Memorial Service at Malone

August 19th, 6:00pm to 8:00 pm
Malone (3rd Floor)
# 255 Tongren Lu (nearby Nanjin Xi Lu) (铜仁路/南京西路)
Tel: 62472400

All friends are welcomed to share memory of John, Poem reading to contribute to John. A PPT document which summary John’s life and work in Shanghai will be shared with every one. Small food and drink served.

John’s memorial Service at His Favorite Café

Friday 28 August, 7 pm
25 Shaoxing lu, near Shanxi Nan lu (绍兴路/陕西南路)
Tel: 64452131

Vienna Café will be screening two films to remember his numerous days spent in this little café. Pumping Iron, a film about body-building culture is a film that John always wanted to screen here but never had it realized. Behind the Heavy Wooden Door is a short film about stories happen at a Japanese bar in Shanghai. Starring John Parker and his friends, the film is set in one of John's favorite bars in Shanghai.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Aegean, from an Iowan's POV

Underwater--I open my eyes and it's like in a film of the sea. Striations of blue and then a sandy-stone bottom. Of course, in a film version this scene must be followed with danger (sudden arrival of Great White sharks, diving tank failure, attack of the killer seaturtles) or romance (James Bond plunging in next to a scantily-clad Bond girl, camera pans in for underwater kiss before some sort of betrayal or splashy surfacing to awaiting 50 foot yacht and champagne already chilled as James towls off his hairy chest).

In reality, there is just the blue. Even when I am not that far out I can sometimes turn 360 degrees underwater and see the same striations in every direction. It's a bit disconcerting for a land-dweller like myself. And yesterday, a heavy wind so that when I make myself like a raft, close my eyes and just let myself drift on the surface, I have the surprise of realizing I have been drifting out from shore more than I'd expected--though still not as far as many people swim. At night, I hear the waves in my ears, feel my body on the stiff mattress of my pansion as if still adrift. The land should not move, is not wavering beneath me, but the sensation remains of waves and tides.

(Photo credits: from the blog for the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts--see thier site for details on their programs!

On difficulty in/and writing

I've always written (poetry) in ways others have found "difficult". But what does that mean? I never expect you--reader--to trace the thought through. Perhaps there never was a thought at all? I read "The colors of the world are its elements" (IncubationA Space for Monsters; Bhanu Kapil) and think for me the world is textures moving like tectonic plates over our cerebral surfaces. What point is there in capturing a hummingbird in flight? Stop-magic is death. I'm moving through the flow of the universe, the galaxies slipping over the black screen of the night echoing me back to me, you to you, the us-ness remains the state of mortal discontent. A wound will close up. Then what is left? I want to be a very deep gash. I want to leave a scar.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Skala Eresos...

Wake late, go for a cafe frappe at one of the beachfront cafes, swim, read, go back to a cafe for a drink or perhaps food then write for awhile (stories, mostly), return to beach for swim, read, journal, return to studio to shower off salt then back to a cafe for a drink while journaling and watching sunset, eat a little dinner somewhere, perhaps drinks and dance, perhaps live music or allnight beachparty with firepit, return to studio, sleep, repeat.

Life here feels easy, stressless, gorgeous. The days go by, almost a week here now. I have tried out the cheese-and-pepper stuffed calimari, the traditional Greek meatballs, souvelaki, and a very nonGreek but wonderfully tasty salad with blue cheese, apple and avacado at the lovely Aubregine restaurant.

In the day, it is not overly hot, but still one feels unlike eating anything, so it is lots of juices, coffees, water then beach.
The town is populated with tourists, pretty much an even divide between Greek families with their many children and then the women here for the historical Sapphic connexion. It is wonderful to see the groups so integrated, so comfortably cohabitating, cosocializing.
And then it is also a pleasure to read, paint (badly, as I do) and write, journal, write with no sense of obligation about any of it!