(Though I guess we're feeling somewhat blessed to be inundated with water rather than with fire, as has been happening in Greece.)
Tomorrow there will be another general strike: trains, buses, postal services, schools, pretty much everything will be completely shut down for four hours. Air traffic, however, will be unaffected, in case you're planning to fly over here.
But in tomorrow's manifestazione, there will also be a literary presence: lo "sciopero dell'autore" -- the authors' strike.
Additionally, please come join us this Friday, December 5th in New York City for an SLS Party. SLS NYC Party. No specific agenda: it's a party. Come meet the SLS people, including its founder, its leadership, its coordinators and assistants, many among its illustrious past faculty and participants… the works. Meet old friends, make new ones. Ask the SLS people questions about the SLS's past and future, about the former Soviet Union and present-day Russia and the difference between the two (if any); about Italy and Lithuania and Kenya and… all the rest of the places SLS might be planning to go to in the future. Stay until the wee hours of the morning on the time-hallowed premises of the venerable KGB Bar.
Some among the SLS people, back during the day of pre-modern history, had an unlovely opportunity to familiarize themselves with the inner décor of the non-NYC-based KGB – one has in mind, specifically, the stunningly ugly edifice on Kalyaeva St. 4, right off the Liteyny Pr., in old Leningrad-St. Petersburg – and you can count on this being a much more pleasant, festive, friendly occasion. Feel free to spread the word and bring your friends.
Additionally, good friends of SLS from The St. Petersburg Review will be on hand with copies of their second issue. As well, Programs Coordinator Mike Spry will be there with copies of his new collection of poetry (JACK, Snare Books).
KGB Bar 85 E 4th St. New York, NY 10003 (212) 505-3360
Several people have asked if we're having a Thanksgiving dinner here this evening; I still don't know. Though most (not all) of the fellows and folks are Americans, the cook is Italian all right; either way, I'm sure we'll all be giving thanks for the meal. We do know that we'll be having poetry for dessert.
Jorie Graham reading at the Centro Studi Americani last week. Of course, we English-language-starved expat poets are delighted when poets like Jorie come to read in Rome. But at Italian poetry events, be prepared for at least 45 minutes of critical discussion from various experts and professors who will explain to you what an important poet he/she is, and his/her place in the American canon, and and and -- and then the poet gets to read 6 or 7 poems if you are lucky. Agh. But I was very happy to hear her read "San Sepolcro" and a few other favorites.
["Veltroni, don't get any ideas" is the message of this poster, put up by Azione Giovani, representing the far-right. The guy was in the process of covering it with a Partito Democratico poster for a referendum to "save the schools" from the proposed, enormous cuts.]
Interesting times here in la bella Italia. Today there's a transit strike that was hardly publicized, leaving many people stuck wherever they were without warning. They usually have the good manners to inform the populace of their impending actions. There are no metro buses at all, so Damiano walked an hour to work this morning. So far today, I've seen no manifestazione passing by the apartment building, but the day's not over yet! There are plenty of videos on YouTube that show the potentially violent outcomes of these days of unrest, and then it seems that the right-wing kids got pissed off that they were shown on TV wielding pipes in the Piazza Navona, so they went over to try and wreak havoc at the RAI studios.
And I'm guessing that you've heard about Berlusconi's latest utterly stupid and inappropriate remark. 1573 comments on the New York Times blog at last count--most of them from Italians, apologizing. O Silvio --
In spite of all of this, you can feel the post-November-4th-collective sigh over here as well. Probably nine out of ten people whom you see spontaneously weeping in the streets are Americans, but the joy all around is nearly palpable. And Italy has always been good for "dolce vita" distractions, even in difficult times.