Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cameron Conaway interviews me

After reading my poem "Study #5: After Frida Kahlo" on the Bench Press website, Cameron Conaway interviewed me for the National Examiner. We spoke about Singapore, Bench Press, writing in poetic forms, and my latest book.

Conaway was the 2007-2009 Poet-in-Residence at the University of Arizona's MFA Creative Writing Program. A mixed martial artist, he is the author of "Caged: Memoir of a Cage-Fighting Poet," (forthcoming Fall 2011 from Tuttle Publishing). He currently resides in Bangkok.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

3rd Annual Rainbow Book Fair

The Fair, which moved back to the LGBT Center in NYC this year, was well attended. My table, shared with Roxanne (Poets Wear Prada Press), was in a side room because I arrived too late to get a table in the main hall. Still, I managed to sell five copies each of Seven Studies for a Self Portrait and Equal to the Earth. It was a good idea to give a discounted Fair price, and to discount further the purchase of two books. Two copies of Eric Norris's fiction Terence were also sold.

I read for the Poets' Salon, curated by Nathaniel Siegel and Regie Cabico, and for Rachel Kramer Bussel. The first was better attended (at least during my time slot), but the second had a better room where you could actually read without a mike and be heard. WL and Eric came to hear me read. GH came just after my reading and so missed it. I was happy, however, with all their show of support. 

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After the Fair, I attended the opening reception of Valerie Mendelson's group show at Westbeth. Themed "grid/off grid," most of the paintings were figurative city scenes though a few depicted borderlands such as mill ponds or deployed an abstract style. VM's work stood out for its engagement with natural landscapes. I particularly liked "Lilacs." The leaves and flowers cover almost the entire painting as they do the wall behind them. For all their naturalism, their composition has the force of abstraction.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bill Bell's essay "Selkirk's silence"

In his TLS March 18 2011 Commentary piece, Bill Bell explains the vast institutional apparatus established by the early nineteenth century--supported by religious interests, government agencies and philanthropic organizations--whose sole purpose was to instruct and enlighten the British colonial reader. He disagrees, however, with postcolonial critics like Elleke Boehmer who argues that the British Empire was "essentially a homogeneous textual exercise" [Bell's words]. Instead, he points to the subtle but significance resistance put up by individual colonial readers writing in their journals or putting together their libraries.

He quotes Nicholas Jose writing on the presence of highbrow literary texts in the Australian bush library at Borroloola in the late nineteenth century:

The library encapsulates both a time and a place. It demonstrates the ties that bound the British Empire and the English-speaking world together. . . . I thought of the books as physical objects, and the journey of those productions of ink, paper, stitching and glue across the seas to a fate of tropical humidity and desiccating sun and vermiculation, where they surely appeared both familiar and strange, as message sticks to be deciphered, deconstructed, digested and dissolved.

The key here is "both familiar and strange." To focus solely on the familiarity of these texts is to forget the dislocation experienced by colonial reader. To emphasize on the texts' strangeness merely is to ignore "the ties that bound." The experience is, instead, both familiar and strange. Bill Bell's description of the abandonment and rescue of Alexander Selkirk, the man on whom Defoe based Crusoe, also gives me an idea for re-writing my poem "Friday Speaks," a response to Elizabeth Bishop's "Crusoe in England." Here is Bell's description:

When a British privateer put in at Juan Fernandez Island in September 1704, neither the captain nor the young crewman whom he was soon to maroon there could have anticipated the far-reaching implications of his action. Following a dispute between the two men, Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor and fugitive from the law, was abandoned against his protestations on the edge of the known world where he would languish in isolation for the next four years.

Contrary to later fictionalized accounts, there is evidence to suggest that before long Selkirk's sojourn on the island degenerated into squalor. So complete was his degradation, observes one recent commentator, that Selkirk was soon copulating with the island's wild goats and defecating where he stood. Four years of brutalization would take its toll in other ways: the captain who found him in January of 1709 reported that Selkirk had lost the power of speech, traumatized into silence. Having "so much forgot his Language for want of Use", wrote Woodes Rogers, "we could scarce understand him, for he seem'd to speak his words by halves". Speechless, unshaven and unwashed, Selkirk's appearance so confused the sailors who found him that they mistook him for a rare hybrid species, and most probably a cannibal.

The brutalized Selkirk, nearly reduced to an animal. is missing from Defoe's tale, and therefore from subsequent uses of Defoe, such as Bishop's poem. My idea is to put him back into the story, the unspeakable reality behind the articulate fictions of Crusoe and Friday.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Was Friedrich Nietzsche 'the first psychologist'?

The header comes from a Commentary piece in the TLS (March 4, 2011) by Brian Leiter. Leiter tries to show how prescient Nietzsche was in anticipating recent results of empirical psychology. I am intrigued by the connections, but also at the same time uneasy. Not only are these experimental results debated in the scientific community, as Leiter admits, but they do not seem to me to escape Nietzsche's own perspectivist critique. Are they another case of finding what you are looking for? Here is Leiter on the psychology studies:


[Of moral philosophy] Nietzsche's general view is that moral judgements, not only those of the philosophers, are "just sign language of the affects", a view recognizable to any student of contemporary psychology as winning support from, for example, Jonathan Haidt's work on moral judgement, such as his well-known paper "Ther Emotional Dog and Its Rational Tail" (2001).

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[Of the unconscious] The Nietzsche who laments, in The Gay Science, the "ridiculous overestimation and misunderstanding of consciousness"--when, in fact, "the greatest part of our spirit's activity remains unconscious and unfelt"--might be thought, by a contemporary reader, to have offered here an apt precis of Timothy Wilson's influential book Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the adaptive unconscious (2002).

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[Of free will] If the experience of willing does not, according to Nietzsche, illuminate how actions are brought about, what, then, really explains our actions? The "Four Great Errors" section of Twilight of the Idols suggests an answer, one which wins powerful support from recent work by the psychologist Daniel Wegner in his widely discussed book The Illusion of Conscious Will (2002).

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[Of the inheritability of character traits] But, says Nietzsche,

a well-turned out human being . . .  must perform certain actions and shrinks instinctively from other actions; he carries the order, which he represents physiologically, into his relations with other human beings and things.

. . . As it happens, something like Nietzsche's view seems, once again, to win support from recent empirical research. Two kinds of evidence are pertinent here. On the one hand, there is the famous work by Jerome Kagan on the biological foundations of temperament, suggested by the clear patterns of emotional and behavioral response apparent in very young children, patterns that often persist into maturity. A second kind of evidence, as Joshua Knobe and I have argued elsewhere, comes from studies in behavioural genetics involving twins . . . and adopted children, which show that every personality trait studied to date is heritable to a surprising degree. For example, a review by the psyschologist John Loehlin in 1992 of five studies in five different countries (comprising a total sample size of 24,000 twins) estimates that genetic factors explain 60 per cent of the variance in extroversion and 50 per cent of the variance in neuroticism--magnitudes that are quite remarkable and that make clear that personality traits are highly heritable.

. . . A variety of studies have found heritability of this trait [aggression] in the range of 49 to 70 per cent . . . . Magnitudes of this size, across many different empirical studies, cannot plausibly be dismissed as experimental artefacts or the products of error. More importantly, they lend support to the view that Nietzsche strongly endorsed: "It is simply not possible that a human being should not have the qualities and preferences of his parents and ancestors in his body whatever appearances may suggest to the contrary" (Beyond Good and Evil). . . . "Wherever a cardinal problem is at stake, there speaks an unchangeable 'this is I'".

I lack the expertise, and desire, to read and evaluate the studies cited, for their experimental design and data analysis. My talks with WL have impressed on me the trickiness of deriving truth claims from data sets. Psychologists, unlike, say, economists, do not seem to rank high in the regard of hard statisticians. More truthful to me, by some non-empirical measure, is Leiter's understanding of Nietzsche's purpose in speculating about human psychology:

Any reader of Nietzsche knows that he is not primarily concerned to report the findings of psychological "research" or to establish, through conventional methods of argymentation and mustering of evidence, the truth of particular empirical hypotheses. His work is suffused with psychological and empirical claims, but his aims are always much more polemical: to transform the consciousness of at least some readers about the morality they take for granted, and thus, at the same time, to change their affective orientation towards their lives.

The last statement is most puzzling. For, if free will is an illusion and personality traits are largely inherited, how could any reader, even when challenged by the most brilliant polemic, change his affective orientation towards his life? How could the unchangeable 'this is I' change? If this is at all possible, it must be by changing the physiological make-up of the reader. Polemic cannot do that, since it appeals to the mind. Perhaps literature can. Emily Dickinson's test for poetry.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mark Singleton's "Yoga Body"

TLS March 4 2011

from Wendy Doniger's review of Mark Singleton's YOGA BODY: The origins of modern posture practice:

The word "yoga" occurs in this text [The Rig Veda], but only in the primary sense of "yoking" horses to chariots or draft animals to ploughs or wagons (the Sanskrit and English words are cognate, as is the English "junction"); and then, secondarily, designating the effort of "yoking" oneself to do physical labor.

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Many contemporary yoga practitioners cite this text [Patanjali's Yoga-Sutra] as the basis of their praxis. But Patanjali says nothing about the "postures" other than remarking that the adept should sit in a manner that is relaxed and conducive to meditation and breath control. On the contrary, he speaks of cultivating "aversion to one's own body".

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One yogic text composed some time between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries, the Hatha-yoga-pradipika ("Illumination of the Yoga of Force"), describes fifteen yogic postures. It also describes the Tantric technique of raising the coiled serpent power (the Kundalini) up the spine, through the series of chakras (centres of force), to the brain, and a related technique whereby the adept draws fluids (such as the secretions of his female partner in the Tantric sexual ritual) up through his penis (the vajroli process).

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Bodybuilding became a religion that resacralized the body, and the British proselytized for this muscular Christianity just as the missionaries did for their evangelical Christianity. In Indian schools, the gymnastics instructor was usually a brutal and ignorant retired non-commissioned British officer, more often a sepoy, an Indian who served in the British Army. In an ironic twist, Indian nationalists were able to use this colonial technique, designed to build soldiers to master the inferior races in the Empire, to train their own people to combat and resist the Europeans. Even when they took poses from Hatha Yoga, they renamed them, and interpreted them in the language of modern gymnastics.

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There is an ancient Indian yoga, but it is not the source of most of what people do in yoga classes today. That same history, however, also demonstrates that there are more historical bases for contemporary postural yoga than Singleton allows. The Europeans did not invent it wholesale. But they changed it enormously. They changed it from an embarrassment to an occasion for cultural pride, and from a tradition that encouraged the cultivation of "aversion to one's own body" to another, also rooted in ancient India, that aimed at the perfection of the body. The modern Indian and American yogis didn't take their methods from European physical culture; they took them back from physical culture. What Mark Singleton does prove ... is that yoga is a rich, multi-cultural, constantly changing inter-disciplinary construction, far from the pure line that its adherents often claim for it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

John Updike's "Rabbit Is Rich"

What's extraordinary about Updike's art is how ordinary his materials are. No sensational subjects like pederasty, pandemic or terrorist plot, although Rabbit Is Rich teases with the possibility of incest. There is couple swapping, on a vacation at the Bahamas, its treatment is, however, neither moralistic nor voyeuristic, but sympathetic about human desires and fears. No epiphanic event: Pru, Harry Angstrom's daughter-in-law, falls from the stairs, but keeps her baby. She does not change, and neither does her feckless husband, Nelson.

Instead of sensation or epiphany, Updike offers in this third installment of his Rabbit tetralogy, the lived experience of a Toyota salesman in 1979, who has become rich because of his wife, who is struggling against the decay of age, who feels constantly threatened by a sullen son, and who reads Consumer Reports with a seriousness devoted to the Bible in an earlier age.

The last trait is a clue to the extraordinary nature of ordinary Harry. Despite his moral failings, his perceptual denseness, his linguistic crudities, he is immensely attractive, to readers and women, because of his great hope for life. This hope, so Protestant in spirit, is satirized in the zestful comical scenes of Harry's speculations in gold and silver. It is also castigated in the plot involving Ruth, a past lover, and her daughter, both of whom Harry abandoned. The meeting between Ruth and Harry is one of the most poignant scenes in my reading. 

Against death, necessity and boredom, however, this hope lifts Harry to some greater place. Sullied, doubtful, compromised, this may be the only kind of transcendence possible in our postmodern age, but its smallness only makes it more to be cherished. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Two Fir Trees

Turning 41 today, in GH's childhood home, in Miami Township, about half an hour outside of downtown Cincinnati. GH's parents have been most lovely in welcoming me to their home. His mum, E, is making me a blackberry pie for my birthday. His father's energy is undissipated. He is carving a large wooden medallion for the new community center; at the center of the medallion is the face of the president William Henry Harrison, who died in his 32nd day in office, due to complications of pneumonia, the first president to die in tenure. N, GH's father, is also working on a new table, to be made of cherry wood. His energy, barely contained, sometimes comes forth in a burst of song or nonsense plosives, or in a tattoo of drumming fingers on the table. 

We will go to GH's church this morning, have lunch with his friend K, and then have dinner with his friends L and S. He has been busy sorting out his things, in order to decide what to drive back to NY, and what not. His parents must be sad to see this final proof that their youngest is moving permanently out of the nest.

The woods behind the house, where GH spent many happy days, are gone, replaced by houses, sheds and pet chickens, those pesky reminders of vanished family farms. Two huge fir trees stand at the boundary of the family's land. E told me that she brought them home from the Rockies when they were mere saplings. She stuffed them in old bread, and then forgot about them. Months later, when she found them, she gave two to the oldest daughter, and planted two, and now these conical firs are the tallest things from the view of the dining room. Plant them deep, she said, and give them lots of water, and that's it. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Thursday Special

I will be celebrating my 41st birthday in Cincinnati. Who would have thought? Flying out there today, with  GH, to meet his family and friends. GH will meet his clients too, and drive back furniture he stored with his parents. This will only be my second trip to the American Midwest, after the writing residency at Nebraska City. Cincinnati is just north of Ohio River and Kentucky. GH told me that there is a high place where you can see Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois all at once.

Last night, he took me out for dinner at a French restaurant in the neighborhood. I chose Bistro Citron after hearing about it from a colleague. It was a bright, cheery place. My crispy duck on wild rice, with orange sauce, the Thursday special, was delicious. Before dinner, GH had surprised me by giving me a good-looking black travel-bag, a toiletries bag and underwear. He looked for days for the perfect bag, with the right look, color and price. He likes to give practical gifts.

Yesterday afternoon, I ran across Central Park to get to my gym. It felt good to be running outdoors, along the blue reservoir, past other runners and strollers, some in St. Patrick's green. Who would have thought that I would have Central Park for a jogging track? Let me relish this life while it visits me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Delicate Composition

PN Review has just published my Pillow Book in Issue 198. Reading it on the train, while lugging home my birthday present from my sister, a George Foreman Stainless Steel Open Grill, I was hit by a sharp nostalgia for Singapore, which is my past. Here parade its people: my parents, of course; Lawrence, my scout patrol leader, and a girl guide called Samantha; Elsa who sang beautifully; Yisheng who wrote The Last Boy; the army warrant office who still cannot be named; Thomas, the willing enlistee; my first students; the critic Gwee Li Sui; Margaret. Its places also return to the mind's eye: Radin Mas Primary School; Raffles Institution, Mount Faber; my old bedroom; the Botanic Gardens; the columbarium; the weddings in Chinese restaurants; the interview room of the Public Service Commission; the passport office.

The piece was suggested by Michael Schmidt, who asked me a few years ago to write a prose work about my poetry for the journal. I tried but could not write the required prose. Then I learned about the zuihitsu from Kimiko Hahn in a workshop, and about The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon. The form of the miscellany and the voice of the lady-in-waiting were irresistible. Prose poetry, not the dense, elliptical compression of Rimbaud, but rather, clear-toned playfulness. I feel very thankful now to Michael for asking me to write it, for it has brought important people and places from my past into a delicate composition.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Catherine Breillat's "Anatomy of Hell" (2004)

No point looking to this film for narrative or character, because you won't find either. Directed by French provocateur Catherine Breillat, "Anatomy of Hell" is about the power of images to elicit strong emotions like loathing and aggression. A woman pays a gay man to "watch her where she is unwatchable." Inside her house, which quickly becomes a metaphor for the female body, the woman (Amira Casar) strips naked and lies down in bed like a Renaissance nude but in a room lit like an operating theater.

The man (porn star Rocco Siffredi) began as a voluble and complacent observer but very quickly became a silent and helpless participant in the woman's search for her sexual identity. He hates the weakness of female flesh, because it reminds him of his own mortality, and so he punishes it by sticking his dick into her anus and, on another night, by sticking the handle of a rake into her vagina. He is both fascinated and repelled by vagina fluid, rolling it on his finger and tasting it.

On the third night, the woman removes a bloody tampon from herself, and dips it into a glass of water as if making tea. Both drink from it, in a symbolic union that foreshadows the physical one on the next night. After he had vaginal intercourse with her, he removed from her his bloody dick. Earlier the woman had described menstrual blood as blood without a wound. In this climactic scene, the dick is injured without being injured, a visual paradox that reinforces the power of images, and the woman's contention that sex is not about bodies, but meanings.

In an interview, Breillat claimed that while making the film she saw herself more as the man than as the woman. The parallel between observer and director is obvious. What is interesting is the assumption of the male gaze by a woman. Does she then see as a woman, or as a man, or in some intriguing double-focus that defies easy categorizations?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Remarkably Simple and Highly Complex

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted the New York Philharmonic in a program titled "Hungarian Echoes." I heard it, with LW, on Thursday.

Hadyn's Symphony No. 6 in D major, Le Matin (1761) was composed as the first part of three "Times of the Day" symphonies, the other two being No. 7, Le Midi (The Noon) and No. 8 Le Soir (The Evening). Having been newly appointed Vice-Kapellmeister to Prince Paul Anton Esterházy, and having just revamped the musical staff, Hayden was keen to show off his brilliance at composition to his new employer, and to consolidate his relationship with his musicians by writing for them virtuosic, concerto-like passages. I especially like the third movement, which changes from a Menuet to a Trio midway, launched by the unusual combination of bassoon and double bass, and featuring a rare role for the viola.

The second work was György Ligeti's Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1985-86/88). Pianist Marino Formenti replaced Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who withdrew due to illness. Besides the piano, there were a flute (doubling piccolo), oboe, clarinet (doubling alto ocarina), bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, triangle, crotales, suspended cymbals, small and medium tambourines, snare drum, roto-toms, tom-toms, bass drum, wood-blocks, temple-blocks, guiro, castanets, slapstick, mouth siren, police whistle, slide whistle, flexatone, Chromonica, orchestra bells, xylophone, and strings. The percussionist was very busy throughout the performance.

The description of the work is from the program notes:
The Concerto's first movement is rich in polyrhythms that are laid out in superimposed meters. The second movement, though slow, is not solemn: here, low instruments sometimes play unusually high, and high instruments low, and the sounds of an ocarina and a slide whistle obviate the possibility of unbroken gravity. The third movement is a scherzo, and the fourth--the first of the work's expansion--is exceptionally complex, "its formal process," Ligeti explained: 
is fractal in time: reiterating the same formula, the same succession always in different shapes, using simultaneous augmentation and diminution of the same models . . . focusing on smaller and smaller details.
The movement builds up to quite an uproar, after which the concluding Presto luminoso seems more a coda than an emphatic sort of finale.

The piano is played as a percussive instrument, a strategy that becomes structural when it is paired with the xylophone to end the last movement. I also love how the polyrhythms create a spatial sense of the piece, with certain rhythms undergirding others like a floor, or floating above them like a ceiling.

In his preface to a book by Simha Arom on the music of the Central African Republic, Ligeti wrote appealingly of
the proximity I feel exists between (Central African polyphonic music) and my own way of thinking with regards to composition: that is, the creation of structures which are both remarkably simple and highly complex (italics mine).

He continued:
the patterns performed by the individual musicians are quite different from those which result from their combination. In fact, the ensemble's super-pattern is in itself not played and exists only as an illusory outline. ... What we can witness in this music is a wonderful combination of order and disorder which in turn merges together, producing a sense of order at a higher level.

Ligeti's concern for order and disorder resonates with me, as does his optimistic hope for "a sense of order at a higher level." The insight here is that the "super-pattern" itself is not played, but exists only as "an illusory outline." I heard this outline, in a much simpler form, in the drumming of two street musicians in the subway, a man and a woman, the woman looking slightly older than the man, but who are conceivably lovers. There is music here that I have to reproduce in my next book.

After intermission, we heard Belá Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra (1943). The program notes that in a "concerto for orchestra," individual players or sections of the orchestra are given their sequential moments in the spotlight; Hindemith wrote what seemed to be the first example in 1925. The players played the Bartók well, but the music did not appeal as much to me as either the Hayden or the Ligeti.

Monday, March 07, 2011

"Three Sisters" by Classic Stage Company

Caught my first Chekhov play last weekend, "Three Sisters," by Classic Stage Company, directed by Austin Pendleton, using a translation by Paul Schmidt. A military family, left stranded in a small town when the patriarch died, longs to return to Moscow, to civilization, culture and society. Their dream is shown up by the course of the play to be futile, as each of the three sisters (and their brother) makes her accommodations with a diminished life.

The eldest sister Ólga Prózorov (Jessica Hecht) accepts a promotion to be headmistress of the local school. The second, Másha (Maggie Gyllenhaal), opens her heart to the married battery commander, Vershínin (a wonderful Peter Sarsgaard) only to be crushed when he has to leave with his troops for a foreign posting; herself married, she has to live on with the pedantic schoolteacher of a husband who she knows can never understand her. The youngest, Irína (radiant Juliet Rylance), whose birthday celebration opens the play, plumps on a homely-looking suitor (Baron Túzenbach, played by Ebon Moss-Bachrach) as her ticket out of the town, but he dies in a foolish duel. The brother, Andréy (Josh Hamilton, looking very dashing, despite his made-up paunch), brought up for great accomplishment, as were all his sisters, marries a local shrew Natásha (Marin Ireland) and sinks into gambling debts.

The first two acts moved at a pace both leisurely and revealing. The moment Irína broke down in Act Two was most moving. The second act was almost nightmarish, as everyone collapsed from exhaustion or nerves, after helping to put out the fire in a neighbor's house. The third act, however, dragged. It was a long play, three hours long, and the ending, which should feel inevitable, felt instead unsurprising.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Best Canadian Poets 2010

Tonight I heard the Best Canadian poets (from the annual anthology, now in its third installment) read at St. John the Divine Cathedral. I had forgotten that the cathedral, in this case, one of its chapels, which made no difference, echoes too much to hear a reader well. Molly Peacock, the current poet-in-residence at St John, a dual citizen of both the USA and Canada and the Best series editor, introduced the poets.

In her remarks, she proposed a tentative distinction between American and Canadian poetry. The former cannot assume that its audience will stay to hear it, and so has to grab their attention from the get-go, whereas the latter assumes in a friendly fashion that the audience will go along with it for a walk. Then she read a poem from the anthology to illustrate her point. The poem, about an interview that Billy Collins gave in Canada, made gentle fun of the ex-American poet laureate's prescriptions for writing poems. It was certainly a friendly, likable poem, which resembles too much the kind of poetry that Billy Collins writes.

If there is a difference between American and Canadian poetry, tonight's reading shows that it is this: Canadian poetry has to take American poetry into account whereas the reverse does not hold true. Lorna Crozier, the guest editor of this year's Best, acknowledged this cultural reality. The USA is like an elephant, she says in my paraphrase, when the elephant rolls over, the whole room, i.e. Canada, feels it. This is as true for poetry as it is for politics, she added.

Each poet read her one poem in the anthology, but not before reading the explanatory note that accompanies her poem, and so there was as much prose tonight as poetry. One note sticks to my mind: that we use plant metaphors to describe language (as when we look up, or down, root-words), the body (as in dendrites and stem cells) and structures (like bank branches). The one poem that walked home with me was about cherry trees, by a poet who is studying the philosophy of beauty.

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Last Sunday, after moving our things to the new apartment, we joined SB for a concert by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The Beethoven and Brahms program, at Alice Tully Hall, was performed by pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Ani Kavafian and cellist Carter Brey.

Before intermission, Beethoven's Sonata in G major for Violin and Piano, Op. 30, No. 3 (1802), played with great attack, and Brahms's Sonata No. 2 in F major for Cello and Piano, Op. 99 (1886). After intermission, Beethoven's Variations in G major for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 121 a, "Kakadu," and Brahms's Trio No. 2 in C major for Piano, Violin and Cello, Op. 87 (1880 and 1882).

GH liked the Beethoven sonata and the Brahms trio. I did not care very much for either Brahms pieces, but liked the Beethoven sonata.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

First Night in New Home

We opened a bottle of champagne, had some cheese sticks, talked. Went out for dinner at Botticelli, a quiet local find. Then came home, unpacked some, and slept very soundly. My first post in my new home. The living room window looks into the back of the low apartment buildings on the next block. The back windows, lit up in warm yellows, look more beautiful than those on the front.