arrival in Casablanca Plume remembered that he had errands to run. That was why he
left his valise on the bus. He would return to collect it after taking care of
more pressing matters. He went to the Hotel Atlantic.
booking a room, however, he deemed it wiser attend to his financial
affairs. He asked for the address of the Societe Generale.
He walked over to the bank, presented
his card to a customer service agent, and was shown into the office of an
assistant vice-president. But he did not pull out his letters of credit,
for no sooner did he take the proffered seat than he decided it would make better sense to acquaint himself first with the
principal sights of Bousbir, the Arab quarter, with its Moorish cafes, as no
one should leave “Casa” without seeing a belly dance, though to be sure the
dancers are Jewish, not Muslim. He was given the name of a fashionable cafe,
took a cab there and was sitting with a dancer in his lap, ordering aperitifs,
when he realized that all this bustle was foolish. Given the strain of travel,
the time change, and the different climate, to which the traveler is
unaccustomed, wouldn’t he be well-advised to fortify himself before doing
anything else? With this thought in mind he headed off to the Beer King, a restaurant
in the new city, and was about to be seated, when it occurred to him that it’s
not enough to wine and dine when you travel, you’ve also got to make sure that
everything’s in order for the following day. Rather than cavort like a sultan
at restaurants and bars, you should exercise prudence and obtain a timetable
for the ship you’ll be boarding tomorrow.
would be time well spent. And off to accomplish this task he went when it
struck his fancy to check out the customs area. There are some days when they
won’t let so much as a box of matches through, and if such an item is found in
your possession, on your person or in your baggage, you’ll be in hot water.
the way, he recalled reading somewhere that many boards of health are run by
quacks who prevent people in perfect health from boarding ship. That being the
case, he had to admit it would be shrewd to show up now, in shirt sleeves, as
though for rowing practice, full of vigor despite the evening chill. This was
what he was engaged in doing when the police in their vigilance questioned him,
listened to his answers and, from that moment on, never let him go.
Saturday, June 29, 3:00pm Woodlawn Cemetery Webster Ave & East 233rd St, Bronx, NY
Yet Do I Marvel: A Tribute to Countee Cullen with Major Jackson, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Robin Coste Lewis and Alicia Hall Moran
As part of the 2013 PSA National Series, Yet Do I Marvel:Black Iconic Poets of the 20th Century, and on the occasion of the publication by Library of America of Countee Cullen: Collected Poems, the Poetry Society of America has teamed with the Woodlawn Conservancy to pay tribute to this iconic poet. Steps away from Cullen's own burial site, Collected editor Major Jackson and poets Rowan Ricardo PhillipsandRobin Coste Lewis will read poems in tribute to Cullen; With musical performances by the stunning mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran joined by guitarist Brandon Ross.
I tend not to like other people’s poetry prompts. They
remind me of the saccharine voices of meditation coaches urging me to go to my
happy place. To me, that always sounds like a euphemism for a body part
or two. If I want to feel relaxed I put on the right music, or take a long run.
If I want to write a poem, it has to be on a topic that I find downright
fascinating. I also thrive on having an assignment, a deadline, a thing that
needs doing today and not tomorrow.
If you’re the same way, maybe my poetic to-do list will be
of use to you. Some of these I have tried and need to
try again, some I’ve tried and are unprintable (see #3) and some I should be
doing right now instead of blogging. (Why do you think they call them prompts?
Because they should be done promptly, of course!) I hope you have fun with
The good news is that Ithaca, NY was rated the
smartest city in America. The bad news, well, it isn't really bad news, but
wait till you examine the criteria used -- and consider the messenger: the
But here's the lead:
Ithaca in upstate New York was honored as the
smartest city in America after a lengthy study that used brain games to
evaluate the intelligence of people across the country.
State College, Pennsylvania came in second place and
Lafayette, Indiana in third.
Luminosity, a company that developed the test for
the study, came up with five different types of mind games that they feel
determines a person's level of intellect.
Here's a link to the Daily Mail piece and this link will take you to some more propaganda about the San Francisco outfit called Lumosity, which came up with the study and rhymes with pompousity. The "vintage" photo of Cornell comes straight from the British newspaper. This priceless press-release paragraph combines the charm of tautology with the sadistic pleasure that academics enjoy when they state the obvious with more syllables than needed and with the aroma of the laboratory in the air.
“One of the most interesting findings from this analysis is that most of the top metro areas contain major research universities,
suggesting that education is an important predictor of cognitive
performance,” Lumosity data scientist Daniel Sternberg said in a
statement. “Neuroscience research has found that those who are engaged
in learning and cognitively stimulating activities throughout the
lifetime build up a ‘cognitive reserve’ that helps maintain and improve
Patti Smith at the Bowery Ballroom. Photo (c) Alexander Ruas
Federico Garcia Lorca—a poet without freedom in his own country
where his homosexuality was never accepted—has a story that still resonates on
many levels today.
In his collection Poet in
New York, “Lorca saw New York’s beauty and grittiness and speaks of all
these things,” noted Patti Smith, at her intimate tribute concert to the
deceased poet. “His poems [in the collection] are a window into the freedom he
felt here." On Wednesday, June 5, Smith performed at the Bowery Ballroom as part of the ongoing citywide celebration of Lorca.
Ironically New York has struggled with its own vitriolic
persecution of individuals within the LGBT community by rogue miscreants of
Smith has long drawn inspiration from Lorca’s public struggle.
“We must cherish our right to speak,” she said. “Our voice is the one thing we
have and we must preserve it.”
Smith’s words of buoyancy and encouragement were met with
applause from the packed ballroom, though it was hard to know how many audience
members were there celebrating Lorca and how many were merely charged up in the
presence of the famed rocker.
“I’ll let his words speak for themselves,” said Smith, before
introducing a lineup of close friends to read some of the poet’s work, and
prior to regaling the audience with a performance of her own.
Smith’s friends included a young man she met in a train station,
a girl she met on the street, a college friend from whom she occasionally stole
food before their friendship truly took off and Lorca’s own niece. Lenny Kaye,
a current member of the Patti Smith group, also offered a reading.
Artist Oliver Ray, noted, “reading Poet in New York is like reading about a person from the Spanish
countryside being challenged by the machinery of the town.”
“He was like a plane going too fast,” said Ray.
Another added reading Lorca’s poetry was like discovering he not
only owned, but invented the moon (the highest of compliments to a poet).
Smith also drew parallels between Lorca’s struggle and that of
groups like Pussy Riot and the current upheaval in Istanbul.
“Young people are persecuted everywhere,” said Smith. “We can’t
let this happen. They fucking own everything, they won’t own our voice.”
I miss the
cicadas. Is anybody with me here? I miss the last, most beautiful, garish,
carnagey stage of them the most. I miss the mullioned wings, with the orange
edges, that lay on the sidewalk squares as I walked the kids to school a few
mornings this week. Every two or three sidewalk squares, we'd see a couple, shining like found coins. of What explained that, we wondered.
Then I saw the answer in action,
a sparrow, pulling a cicada wing from wing, bit by bit. The wings were
the first to go. Most everything else seemed to get eaten, though some parts
took longer than others. There was a sparrow midden at the side of our patio,
eight wings in a foot-square patch of lawn, four bugs that are no longer with
us, but weren’t going to be with us for long anyway.
My favorite image of cicadas is
the wing on the ground, with the condensation on its underside, upside down dew
rising on to a wing, with the droplets all self-contained and globular and
iridescent and perfect, like raindrops on a lady’s mantle leaf.
What is getting fat off cicadas
this year, I wondered? Are the sparrows having more chicks, the way squirrel
broods increase when the acorn mast surges? Is the lawn going to
be greener from having the wings fertilize it? From what I've read, wild turkeys are having a protein-filled year this year, while voles had a good year last year, when the larvae were plumpest, almost ready to emerge.
And how do the
larvae know when 17 winters have passed? Do they grow 1/17th of a
pupae each year? Is there some way a bug learned to count to 17? Why don’t separate
teams of cicadas arrive every 17 years, so we’d have a 17-year hatch every
year, just staggered a bit? What is evolutionarily adaptive about living
underground, in pupae form, for almost two decades?
There was a
cicada wing in the shower this morning. It may have been tossed in there by my
nine-year-old son, trying to gross me out – he could’ve carried it in after
dunking his head in the barrel we were using for the water gun fight. I hope it
sticks around for a few more days.
We only get
about five such outbreaks of these UFO-imitating, chorusing bugs. I was 33 the
last time they came out, and living in the northwest, missing the show. I was 16 before that,
oblivious and in New Jersey. I will be 67 next time, then, with any luck, 84
and maybe even 101. Bless the red-eyed, buzzing creatures for puzzling us, and for
making us check our inner watches, and pay attention.
inspired you to start WordTech Communications?
wife Lori Jareo and I started the company in the late 1990s intending it to be
a business name for freelance editorial work, as we both worked in writing and
publishing fields. We added poetry publishing in 2000, intending to do
one poetry book per year; I had earned a Ph.D. in creative writing/poetry but
was working in the business world because of the poor job market in academe,
and I wanted to keep my hand in poetry. One book per year led to a few books
per year and then several, and by 2003 we had grown to the point where we went
full-time with poetry publishing, and we will be celebrating a decade of
full-time publishing this year.
distinguishes you from other presses?
publish more than 40 books per year, all poetry, which makes us one of the
largest poetry publishers in the U.S. in terms of number of titles. We are one
of the few independent poetry presses in operation, meaning that we are
unaffiliated with a university, arts organization, or some other institution,
and we are a for-profit press, accepting no outside grants or subsidies and
surviving on our book sales. We were also one of the first poetry presses to
fully embrace using print-on-demand technology instead of traditional offset
press runs for our books, which has allowed us to better manage our publishing
Some days the poetry goes fine, some days not so fine, but
one recent day was a gold mine, thanks entirely to the internet. Though there are
times I just turn off the wireless rather than be tempted to google every last
bit of potentially relevant detail for a line, I am so glad I kept it
running. I felt like I’d been out on a fabulous shopping trip, where the end
result wasn’t expensive clothes that may or may not settle well into the wardrobe,
but words. Free, new, potentially ever-so-useful words.
I had one piece of inspiration, based on my favorite hobby. (I've found over the years that hobbies can make for very, very useful poem fodder.) I'd found a quote I’d gleaned over
the weekend from a magazine, Knitting
how young Latvian women filled their hope chests with hundreds of mittens, to
give as gifts to their in-laws and to the groom’s family’s hearth, livestock,
well, bushes, orchards, and yes, beehives.