Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Space between Holidays . . .

Photo: Anna Iuppa, Key West, Fl
Last night, our first snowstorm. A fine snow still sifting down from the lake sky.  Everything is still and quiet. A good day to make a potful of soup and write.  I've been stirring some ideas. Will see what happens over the course of the day.  Often, I work, then break for a bit, then resume.  Because of weather confinement, I can putter around without any pressure.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Light A Candle for Change

The storm, that we were primed for, didn't materialize as they predicted.  Not a foot of snow, but a trace, with high winds that lasted two days.  The howling in the night sounded like a train rolling in . . .

My last two children are another year older.  They had wonderful birthdays, December 18th and 21st , celebrating in style with their friends. Both sounded so happy, especially since the end of the world was cancelled.

Every day since the end of semester, I have been dedicating myself to getting it together, bit by bit. 

Since the news of Sandy Hook, we have written  letters and signed petitions.  Do not for a minute believe that it's only gun control.  We need both gun control and strong mental health support services.  I was so frightened by the commentary regarding  Asperger's, which  I know will be translated in  the wide-sweeping generalization made by uninformed Americans  who will assume that what they hear on Fox news is absolute truth and they will carry forth the spinning narrative that people with Asperger's are potential "shooters."
Please stop.  This is NOT  the case.  We need to be sure all of our citizens are protected, young and old.  We need to have strong mental health support services. Far too many people slip through the cracks.  We need to think about our culture and its portrait of violence that is constantly in our entertainment.  What is that all about?  What would happen if we had a year without violence?
What if people decided to give violence up, the video games, the movies and TV shows-- anything that has a gun and substitutes with some outdoor activities, or art experiences, or family reading nights, or community activitiesI wonder what would happen?  This does exist in our schools, libraries, town halls, but what if it was a commitment made first by families, who would be supported by the existing programs and expand from there.  It certainly would make us more person to person.  We would get to know each other. . . . it could be a grassroots movement. We need to start taking this seriously.  We have to push for this.  They don't have this problem in Europe. It's true we're a young country, but we can be informed by Europe's long, brutal history.  We can see the shortcut, without having to learn the lesson the hard way. 

I'm lighting a candle for change.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Heading for the Hills . . .

On my commute home, which took forever because of car accidents everywhere, I snaked my way through the city, heading north to head west. I was afraid that I was going to run out of gas when I was at a standstill on the expressway for 20 minutes. Reason why I scooted around the stopped cars and exited into the center of the city. City driving  is difficult in that deep dark of 5 p.m.  I  had my eyes out for pedestrians and gas stations.  Saw more pedestrians-- all wearing dark clothes.  It took forever to get home last night.  But one of the pluses was listening to NPR and they had a story on about "Narrative Branding," which is a style of branding that creates a lifestyle from selected products. They gave the example of anthropology branding, which is feminine per narrator and a desire for old, vintage designs and colors, from pottery to furniture to dress.  Started thinking about this and thought I would give you a description of "Pastoral Branding for Writers":

1. Must desire to be alone most of the time, with exception of animals, both domestic and wild. Must be willing to have a bit of cat hair on everything you own, including the cat sleeping on your freshly printed pages that sit in a carton  that looks so cozy.  What?  not paper-lined for me?

2. Must hope that the people who occupy this space with you are of like mind. Does anyone really know paradise? Maybe you do.  You've been playing the song , "You Can Close Your Eyes" over and over.
I think it's the lines, "It won't be long before another day/ we gonna have a good time/ And no one's gonna take that time away/ You can stay as long as you like." Something we said to each other long ago and we're still here.

3. Must understand the purity of dirt.  Willing to get you hands in it.  Willing to respect the nature of hard work.The mediation that writes itself in the repetitive chores.  The quiet that becomes a voice that is clear and certain.  This is an art in itself.  How to master this.

Over the years, other writers have said to me, so you're really doing it, living out there.   I guess so.  I'm living out here.  Out here where I can get away from the press of the distractions found elsewhere.

Soon, I will have time to settle back here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Robert Downey Jr.-RIVER

The Present

The Present

Radiance on bare limbs,
dawn’s underbelly rises fiery salmon–
Smudge of periwinkle and charcoal
streaks this sky without winter.

of silver-tipped wings, buoyant shadows,
against the wafer-thin moon.
Cold rain.                   

Sudden cloud of steam,
teakettle’s high-pitched whistle:
here, here, here–
First orders of the day.

When I forget to breathe
it startles me to see my breath
in cold morning air.

Leafless woods, hushed and thin.
Mourning doves drift slantwise
through dark pines
their heavy wings, unhinged.

Away— and gone.
Silence collapses
into the drip                                        
of rain.


First published in The Comstock Review.     

                      The early December weather matches the weather of the year I wrote this poem, several years ago.  I'm trying to find Christmas.  Perhaps it's around the corner . . .


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Two Week Round-Up! Now It's December!

Christmas Clwydian Style, photo by Suzanne Iuppa 

Here are Suzanne's mountains in Wales. I guess it's rare to see these mountains covered in snow. I like this vista, only wish that some day I will see it first hand.  My blogging time has been usurped by grading. Stacks and stacks of papers.  This weekend will see me finish the last batch of work.  This upcoming week is the last week of classes.  Yesterday (12/1), my colleagues Elizabeth King Durand, Heather Erwin, Nancy Greco and I hung the end of the semester art show in Lavery Library.  It took just close to three hours to get it just right.
We work steady, one-two, one-two.  I'm so grateful to these fabulous, talented women, who "make it happen." This exhibit is  one of our best showcases.

After hanging the show, I went to School 46 to help work the Project U.N.I.Q.U.E  (arts education) booth at the annual craft fair.We did very well selling our crafts and promoting ROC the day, which is coming up in approximately 2 weeks.  Hopefully, people will donate to our arts organization  to help further our arts programming in the schools this upcoming year.

Then, I finished the day at Writers & Books Big Pencil Award ceremonies.  Congratulations to Local Honorees: Leah Ruekberg, a teacher of adults who has inspired the creation and appreciation of literature;Grant Holcomb,an individual who has made lifelong contributions to Rochester’s literary community;David Cay Johnston, a writer who has had an impact on Rochester readers.
Henry Padron, a teacher of young people who has inspired the creation and appreciation of literature; Brad VanAuken, an individual who has made significant contributions to Writers & Books; and John Roche on behalf of Just Poets, an organization that has made significant contributions to the Rochester literary community. See W&B web site for honorees interviews:

It was a wonderful evening.

Looking back over the week:

Attended Bill Heyen's reading on Wednesday evening at SUNY Brockport's Writers Forum.
Such a fine reading, which was retrospective, introspective and current.  Bill is just amazing.  He has three new books out this year and the year isn't over. I enjoyed every minute.  So glad I had the energy to keep on truckin'.

Looking back over Thanksgiving Break:

Brigid and I shucked three huge mesh bags full of dried beans.  Black, white, red and pinto.  One bag remains to be done.  We were diligent shuckers.  The beans are gorgeous.  Now stored in glass jars.

We took Brigid and Jack to see The Christmas Carol at GeVa. We enjoyed the show, but it's actually scary and there were some 4 year olds in the audience who were whimpering in their mothers' armpits. . . . Sets, singing, acting all well done.

Thanksgiving was a much needed respite. Also saw the movie Argo, which was terrific.  You must see it.  Ben Affleck did a great job directing and starring in this film.

I want to see Lincoln.

Upcoming: Eastman School of Music Concert at St. John Fisher College.  Students from Elinor Freer's Chamber Music class will be performing selections from Brahms.

Thursday, December 6th at 6: 30 p.m. in Cleary Family Auditorium. Free and open to public.

Now it's time to get busy.  I have a lot planned for today. . . .