Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Serenading mortality …

… Pulitzer-Winning Poet Mark Strand on the Heartbeat of Creative Work and the Artist’s Task to Bear Witness to the Universe | Brain Pickings. (Hat tip, David Tothero.)

Oh, really …

British and American verse. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bryan didn't seem to have any trouble when he reviewed John Ashbery for The Inquirer some years ago.

Literary duets …

… The Millions : Conversation as Performance: On ‘BOMB: The Author Interviews’.

Today's music …

God only knows why this doesn't get played more.

My friend Vikram wrote this about my people...

...This is the Hyderabad police we are talking about, part of India's Silicon Valley that houses the likes of Microsoft and Google. But then a transgender death is not a sexy story. It is a lesser tragedy, one of those minor incidents that make up the rotting corpse of overlooked cases. The transgender, after all, does not have a voice. We may welcome her when a child is born or have her bless our marriages but God help her if she gets murdered. That kind of stuff happens to other people, right, and who can be more other than the transgender? Her life and death are mere blips on a perfect social order that wants to have no truck with her. Worse, since she is so disposable, it is all right to use her and her kind to indulge our base perversions, as cases of police brutality reveal.  I want to feel angry but I only feel numbed. Pravallika's death does not matter. 
I missed Vikram's story the other day, when he linked to it here.  He perfectly captures the pain and sadness of all too many,

but then,

wonderfully and joyfully,

he refutes his own position, that Pravallika's death did not matter, that she died in vain.  Vikram's story, about her and to her, and the others like her, will have a beautiful impact on all who read it, and so Pravallika, and her story, were not in vain.  She suffered much, but not in vain.

Who would've thought?

Something to think on …

In the matter of furnishing, I find a certain absence of ugliness far worse than ugliness.
— Colette, born on this date in 1873

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Amor vincit omnia …

 Gay and Catholic | Commonweal Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Other gay Catholics, of course, come to the same crossroad and are not so quick or able to equate the reasoning behind the church’s teaching on homosexuality with the “reasoning of God.” Tushnet never does present a compelling case for the teaching itself, but that is not the point of her inaugural book: “I lack the patience and academic temperament to do more than throw out suggestions, criticisms, and provocations.... I no longer think that a major part of my work as a queer Catholic is illuminating the philosophical and theological underpinnings of the church’s teaching on homosexuality.” Fair enough. Provoke, suggest, criticize—these are indeed her best moves. And who better suited than an adult convert to make them?

Today's music …

Wonderful. And sadly neglected.
I had listened to this for a while, but I first heard it when it was still new and I was still young. It thrilled me then, and  thrills me now, but now I can discern beauties in it that the earliest thrills distracted me from.

The writing market …

… Many authors’ earnings fall below $500pa, survey finds | Books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Hmm …

… Review-a-Day - Why Poetry Matters by Jay Parini, reviewed by Harper's Magazine — Powell's Books. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I don't think much about poetry. I just read it, and try sometimes to write it. I think it is one of life's riches, but I doubt if it is the way to salvation.

Happy birthday, Amadeus …

When a death does not matter...

...and again...

Ok I know it's got a jejune quality. But still...

Judge: You cannot name your baby ‘Nutella’

Indeed …

… Review: Under Vänskä a Curtis triumph.

21st-century courtship …

… A Word From My Sponsor | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Hemingway the angler …

… Florida Keys Newsroom | ‘Following the Fish’ Spotlights Ernest Hemingway’s Key West Angling Exploits.

For Holocaust Remembrance Day …

Bedesque …

… Why John Updike Loved Comics. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

His tingling prose, where every idea and emotion is rooted in sensory experience, owes much to such modern masters as Joyce, Proust, and Nabokov, but it was also sparked by the cartoon images he saw in childhood, which trained his eyes to see visual forms as aesthetically pleasing. Indeed, the comparison with Nabokov is instructive since the Russian-born author of Lolita was also a cartoon fan. The critic Clarence Brown has coined the term bedesque (roughly translated as “comic strip-influenced”) to describe the cartoony quality of Nabokov’s fiction, including its antic loopiness, its quicksilver movement from scene to scene, and its visual intensity. I think one reason Updike felt an affinity for Nabokov is because they both wrote bedesque prose. 

In case you wondered...


Something to think on …

Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves.
— Lewis Carroll, born on this date in 1832

Newspaper of record...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Wednesday night …

Moonstone Poetry
@ Fergie’s Pub
1214 Sansom Street.

Wednesday January 28, 2015 – 7pm
The Moonstone Press Presents its 2014 Authors
Steve Burke, Charles S. Carr, Leonard Gontarek, Ivan Taub

Steve Burke is the author of After the Harvest (The Moonstone Press, December 2014)
and two full-length unpublished manuscripts; lives in the Mount Airy section of
Philadelphia with wife-Giselle and daughter-Mariah. He has worked many years as a labor
and delivery nurse; has been writing poems for much longer than that.

Charles S. Carr is author of paradise, pennsylvania and Haitian Mud Pies and Other
Poems (The Moonstone Press, February 2014). Charles has worked in social and
community development services for 40 years and has been active in raising funds for
various missions and organizations serving the poorest of the poor In Haiti. In 2007
Charles was The Mad Poets Review First Prize Winner for his poem “Waiting To Come
North”. Charles’ poems have been published in various print and on-line local and national
poetry journals.

Leonard Gontarek’s poetry collections include contact (The Moonstone Press, April
2014), Déjà Vu Diner and He Looked Beyond My Faults and Saw My Needs. His poems
have been featured in Joyful Noise: American Spiritual Poetry and in Best American
Poetry. He uses juxtaposition to explore themes of transformation and transcendence and
has described his poems as “equal parts political, erotic, and meditations on the world.”
Gontarek’s honors include five Pushcart Prize nominations and two fellowships from the
Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He coordinates Peace/Works: Poets and Writers for
Peace and teaches through the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership and Musehouse.

Ivan Taub is author of Speed Limit 225 (The Moonstone Press, December 2014) and
The Messenger. He has publication and artistic credits as a writer/editor, playwright,
author, poet, recording artist, record producer, band leader, performer, and as a presenter of
theatre, music, and dance. His play State of Grace was a finalist in the 18th Maxim
Mazumdar International Playwriting Competition, and his newest play The Show was
given a special workshop performance (November 2014) at the Luna Theatre in
Philadelphia. Taub is an assistant professor in the Intellectual Heritage Program at Temple

Open Reading Follows, Suzan Jivan host

Moonstone Arts Center
110A S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 735-9600;

Modern love …

… Robert Pinsky looks back on “Cascando,” Samuel Beckett’s classic love poem. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Quite a life …

… Don Surber: Charles Curtis, the Indian who became vice president.

Saying nothing badly …

… Bar Jester's Writing Seminar II; or, How to Write Like a Philosopher - Front Porch Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The points being made in the examples given are so pedestrian that one can only conclude that the manner of their expression accurately reflects the vacuity of the writer's mind.

The father of them all …

… Paul Davis On Crime: The First Great Sherlock Holmes: Five Ways British Actor William Gillette Transformed How Sherlock Holmes Looks And Talks.

Vintage commentary …

… Mary and the Moslems | Bishop Fulton J. Sheen | From "The World's First Love" | Ignatius Insight.

Very interesting …

… More on What Tyndale House Knew About Malarkey Book.

The poetry of earth …

… First Known When Lost: Crickets And Grasshoppers.

Sanity and its absence …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Darkness Evenly Underlying the Brightness'.

Today's music …

Attention, writers …

… Poking the Bear: Call for Submissions | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

That Pope!!! That Awesome, Lovely Pope!!!

A transgender man from Spain had a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday.
Hoy, a newspaper in the Extremadura region of Spain, reported that Diego Neria Lejárraga and his fiancée had a private audience with the pontiff that took place at his official residence.
Neria told Francis in a letter that some of his fellow parishioners at the church he attends in the Spanish city of Plasencia rejected him after he underwent sex-reassignment surgery. He said a priest even called him “the devil’s daughter.”
Francis called Neria on Christmas Eve after receiving his letter.
The private audience took place a month later.

In which I declaim...

Something to think on …

When the soul drifts uncertainly between life and the dream, between the mind's disorder and the return to cool reflection, it is in religious thought that we should seek consolation.
— Gerard de Nerval, who died on this date in 1855

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Aesthetic encounter …

This afternoon, Debbie and I and David Tothero attended a concert by the Curtis Orchestra, composed of students at the Curtis Institute. The principal conductor was Osmo Vänskä, but the opening work, Sibelius's Swan of Tuanela, was conducted by Kensho Watanabe, who graduated from Curtis in 2013, then returned later that same year as a conducting fellow. He delivered a magically sensitive performance, infused with insights only a young person could have, but few would have the skill to express. It reminded me of how that music caused me to feel when I was myself young.
Vänskä then came on, and closed the first half of the concert with Witold Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, which proved quite engaging, the sort of unfamiliar piece that you really do want to hear again. The performance certainly sounded good to me.
The second half was taken up entirely with Sibelius's fifth symphony, which I am certainly familiar with, the piece having been an Ormandy standard. Now Ormandy was an outstanding Sibelius conductor, and his version of the fifth is the one that has stayed with me. It is clear, dignified, and lyrical, an accurate and precise rendering of the score. I would never be without it. 
But I would love to supplement it with what I heard today, which was, for my money, the best performance of the symphony that I have ever heard. It came at the work from another angle. Oh, the lyricism was there, and so was the clarity, but it was focused on the form of the piece, revealing the context of ruggedness and struggle underlying the songfulness. It sounded extraordinarily contemporary. 

Weigh in, folks

… Beyond Eastrod: "Reader's Digest" — pondering the seductive lure of lists and science fiction novels.