There is a shooting in Norway. A troubled but popular singer dies. The U.S. economy implodes. Unemployment rises. Economies in other countries collapse. The earth cracks open on an island and then in another country and another country and another country. Floods wash away an entire town. A dictator is overthrown and another and another and another. A terrorist is assassinated. A dictator goes into hiding. He is found. He is killed. Everywhere, the earth is dry and when it rains, it is never enough. Children are starving. Their parents are starving. Women and their bodies and their right to make choices about their bodies are increasingly under attack. A starlet who never had a chance continues to spiral out of control. Real housewives act messy all over the place. A celebrity who is famous for being famous for making a sex tape gets married on television. Less than three months later, she divorces her made for television husband. An innovator dies and his life is bared for examination. A teenage girl’s sex tape goes viral and worse yet, people watch. Politicians start their campaigns and race each other to the bottom. The world moves at such a bewildering pace these days. Everything demands our attention. There is hardly time to breathe. Or think. Or feel.
The Rush Limbaughs of the world are very comfortable with a narrative that has Noam Chomsky, MoveOn and Barack Obama on one side, and the Tea Party and Republican leaders on the other. The rest of the traditional media won't mind that narrative either, if it can get enough "facts" to back it up. They know how to do that story and most of our political media is based upon that Crossfire paradigm of left-vs-right commentary shows and NFL Today-style team-vs-team campaign reporting.
What nobody is comfortable with is a movement in which virtually the entire spectrum of middle class and poor Americans is on the same page, railing against incestuous political and financial corruption on Wall Street and in Washington. The reality is that Occupy Wall Street and the millions of middle Americans who make up the Tea Party are natural allies and should be on the same page about most of the key issues, and that's a story our media won't want to or know how to handle.
via Rolling Stone
-wonderful interview with Richard Wilbur
-Arrested Development writer Maria Semple over at the New Yorker
Start this at 5 minutes and enjoy. Seattle music continues its amazingness.
I've been finding poems in the morning, before going to work at the pet store. The poems are unsteady on their legs, but they're trying. Was happy to have one picked up fora future issue of Quarterly West, and to hear the excellent news that I'll be one of 62-Washington artists to receive a GAP grant from Artist Trust. It's a remarkable organization that educates, supports, and connects artists in Washington state, and they're another reason I'm proud to be living here. It's stuff like this that gets me to the desk an hour earlier in the morning, before hauling kibble and cat litter from the warehouse to the shelf, to carve lines in hopes that they might resound. Another writer works at the store, and we were talking about process. I told him about the butt-in-chair rule I stole from the righteous Sandy Longhorn. I asked him what got him to the page. He looked at me and said, "Luke, if we're not writing, we're just selling dog food." Up early, tomorrow.
Socio-economic mobility has always been central to the American dream. But our civic culture is actually carefully structured to keep us segregated. The wealthy lock themselves away in luxury vehicles and gated suburbs. The impoverished remain in blighted areas, obediently out of view.
The system is self-reinforcing. As the money concentrates at the top, less is devoted to those resources that are shared by all of us – parks, schools, community centers, subway trains – the very places where people of different classes might peaceably mingle.
The wealthy hire lobbyists and tax lawyers to game the system. They remove themselves, physically and psychically, from their duties to the poor. In this way, the interests of the few crush the interests of the many.
**********The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.
Killer first line of the moment:
You found it in wet dirt: blue parchment, slice
Sherman Alexie has 3 beautiful little poems in the new issue of Narrative Magazine. And if you subscribe, you can read a wonderful poem by my Hollins-poet-brother Will Schutt. Do it.
via NYT. Our city is sending citizens into space, no big deal.
“They created this kind of world that was just the four of us, and they allowed us to be weird, as weird as we wanted to be without making us feel like we were strange,” he said. “And so I thought about a lot of that with the Fangs. The weirdness exists, but you don’t comment on it. It’s just the world that you’ve made for yourself. And it’s the same thing that Leigh Anne and I are doing with Griff, trying to build this weird world for him and see what happens.”
The family lives outside Sewanee on the edge of a one-acre pond in a thicket of woods teeming with rabbits, bats and deer. Inside the house signs of Griff, 3, were everywhere: a basket of toys near the wood-burning fireplace, a child-size canvas swing from Ikea hanging from the ceiling and a remote-controlled train set taking up most of Ms. Couch’s office upstairs, where she writes her poetry on a drafting desk in the corner.
I have been a bad blogger. Too many things have happened to try and compress and recapitulate them here. Suffice to say: life moves pretty fast. Summer is here, which means: good weather, good people, good poems. That triumvirate hasn't left much time for blogging, but I'm doing what I can to stay plugged in with you amazing folks. Onwards.
I am not perfectly certain what our forefathers understood by “the pursuit of happiness.” Of the friends whom I’ve asked for an opinion, the majority have taken that phrase to mean the pursuit of self-realization, or of a full humane life. Some darker-minded people, however, have translated “happiness” as material well-being, or as the freedom to do as you damn please. I can’t adjudicate the matter, but even if the darker-minded people are right, we are entitled to ennoble the phrase and adapt it to the present purpose. I’m going to say a few things about the ways in which poetry might be seen as pursuing happiness.
July careens and summer swells. I'm off to Fishtrap Outpost tomorrow, where I'll be happily disconnected from phone and interwebs for 9 days. Looking forward to coming back with poems, pictures, and something worth telling you about. Be well, friends!
I have a poem up this week over at Linebreak: "Months after the Mt. Cashmere Wildfire, with Meteors"
Eight years ago, I began traveling the United States to photograph senior dogs. Like the diverse human pageant that Robert Frank captured in his book, The Americans, back in the 1950’s, I found dogs inhabiting all manner of American life -- and with many years inscribed in their beings.
My interest in the world of the senior dog began as my own two dogs began to approach the end of their days. This was at a time when I had lived enough years to start imagining my own mortality. I entered a world of grace where bodies that had once expressed their vibrancy were now on a more fragile path.
-This is amazing.
Heather Christle is a creative writing fellow in poetry at Emory University whose second volume of poetry, "The Trees the Trees," is out now (her third book will be published by Wesleyan University Press). If you like her poems, you can call her during appointed (but generous) hours between now and next Thursday, and she'll read one just for you. It's as easy as dialing 413-570-3077.