I finished Olio by Tyhimba Jess. This is an amazing work of art. Also, it fascinates me that none of the characters of the poem were made up, but actually lived. Jess constructs his beautiful and terrifying poem on their lives. I’m especially interested in his main character, Julius Monro Trotter. That he lived, I do not doubt. But when Jess puts in the concluding Timeline section that the Trotter interviews of people who knew Scott Joplin were discovered in 2012, it makes me wonder how much of the poem Jess invented and how much he based on these interviews. I would love to read them.
I want to read more by this author. I just ordered a used copy of his Leadbelly. I’m already a life-long fan of Leadbelly. I cant’ wait to read Jess’s take on him.
I finished Natasha Trethewey’s Native Guard. I enjoyed it. It’s not in the same league as Jess’s Olio, but few works are.
In desperation I started reading Golden House by Salmon Rushdie recently. I’m on chapter 12. I needed something to pull me away from the insular life of living in Western Michigan. Rushdie also helps me when thinking about our current American life where hate has emerged as winner both in our president and his largely white constituency. (Tahnisi Coates is good for this too).
I recommend listening to Rushdie’s entire interview on the The New York Public Library podcast. Here is a link. It’s worth listening to hear Rushdie recite “The Walrus and The Carpenter” from memory at the end of it.
I continue chipping away at the other books I am reading. Yesterday Rhonda was kind enough to stop by for tea and piano duets. We read through the “Five Easy Piano Pieces” by Stravinsky. Calvin Hampton was inspired by these to write his “Five Dances for Organ,” one of which I am performing next Wednesday evening at the dedication recital.
We also read through a charmingly well done transcription of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.” I like this piece quite a lot.
From the new New Yorker:
I ripped out a poem (as I sometimes do) from the Oct 16th New Yorker.
The author also reads it at the link above. I listened to it this morning. I am surprised that I seem to like more of the poems that the New Yorker publishes than I used to. Must be getting more soft-headed.
There was an advert for this Pulitzer Prize winning book in the recent issue as well. I just interlibrary loaned it.
Finally I ripped out the picture below from this issue. I think it’s an amazing shot. Here’s a link to where I found it and info about the exhibition it comes from.
I haven’t read this but it seems to be about how to take away power from Trump by normalizing him.
A letter from someone who knows.
By Linda Greenhouse. I’m a fan of hers and try to read everything she publishes in the NYT.
A New Street Was Meant to Bridge Belfast’s Sectarian Divide. Then the Doorbell Rang. – The New York Times
The “Troubles” in the 21st century.