n i g h t i n g a l e s h i r a z / blog
Romantic Hotel, indeed.

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a thousand words.

For the last day of Travel Writing class, I asked each of the students to prepare a photo essay presentation based on their time in Rome, and/or on the trips and travels they'd done during the semester.  The idea was to say something with pictures.  The "something" could be a story in the more traditional "sequential" sense, or it could be a list-poem -- a litany.  I used the analogy within so many card games (rummy, etc.), where the goal is to have either a "set" of three aces from different suits (so, several-of-a-kind -- a run-through of fountains, or churchfronts, or even market veggies); or to have a "sequence" of cards from the same suit -- a jack of spades, a queen of spades, a king of spades (like showing the Spanish Steps through all hours and all seasons, or a story in pictures of a bus ride through the centro storico).

To help, I went berry-picking through my Bookmarks folder (oh-so-fittingly also known as Favorites...) to compile a "here's an idea of what i'm looking for" list.  All caveats on teacherly-tone should be considered emptored...

1 - Secret Rome
Click on one of the categories at left (Fountains, Backstreets, etc.) to get an idea of how he's built themes and grouped pictures to form "sets" within them...

2 - Delicious Days Photography
Same approach.  Click on the themes to see grouped sets...

3 - The New Yorker - Audio Slide Show of Dubai "Castles in the Sand"
This is an excellent example of photo essay PLUS / narrative / presentation.  Definitely one to "aspire" to...

4 - New York Times - The Bounty of Rome
As shown in class -- food in Rome...  Note that this is another example of audio + photos, and should give any would-be photo-essay presenter a sense of how to talk through your own pictures in class.

5 - Cameron Moll
The video we tried to see in class.  Definitely fun to watch...

6 - LA Times
Another, more "general" photo essay we saw in class.  Possibly a little too general...

7 - New York Times - Flight Patterns
Excellent, and an extreme example of how far you can take this medium (i.e. how far *away* you can take it from the "hey-come-look-at-my-holiday-pictures" / "family-slideshow-in-the-basement" version...)  Click on "Multimedia - Interactive Feature - Crowded Skies Over Rome" or try going directly to this page

8 - Portuguese Dogs in Lisbon
A very simple example, of simplicity.  sometimes it's all you need...

i love that i get to teach this stuff.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[sabato 30 maggio 2009 ore 17:17:23] []

what will you do if you don't get this job.

i will write a book.  or three.
i will learn to play the piano, i will (at last) apprentice myself to a car mechanic, and i will do that book collection for Bambino Gesù, the one i have been planning all these months.
i will do my Master's, and i will teach till my heart is full of it, and i will proofread The American to perfection.
i will learn to make butter chicken; i will learn to tango, and i will teach my cat to jump through a coathanger.
i will be inspired.
i will be where i am wanted.  thanks very much.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[lunedì 25 maggio 2009 ore 22:44:47] []


ten past ten, and a most excellent peach.  it sets me off.

i remember that your daughter insists on eating underripe fruit.  you try to explain to her, that the peach with the give; it will be sweeter.  but she will not listen, and you shake your head.
we end up having to keep the good stuff for ourselves.

i remember that picture.  you are standing over your mother, all six-foot-something of you, above this tininess -- long-haired and strong-hearted, over-towered and so completely not over-powered.  from the way you describe it, in my mind, her face is upturned and indignant (and all the more indignant, at having to be upturned)  -- a shaken fist in the glint of fire-mother eyes.
and you love this picture.

i remember your grandmother's grave in Lucignano.  i remember the yellow flowers.

i remember that your sister's name is Renée.

so many charms in the jewelbox of memories.
some trinkets.  some gems.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[lunedì 25 maggio 2009 ore 22:10:35] []


at the Anglo-American bookstore, i let my fingers dance along the spines of strange and wonderful books -- Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table: A Collection of Essays from the New York Times; How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read; and a book whose name i cannot remember, that had a paragraph on Henry James:

On occasions, however, he would be not only accurate but concise.  I met him at a dinner-party once, shortly before the production of a play of his, and his hostess asked him if he did not find rehearsals a great strain.  To which he replied: 'I have been sipping the -- er -- cup of Detachment.'

No phrase could be a more perfect description of the state of mind to which most dramatists find themselves reduced at a certain stage of rehearsals.

*there was more later, when i Googled:
In conversation he was meticulously (no other adverb is so appropriate) careful to convey his precise meaning, so that his remarks became a sort of Chinese nest of parentheses; it took him some time to arrive at his point but he always reached it, and it was always well worth waiting for.

i allow myself Eliot, and i allow myself Frank O'Hara's slim and square Lunch Poems.  how simple are the things you want from the day: a perfect porchetta sandwich, and two small books of poetry.


afterwards, there is the coven of streets between del Corso and the Pantheon.

on via dei Prefetti a sign proclaims (in upper case), the entrance to the Provincia di Roma's "PALAZZO INCONTRO."  also known (according to at least one of the eight translations underneath), as the "ENCOUNTER PALACE."

the smell of Marsiglia soap, despite my stuffy nose.  i think of the word 'despite,' and of Humpty Dumpty, making his words work extra hard for him.

the pictures within pictures, of an old woman who leans a little as she sketches something on a swatch of tracing paper, among so many wooden slats, so many waterclors in and out of their dusty painting-frames.  there is something about all this carved-and-gilded goldenwood, all these unframed frames and pictureless paintings.  they lean here and there against each other, you see through the empty space they bracket, you see more rectangles, more empty space that's been framed and rendered suddenly baroque.  and there is the old woman who leans a little as she sketches something on a swatch of tracing paper; the other end of the sheet curls at her feet among so many wooden slats.  the door of the bottega is closed, but the window onto the street is floor-to-ceiling and side-to-side.  and it is framed in golden light.

at the end of Via d'Ascanio, the young macellaio stands under the Banca di Roma letters.  a nicotine break, a telephone break.  "A che altezza sei?"

suddenly the coven unwinds into the unadulterated sunlight of Via della Scrofa.  at Volpetti, a brick of black bread at three euro ninety, and the smell of something baking.  something that has almonds in it.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[domenica 10 maggio 2009 ore 15:02:54] []