This poem is relevant today, words for the telling of what is happening to us in the USA. Boxes, dogma, closing in and closing off. Some poems reach deep into our European-Middle Eastern past: religious, social, and linguistic.
“Musings” begins with:
Are we contained in cardboard boxes?
Prison cells? Bureaucracies that shut
us off and turn the locks are staking
psyche’s territory; but we collude
too easily, taking what we find
at hand then brooding over changes.
These bureaus contain moments
of yesterday’s crash. Unclocked
comments race with fantasies
and lies along the synapse
of knowing, while pretenders
to power stay doggedly perched.
Today’s perfect 10 interview session is with author Mary Clark. The questions in these interviews are designed to gain more insight into the inspiration, background and strategy of the authors that stop by.
Please enjoy this edition of A Perfect 10 and look for an exciting announcement regarding all of the participating authors for 2018.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing brings my energy to a new level, as I’m coordinating various thoughts, emotions, memories, points of view, and attention to detail as well as a feeling for authenticity. There’s an emotional background music playing all the time I’m writing. In other words, writing isn’t only a mental exercise, it’s a visceral experience. I’m not fully conscious of the emotional background while I’m writing, but those emotions and feelings act as a sounding board for being as accurate and honest as possible in what I’m trying to convey with…
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I’m happy to share these words about my novella, Racing The Sun, by Diane M. Denton, whose most recent book is Without The Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine & Subtle Spirit.
Here is what she said:
Racing the Sun follows on from Miami Morning as a novel with a conscience, its protagonist, Leila, living professionally and personally with a sense of urgency, yet not adverse to pausing here and there in appreciation of simpler moments. This engaging narrative is full of conversations of purpose and planning, framed by a sense of place and belonging, but, also, exploration, drawing the reader into a diverse community of friends, colleagues, and new and unexpected acquaintances who support and challenge each other and, ultimately, discover collaboration is the way to make positive things happen.
Thank you, Diane. Collaboration, that is, working together to solve problems and create new ideas and approaches, is needed more today than ever – and yet we are more distrustful, more easily persuaded by language that divides us. At one point in this book the factions agree to a “Big Tent Meeting.” After some venting, the antagonists eventually agree to sit down and talk.
And Leila asks, “What is the root problem here?”
“It’s that people don’t agree on how we should live together,” Sam said. “Don’t you hear the extreme points of view on TV and radio? You can’t talk about working together, much less compromise, without being ridiculed.”
Leila threw her shoulders back. She felt ready for this. “We have to do it anyway. We start here.”
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
Philosophy’s gravitational wave is coming, and will move across her life . . .
Beauvoir’s mother was a fundamentalist Catholic and required subservience to that worldview. She did her best to inculcate her daughter with its tenets and practices, emphasizing the safety it provided, to women in particular. That safety and stability, supporting the structure of family life, also required an abstinence from thinking, curiosity, and freedom (though all were subverted in various, subconscious, ways).
Religion pervaded Simone’s existence as she faithfully went through an education at a Catholic school, believed in the efficacy of confession, and the power of prayer. But, slowly, the pervasiveness began to recede, as she observed and questioned ideas and ideals, and learned of other worldviews through her own efforts. Autocracy, with its companion hypocrisy, became apparent at the school. She read books that were banned by her mother, finding them in a relative’s home. A young boy named Jacques gave her books to read, which she gladly accepted. The loosening hold of religion was caused as well by her recognition of its superficiality in those who professed the greatest belief. One who had been her confessor betrayed her confidence. And then, in her personal life, she discovered prayer failed her.
Ultimately, religion was not imbued within her, but was mostly an external accretion. She took some time to grow and break the accretion with a conscious choice. The accretion had been porous, partly due to her inquiring mind, and possibly, partly to her father who was not a believer. He was a person who wrapped himself in fantasy. Their financial, social, and inter-family circumstances, revealed the inadequacy of such a life. Her mother’s tolerance of her father’s non-belief raised questions. Was her mother only with her father because she had no choice, as a woman, in that time and place, to survive and bring up children with a modicum of stability? And so he was simply an accommodation, an appurtenance, with no further value than the earthly usefulness he provided? On the other hand, and I think Beauvoir sensed this, he was her mother’s outlet, her portal to moments of freedom. In him she could release her rebellion.
Once she had broken with religion, creating a separation from her mother, Beauvoir felt free and ready to start a new life. Her struggles were not over, though; they had just begun in earnest. Simone was still living at home while pursuing higher education, trapped in an atmosphere of denial and obedience. Restlessly, she walked the city streets, which she had been told were off-limits, looking for new ways to be, for places and people to try out her new-found freedom. She never thought, she said, to go into the cafés. Instead, she went further, into clubs where she and her friends Zaza and Stepha indulged in sexual licentiousness and vulgarity, and met people who lived on the margins.
Her relationship with her childhood friend Jacques had changed over the years. She began to consider him as a potential husband. He was elusive, though, and her misgivings about him grew. He would not be her intellectual equal, even though he had helped her on her way at crucial times in the past. She knew she was supposed to seek the stability of marriage, but after much confusion, she realized her hopes were a mistake. Marriage was not for her, she concluded.
Beauvoir had some character flaws that come to light here. She idealized Zaza and Jacques, and obsessed about them, only to learn later they had not thought about her much at all. During these experiences, however, she was working through social questions. These people aided her as well in her philosophical education. But her idealization was over the top, which she acknowledged in the case of the teachers who had once inspired her. She also thought of herself as superior to the unwashed masses. Her revels in the clubs as a teenager and young adult are not unusual. Her crush on her childhood friend wasn’t either. She was different in the talent she had for abstract thinking.
She was honest about her idealizations and her snobbery. At one point, she noted she “loved to be loved,” and was surprised to find herself not being lauded outside her family, but instead, banished from society. She wrote with irony about her “insane optimism” in response to ideas and causes, and how this only added to her solitude. Her philosophical conversations and social analysis with other girls and women made me think: thank you! We read, think, and are concerned with the great mysteries, including questions of rebellion and living a worthwhile life, with authenticity and freedom.
Her greatest mission was to pursue an education, first compromising to study for a teaching job, but finally, to study philosophy. At the same time, she was engaged in community efforts to bring education to working class and poor people. The inspiration for this came from a leftist teacher and speaker. With refreshing humor, she related how, eventually, she lied to her mother about going to this volunteer job, only to really go to a film, ballet, or one of the clubs.
All the while she experienced extreme loneliness, the sense she didn’t fit in, as she roamed the streets, studied alone in the library, and attended class at the Sorbonne. When and how did she meet Sartre? If you don’t want to know until you’ve read the book, then don’t read the rest of this review!
She longed for intellectual dialogue, for someone who could challenge her, for someone who was her superior. One after another, intellectual companions came along, and fell away. Slowly, the dim-witted men of great intelligence realized they had met their match. One was a member of Sartre’s “group.” He referred her to the group, telling her Sartre had found her interesting. She threw all her arguments at him, and he refuted them. Well, this was what she had been looking for. But as we know, and so did he to his credit, she had something to contribute, which he could not, and this kept an interest and tension between them that fueled continuous thinking and dialogue.
Her relationships with a parade of men and women who were questioning the old ways were fascinating. Each one brought a different point of view and beliefs. The story often comes back to her relationship with Zaza, who also had a restrictive mother. She tried to be a good friend, although Zaza’s mother disapproved of her. At the end of the book, Zaza died of a sudden illness, after some years of failing health. She said of Zaza’s death, “We had fought together against the revolting fate that had lain ahead of us, and for a long time I believed that I had paid for my own freedom with her death.” This sounds eerily similar to the Jesus-Hercules stories of sacrifice for the betterment of the people. Or was it survivor’s guilt? In any case, Beauvoir had managed to free herself and create her own life.
And so the wave of human questioning and knowledge goes on.
This week on Mystery Mondays, author Mary Clark is here to talk about her laster novel, Racing The Sun.
Over to Mary…
Exploring Family Dynamics
by Mary Clark
My latest book, Racing The Sun, is interwoven with surprises, some gently delivered, others more brutal. In several cases, accidents change lives. They also bring together people who wouldn’t have otherwise met. The main character, Leila Payson, a Miami high school teacher, finds that occupation not precarious enough; she moves through the world stirring things up, but not with careless force, but instead at a thoughtful pace. But the world has its surprises for her, too. And these come from close to home.
Her father has been looking into his family history at the suggestion of a life coach (who may be more than that). He shows Leila his DNA results and urges her to sign up on the same genealogy site…
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Enid Dame (1943-2003) was an upbeat Post-Beat feminist poet. Her satire lacked the cynicism that defeats its purpose, and her good-humored, tongue-in-cheek sensibility made her work unique. Her poetry often brought Biblical characters, especially women, to life.
Her poem, Lilith, showcases her humor and spirit. When she read it with her Brooklyn accent the effect was effervescent. One reviewer said of her book, On the Road to Damascus, Maryland, that it was “a book of illuminations, conversions, and the hauntingly contemporary voices of Biblical heroines.”
For 25 years, with her husband, the poet Donald Lev, Enid published Home Planet News, the voice of taxi driver and worker poets, road poets and café poets, and multi-everything poets. The duo ran the late night readings in the 1970s at the Cedar Tavern in Greenwich Village with just the right mix of order and disorder. A long polished bar and chairs and tables glittered beneath the plate glass sky roof and windows on the street gave the place a dark glamorous look. It was legendary as a watering hole in the 1950s and 1960s for Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac and other Beat poets, along with Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and other modern artists.
Enid taught composition at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and creative writing at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She was a scholar of Jewish women’s poetry and midrashic writing, lecturing at the Institute for Contemporary Midrash, for the Religious Diversity Seminars of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. She co-edited the anthology Which Lilith?: Feminist Writers Re-Create the World’s First Woman (1998). Enid had seven volumes of poetry published, including Riding the D Train, Lilith, Lilith’s New Career, and Anything You Don’t See.
But what I remember most about her was her smile, her generosity, her passionate, amiable courage, as well as her intelligent, insightful poetry.
If you follow this blog then you might have gathered that I’m a fan of Debby’s writing. When I spotted this new release I had to grab it right away.
The book is very accurately described in the long title: It is a reflection on one specific relationship that lasted over 20 years with many challenges, which mostly stem from an age gap and health issues. This book touched me especially since I recently got married and – like the author – live with a long – term partner with many health issues.
What Kaye does with bravour is opening up about the problems encountered and how she and her partner have mastered them. Sensitive, humorous and with plenty of heart-felt love for her partner the book addresses important specific and genweral relationship issues.
I think many of us can learn from Debby, admire her choices and identify with the…
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