miscellany

Race was naive enough to think that dyeing her hair was enough to alter the pigment of her name, the nature of her shadow. She tried lime green to generate more zest, a fiery red to suggest deep-seated passions, even black, for that laid back retro look. But nothing changed. People walked past her on the street, eyes averted, clasping their gaudy shopping bags watchfully. In school she sat in the corners, hoping to blend in with the cracked paint. Her lovers continued to call her by other names when making love. In the dark, and in the throes of ecstasy, they claimed, everyone looked the same. It was easy to be confused, Race was not convinced. She felt different inside, a place where moonlight could not reach. She tried using a microscope, a DNA test, her rose-tinted glasses, but could not figure out why the softly pulsing engine of her being remained invisible to her. Did she not have a name? A history? And did she not buy her own clothes with money she earned the same way as everyone else? Disappointed, Race realised that her should was not the sum of her choices, nor her genes a composite of caresses and strokes leading up to her conception. She envied her friends, the purity of their obliviousness, how they wore their hair casually long and streaked with gold, gleaming against their skin beneath, gleaming agains their skin, beneath which the blood coursed, without question, like a final answer. She wondered if she peeled back their flesh, unhinged the bone, eased apart the knotted sinews, whether she should also find nothingness there: a space worn away in the shape of their own silence; what colour it must be.

- “Race”, What Gives Us Our Names by Alvin Pang

If you’re a regular visitor, you’ll have heard me mention Alvin before. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, I’m happy for you— it means you have a joyous discovery ahead. That said, don’t delay…

Technology has made different kinds of poets out of us. Together we sing ghost songs. We have haunted mouths, and speaking flesh. Together we imagine impossible things that I can write, but not make. Together we make things that I cannot imagine. We barter noisily like grandmothers. Because I am a writer, and trade in poetry, so I tempt technology to do the same.
Jools Gilson-Ellis
Late night experiments with D3.js powered poetry, and a word tree tool developed by Jason Davies. Going to have to acquire some new coding skills soon. Bring it on…

Late night experiments with D3.js powered poetry, and a word tree tool developed by Jason Davies. Going to have to acquire some new coding skills soon. Bring it on…

You want to be in a spot where you can respond to the world. If an idea hits you, then you can do it in some form…you don’t need permission from anyone to do awesome things. All you need is the time and space to work on it.
Frank Chimero on The Great Discontent (TGD)
The author suggests that, in this world of limited attention spans, the serious writer may have to parcel out his or her writing into shorter sections or volumes, in order for anything like the eloquent and verbose reading of prior eras to remain. An idea worth considering: could this trend toward short reads give rise to a deeper appreciation of poetry in the future? It’s thought-provoking and often mind-taxing, true—but it’s short. Or at least, some of it is. It would be interesting to see whether poetry makes a comeback in the future.

Reading & the “Attention War” | The American Conservative

Uh, comeback? I know poetry isn’t considered a “mainstream” concern, but comeback? Hm.

I am always reading, always, and tons of things at once. I wouldn’t say I’m a voracious reader, though. I never finish books that fast, because I’m always reading so many things at once. I dip in, dip out, dip back in, sometimes never dip back in… I think my brain is full of collisions and that’s how I like to read and process information. I’m always comparing things and I think I do that subconsciously when I’m reading books of poetry.

Victoria Chang, via The Believer Logger: Colin Winnette in Conversation with Victoria Chang

This.

For years I’ve maintained a personal credo that I’ll give pretty much any person starting out in our field 30 minutes of my time, if they have the wherewithal to come and ask for it. (Don’t all ask at once, now.) Usually that means a phone call or an email exchange. Sometimes I’ll meet for coffee, given my schedule and availability. I certainly don’t feel compelled to help out every person who comes my way looking for advice, and I tailor my response to the query (a thoughtful email gets a better reply than a tweet) but I make a genuine effort to say “yes” to people who are just starting out. A few years ago I described this policy to a colleague. I remember him saying “I would never do that, it doesn’t seem like it would be worth it.” Not everything in our professional lives is a transaction, scrutinized and evaluated against how much it costs us, how much someone should pay. Not every teaching relationship must be formalized—a mentoring opportunity, a coach, an internship. Not every investment of time has to be “worth it.” Sometimes you just have a brief conversation with someone because—why not? You never know what will come of it. I can’t thank the guy who took the time to meet me for coffee. But I can pay it forward by trying to help other people in a small, vanishingly insignificant way. And if some day, I help someone in a way that changes the very course of their life? I might never even know. The payback I would want isn’t one billable hour or a free sandwich or even their grateful thanks. I don’t even care if they remember my name. I’d rather they pick up the phone and talk to some future 23-year-old when she asks.

Pay it forward — Medium (via http://twitter.com/rogre)

Yes. I value my time in a different way now— it’s a more of a challenge to stay on top of all the demands— but I still do my best to support emerging literature professionals and poets wherever I can, above and beyond any of the formal relationships, roles or initiatives that I’m paid for. I’m least responsive when it comes to Facebook messages; direct email is best, but please forgive if it takes a minute for me to respond.

Also: yes. I’d be happy to hear that the people I’ve had any kind of positive impact on pay that impact forward, that they go on to support others in similar ways. You never know (unless told), but you can hope. And believe. And carry on, regardless.

1 / 170