Thursday, March 06, 2008

A meme, a review, and a new pair of shoes

First, Lisa Allender tagged me:
I must grab the book nearest me, turn to page 123, and then find the fifth sentence.Then, post it here in my blog. Then post the next three sentences.
Then, I must tag others to do the same.

The closest book is Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause. (And page 123 just has a chapter heading, so I'm going to the next page that has actual text on it, which is 125 -- the first page of the chapter on Body Image.) Squeamish boys, look away for a moment:
We can change the scripts in new and radical ways for ourselves, our daughters, and future generations. We can 'decline to decline' as we grow older and refuse to embrace the culture's rigid definitions of beauty, sexual attractiveness, and importance.

From the time we are little girls, we are judged by our appearance. By adolescence, it becomes clear that our worth as females is often measured by how we look, rather than by our accomplishments."
Once again, anyone who wants to be tagged, you're tagged.

* * * * *

Went to a terrific reading tonight by John Keene and Evie Shockley. I wasn't familiar with John Keene, but I'm curious about his work now, so I'll track it down. (He read very well and was quite engaging.) Evie Shockley's name was a little more familiar to me, though I didn't know her work well. Much of it is "difficult," allusive, fragment-y, which means it can be tough to "get" it just from hearing it read. But I have to say that she read it so well that, even though I feel like I need to sit with some of the poems to really get everything I can out of them, I still got a lot from the poems just on one hearing. (And maybe that's sometimes the best way to "meet" a poem for the first time; if you're puzzling through a poem that seems dense or difficult on the page, or stopping to look up allusions you don't get or want to understand better, it can be easy to overlook the music of it -- at least for me.)

Not all of the poems she read were "difficult" (I hate that word, but I can't think of a better one); some of her 31-word prose poems were pretty straightforward and some of those were very funny. She's working on a whole series of 31-word prose poems; she said she was having a tough time writing after her first book came out, and came across a prompt that involved writing 31 words, and said to herself, "hey, I can write 31 words!" and apparently that really unleashed a torrent of productivity.

Anyway, she also read a new poem about Ella Fitzgerald that just got me thinking about so many things. The poem involved Marilyn Monroe watching Ella perform -- there was a prestigious club where Ella wasn't allowed to perform because of her race, and Marilyn called up the owner of the club and said that if Ella performed for a week then she (Marilyn) would reserve a front-row table and be there every night, and so Ella got to perform and Marilyn , true to her word, was there every night. The image of those two talented, powerful women looking at one another is really sticking with me -- on so many levels. I grew up with Ella's voice; both of my parents adored her music (my dad was a jazz musician) -- so I'm sort of automatically inclined to like a poem about her anyway.

She also read another new poem that included some nursery-rhyme songs, which was just devastatingly powerful. If you get a chance to hear her read, you should definitely do it. And I'll definitely be spending some more time with her work.

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I got a new pair of shiny silver and purple running shoes. I haven't gone running in many years, but I've been walking regularly for about a year and sometimes I find my body wanting to go faster, which is kind of nice. So if it EVER stops being snowy and cold and gross outside, maybe I'll start running again. It'll be interesting to see how much these middle-aged knees can handle.


Lisa Allender said...

Hi Anne, Thank you for responding to the Meme...
Ilike "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom".

MM is a favorite of mine. I did not know this story about Ella and MM, but it is truly dream-y...
I'll be looking up Ms. Shockley's work...Peace.

Suzanne said...

I loved Evie's book.

Emily Benton said...

thanks for sharing about the poetry reading and that wonderful story about Ella and Marilyn.

realitywrites said...

oops that was me ^