my reading appetite
"Plath's appetite for food was legendary - she once emptied a host's refrigerator before a dinner party - but she was equally hungry for experience." - Heather Clark in Red Comet
I saw the Jasper Johns exhibit “Mind/Mirror” at The Whitney three times, and I read the poetry in his paintings. The painting descriptions - whoever wrote them - are literary, poetic, unexpected. I saw the show with photographer Liz Sanders, my weaver mom, and later my potter dad. Each viewing of the work was entirely different given the perspective of the artists accompanying me.
Sink into the sea/ the heavens go out of kilter
And I’ve been reading Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, letters from the New York City Public Library archives. In this letter from June 25, 1963, he writes, “Have been immersed in my Wild World…”
Like poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, Sendak dated all of his letters. I’m 536 pages into Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath. The book is around 1,000 pages and reveals a woman with a voracious appetite for the literary life - I don’t want it to end. And Plath has reminded me of the life-blood that is poetry.
I want to read more poetry and began with the opening poem in Somos más que huellas: historias migrantes desde nueva orleans. The book is edited by Yuri Herrera who taught a writing workshop to migrant women in New Orleans. The first poem in the book, written by Lolis, is about garlic.
Yo confío mucho en el ajo/ Hay gente que no confía - dicen, yo, no. El ajo, no.
I’m reading Very Far Away, the children’s book Maurice Sendak dedicated to my mom when she was eight: “For Louise Halsey who has lots of time for everybody.” A little boy finds his mother is busy with his new baby brother and he feels ignored. “Then he put on a cowboy suit and a false mustache - so nobody would recognize him - and went looking for very far away.”
Growing up in the Ozark Mountains, I was looking for very far away too. I wanted to explore the world and speak dozens of languages. What a delight to do so with a cowboy hat and a fake mustache, as Sendak’s tiny protagonist did.
Wishing us all adventures as we search for very far away,
As we read more poetry and find it everywhere in our lives,
In graffiti, written in the clouds, in our dreams,
March 26: Arizona State University, #NiUnaMás Preventing Violence Against Women, Lessons from Mexico *This is a live & Zoom event & you can register here.
March 28: Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication *in-person event
April 2: “March to End Modern Slavery in the Fields” protest of agricultural workers and meatpacking workers in Miami *To join the protest, register at the link
April 3-9: Logan Nonfiction Program
April 11: University of Connecticut via Zoom discussing the photo book Red Flag
April 20: Washington University in St. Louis presentation on the US-Mexico border via Zoom
April 29-May 12: Michael Pollan Fellow at Mesa Refuge