Monday, November 5, 2012

73. Her heart turned ruby } a reading.

[ X ], a former student of mine, was supposedly killed in a motorcycle accident. As always happens when an unremarkable young person dies, the lost potential of her life was lamented. “[ X ] had such a bright future ahead of her.” Who knows? I recall the last time I saw her. She came to my office, ostensibly to discuss an upcoming exam. She didn’t seem to care about the exam. Something else worried her—so she said. What, I don’t know. She sat in my office and stared into space. Even when she spoke, she stared. Finally, she said, “Something’s coagulating.” I said, “Do you mean, ‘coming together’?” She said, “Thanks professor,” and left. She was absent the next class and all the following week. The registrar informed me she was dead the week after finals, but everyone knew by then about the accident.

At the beginning of the next semester, I overheard two students at the college bookstore talking about [ X ]. One said, “…what was weird was some of her organs were found partially crystallized.”

How can that be true? It can’t be true. Nonetheless, I find the image of an organ from her body, her heart, say—turned crystal and lit from inside—often recurs.

A current student invited me to read with her creative writing class. She said she thought I was a poet because of the way I talk about poetry and lo, I am. Wednesday night I’ll read poems from The Rescue in the Central Connecticut State University Student Center. The reading begins at 7:30pm and will be over before you know it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

72. Specifically } the dance Nina makes.

Nina Joly’s dance “Gobbledigook” was one of nine dances selected for inclusion in the Check Us Out Dance Festival. The festival was “a celebration of female choreographers” and was staged on Summit Rock in Central Park this past July. For Nina, the invitation meant reuniting (most of) the group who debuted “Gobbledigook” at Mt. Holyoke College, making adjustments to the choreography to suit the park space, and arranging rehearsals, first at Mt. Holyoke and then—the night before the performance—in a borrowed space at Columbia University. I went to that rehearsal and to the show the following day.

I went because I love Nina’s work. I wrote about her dance “Twins” here—you can see I struggled. Writing about dance without cliché or clinical abstraction isn’t easy for me. That’s the plan, though. To write about dance. Specifically the dance Nina makes. That’s why I booked myself a room in the haunted Larchmont Hotel, drove up to NYC, sat on the charcoal-filthy floor of an art studio and took notes while the eight dancers worked for hours on Nina’s choreography, watched the festival, and finally joined the temporary troupe for a post-performance dinner.

Nothing’s written, at least nothing more than twenty-plus pages of notes and an interview with Nina (conducted at the Book Barn in Niantic). There’s lots of reasons, but the best reason is that I’ve yet to figure out what I’m writing.

My faith in the talent of a small circle of my friends is intense. Nina’s in that circle. I believe that to be here in her history is to be in at the beginning of an important body of work.

If a way for the work to be done can be found. I fight for time to write, beg and hour here and there from my responsibilities, from sleep, from pleasure—but for all these challenges, I have a big advantage over Nina: all I need is a pen and a pad and I can create a finished work. Nina needs a space, others willing to commit to her vision and trust in her direction, and she needs music and blocks of time and some kind of theater to present the result. I suppose if her dances are performed to no one there can still be the satisfaction of the dance itself, but I crave readers and so must she an audience.

For now, the Central Park performance of “Gobbledigook,” the private show of that dance’s rehearsal, the little conversations I had with each dancer, and the conversations I’ve had with Nina about that performance and dance in general continue to percolate. This, I suppose, is a foray into organizing my thoughts.

The photo above is of the Central Park performance. The haze around the dancers is the dust that they kicked up during their barefoot performance (before the show, Nina and her troupe spent an hour picking up stones). Nina is off to the left, in the brown vest. Beside her is Lyz Hazelton, who danced “Twins” with her. Here are three videos, including one of the Mt Holyoke performance of “Gobbledigook.”

Thursday, November 1, 2012

71. Scariest Books Ever } & connections.

Last night Marianne S. wrote to tell me she saw Worse Than Myself named as one of "The Scariest Books Ever," according to Abigail Ohlheiser for Slate. The list includes Lafcadio Hearn's Kwaidan, Mark Danielewski's House of Leaves, and Cormac McCarthy's The Road. My thanks to Ohlheiser, to Slate, and to Marianne.

Marianne is the first person I called co-editor. I'd had co-conspirators (Jeremy Withers was making covers for me as far back as 8th grade), but Marianne and I read a slush pile together, made selections, made changes, and published (via Sir Speedy) a couple spiral-bound issues of our high school's literary journal. I recall, with pleasure, working with her in an otherwise empty classroom as the afternoon waned to evening.

A review of Color Plates, written by Jeff Charis-Carlson, was published in the Iowa City Press-Citizen shortly after John Cotter and I read at Prairie Lights. The review now resides on his blog. I like a couple lines especially: "There are recurring characters and themes running through the 63 fictional snippets, but Golaski doesn't slow down for readers who might be slow to catch all those connections by themselves" and, "He's more focused on describing the memories and fantasies that the paintings inspire." Accurate, both. Indeed, embedded in one of the Plates is a memory of Marianne and me, editing together after school.