Saturday, February 18, 2017

Books on the Edge of My Attention Span, February Edition

Last month I blogged about a handful of books that I have at my disposal that I all can't possibly read and I got some positive feedback about it, so I thought I'd share again.

First up, I am currently reading simultaneously The Daily Show: An Oral History (in old-timey book form)


 and also, on my tablet, The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura.

 

I had read Nakamura's noir book The Kingdom and, having enjoyed it, decided to read the first book that really put him on the map. Good stuff!

Also on my tablet is Nakamura's Evil and the Mask (which I doubt I'll read - just a gut feeling)

 

and poetry in the form of Special Orders by Edward Hirsch, which I have started and am picking at, little by little.

The vast ensemble of books I had last month has subsequently been been returned and I grabbed a handful of slim tomes to accompany my travels.

The Walking Dead, Volume 1 Days Gone By


 Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling


Songs and Sonnets by Paul Muldoon


Balloon Pop Outlaw Black by Patricia Lockwood


and

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Poetry in Motion: A Strange Beautiful Woman, by Marilyn Nelson

This is more recent, from just last year, and since the 2017 posters haven't been unveiled, you can likely spot these on the subways currently:


A Strange Beautiful Woman by Marilyn Nelson

A strange beautiful woman
met me in the mirror
the other night.
Hey,
I said,
What you doing here?
She asked me
the same thing.

~ ~ ~


Visit the MTA Poetry in Motion page here.

Bios of the poet and the artist whose work in the subway that serves as the backdrop for the poem above, which was one of four released in 2013, appears on the site here. You can also click on the Poetry in Motion tag at the bottom of the post to see prior BillyBlog posts about the series.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Poetry in Motion - To the Reader: Twlight by Chase Twichell

Here's another Poetry in Motion poster from my archives, spotted underground August 7, 2013:


To the Reader: Twilight by Chase Twichell

Whenever I look
out at the snowy
mountains at this hour
and speak directly
into the ear of the sky,
it's you I'm thinking of.
You're like the spirits
the children invent
to inhabit the stuffed horse
and the doll.
I don't know who hears me.
I don't know who speaks
when the horse speaks.

~ ~ ~


Visit the MTA Poetry in Motion page here.

Bios of the poet and the artist whose work in the subway that serves as the backdrop for the poem above, which was one of four released in 2013, appears on the site here. You can also click on the Poetry in Motion tag at the bottom of the post to see prior BillyBlog posts about the series.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Don't Cry Over Spilt Milk Chocolate


Someone was having a bad day.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Random Photos from My Past

The funny thing about the cloud is that pictures that have little or now value are stored in perpetuity, making future self wonder what my self from 2008 was thinking, like this shot from January 30, 2008. Heck, I'm not even sure that's when it was taken, but Google photos dates it thus:


The story behind this was that the local synagogue was having problems with people feeding strays in their back yard. I believe I snapped this for the rabbi as proof that even a sign couldn't deter folks from feeding these feral beasts.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Found on the C Train

I found this last night on the C train, leaving 72nd Street:


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Poetry in Motion: Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney

In BillyBlog's early days, I featured a lot of the old Poetry in Motion posters from public transportation. Over the last few years, I had taken photos, but never gotten around to posting them. 2017 has been a time of playing catch up. 

Here's one I spotted on March 5, 2014:



Scaffolding     Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

Masons, when they start upon  a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won't slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job's done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seems to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.

~ ~ ~

Visit the MTA Poetry in Motion page here.

Bios of the poet and the artist whose work in the subway that serves as the backdrop for the poem above, which was one of four released in 2014, appears on the site here.  You can also click on the Poetry in Motion tag at the bottom of the post to see prior BillyBlog posts about the series.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Poetry in Motion: Voyager by Mary Ruefle

According to my records, a took this photo four years ago today, on January 25, 2013, so it only makes sense to finally post it on the anniversary right?




The poem is "Voyager" by Mary Ruefle:

Voyager

I have become an orchid
washed in on the salt white beach.
Memory,
what can I make of it now
that might please you ---
this life, already wasted
and still strewn with
miracles?

~~~

Visit the MTA Poetry in Motion page here.



Bios of the poet and the artist whose work in the subway that serves as the backdrop for the poem above, which was one of four released in 2013, appears on the site here.  You can also click on the Poetry in Motion tag at the bottom of the post to see prior BillyBlog posts about the series.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Books on the Edge of My Attention Span

What the hell does that mean? 

www.examiner.com.au  Picture: Phillip Biggs

Living in New York City means having limited space for books, so I generally use the vast resources of the New York Public Library.

Of course, that’s like a chocoholic getting the keys to Willy Wonka’s factory, so I end up with many more books on hand than I’ll actually read.

People talk about the books they read all the time. I’m going to talk about the books I wanted to read, but didn’t. More often than not, they go back to the library unmolested by my eyes.

But first, a digression – I used to pooh-pooh electronic reading devices. Then I got a Galaxy Tab and discovered NYPL applications that enabled me to read books that were less accessible (read: volumes with immense waiting lists, or obscure enough not to warrant actual copies in house).

I came to Game of Thrones on HBO rather late, midway through season five, and I had never read the books. The wait for a volume through the library is interminable, but I discovered electronic versions available. So, I became one of those people I disdained – subway riders reading on tablets rather than carrying the actual volumes with them.

That said, I am nearing the end of the third volume, A Storm of Swords.



I have the fourth volume, A Feast for Crows, downloaded and waiting for me, although I may take a break once I finish Swords.


Also on my device are Three Poems by Josh Ashbery




 and Zeitoun by Dave Eggers.




In addition, two volumes I have borrowed hard copies of, as well, just to “have available” should the mood have struck me.

Now, on to what I have on hand from the library…

The Book of the Dead by Orikuchi Shinobu (Jeffrey Angles, tran.).




I actually started this the other day, and am on the fence as to whether I will continue. The premise is fascinating as we the tale opens up on the perspective of a ghost gaining consciousness in a crypt in eighth century Japan.

Then, there's The 60s: The Story of a Decade by contributors to The New Yorker,



Letters to Vera by Vladimir Nabokov (also on my tablet),



Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers,




The Best American Poetry 2016 (I own a copy, signed by a bunch of contributors, so this is my “reading” copy),




Falling Ill: Last Poems by C.K. Williams,



and lastly, the whimsical Literary Starbucks : fresh-brewed, half-caf, no-whip bookish humor  byJill Poskanzer, Wilson Josephson, and Nora Katz ; illustrated by Harry Bliss.



I’m actually halfway through this funny and thoughtful book about famous authors (alive and dead) going to Starbucks. It’s based on a tumblr and is clever enough to keep me remotely interested.

Clearly I can't read all of these, but I thought I'd share what I wanted to read if I had one of those spells Hermione used in the Harry Potter seriesto turn back time. 
 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Marching in Manhattan

Yesterday I participated in the Women's March in New York City.

It was amazing.

Conservative estimates put the crowd at 400,000 people. Organizers say it was closer to 600,000. Regardless, it felt like a million. It probably wasn't, but when you're packed in the streets with several hundred thousand people, you feel like the number of fellow citizens around you is immense.

I marched to support the women in my life, and countless friends and family members who feel threatened by the turn that the government is taking. The language of oppression and disenfranchisement, the threat to equality that is espoused by "leaders" who want to make the country great again when their definition of "great" and my definition of "great" are split by vast chasm of meaning.

When you're walking in the canyons of Manhattan and surrounded by fellow marchers, and you hear a distant roar, and can feel it approaching, rolling up to you in a wave of sound, you know that your one voice, when combined with others, can create an incredible noise.

I have posted several photos below that I took. I wish I had had more battery so I could take dozens more.













Saturday, January 21, 2017

Poetry in Motion: Here by Gary Snyder

I've recently posted some older Poetry in Motion posters from my archives, but there are new ones floating about, as well.

Here's one currently underground, this one spotted on the R train:




The poem is Here by Gary Snyder:

In the dark
(The new moon long set)

A soft grumble in the breeze
Is the sound of a jet so high
It's already long gone by

Some planet
Rising from the east        shines
Through the trees

It's been years since I thought,

Why are we here?
~

Visit the MTA Poetry in Motion page here.

Bios of the poet and the artist whose work in the subway that serves as the backdrop for the poem above, which was one of three released in 2016, appears on the site here.  You can also click on the Poetry in Motion tag at the bottom of the post to see prior BillyBlog posts about the series.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Poetry in Motion: Ragtime by Kevin Young

Here's another Poetry in Motion poster from my archives:

Here's one I caught on 2012, most likely on the R train:



The poem is Ragtime by Kevin Young:

Like hot food
I love you

like warm
bread & cold

cuts, butter
sammiches

or, days later, after
Thanksgiving

when I want
whatever's left.
~

Visit the MTA Poetry in Motion page here.

You can actually see the posters in all their glory, like the one above, which first appeared on the subways in 2012.

Bios of the poet and the artist whose work in the subway that serves as the backdrop for the poem above appears on the site here.  You can also click on the Poetry in Motion tag at the bottom of the post to see prior BillyBlog posts about the series.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Poetry in Motion, Untitled by Jeffrey Yang

Here's another Poetry in Motion poster from my archives:

Here's one I caught on 2012, most likely on the R train:



The poem is Untitled by Jeffrey Yang:

west of rest is sleep
east, dream
where waters meet
north, emptiness,
south, wakefulness,
and out, rising up
to the stars, peace
~

Visit the MTA Poetry in Motion page here.

You can actually see the posters in all their glory, like the one above, which first appeared on the subways in 2012.

Bios of the poet and the artist whose work in the subway that serves as the backdrop for the poem above appears on the site here.  You can also click on the Poetry in Motion tag at the bottom of the post to see prior BillyBlog posts about the series.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Poetry in Motion: Heaven by Patrick Phillips

Many years ago, I used to post subway posters from a series called "Poetry in Motion."

Then the series was discontinued, and BillyBlog became a barely occasional outlet for me.

However, the series was resurrected in the last few years and I have, on occasion, managed to snap a few photos of the posters.

Here's one I caught on December 1, 2015, most likely on the R train:


The poem is "Heaven" by Patrick Phillips:

It will be the past
and we'll live there together.

Not as it was to live
but as it is remembered.

It will be the past.
We'll all go back together.

Everyone we ever loved,
and lost, and must remember.

It will be the past,
And it will last forever.

~

Visit the MTA Poetry in Motion page here.

You can actually see the posters in all their glory, like the one above, which first appeared on the subways in 2014.

Bios of the poet and the artist whose work in the subway that serves as the backdrop for the poem above appears on the site here.  You can also click on the Poetry in Motion tag at the bottom of the post to see prior BillyBlog posts about the series.