Monday, March 31, 2008
#1.Blogging isn't necessarily "blogging"
By which I mean, a lot of people, especially literary types my age and older, have set ideas about what blogs and the so-called "blogging culture" are--- and they are missing the whole point. It's a literary genre, kindasorta, but it's also a delivery system, the whole Web 2.0 social networking technology-phenomenon--- in sum, we do not yet have the precise vocabulary to describe this. I've told writer friends who resist blogging (with that inevitable oh-so-subtle curl-of-the-lip), if you have a newsletter--- and many do nowadays, as adjuncts to their websites--- you already are "blogging." Just call your newsletter a blog. And if you have some resistance to that, well, then, call your blog a "newsletter." Call it a cupcake, whydoncha! Apropos of which: "To Blog or Not to Blog, That is Not the Question".
#2. Good blogging is more than flogging.
I don't read "flog blogs"--- the thud of "me, me, mine," is deadly. The best blogs offer quality writing and quality information--- however quirky a combination (e.g., Phronesisaical's politics, philosophy, international affairs & fruit) or specialized (e.g., Seth Godin's Blog on marketing). (That said, um... why take ads when I can advertise my own books? Yes indeed, look over to right side of this screen for all relevant links.)
#3. My blog is not a log or diary of my life; neither is it a forum or a community bulletin board. It's a filter.
You want to know what blogs to read? Come see what I recommend here and here and here. Want to find out about some extraordinary books? Try this 1,000-year-old apparently true adventure that almost defies belief and Hypnerotomachia Poliphili and all 10 of these. And how about this mind-blowing (literally) video, this Icelandic movie and this sleep-inducing CD and the magic Baby Muse... I blog about my books, events and workshops (yeah, I'm flogging) but also, generally, my interests, my tastes, what I want to share (e.g., "All Hail E.T., Minister of Information!") and celebrate (e.g., Mexico's beloved English eccentric's masterwork, "Las Pozas"). If you don't like it, fine, there is an ocean of blogs out there, wade in. Why not start your own?
#4. Blogging (and balancing blogging with my other writing, and the ever-roaring cascade of e-mails, etc, etc.) requires increasingly advanced time-management skills.
As I noted in my recent post, Time to Blog & Read Blogs & Everything Else Everywhereallthetime, apropos of writers' blogs, "...it seems to me that, as artists--- artists who live in this world of unimaginable quantities of information 24/ 7--- we need to develop a set of skills we never knew we needed." I've learned a lot about organization and productivity (two of my gurus are Regina Leeds and David Allen) but I know I have yet to learn more than I can probably imagine--- and this would be true whether I were blogging or not. That said, I rarely watch television or use a cell phone, and I've moved this blog to a more regular (if flexible) schedule: posts on Mondays and in-between more often than not; guest-bloggers generally on Wednesdays.
#5. Lists are good. Links are even better. Lists of links, yay!
I love my guest-bloggers. Check 'em out. (Coming up in the next weeks: Leslie Pietrzyk, Graham Mackintosh, Daniel Olivas, and more...) Like I said, it' all about Web 2.0. More anon.
--->For the archive of Madam Mayo's posts on blogging, click here.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
...and the position of each was recorded using a GPS instrument. In addition to photographing each site, oral history was taken from the area's residents. Sketches record the configuration of sites not previously mapped, and in the case of the largest Baja California mission, Comondu, the foundation was traced and old photographs utlized to computer-generate three dimensional architectural drawings...
The book is available from Santa Barbara's Viejo Press as well as Baja Books and Maps. More anon.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Mexico has inspired some of the greatest writers in both the Spanish and English languages. From D.H. Lawrence to Laura Esquivel, from Graham Greene to our own C.M. Mayo-- jumping in amongst them while I was travelling around Mexico researching Sliced Iguana was a daunting but thrilling experience. Here are my desert island favourites:
# 1. Sibyl Bedford's A Visit to Don Otavio
A journey taken in the 1950s but rediscovered by Eland Press in the 1980s, this book encapsulates, for me, the essence of good travel writing. Never one to shy away from describing the frustrations and discomforts of travel, Sibyl Bedford is nonetheless quick as a hummingbird to suck the sweetness from every experience. Typically, she confesses she chose Mexico because she wanted "to be in a country with a long nasty history in the past, and as little present history as possible" but it's her idyllic stay with Don Otavio, a bankrupt squire living in a colonial mansion in a forgotten backwater with seventeen servants, that becomes the highlight of her travels. Her hilarious, pithy dialogues are pure genius. Not your average tourist experience but a wonderful insight into Mexico's colonial past and how to travel in style.
# 2. Octavio Paz's Labyrinth of Solitude
By the master himself, this rich, deep, dark searching into the very psyche of Mexico gets closer, I think, to the heart of 'Mexicanidad' than anything else. This is by no means a comfortable read -- "We are alone", he says, "Solitude, the source of anxiety, begins on the day we are deprived of maternal protection and fall into a strange and hostile world..."-- but Paz's passionate, tortured honesty winds an illuminating path around Mexico's painful and bloody past, shedding light on what it really means to be born a Mexican.
# 3. Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano
A cult novel of self-destruction that hooked me long before I was seduced by my first taste of mescal.
# 4. Bernal Diaz's Conquest of New Spain
Written by the last of Cortes' conquistadors fifty years after the event, and therefore to be taken with the necessary pinch of salt, this swashbuckling account of the Spaniards' first steps in the New World and their encounters and battles with the Aztecs and other 'Indians' nevertheless has all the adrenaline-rush of history in the making and reads-- in the masterfully edited Penguin Classics version-- like an Homeric epic.
# 5. Carlos Fuentes' A New Time for Mexico
A brilliant collection of essays exploring Mexico's present and its future in a delightfully frank and accessible way. It's a wise and beautifully written collection, of course, as captivating as any of Carlos Fuentes' novels, but these essays are also-- refreshingly-- full of hope.
--->For more guest-blog posts, click here.
--->Up next Wednesday: novelist Leslie Pietrzyk
Monday, March 24, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
The subject of my book--- the construction in the 1920s and early 1930s of America's first major highway project, and its most visible remnant, the Pulaski Skyway crossing the New Jersey Meadowlands--- appealed to me because it was a neglected piece of history, in which new technology (the automobile and its transformation of America) ran headlong into old-style urban machine politics, touching off a vicious labor war that led directly to a sensational murder trial, and indirectly to a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. When I wasn't dabbling in biography and political science to describe labor unions and the long reign of political boss Frank Hague, I was trying to get my brain around bridge design and the developing science of traffic engineering, all while contemplating industrial archaeology and the unlikely aesthetic appeal of a gigantic pile of black steel crossing some of the ugliest real estate on the eastern seaboard.
Since I am termperamentally incapable of doing only one thing at a given time, it was a hugely enjoyable project. In the same spirit, here are five highly recommended sites that sit at the crossroads of history, industry, commerce and art.
#1. Modern Ruins
Photographer Phil Buehler's site is a showcase for his images of industrial archaeology, such as the old World's Fair site in New York and the defunct Greystone facility in northern New Jersey. Among the most striking images are interiors from the derelict Alcoa factory in Edgewater, a New Jersey community huddled along the Hudson River at the foot of the Palisades -- not far from Jersey City.
#2. The Biographer's Craft
Just a year old this month, James McGrath Morris' monthly newsletter offers news of upcoming and recently sold biographies, shop talk on writing and research, and links to reference sites (many supplied by readers) that will surprise even the most wonkish of Web surfers. I'm always delighted to see the latest issue pop up in my in-box.
#3. Librarians' Internet Index
Happy surprises and unexpected bits of information are the lifeblood of research, and this is a great place to find them. A frequently updated, constantly churned collection of links to "Websites you can trust," on topics ranging from U.S. history and gardening to international law and film history.
#4. History of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Engineering failure is one of the themes of The Last Three Miles, and this site maintained by the University of Washington showcases one of the most notorious bridge failures in U.S. history.
#5. Dark Passage
It was through the beautiful site Detroitblog that I learned about the subculture of urban infiltrators, those freelance archaeologist-adventurers who love nothing better than to explore long abandoned buildings, factories and facilities where the detritus of modern life is still turning into history. I really and truly admire the combination of intellectual curiosity, thrill-seeking and sheer balls-to-the-wall spelunking nerve involved in exploring sealed-off buildings and tunnels that are ignored by the rest of the world.
--- Steven Hart
--->To read more Madam Mayo guest-blog posts, click here.
Up next week: travel writer Isabella Tree
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
1.) The Thousand Mile Song
The book's main website.
2.) David Rothenberg plays for Russian Belugas
3.) Serenading Belugas in the White Sea: Rhapsody in Beluga
Orion Magazine article by David Rothenberg
5.) CD: Whale Music
Jazz that reaches out to the sounds of the natural world. Lyrical, pure and tinged with a little bit of bird, whale, and bug.
---> To read more Madam Mayo guest-blog posts click here.
Up next Wednesday: Steven Hart.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Friday, March 07, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
New from Tameme Chapbooks ~ Cuadernos: "Ghosts of the Palace of Blue Tiles" by Jorge Fernández Granados
Dear friends and amigos of Tameme:
As many of you know, Tameme recently ceased publication of the Tameme literary journal in order to focus on publishing chapbooks. Our mission is to promote English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English literary translation by publishing new writing from North America— Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. With the chapbooks, we celebrate and disseminate this new writing and translation in an attractive and more affordable format.
We are delighted to announce the publication of Tameme's second bilingual chapbook, "Los fantasmas del Palacio de los Azulejos" / "Ghosts of the Palace of Blue Tiles," a beautiful collection poems by one of the most outstanding Mexican poets of his generation, Jorge Fernández Granados, splendidly translated by John Oliver Simon.
Click here to read the title poem, "Los fantasmas del Palacio de los Azulejos" / "Ghosts of the Palace of Blue Tiles". The chapbook's cover painting, "Tiled Window, Seashell and View of Mexico City," is by acclaimed Mexican artist Elena Climent. Please consider purchasing a copy for yourself, for friends (it makes a great gift!), and if you teach, please also consider adopting a Tameme chapbook as a textbook. Read about our other titles, including last year's chapbook, "Carne verde, piel negra / An Avocado from Michoacan," a short story by Agustin Cadena, translated by C.M. Mayo, in the Tameme catalog.
Tameme, Inc. is a nonprofit foundation based in the state of California. Your purchase and / or donation help support quality literary translation and intercultural understanding.
Editor, Tameme www.tameme.org
-->Jorge Fernández Granados's webpage.
-->Interview with Jorge Fernández Granados in La Jornada.
-->John Oliver Simon's webpage.
-->Recent interview on MiPOesias with editor C.M. Mayo.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
I was lucky enough to have met C.M. Mayo at an artist colony and to spend time with her again at another colony years later. I write well at home, being plagued by nothing more than a couple of very small dogs, yet I am a fan of colonies and retreats because of the camaraderie: the chance to talk shop, commiserate, and champion. But residencies are tough to carve out of one’s life, so my primary source of artistic amity has been a writers’ group, with which I have been involved for over a decade. You’d think veterans such as we are would have had enough of workshopping back in our student days, but writing is a lonely pursuit, and, unless one has a fantastic editor, it’s difficult to get thoughtful feedback on one’s work. Not that I always have loved responses I’ve gotten from the Providence Area Writers’ Group! Certainly, I have groused to my husband over a glass of wine about how the group just didn’t get it, just didn’t get me. Time and again, though, the wisdom of the critiques set in within a few days, and I moved from frustration to gratitude.
“We don’t give criticism,” an editor of a literary journal once said. “No one really wants criticism.” My God! I thought. It’s true! Then what am I doing teaching Creative Writing? I shared this anecdote with my PAW Group pal, Ann Harleman, who told me, “No one wants criticism, but everyone wants help.” And this seemed to me a greater truth. Everyone wants help.
That’s what the PAW Group, in its various incarnations, has given me. Wonderful people and wonderful writers— Rand Cooper, Jim English, Ann Hood, Elliot Krieger, Marcia Lieberman, Judy McClain, Nancy Reisman, and Lucy Stevens, to name some—have been members of the group, and I remain grateful for their help as well as for the schmooze and the friendship. After all these years, I also am nearly as pleased by these friends’ successes as I am by my own—and that’s saying a lot for a writer. So I am happy to have the opportunity to share links to websites of the current members of the group. Read their work. If you find a great passage, I’ll be happy to take credit for it...
Adam Braver is the author of Mr. Lincoln’s Wars; Divine Sarah, and Crows Over the Wheatfield. His books have been selected for the Barnes and Noble Discover New Writers program, Borders’ Original Voices series, and twice for the Book Sense list. His work has appeared in journals such as Daedalus, Ontario Review, Cimarron Review, West Branch, and Post Road. He teaches at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI, and is a Writer-in-Residence at the NY State Summer Writers Institute.
Ed Hardy grew up in Ithaca, New York and has an MFA from Cornell. He’s the author of two novels: Keeper and Kid and Geyser Life. His short stories have appeared in over twenty magazines, including Ploughshares, GQ, Prairie Schooner, Boulevard, Yankee, and The Quarterly. He has been a newspaper reporter and editor, first for the Burlington Times Union, a weekly north of Boston, and later for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. He has taught creative writing at Cornell and Boston College and currently teaches nonfiction writing at Brown. His short fiction has been listed in The Best American Short Stories and he has twice won fiction fellowships from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
Ann Harleman is the author of the short story collections, Thoreau's Laundry and Happiness, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Award; and the novels, The Year She Disappeared, and Bitter Lake. Among her awards are Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellowships, three Rhode Island State Arts Council grants, the Berlin Prize in Literature, and the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where she is on the faculties of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Hester Kaplan is the author of The Edge of Marriage, a short story collection; and Kinship Theory, a novel. Her awards include an NEA, the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, Writer's Community/YMCA Writer-in-Residence Award, Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Fellowship, and work chosen for inclusion in Best American Short Stories 1998 and 1999.
Elizabeth Searle is the author of three books of fiction: Celebrities in Disgrace, a novella; A Four-Sided Bed, a novel nominated for an American Library Association Book Award, and My Body to You, a story collection that won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize. Her most recent work is Tonya & Nancy: The Opera (2006), which has drawn worldwide media attention.
---> To read more of Madam Mayo's guest-blog posts, click here.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
P.S. Check out Christine Boyka Kluge's August 2007 guest-blog post for Madam Mayo on "Hybrid Writing, Collaborations, and Experimental Work"
Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Speech, But What Tips These Speechwriters for Washington Big-Wigs Can Give You
A very special Washington Independent Writers Workshop tonight in Bethesda MD with Dr. Rosemary King, a Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force who currently writes for a U.S. cabinet member (she's also the author of Border Confluences: Borderland Narratives from the Mexican War to the Present); freelancer Ed Vilade; and Fannie Mae speechwriter Jan Cook.
Speechwriting in the real world is not going to be the way it is in the classroom or in the seminar--- not as neat and clean, not as academic and cerebral. There are clients to be gotten, gatekeepers and reviewers to be circumvented and/or mollified, wooden clients to be animated, unreasonable deadlines and expectations to be surmounted. Speechwriters must address audience, message, tone, and the cadence of speaking, rather than the rhythm of the written word. While a very different style of writing, it also can be very lucrative... READ MORE AND REGISTER.