Friday, April 8, 2011

"You glow like a perfumed lamp"

You glow like a perfumed lamp
In the gathering shadows.
We play wine games
And recite each other's poems.
Then you sing `Remembering South of the River'
With its heart breaking verses. Then
We paint each other's beautiful eyebrows.
I want to possess you completely -
Your jade body
And your promised heart.
It is Spring.
Vast mists cover the Five Lakes.
My dear, let me buy a red painted boat
And carry you away.

From "For the Courtesan Ch'ing Lin" by Wu Tsao, trans. by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung. Read the rest of the poem here. You will find a brief commentary on the poem here.

Zwei M├Ądchen mit Tulpe, Dorothea Maetzel-Johannsen, 1921

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"large, brilliantly beautiful, fat"

"She was fat the first time we saw her, large, brilliantly beautiful, fat. She seemed for this moment that never again returned to be almost a matron, someone real and sensible who carried money to the bank, signed papers, had curtains made to match, dresses hung and shoes in pairs, gold and silver, black and white, ready. What a strange, betraying apparition that was, madness, because never was any woman less a wife or mother, less attached; not even a daughter could she easily appear to be. Little called to mind the pitiful sweetness of a young girl. No, she was glittering, somber, and solitary, although of course never alone, never. Stately, sinister, and absolutely determined."

Elizabeth Hardwick on Bille Holiday, in The New York Review of Books

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Let a joy keep you"

Carl Sandburg

Let a joy keep you.
Reach out your hands
And take it when it runs by,
As the Apache dancer
Clutches his woman.
I have seen them
Live long and laugh loud,
Sent on singing, singing,
Smashed to the heart
Under the ribs
With a terrible love.
Joy always,
Joy everywhere—
Let joy kill you!
Keep away from the little deaths.

Text from

Two Boeotian Girls (costume sketch for the ballet Narcisse), Leon Bakst, 1911

Friday, April 1, 2011

Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Bausch, et al.

I just realized that I have a couple of recent interviews up at Chapter 16 that I’ve failed to mention here – one with Joyce Carol Oates, and another with Richard Bausch. Bausch has some interesting things to say about the writing process and the "Southern writer" issue, and Oates discusses her new memoir. You’ll find lots of other good recent stuff on the site, including an essay by Amy Greene (author of Bloodroot), and interviews with Bobbie Ann Mason, Yann Martel and Tom Perrotta. Please click here to see it all.

By the way, when I say please click, I mean PLEASE click. Chapter 16 is a non-profit that relies on grants and donors to keep going (and pay writers). The folks who shell out the money like to see evidence of readers, so think of every click as a vote against the guillotine for our little project. We thank you.

Beggars at the Door, Rembrandt, 1648