Hey, Dave, remember the time we went to the cocktail party at MOMA and ran into -- well, you know. "That's Life"! Happy birthday, buddy. Love, Frank.
Hey, Dave, remember the time we went to the cocktail party at MOMA and ran into -- well, you know. "That's Life"! Happy birthday, buddy. Love, Frank.
If you watched the recently posted video of Staven Smale, you saw Professor Smale reference Amie Wilkinson of the University of Chicago. Perhaps before long I'll show you some of Amie's work on pathological foliation. Along with Dmitry Dolgopyat, Anatole Katok, Rostislav Grigorchuk, and others, Amie Wilkinson is on the board of directors for the Journal of Modern Dynamics, published by the American Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
In view of Amie Wilkinson's professional accomplishments, it may seem irrelevant to some people that she's a very beautiful woman.
But since it wouldn't have seemed irrelevant to Socrates, let's meet some other beautiful women of mathematics.
Margot Gerritsen is a professor in the Department of Energy Resources Engineering at Stanford. She seems like a very good natured person. She is from Holland, Below, we see Olga Holtz, professor in the Department of Mathematics at Berkeley. The picture (from Wikipedia) shows Olga Holtz in action at the Institute for Advanced Study, where Kurt Godel and Albert Einstein were wont to roam. TS. Eliot too!!!
Frankly, Olga Holtz looks hard to beat!
Here's a video of an interview with Prof. Holtz. Notice that she's speaking German. Naturlich, she also speaks perfect English. She was born in Russia, Olga Holtz probably speaks Christ only knows how many languages..
Finally, here's a video of another lecture by Professor Steven Smale. By the way, Smale has one of the world's greatest collections of crystal formations. As Larry King might say, "a man of many facets!"
"I have a hot tooth."
"Go to the Cloisters without me."
"I consider it a success: you didn't have to go a whole day wihout calling me an idiot."
"Why is this so hard? You only have to write 120 words and fifteen of them are Ajax."
"You just hate him because he voted for Goldwater."
"Will you take LSD with me?"
"You're really drunk. Sleep it off."
"This is what happens when you have the artistic temperament without being an artist."
Doors open, doors close, and an Old Fashioned with a beautiful stranger at a luxe Midtown bar is the way the evening ends.
The one universal truth linking all episodes of all seasons of "Mad Men" is that the client is always a shmuck.
"$50,000." That's the sum, the reccurent sum -- what a night with Joan is worth, or the life of Lane, or the collateral for a partnership in the firm, or the check Don gives to the angry widow. Fifty grand was a lot of money in those days. The most valuable stamp in the world was worth $50,000. Ernest Hemingway's story "Fifty Grand" was being read by aspiring writers in science-oriented high school programs in the post-Sputnik era of high angst. Sandy Koufax held out for one hundred thousand dollars. That was the really magic number in those days. That was the Joe DiMaggio number.
Peggy has come a long way, baby -- she's off to Virginia, slim -- and Don's brother is going to "hang around. Get it?" Hang on for dear life, dear death, dear Adam. The suicide of one brother is the suicide of all. Dick Whitman gets to celebrate himself. His life's a toothache, and Canadian Club's the palliative. Meanwhile, lots of people get to sock Pete in the jaw. Megan gets the part of Beauty in the "Beauty and the Beast" commercial for Butler Shoes. Who do you suppose is the beast in her life? And Roger hangs his hopes on the nudity of his life in bed with his French-speaking mistress, mother of his partner's wife.
Don, Peggy, and Ginsberg tell me that they dig two commercials on TV right now. The two, as paraphrased by me, who am too lazy to dig up the videos, are
(1) << A spot against cable tv, because the cable guy won't come, so you look out the window, and when you look out the window, you see things you shouldn't see, and when that happens you have to disappear, and when you disappear you have to dye your eyebrows white, and when you do that you end up attending your own funeral as a guy named Phil Schiffly. Don't be Phil Schiffly. Switch to our dish or satellite or whatever the hell we're offering instead of cable. >>
Ginsberg said, "The visuals are funny, but the genius part of the commercial is the use of the name Phil Schiffly. (Oh, and btw, Phil Schiffly is the name of a guy who used to work in the ad agency's office before he screwed the pooch.)"
(2) << Car commercial. Attractive lady applies lie detector test to regular guy in shirt and tie. Nondescript q-and-a until she asks him, "Are you wildly and uncontrollably attracted to me?" He, emphatically: "No." Lie detector needle jumps all over the place. "Good," she says. "It's working." >>
At the bar waiting for his Od Fashioned, Don tells me he likes the car commercial because it takes the focus away from the car. "How much Bud would you sell if people tasted the stuff?" Then he excused himself to talk to the woman who approached asking him to light her fire. Come on baby light my fire. Doors open, doors close, and The Doors should sing. Hey, man, it's 1967. But James Bond is still in power, and "You Only Live Twice" is the song of the movie of the day. Don is on lifetime number two right now. The experience called "Vietnam" has not quite happened in the suburbs or on the New Haven line, the one-bedrooms in the East 60s, and the luxury flats in Midtown. And the news is just months away. -- DL
Sometime early this morning, when it was still dark, a soft rain commenced here in Nashville. So we have the unexpected delight of another cool morning – two in one week is almost unheard of this time of year. I’m out on the porch again, drenched in the blessing of a cool, gray, just-barely-rainy Sunday morning…
For some reason, I awoke thinking of an annual dinner party I have given each December for the past fifteen years. I call it the “Annual Sit Down, Dress Up, No Kids Allowed, Crown Pork Roast Holiday Dinner.” About two dozen friends (many of whom are colleagues) attend each year. Over time, it has evolved from fancy dinner party mode (multi-colored, curly paper crowns decorating the ends of each rib of the roast, and five courses) to something more along the lines of a home-based cabaret of talented friends. (This year, I’m planning to transition us from the full blown crown pork roast in response to increasing vegetarianism among the attendees…) What the shindig now amounts to is a long cocktail hour – which almost-grown offspring are allowed to attend in party dress, before departing for their own amusements and repasts – the sit down meal, and then an after-dinner hour or so of performance. Because several of us are poets, there is always lots of poetry. Original work is read, followed by those of us who are fluent in languages (French, Russian, and Italian) reading some of their favorite poetry in the original. Otherparty guests are tapped to share the English translations. This past year, we heard fabulous renditions of Akhmatova, Pavese, and Neruda. Of course, there is music, too: a wonderful pairing of one friend who is a soprano (Amy Jarman http://blair.vanderbilt.edu/faculty-administration/faculty/amy-jarman ), and another who is a brilliant (and well known, Grammy-winning) keyboardist, songwriter, and session player (Billy Livsey http://www.billylivseymusic.com/ ).
One of the more practical things about writing is the way it can sort out your thoughts for you. So now that I’m sitting here, composing this final BAP post of the week, I realize that the crown pork roast dinner came to mind this morning six months early because of a heart-stopping performance at the December 2010 event, given by my friend and colleague, Vereen Bell. (Vereen is a critic who has worked on Robert Lowell, T.S. Eliot, Cormac McCarthy et al). His contribution to the evening was a reading of some of his favorite Wallace Stevens poems. He started us off with a stapled together, multi- page (front and back) hand out, and a brief talk on Stevens. Those of us who are academics settled right into it; others looked a bit aghast at the sudden (possibly sober) turn the revelries seemed to have taken. But once Vereen – in his still Mississippi-inflected, vowel-bending, marvelously sinuous voice – started reading and reciting the poems themselves, we all became bound in a mutual enchantment. My neighbor at table leaned over and said, “I can’t believe we’re not getting this on video…” I only wish we had…
So: when I awoke a few hours ago, thinking of the crown pork dinner, I was really thinking of Vereen and Stevens: “Sunday Morning,” of course, and a sort of mood-matching between that poem and the actual conditions and state of mind I’m enjoying right at this very moment...
I’ll end this week of blogs with a gentle nudge to those who might take a look at this to read (re-read, surely) one of the grandest achievements of our American poetry, and with a thank you to David Lehman for the invitation to air some random (and otherwise) thoughts about poetry here on the BAP bog over the past seven days. It’s been fun…
Sunday Morning, Wallace Stevens
Why should she give her bounty to the dead?
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?
Divinity must live within herself:
Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow;
Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued
Elations when the forest blooms; gusty
Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights;
All pleasures and all pains, remembering
The bough of summer and the winter branch.
These are the measures destined for her soul.
Jove in the clouds had his inhuman birth.
No mother suckled him, no sweet land gave
Large-mannered motions to his mythy mind.
He moved among us, as a muttering king,
Magnificent, would move among his hinds,
Until our blood, commingling, virginal,
With heaven, brought such requital to desire
The very hinds discerned it, in a star.
Shall our blood fail? Or shall it come to be
The blood of paradise? And shall the earth
Seem all of paradise that we shall know?
The sky will be much friendlier then than now,
A part of labor and a part of pain,
And next in glory to enduring love,
Not this dividing and indifferent blue.
She says, ``I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?''
There is not any haunt of prophecy,
Nor any old chimera of the grave,
Neither the golden underground, nor isle
Melodious, where spirits gat them home,
Nor visionary south, nor cloudy palm
Remote on heaven's hill, that has endured
As April's green endures; or will endure
Like her remembrance of awakened birds,
Or her desire for June and evenings, tipped
By the consummation of the swallow's wings.
She says, ``But in contentment I still feel
The need of some imperishable bliss.''
Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,
Alone, shall come fulfilment to our dreams
And our desires. Although she strews the leaves
Of sure obliteration on our paths,
The path sick sorrow took, the many paths
Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love
Whispered a little out of tenderness,
She makes the willow shiver in the sun
For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze
Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet.
She causes boys to pile new plums and pears
On disregarded plate. The maidens taste
And stray impassioned in the littering leaves.
Is there no change of death in paradise?
Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs
Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
With rivers like our own that seek for seas
They never find, the same receding shores
That never touch with inarticulate pang?
Why set the pear upon those river-banks
Or spice the shores with odors of the plum?
Alas, that they should wear our colors there,
The silken weavings of our afternoons,
And pick the strings of our insipid lutes!
Death is the mother of beauty, mystical,
Within whose burning bosom we devise
Our earthly mothers waiting, sleeplessly.
Supple and turbulent, a ring of men
Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn
Their boisterous devotion to the sun,
Not as a god, but as a god might be,
Naked among them, like a savage source.
Their chant shall be a chant of paradise,
Out of their blood, returning to the sky;
And in their chant shall enter, voice by voice,
The windy lake wherein their lord delights,
The trees, like serafin, and echoing hills,
That choir among themselves long afterward.
They shall know well the heavenly fellowship
Of men that perish and of summer morn.
And whence they came and whither they shall go
The dew upon their feet shall manifest.
She hears, upon that water without sound,
A voice that cries, ``The tomb in Palestine
Is not the porch of spirits lingering.
It is the grave of Jesus, where he lay.''
We live in an old chaos of the sun,
Or an old dependency of day and night,
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
Of that wide water, inescapable.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
Somehow, Sunday seems an appropriate day to present this poem by Claire Bateman, a fine and under-recognized poet from Greenville, South Carolina, with six books to her name: Coronology (2009); Leap (2005); Clumsy (2003); Friction (1998); At the Funeral of the Ether (1998); and The Bicycle Slow Race (1991). We often hear the word quirky applied to contemporary poets (just glance at five random blurbs, you’re sure to find quirky), but perhaps no one writing today inhabits the word quite as fully as Bateman. The premises of her poems are apparently beamed into the atmosphere at a slant from another, logically slippery dimension -- yet once you step inside, life there seems more cogent, more comprehensible, more carefully thought out than the one you’re turning her pages in. “Unearthing the Sky” first appeared in New Ohio Review’s third issue, Spring 2008. I love the way Bateman will seize on an idea and pursue it all the way in the most natural, credible terms. The excavation draws all kinds from the woodwork – not just the genetically engineered ants that chew up the undissolved stitches, but the vandals (“long-distance pissers”), artists, evangelists, the full spectrum of fanatics and romantics, and yes, even corporate representatives. She has so thoroughly (I want to say accurately) imagined the literal dilapidation of the sky, the media attention, the complicated restorative procedures and precautions and pitfalls, the responses of onlookers and the aftermath, that we readers almost forget that the broken body of the sky is figuring forth a whole cornucopia of ideals that our civilization has chosen by turns to pillage, smudge, neglect, batter. Almost, I say. What follows is a deft and intelligent poem that may well be our century’s companion poem to Hopkins’ “God’s Grandeur.”
- - - - - - -
Unearthing the Sky
It was filthy, of course,
with red clay streaks & embedded chips of loam,
as well as boulder-scored, chipped,
and even fractured in places,
a great big glorious suffering thing
by the very means of its rescue,
the violence of pulleys & clamps.
Areas that had been dredged from under water
were warped & bowed
where detonation had been necessary
to dislodge them.
But there it was for everyone to behold.
Toddlers wearing tiny government-issued hard hats
were told, Look, honey, it’s the sky!
Older children were bussed on field trips to the dig site
where yellow tape kept them from the rim
so that the sign could continue to announce,
DROWNINGS AT THIS SITE: 0.
Round-the-clock floodlights discouraged those
who might have attempted to make their mark
on the sky’s broken body --
graffiti artists & would-be inscribers of the Ten Commandments,
corporate representatives & long-distance pissers,
as well as those who longed to plunge into it --
scuba divers, suicides, mystics, & lovers.
Everything was so lit-up, in fact,
that the sky would have been glad
of some darkness,
but it was not yet well enough
to generate nighttime & other weathers.
There had to be years of repair work
with everything from lasers to sandpaper,
tiny camel’s-hair brushes to welding torches.
Millions of stitches, hand-sewn
with microsuturing needles,
zigzagged across the surface
to eventually either dissolve
or be severed by army ants
genetically engineered to find them tasty.
The surgeons injected implants
of liquid mercury, black diamond plasma,
& other substances whose identities
they were not at liberty to disclose.
But at last, the sky was ready.
After all it had been through,
was it still the sky it had once been?
Not exactly, but were not the people
historically damaged as well --
and wasn’t there the matter
So the various bolts, pegs, & screws
releasing the sky at last
into its own silence.
Everyone watched as it rose,
a little shaky at first, but soon,
nearly as translucent, dizzying,
dimensionless, disturbing, etc.
as they’d anticipated.
When asked why she wept,
one woman could say only,
For something so heavy, it seemed
almost painfully light.
Abandoned, the work site still yawns
like the morning after Christmas.
- - - - - - -
Claire Bateman – remember the name! See you next week. (JAR)
They flee from me who sometime still had sought me;
I was for sale, and everybody bought me.
When I was young, you never could’ve caught me.
You lusted for some fancy; then you got me.
I didn’t have the heart to say it’s not me.
They flee from me who sometime still had sought me …
You were dismayed. You’d thought I was a hot me.
Maybe you no longer knew how to slot me.
When I was young, you never could’ve caught me.
No, it’s a little bit you, but a lot me.
I’m sad I don’t match up to what you thought me.
They flee from me who sometime still had sought me.
Now I’m imprisoned by the wealth Time’s brought me.
I’m the palimpsest over which you jot me.
They flee from me who one time still had sought me.
When I was young, you never could’ve caught me.
-- James Cummins
In last night’s anxiety dream, I was suddenly tending bar at an unfamiliar restaurant, a wine bar with a sprawling, open floor plan of tables and a sleek, steel and glass bar. It wasn’t busy, but nonetheless I fumbled around trying to locate even the most basic items, like ice, an order pad and lime wedges. My apron lacked pockets—it was, in fact, an Amish-looking calico thing out of keeping with the clean aesthetic of the joint. As the dream wore on, the place got steadily busier, so that the 15 minutes it was taking me to find a gin called Target Red (never heard of it, took a while to figure out it was a gin) multiplied exponentially into a hopeless, 2 hour wait for even the simplest glass of house wine. I woke up, as one does, upon point of death: a waiter had just put in an order for a Bubblegum Glider.
What on earth goes into a Bubblegum Glider? Only your butt, it turns out. There is no such drink, but in an anxiety dream, no-win situations are the point. As a veteran of these recurring things—in addition to tending bar at a surprising variety of unfamiliar restaurants, I have also been pushed onto a Met-sized stage in an 18th-century ballgown to find myself in an unfamiliar opera, and I have chased down lost wallets, tickets or luggage in the world’s most bewildering airport or train station minutes before final boarding—I can claim intimacy with and proud obsessiveness about uncertainty.
At least, that’s what I call it, to be performing a task in a climate of unpredictability, without the tools and knowledge to do it properly, or at all. The word “uncertainty” has gotten a lot of circulation lately, not always in sentences I understand. I am especially suspicious when the sentences come out of the mouths of right-wing political operatives, like Karl Rove and his buddies at the superpac, American Crossroads: “Former President Bill Clinton and now even Warren Buffett don’t agree with Obama’s policies, which are adding uncertainty and instability to the economy and making it worse.” Really? Last time I looked, it was big banks and a real estate bubble, both private sector activities, that caused our economic uncertainty.
I also marvel when overpaid CEOs conjure its specter. Why has “uncertainty” become the lament of the 1%, who would seem better equipped to handle it than your average bartender? What do they mean by this word?
The Oxford English Dictionary gives us this first definition: “The quality of being uncertain in respect of duration, continuance, occurrence, etc.; liability to chance or accident.”
The idea here is that uncertainty is an absence where measurable or knowable data should be. My anxiety dreams have this quality: in a bar where I’d worked before or an opera in which I’d been cast and rehearsed, I’d be fine. Instead, I know I’m in trouble the moment the dream starts, and the evidence only mounts as it goes on. Uncertainty is itself a kind of data, in that you can tell what’s not there. The OED offers up a wonderful early usage (1382) in this sense from Wycliff’s translation of the Bible, in which Timothy urges us not “to hope in vncerteynte of richessis, but in quyk God.” He’s arguing that blind faith is a surer bet than making money.
But CEOs and Karl Rove don’t mean to suggest that they ought to turn away from riches if they want to avoid uncertainty. Here’s one contemporary usage, from a guy whose business you’d think would profit from it:
“There are so many uncertainties,” said Jeffrey Joerres, CEO of Manpower, the Milwaukee-based provider of temporary workers. “If these uncertainties keep stacking up and none get resolved, we’ll see a hiring pause rather than the current slowdown.”
Stacks of uncertainty (instead of dollar bills?) prompted Joerres to give himself a raise, from $6,950,000.00 (not enough!) for working all of last year to $10,450,000.00, for working this. That a $3.5 million pay raise only moved him from #199 to #163 in Forbes’ ranking of CEO compensation gives you some idea of his fellow CEOs’ compensations. His free-floating “uncertainties,” devoid of any clarifying prepositional phrase, fits with a 1691 use of the word in the Andros Tracts, “a collection of pamphlets and official papers issued between the overthrow of the Andros Government and the establishment of the second Charter of Massachusetts (1688–1701),” foreshadowing Mitt Romney’s case for his candidacy: “Most of the Persons in our Government understand little or nothing of Trade, and so they leave it always at uncertainties.”
Now we’re getting somewhere, though not without resistance from skeptics, as in the 1653 citation right before the anti-Government one: “We love to toyl for uncertainties, and in this are worse then [sic] children.” That suggests Trade might not be as Almighty as it Thinks Itself.
Economists use the word “uncertainty” in a particular sense, to mean “a business risk which cannot be measured and whose outcome cannot be predicted or insured against.” This usage arose in the 20th century, with F. H. Knight, in his 1921 book Risk, Uncertainty and Profit. He argued that “A measurable uncertainty, or ‘risk’ proper, as we shall use the term, is so far different from an unmeasurable one that it is not in effect an uncertainty at all. We shall accordingly restrict the term ‘uncertainty’ to cases of the non-quantitative type. It is this ‘true’ uncertainty‥which forms the basis of a valid theory of profit.” Until Knight rode in, I thought risk, whether proper or not, involved facing the unpredictable, but in Knight’s thinking, risk is “not in effect an uncertainty at all.” No, risk is safe, because you can insure against it. It’s uncertainty that’s risky.
Thus CEOs, who frequently argue that they should be handsomely compensated for taking risks, try to stick to the sure bets for making money, like giving themselves pay raises. They want nothing to do with unpredictable outcomes, the stuff that supposedly creates jobs, the stuff that capitalism supposedly rewards, as in the next citation in the OED, from another economist in 1929: “The assumption of uncertainty is therefore a disutility and must be rewarded.” If taking risks means doing nothing that isn’t insured against failure, and the “assumption of uncertainty” is anathema to our corporate executives, why their ten million dollar price tag? Why reward caution, hardly what “job creators” tout as their own virtue? Caution is supposed to be what Ordinary Joes have when they put up with Ordinary Salaries.
CEOs these days “toyl for uncertainties,” but what makes them make them “worse then children” is their complaining, amid stacks of executive pay, about how tough it is out there. Since children can’t drink in wine bars, let’s leave dealing with uncertainty to the grown ups, like President Obama. His salary is $400,000. Where’s his reward for “the assumption of uncertainty”?
I mentioned in yesterday’s post that this weekend the CMA Fest is going on in Nashville. For those who don’t know, this is country music’s annual big ol’ time. It used to take place at the state fairgrounds, and was a marvelously tacky, up close and personal way for fans to meet and greet their favorite musicians. Long lines of little booths (curated to fit a particular image or motif) were set up within which the “artists” (that’s what country music musicians are invariably called here in Nashville) were located. Fans lined up for hours for the opportunity to pass by for handshakes, photos, and quickly scrawled autographs on posters, hats, cd’s, etc. I have to say that I loved everything about the original incarnation: folksy, unpretentious, and FUN. To give you an idea of its flavor, picture super-/mega-/uber-star Alan Jackson in 1990 at the very beginning of his career, meeting fans on the other side of the front end of a vintage Ford truck that his people had rigged up for his booth. (Perhaps this was a harbinger of his hit song, “Drive,” a decade later. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQe3DKDQRRs The lyrics of this song excited me so much the first time I heard them that I waylaid my colleague and fellow writer Tony Earley in a Vanderbilt parking lot and forced him to drive around with me for close to an hour while I analyzed the wording… )
A few years ago, the Festival was relocated in downtown Nashville, with indoor and outdoor performances, and smaller tent events taking place all over the city. It feels tamer, and as if it’s trying to be a bit more upscale, but it’s still a gas. Just wandering around, eyeballing the sights, music rolling out of every honky tonk’s open door on lower Broadway, or ambling along the Music City Walk of Fame on Demonbreun Street gives you an idea of how essential words and music are to this place, and how much raw talent in both is just laying around the city.
Not just musical talent, but musical genius is almost common as dirt here in Nashville. People who don’t live here tend to think it’s all country music all the time, but that’s not true. For a taste of Nashville’s musical variety (with a poetry connection) check out classical composer Michael Rose http://michaelalecrose.com/ who has a penchant for composing pieces like "Five Songs for High Voice and Piano," with texts by Novalis, Lorca, Mary Oliver, Robert Francis, and Rilke; “Five Buccolics: A Cycle of Songs on Poems by (contemporary Kentucky Poet) Maurice Manning;” and “Black Branches,” a setting of four poems by William Carlos Williams.
I often think how odd it is that both country music and the so-called Southern literary renaissance sprang up in the same place at the same time: Nashville in the 1920s. One has flourished until this very day, while the other flourished initially, and then more or less withered. I have spent a lot of time ruminating on why this is/was so. And although there are obvious immediate answers (let’s just start with the racist beliefs and retrograde social policies that doomed the Southern Agrarians (some of whom were also Fugitive Poets) to irrelevance), there has to be more than that…
Part of country music’s success has to be attributed to the fact that it is popular music, and thus, primarily an entertainment medium. But I’ve lived in Nashville for far too long now to believe that the music made here is only, or primarily, an entertainment endeavor. There is something in the way that country and crossover country musicians use words, as well as the staggeringly high level of pure musicianship, that keeps people compelled by the medium. Here are a couple of musicians I’ve been listening to recently who manage to pull me out of my books of poetry, and away from WPLN 91.1 Classical radio. They’re both enormously talented in different ways, and that they write their own lyrics and music is part of what makes their songs stand out.
Sonia Leigh http://www.sonialeigh.com/ lives in Atlanta, but spends a lot of time in Nashville. She looks like a troublemaker, and maybe she is. But this could be just the right medium for her; country music has long been tolerant of troublemakers. She looks like it would take a lot to rile her up, but also – once riled – like she will kick your ass in an eye blink. Bucking the pinched-in, squeezed-up, bleached and plucked, near-starved-to-death, glamour girl look that is annihilating the would-be Loretta Lynns of this generation of country music, Leigh remains her own woman. Her persona – jeans and t-shirts, old tennis shoes, and a raggedy haircut to match her raggedy voice – is as authentic as her songs and her singing. Take a listen. Her voice is unbelievable : there’s some kind of bluesy, back-talking, sassy bitch-thing going on, along with her very distinctive Georgia accent that doesn’t let a song stop her from bending her vowels and stretching out the syllables of consequence. (As a Southern poet, I especially thrill to her long i’s and short a’s…)
Joshua O’Keefe http://www.joshuaokeefemusic.com/ is a Londoner, singer and songwriter, currently living most of the time in Nashville. I guess we would call what he does country crossover. Just to look at him will break your heart. To hear him sing might just tear it right out of your chest. If he were singing classical, we’d call him a counter tenor, and it’s that breathy, almost-fragile quality of male falsetto that makes his voice so distinctively moving. (He’s a big fan of Rascal Flatts, and you can hear the influence of Gary LeVox on O’Keefe’s singing.) O’Keefe is still very young – only twenty two – and it may be that one of the things about his music that is so successful is the way it transports those of us who are no longer twenty two right back to the hot, perpetually-excited, psychic center of that time in our own lives – when all that was going to happen had not yet happened, and most of us, anyway, were hopeful and cheerful about everything that might transpire by the time we ended up where we are right now… Start with “No Doubts,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=C6cLABIHxOg unbelievably, a homemade video (see the Rascal Flatts poster in the background?) that showcases this guy’s amazing stage presence, heartbreaker of a voice, and fresh lyrics (who uses the word “elixir” in a song and then manages to rhyme it?) I’d say, some kind of a poet…
OK: I have to go now. I’m on my way downtown to listen to some words and music of the type that can only be found here in Nashville…
When I first moved to Nashville from Durham (North Carolina) eighteen years ago, I found myself unexpectedly delighted by many aspects of living here. I had been reluctant to leave Durham for lots of reasons. My last child was born there. I had good friends there, and I lived in a marvelous story and a half 1920s bungalow, built as a wedding present to a young woman whose father had been mayor of Durham. I had a great little job as Poet in Residence at Duke Medical Center. More than anything else, however, Durham was – is – one of the best places in the country (I am convinced) for a writer to live. The area is chock full of writers, and all the cultural enhancements that build up around writers: good bookstores; community writing workshops; great places to drink coffee; public gardens and parks wherein to walk and think; a plethora of reading series; organizations that support writers and writing... And on and on… I didn’t understand how it was going to be possible to give all of that up. So, I sobbed in the minivan all the way from Durham to Asheville, our halfway stop on the way to Nashville.
Midday, we entered the romantic, ancient terrain of the Great Smoky Mountains. It was a chilly, snowless December afternoon. Fog obscured the mountaintops, and congregated in nearly invisible handfuls in the air around us. As I feasted my eyes on the blurred beauties of those softly undulating ranges, a few lines of poetry surfaced: “there were blues and greens dancing before my eyes, in different depths, various textures… they glistened, they curved.” Hmmm… Oh! That was Hilda Morley (“For Elaine de Kooning”). Then, I thought of the Black Mountain Poets, and the community (Morley and her husband the composer Stefan Wolpe were part of it) they had created just up the road, right there in the middle of nothing but mountains. It was an-almost cheering thought. I’m a practical woman. So I stopped crying, and thought: maybe I can make it in Nashville...
One day a few months after I had moved here, and was happily relating how much I liked living in the city, a good friend who had fled Nashville in the late 1970s for the more rational weather and progressive mindset of New England, blurted out before she could help herself, “But what could you possibly like about Nashville?”
It was a fair question, I think. Even then, in 1995, good bagels, French bread, and rich coffee had to be searched out. The restaurant offerings were just beginning to develop past neighborhood meat-and-threes and regional chains. Although there were way too many churches, there was just the right amount of independent bookstores (in that pre-Amazon.com era), and absolutely, astoundingly good live music to listen to at a whole series of small clubs – but there was virtually no literary community at all. It took me awhile to realize that the creativity that oozed out of Nashville’s every crevice was pretty much taken up by music. To enter it as a poet, it was necessary to do some slicing and dicing. Thus, I found myself doing things I had not thought of doing before: starting my own writing groups, serving as unofficial “poet laureate” for the Nashville Independent Film Festival, for instance, where I recited Frank O’Hara’s, “Ave Maria” (“Mothers of America!/let your kids go to the movies!”), or trying to write song lyrics at the invitation of a music publisher (couldn’t do it). It was not long before I fell in love – hard – with this mid size city situated smack dab in the center of the northern reaches of Tennessee.
People visiting for the first time are often surprised by how small downtown Nashville is, and how compact is the entire Music Row/Capitol Hill/Vanderbilt University/downtown honky tonk district. One of the charms of the place is this sense of smallness, of closeness. Somehow it is possible here (more often than you might think) to maintain the fantasy that you’re living in a small, mind-bogglingly creative town, where weirdness is tolerated, and – in general – most people just don’t get all that upset about anything. (This is NOT true for all of the red state of Tennessee; but it is definitely true for blue state Nashville.) Maybe it’s the enervating influence of the heat and humidity. Maybe it’s just the music: hard to be cranky when surrounded by music…
It took me awhile to understand the bumper sticker I used to see all over South Nashville: Welcome to Nashville. (Now Y’All Go Home!). It seemed xenophobic, almost hostile. Wasn't it really saying, with a modicum of civility, thanks for stopping by, but now get the hell out of here? I couldn’t relate it to the friendly, welcoming city I was living in. Then, a few years ago, my husband and I attended a Tennessee Repertory Theater performance in downtown Nashville at TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center). It was winter, very cold, very damp, semi-icy. Everyone was hunched into their coats and hats, and hurrying (as much as Nashvillians ever hurry) to get into the theatre. As we were waiting to cross the street on the corner just across from the box office, a large, sleek automobile bore down into the pedestrian lane and stopped, completely obstructing our passage. There it sat: as menacing as a large animal, exhaust curling up like a raised tail in the cold night air, the couple in the front seat, apparently negotiating (or arguing about) something or other.
Most of us in the waylaid crowd just shook our heads, and started on our now-diverted way across the intersection. One fellow citizen, however, a young woman, took it on herself to point out to the driver the error of his ways. Leaning down beside the driver’s window, she tapped on it until he pressed the button, and the glass slid down, admitting a gush of wintry air and her smiling face. “Hey!” she called out in a friendly, Southern-inflected voice. “Where do you think you are? New York?” Everyone (but the driver) laughed out loud…
So now I think I get that bumpersticker: Welcome to Nashville. Glad you're here. Have a good time. Listen to some music. Spend some money. Hell, buy some boots. But please don't move here. We like it as it is...
Pundits and cultural critics can say all they want that the South, or the New South, or regionalism is dead. But before they make their next pronouncement, they should come to Nashville. Because there are a lot of things happening here – beginning with the way many people talk – that seem persistently rooted
in an ongoing local culture that people seem determined to continue to cultivate. Certainly that’s true in country music. (The CMA Music Fest is happening this weekend! Music is busting out of the city’s seams, and thousands of visitors are clogging the sidewalks of lower Broadway, dreamin’ the dream of country music in cowboy boots and big hats.) It just may be true in poetry, too. Here’s a poem by a marvelous Tennessee poet, Jeff Hardin. http://www.poetrynet.org/month/archive/hardin/intro.html It may not be old time Southern poetry, but it still says a lot to me about life here in Nashville where creativity is always a door opening into transformation, and where slowness and civility – despite all odds – seem to keep hanging on…
Rifts Between Opposites Beginning to Heal
Now that I have your attention, might I suggest sitting a while,
thinking of nothing.
You’re not under the impression, are you, the mustard seed can do
anything without you?
One can travel a long way
to reach rooms full of distance and cramped conversations.
This far along I’ve about decided nothing can be measured,
not even a breath.
The way one person bends to assist another could be this world’s
Idea, if you’d be so kind to help us along
in this impoverishment.
Having opened the book, she said,
the first word she saw was transformation.
No, unsubscribing from your own thoughts, at least right now, is not
Everywhere memory looks
there are fragments of easels in discarded heaps.
Is this the moment all the rifts that exist between opposites
begin to heal?
It’s hard sometimes for writers living down South not to feel overlooked by the larger poetry community. All the editors and agents live up north, or out in California, don't they? And all the good poetry events seem to happen in New York or Chicago. (Well, as far as I’m concerned, even though I’m a Southerner who lives in the South, all good events of almost any kind happen in New York or Chicago --) So it was superb to wake up a few hours ago to a rare, cool Nashville morning in June, and be greeted by some good news not just for poetry, but for Southern Poetry.
The temperature (my god: 69 degrees at 6:15 am) made it possible to sit on the front porch (not sweating!) with coffee and the New York Times. It was thus situated that I read this: Natasha Trethewey, just down the road from us at Emory University in Atlanta, will succeed Philip Levine as U.S. Poet Laureate at the end of this summer. What an excellent choice…
So far, all the media reports seem to be emphasizing that Trethewey is the “first Southerner” named to the post since Robert Penn Warren. Let's not forget, however, that Warren -- although born in Kentucky and educated here in Nashville-- had been living the expatriate life in New England for decades by the time he was appointed. So let’s unpack that “first Southerner” sound bite a bit…
Before the Laureate program was established in 1986, a series of poets had served as Consultants in Poetry to the Library of Congress beginning in 1937. http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/poetslaureate/ Taking a look at the overall roster, only four Southerners in toto have served either as Consultant or Poet Laureate (Allen Tate, Warren, Randall Jarrell, James Dickey). Trethewey makes five. So not only is she the first Southerner to be appointed “since Warren,” she is also the very first Southern woman poet ever appointed. And this bears mention because one of the oddities of the extraordinary mid-20th century uber-production of Southern literature is that the poets were almost always men. The women (like Flannery O’Connor, Zora Neale Hurston, Carson McCullers, Katherine Anne Porter, Elizabeth Spencer, Eudora Welty) who were part of that flourishing tended to write fiction. Now, in 2012, we have a brand new Poet Laureate, born, reared, educated in the South, an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers http://thefsw.org/ and a chaired professor of POETRY at an eminent Southern university. How can we congratulate her enough?
I have loved Trethewey’s poetry since I first began to read it in the late 1990s: her plain style language and quiet, thoughtful, practical voice; the narrative details that pin her poems to Southern settings; her close attention to the ordinary lives of women and black people; her tender consciousness and deep empathy for other human persons. In particular, I have loved (and been instructed by) the way she uses objects in her poems: not just as aids to memory, nor merely as concrete inducements to inspiration, and never ever simply as decoration. Trethewey’s preferred objects – broken, abandoned, obsolete, rusted – remind us that she is a great elegist, our new Poet Laureate. At the same time, she is always looking ahead, urging herself (and us) out of the rut of the past, accelerated by poetry’s great capacity for restoring what has been stolen, at the same time that it urges us on with new possibilities for the future.
Here is a poem from Domestic Work, by Natasha Trethewey (Gray Wolf Press, 2000):
At the junk shop, I find an old pair
black with grease, the teeth still pungent
as burning hair. One is small,
fine toothed as if for a child. Holding it,
I think of my mother's slender wrist,
the curve of her neck as she leaned
over the stove, her eyes shut as she pulled
the wooden handle and laid flat the wisps
at her temples. The heat in our kitchen
made her glow that morning I watched her
wincing, the hot comb singeing her brow,
sweat glistening above her lips,
her face made strangely beautiful
as only suffering can do.
I first heard of Steven Smale back in the '60s when he was a professor at Columbia. I was casually interested in mathematicians through my friendship with Bernie Berlowitz. In some ways Smale is a bit like Richard Feynman, both colorful eccentric geniuses. But while Feynman was something of a ham, Smale is lower key but "out there." Google him! There's a lot of great stuff about Smale online, including more lectures on youtube!
Smale made one of his greatest discoveries on a beach in Rio, kind of like how Feynman used to do equations at a strip club in Pasadena. These guys are true poets! Early in the video above,Smale makes the statement that "no great problem is ever solved." Wouldn't you like to know what he meant by that -- especailly since he immediately goes on to say that Gregori Perlman finally solved the Poincare Conjecture (on which Smale himself had done great work earlier in his career.)
Also in this lecture, Smale gives a "shout out" to Amie Wilkinson, surely one of the most attractive women in math today.
-- Mitch S.
Memories are made of this
The Library of Congress is to announce Thursday that the next poet laureate is Natasha Trethewey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of three collections and a professor of creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta. Ms. Trethewey, 46, was born in Gulfport, Miss., and is the first Southerner to hold the post since Robert Penn Warren, the original laureate, and the first African-American since Rita Dove in 1993.
For the rest of Charles McGrath's New York Times article reporting the appointment, click here.
By chance on this day I read a piece by Philip Levine, our current poet laureate, whom Trethewey will succeed officially in September. In a recent issue of The Normal School, a literary magazine based in Fresno, which is Levine's home turf, Phil writes that the first project he suggested to the Library of Congress on becoming PL was "a collection of the ugliest poems I could find" somewhat on the model of Robert Pinsky's "Favorite Poem Project." The LOC would have none of it, and Phil says he went on to the cause of "lost poems," such as "Abel" by Demetrios Capetanakis and "Opus 118" by the spurious Ann Knish of the Spectra hoax (1918). These are worthy works, and The Normal School does us a service by reprinting them, even if, from Levine's silence, one infers that the idea left the LOC cold. -- DL
This week we welcome Kate Daniels as our guest blogger. Kate is the author of four books of poetry, including A Walk in Victoria’s Secret, her most recent, and the editor of Muriel Rukeyser’s selected poems, Out of Silence. She has just completed a prose work called, Slow Fuse of the Possible: A Narrative of Psychoanalysis and Poetry which highlights her interdisciplinary interest in psychoanalysis. She now teaches writing part time in the New Directions program at the Washington (D.C.) Center for Psychoanalysis. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a Professor of English at Vanderbilt University where she’ll take on the directorship of the creative writing program later this summer. Welcome, Kate.
In other news, the Sunday Editor returns . . .
Back in January 2008, when the media was fixated in Iowa, I predicted that Barack Obama would win the presidency and be re-elected. Stacey can confirm this prediction. Scarcely infallible, I picked Kerry to win in 2004. Nevertheless -- I think it's fun to go on the record with a prediction, and here is mine of the season:
I believe that in my lifetime the Unted States will go to war with China. And by war I mean military conflict -- to be fought primarily on the sea. It will require the shifting of our navy to the Pacific, which is under way, and our disengagement from the fruitless and basically irrational forays into Iraq and Afghanistan, which are winding down, as the Obama Administration replaces boots on the ground with drone strikes in Pakistan and computer hacking in Iran.
Since this is an interactive blog, I invite you to choose the Sarajevo or pretext for the naval battles to come in the ironically named Pacific Ocean:
(1) China's ancient cultural conflict with Japan rears its head. The Chinese interfere with a Japanese ship, and the loss of face in Japan is such that they ask the US to intervene.
(2) Chinese efforts to control North Vietnam spills over into South Korea
(3) China presses spurious claims to mineral-rich islands off Japan and the Phillipines
(4) On the corporate level, China eats America's lunch because Chinese regulations put US firms at a decisive disadvantage
(5) A recession in China exposes the fundamental contradiction between the capitalism the Chinese practice and the government's repressive policies. Google makes its inroads. Riots break out among people whose consciousness has been raised. Among the rioters are parents dying to have more children than the government permits, laborers who feel exploited, and an intellectual class that learns there is a discrepancy between the government's official line and the truth -- as in: what were the real reasons the earthquake of May 2008 was so devastating?
Your pick, dear reader? -- DL
Anyone who knows anything about the literary history of Vanderbilt University where I teach – birthplace of the Fugitive Poets (Warren, Tate, Ransom), and mid-20th century English Department of choice for writers like Randall Jarrell, Peter Taylor, Caroline Gordon, Elizabeth Spencer, James Dickey, and Ellen Gilchrist – would probably assume that a creative writing program has been in place there for decades. But that would not be true. Although Gertrude Vanderbilt served as generous creative writing patron for decades (my colleague Vereen Bell recalls her giving him handwritten checks, pulled from the pocket of her full length mink coat), and although the English Department instituted a creative writing track in its undergraduate major in 1974, it was not until 2006 that an MFA began to be offered. http://www.vanderbilt.edu/creativewriting/ Last month, we graduated our fifth class of writers. By design, it is a small program: only three poets and three fiction writers are admitted each fall. That our Vanderbilt MFA community of twelve students and eight faculty members has grown into a known entity is gratifying to us, attracting more than 700 applicants for only six admission slots each year.
We are often asked not only how we did this, but why – in an era that many admit is overrun with graduate programs in creative writing, churning out MFAs with few marketable job skills and little hope of teaching at the college level – we would even think about adding one more MFA to the mix.
Before I tell you the answer, a diversion…
In 1980, when I received my MFA from the School of the Arts at Columbia, there was really only a handful of graduate creative writing programs that generated buzz. Besides Columbia, there was Iowa (of course), and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The Hopkins program was at that time a brutal 12 month regime of master’s level course work, similar to Boston U. Visible, but somewhat more low-key programs were dispersed around the country: UC-Irvine out west, University of Arizona in the southwest, and UNC-Greensboro down south. The now-flourishing Ph.D. programs in creative writing were just beginning to stir, and were considered oddities at the time. I only remember three: Ohio State, and the Universities of Utah and Houston… Now of course, we’re deep in another era, overstocked with almost 200 MFA programs, plus 38 Ph.D. programs, and still counting…
Initially, my own feelings about birthing a new MFA program were mixed. I had been on the board of AWP in the late 1980s (when Liam Rector was at the helm), and so had few illusions about the standing of creative writing in academia. And when our MFA program was being proposed at Vanderbilt, I was just beginning a three year appointment as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Science. Thus positioned, I understood how extremely unlikely it was that the higher-ups would approve a proposal for a non self-supporting, brand new graduate program in a “discipline” that could not be measured, quantified, or otherwise dealt with statistically. The first thing we were asked to do was to write up a “business plan” (what kind of person asks poets to write up a business plan?) that incorporated charts, projections, comparative data, and probabilities – something none of us had ever done before. We quickly realized that our gifts for narrative were of little use in this new, weird world.
At the time we began these deliberations, however, Vanderbilt was in the midst of a very conscientious, campus-wide culture-change. (Thank you, then-Chancellor Gordon Gee.) It began to seem as if there was some potential for developing an argument for more representation of and investment in the arts at the university. It also began to be clear that there was a very large national community of alumni and others who identified with Vanderbilt as the birthplace of the Southern Literary Renaissance. Our hope of engendering a new kind of literary renaissance in Nashville intersected neatly, (and also instructed us in what the administration meant when they used the word “leverage”). During this time, it seemed that every week or so, we were being asked to attend meetings or read articles devoted to the “crisis” in the humanities, the “death” of liberal arts education. Obviously, it would be suicidal to propose a program modeled on the old, leisurely habits of the MFA programs of the 1970s and 1980s that had produced most of our faculty.
Over time, as the economy worsened, we began to imagine our 21st century MFA as something more than a training ground for future generations of creative writing teachers. In this way, our ideas of the kind of opportunities we might offer began to enlarge and diversify. In addition to coursework and teaching, our MFAs also engage in community service that makes use of their skills as creative writers. Vanderbilt Medical Center, Gilda’s Club, the Tennessee State Women’s Prison, and Nashville Metro Public Schools are some of the organizations that have benefitted from their work. Our students benefit directly (when they are paid) and indirectly by gaining experience they can list on their vitae. We also offer an annual retreat for MFAs on alternatives to teaching, which brings several successful creative writers (with MFAs) to campus to talk about their paths to publishing…
Ultimately, I became convinced that a graduate program in creative writing, composed of talented, vibrant young writers with good work ethics who were interested in being part of both the university and surrounding community constituted a kind of social good that Vanderbilt – being able to sponsor – should, in fact, undertake. This was a powerful argument that appealed to the administration’s great investment in Nashville and middle Tennessee, and it became part of our successful narrative arguing for the implementation of the Vanderbilt MFA.
Now the question became how to go about it?
The answer for us was: 1. Gather good, engaged creative writing faculty who agree on the goal and commit to sharing the work. 2. Solicit the support of colleagues in the English Department and the higher administration. 3. Ensure a source (preferably large and continuous) of MONEY.
As a private institution, Vanderbilt has resources that are more reliable in some ways than those available to public universities. From the beginning, we were able to pretty much count on the continuity of whatever the administration was willing to commit to the program. (Thank you, then-Dean and now-Provost Richard McCarty.) And we knew that impressive results would arouse interest, and probably bring in more commitments. This is exactly what happened: the more impressive students (by the standards of the Graduate School) we were able to admit, the more the administration was willing to increase support. Which – in response to our ongoing lobbying and publicizing of our students and their accomplishments – they regularly did… From the beginning, Mark Jarman, director of the program, insisted on completely equal funding for all students, and health insurance coverage. I wasn’t sure about this at first (maybe the term “nanny society” was running around in my brain), but it has turned out to be a major strength of the program, and crucial to our ability to attract good applicants. Equally-funding students seems to free up mental energy that otherwise might have been devoted to personal resentments, and to prevent the frequent complaints about faculty favoritism in other MFA programs. Each of our incoming students this year has been awarded full-tuition remission; healthcare coverage; and a stipend of $20k. Academically superior students are eligible for topping-up awards from the Graduate School (each year, the awardees include MFAs) that enhance their stipend generously.
We had a few other things to start with, as well: several faculty colleagues who had particular interest in creative writing and served as Department chairs as we were proposing the MFA; the felicitous placement of a creative writing faculty member (me!) in the Dean’s office who was able to talk at length and leisure with the administration about MFA programs and the value of creative writing in a research university. But perhaps our most valuable pre-exsisting asset was a long-established visiting writers program that had entertained an amazing roster of writers over the years from Eudora Welty to Yusef Komunyaaka, Maxine Kumin (it’s her 87th birthday today!) to Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove to Robert Lowell, J.M. Coetzee to Ellen Bryant Voigt. In recent years, VVW has brought exciting younger writers like Jericho Brown, Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, Aimee Bender, Junot Diaz, Maile Meloy, and Salvatore Scibona for readings and sit downs with the MFAs. Here is Bonnie Campbell with my colleague Tony Earley and some of the Vanderbilt MFAs last November at the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities where all the receptions are held after readings. (That’s Red Warren they’ve given nose ring, earring, and jaunty cravat & beret --)
Would we do it again, now in 2012? Perhaps not in this dreadful and dread-inducing economy. But now that we have done it – albeit late to the game –we are happy here at Vanderbilt, six years down the road, with what we have created: an intense, short term community designed to mentor writers- in-training that offers complete financial support; health care coverage; a manageable cost of living; frequent exposure to eminent writers; a cool, creative city to live in; a beautiful, woodsy campus to bomb around on; and a graduate degree from Vanderbilt University. It is wonderful to be able to offer serious young writers two years like this. A place to come to is what their Vanderbilt predecessor, Robert Penn Warren, might have called it: support, leisure, and vital stimulation for their writing. When else in their lives are they going to get a crack at something so conducive to their writing as that?
"Venus will look like a dark pea drifting across a bowl of carrot soup."
Robert Siegel, Senior Host NPR's All Things Considered, June 5, 2012
The Classics Illustrated Comics Project — Five Cartoonists
For our first-ever comics post, At Length asked five cartoonists to consider adaptation. We wrote: If you were hired by Classics Illustrated and told to choose a book—any book!—to adapt into a comic, what would it be? Why that book? What would it look like? The responses dig into the problems of transforming work from one medium to another with wit, sympathy, and just a touch of sarcasm. We’re very pleased to present new work by Kevin Cannon, Pascal Girard, Melissa Mendes, Andrea Tsurumi, and Noah Van Sciver.
For more, follow this link.
And if you remember the old Classics Illustrated comic books, the ones published by the Gibralter company, please comment here and share your recollections. I remember reading the series in order: The Three Musketeers was number one, followed by Ivanhoe, and The Count of Monte Cristo was also in the top ten. James Fennimore Cooper was superior in Classics Illustrated form, not only The Last of the Mohicans but also The Deerslayer and The Pathfinder. I owned some of the originals, those published in the 1930s or 1940s, and found them preferable -- at least in literary quality -- than their successors in the 1950s. The very covers of the comic books -- such as the picture of Edmund Dantes overjoyed at the treasure box he has unearthed -- still gladden my heart. My old collection is in an archive box somewhere. Do the words "classics illustrated" have a similar effect on anyone else? -- DL
--Wandrers Nachtlied (1780)
Over the hills
Comes the quiet.
Across the treetops
No breeze blows.
Not a sound: even the small
Birds in the woods
Just wait: soon you
Will be quiet, too.
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.