I just received an email from Christopher Blasdel, the artistic director of the International House of Japan:
"This is Christopher Blasdel at the International House of Japan. I read your posting and chainletter that informs on the search for Craig. Thank you for your efforts at this. I have been in constant contact with the Fukuoka Consulate and can reassure you that they and the folk at the embassy are very concerned about this and doing what they can, including, not very successfully, trying to get the Japanese police to extend their search. The problem therefore is not with the US Embassy side."
He has, however, requested that his cell number be removed from the public posting (which I have done already below) and that if anyone needs to contact him, it is easiest done through email, which he constantly checks (email@example.com) or through the number at the I-House (81-3-3470-3211), for the other number needs to be free for emergency calls.
I am posting today about an EXTREMELY urgent situation. Craig Arnold, who many of you know, has gone missing on a small volcanic island while on a creative exchange fellowship in Japan. Craig, an experienced explorer of volcanoes, never returned to his inn after leaving alone to research the island's active volcano for the afternoon. The authorities are on the third day of searching for Craig, and are scouring the small island (of only 160 inhabitants) with dogs and helicopters. If he is not found by the end of the day, the authorities will call off the search.
We need your help to ensure that the search will continue. The island and areas surrounding the volcano are small enough that an extended search will surely lead to Craig's discovery.
Therefore: WE NEED EVERYONE TO CONTACT THEIR LOCAL CONGRESSPEOPLE AND SENATORS TO PRESSURE THE JAPANESE STATE DEPARTMENT TO CONTINUE THE SEARCH. WE ALSO NEED HELP SPARKING MEDIA ATTENTION FOR THIS STORY, WHICH WE ALSO HOPE MIGHT INCREASE PRESSURE ON JAPANESE AUTHORITIES TO FIND CRAIG.
I am pasting below a document with background information about Craig, as well as information about the details leading up to his disappearance as well as about the island itself. Please feel free to use this as reference material.
If any of you have ideas or know people who might be able to help, we'd appreciate hearing from you via the Find Craig Arnold Facebook group or blog. Please, though, take a minute to contact your senator and congressperson via telephone or even email to explain this problem and insist on their help.
We are hoping to find Craig today-- God-willing, not seriously injured. If so, this will not be an issue. But we must ensure that if this isn't resolved today, Craig doesn't end up an unsolved mystery. He is too important to too many people, not to mention to arts and letter generally, for this to happen.
It's getting late, I'm hungry, and I know exactly what I want: Oak Chicken!
Conveniently located ten minutes walk from my apartment, I set out into the Jongno night. My neighborhood, Jongno, 鐘路 ("bell road"), is a major old downtown area north of the river. There's a lot of financial activity during the day, and plenty of gallivanting and drunkeness at night.
Fried chicken (with beer!) is popular in Seoul. I pass about fifteen fried chicken restaurants on the way to Beer Oak, three on one corner:
But I don't want fried chicken. I want Oak Chicken.
Please excuse my radio silence, which was mostly due to having spent the past couple of weeks bopping around with my mother, who timed her visit to coincide with two Bob Dylan concerts here (one in Rome, one in Florence) and who had never been to Paris and decided that her daughter would be a good tour guide. (Thanks Mom!) Well, Florence was evocative and lovely as usual, and the City of Light was its usual beautiful and welcoming self (I say that with no irony; I love Paris). More on close encounters with Dante, Petrarch, and Montaigne later, but for now, here is the funny story about Her Royal Highness (Ma'am), the Keats-Shelley House, and poetry prizes.
HARD DAY’S NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD “Uptick in suicide seen as a sign of recession?” (poem AGAINST suicide)
Don’t look back, the Morton Salt Girl cried, There’s a bad moon on the rise… which I do not think happens anywhere in Sofia Coppola’s film THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, I do not think it happens anywhere else, but maybe it’s the trees in my lungs - it’s not the Dexedrine. Receding, I pop a black beauty & then another & so on & now I am young, gifted, & black now, canonized? Maybe. I expire on the tiny punk heart of the Crab Nebula. How many heartsprains & how many bloody drumsticks we just can’t stop gnawing on? Here we rage bereft, everyone is passing on, but in Paradise no one is passing gas, everyone finally relieved. Ah Verona! if there were only some kind of future & not just sexy grammar shouted from the marshes. Fill me up with Premium. Feverish, fibrous & generally trying not to die, I need guidance with heaven just a seizure-alert dog on an invisible lead. This, our weepy bloated saga so natural but then the sun is natural & so is tobacco.
Left to right: Hayoung You, Porshia Bernard, Mark Brazeal, Danbee Moon, Loren Goodman, HyunJeong Lee, Jiwon Lee, Inhye Choi, Ahyoung Youn, SeoHyun Lee. Not pictured: Jiha Ko, Sanghee Kim. (Photo by Jiha Ko)
Poetry as a Second Language is going well. I got the idea for the course from Kenneth Koch and Paul Valery ("A poem is by someone who is not the poet, addressed to someone who is not the reader"). This is an immersion course conducted entirely in the language of poetry.
David Lehman's post last week about suicide prompted this comment from Jeff Oaks, Managing Director of the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series. It's worth highlighting here because it illustrates how a seemingly small gesture by a caring teacher can have a transformative -- possibly life saving -- impact on an impressionable student. In addition to being a fine teacher, Milton Kessler (1930-2000) published several volumes of poetry, including The Grand Concourse. His poem, "Comma of God," was chosen by Heather McHugh, for The Best American Poetry 2007.
"I had a a great teacher, Milt Kessler (left), at SUNY Binghamton who was reading poems I had given him in hope of being let into his poetry workshop. He couldn't understand, he said to me, why everything was always fading away at the end of my poems. I didn't have an answer then, but it was because my vision, such as it was then, was tied into the recognition of mortality, which both sweetened everything around me, and made it impossible to ever feel like I could have happiness. His answer was to get up from his desk, look out his window, which then looked out over a large field of wildflowers. Then he said, Come here. I stood up next to him at the window. He took my hand in his, which really freaked me out, and said, Look at all that life. Isn't it wonderful? Just look at it. And we stood looking at that field for a minute or so, holding hands. Then he let my hand go. We went back to where we'd been sitting. I honestly don't remember what we talked about after that. I was still buzzing with life. That was a transformational moment for me who'd grown up among a lot of unhappy adults; I'd imagined that unhappiness was all I had to look forward to, and maybe even unconsciously had begun to create a poetry that would prepare me for that inevitability. Milt worked so hard to get us to fight against simple closures in poetry, to embrace what was difficult to say and feel, and to bear the weight of those things as a privilege, as a responsibility. To be angry as hell in a poem. Not to just feel nostalgic or blue because that was the fashion. To not give up. I wish someone would write the book of writing assignments that encourage that!" -- Jeff Oaks