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Les Semaines

02.09.08

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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Rain!

Rain! It rained Labour Day--the first time in long, very long. It has been raining today. Though not much on the days in between. Rainy weekends, I guess. It's much cooler in the mornings and evenings, though can get pretty hot during the day. So it partly fees like autumn, partly like summer.

We did some painting yesterday. Was going to do more tody, but it's a little too damp. I hope I can get more done next week before the rains really set in for good.

The first day of work wasn't so bad. At least that's what I said to Jim--that I could handle it as long as I don't have to go back. But I do. All next week, too. All the next weeks until the end of next June. This does not make me happy.

This entry is especially terse as a friend wants to nominate me for a poetry manuscript prize--only I don't really have a manuscript ready, so I'm seeing if I can pull one together. This isn't easy, as the Scotland manuscript is nowhere near ready--there are so many things I want to cover yet--and the few unpublished poems I have that aren't Scotland aren't in any particular shape as I've been focusing on the Scotland poems.

So we'll see what I can manage, and if I can. This is a test. Will I pass? Right now things don't look good, but I do have some ideas for a rather unconventional manuscript, which might be just right for this prize. We'll see. But this means bye for now. I'll keep you posted.

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

Listening

I was describing Iva Bittova to a friend, saying: "Kind of like if you wired up Meredith Monk and gave her a violin and raised her on eastern European folktales." Heh. In addition to the violently wonderful Iva Bittova, I've been listening to an odd Annie Haslem/early-Sinead O'Connor/Heather Nova hybrid from The Netherlands called Edie. She has a recent self-released disc called Shades that is really intriguing.

Also have been utterly obsessing on the first two tracks of Regina Spektor's Songs--not that the rest of the disc isn't good, just that I love these two tracks so much that I have to replay them, and so I don't get too far into the disc as I play it. This is an odd, creative, unusual disc, showing her wide range of talent much more than her first disc did.

I have been really bad and have recently acquired so much music it's going to take me a while to assimilate it all.

last week's listening § next week's listening

Reading

I keep having a mixed experience with Sheri Tepper's recent novels. I find her imagination delightful and like her characters, but get so annoyed with her repetitive message so inelegantly and preachily conveyed. Why doesn't she just write essays and letters to the editor? Surely that would be better than preaching to the converted as she does. And she does it in nearly every novel and almost exactly the same way every time. It's annoying, and if I didn't like her imaginative as much as I do, I wouldn't put up with it. As it is, I generally skim the sermons. The Visitor was an especially annoying example of this. The story (perhaps a little too complex was intriguing and her vision interesting, but the horrific nature of the evil was dealt upon so long that it lost its power, and everything was so black and white. Blegga. Well, The Visitor is the story of what happens to the earth when a visiting something slams into it, causing a cataclysm, changing civilization utterly. A young woman grows up in a repressive religious environment with a wicked stepsister, and gradually discovers that she is more than she thinks.
     I find it hard to recommend this, though it does have a lot of intriguing elements. Sigh. See my May 16, 1999, January 7, 2001 March 18 & March 25, 2001, March 24 & March 31, 2002 entries for comments on my other Tepper readings and re-readings.

Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life and Others is an impression collection of short stories. I had read most of them already, as people had alertd me about him and I tracked them down. I re-read most of them here, but started to run out of time on the library loan and of course I couldn't renew the book as there were other holds on it, but reading it makes it clear to me that although I'm not much of a short story reader, I'm going to have to buy this book when it comes out in paper. Ted Chiang is a master of combining intelligent science fiction with interesting human tales. They can be a little dry, but are always intriguing and readable. The stories also have a definite flavour that I find it hard to describe. Recommended.

last week's reading § next week's reading

Writing

Confusion! See above.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

May - August 1985

1407. Idea so as not to lose it
May 25, 1985

The story through the eyes of the gatekeeper/guide. Watching as it happens, knowing a little more but unable to to do mor than to guide the choices.

1408. On
June 9, 1985

Always
----------
Forever reaching beyond myself and falling
----------
Easy morning on the coast: edges blurred
by mist and rain.
----------
Night falls easily on the coast, edges blur
with mist and rain. Twilight is a gentle tipping
into the dark.
----------
Several tries here, all breaking down, but I've got a line and I've got to get to it somehow.
----------
Tonight I should make love to my husband.
It's the sort of night he expects it
and I haven't offered him any grace
of late. Recently it's spring and I'm
too restless to love. The trees are bright
against the sky and wild chasing
the thundering wind. They would follow
if they could, if their roots were not
embraced so tightly by the earth.
Better where they are, where the earth
holds the rain to their deepest thirst.
Better them than me always reaching
beyond myself and falling. [1]

1409. Each night the fever
June 16, 1985

Each night the fever takes me as its bride
chases me through brightly lit hallways
the heated dreams and sweat of night
----------
The big mistakes, because they're not
intentional, come out of ignorance
or lack of knowledge of the future
--the same thing--
----------
Woked a little on the beginning of the story today [2]. A couple of pages. A beginning and going bettter than the false start of the first, that disappeared from RAM forever and good luck to it. Now tonight I wnat to shift gears + write a new poem, 'cause Jim's in there working, I swear it. And I'm out here having had a nap and unpoetic as hell.
----------
Yes, that's it--the home of this imagination
a kind of Canada here, the border close but
so difficult to cross it might well be
a foreign country. I'm teasing you.
You know your home by recognition
by all the familiar scents it has,
pine, wind,dust, and the smell of trapped
dreams. Like a badger living in someone's
cabin doing all the damange only badgers
dream of. Don't try to catch on. It lives. [3]

1410. Self-portrait in hemlock
June 16, 1985

Name me every living forest that you've seen
I'll take htem all. I'll take the forest
by Skidegate, Tahsis, the ordinary mist
of rain in these extraordingary forest.
This light is liquid, blessing, aquatic
as ocean and quite as changeable.
It's the stream that stains your
skin with cedar and loosens your belly
that I am--and I dare you to drink. [4]

1411. Coming to autumn
August 25, 1985

Months of silence again--a visit home during the time, the best of which was Sombrio Beach. And home and back to it all for a long time now nad not writing. What a confession--it's been too long now since I worked. If I ever worked. I've been loving outside it a long time now, making a living. Of pain and blood <-- highly hysterical, that. O well
     It's spring coming to autumn here. Touches of the earliest trees turning and delight in it, though they say it will be a hard winter. I don't know about hard winters. Hope we'll be okay for money and all.
     I have a postcard of Henry Miller and Laurence Durrell in front of me--Bette gave it to me. They are laughing in bed together, Durrell looking as though he just climbed in and delighted to be photographed. Beside them there's an old card of a Mountie.
     Just saying hello--checking in.


NOTES

1. Scraps the never went anywhere that I recall.

2. This would be Bryony's Needle, which I keep swearing I'm going to revise and send out.

3. This scrap became part of the title poem of Spells for Clear Vision.

4. This did, too.

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