Having sent off 141 pages on Friday morning (a mix of new and revised work), I decided to let myself enjoy the weekend. Friday included the ceremony for the Larry Neal Writers' Awards, then a friend's amazing party. The guest list featured folks from DC's art and journalism scene, and her menu had a Cuban theme--pulled pork, rice and beans, fried plantains, and fresh mojitos. I didn't get home until 3 AM.
On Saturday, a group of old high school friends made an unexpectedly adventurous daytrip to Annapolis for a two-hour sail on the Schooner Woodwind--yes, the boat they used in Wedding Crashers. The sky didn't have a cloud to be seen, but the wind was so rough that at times we found ourselves bracing our feet against the side of the boat and looking straight down into the water. The girls were a little harried (one friend, celebrating her 30th birthday, treated herself to a glass of sauvignon blanc--only to have most of it splashed up into her face). But I suspect the guys preferred it to two hours of placid sunbathing. I have to admit, it made me feel like I had done something in going out on the water, even if that something was merely hanging on for dear life.
On Sunday I took my mother to a Mother's Day reception at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. One of their current exhibits is called "In the Genes," and it juxtaposes the studio regulars alongside art by their immediate family. Afterwards, way too much Thai food, then coffee as we listened to the September 2009 recording of Barbra Streisand's show at the Village Vanguard. I couldn't have asked for a more relaxing time.
By this morning, the truce with my to-do list had evaporated. Workmen pounded on my door at 8:30 AM, arriving with caulk and paint to repair a balcony/ceiling leak. The lilies in my dining room have that too-sweet smell of having wilted. The house is dirty. Back to work.
My friend Stephen Prothero's book, God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World--and Why Their Differences Matter, is a very smart look at why smoothing out the differences between religious systems in pursuit of "harmony" is a dangerous fallacy. He uses the analogy of dating: we don't connect by convincing ourselves that we're exactly the same. We forge connections in understanding and appreciation of our differences. If you're like me--intrigued but relatively uninformed--the book doubles as a useful primer on comparative world religions. Today, over at Publisher's Weekly Stephen talks about the pressure to assemble a book trailer. Check out his efforts on YouTube, and judge for yourself.
I Was the Jukebox has been getting some love around the web, which is deeply appreciated. Brian Spears, who happens to be the Poetry Editor at The Rumpus, wrote this on his blog:
I finished Sandra Beasley’s latest, i was the jukebox (don’t know whether to capitalize it or not), and I am in awe of it. Not that I want to ape the style or the voice, not that I look at it and think “I will never do what she does as well as she does”–just pure awe. It’s not what I do, and it’s not what I want to do, but damn, do I want to read it again. It’s easily one of the best collections I’ve read this year so far. Now I just need someone to offer to review it for The Rumpus for me.
Um, about that last line...yes. Yes! Can somebody help this man out? (Honestly, I'm way too dorky to ever appear in The Rumpus. But a girl can dream.)
And in the "Dear Reader" newsletter distributed by Square Books, Richard Howorth--bookstore owner, not to mention former mayor of Oxford--wrote the following:
I have an economic theory of poetry: a truly exceptional line or phrase that takes your mind someplace interesting is worth at least a couple of dollars; so, if there are ten such lines in a book of poetry, it’s about worth what you paid for it.*** By this theory, the value of I Was The Jukebox is more than ten times its cost because there are several remarkable lines and ideas in virtually every poem in the book. ... Sandra Beasley’s poems combine the surprise and revelation of history and ideas with a vivid, artistic imagination of language—separate forms that constantly collide and unite, often sending the reader into a euphoric, luxurious dream-state.
*** Best justification of poetry books' terrible ration of pages/price that I have ever seen.