Monday, March 29, 2010

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Congratulations to Tatjana Soli, whose debut novel The Lotus Eaters (St. Martin's Press, 2010) is reviewed (and strongly praised) by Janet Maslin in today's New York Times. Tatjana graduated from the MFA Program at Warren Wilson College in 2006.

Read all about it here:

Tatjana Soli’s haunting debut novel begins where it ought to end. In this quietly mesmerizing book about journalists covering the war in Vietnam, the first glimpses of the place are the most familiar. The year is 1975. Americans are in a state of panic as North Vietnamese forces prepare to occupy Saigon. The looters, the desperate efforts to escape this war zone, the mobs surrounding the United States Embassy, the overcrowded helicopters struggling to rise above the chaos: these images seem to introduce Ms. Soli’s readers to a story they already know.

NOTE: The review (look along its left side) also links to Tatjana's website, which contains a wonderful excerpt from the novel.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Prairie Lights Books on the Front Page of the NYT

There is a great photograph of Barack Obama visiting Jan Weismiller and the good people of Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City on the front page of today's New York Times.

Here's a link.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Annual Poet's Lunch

Monday was also the date for the Annual Poet's Lunch at the Tip-a-Few in Grand Haven. Left to right: Me, Judith Minty, Robert VanderMolen, Larry TenHarmsel, Jack Ridl.


Perhaps brought on by the three tacos with hot sauce I had at the Tip, I now have a flare-up of gout in my right foot. Ah, the Suffering of the Poets!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Report from Washington, D.C.

Hannah went to Washington yesterday and took photos of the "Tea Party" protest of the health care vote and the (much larger) demonstration for immigration reform.

Here are a couple of photos and a link.


In other news, my car wouldn't start this morning so I had to come home this afternoon and put in a new battery. I did this successfully and without a hitch.


We are feeling quite manly at S@4A.M.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

World Poetry Day

Did you know that March 21 is UNESCO's World Poetry Day? I didn't.

To celebrate, here is one of my favorite poems.


Listen: there was a goat's head hanging by ropes in a tree.
All night it hung there and sang. And those who heard it
Felt a hurt in their hearts and thought they were hearing
The song of a night bird. They sat up in their beds, and then
They lay back down again. In the night wind, the goat's head
Swayed back and forth, and from far off it shone faintly
The way the moonlight shone on the train track miles away
Beside which the goat's headless body lay. Some boys
Had hacked its head off. It was harder work than they had imagined.

The goat cried like a man and struggled hard. But they
Finished the job. They hung the bleeding head by the school
And then ran off into the darkness that seems to hide everything.
The head hung in the tree. The body lay by the tracks.
The head called to the body. The body to the head.
They missed each other. The missing grew large between them,
Until it pulled the heart right out of the body, until
The drawn heart flew toward the head, flew as a bird flies
Back to its cage and the familiar perch from which it trills.
Then the heart sang in the head, softly at first and then louder,
Sang long and low until the morning light came up over
The school and over the tree, and then the singing stopped....

The goat had belonged to a small girl. She named
The goat Broken Thorn Sweet Blackberry, named it after
The night's bush of stars, because the goat's silky hair
Was dark as well water, because it had eyes like wild fruit.
The girl lived near a high railroad track. At night
She heard the trains passing, the sweet sound of the train's horn
Pouring softly over her bed, and each morning she woke
To give the bleating goat his pail of warm milk. She sang
Him songs about girls with ropes and cooks in boats.

She brushed him with a stiff brush. She dreamed daily
That he grew bigger, and he did. She thought her dreaming
Made it so. But one night the girl didn't hear the train's horn,
And the next morning she woke to an empty yard. The goat
Was gone. Everything looked strange. It was as if a storm
Had passed through while she slept, wind and stones, rain
Stripping the branches of fruit. She knew that someone
Had stolen the goat and that he had come to harm. She called
To him. All morning and into the afternoon, she called
And called. She walked and walked. In her chest a bad feeling
Like the feeling of the stones gouging the soft undersides
Of her bare feet. Then somebody found the goat's body
By the high tracks, the flies already filling their soft bottles
At the goat's torn neck. Then somebody found the head
Hanging in a tree by the school. They hurried to take
These things away so that the girl would not see them.
They hurried to raise money to buy the girl another goat.
They hurried to find the boys who had done this, to hear
Them say it was a joke, a joke, it was nothing but a joke....

But listen: here is the point. The boys thought to have
Their fun and be done with it. It was harder work than they
Had imagined, this silly sacrifice, but they finished the job,
Whistling as they washed their large hands in the dark.
What they didn't know was that the goat's head was already
Singing behind them in the tree. What they didn't know
Was that the goat's head would go on singing, just for them,
Long after the ropes were down, and that they would learn to listen,
Pail after pail, stroke after patient stroke. They would
Wake in the night thinking they heard the wind in the trees
Or a night bird, but their hearts beating harder. There
Would be a whistle, a hum, a high murmur, and, at last, a song,
The low song a lost boy sings remembering his mother's call.
Not a cruel song, no, no, not cruel at all. This song
Is sweet. It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly


The painting is "Abraham Sacrificing Isaac" (1650) by Laurent de La Hyre

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Great Moments in Montessori Education

“I don’t want to know a six-year-old who isn’t a dreamer or a silly heart. I sure don’t want to know one who takes their student career seriously.”

-Uncle Buck

Friday, March 05, 2010

...So Falls Mulholland Falls

In other news, I have a new pair of sunglasses (Ray Ban Clubmasters) and a new hat ( from Worth & Worth in NYC). No, I don't look like Leonardo DiCaprio.

I look like Strother Martin.

But he was a star, too, so what the hell.


Thirty four papers marked and mid-term grades in.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Latest Publishing Scandal