tempers

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Family Stories
by Dorianne Laux
I had a boyfriend who told me stories about his family,
how an argument once ended when his father
seized a lit birthday cake in both hands
and hurled it out a second-story window. That,
I thought, was what a normal family was like: anger
sent out across the sill, landing like a gift
to decorate the sidewalk below. In mine
it was fists and direct hits to the solar plexus,
and nobody ever forgave anyone. But I believed
the people in his stories really loved one another,
even when they yelled and shoved their feet
through cabinet doors or held a chair like a bottle
of cheap champagne, christening the wall,
rungs exploding from their holes.
I said it sounded harmless, the pomp and fury
of the passionate. He said it was a curse
being born Italian and Catholic and when he
looked from that window what he saw was the moment
rudely crushed. But all I could see was a gorgeous
three-layer cake gliding like a battered ship
down the sidewalk, the smoking candles broken, sunk
deep in the icing, a few still burning.
 
“Family Stories” by Dorianne Laux from Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems. © W. W. Norton and company, 2019.

 

I was always told that I was an artist of many schools, talents and skills, but a master of none.

And that those who can’t do, TEACH.

I discovered that the best way to create is to teach talented people to create. And so evolved a community of artists of all ages who inspire each other! Just like Anne Fadiman, explained below:

It’s the birthday of essayist and journalist Anne Fadiman (books by this author), born in New York City (1953). She’s best known as the author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1997), which is about the culture clash between a Hmong family, whose daughter has epilepsy, and the American medical establishment. She started the project as an assignment for The New Yorker, but she turned it into a book when the original assignment was killed. The book won a National Book Critics Circle Award. She also wrote a best-selling essay collection, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (1998).
Fadiman says her journalistic tendencies come from her mother, Annalee Jacoby, who was the first female war correspondent in China. Fadiman’s father, Clifton Fadiman, was an essayist, a radio host, and a book lover — her childhood home boasted shelves full of thousands of books — and Fadiman credits him for inspiring Ex Libris.

 

 

Definition #90 Poetry

Dorianne_Laux_1

 “I love poetry that feels as it thinks.” That’s Dorianne Laux, born in Augusta, Maine (1952)

She grew up poor in San Diego, barely making it through school. Her stepfather abused her throughout her childhood and teenage years, and through it all she wrote poems. She said: “I wouldn’t have gotten through that without a friend. If I hadn’t been able to talk with myself, with respect, as a whole human being, who had a mind and heart and desires, a goodness, a desire to be good — you know, all of those things,

 She didn’t think she would ever make a living from poetry, but she started giving readings and publishing poems, and published her first book, Awake (1990). She said: “You could’ve knocked me over with a feather. That was not something I thought would ever happen.” She wrote four more books of poetry, including What We Carry (1994) and The Book of Men (2011).

And, “Any good poem is asking you simply to slow down.”

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