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Showing posts from 2015

Glad to Hear It

This past week, Larry Wilmore and company mentioned Rachel Dolezol again on The Nightly Show. I don't remember who made the comment, but either Wilmore or one of the panelists said, "Did Rachel Dolezol do anything bad? No, she really didn't. Why did we get so uptight about that?" I was glad to hear it. Three cheers for being human.

I looked briefly at what's on Google currently about her and the now much-discussed Shaun White. I intend not to enter any of that fray mentally or verbally. I still maintain that humanity trumps color. We have a long way to go until we can leave our "paint by numbers" mentality behind, but we've made progress. Good changes can come, even in the midst of chaos and controversy. Maybe White and Dolezal will help us see that eventually.

As long as I'm here and continuing on the subject of color, I think I'm not alone in the fact that I don't like being called "white." As for my background, it includes …

Blind to Everything but Color: A Kind Word for Ms. Dolezal

Everyone knows now that Rachel Dolezal is descended from Northern and Eastern European ancestors, rather than African ones (I should say descended directly from, given that most humans of all skin colors have some African DNA in their systems). What news I 've read or heard, and the countless sarcastic jokes, leave me deeply puzzled by the widespread response of outrage and outsized disdain over this one woman's life choices. 

Substantial progress is being made in accepting transgender persons (and as is our national tradition, money is being made on the progress). Bruce Jenner's transformation into Caitlyn did not come cheap. The media have been profiting and will continue to with her story, and she did not appear on the cover of Vanity Fair as an act of charity.  I watched multiple news stories where men made remarks about the new, "hot" Caitlyn.  They appeared not to care that the parts of her they admire are neither original or inherited. Caitlyn has now recei…

Thank you, Press Women!

My blog won first place in personal blog writing for 2014 in the Press Women of Texas's Communications Contest. Afterward, my blog placed second in personal blog writing nationwide in the National Federation of Press Women's Communications Contest. I can't adequately tell you what these awards mean to me, but I feel impelled to try.
From the NFPW website:
On May 6, 1937, 39 women from seven states gathered at the Chicago Women's Club to turn their vision into reality. They formed the National Federation of Presswomen (yes, then it was one word) and set forth their goals: "To provide a means of communication between woman writers nationally; make possible the expression of a common voice in matters of national interest to press women, and otherwise advance the professional standards of press women."

It was brave enough for women to found such an organization in any decade prior to 1970, but this group was founded at the height of the Great Depression. It grew to …

Your Poetic Gift is Ready and Waiting for You

National Poetry Month begins April 1. I have designed another poetry mini-poster for 2015. It features the poem, "Each into One," which was published in the anthology  Her Texas. The beautiful photo on the poster is by David Li.
This poem has been with me for many years. Its inspiration came first from the Texas landscape. Later, I visited the land of the windmills of Don Quijote in central Spain, making the windmill a symbol of something far beyond utility, a kind of sculpture to the imagination and the sacred wildness of the human spirit. I always loved pinwheels, and the similarities of that colorful hand-held windmill and the great one towering over the plains provided rich metaphorical connections. 
I will mail you and/or a friend and/or a family member a poster as my gift to you during National Poetry Month. Anywhere in the world. These little (6 inches wide by 11 inches tall) ambassadors of poetry have traveled to Australia, Scotland, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Italy,…

Making Great Memories at Baylor with Her Texans

St. Patrick's day ended for me with a wonderful Her Texas event at Baylor's Browning Armstrong Library. The building: a temple to love and knowledge; an architectural prose-poem to Robert and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning. The large audience enjoyed outstanding readings by 2013 Texas Poet Laureate Rosemary Catacolosand poet Naomi Shihab Nye. My mother introduced me to Naomi's work many years ago. This was my first opportunity to hear her read in person and feel the infectious enthusiasm of her warm spirit.

As part of their readings, Naomi and Rosemary shared work by others, a sign of how poetic minds always stay open to finding jewels in language. 
Naomi quoted from the "next generation" of Texas poets, students at an elementary school where she had just taught a workshop. One girl told Naomi that it was wonderful to have a "poemist" in the classroom. I plan to add that to my working vocabulary.
Both poets did for the audience what I believe poetry should an…

Our Texas, My Texas: "Memories we carry like scars and diamonds"

This post title includes a quote from Hermine Pinson's poem, "Four Sisters and the Dance." As you read, it will become clear why.

I was 7 when my father earned his Ph.D. from Duke. He then accepted a teaching position at a small private college in a rural Texas town in the 1960s. Population was 5,000, give or take a few. Our Texas roots ran deep, and we saw this return to the Lone Star State as a homecoming. So, I left the lyrical landscape of the Carolinas and the small private school where I had become nearly fluent in French. Then, I entered the hot, dry world of that small town. 

We did not yet have a place to live. Our family of five, including our infant brother, camped out in the girls' dorm for several weeks. Our furniture was stored on the university theater stage while my parents searched for a home. I was riding in the car with my dad and a member of the university administration and overheard their conversation. My father wondered where he could find help …

Smell Defense: A Role in National Security?

The notion first occurred to me after a party in the 90s. 

A friend and I bought food trays from a rather gourmet grocery store to take to this party. We did notice, at the time of purchase, that the crudité tray smelled a tad cruder than it should, but we reassured ourselves that the broccoli on the tray was most likely only a little less than fresh. Besides, we were running late. 

After the party, we noticed that no one partook of said broccoli whose odor had by now developed loud, non-woodsy tones. We loaded the leftovers, broccoli included (Maybe it's still edible, we thought. These were, after all, our "salad days.") into my friend's station wagon and headed home. 'Twas a dark and cold mid-winter's eve. Notwithstanding the frigid temperature, about two miles into our ride, we opened all the car windows  to relieve our nostrils from the out-gassing of the fast-aging broccoli going rotten as fast as the proverbial gingerbread man could run. 

My friend started…

Whose day?

Years ago, I made some collages using pages from a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The image that leads this post is one. Inside the hearts and flowers is a picture from the MMA collection of  a Japanese screen made in the 16th century. It is titled Tagasode, which means Whose sleeves?  The title comes from a 10th-century poem:


The fragrance seems even more alluring than the hue, Whose sleeves have brushed past? Or would it be this plum tree blossoming here at home?
Iro yori mo ka koso awaredo omohoyure tagasode fureshi ado no ume zo mo
The word haunts: tagasode. Whose sleeves? The question floats in my mind like a cloud on a still day. The sleeves materialize in my mind's eye. I hear them move through hushed air. I can imagine, though not name, the scent of the person to whom those sleeves belong. It's not unlike smelling the scent of your infant's clothes, or holding the perfume bottle that belonged to your mother...you don't need to open it... you know tha…

Cómo vuela el tiempo, and how to fly forward going back in time

I had great plans for blog posts for January... and now January, 2015 has flown.  Hace dos semanas ya, todas las tiendas empezaron a vender los dulces de San Valentín. Valentine's candy has been in stores for at least two weeks. 
I would, however, like to share some wisdom that could make this still young year a more meaningful one, wisdom gained from reading G.K. Chesterton, my primary literary companion during January. As I feel time--and life--flying by, these essays encourage me to stop and look back in time, and calm and enlighten me. Although I would have disagreed with Chesterton's views on women's suffrage, among other topics, it is oh so very worth one's time to go "back" to his writing; a task made easier and quite accessible by the work of three Chesterton scholars.
Editor Dale Ahlquist, Joseph Pearce, and Aidan Mackey have compiled a scintillating collection of essays by the famous essayist, entitled In Defense of Sanity. The book's cover featur…