Tag Archives: Ukraine

In the World Again

After I got home from the Master Workshop at the Tucson Festival of Books I was exhausted. What in the world. Maybe the pandemic, by making us homebound for so long, has done this because the gardener was exhausted, too, and he didn’t even go to the sessions. But he did drive around a lot. While I was at the workshop, he went on household errands!

The sessions were fabulous, and the nonfiction workshop was a real treat. We had a stellar group of writers.

One of my favorite parts of the time was the poetry session by Felicia Zamora about hybridities. I’m so inspired to try some new and more experimental forms of poetry.

I woke up with a complicated migraine on Friday which might have been triggered from the lights in the conference rooms and/or the dehydration I experienced in Tucson. For some reason it feels much drier there than in Phoenix. This is the exact reason I can’t drive long distances and had to ask the gardener to take me to the workshop. I can’t risk having one of these monsters when I have to drive a long distance.

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Have you heard that you can help individual Ukrainians by purchasing goods through their Etsy shops? This way they can get some $ coming in whether they are still  in Ukraine or are refugees elsewhere. Some of them can still ship regular goods, but most are selling digital items. Lots of graphics and artwork, especially about Ukraine and #standwithukraine. The items are not expensive. There is a Facebook group devoted to this subject, and you can also communicate on there with Ukrainians (almost all women, though not entirely) and hear their stories and give them verbal support. They are so grateful even when you buy a $2 item. Many of them are giving some or all of the money to their army.

UKRAINIAN ETSY SHOP OWNERS

If you don’t have Facebook you can search Etsy for Ukrainian shops.

I’m not saying this is the only way to help Ukraine, but it is a very personal way and means a great deal to a few individuals. It’s also a very small amount of money for each purchase, so if you accidentally send to an imposter (word is that it’s pretty reliable) it’s not a lot of money. Be sure when you message back and forth that you don’t use specific words like stand and support because Paypal is being a real jerk.

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I have a review of Jess L. Parker’s brand new debut poetry collection, Star Things, in the current issue of the phenomenal Rain Taxi Review of Books. This will give you an idea.

What a great magazine to subscribe to. Here’s what it looks like.

 

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Anybody else register for the AWP conference? I signed up for the virtual format, and I am dismayed how few sessions there are. I keep wondering if I am reading the schedule incorrectly.  I must be?

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Make it the best week you know how!

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This is Today

I try to keep my blog a healing and nurturing place for myself and maybe a bit of an escape for readers. So I don’t like to write here about political issues. In fact, I hate politics, although I recognize how important they are. I can wish for permanent world peace, but I know that humans are deeply flawed and that the concept is a utopian ideal. Even without taking into account sociopaths and psychopaths, humans are gnarly, snarly selfish creatures. That said, there are plenty of mainly wonderful people doing wonderful things in this world.

Anyway this is leading up to me saying something about a political situation. And that is war perpetuated against Ukraine by Putin and Company. I find it so distressing, both for the Ukrainians and for world stability. There are constant wars against people all around the world, but the reason I am commenting here on this isn’t because these are white Europeans, although I’ve seen people argue this. It’s because there is a domino effect that can occur and there is a pattern of war in Europe contributing to or leading to war in many regions (world war).

Additionally, all four of the gardener’s grandparents were Jews from Ukraine, although it was part of the Russian Empire in those days.  Jewish history beyond the Pale has a lot of sad chapters, but there were also happy times and some good neighbors. Volodymyr Zelenskyy being selected as president of Ukraine was a big deal. He not only was a comedian and not a politician before this top office, but he is Jewish. How significant and hopeful that someone Jewish could be elected president of Ukraine. And now this horror.  Please send Ukraine what you’re good at: prayers, protesting, positive vibes, money, whatever you can do.

Here is a poem Rattle just published by a Ukrainian poet. She took Putin’s speech from Feb 21 and created an erasure poem, where words are erased to find a different meaning. Mir in Ukraine

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I had to get a piece of my memoir ready for the workshop at the Tucson Festival of Books. I received the manuscripts from the other participants the other day and am eager to read them. Some of them are probably the same pieces that made them finalists. For mine, I chose a different one. For the contest I sent in the first section of the memoir, about when I was a little kid. For the workshop I sent in the next section, where I was ten to 14 or so. I know that makes it sound like an autobiography, but it’s definitely a memoir, focused more on my relationship with my father.

On the subject of my arty junk journals, I began to prep the book to use for daughter’s wedding journal. First I had to gut my 2nd year French book. That felt great! It also provided me with some collage materials–music, maps, French passages. When I first saw people altering books, I didn’t like it. I couldn’t imagine violating a book. The teaching I had received about treating books like treasures was strong within me. But now I realize that there are plenty of books that end up in landfills and that there is a difference between an out-of-date textbook and a first edition of Peter Pan. It’s fun to give the book cover and the “collage materials” from the inside new life.

Reading some good books, such as Ashley C. Ford’s Somebody’s Daughter, a memoir, and Caroline Goodwin’s Madrigals, a collection of poetry and collage art.

 

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Now I’m the One Who is Gobsmacked

What a bummer. A downer. I’m gobsmacked (thanks, Kate, for your recent post).

So. I finished reading the memoir A Family of Strangers by Deborah Tall. Just my cuppa, let me tell you. (No, gobsmacked and cuppa don’t come from Michigan, where I originate–or from Arizona either–but I like them). In this book, Tall, raised by parents who tell her very little about family history and who seem to have no living relatives, is driven to research her family and discover their origins. Her journey takes her to the Ukraine and what is left of her Jewish family in a very small village–so small it isn’t even a shtetl.

The writing style is that of a lyric essay–the text lives at the edge where poetry and prose meet. So there is a lot of white space on the pages. It means that Tall didn’t have to add little physical details and actions to conversations. She summarizes sometimes instead of creating scenes. The book is full of non sequiturs. Instead of traditional transitions, she structures the book into tiny chapters. She re-uses chapter names to create connections across time and space. I’m fascinated by this style of writing and would like to learn how to do it myself, although not necessarily for my book.

When I got done reading the book, I thought about how I would love to work with her, wondering if she teaches classes anywhere online. I saw that she was editor of the Seneca Review and wondered if my new poems were a good fit since they reminded me a bit of this book. I wanted to find her other books and read them. Above all, I really liked the character Deborah in the book.

Now I’m wondering if I should even tell you why I’m gobsmacked. After all, if I tell you, you will know when you read the book.  I didn’t know when I read the book.  OK, spoiler alert.  If you don’t want the spoiler, just go get hold of the book and enjoy.

Here’s an image so that nobody’s eye accidentally reads the spoiler.

A Family of StrangersAnd here is a photo of Tall to distance the spoiler even more:

Deborah Tall

Although there are hints in the book about a family history of cancer, near the end of the book, Tall learns that the type of breast cancer she has been diagnosed with is not hereditary. I was relieved for her two daughters and allowed myself to be lulled into thinking all was well. But it wasn’t. She passed away in 2006, at the age of 55, of inflammatory breast cancer–just after A Family of Strangers was published.

I feel as if I found a friend–and lost her–in one week.

 

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