I'll be in Beijing for the next ten days to participate in the immensity that is Get It Louder! All participants are legally required to end all statements with exclamation points for the duration of the conference! More information here and here!
So on Saturday we sledded all morning, and Chloe creamed this one kid, took him out at the knees, just really messed him up, which is kind of what you have to expect if you insist on standing at the bottom of a sledding hill looking the wrong direction, but on the other hand, he was the only other kid on the entire hill at the time, and she wasn’t trying to hit him, so what were the odds?
Then we had lunch, and after that it was still snowing so we drove into town and went to a museum that is great in so many ways. And Chloe and Tom and I talked about what ceramic armor might be all about, or cardboard boxes made of slip cast low-fire white clay. (Okay seriously, did you click on that last link? Did you? I'm not fucking kidding, go click on that link, and look at the cardboard box and those dusty crushed paper cups and know that in that artwork there is no cardboard and no dust and no paper, et cetera.)
And after that we went down into the Kid Area, where they have dress-up clothes, and the kind of building block court you’d have in your house if you were six and had a million dollars to buy blocks with, and the clay workshop where I sculpted The Prince of the Uglies and Chloe sculpted the King of the Nosiest People and Tom sculpted the The Big Blue Bird.
Saturdays might get better than that but I kind of doubt it.
Then on Sunday we went to the other kind of museum, the kind that's actually a bowling alley.
February 23, 2009, 11:50 a.m.Category: Art
I've just gotten back from an extraordinary three weeks in St. Petersburg, where I was on the faculty for the Summer Literary Seminars. I taught a travel writing workshop, gave a reading with the poet Mark Halperin in the gorgeous Nabokov Museum, gave a lecture and a craft talk. And outside the classroom, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the beauty of the city, the intensity of the white nights, the richness of literary culture and cultural history...
Part of it, of course, were the people with whom I shared the experience. Aside from Mark, Tony Swofford was there, Paisley Rekdal and Meg Storey, Daniel Baird and Elizabeth Hodges... And that's just the foreigners. We also got to hang with some of the writers building contemporary Russian literature--Alexandr Skidan, Ekaterina Taratuta, Dmitry Golynko. Just superb.
Like everyone else who's ever been part of the program, I went with James Boobar on his justly famous Dostoevsky walk. Mikhail Iossel and Jeff Parker and Tom Burke have put together a great local staff, and a great program of extracurricular trips. And the city itself...
Forgive this raving, but I just can't recommend the place/time/seminar strongly enough. Many thanks to Dan and Steve at Dzanc for arranging my time there. St. Petersburg will be showing up in my writing for years, I suspect. And I'd write a great deal more about it right here and now, except that it's time for me to leave Beijing, fly to Peru, move to Syracuse, build a year's worth of life there... But if you're interested, go check out the program's webpage, or this promo video that Ken Calhoun put together.
And then go, go, go.
Ninth Letter became one of my favorite magazines the very day of its birth back in 2004. They're one of a couple of new magazines that are way out on the edge in terms of design, and the aesthetic results are consistently extraordinary. They're also one of only a few magazines that truly means it when they say that their tastes are formally eclectic: you'll find hardcore realism sitting snug in the love seat with razor-edge experiments. I immediately started submitting to them, was lucky to hit with "Fontanel" in Volume 1, Number 4, and now have a new piece called "Nipparpoq" out in the latest issue: Volume 3, Number 2. Not just me there, either: Rachel Cantor, Oscar Hijuelos, Joe Meno and the sublime (and often very funny) Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti landed fiction, Michael Martone and David Evanier have nonfiction, and Louise Erdrich, Candace Black and Chris Dombrowski have poetry, all just for you.
Writers get to talk all they want about their work. Writers' kindergardeners are less often asked. At the behest of the delightful Sue Henderson of LitPark, my wife and I sought to get to the bottom of my daughter's interest in colors and sharks. I'd only ever done one other interview before, so it took a while to find our groove, but once we were in it: groovy.