Monday, October 31, 2011

disciplining imaginary children

"I do remember disciplining imaginary children in the backseat of my car." Tom Waits on Fresh Air
Illustration: "Birds" by Alyson Fox

no other reason than a sky

As I Walked Out

Don't tell me you've never dreamed of this –
of waking in a room with a wide open window,

the air clear and ringing after night rain;
of needing no other reason than a sky

the unbelievable blue of which
sends you flitting deftly through the house

past the year-old jar of nails and flies,
the pile of dishes in the sink, and out the back door

where you're caught for an instant in the brightness
because the future's so much easier than you'd thought –

slipping your heart under the rosebush like a key,
everything you need in the canvas bag

resting lightly at your hip

Sunday, October 30, 2011

what are we going to do now, asked tommy

“I don’t know what you are going to do,” said Pippi, “but I know I can’t lie around and be lazy. I am a ThingFinder, and you’re a ThingFinder you don’t have a minute to spare.”

“What do you say you are?” asked Annika.

“A ThingFinder.”

“What’s that?” asked Tommy.

“Somebody who hunts for things, naturally. What else could it be?” said Pippi as she swept all the floor into a little pile.

“Oh, all kinds,” said Pippi. “Lumps of gold, ostrich feathers, dead rats, candy snapcrackers, little tiny screws, and things like that.”

Tommy and Annika thought it sounded as if it would be fun and wanted very much to be ThingFinders too, although Tommy did say he hoped he’d find a lump of gold and not a little tiny screw.

Photo: Cricket via Uncrate

Friday, October 28, 2011

it is a brave thing

It is a brave and stupid thing, a beautiful thing, to waste one's life for love. The Confessions of Max Tivoli, Andrew Sean Greer

Monday, October 24, 2011

the tuesday interview: hannah moskowitz

There's something about Hannah Moskowitz. She's sorta funny and real. She's written these wonderful books that all the reviewers call raw and poetic and they're right. And she tweets a lot. I started with Break, about a boy who sets out to break every bone in his body. But of course, there's Invincible Summer and you can preorder the hardback of Gone, Gone, Gone now.

RQD: What are you working on now? What interests you about these characters?

Hannah Moskowitz: Right now I'm working on another draft of (what is currently titled) Marco Impossible, my next middle grade book. It's told from the POV of the best friend of an openly gay 13-year-old, so I get to play with a lot of stuff that you don't usually see in MG. There's kissing.

RQD: What other art or artists play a role in your work?

HM: Tom Stoppard, definitely, as far as plays go. Motion City Soundtrack, Death Cab for Cutie, and Bright Eyes for music.

RQD: What book, story or poem do you return to over and over?

HM: Indigo's Star by Hilary McKay. I have no idea how many times I've read it.

RQD: What are you reading now?

HM: Right now I'm working on Now Playing, the sequel to Stoner and Spaz, but it's taking me a while because I'm an English major and I have to read a lot for school. My reading-for-pleasure time is very limited during the school year. It pretty much sucks.

RQD: What did you read as a kid?

HM: I read a TON of Middle Grade from a very early age; my mom used to read it to me when I was very young. And since I still read it, that's the age group that feels so timeless to me. There's a part of me that will always be twelve, I think.

Album cover: Death Cab for Cutie Narrow Stairs

in the bay area?

Marnie Webb and I have been doing some fun stuff over at Caravan and tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 25, we're teaming up with Local 123 (yum), Youth Uprising, Urban Adamah and Live Local Mission to host our first Community Hacks, a discussion series focusing on how communities make change. Please join us and if you do, introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

because the new york times

This week's issue of Because the New York Times Doesn't Have Comics is the best yet. Including a kid-friendly gallery of photos from Greenpeace's Esperanza in the Southern Ocean.
Photo: February 14, 2007 The MY Esperanza in the Southern Ocean

Thursday, October 20, 2011

did anyone else

hear the interview today with Marie Howe on Fresh Air? "Poetry holds the knowledge that we are alive and that we know we're going to die." And she read this.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the tuesday interview: hila shachar

I met Dr. Hila Shachar when I started blogging in 2008. To me she represents so much of what I find in the bloggers I love -- like Porter and Hollister Hovey, like Vic or the ugly earring -- a relentless curiosity. As I've followed her career, I've been interested in how she channels this restless aesthetic into her work.

RQD: What are you working on? What interests you about these characters?

Hila Shachar: My fictional book has been sidelined in the past year as I’ve been working on a separate, academic book I have under contract with Palgrave Macmillan. I’m close to finishing this book, which will be published next year. It’s called Cultural Afterlives and Screen Adaptations of Classic Literature: Wuthering Heights and Company. I basically examine various screen adaptations of well-known novels, from the 1930s to the present times. I find this topic fascinating because I’ve always been interested in those narratives that we choose to tell again and again, in different media.

RQD: What art or artists have you been thinking about?

HS: I’ve always been fascinated by Maira Kalman’s and Sophie Calle’s work. There’s something about their perspective that resonates with me. Maybe it’s the way they approach the things we take for granted. I’ve been deeply influenced by directors such as Krzysztof Kieślowski and Jacques Rivette. Their cinema is interrogative and unsettling; it asks questions and seeks to undermine myths. That’s the kind of work I’m interested in. As for music, Kate Bush has influenced me a lot. When I first listened to her album The Kick Inside it was literally like a kick inside. I think it was the first artistic encounter I had with a woman being unconventional. I’d like to create writing that is the equivalent of her music.

RQD: What book, story or poem do you return to over and over?

HS: Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights, Sylvia Plath’s poem ‘Fever 103°’, Allen Ginsberg’s poem ‘Howl’ and Irving Feldman’s Holocaust poems. Feldman’s poems in particular remind me of both the power and limitations of words. He creates double worlds through his poems, in which language is ineffectual in expressing experience, but is also simultaneously necessary to articulate that which has been lost. I guess you could say that most of the books and poems I return to are quite extreme in a sense. I’m most interested in writing that sinks its teeth into you, I don’t like skimming on the surface of things.

RQD: What are you reading now?

HS: I’m re-reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss and Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters. Both hit me so hard the first time I read them, I needed to return to them a second and third time.

RQD: What did you read as a kid? What is its impact on your work now?

HS: I read everything as a kid. Remember Spot the dog? I loved him. I also loved Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. But the book that made the biggest impact on me was Wuthering Heights. I didn’t understand much of it as a little girl, and I first read it through a Hebrew translation (I grew up in Israel), but it left a mark on my mind. I think this mark had a lot to do with Cathy. Her rebellious spirit and inability to be pinned down to a single meaning just seemed so right to me. I loved the novel so much that I devoted my PhD to it, and I’m now writing a book on its screen adaptations.

Photo: Still from Kieslowski’s "La Double Vie de Veronique"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

new york

No Tuesday Interview this week, but next Tuesday I'm excited about featuring writer, blogger and academic Hila Shacher. I'm in NY this week with my mom: The High Line, New York Theatre Workshop's The Select (The Sun Also Rises), Other Desert Cities and The Noguchi Museum. Packed: these boots and a bunch of links from Cup of Jo's NY Guide.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

the tuesday interview: lindsey leavitt

Don't typecast, Lindsey Leavitt is not all tiaras. First of all, she's wry. Really wry. And it's hard to be wry in a tiara. And I loved her new book, Sean Griswold's Head, which is literally, about Sean Griswold's head.

RQD: What are you working on? What interests you about these characters?
Lindsey Leavitt: A contemporary YA that comes out in Winter 2013 called AUTHENTICALLY VINTAGE. I'm only about halfway through the first draft, so I'm still getting to know the characters, but I am loving writing from the main characters point of view. She's a mix of breezy and bitter, and I love exploring those conflicting emotions throughout. Her relationship with her sister is also important in the story, and since my little sister just moved nearby for the first time in our adult lives, it's been fun "researching" that relationship more.
RQD: Tell me about other influences.
LL: Oh man. The I-now-feel-inadequete-because-I-don't-have-a-muse question. I have nothing. Um, I have pictures my daughters colored for on my office walls. I stare at those. And lately I've switched off between Jimmy Eat World, Adele and Simon and Garfunkel when I write. A lot of time I'll just listen to one song on repeat over and over again to try to feel a certain mood. Since I write for teens, a lot of those songs are from my late nineties adolescence.
RQD: What book, story or poem do you return to over and over?
LL: This probably makes me cliche, but I've read Pride and Prejudice more times than I can count. Reading Jane Austen is like eating cookies, comfortable, familiar and delicious.
RQD: What are you reading now?
LL: I just barely finished Sweethearts by Sara Zarr and like every Sara Zarr novel, I adored it. She is one of the greatest voices in young adult fiction right now, hands now.
I'm also reading Unfamiliar Fishes by Sara Vowell (digging Saras lately). Her books are like having your most charming friend sum up the history class you ditched, with lots of asides and tangents.
RQD: What did you read as a kid? What is its impact on your work now?
LL: Lots of Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, dozens of Newbery winners. When I think back on those books, it's the characters I remember, and try to keep that in mind as I write. Then in Junior High I discovered the high concept creepy goodness of Lois Duncan and Christopher Pike. Those stories are very different from my humorous and or heartfelt stories, but I think I learned a lot about infusing tension and pacing into a story.

Monday, October 3, 2011