Thursday, June 23, 2005

Missing the point

It always amazes me how sometimes people can miss the emotion in a heartfelt post or letter to their friends, or a poem.

How can they not see it? I don't understand.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Stephen Dunn and Ted Kooser read

So I almost forgot. Almost forgot that Stephen Dunn and Ted Kooser were reading tonight here. Two for one. That is the understatement of the year. And I was brazen too. Tell you about that in a moment.

It began late and my daughter was getting fidgety. She saw Ted Kooser read last time and loved him. She says his poetry is understandable. After too many introductions of university officials, they finally introduced Stephen Dunn. As he was putting on his microphone, it got tied up on his glasses. He never got them undone and did the whole reading with this wire up around his glasses. As a result there was feedback the whole reading. It was like a collective hum. Sort of poetry set to music! He read for not long enough. Only one poem that I hoped he would read, a few I had heard, several I hadn’t. The audience, mostly attendees at the writers’ conference here, seemed split between those that had heard none of his poems, or those that knew all of them. People seemed to enjoy his humorous poems and seemed shocked at those that weren’t. No one clapped for those. Not impressed with the audience.

Ted Kooser took the stage and read for a little longer. He read poems that he read last winter. He read a poem he wrote this week about the stink of fame, and him lapping it up like a dog. Very funny.

What he did was invite the women to give him their addresses to be included in his annual Valentine poem he sends by mail to ladies. I was inspired to be brazen.

After the reading, I purchased two Dunn books, his collected works 1974-94 and his book of essays entitled Walking Light. I got them both signed. Dunn noted my daughter, and commented that my daughter and I look alike. He asked for my name and inscribed the books. I think he may have blushed.

Ted Kooser was sitting next to him signing as well. I did not purchase any Kooser books because I purchased a few last time, and honestly I came to see Dunn. But what I did do was scrawl my name and address on a slip of paper for a future Valentine. He took it happily. I can be brazen. I was going to scrawl it on a copy of one of my poems but I thought that might be a bit much.

The university photographer took our picture with Dunn so I might call them tomorrow and ask for a copy. That would be cool.

We made our way past the table of chocolates, my daughter grabbed several and we left. A very pleasant evening I wish would have been longer.

X posted to lj.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Who me?

Several things.

A friend asked elsewhere to someone else, do you ever wilt not being able to get the words? This struck me hard. I have found in the last year, when I have had an abundance of words in many places, that by having this abundance, it has made me value the words even more. It does pain me when I can’t find them, when I want or need them. When I can feel the word just out of my grasp. It really is physical. While writing this story (more on that in a moment) I know what I want to say, plot hasn’t been the hard part, but how to say it how I know I want to say it, is so hard. When you read others writings and see the beauty, see the coming together of the words so that the words become invisible to the ideas, I want my story to be like that. I know it isn’t anywhere there yet, maybe will never be, but yes, I wilt. I can understand completely why people give up writing, or drawing. To stand in front of the greats, people who have shook your world to the core, and say, "Here is mine," well, that is harsh. Like Little Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than two, handing the Grinch the Christmas ornament. Like that. That makes you put away the paper and pen, lock it in a drawer, throw it in the fire, toss it in the trash. You’ve heard the stories. I can understand that. But in my naïveté, I keep going. I think if I weren’t naïve about this a little, I wouldn’t do it. But what the hell. I have failed before, so what? Been there done, that to employ a very over used cliché. Now on the other hand, if I were to succeed in this, well, haven’t done that before. That would be nice wouldn’t it?

So research. Yesterday I was able to get quite a bit of the back story written about poor Chad. Alcoholic, soccer ball kicking, manslaughter goal making 11 year old. Yes, I am still using his name, but I haven’t decided it he will die by hanging yet. That joke might not be sensitive enough to what is happening in the story. For the time being, I will keep that idea percolating, just to see what happens. Right, research. Yesterday I researched EMT’s, body disposal, small town police procedures, paint cans, and wine cellars. All of this just for one short chapter of back story to be inserted somewhere. I haven’t decided where I am going to put this yet. It needs to be placed appropriately, because it explains how Trapper, in part, ended up where he is. Butterfly chaos. It will float around until it tells me where it should be. For some reason, don’t know why, allowing the floating of these bits seems to work well. I think inserting myself into the process wrecks it. Much laughing here. I seem to be able to rewrite something into oblivion. Gotta stay out of it.

Thanks for reading!!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Happy Bloomsday!!


Just finished Ulysses. Brilliant. Beautiful, loving and sharp.

Living life with the full realization of what is, is a gift. I think this is the source of Joyce's talent. Well one of them anyway. Joyce had the ability to make fully human a character, without falling into pretention, or stereotype. That is difficult to do well. He uses many methods in this novel to achieve this. Styling variations help too.

I am still reeling. It hasn't completely sunk in yet. I love Molly. I like Bloom. Stephen is harder to grab. Don't know why but he is. I wish we had heard more from Milly. Letters aren't always enough. Mother's imaginings about their daughter is not enough. More layers in the rest of the story.

I like Joyce's Dublin more than the real one I visited. I just remember shopping for my Aran Island sweater. And the IRA bookstore. It has been a while. I have much more vivid memories of Dalkey.

So anyway, have a glass of cheer for James Joyce. A man who knew how to express life. I hoped he lived it as well as he wrote it. I will find our shortly. Amazon is delivering the biography soon. Then I shall know some of the rest of his story. Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 06, 2005

A June Voyage

While my cookies cool, and my tomato sauce simmers, I will update. It has been a while. But I have a great excuse. I have been visiting Dublin, or rather Joyce’s Dublin. A chapter a day of Ulysses, a friend’s suggestion. Better than apples or vitamins, this book has changed the way I think about sentence structure and wording. I think (and I am immersed in Chapter 14 right now) this novel will change the way I think about writing all together. Joyce struggled to find his voice, but boy did he! JJ, as I have been thinking of him, (no not Abrams of Alias fame) but rather a friendly chap who gave us his world. He viewed the world in a very particular, dare I say Joycean way, and only half way through this book, and already, I love his world. It is scary and dank, but it is also light and smiling. Kind of like the real world. Initially I thought he didn’t like his characters too much, that he was angry with them. But now I see how much he cares for them. He is gentle with them despite their wrong doings, their particularities. I think he covets them. He takes them by the hand. I realized that this morning. He is the gentle father I think he wishes the world would be to him. He plays no games and is true to them. He uses them of course, all writers do, but I think so far he has been fair with them.

I truly am enjoying this exercise. Pushups for the mind. I am glad my friend suggested this. A literary voyage of the most challenging and fun kind. Like a walk around Dublin.