Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The business of writing

     I'd like to ask my writer friends how much time they spend writing and how much time do they spend on what I call the "business of writing".  I long to get back to the unfinished short story or the possibility of a poem.  Instead I'm focused on promotion, sending out work to perhaps be published, e-mails, preparing for poetry readings, and spending too much time applying for elusive grants. 
    Of course, I'm aware that I shouldn't complain and I'm lucky anyone would read my work at all.  It's just that I'm overwhelmed.  How did they do it?  Those writers who put in a full day at some office and came home to write long into the night.  I can't shake off the day jobs of which I have two and I need some time to do nothing when ideas may appear.  And I don't even have a family.  So I'm impressed by those of you who manage.   Any hints?
   After my trip to California, I've become fascinated by earthquakes.  Here's the Chronicle's page that shows how many and when they occur.
   I have a poem 18 minor quakes that perhaps I've posted before but need to edit.  Did I mention editing on my list?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Low Country- a visit and a bit of the past

     Long stretches of marshland extend in all directions from Charleston's harbor and the surrounding barrier islands  The landscapes are marked by water, church spire skylines, and the beauty of the Atlantic with miles of beaches illuminated by glorious sunsets.
     Charleston itself is called the holy city for its array of churches reminding us of the religious past (and these days, present) of this country.   Houses in town have the porches we imagine when we think of southern mansions, but because taxes were based on frontal space, porches often face the sides of the buildings giving an off center feel to the streets and an insight into economics, even of the wealthy who could afford such structures.
     And that leads, as it always does, to slavery.  The slave museum stands on the site of the slave market of Charleston, in operation until the 1860's.  As recently as the 1960's it was occupied by a car dealership.
     Here you can peruse copies of the records of sales with listings of human beings with their traits (good breeder, half worker, cotton and rice worker, butler, healer) and the cost of each.  Shocking to say the least.
     Not to forget that New York City had a bustling slave trade into the 1700's and in the 1990's construction in the financial district unearthed a slave cemetery.  Slavery is the dark spot on all of America but it's here in the South that the marshes remind of the slaves struggling to clear this land for the rice and cotton plantations.  Slavery is still present in the beach resort where not a single African-American face appears.  It's in our hearts as the landscape leaks the blood of those who came before us.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Siberia and me

"Why did our father grow up in Siberia?" my sister asked.  One more unanswered question in his life filled with more unknowns than knowns.  My father died long before we were curious enough to ask such things. 
     All I knew was his childhood took place long before the Stalin deportations of Latvians to Siberia.  In one week in March of 1949 over 27,000 Latvians were sent to the gulags, including my mother's brother.  For an incredible book on gulags, I recommend "Gulag" by Anne Applebaum.
    So back to the question.  Enter Google where I actually found some answers.  The Latvian colony of Lejas Bulana settled in 1858 (aka Bullanas) still exists in Siberia.  It was rediscovered in 1975 by filmmaker, Ingvars Leitis who traveled there never expecting to find the language and culture still existing.  Roberts Kilis wrote his anthropology dissertation for Cambridge University on the Latvian community there.
  Bits and pieces is how I cobble together a past for my relatives.  Latvia was under the rule of the Russian Czar who offered free land to those willing to make the trip to Siberia.  And it turns out Catholics in Latgale (the province and religion of my father) had great difficulty in acquiring land in other areas because of discrimination. 
   So my grandfather must have been an adventurer.  Even today any journey to Siberia is hard.  Imagine it with a family a hundred years ago.  What I do remember were my father's stories about his childhood, included here in this poem.

His Life

Ed hopes his father
had a secret life.
My father had many;
two wives before mother,
a son left behind.

The war years
spent in Europe´s darkness,
in uniform,
rooting through trash
for food.

His secret languages
Russian, Polish,
we imitated in childish babble,
I learned sister, pillow, dream.

Siberia of childhood
giant summer fruit,
green winter lights
He brought to a farm,
half a globe away,
leaving a pile of unknowns
a lifetime to decipher.

Pre-sales for my chapbook are now starting:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Memories, Dreams, and CG Jung

Saw the film, "A Dangerous Method" which gave a most unflattering view of CG.  Thought the film had to have been made by Freudians who have mostly fallen out of favor except for when Jeffrey Masson analyzed Freud's seduction theory in the 80's.  Anyway, there's nothing sympathetic about Jung in the film.  He has no financial worries because of his wealthy wife who worries about being attractive to him while he carries on with a brilliant patient.  Freud (in the film) claims that relationship was the reason for his famous break with the man he had considered to be his successor.  I wonder if that is true or just the writer of the script taking liberties.
    Despite the portrayal, I've always been a fan of Jung and how he dabbled in the esoteric and found meaning in connections, not to mention the archetypes that make sense of our unconscious.  And that leads me to dreams.  I found an old journal from when I was in Malaysia and a dream  I 'd written down- I was in a small plane crossing the creek in Varysburg (the small town where I grew up).  I wanted to pay the pilot but only had foreign coins. 
    When I read that, I thought of how much meaning it held.  It took me two decades to return to this place where I began this strange and beautiful journey.