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Les Semaines

02.07.14

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout

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Third Week of Clarion West 2002

Sunday night's orientation was fun--the students didn't know quite what to make of Pat Cadigan at first. She came on strong, wearing a wrestling t-shirt that said "Don't take this ass-kicking personally", and she's already a powerful presence, but also a thoughtful, associative one. First and most readily apparent is the power, then the subtleties emerge. Just like in her fiction. Interesting how personality manifests itself in the persona and in the fiction--I can say this about all three instructors so far this year, and it may be true of every writer I know.

The classroom this week was interesting--very up and down in different ways--the students starting to get exhausted and more of them pulling all-nighters to finish their stories. On Thursday four of them did, and none of them got to the critiques. They were barely able to stay awake through class. The critiques are both up and down, too. I hope this doesn't mean that the fourth week will be the nightmare it sometimes is. Pat did her best to keep them all together and in one piece.

Pat gave a great reading on Tuesday night--especially her rendition of her story, "Heat", which was a knock-out read aloud.

Because Leslie's life is rather complicated right now, I was in the classroom on Friday as well as my usual Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and so got to watch the Friday rituals with the tickets, drawing, and the weekly class photograph, which was fun. Also fun was the chance to go to lunch with Karen and Leslie and talked about various Clarion West things. Which meant I was late getting home and Jim was a little annoyed with me since the duct cleaning people were due to arrive. When I got home they had just gotten there. Unfortunately, Sophia was hiding behind the bed and had to be pulled out to be put in the litterbox room--the only room that didn't have a vent in it that needed to be vacuumed, though it is right next to the furnace and so it was full of terrifying noises. Both she and Zach recovered quickly after it all, though.

The party Saturday night was fun, too, especially as one of my Clarion West classmates, whom I haven't seen in a couple of years, showed up. Happy reunion! Damn, I miss the people in my class.

Saturday was my day off, and we spent it with Tamar, shopping for shoes for Jim and then barbecuing corn and steaks and watching a video. Yay for downtime! Today all I wanted to do was to sleep, but I did get myself to the dorm for the Sunday night meeting.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing

Listening

Still listening to the same things as last week, but also Aiko Shimada's lovely and haunting Rabbit Moon, a jazzy collection of tunes and songs.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

Karin Lowachee's Warchild was the second winner of the Warner Aspect first novel contest. It's the story of a child whose ship is destroyed and he is captured by pirates and he becomes the toy of a particular pirate. He escapes, only to be taken by an alien world by a human sympathizer with aliens the humans are at war with. Gradually, he comes to trust the man who has taken him and understand the alien point of view. But then they ask him to join a human battleship and his loyalties are tested all over. A fascinating study of a damaged, tough, yet sympathetic boy trying to do what is right and be loyal to those who deserve loyalty--though he's never too sure who that might be. Well-written and gripping.

Charles de Lint's Seven Wild Sisters is a slim volume with lovely illustrations by Charles Vess. This is the story of a young girl, one of seven red-headed sisters, who becomes friends with an elderly woman who lives on a old farm high in the Appalachian mountains without any of the modern conveniences and full of old tales about the fairyfolk of the hills. And when one day while hunting ginseng the girl rescues a 'sang fairy pierced through with arrows she finds herself and her sisters caught up in the middle of an old enmity between the 'sang fairies and the bee fairies. Brief but delightful.

There is a growing buzz about Alice Sebold's new novel, The Lovely Bones, enough to prompt me to find a copy of her nonfiction book, Lucky, about the rape that happened to her when she was a college freshman and the aftermath of that event in her family and in her life. It was a difficult and fascinating realistic look at trauma and what follows after.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Had a really rough time getting chapter 3 ready for Karen. I'm not sure why. Lack of focus, lack of ability to get perspective on this. And as the story gets deeper into the plot it becomes more complex. Still, I managed it. Chapter 4 seems a little easier to get my head around working on. Revising is such a strange animal.

Afterwards I realized why--with Clarion going on I have very few patches of time to put together to get to work, and when I do have time it's hard to focus because I've had to put everything else in my life on the back burner, as well.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

February - April 1984

1364, Restless Night in February
February 13, 1984

I can't slow down at all--I've tried for about forty-five minutes and only become more awake. Jim just came in and we exchanged valentines, which was lovely and fun, but he's gone back to bed to try to sleep--he has to teach tomorrow. I get papers tomorrow, and have to work out midterm grades and evaluations for my students, but the mind is buzzing.
     Got H.D.'s Collected Poems today. It's beautiful and the poems are amazing. Maybe this will get her more recognition. She's wonderful. Have to read Elizabeth Bishop for the Crane/Bishop class, and it's a different experience. Nothing's really wrong with Bishop, but neither does anything stand out as particularly good or interesting. The simplicity of statement doesn't have a particular personal quality like H.D.'s does. There are certain silences in H.D.'s work that blend with the emotion. Maybe it's the lack of emotion in Bishop. Maybe she will help me, because sometimes I fear I am too emotional. I would rather look to H.D.'s use of emotion, though. Ah me.
     Read a little Morte d'Arthur to each other tonight. We are nearing the ned of the first volume, and are midway through Book VIII. We are very inconsistent about it, though. Jim wrote the first draft of his first sestina tonight, and it's good. We had a good evening together, and I feel very in love, which is appropriate as now it's 1:00 on Valentine's Day.

1365. Map of the Island from Exile
March 6, 1984

Into March already, and another quarter slams into finals. This one ends early for us, and we're going to go south with Mom and Dad for a trip and they're bringing me my new car.
     Now it's time to be inspired by Elizabeth Bishop. I don't dislike her as much as I did at first. In fact, I could say that I'm beginning to appreciate her. What I'd like to do is a map poem--A map from exile.
This map excises something
north. Somewhere west, as well,
you can tell because beyond east of the island
the mainland stretches toward
and beyond the margins.
The island itself is far
paler green and brown
than anyone could imagine
an island being. The highways
are red, which no one
remembers them being.
The sea surrounding is flat
and as soft a blue as
a January winter sky.
An no one complains.
No one would believe this
is my home as presented
by the Queen's Printer.
     rethink [1]

1366. In Flagstaff
March 17, 1984

Here we are in Flagstaff, Arizona, having wandered through Utah with Mom and Dad. Best so far--Mesa Verde in Colorado--Cliff Palace and Spruce Tree House like a dream. Today we did part of "The Trail of the Ancients" Natural Bridges then a wonderful highway down a canyon side then Monument Valley and Gooseneck Overlook where the wind blew of 60 mph and down to Arizona through a dust storm, Valley of the Gods lost in the dust beside us. All the blood-coloured soil.
     a child can understand / how the world does no love him / how the world cannot

1367. Update in April
April 14, 1984

Months go by so quickly. I'm frantically revising my thesis--my reading is less than a month--May 11. I'm already starting to think in terms of a book [2], and I've put tother three batches of poems to leave. They'll wander off and back home. Jim's writing frantically, too. I don't think I've ever done so much work so quickly. I 've been pleased with it, too. A lot of strange poems,--they're very odd, individual--probably too weird for most editors/journals. Maybe they'll find homes.
     Spring quarter and our last one at that. Last teaching for a while and maybe forever. Last schooling and out in the great wide world.


NOTES

1. I did rethink, and the revised poem appears as "Map of Vancouver Island" in Spells for Clear Vision.

2. I didn't actually put another book together for seven years. That book eventually became Spells.

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