Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Don't Speak the Same Language as We Do

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.

-Steve Almond on Occupy Wall Street over at the Rumpus


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.

-Paul Krugman at NYT


Killer first line of the moment:

You found it in wet dirt: blue parchment, slice

from "Feather" by Sally Rosen Kindred
(Cave Wall 10, 2011)


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.


Although I am ashamed to admit to knowing almost nothing about Scandinavia's leading poet, whose books are regular bestsellers in his homeland, this does seem to be something of a regular occurrence with the Nobel. The committee makes a habit of bestowing its laurels on respected, worthy, but often fairly obscure writers who, even after they are anointed, don't exactly go on to become household names.

No doubt this attitude partly reflects my provincialism. It's true that British literary culture is shockingly closed to writers from those parts of the world which don't happen to speak the same language as we do. We translate far fewer titles than most other European countries, and publishers that specialise in literature in translation – fortunately there are some – struggle to get attention for their books.

-interesting take on Transtromer's Nobel, and the significance of the Nobel in Literature, over at the Guardian


Have watched the first half of this 2 part HBO-doc--can't wait to watch the rest.


Sandy Longhorn said...

He looked at me and said, "Luke, if we're not writing, we're just selling dog food."

Well said, and while it may be literal for you, it's a beautiful metaphor for the rest of us. Thanks!!!

Oh, and I stole the BIC rule from a bunch of other folks before me. :)

Sally said...

Dude, I made it into the "killer first line of the moment" ranks! I am so happy! Also, congrats on the grant and I look forward to seeing you in Quarterly West....:)