- Speaking of five new pieces, here are five short stories by Carol Shields to read with brief descriptions of why you should know her work: https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/canada/articles/5-short-stories-by-carol-shields-you-should-read/ I think of the artist embroidering the plaza outside the cathedral on the square in Oaxaca as the blogger describes Shields’s work: “focusing on the everyday interactions and moments of ordinary lives.”
To view the solar eclipse, I headed to Boise, Idaho for a few days before venturing to Weiser, Idaho, and a site at a high school in the path of totality.
Boise was bustling with hordes of other eclipse enthusiasts exploring the area in anticipation of the main event.
At the Saturday morning farmers’ market, there were all sort of buskers, including this talented b-boy performing for applause and a dollar or two.
Speaking of applause, the creative writing students are blogging again this semester and need you support as they share their words and expand their audience. Please follow them, like them, and tell your friends about these diligent and creative writers.
https://ficticiouscivilservants.wordpress.com/ (note the spelling)
And, a former student has started a blog at: https://kakainna.wordpress.com/ (Kakainna! is Tagalog for Eat Now!)
My fantastic former student also recommended the following blogging resources:
http://www.sacramentobloggers.com/ – A local group. I attended a meeting of theirs a week ago, and the info exchanged was quite useful. For example, we discussed the use of images, and the importance of confirming no copyright violations and, if using your own images, the importance of watermarking them (which I hadn’t even considered). Attendees also spoke about affiliate links, which I’d never heard of previously. We also discussed tips on generating more traffic to our blogs, such as group boards on Pinterest and something called “link parties.” This was my first time attending a meeting, and I thought I’d go to this one, at least, to see if I found it useful, which it was. There’s no cost for joining or attending.
https://2017.sacramento.wordcamp.org/ — This was brought up at the Sacramento Bloggers meeting. It’s a series of sessions on using WordPress. It takes place on September 16-17 and costs $40.
http://foodbloggerconference.org/ — The founder and organizer of Sacramento Bloggers is also on the advisory board of the International Food Blogger Conference. She suggested to the non-food bloggers present that they still might want to attend as the content covered would benefit them as well, not just food bloggers.
- Looking for writing inspiration, take a look at: http://awesomewritingprompts.tumblr.com/
- Before celebrating morning in your own piece of writing, read the rest at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/39602/morning-56d21d30775c0
- Langston Hughes’s poem “A Dream Deferred” is an excellent example of similes: https://readalittlepoetry.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/a-dream-deferred-by-langston-hughes/
A Dream Deferred
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Check out the simile generator at: http://writingfix.com/right_brain/Serendipitous_Simile_Prose1.htm
In the Tlacolula market on Sunday, I am determined to find a picture of Saint Antonio. Rumor has it that he is a saint of miracles and can help mere mortals find lost items—like love. Here, in Oaxaca, legend has it that you simply need to turn the image of Saint Anthony (usually holding an angelic looking child) on his head (a cabeza) and pray. http://www.stanthonyfinderoflove.com/About_St_Anthony.html
I see a stand selling religious books and jewelry and ask the woman if she has an image of Saint Anthony. She does not, but she offers me directions to a shop two and a half blocks off the market. It is called Adonay. I do not hesitate to head in that direction. I consider it a small Spanish test. Can I find the shop on this unknown street in this unknown town? Do I even know what two and a half blocks might be? I have a hat for the sun and it is not raining. I am confident I will find the shop.
C, who is with me, is not so confident. He does not understand why I don’t just download a picture of this guy from the internet. Always a provocateur, he also asks the woman if we will find readings on atheism at her shop. Her face says no. Then, she abruptly confirms: No.
It is definitely farther than three Sacramento city blocks, but we arrive at a beautiful shop with giant Jesus and Mary statues and portraits. It is part garden, gift store, and gallery.
The patient shop keeper tries to sell me a practically life-size Saint Antonio. I assure him that my luggage cannot even accommodate the baby Antonio holds in his arms. He laughs and suggests I get larger luggage—for next time.
He helps me find five cards with the Saint. It turns out C wants two.
C asks to use the restroom, and the kind man says certainly—after I have paid for the cards. As he leads C into the house, a small dog with a pink bow emerges from her doghouse and tries to attack C. The parrot above starts to squawk. I literally scream because I had no idea we were so close to wildlife.
The dog is named Greta. She turns out to be sweet. C finds the children in the back room painting images of Jesus. There are three of them; the husband runs the shop. The wife is the woman we met in the market, the lady of the good directions we name her.
Back out in the chaos of the streets, we have to smile at the adventure and how we never cease to be surprised by what we will find.
I often ask folks if they were to open up a store in the capital (Oaxaca) what the store would sell. Usually people are set on food because everyone needs to eat, but C decides this afternoon that it might be good to sell religious materials, like these tourist-sized images of Saint Antonio that we picked up for under a nickel each. Yes, we could mark them up double and it’d still be cheaper than downloading him from the internet. And, we could help people find things—as we found this little shop.
- Try out form. In the creative writing classroom, I encourage students to give themselves their own container. Is it writing something in four-word sentences? Is it using only questions? Is it filling fifteen minutes or four pages? Here is “Saints Day Triolet: Saint Anthony” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/56996. The triolet is a poetic form with only eight lines and two rhymes throughout: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/triolet-poetic-form
I loved several childhood books above the rest: Little Bear, A New Home for Snowball, Mommy’s Little Helper, and the Child’s Garden of Bible Stories. Each of these books was as visually engaging as the narratives within. And, the lessons I learned about helping and kindness and fairness and storytelling shaped my friendships as much as my writing.
So when I first set eyes on Michelangelo’s The David—first the replica in the Palazzo della Signoria and then the original housed in the Galleria dell’Academia (Accademia Gallery) —I recalled the tale of David and Goliath that followed the Garden of Eden and Exodus and the plentiful illustrations to help young readers.
Marveling at David’s towering and pale body, such a stark contrast to, for example, Donatello’s diminutive bronze interpretation, I am perplexed by how much more colossal, how monstrous, how goliath! Michelangelo’s Goliath might be.
In fact, David’s unabashed stance and nudity make me question whether Michelangelo read a different tale than I. According to my Little Garden, David was clothed and about the same age and size as I.
Speaking of Michelangelo, it is February, and I can’t help thinking of TS Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and his repeated lines: “in the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo.”
- See the whole poem here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/44212. It is a dramatic monologue. Consider using this forme to take us along on an uncomfortable visit with strangers, family, doctors, potential lovers.
It is week ten of the semester, and we are on the brink of spring. This is the point in the term where the speed picks up, and what felt like racewalking suddenly turns into a jog to Spring Break and then a frantic sprint to the end.
This weekend I am scanning photos of Christmas as though the length of time is as vast as the distance from here to Dublin. I am grateful for having timed my visit to encounter a castle elaborately decorated for Christmas, for the generous sun shining on the labyrinth and gardens, for the the luxury of history and the venue of a gallery to learn more of Ireland’s bombings and terrorism. I am grateful for the joy and safety I enjoy even at the end of a long winter.
Indeed it has been a long winter full of hard lessons and interesting work. I just have to pause to remember where I am going and where I have been. Speaking of week ten, the creative writing students are blogging.
Daily Bread 400: https://dailybread400.wordpress.com/
Blissful Binge: https://blissfulbinge.wordpress.com/
Passions of 8: https://passionsof8.wordpress.com/
World of Actions & Reactions: https://creativeblogforclass.wordpress.com/
All Things Dreamy: https://allthingsdreamyblog.wordpress.com/
Please follow them, like them, and tell your friends about these diligent and creative writers.
Looking for writing inspiration, take a look at: http://awesomewritingprompts.tumblr.com/