Category Archives: Blog

The Poet’s Buzz


 

I recently took a short trip to the beach to escape “buzz.” Do you know that sensation I’m referring to? Not the hum of a summer fly trapped in your kitchen, more like a ubiquitous sensory and informational shower of input. There’s almost too much to process out there, and “out there” is bigger than ever before. We’re wired in and logged on; there’s a new image or report coming from every direction each minute. [frame align=”right”][/frame]Upon returning to the beach after 12 months away, my intense fascination with seashells swelled. I embraced my inner … Continue reading The Poet’s Buzz

What To Do in The Dark

Celestial Navigation, c. 1958
 

Who knows what people will do in the dark. After several days of lights flicking off and on this summer, I was somehow reminded of the cigar boxes long stored on the laundry room shelf. I’d collected these boxes at least a decade ago with the fantasy that I would some day fill them with intriguing ephemera in the tradition of my inspiration, artist Joseph Cornell (1903-1972). Within the confines of small, graceful chambers, Cornell created intimate environments that were magical, mythical, playful, sensual, scientific and searching. They were also beautiful. Cornell’s imagery drew on … Continue reading What To Do in The Dark

A Wider World


 

[frame align=”right”] [/frame]The first American best seller was Susan Warner’s Wide Wide World, a saga of tears and redemption that appeared in 1850. It was eventually outsold by Uncle Tom’s Cabin, but only just. It’s not surprising that this best seller – and many a follower – was written by a woman. While women had no foothold in the professions – law, medicine, college teaching, scientific research, indeed, higher education itself, were virtually closed to all but that remarkable few who had supportive and indulgent parents (which is to say, fathers) or other male protectors. … Continue reading A Wider World

Author Interview: Kristen-Paige Madonia


 

I first met Kristen-Paige Madonia two years ago. Her writing is forthright and honest. It is this earnestness that stands out the most, employed to great effect as a penetrating light to plumb the depths of her characters’ inner lives, motivations, and secrets. She was kind enough to sit down with me to talk about her debut from Simon and Schuster, Fingerprints of You, which will come out August 7. The novel centers around Lemon Williams, who has bounced from place to place, led by her peripatetic mother, Stella. After she becomes pregnant, Lemon buys a Greyhound … Continue reading Author Interview: Kristen-Paige Madonia

The Internet: The Air Conditioning of the 21st Century


 

Up until a few days ago, when it was returned in a glorious shower of shooting stars and singing angels, the internet connection at my house had been out for about a month. I suppose its absence could have been an opportunity for reflection, an exploration of what life is like without an electronic leash, without an instantaneous connection to the larger world, but mostly it was just annoying. I couldn’t check my email … so I just did it at work. I couldn’t download things … so I just did it at a coffee shop. … Continue reading The Internet: The Air Conditioning of the 21st Century

Power Failures


 

On a wintry late afternoon in the early 1960s, I was driving from Providence, Rhode Island, where I studied at Brown University, to my apartment in Waltham, Massachusetts. I did this three days a week – a ride of anywhere from one-and-a-half to two hours, depending on weather and traffic conditions. Sometimes I took the train in the morning and my husband Darryl would come to pick me up in the afternoon. This seemed a reasonable accommodation to the fact that the one job he’d been offered was in Boston, while my one fellowship was … Continue reading Power Failures

The Sea, The Sea


 

[frame align=”right”][/frame]Dame Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) was a serious student of Platonic idealism, in addition to being a highly successful novelist. Her exploits as scholar and philosopher – she was fellow at St. Anne’s College, Oxford – add a resonance to her work that gives critics plenty to speculate about, but the most interesting thing for me, about Murdoch, is her cool-headed skill as a storyteller. Over the course of a long writing career, she produced more than twenty engrossing tales. Her novel, The Sea, The Sea is a prime example – and a good place … Continue reading The Sea, The Sea

Ode to the Long Form

Blurry Text
 

In contrast to my subject matter, I will try to be brief: I don’t have any long range studies to back this up, but I think communication is getting, in general, faster and briefer. I have anecdotal evidence galore; the text message has replaced email which replaced phone conversation which replaced the handwritten letter. Newspaper articles have been overtaken by blurbs on a blog (which may be soon sunsetted by tweets). I have a bit of empirical evidence too, like how in nightly news stories, sound bites from U.S. Presidential candidates have gone from an average of … Continue reading Ode to the Long Form

“Whose Boundaries Are That of Imagination”


 

A couple of weeks ago I discovered the original “Twilight Zone” series was available on Netflix Instant. Needless to say I have (happily) surrendered hours of my life re-watching this classic series, which I still believe is one of the very few truly great things to have aired on television. (“The Muppet Show” is probably a close second.) The far-reaching influence of the show is undeniable. The twists and bitter ironies for which the show was famous have informed dozens of tropes in film and popular culture (including fiction). A quick survey of the first season, … Continue reading “Whose Boundaries Are That of Imagination”

Poetry as Reprieve


 

[frame align=”right”][/frame]In my twenties I thought of language as a bridge, not from one place to another, but above an abyss. The damnation waiting below was ordinary chaos, the dissonant march of hours, the rush of unsorted, simultaneous emotions – terror, desire, depression, exultation – swirling together without structure or purpose. Raw consciousness, natural and unimpeded. I needed some artifact of the patterning mind to survive nothing more terrible than my daily life, and I found in words the material for these necessary shapings. I had always loved words, found them concrete, caressable. Never a … Continue reading Poetry as Reprieve