A painter shows slides of her work. From the earliest to the most recent. Lights out. First slide: Do you see that figure there? That’s my grandmother. Second slide: There she is in the corner. And there—there’s my grandmother too. The one with her back to us. Yep, that’s her again. In each painting she shows us where her grandmother is. That shadow there—it’s my grandma’s shadow.
But one day my painting teacher said to me that I was putting my grandma into too many paintings. Next slide: A landscape. There is where my grandmother used to be. A cityscape. See up there. A seascape. Hi Grandma! A desert. The surface of the moon.
– Carole Maso
I’m not even going to tell you what kind of asinine comment this person wrote in the margin. Instead:
[ at the beach / the echo of that other beach / my mother’s mother’s mother looks at my mother’s mother / and I in the future of the imagination look too / at my mother’s face / (not pictured) / at my mother’s face in her mother’s face / because the body is always in the landscape ]
I got this copy of AVA used, and whoever read it before me seems to have been reading it for a class. At least, that’s the only way I can rationalize the kind of comments this person wrote in the margins. They keep circling lines and noting things like “SEX” or “heritage trip,” tracking historical events and generally trying to make a linear narrative out of the book. I’m having a really hard time reading without also reading these useless comments, but I am trying very hard. In the same way that it drives me nuts when someone talks during a movie, all these comments are doing is distracting me from getting swept along by these sentences. Because I feel like that’s the only way to read this book—not to dissect it, but to put yourself into the procession of moments. And that’s a good way to read in general.
I guess another difficult tight thing that I feel while rereading this book is the sensation that this might be what I sound like. Let’s be honest: I’m writing about poetry, art, orchids, and my cat, mostly. So along with the sense of the self about to leave is the sense of the self exposed as something flawed and oblivious. I don’t mind being flawed, but I’d like not to be oblivious.
CIty officials assure us hat they have caught the real Dart Man. And that these others are imitation dart men. Hard to know which is stranger, the passion for hitting women in the buttocks with darts or the passion for imitation.
Marie-Claude, fallen, “I am still very much a one-armed girl. But I am saving just enough strength to hug you when you arrive.”
Are the officials trying to convince us now that the imitation darts do not sting as much as the genuine article?
Please, please take best care my friends. I cannot bear the thought that either of you should be hurt, ever.
Meanwhile the Zodiac Killer is looking for a Leo.
You’ve really got to wonder sometimes.
The city you describe does not exist, says Kublai Khan.
– Carole Maso
Currently rereading AVA, and the difference is the first time I read it the tight pain of gathering of the self to the self, before the self disappears, was my foremost thought, the number of pages extinguishing the speaker, but the second time—although that tight pain is still there—I’m thinking about privilege, and the way this speaker is so trapped in history and art and travel. She feels very real in that.
Every year, my MFA friends and I have some sort of conversation during the summertime about when we start calling ourselves second-years instead of first-years, third-years instead of second-years. No one’s brought it up yet this time, probably because it’s intensely frightening and sad and exciting and overwhelming to think about leaving this place. The latest batch of first-years are starting to arrive over the next few days, so to avoid thinking about leaving, instead I’ll think about getting to live somewhere new.
My list of requirements includes: coffee and food culture, public transportation, a medium-sized city, a natural landscape to explore that is not very far away from the city center, modern art, a writing community.
Santa Fe, NM
San Francisco, CA
Please, future: give me any one of these things.
A word is a way to speak about something that really, in truth, no word can touch
A word is, just for a moment, what arriving might be like—before there slips into here. And here goes in search of another elsewhere.
– Lia Purpura
I’m reading Rough Likeness for the first time, the first time I’m reading Pupura in book form. These are essays, linked, but I feel like I’m reading poems. The logic moves lightly, expecting me to follow in a hush.