A nonbeliever accepts
a kind of fog around facts—
believers demand meaning.
Beloved fog forms a tissue between them, like love.
Burns off in bald light, like love.
Nonbelievers just put on their war wigs
and their war gloves
from a fanned deck of brute facts.
To prove nothingness exists
you’d need just one thing that was not itself,
one x that did not equal x.
One copse of alders in one dim dusk
that was none of the above.
Souls are made up
of such obstacles.
And a nonbeliever accepts
that God is very, very likely.
nothingness is just not
how brute facts work.
A rainstorm, brute fact, shuttles brainlessly towards us,
and our evening is overtaken in rain,
rain and fog, infinity, the opposite of engineering.
I listened to some invisible bird
rattling off the facts of consciousness.
He used that exact word,
Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (University of Iowa Press, 2010) and Bandit: A Daughter’s Memoir (Grove Atlantic, 2016) along with three chapbooks of poetry.
Friday, October 13, 2017
Ivan Doig (1939–2015) was a canonical writer of the American West. He extracts meaning from the simplest things—a teenage boy’s appetite, for example—and when pleasure comes along for his characters, he celebrates it fully. Cooking to keep up with Doig’s women, though, is a challenge. Here’s a description, through Jick’s hungry eyes, of a Fourth of July creek picnic prepared by his mother and a friend:
There were the chickens my mother spent part of the morning frying. Delectable young spring fries with drumsticks about the thickness of your thumb. This very morning, too, Toussaint had caught a batch of trout in the Two Medicine and now here they beckoned, fried up by Marie. Blue enamel broilers of fish and fowl, side by side. The gateposts of heaven.
Marie’s special three bean salad, the pinnacle of how good beans can taste. My mother’s famous potato salad with little new green onions cut so fine they were like sparks of flavor.
New radishes, sweet and about the size of a marble, first of Marie’s garden vegetables. A dozen and a half deviled eggs arrayed by my mother.
A jar of home-canned pickled beets, a strong point of my mother’s. A companion jar of crabapple pickles, a distinction of Marie’s.
A plate of my mother’s corn muffins. A loaf of Marie’s saffron bread. Between the two, a moon of Reese home-churned butter.
An angelfood cake by Marie. A chocolate sour cream cake from my mother.
Valerie Stivers whips up the recipes from that fictional 1930s picnic
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Henry Darger was a reclusive loner who worked as a janitor at a Christian hospital in Chicago from 1908 until his retirement in 1963. He was also an artist and writer whose entire oeuvre was discovered posthumously. From 1930 until his death in 1973 he resided in a room on the second floor near Lincoln Park. His landlord was Nathan Lerner, a Chicago photographer. When Darger died, Lerner ventured into his room to clear the space for future tenants and was surprised to discover things he didn’t expect to find in the old loner’s room, including several manuscripts, each thousands of pages long.
Virginia Woolf wrote savage, and sometimes horrible and classist, insults. Here are some examples of Woolf at her most scathing:
On E.M. Forster: “[His mother is slowly dispatching him, I think—He is limp and damp and milder than the breath of a cow.” From a May 1926 letter to Vanessa Bell
“I have read 200 pages [of Ulysses] so far—not a third; and have been amused, stimulated, charmed, interested, by the first 2 or 3 chapters—to the end of the cemetery scene; and then puzzled, bored, irritated and disillusioned by a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples. And Tom, great Tom, thinks this is on par with War and Peace! An illiterate, underbred book it seems to me; the book of a self taught working man, and we all know how distressing they are, how egotistic, insistent, raw, striking, and ultimately nauseating. When one can have the cooked flesh, why have the raw? But I think if you are anaemic, as Tom is, there is a glory in blood. Being fairly normal myself I am soon ready for the classics again.” From a diary entry, August 16th, 1922
“We could both wish that one’s first impression of [Katherine Mansfield] was not that she stinks like a—well civet cat that had taken to street walking. In truth I’m a little shocked by her commonness at first sight; lines so hard & cheap.” From a diary entry, 1917
More: Literary Hub
London’s Pushkin House is launching an exhibition about Russian poets-in-exile as part of its commemoration of this year’s centenary of the Russian Revolution.More here
The centrepiece of the project will be a pavilion, resembling a railway carriage, that has been designed by artist and architect Alexander Brodsky on Bloomsbury Square. The pavilion will be officially opened on 18 October and the art object-cum-exhibition space can be visited by the public between 11am and dusk until 10 November.
“As for me, I know nothing else but miracles,Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,Or stand under the trees in the woods,Or talk by day with anyone I love,Or sleep in bed at night with anyone I love,Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon…Or the wonderfulness of the sundown,Or of stars shining so quiet and bright,Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring…What stranger miracles are there?”
Paul Overton uses Walt Whitman's words to explain why the poet means so much to him.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Monday, October 09, 2017
I enjoy Elliott Downing's wry tweets on Twitter and became curious about The Keys to the Kingdom. A young woman is killed by a stray bullet while walking down the street. Her bereaved partner becomes obsessed with a security surveillance film he finds online, watching it over and over in an attempt to make sense out of a senseless murder. It takes over his life. Can he change the past or is he simply mad? I was drawn in and read this small strange ebook in one sitting. I'd like to read more of Downing's work.
Sunday, October 08, 2017
This catalogue displays the covers of every British underground paper that launched in the 1960s: International Times, Oz, Friends/Frendz, Gandalf’s Garden, Black Dwarf and Ink. It also includes the comic books that grew out of the papers, and various examples of the graphics, ads, posters and flyers produced by each publication.
Saturday, October 07, 2017
It was on this day in San Francisco in 1555 at the Six Gallery, the poet Allen Ginsberg read his poem Howl for the first time.
h/t Dr. Caligari's Cabinet
"There is no foundation to the myth that "Howl" was written as a performance piece and later published by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books. This myth was perpetuated by Ferlinghetti as part of the defense's case during the poem's obscenity trial. Upon the poem's release, Ferlinghetti and the bookstore's manager, Shigeyoshi Murao, were charged with disseminating obscene literature, and both were arrested. On October 3, 1957, Judge Clayton W. Horn ruled that the poem was not obscene."
h/t Dr. Caligari's Cabinet
A newly discovered piece of fiction by Ernest Hemingway joins humbling examples of juvenilia by other great artists, from Jane Austen to Pablo Picasso. Ten-year-old Hemingway wrote about boats, but 11-year-old Austen wrote “tales of sexual misdemeanour, of female drunkenness and violence.”