Friday, November 19, 2010

Hwaet Medievalists!

So in my Early British Survey, which you may recall I'm teaching for the first time next term, I have ONE DAY into which I can fit Gawain. Should I excerpt? Narrow focus on some particular point or passage? Or a few? Or is there another text you'd privilege over an excerpted Gawain? Advice, please.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear


FLY, envious Time, till thou run out thy race;
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more then what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.
For when, as each thing bad thou hast entomb'd
And last of all thy greedy self consumed,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss,
With an individual kiss;
And Joy shall overtake us, as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good,
And perfectly divine,
With truth, and peace, and love, shall ever shine,
About the supreme throne
Of Him, to whose happy-making sight, alone,
When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb,
Then all this earthly grossness quit,
Attired with stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O Time!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I made a cake!

As some know, I don't really do desserts. I don't have a huge sweet-tooth, and I don't like to measure when I cook. But I came into some beautiful local quince, and wanted to honor them with something worthy of their high-maintenance prep.

My SFAM sent me her recipe for an excellent upside-down cake, which adds cardamon and other spices. I stuck to that basic cake recipe, but baked it over a bottom layer of poached quince and dried bing cherries rehydrated in a mix of sherry and grape juice.

Just got it out of the oven. It's beautiful--the peach-pink of the quince, the dark cherries, the ooze of caramelizing all over the whole thing. I can hardly wait for it to cool. But I will, because the caramelizing will be even better.

I say if you're only going to make one cake every year or so, it should be a good one.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

3 signs I am a Real Poet

1) Almost got in a wreck on the freeway today, because I was getting a line down on a passenger-seat scrap of paper.

2) Wanted to spend the evening catching up on some administrative stuff, but went to a poetry reading, just because the reader is the editor of a significant journal, and I thought it might be good strategy to be attentively present.

3) There's a song on the new Hornby/Folds album, which I got today, about a contemporary American poet, a couple of years older than I am, whom I know slightly. Not about her work, of which the song disclaims any knowledge, but about the euphony of her name. Four minutes of PR thanks to her natal assonance. My response?: (envious mutters and grumbles.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Conference debrief

Just got back from a conference. I've never attended one with this particular group before, though I've been told for about a decade that I'd find the organization congenial and exciting. And it was--I hope to be involved with them more in the future. Though I was also aware of the ways in which a sense of embattlement that shows up here and there across the organization might keep it more fringey than it could be,--should be, with the starpower it draws. Not all battles (aesthetic, cultural) continue to be worth fighting.

Some thoughts, with no aspiration to coherence, about it:

* We stayed in an Historic Hotel. It was cold, and the shower slowed to a trickle with every vicissitude of use in my wing. This is why I'm not a historian.

* There was very little Great Food to be had in that bastion-town of Ivyness. What do those people eat?

* An acquaintance poet of some stature was there. Got to know him better: he turns out to be among the coolest people I've ever met, and I can't wait to talk with him again. His coolness arises in part from his having nothing to prove. I admire that.

* Another acquaintance poet-scholar of some stature was there, and I have to say: though we should by all rights be best buddies (so much overlap in our interests), I don't think that's ever going to happen. I think it may have something to do with the fact that we DO overlap so much, and also share this particular way of being very present in a room, very authoritative, and--though I'm reluctant to admit it--it may have something to do with our both being females. I'm getting the vibe that there's no room for 2 alpha females in her space.

* I ran a number of 6-minute miles. In a row.

* Niceness is a pretty rare commodity in the poetry biz. I mean, folks who are unfailingly generous, genuinely good, and have total integrity. I'm lucky to know many such folks.

* I have achieved a certain air-miles level, what with my commuter marriage and my conferencing, at which one gets bumped up to first class. My dad was a pilot, and my treatment on this trip reminded me of the old posh days when we'd fly with him. I'm pretty low-maintenance, but I tell you: I could get used to that kind of thing.