Saturday, December 01, 2007

your thanksgiving annogram

Thanksgiving greetings
I am grateful for every one of you who faithfully reads your annograms. My gratitude extends to Scott Howard, who has published my work in his new online journal, Reconfigurations. These two poems emerged after translating the daring French poet Hélène Sanguinetti.

For a more traditional poem about one of my favorite pastimes, see my updated web site with new blog link:

Ann at Hudson Valley Writers Center
Make your calendars for Friday, December 14 at 7:30 if you’d like to hear selections from my new book Sugaring and translation Hence this cradle. I will be reading at the Hudson Valley Writers Center, 300 Riverside Drive in Sleepy Hollow (914-332-5953), and would love to see you there.

NEA Big Read: Zora Neale Hurston
What a pleasure to be on the October 28 panel at the Greenburgh Town Hall! The event, part of the NEA’s Big Read, focused on Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Panelists included writers Angela Batchelor, Terry Dugan and Linda Simone. Sarah Bracey White, director of Greenburgh Arts and Culture, read her Huston-inspired fable, “Wanderlust,” and then moderated a lively discussion. Half the audience had read the book and shared fascinating feedback for a rewarding literary “town hall” experience.

Stop the presses for Mavis
One of the most striking CDs I have heard in ages is Mavis Staples’ We’ll Never Turn Back (Anti, 2007). Mavis returns to vintage 60s civil rights and timeless gospel songs to evoke social protest appropriate—and sorely needed—for today. Produced by Ry Cooder, the CD includes background vocals by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Once you hear the haunting first cut, “Down in Mississippi,” you’ll be hooked. I also loved “99 and ½” and “I’ll Be Rested.”

Holiday biscotti
Congratulations to Linda Simone, whose poetry appears in the Pushcart-nominated Alternatives to Surrender (Plainview Press, 2007). You can enjoy Linda’s “delicious” essay on her grandmother’s biscotti that appears in Foods of Affection at:

The genuine article
Congratulations also to Laura Morelli, who has a new column, The Genuine Article: In Pursuit of Authentic Crafts, on the National Geographic web site. If you love beautiful things, Laura is your guide to best choices the world over.

Four poets, one book
If you’re starting your holiday shopping, consider buying Edge by Edge (Toadlily Press, 2007), a unique “quartet” of poets’ chapbooks, as a gift for poetry lovers.

Book reviews
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying (Vintage, 1991). Thanks to fiction writer Cathy Chung for giving me this book and challenging me to revisit Faulkner. I had read him in high school, thanks to my professor-like Humanities teacher, Carl Ladensack. Going back to Faulkner, I am amazed at his dense and poetic language—successfully ascribed to rural and uneducated characters—that sounds almost Biblical. While I missed many plot subtleties and it pained me to see characters so devoid of human tenderness, I could grasp greatness at work.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God (Harper, 2006). When this book first appeared in the 1930s, it was panned by the literary leaders of the Harlem Renaissance for lack of social protest. As agreed in our Greenburgh Town Hall discussion, the story transcends race: It is one woman’s journey to live life on her own terms. To get to that place, she married three men, each one abusive in their own right, whom she eventually left, cursed or killed. Did Hurston believe it was possible to find wholeness with an intimate partner? This book evokes fascinating questions around gender, relationships and race.

Proulx, E. Annie. The Shipping News (Touchstone, 1994). This book won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for good reason: It is a very American tale—although it takes place in Newfoundland—of a character recovering his soul. Quoyle, after a bad start in love, and two toddlers in tow, follows his aunt to the old family homestead to start anew. Annie Proulx creates believable and complex characters in almost poetic language. The plot has humorous turns that—like a good line in poetry—surprise and yet seem entirely appropriate. It’s great when a well-crafted and enjoyable read receives its due.

Digital books
Has anyone out there bought the Amazon Kindle? It’s the wireless device which allows readers to download up to 200 books from Amazon’s 90,000 digital volumes. While nothing can replace a good paper book, I like the idea of being able to look up a word with a built-in dictionary.

That’s all for now. Wishing you good reading and writing!


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