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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Joannie Kervran Stangeland

Joannie Kervran Stangeland is entering the second half of her life, and I am excited to be among those who welcome her across the threshold! We will be gathering Monday, Feb 1 at the Columbia City Cinema to eat chocolate cake, share some poems, and raise our glasses to a woman of many gifts and talents, including being an exceptional friend and poet.

Here's a favorite poem of mine, from her chapbook Weathered Steps.

Happy birthday, Joannie. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Such Whimsy!

A mid-week visit to the Seattle Art Museum has kept me giddy and upbeat/positive all week. I loved watching the old video footage of Calder happily conducting his wire-hanger miniature animal and people circus. Priceless. I also got a chance to examine one of Michelangelo's illustrated grocery lists:

"two rolls, a pitcher of wine, a herring; tortelli . . ."

Why, of course.

I took notes for what I hope will eventually be a couple ekphrasis (poems about art).

Buoyed all week by visual art and the spring-like weather.

And today a book I've been wanting to own since last August arrived in the mail: John Hollander's A Gazer's Spirit: Poems Speaking to Silent Works of Art. (It is out of print, very expensive, and very hard to find, but I finally tracked down a copy I could afford!) This is the book if you want to understand and write ekphrasis poetry. It's illustrated and contains a great many ekphrasis poems written over the last 500 years. I probably won't have time to read it till late March (between quarters), but I can skim it now, at least.

I picked up a pile of reserve books from the library, too -- can't wait to dip into Bernadette Mayer's Poetry State Forest! And I have out two books by Rae Armantrout, whom I feel drawn toward despite my inability to make any sense of most of her poems, though I appreciate their intelligence, unique voice, and beauty. I hope, with continued reading, a clearer path into her work will emerge.

So that's been my week . . . that and a lot of thinking/listening about Haiti.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hing Loon

We have a favorite noodle place in our town. It's in the heart of Chinatown. Here in Seattle we refer to it as "The International District" because, hey, we're a very open-minded, inclusive, and precise bunch, but let's get down to brass Buddhas: on the corner of Maynard and Weller there's a little place called Hing Loon, and it's in Chinatown!

Why we love Hing Loon:

1. Do you see these pictures? Can you imagine getting away with this kind of high jinx at Chinoise!!? The Hing Loon ladies let our kids (1) squeal, (2) spar, (3) whine, (4) spill stuff, (5) fight over who gets to sit next to mama, and (6) slurp very audibly.

2. When I walk in, I'm not in my world anymore; I am in China, or, having never been to China, something akin to the little family street restaurants I hung out in when I visited Thailand in the early 1990s. Chinese characters cover the walls. Buddha and his altar stand ready to welcome us in from the cold. And Ms. Hoola Dancer hoolas away next to the register, her tan bum sticking out of her little grass skirt. Soup's on!

3. Once you taste said soup (I would suggest the rice noodles with dumpling) you will cease to require further explanation.

4. We laugh, we splurp, we tell the owner that her restaurant is the standard by which all Chinese restaurants are held ("This isn't anything like Hing Loon!" my son will loudly protest without hesitation at a sub-par noodle joint).

5. We sup until we are too full to move, and the check arrives. Dinner for 4 is under $20. Hing Looooooooooooon!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why Can't I Ever Resist the Urge to Make New Year's Resolutuions?

Like I will write a poem a day for the entire year.

Like a poem a day and at least 20 minutes of exercise.

Like a poem a day, a three-mile run, and visiting an art museum once a week with notebook in hand for ekphrasis drafting.

While I am doing all this, I will also be

(a) eating local even more than last year;

(b) reading for pleasure (a lovely novel by Marilyn Robinson or Lorrie Moore) instead of checking Facebook and email;

(c) taking better care of my hair, skin, and nails;

(d) spending more downtime with my children;

(e) writing poem ideas down instead of thinking I'll remember them in the morning (Thanks, Diane Lockward, for your reminder on Blogalicious this week);

(f) eating more legumes and high-calcium greens (collard and mustard greens);

(g) spending more time with my friends;

(h) blogging a little bit more often (and making sure to be, always, always, Educational, Entertaining, and Empowering--tee hee);

(i) writing a pantoum (for god's sake!);

[(j) ust what is it about me and the alphabet these days?]

(k) reading more biographies and letters of poets;

(l) attending more readings;

(m) buying more poetry books and subscribing to more lit mags;

(n) learning to play tennis, and, at the track, sprinting;

(o) riding my bike along the Lake every Bicycle Sunday;

(p) nordic skiing and less attention to submitting (really);

(q) laughing and sexing it up;

(r) decluttering and praying;

(s) writing more reviews of poetry books;

(t) trying to write essays;

(u) putting together a poetry class for Richard Hugo house;

(v) volunteering at a soup kitchen;

(w) spending less time online;

(x) taking better care of my back molars;

(y) spending more time birdwatching;

(z) writing more letters by hand.

(If I only do one thing on my list, I will consider myself successful. The one thing I want to do? Write poetry and get physical exercise most days this year.)

Happy resolutioning everyone (or happy un-resolutioning, as the case may be). [I know: I am ridiculous, but this is not a joke. These are really the things I want to accomplish this year. I am putting this out into the world not because I want to feel like a failure when January 5 rolls around, but because I want to refer back to this list throughout the year . . . when I realize that I have barely had time to shower or brush my teeth because all I do is tend to my kids and my students.]