Review of this marvellous performance by Chris Boyd, Melbourne theatre critic:
Watching Guillem, one understands how the Ancient Greek philosophers were compelled to come up with a theory of forms. All we can do, in the mortal world, is aspire to some ideal — some ontological concept of perfection — that is, by definition, unattainable.
Now kicking myself that I didn’t get to this…grrr.
“For me, finding a story is always the result of something bumping into something bumping into something else. This sort of thing is entirely characteristic of me, but there’s no logic behind it. I read a lot. I look at pictures and paintings and the world itself and connections get made and lead to other things.”—Andrea Barrett, Paris Review - The Art Of Fiction No. 180
After the session, Joshua came to the front of the stage and asked to speak with me in private. He told me he was born in a prison and that he’d been held back in school. Twice. He didn’t belong in junior high anymore. It made him feel like a loser. But he wanted me to know that he wrote stories sometimes. About San Antonio gangs. When he asked if I’d be willing to read the one he’d just finished, I told him I’d love to. “But you’ll have to get it to me quick,” I said. “They’re about to shuttle me to the next school.”
He sprinted off toward his locker on the other side of campus.
The librarian told me she was stunned as we both watched Joshua disappear into the halls. It was the first time she’d seen him engage in anything school related.
A few minutes later he was back with thirty typed pages. He was sweating and out of breath. He handed me his story and told me I was the first person he’d ever let read his writing. I gave him one of my books in return, and we shook hands. He called me “sir.”
That night I read Joshua’s words. They were beautiful. And ugly. And sad. They were full of heart. This Mexican kid, who was a thug, who was not pretty and felt like he was too big for his grade, too old — he had all these feelings he didn’t know what to do with. So he wrote them into stories.
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.” I think this poem may be making the rounds, this week, but that’s as it should be. (via oliviacirce)
When I lose hope in the world, I remember this poem.
There were many wonderful running jokes in the first few years of ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’, the Irish Times column written, on and off, for almost a quarter of a century by Flann O’Brien (or, if you prefer, Myles na Gopaleen, or Brian O’Nolan). My favourite has always been the catechism of cliché.
When things are few, what also are they?
What are stocks of fuel doing when they are low?
How low are they running?
What does one do with a suggestion?
One throws it out.
For what does one throw a suggestion out?
For what it may be worth.
“The argument that the advent of the Internet somehow marks a Telecom Year Zero after which nothing will ever be the same can be made only by ignoring the actual history of literature. Look at Kafka’s obsession with telephones; or the way the phonograph, for Bram Stoker, mirrors the vampire as a machine for bringing the dead to life (or, conversely, storing the living in dead form); or at the obsessive attention Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa is forced to pay to ink and desks and messengers.”—Tom McCarthy and other authors on technology and writing Writing Bytes - NYTimes.com (via thisistheverge)
“A hundred and forty characters doesn’t sound like much, but as Twitter has shown over the course of its short, intense life, they’re enough to aid a revolution, ruin a reputation or direct help after a disaster. Critics tend to focus on the irresponsibility or narcissism of the form, or to say it breeds snark or false praise, or that it enables people to feel politically involved when they’re just ranting from their couches.
Sure, Twitter can facilitate the spread of misinformation. It sometimes operates (as a friend of mine once put it) as a live feed from the id. Some people use it solely to tear things down, and others to ingratiate themselves around the clock. And of course political one-liners are no substitute for being on the barricades, no matter how much @pourmecoffee makes me laugh. But ways of tweeting are so diverse that these criticisms serve as a kind of Rorschach test, revealing more about the critic and what attracts his or her attention on Twitter than they do about the form itself.
Twitter’s utility and appeal lies not just in its brevity but in its randomness and ability to surprise. Within its confines, the uses to which it can be put are virtually unlimited. Even now, on the eve of its anticipated I.P.O., its true function refuses to be pinned down, and “Hatching Twitter,” a fast-paced and perceptive new book by Nick Bilton, a columnist and reporter for The New York Times, establishes that uncertainty and dissension about its true purpose has characterized Twitter from its inception….”—I [that is to say, Maud Newton] reviewed Nick Bilton’s Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal for the New York Times Book Review. (via maudnewton)
"Penelope Fitzgerald — they think, ‘Ah! Middle-aged lady with frizzy hair and a nice smile; she must be writing tastefully.’ I say she’s writing against taste, quite savagely. But they don’t pick it up because they’re brash young men poncing about, waving their blood and thunder and condoms!" —…
Edited by Kent MacCarter. This issue presents eight comics/graphic novelists’ adaptations of poems. The points of the exercise are a bit of fun and to explore the quasi-transmedia intersection of the literal and the visual, and how the latter might interpret the former.
Iceland is experiencing a book boom, according to Rosie Goldsmith of the BBC, with “more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world.” Goldsmith estimates the number of writers in Iceland is about one in ten.
We reported in June that proportionally, Iceland published three times the number of books Sweden and Norway did annually, and double the number from Denmark or Finland. But one in ten!
“We are a nation of story tellers,” novelist Solvi Bjorn Siggurdssonexplained to the BBC. “When it was dark and cold we had nothing else to do.”
The folks behind Up-Shirt are paying triple the going rate to the workers making these shirts.
I currently recycle T-shirt fabric into rags for my son to wipe garden furniture with (he’s obsessed). Once he leaves home, they’re going to be a problem. So, hop to it, people. Imagine how many event t-shirts could be reused in this way.
Imagine what the world might look like if this started a fashion…
Beautiful post, really a small essay, by Australian novelist Andrea Goldsmith on creating the Porter-Goldsmith archive for the National Library of Australia.
Both Dorothy and I were life-long preservers of paper. It has been a mammoth task this finding, reading, sifting, and cataloguing our stuff. I thought I knew what lay in the cupboards, in boxes, piled in files, on shelves, slipped between the pages of books, the books themselves, I thought I knew because in these past years since Dot’s death, I have, intermittently, dipped into the paper troves and revisited our past. But I knew very little. Casual, spontaneous riffling of a box or a folder of notes as an aide to immersing yourself in a lost life has as little to do with the systematic ordering of the stuff – or bumf, to use one of Dot’s favourite terms – which has characterised these past couple of months
The house is littered with paper. On tables and shelves and scattered across the floor are sheets of manuscript, slabs of book drafts, stacks of magazines, folders of pamphlets and newspaper cuttings; there are letters, cards, notebooks, pocket diaries, and in the cavity beneath the stairs, a jagged and increasing mound of brown archive boxes with the NLA’s name and address on the top. And emanating from it all is the smudged, enveloping silence common to books and paper. When visitors enter this house of paper, I stand and watch them. They must hear it, they must hear the subterranean jangling and shuddering of all this human geology.
When visiting book clubs to talk about my novel Whisky Charlie Foxtrot I am sometimes asked if writing is ‘lucrative’. In answering this question, I am torn between hysterical laughter and desperate sobbing. I recently finished preparing my tax return for the last financial year so I can tell you…
Excellent and sobering piece, via Angela Meyer (@LiteraryMinded)
This young ‘un from Warrnambool styles herself a ‘folkie ridden with nostalgia’ but I think she is something more, having had the privilege of hearing her perform. Beautiful voice, and well written songs too. I will be buying her CD when it comes out.
Read more at Ecouterre: In an industry first, more than 90 international apparel brands, retailers, and manufacturers operating in Bangladesh have made public a list of the 1,566 factories they use as part of theAccord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Unveiled Wednesday by IndustriAll Global Union, one of the trade organizations that initiated the safety pact in the aftermath of the deadlyRana Plaza building collapse in April, the list accounts for roughly a third of all garment factories in Bangladesh’s $20 billion industry. It also covers more than 2 million employees under the auspices of the legally binding contract, which includes signatories such as Benetton, Inditex(parent company of Zara), H&M, and Primark.