Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
This was read by the poet himself on Saturday's A Prairie Home Companion. It's a reaction to a book about fiction writing, creatively called Writing Fiction, which is full of advice like, "Never use the word suddenly just to create tension."
By Billy Collins
Suddenly, you were planting some yellow petunias
outside in the garden,
and suddenly I was in the study
looking up the word oligarchy for the thirty-seventh time.
When suddenly, without warning,
you planted the last petunia in the flat,
and I suddenly closed the dictionary
now that I was reminded of that vile form of governance.
A moment later, we found ourselves
standing suddenly in the kitchen
where you suddenly opened a can of cat food
and I just as suddenly watched you doing that.
I observed a window of leafy activity
and beyond that, a bird perched on the edge
of the stone birdbath
when suddenly you announced you were leaving
to pick up a few things at the market
and I stunned you by impulsively
pointing out that we were getting low on butter
and another case of wine would not be a bad idea.
Who could tell what the next moment would hold?
another drip from the faucet?
another little spasm of the second hand?
Would the painting of a bowl of pears continue
to hang on the wall from that nail?
Would the heavy anthologies remain on the shelves?
Would the stove hold its position?
Suddenly, it was anyone’s guess.
The sun rose ever higher in the sky.
The state capitals remained motionless on the wall map
when suddenly I found myself lying on a couch
where I closed my eyes and without any warning
began to picture the Andes, of all places,
and a path that led over the mountains to another country
with strange customs and eye-catching hats,
each one suddenly fringed with colorful little tassels.
It's been what I affectionately call "Hell Week" since the day I got back from Thanksgiving, a colorful description of which only the adjective, and not the noun it modifies, is true. This semester's Hell Week will actual span nearly a month. I thought I might illustrate the economy of the month of December for the average student, by which I mean me (I'm pretty average, right?).
INPUT: lots of caffeinated beverages, about 5.4 hours of sleep per night, obscene quantities of Asian take-out, chocolate-covered gummies, and hot showers to shock myself into the world of the waking
OUTPUT: graded written and oral exams, compositions, and homework for French 101; a 10 page paper on how Edgar Poe was an Orientalist; an 8 page postmodernist reading of BYU's Christmas Around the World; a really great bike ride with some of my favorite people; a study of the folklaw governing Mormon profanity and vulgarity; graduate school applications; a couple harp performances; lots of conversations on women, gender roles, sexuality, and relationships especially in LDS culture; moving out and driving the 16 hours back to Kansas; and about 23 other things I could bore you by enumerating.
Mom, please don't be offended if I go into hibernation the second I land on the front porch.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
I've had a couple random thoughts I thought I'd like to get out right now, which includes a nice picture and a poem. Multisensory envolvement, Ka-POW!
(1) Sometimes when I spend a lot of time thinking about the future, say, when I'm working on applications to graduate school, I actually briefly forget what day/month/year it is. I forget the present and live in the future. No good.
(2) Some of classiest chocolate in the world is made in Orem. Thank, Amano, for getting me through finals (not to mention the last three semesters). I think Ocumare is my current favorite.
(3) Frank O'Hara is great. These are some photographs of him and his friend Grace Hartigan. Frank O'Hara was a poet, art critic, and museum curator in the 1950s and 1960s. He wrote this poem called "Having a Coke with You," and it makes my heart sing. Here it is. Please find a quiet place and read it aloud to yourself (or listen to Frank O'Hara read it himself).
Having a Coke with You
Great, right? I'm not going to pretend to get it, but I love the bit about a tree breathing through its spectacles and how silly statuary and painting is when you're looking at someone you love and how someone saying an experience is so much a part of having it...