Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Partial Accounting

I've not been keeping up with the recording of my reading that I wish to remember. So here is a very partial accounting of the books read in the period from July to now:

1. Basho and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary edited by Makoto Ueda
-invaluable

2. Walden by Haiku by Ian Marshall
-interesting project of extracting haiku from Thoreau's prose, but finally unconvincing

3.  Two-Timing Modernity: Homosocial Narrative in Modern Japanese Fiction by J. Keith Vincent
-subtle and persuasive study of how the Japanese texts betray both the feudal past and the longed-for modernity. Insightful analysis of Natsume Soseki's Kokoro and its critical reception.

4. Kokoro by Natsume Soseki
- a most subtle tripartite structure: like a haiku?

5. Botchan by Natsume Soseki
-witty, a light work

6. State of War by Ninotchka Rosca
-too much exposition but memorable characters.

7. After You by Cyril Wong
-he does survival in different voices

8. Map: Collected and Last Poems by Wislawa Szymborska
-Why do I not feel the same frisson as before?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Master Harold" ... and the Boys

Watched this Athol Fugard play last night with my XI's at the Signature Theater. A powerful play and a powerful production, directed by the playwright himself. Set in a tea room in the provincial South African town of Port Elizabeth in 1950, the presentation modulated subtly throughout until it closed in a painful act of disavowal. Hard-hitting performances by Leon Addison Brown (Sam), Sahr Ngaujah (Willie), and Noah Robbins (Hally).

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Recurring Motifs

JH's memorial was held last Saturday, November 12, at 150w83. PB managed to get through his speech without breaking down. It was a fine speech, loving, modest, and gently humorous. "Jin loved me but he also loved Anderson Cooper and Brazilian ballet dancer Thiago Soares." JH's mom spoke of JH's hospitalization in Fukuoka and PB's care for him in his last days. She too was puzzled by JH's sudden death and speculated that it was due to radiation as JH volunteered at the Fukushima prefecture in the last two or three years he visited Japan. In his speech JH's brother asked himself why JH moved to NYC, and thought it was because the city gave JH the freedom to be himself, freedom he could not find in Japan. He ended by asking us to keep NYC free, to which call many in the audience stood up and applauded. I could not help relating this to the election of Trump. The moment made a deep impression on me. I am committed to New York City and do not intend to leave in the next four years of what looks like a most harrowing term for minorities in America.

*

Glad that I went for Ho Tzu Nyen's talk at the Asian Art Archive in America. Met him having a smoke outside the brownstone that housed the American satellite of the large Hong Kong arts institute. I liked him. No airs. Just himself. He said he was returning to Singapore after two years or so in Berlin. He seemed ambivalent about the decision. Y was at the talk too. HTN talked about four works: Utama: Every Name in History Is I (2003), Earth (2009), The Cloud of Unknowing (2011), and Ten Thousand Tigers (2014). All the works attended to recurring motifs in art history, mythology, ritual. I asked him how he decided on the sequence of focus in the large-scale works. He said that he aimed for maximum resonance between two consecutive segments. Y was probably right when she said afterwards that he had a poetics. Instead of a logic, I added. Or a grammar, I thought when I left.

*

Haiku written yesterday morning:

Cold November sun
breadcrumbs all over
my black jacket

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Dinner

Watched last night the terrific move The Dinner (2014), based on a novel by Herman Koch. Directed by Ivano de Matteo, the movie demonstrated, almost inexorably, the fragile foundations of our morality. Great acting from an all-star Italian cast: Alessandro Gassman, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Luigi Lo Cascio, and Barbora Bobulova.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Sunday, November 06, 2016

"Attribution" in Vietnamese

So pleased that my poem "Attribution" from STEEP TEA has been translated into Vietnamese and published by AJAR Press in ABRACADABRA, the publication of A-festival in Hanoi in August 2016. Thank you, Nha Thuyen, and congratulations on the successful inaugural festival!



Immortality and Revolution

TLS Aug 19 and 16 2016

from Hal Jensen's review of H. J. Jackson's Those Who Write for Immortality:

At the end of his third collection of Odes, right at the "back" of the bookroll, Horace placed a poem which, for 2,500 years, has remained the locus classicus of poetry's unique powers: "exegi monumentum aere perennius" (I have completed a monument more lasting than bronze - although every word requires a scholar's note). More durable than bronze, higher than the pyramids, immune to time and the elements. Horace's poetry guarantees that he will not wholly die ("non omnis moriar").

How quick we all were to buy into that one. How quick to forget what we found at the back of Horace's next bookroll, the Epistles, which appeared in 20 BC, just three years after the Odes. Here, the concluding poem is addressed to the very book (liber) in our hands. It warns of the realities of public life: once out in the world, there is no coming back; you'll be dumped on a shelf when the next big thing comes along; your pristine (pumiced) look will be soiled by grubby fingers; if the moths don't get you, you'll end up in some poky outpost being used to teach kids their elementary lessons.

*

Her main finding is that merit is far from being the primary determinant of long-term literary fame; it is just one among many contributing factors. What counts, above all, is the ability to attract multiple varying audiences. Jackson divides this feature into celebrity, popularity, critical appeal and influence: get all four, like Wordsworth, and hit the jackpot.

***

from Maria Golia's review of Rachel Aspden's Generation Revolution: On the front line between tradition and change in the Middle East:

People are willing to relinquish freedoms and uphold paternalist tradition not least because doing so has, for generations, enabled their survival and cultural continuity, where culture itself is the vehicle for reiterating and reinforcing tradition. The degree to which their leaders' actions to ensure stability and security have lately only generated greater fear, injustice and violence, here as elsewhere, remain unacknowledged. Only by holding these mechanisms to the light with close questioning can society begin to break with them.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

ALSCW Conference at Catholic University of America

Thursday evening, Oct 27, it was lovely to hear George Kalogeris read his poetry again.

Friday, Oct 28, bright and early at 8 am a thought-provoking seminar "Poetry and Translation": Marco Antolin's "Overcoming the Abysm of Creative Stagnation: Philip Levine on Translating Antonio Machado, Garcis Lorca, and Cesar Vallejo"; Mary Maxwell's "Correspondences: Baudelaire's Fleurs du mal and the Translation Tasks of Richard Howard and Walter Benjamin"; Diana Senechal's "Translating an Understanding of Poetry Itself: Tomas Venclova's 'Pestel Street'"; Nicholas Pesques' "Translating: Acting".

Followed by an exciting plenary panel "Literature in Painting, Painting in Literature": Deborah Epstein Nord's "George Eliot and John Everett Millais: The Ethics of Ugliness"; Rebecca Ranof's "The Occluded Portraits of Dickens and Van Goh"; Ruth Bernard Yeazell's "Henry James's Portrait-Envy"

In the afternoon, a seminar on "Irish Poetry Since 1950": Richard Russell's "'An Enormous Yes': Philip Larkin and Michael Longley"; George Lensing's "'The Ghost' of Yeats in Seamus Heaney's 'Casualty'"; Meg Tyler's "The Unseen 'Shine': from Image to Word in Heaney's Later Work".

On Saturday, Oct 29, the early morning panel was exciting. "Representing Contemporary American Fiction": Lee Konstantinou's "The Age of High Mass Culture"; Michael W. Clune's "The Source"; Amy Hungerford's "Make Literature Now"; Aida Levy-Hussen's "Theorizing the Contemporary in Black Literary Studies"; Christopher Coffman's "Global Literature and Anglophone Fiction after Postmodernism"

In the afternoon, the plenary panel IV "American Literature Across the Borders": Edward Larkin's "The Temporal Geography of Early American Empire"; Travis Snyder's "Helena Viramontes and the Borderlands Logic of Capitalism"; Sara Faradji's "Cosmopression: A Closed Mind in an Open City".