Friday, July 20, 2012

Blogging for Best American Poetry

I'll be blogging for Best American Poetry while I'm in France for the next few weeks, so catch me there:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bilbao in my dreams

Yesterday was a day of meeting Bilaoans, including several poets! In the photo below, I've just finished a terrific lunch with my Bilbao Greeter, Marivi Puente (great that her last name means "bridge"). The man with the beard and sungasses is the poet Javier Arnaiz; the middle two are the restaurant owners, and Marivi is on the far left. Later in the day I met another poet named Santiago Liveral and we exchanged books.


What an amazing idea/experience this Bilbao Greeters is. I found it by chance on the internet.


But I must get this word down: Tzakoli, which sounds like "chokoli." that's the white wine I'm drinking in the cafe Iruna down the block from my hotel, a place with photos of Hemingway on the walls.


The main thing I want to say is why I'm an hispanophile and an italophile (and it remains to be seen if I'll become a francophile): relationships with other people count more than anything. Bilbao has an ongoing cafe/bar life that is as true for twenty-somethings as it is for eighty-somethings.


What has happened to NYC? Where I'm lucky if I see a friend every 3 months. And I hear my experience is not dissimilar from many others.


It's difficult to post from a place where I'm too busy living, though it was interesting to see how quickly the conversation turned to money and the fact that no one in Spain buys poetry books. Sound familiar?


But there is a group called Noches Poeticas that puts on performance evenings in various spaces, including bars: an evening that intermingles poetry with music and theater. As supposedly, everyone is rapt during the poetry recitations. Perhaps Bob Holman's Bowery Poetry Club comes the closest to achieving that idea. They've finished their programs for the summer, but I'd love to return some day to jam with the locals.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Declarations for the 4th & 5th of July

"That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural rights . . . among which are the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety."
You probably think that Thomas Jefferson wrote these words, but actually, they were written by a neighbor of George Washington, George Mason, and then revised by Jefferson for the Declaration of Independence. I'm reading a terrific biography of Washington by Ron Chernow. Food for thought: At what point is it acceptable for someone to be considered the author of the words that s/he's edited? Talk about issues of intellectual property right at the get-go of this country's founding.

When I was a girl growing up in Brooklyn, July 5th was always a very busy, exciting day. I would get up early and comb through the detritus of the streets (this at a time when everyone had their own stash of firecrackers that they'd set off) for firecracker wrappers. For several years I collected these wrappers and organized them into pages in a scrapbook. I've photographed two of them. The one with the Apollo spaceship on it is from 1970. I loved the bright colors, the stylized artistry. Most of the fireworks (and I have to assume that the artwork as well) were made in Macau. I'd love to hear from anyone else who has such a peculiar collection. Of course, I have to wonder, What kind of a patriotic display is it if the fireworks are all made in China?