It’s 104 degrees outside right now, and the air conditioning is not able to keep up–this afternoon the interior temperature has risen from 78 to 85 over the last few hours.  Our fingers are crossed for the system to hold up and to regain the upper hand as the outside cools off.

With an hour and a half to go until sunset, I’m sitting at my desk, a cold towel from the freezer on my neck, rereading Shakespeare’s sonnets 1-17 for class tomorrow.  The students only have to read the four that are in the Norton Anthology of Poetry (5th shorter ed.)–1, 3, 12, and 15–plus 18 (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”), so those are the ones I’m focused on.

Something different jumps out at you every time, and today it’s these lines from 3 (“Look in the glass and tell the face thou viewest”):

Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee

Calls back the lovely April of her prime;

So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,

Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.

What’s tugging at me emotionally is the phrase “through windows of thine age”–the way it implicitly compares aging eyes to panes of wavy old window glass.  (At 46, I’m just starting to need reading glasses, and to notice how the softening of vision parallels the softening of memory.)  And intellectually, what gets me is the way Shakespeare doesn’t speak the obvious promise–that the young man will see his golden time through the “glass” of a young replica of himself–although that’s the logical idea, that the child will be the young man’s mirror image the way the young man is for his own mother.  Instead, the child himself can be tactfully overlooked in favor of the promise that “this thy golden time” will be preserved, wrinkle-free.  A moment of delicacy.  We quickly return to threats of annihilation and the grave, of course…

Matt is working on a film project with a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), so I have Agreed to Not Disclose anything about it here.  But later on he’s planning to go down to San Diego to play Fluellen and the Archbishop of Canterbury in a production of Henry V for the New Fortune Theatre Company, and they’ve just posted this lovely interview with Matt on their website:

It’s both a blessing and a curse that, over the course of a lifetime in the American theatre, an actor can do so many different jobs.  And if your head’s on straight, you can find some kind of career highlight in most, if not quite all, of them.

It was fun to read–kind of a tour through Matt’s twenty-odd years in one of the oddest and oldest professions.

brighde square

Photo by Ben Pack for USC Dornsife magazine (poorly cropped by me).

My friend and former boss, playwright and poet Brighde Mullins, has a new blog about literature, plays, Los Angeles, and who knows what else.  Anything she writes about will be interesting.

Here’s a recent post by Brighde on endings, “How Things End.”

I love this photo–if you go to Brighde’s site, you will see the whole thing.  I cropped it to include her face, some of the books on her desk, a bit of an orchid, and some of the alphabet blocks (I have a matching set in my classroom, but I do have to watch to make sure the students don’t use them to spell naughty words).

One of the things I most miss about working at USC’s MPW program is working with Brighde Mullins, Howard Ho, and the rest of the crowd there–including Dinah Lenney (whose new book The Object Parade has just come out from Counterpoint). And of course I miss the students.  It’s always about the people, isn’t it?

(Edited to correct the photo credit.)

At Viewpoint School, we have “5Up,” a lunchtime series of short talks by members of the school community–students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends.  I gave one in February, and it recently went up on the school’s YouTube channel.  Because I speak about a friend from high school, a lot of people from McDonogh School have viewed it.  That makes me happy, but in my mind the target audience is students who are in high school now.  My hope is that they will approach their daily lives with care for how their words and deeds will be remembered many years from now–and with certainty that some of what they do and say will be remembered.  (Just not necessarily the parts they expect.)

1372262495176“The Door Was Open and the House Was Dark” (from Granta) shows you how good even the minor poems of a tremendous poet can be.

Random bullets of not having posted on the blog in months (RBONHPOTBIM):

  • My poem “The Fear of the Dark” appeared on Slate a few weeks ago.
  • (Wow!)
  • We’re busy receiving and reading applications for the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.  We pushed back the deadline for scholarship applications to mid-March, but apparently we didn’t get the word out widely enough, because by mid-March we had received far fewer applications than usual.  So we’ve extended the deadline again, to April 1.  If you applied for financial assistance by March 15, rest assured that we are reading your application carefully (and we noticed that you got it in early, too).
  • Regular admissions are rolling; we recommend that you apply by April 1, but will continue to accept applications until all workshops are filled.  We keep workshops small (about 12).
  • Poetry faculty this year are Jane Hirshfield, Linda Gregerson, Major Jackson, and David St. John.
  • (Wow!)

My poem “Storm” appeared in the December 31, 2012, issue of The New Republic, embedded in Paul Starr’s review of The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver.

Other poems in the issue: Benjamin Glassman’s “Sentimental Death Text Variation” and Allison Lemnos’ “Waiting in the Midwest.”  I so admire poetry editor Henri Cole’s choices for TNR; I’m utterly delighted to be in their company!



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