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Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are.

So not everyone on your Facebook feed, is talking this morning, about Charlottesville.

Someone likes an article about Stevie Nicks' longstanding pre-stage ritual, in which Stevie explains, “I make my little mix tapes, and I play them and I twirl around and dance my way through three hours of make-up and getting ready...”

Someone likes Yoga International, because “a free gift is yours to keep!”

Someone is talking about Rafael Devers' game-tying home run off of Aroldis Chapman in the 9th inning; he thinks that “Jeter will get them...”  Someone likes something about lavender and hibiscus sodas.  Someone shared a LinkedIn article about self-driving cars.  Someone wants you to look at a picture of her writing desk.  Someone shared a video of Mayim Bialik explaining how you can be a scientist and a religious person.  (“Like, do you ever get that feeling, like, ohmigosh, I can't believe we exist?  I get that feeling, all the time!”)

Someone wants you to look at nine pictures from his vacation in Fronsac, France, because, he says, it's “Rosé o'clock.”

Someone wants you to look at a picture from the Montclair Jazz Festival, because he's loving “that I can walk out my front door, stroll across the street, and watch Dee Dee Bridgewater covering Prince's Purple Rain.”  Someone loves a video about vegan burgers “from the chain that wants to be the McDonald's of vegan fast food.”  Someone wants you to look at a picture of her sevenish-year-old son and his two friends, in front of a stack of pancakes.  (“Breakfast pile on!”)

Someone likes a video about what to do with popsicle sticks, in which you are encouraged to “bring the beach home with this summery beach terrarium!”  Someone has something to say about a picture of a piece of pork belly.  (“You missed the killing the animal step.”)

Someone wants recommendations for an agriturismo in the Piedmontese Alps.  (“Amici Italiani! Sto andando con la famiglia per qualche giorno...”).

Someone wants you to look at a picture of The Youthful Poet's Dream by William Blake.  Someone liked a series of images of a woman enduring a body cavity search, in which “police officers pulled the young woman's pants down, and for 11 minutes, put her in a ‘spread eagle position and started to search for something in Miss Corley's cavity in her vaginal area.’”  Someone reacted to an article about how, according to NASA, marijuana contains “Alien DNA From Outside Of Our Solar System.”

Someone likes a video about the secret factory in India that's making props and costumes for Game of Thrones.  (In the video, a man in a turban explains that “it's very, you know, period-looking.”)

Someone likes a sixty-second video of a girl on a bean bag in the grass, covered in golden retriever puppies.  Someone wants you to consider reading an article about how “Four Sets of Identical Twins Staged a Time Travel Prank on an NYC Subway” (“but there’s an interesting philosophical question in all of this...”).  Someone is offering you a chart that helps you determine your Solar Eclipse Identity, so you can see that you are, apparently, a “Creator of Spiritual Strength.”  Someone is eating pizza with someone else at “Panella - l'arte del pane.”  Someone thinks you should watch a video on how to make marinade for GREEK CHICKEN GYROS.  (“Try this at your next BBQ!”)

Someone likes an article on “How to Claim Squatter's Rights to Stop Paying Your Rent” because “what is America if not a giant squat on someone else's land?”  Someone likes an article about David Bowie by Hanif Kureishi.  (“Like most of us, he worried that he might go mad, but he clearly never did, despite his best efforts.)

Someone thinks you might want to read an article on “The Tantalizing Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles,” in which “the tiler's identity remains unknown.”  Someone wants you to look at their picture of the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City.  Someone wants you to know, via a drawing of what may be an anthropomorphic tabby cat, that today is “International Lefthanders Day.”  Someone has shared a picture of a brown paper bag on their front porch.  (“It was a sack o' pears from the neighbor's tree.”)

Someone is telling you that her heart is full, that she's having the best time leading yoga teacher training, and that she's “inspired by the intelligent & creative soon-to-be youth yoga teachers in the room.”  Someone likes a video entitled “HOW IS THIS GUY SINGLE?”  (“So, yeah.”)


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[domenica 13 agosto 2017 ore 14:08:14] []

Blaming the Baby for the Bathwater.

Also the other day, when I walked into Todo Modo, I came across a book of poems by someone named Rupi Kaur.  I didn't end up buying it (because I wasn't sure it was my kind of poetry, and because only last month I bought Mohja Kahf's most excellent E-mail da Shahrazad, and I don't know if I want to be that brown woman who only reads brown women, you know...).  But then today, in further proof that my life seems to be one long series of Baader-Meinhof phenomena, I came across this article, at BuzzFeed, of all places.  Not because I usually frequent a media source that pushes its content by telling me “Hey, Cat Lovers: Our Weekly Cat Newsletter Is For You!” (though now that I think about it, how did they know?), but because it was mentioned in today's edition of the Daily News from Poets & Writers.

Anyway, the article purports to be a critique of the poet's poetry, but after reading it in its entirety, I'm not sure if it needs to be a critique of other things, some of which have been around since way before the poet was ever a buzz in anybody's feed.  It was the conclusion, really, that got to me.  Here's what I mean:

Kaur’s reach will no doubt expand with the release of her next book, the sun and her flowers, this October [...] because her mass appeal lies in her perceived universality, [but other] minority writers, who trade in specifics and details, not broad-reaching sentiments and uncomplicated feminist slogans, would probably not achieve the same level of success.  It is the paradox of the minority writer: the requirement to write in a way that is colored by one’s background, but is, at the same time, recognizable enough to a Western audience that it does not intimidate with its foreignness.  It is only by eschewing complacency and holding such artists to account that mainstream media and culture will become more diverse: the kind of representation that, without compromise, accurately tells the stories of people of color around the world, and not just the stories that are the easiest to sell.

I'd argue that err, no.  It is not only by eschewing complacency (and not only by chewing such artists out) that mainstream media and culture will become more diverse, and that perhaps this “critic” needs to go back and re-read the paragraph she put right before that one:

But is Kaur exclusively to blame here?  It is important to consider the literary environment that has uplifted her while shutting out countless other writers from the margins.

Well yes, I'd say it is.

Also.  I'm sorry.  What the fuck is this:

Rather than self-defining as a Canadian poet, she stresses her marginality as “a Punjabi-Sikh immigrant woman,” [those quotes are not mine] deliberately rejecting a mainstream Western identity in favor of alterity.

I don't know a thing about Rupi Kaur, but it takes me all of six minutes to cross-check three different sites and see that she was born in India and immigrated to Canada at the age of four, for fuck's sake.  How does anyone, let alone someone named Chiara Giovanni, get to suggest that this a dubious balancing act with regard to diversity?  How does she get to suggest that this woman deliberately rejected a mainstream Western identity [what?] in favor of alterity?  What?

Argh.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[lunedì 08 agosto 2017 ore 21:04:00] []

Croire à leur bonheur.

I forgot to tell you.  Yesterday when I walked into Todo Modo, they were playing Debussy.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[domenica 06 agosto 2017 ore 21:48:00] []

Miles. Promises.

From Jane Kenyon, in A Hundred White Daffodils, all this summer:

The simple art of becoming a full-time writer will not significantly change your work.  There are full time writers who can't push things to their limits—poets who stop when a thing is “good enough.”  The amount of time has nothing to do with being bold or fearless, telling the whole truth.

*

People don't know how hard it is to write, what a struggle it is to know what you want to say and then to say what you mean.

*

I'd say your art comes out of your life, and you have to keep living until you have enough to write about.  Be patient if you can.  Find friends whose judgment you trust and work with them on everything you do.  Read, read, read.  Art begets art, and you need to read—not just English poets but poets of other cultures and times and traditions.

*

How is it that you have the phenomenal luck to live here?

*

Be a good steward of your gifts.  Protect your time.  Feed your inner life.  Avoid too much noise.  Read good books, have good sentences in your ears.  Be by yourself as often as you can.  Walk.  Take the phone off the hook.  Work regular hours.

*

You can get weak knees, and I think you should.

*

The poet's job is to find a name for everything; to be a fearless finder of the names of things; to be an advocate for the beauty of language, the subtleties of language.  I think it's very serious stuff, art; it's not just decoration.  The other job of the poet is to console in the face of the inevitable disintegration of loss and death, all of the tough things we have to face as humans.  We have the consolation of beauty, of one soul extending to another soul and saying, “I've been here too.”  Remember Frost's lovely little poem, about going out to clear the pasture spring?  “You come too,” he says.

*

And, well, what we have is the present.  That's all we ever had, really, except for memory.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Santo Spirito, Firenze]
[giovedì 03 agosto 2017 ore 08:06:21] []