Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Our cat is Muslim"

Ang: "My cat is so Muslim"

My kid took this photo last weekend. "Look, mom! Celia is Muslim." He thought it was cool that the cat was praying for peace.


Sorry about the silence around these parts. It will probably continue for a while, as I feel I have nothing to say. The news depresses me, so I'm staying away for a while. I am not reading any contemporary books. Right now I am reading the collected short stories of Nabokov, which is inspiring and beautiful. I finished a first draft of a short story yesterday, and I'd like to work on a revision of it, and of my novel, and start the translation in earnest. Please share what you are reading right now, what you are working on, if you are writing, and what the weather in your town is like...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Not from Nowhere

The Independent hangs out with Samir El-Youssef, whose first English language novel, The Illusion of Return, is just out in England.

"I don't believe in the right of return," he says, "and don't want to return, but I do want an acknowledgement from the Israelis that I don't come from nowhere... It is a question of honour and dignity.

How does your garden grow?

I'm thinking of taking an organic gardening class. It starts next week. I have a small garden space in the yard and I want to use it (just as soon as the cold and snow clears off.)

I've been holed up in the house writing a lot. I began a new story Monday which I wrote 3 or 4 beginnings to before I figured out how it should go.

I've also gone through a third of the novel's manuscript, as I preen it for publication. Oh, novel, which I started before I did so much growth, and which helped me grow.

And I'm hoping to continue swimming. I'm the slowest one in the lap pool, but fuck it. I've recently learned the virtues of taking things slow, and I like it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Reading at Detroit Artists Market

I will be reading at the Detroit Artists Market, 4719 Woodward Ave, on Friday at 7PM. Poet Sara DiMaggio will join me.

It's a pretty cool space, and right now they're running their “75th Anniversary All-Media Exhibition.”


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Womb Poetry

The inaugural issue of WOMB poetry is now online and ready for perusal. It is a beautiful and generous new website, and this issue's contributors include the inimitable Michalle Gould, as well as Julia Drescher and Kari Edwards, and many others. Check it out.

Lonesome in a Winter Wonderland

It's been beautiful here.
Icy, and cold.
The berries are like kisses on the ice.
I've been reading a lot and trying to embrace/alter the fact that I have no close friends here...

Monday, January 15, 2007

James Baldwin on Martin Luther King Jr.

Since Martin's death, in Memphis, and that tremendous day in Atlanta, something has altered in me, something has gone away. Perhaps even more than the death itself, the manner of his death has forced me into a judgement concerning human life and human beings which I have always been reluctant to make ... [A]las, most people are not, in action, worth very much;and yet, every human being is an unprecedented miracle. One tries to treat them as the miracles they are, while trying to protect oneself against the disasters they've become. This is not very different from the act of faith demanded by all those marches and petitions while Martin was still alive. One could scarcely be deluded by Americans anymore,one scarcely dared expect anything from the great, vast, blank generality; and yet one was compelled to demand of Americans-- and for their sakes, after all--a generosity, a clarity, and a nobility which they did not dream of demanding of themselves. Part of the error was irreducible, in that the marchers and petitioners were forced to suppose the existence of an entity which, when the chips were down, could not be located-- i.e., there are no American people yet; but to this speculation (or desperate hope) we shall presently return. Perhaps, however, the moral of the strory (and the hope of the world) lies in what one demands, not of others, but of oneself. However that may be, the failure and the betrayal are in the record book forever, and sum up, and condemn, forever, those descendents of a barbarous Europe who arbitrarily and arrogantly reserve the right to call themselves Americans.
-- From No Name in the Street

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Here they come

Once in a while, I get bombarded by ideas for stories and novels and I have to open up and let them come without fearing that I have to commit to them right away. I have been obsessing over an idea for a story since December, but this week I was bombarded with three more. The three are all similar in theme - desire, self-sabotage, rejection, men - and they're heavy and light at once. So of course my tendency is to want to squish them all into one story, which then makes me sit around and attempt to create (read: force) connections between them, which is bad for the stories. Also, I have a fear of writing about erotic things, or about relationships between men and women, because I am afraid of sentimentality and inauthenticity, and, because I am afraid of feeling too naked (ha!). Tough shit, right, I should just do it. Sometimes it's easier to blog about this stuff than really commit to working it out...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Everyman's Library has released a new expanded edition of Anna Akhmatova's poems translated by DM Thomas. I think Thomas's translations of her work are better than anyone else's (including Kunitz's). Here's a poem I especially love right now, as I receive the new year and grieve my tendency towards epehemeral romantic connections:

High in the sky a small cloud greyed,
Like a stretched squirel pelt.
He said to me, "Too bad frail snow maid,
That in March your body will melt."

My hands grew cold in my downy muff.
Confused, I could not grasp it all.
How to win you back, swift weeks of
His love, so airy and ephemeral!

I'm not bitter, don't seek to make him grieve,
in the last white storm let me meet my end.
I saw him in the cards on Christmas Eve.
In January I was his friend.

Spring 1911, Tsarskoye Selo

Monday, January 08, 2007

Lovin' This

I got an inscribed copy of Mohja Kahf's The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf for my b-day a few days ago. I read the first 75 pages on the plane and fell madly in love with it. Mohja writes about religious community brilliantly, generously, humorously...she is as big a badass when writing fiction as she is in poetry. I'll write a real review when I finish it, but in the meantime, please buy it. And listen to Mohja on NPR here. When you hear her voice, you will see how vibrancy runs all through her.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year from Rockslinga

This year, I resolve to keep writing the stories I want to write, revise some old ones, attempt deeper, more meaningful connections with others, swim more, smile more, and have lots and lots of fun. What about you?