Wednesday, November 29, 2006


There was frost on people's wondshields in Walnut Creek. It got down into the thirties last night. I can hear my New England family jeering, but I have news for you guys: try it with thin blood, no insulation in your house, no long underwear, and an anemic space heater. Then call me a wuss.

Theresa mentioned the book Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy, a woman who had cancer of the jaw as a child and was deformed as a result--I went to the bookstore and read it, was impressed, but not floored by the style. On my own I remembered Jimmy Santiago Baca's A Place to Stand which is an incredible account of having a Bardic initiation in the form of solitary confinement in a state prison. It's long, but so beautifully written I can't pass it up.

I also love Zami: A New Spelling of My Name, a bio-mythography by Audre Lorde, although I worry that it could be dated. Luan Staus, the proprietor of Laurel Bookstore, helped me by sharing a list of books a professor at Mills uses in his non-fiction class. Thank God for outr local independent bookstore, which is a community clearinghouse, cultural playground, meeting-place and much more, thanks to Luan's joy in her work.

Great poetry class last night at Writing Salon. They are a very sensitive group of students who surprise me with their brilliance. I brought in poems by Robert Hass, Lucille Clifton and Kevin Young. Talked about the poet as universe-creator, "poesis," world-making, God creating the world with His (sic) word. Last night I dreamed I was searching and crying for God, and woke in the morning with the words to Shazam's song "Holy" running through my head.

I've noticed that when I keepGod first and foremost in my mind during the morning commute, there is magically light traffic. Honestly. It just happens. It was great time teaching the fifth graders at Murwood today. They are smarter than we adults are and that is just a fact. We were talking about oxymorons, and one girl came up with "Dangerous Safety." I asked her permission to steal it for a poem myself.

I'm supposed to go hang-gliding Saturday with my friend David, who has a coupon he has to use up by year's end. (Dad--if you're reading this--don't worry, it's baby hang-gliding, only about three feet off the ground or something. The worst thing I can do is turn an ankle.) See How We Almost Fly indeed!

Meanwhile, have looked up volunteer outfits--my sister is right, they all want you to have applied back in May or something. May! Who was thinking about Christmas back in May? Now I'll resort to writing my friends in Mexico and begging for help.

I've been reading Jelly Roll by Kevin Young, a young African American poet, very much influenced by the blues. I love him! At his best, he's a miracle of concision and music (not all the poems in the book are his best.) I wish it would get warmer. G said he heard some guy talking on Charlie Rose last night about our energy future who predicts we will be running completely on renewable sustainable fuels by 2050. I'll be 92 then. Wonder if I will live to see it.


Anonymous said...

No, "Autobiograhy/Face" is not an "arresting" book in terms of style. If you are looking for something more arresting, maybe you should at least take a look at "Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You." Like I said, it won the AWP Award for best creative non-fiction. Her style is amazing. So beautiful for such a raw subject. She tells it all in the present tense, too, giving us an eerie feeling of immediacy.

Alison said...

Okay, I will check that out. Have you read Fun Home by Alison Bechdel of the cartoon strip Dykes to Watch Out For? The url is (or maybe org.)

It is a graphic memoir (she is a cartoonist) a la Maus by Art Spiegelman. You might have to special order it as I don't thinbk the book is in wide distribution, but it totally knocked me out when I read it--it's very literary, literate, pognant, funny, complex--like a Russian novel...

Antinormative Geek said...

Why do u think Zami is dated?