Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Neruda's "The Me Bird"

Check this out--a visual interpretation of Pablo Neruda's poem, "The Me Bird", by graphics studio 18bis in Rio de Janeiro. The animated short is composed of frames all hand-cut from paper, and it's absolutely enchanting. As the studio explains the imagery, "The frames depicted as jail and the past as a burden serve as the background for the story of a ballerina on a journey towards freedom. A diversified artistic experimentation recreates the tempest that connects bird and dancer." It's wonderful--I know you'll like it:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Shanghai on My Mind

Just back, after a few days in Shanghai, a trip I find myself wanting/needing to make more and more often.  About two hours away from my small city by bus, Shanghai always delights, titillates, and inspires. It's funky, vibrant, and cosmopolitan, with a sordid but fascinating history, and on top of all that, for a megalopolis of 20  million (and counting!), it's surprisingly beautiful.  As with all big cities, everything is available, just about whenever you want it--culturally, gastronomically, historically, etc. I've seen a production of King Lear, gone to jazz clubs, drooled over architecture on the Bund, gotten New York-style pizza, attended the World Expo, ascended soaring skyscrapers, gotten my hair styled in an Italian salon, battled the crowds on the Metro, walked the old Jewish quarter, had Red Velvet cake, seen the collection at the Propaganda Poster Art Centre, marveled at the neon lights of Nanjing Road, and loaded up on books at my favorite stop, the Foreign Language Bookstore, among many, many other things. It's an addictive jolt of energy, and I discover something new and interesting every time. Here are some photos:

Foreign Language Bookstore, 390 Fuzhou Road

Tasty treats from Awfully Chocolate, 174 South Xiangyang Road

The Bund at night, from the Pearl TV Tower

I realize I sound like a rube here, but I AM a small town girl, and my first visit to Shanghai was nothing short of an epiphany.  I will always remember that first taxi ride, from the airport in Pudong, over to the Yu Yuan district, with the towering skyscrapers stretching out as far as the eye could see. That the city was home to over 20 million people seemed unfathomable to me.  The fact that humans built this, that the world could be so big, was a defining moment.  In fact, check out this stunningly cool time-lapse video of Shanghai, from Lost Pensivos Films, to get a sense of what I'm talking about:

Another thing that captures my imagination is the city's history, especially the years between 1842-1949. I'm currently reading Stella Dong's Shanghai: The Rise and Fall of a Decadent City, which presents all of the lurid details of the city's initial rise and it's early claim to fame as the "Whore of Asia". 

I can't put the book down, and it's given me loads of new insight and facts to ponder as I walk the streets of Shanghai, whether through the former French Concession, along the banks of the Huangpu River, or into the old "opium den and brothel district" around Fuzhou Road, and I'd highly recommend this book to anyone thinking of visiting or moving to Shanghai. Here are some more shots:

Amy's Bedroom, sex shop at 160 South Xiangyang Road

Glamour and glitz at the Westgate Mall, 1038 West Nanjing Road

Sunrise over the city

So, that's just a bit about my love affair with this city.  In short, far from being one of those poets and writers who requires peaceful surroundings to work, I find that exploring Shanghai gets my creative juices flowing, and I'm back with a head full of ideas, and can't wait to get back to work on the manuscript.  Also looking forward to the next visit in a couple of weeks!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Must See

Official trailer for Poetry, a beautiful and melancholy 2011 film by South Korean writer and director, Chang-dong Lee, and starring Jeong-hie Yun. The plot is based on true events, wherein "A sixty-something woman, faced with the discovery of a heinous family crime and in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, finds strength and purpose when she enrolls in a poetry class". (IMDb)  The film has won a ton of awards, including Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival. You can read a brief review by Peter Bradshaw of The Guardianhere. I truly loved it--don't miss this one.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Robin Stratton: Books

The newest release from author Robin Stratton, In His Genes, is now available and ready to order on amazon.com for $15.00 (plus S & H). It's also available in Kindle and Nook. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I'm a huge fan of another of her works, On Air, which was a National Indie Excellence Book Award finalist, so I'm betting In His Genes is just as wonderful. Robin has been a writing coach in the Boston area for almost 20 years. She is the author of The Revision Process, A Guide for Those Months or Years Between Your First Draft and Your Last, Of Zen and Men, and two poetry chapbooks, Dealing with Men, and Interference from an Unwitting Species. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and she's been published in Word Riot, 63 Channels, Antithesis Common, Poor Richards Almanac, Blink-Ink, Pig in a Poke, Chick Flicks, Up the Staircase, Shoots and Vines, and many other places. She's also the editor-extraordinaire of Big Table Publishing Company and the excellent Boston Literary Magazine (I swear, I don't know how she finds the time for all of this!). Be sure to check out her homepage at http://www.robinstratton.com/, and read a great review of In His Genes in the Denver Examiner, by Zack Kopp, here. I guarantee you'll love her work--don't miss out on this amazing writer!

Reading is Sexy

Just ask Marilyn. Well, if she were still alive you'd want to, because the blonde bombshell was no slouch in her literary tastes. Library Thing has published a partial catalog of her library, and it contains a myriad of intellectual interests--history, philosophy, poetry, literature, religion, politics, and science, among others. I love that she had a fondness for the Russians, the catalog listing work by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Pushkin, and Chekhov, to name a few. Some other heavy hitters for this voracious reader: Bertrand Russell, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Schopenhauer, and Spinoza. In poetry, Frost, Poe, Millay, Burns, Blake, Shelley, Milton, and Shakespeare. There's Wilde, Joyce, Flaubert, Hemingway, Steinbeck.  I could go on, but best you go and check out the library catalog yourself, at the Marilyn Monroe Library on Library Thing. And to all of you detractors, for all of your "dumb blonde" insults, be prepared for a literary bitch slap--I bet your own libraries aren't half as good as Marilyn's. Yeah, reading is definitely sexy, and if you ever had any doubt, this is your proof. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Speaking of Free Apps...

A Poetry Daily app for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad! It's lovely, with a new poem from a current book, magazine, or journal, chosen from a wide variety of poets, to provide you with "a window on the broad range of poetry offered annually by publishers large and small". Plus, it's packed with extra features besides the daily poem, such as poet and publishing info, landscape view, favorites tab, daily poetry news, and more. Good reviews. Get it hot off iTunes, here:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Free Shakespeare App

Surprisingly useful, Readdle's free Shakespeare app for iPhone, iPod, and iPad includes the complete works--that's 41 plays, 154 sonnets, and 6 poems (even doubtful works). Perfect, on-the-go information for teachers or fans! I've even whipped out my iPhone in class, when I couldn't remember a detail about King Lear or Hamlet. How many lines are in Antony & Cleopatra? 3573. Which came first, Two Gentlemen of Verona, or Titus Andronicus? Two Gentlemen, 1592. Of course, you can upgrade to the Pro Edition for $9.99 if you like, but I haven't found it necessary yet (and I teach Shakespeare), as there are a ton of free goodies besides the works: a search feature, scene-by-scene breakdown, glossary, quotes, bio, chronology, and more. There's even a section on Elizabethan Theater. Version 3.2.2 is available, with optimization for iOS 5, and it's gotten great reviews.  In fact, I've never had a loading problem or bug. You can download it for free at iTunes, at the link below. Enjoy!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fire Diner

New from Magic Trash Press, and available on Amazon.com, is Zack Kopp's awesome collection of poems and shorts, Fire Diner, of which I was honored to pen a blurb for recently, along with Gerald Locklin and Jon Cone.  Fire Diner is "Poetry and brief prose by a young man who eats fire, sets his head on fire and speaks fire. Charles Bukowski crossed with Gregory Corso crossed with Lewis Carroll crossed with Iggy Pop", and it's even more than that, so much more. As I wrote in my blurb, it's "the flashlight work of roving private eye, Zack Kopp, illuminating our modern existence on 'the banks of a giant strange world'.  It is man among the elements, and on the edge of this squawking, discordant, ecologically-catastrophic, numb-suffering, flying metal planet, hungry for nature and love during the pre-apocalypse. Catching the 'eerie screaming cackle' of our consciousness under a dying sun, the static-electric-cold whoosh of planets, cars, televisions, and time, with a foot in the city and a heart in the cornfield, these poems are full of star-fire, organic energy, shadows and light, and the yearning of 'us green-faced fools' in an 'empty hungry lonely night'.  Quite simply, I adore this book, and I know you will too.
You can purchase Fire Diner for $8.00 (plus S&H), at this link:

Also available is Kopp's newest novel, Sorehead, of which I haven't had the pleasure of reading yet, but I'm betting it's just as wild and juicy as Fire Diner.

It's available for $10.00 (plus S&H), at this link:

Kopp, as his bio notes, is "founding editor of a webzine called Doggerel (formerly MightyMercury) specializing in short fiction, verse, art, photography and commentary from the anti-famous (from V. Vale to Rennie Sparks to Paul Krassner to Jenny Abel and others). Kopp has been a creative artist of one kind or another from ever since.  His vision is a vital blend of social and political themes with raw, wild soul from the bottom of the can.  He received an MFA in Writing (fiction) from Vermont College of Fine Arts in January of 2008, that magic year."  I say, do yourself a favor, and order one or both of these books--I guarantee you'll become the latest in a long line of Zack Kopp fans.

The Especial Visit

Wanted to share this link to author Idiong Divine's new book, The Especial Visit, of which I wrote the foreword to recently.  Idiong, a Nigerian poet and writer, offers up his latest delicious treat, a collection of children's stories/fairytales, which take place in his homeland, to Amazon.com readers.  Whimsically illustrated by his brother, Imeh Friday Idiong, the traditional folkloric stories will delight readers of all ages.  Believe me, these stories are as divine as only Idiong Divine can be!  You can order it for $5.89 (plus S&H) at this link:

Also, check out his Amazon.com author page, and a list of his other books, here:

Still Here!

I've been a very bad girl, ignoring this blog for the past nine months. I'm still here though, and I'm still writing--it's just that I've been so busy (yes, that non-excuse excuse) with teaching classes and travelling about, that the blog kind of took a back seat.  Plus, I've been concentrating my writing these past months into a full-length manuscript of China-specific poems, and haven't been willing to break them up and send them out for publication--it's such a cohesive thing, you know?  Anyway, I'm back now, and I'll try to keep this thing updated!

Speaking of travelling, I've visited some amazing places recently, and had some wild adventures.  Last summer, Gerard and I toured through China's Yunnan Province with our backpacks, and even hiked into a remote village in the Eastern Himalayas, along the border with Tibet.  We even went to Shangri La, which I fell deeply in love with, and actually consider to be "the home of my soul".  We've been to Thailand, gone into the Golden Triangle, and even popped into Laos. I've ridden an elephant, fed wild monkeys, been cormorant fishing, scaled some incredibly high mountains, gotten a bamboo tattoo, wandered around gold-encrusted Buddhist temples, gone midnight skinnydipping in the Andaman Sea, and battled food poisoning, among other things.  This June, we'll be heading West--to Scotland, Italy, and Turkey--before returning to China.  All of these experiences are what fuels my writing, so I'm grateful for all that life has served up of late!  I thought I'd share some photos here, of some of the travel highlights of the last nine months.  You can view the entire slideshow I put together, here:

Ah, it's good to be back... 

With some cute local kids.  Baishui Tai, Yunnan, China.

At the Three Pagodas.  Dali, Yunnan, China.

Window frame.  Dali, Yunnan, China.

Amid the prayer flags.  Songzanlin Monastery, Shangri La, China.

Elephant safari.  Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Beautiful Wat Rong Khun.  Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Happy Monk.  Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand.

Along the Chao Phraya River.  Bangkok, Thailand.

Contemplative monkey.  Railay, Thailand.

Sunset.  Railay, Thailand.