Saturdays are the golden brown…

…of the pancakes I made the boys this morning, of Vincent’s shorn hair cascading to the floor as I gave him a trim, and the Indian pudding cooking in its water bath in the oven.

The recipe I’m using is from an ancient edition of Fannie Farmer — who knew there were so many variations! I was just looking for something that uses what I already have in my pantry — and yes, I had molasses and corn meal in my pantry, thanks to Marianne, who cleaned out her pantry before moving across country with her family this summer.

I’ve never done the water bath thing before — I don’t actually have the proper cookware for that, so I’m improvising, as usual. We purchase most of our cookware from Goodwill etc, and for some reason, ramekins and casserole dishes don’t show up for sale there too often.

Tomorrow I’ll bring my Indian pudding, hopefully as delicious as it is golden, to Vermont with me: my friends and I are putting the finishing touches on the schedule for the 2011 season of the Collected Poets Series! And the finishing touch the pudding needs is vanilla ice cream. Or whipped cream. Or both. I’m in favor of both.

Happy last weekends of summer!

Gentle Reminders of What Makes the Poetry Blogosphere Such a Great Place to Be:

  • I was lucky enough to take Jeannine Hall Gailey‘s online  manuscript workshop this summer, and I can’t begin to tell you what a rich experience it was. There are plenty of resources, both online & in print, that give you advice on how to sequence a manuscript, but there’s nothing like having a close & intelligent & impartial & generous reader write long paragraphs of comments & constructive criticism about your poetry book-to-be. And there was the great boon of the other students’ readings as well. And the experience of reading others’ MSs with a critical eye, which helped me with my own, too. Jeannine’s offering this workshop again this fall. If you’re working on a manuscript, get thee to Jeannine! Because your MS deserves it.
  • If I’d ever had a writing professor in my life, I’d wish she was at least a little like Emma Bolden: passionate, creative, brilliantly fierce, and very very funny. If you haven’t yet heard the news, now Emma has created The Yawp — which seeks to get poetry out of the classroom and into the world, where it can really do some damage. Participation is not only encouraged, but the point itself. Poet up & spread the word.
  • Speaking of spreading the word, I’ve been so happy folks want to participate in a virtual Tupelo Poets on Parade ( I keep calling it this, because it makes me smile, but it may not be the official tagline. Stay tuned.). I’m still compiling volunteers, so if you want to host a review or interview on your blog, please, speak up! (mgauthier [at] tupelopress [dot] org)

Fusion: The Synergy of Images and Words (via Steve McCurry’s Blog)

It’s through the wonders of technology that the photographer Steve McCurry is able to share these wonderful images online, but the fact remains that what these images capture is the sight of people reading books. A beautiful melding of arts.

Fusion:  The Synergy of Images and Words   Ever since Gutenberg invented the printing press which enabled everyone to read books, artists have tried to portray the relationship of a reader and his/her book.        Garrett Stewart's book, The Look of Reading:  Book, Painting, Text, explores the relationship of reading and art.       We are familiar with words describing images, but not so familiar with images describing words and the impact reading has on our lives.           Artists fro … Read More

via Steve McCurry's Blog

W.S. Merwin on Linebreaks

“I think of stopping at a given point as a rhythmical gesture, and also as a gesture of meaning — because where you stop, if the rhythm is working, is going to have an effect on the meaning, particularly if you’re not punctuating. But it’s important to stop in such a way that the stop itself has something to do with impetus. It keeps the motion of the poem going, both in terms of rhythm, sound, and in terms of meaning, denotative meaning.”

— from an interview of W.S. Merwin by Ed Folson & Cary Nelson in 1981, reprinted in American Poetry Observed (University of Illinois Press, 1984), edited by Joe David Bellamy.

Confession Tuesday: in this case, less is more.

Some folks hither and yon come clean about their week every Tuesday. In that spirit (let’s not speculate what the following says about my psyche):

  • I confess that, as I was driving with the boys to visit my mum, we ran into traffic. Complete standstill. “What’s ‘traffic?'” Vincent asked. (Good question, m’dear!) I pointed to all the cars, explained that we all wanted to go the same way and were slowing each other down. “No,” sage Vincent replied. “When you drive really slow, that’s called ‘being in a parade.'”
  • Driving home again with the boys strapped in their seats in back after several days at my mum’s, we ran into another logjam. No commentary from Vincent, exhausted sleeping boy. But as I sat there, stuck in traffic that was stalled for no apparent reason — construction, accident, overflow from an on-ramp — it occurred to me that anything could be up ahead — sinkhole, stampeding elephants, zombies — and I’d run right into it, just another cow mooing along, blithely following the herd straight into disaster.
  • I confess that I really don’t want to die a stupid Darwin Award sort of death. Really.

*

But I can’t end a confession post on that note. I think that’s against the rules. Or it should be.

Reminder:  Any poet-blog folks who are interested in participating in a Tupelo Press Poets on Parade (Parade!) sort of blog author tour (reviews/interviews/what-have-you), drop me a line at mgauthier [at] tupelopress [dot] org.  I confess we’ve never done this before, and I’m excited about it.

Chain Chain Chain

The poetry world seems both impossibly small and strangely crowded, it can be difficult to get noticed. A few things I must tell you:

  • Rain Taxi has a rave review of the wonderful Andrea Cohen’s book, Long Division (Salmon Poetry). Warren Woessner, who wrote the review, has a fine appreciation for Cohen’s many many gifts as a poet. More people need to read her book. That means you.
  • Not a poet, but Poetry, getting her due! Thanks to The Rumpus, you can join a genuine Poetry Book Club: $20 a month gets you the book, plus an online discussion with The Rumpus book-chooser-of-the-month and the poet!  I’m really excited about this, and hoping 12 of my dearest friends/fans/stalkers will pony up the dues. How about you? But seriously (I am serious. Seriously!), I like the range of titles they review, so chances are good that the books chosen for the club will venture beyond the usual suspects. Join up & keep it going!
  • I don’t usually write about work-stuff here, but I’m exploring the idea of sending a Tupelo poet or two on a virtual book tour. If you’re a blogger interested in participating, let me know at mgauthier [at] tupelopress [dot] org. You can go here to take a gander at our newest releases and see if anything strikes your fancy. I’m biased, of course, but damn, we have some awesome books out. As usual.

Signs

As I’ve mentioned (probably many) times, while Vincent has always been hyper-verbal, when it comes to Aidan, now 19 months, not so much. He says “Hi,” “Bye-bye,” “Cat,” and, occasionally, “Daddy.”  Yes, there’s a vital word missing here.

He also has learned and uses consistently some sign language, especially the sign for “more.” He uses that to indicate more of just about anything. He puckers his mouth when he wants a kiss. He shakes his head, “No,” and bobs his entire body to say, “Yes.” I taught him “I love you,” in sign language by pointing to myself, crossing my arms, then pointing to him while I say it. His version is to point at himself with both hands, hold his arms, uncrossed, to his chest as if he’s hugging something, and then push both his hands at me, while he says, “Unh…unh…UNH!” I like his version very much.

His range of sounds is really quite expressive.

A low grunty “uuhhh” functions as his default word/words. If he says this while rubbing his head or patting his knee, he’s saying,”I bumped my head, ” or “I hurt my knee.”  If he says it while pointing at the faucet or the fridge, he’s telling us that he wants a drink or something to eat.

Whenever he says it, what we’ve come to understand is that he is using it intentionally, trying to tell us something. It’s not a cry, or a whine, or other form of complaint. He’s talking to us.

Having a conversation with Vincent is one of the great joys of my life. He’s creative, funny, thoughtful. I’m one of six, so I know better than to burden Aidan with expectations, but there’s knowing and knowing, and he’s been more than a little confounding until now. And I’m a poet, a reader, someone who prizes words; it’s hard not to long for him to start using some himself.

But discovering this, his grunty little sentences, is a revelation. Aidan may not be speaking much yet, but he is indeed learning language structure, and he is communicating. And if you’re paying attention, understanding him is the easiest thing in the world.