Sunday, August 13, 2017

BW33: Happy Birthday - Alfred Corn

Alfred Corn - August 14, 1943 



Happy birthday to American poet, Alfred Corn, who will be 74 on August 14th. 



Fire: The People  


Toplight hammered down by shadowless noon, 
A palindrome of midnight, retrograde 
From last month’s solstice in smoke and flame, 
In molten glares from chrome or glass. I feel 
Fever from the cars I pass, delirium 
Trembling out from the radiators. 
The dog-day romance seems to be physical, 
As young free lances come into their own, 
Sunbrowned, imperial in few clothes, 
Heat-struck adulthood a subject to youth 
And fitful as traffic, the mind pure jumble 
But for that secret overriding voice 
Advising and persuading at each crossroads; 
The struggle toward freedom to forge a day. 

Smoke; flame; oiled, gray-brown air. 
Jackhammers and first gear on the avenues; 
Stuntmen driving taxicabs; patient, blue, 
Hippo aggressiveness of a bus, nudging 
Aside the sedans. And the peculiar 
Fascination of a row of workshops— 
The dark interiors with skylight sunstripes; 
A figure walking in slow motion among 
Pistons; rough justice of a die cutter; 
A helmeted diver, wielding acetylene, 
Crouched over some work of sunken treasure 
That sparkles gold at a probe from his torch . . . . 
Seismic shocks interrupt this dream—a stampede 
Of transports flat out to make the light, 
Mack truck, Diamond Reo, a nameless tanker, 
IT International, a Seatrain destined 
For the Port Authority docks—one more 
Corrugated block to pile on the rest, 
Red, green, gray, and blue, waiting for a ship 
In the Grancolombiana line . . . . 
The seagoing city radiates invisibly 
Over the world, a documentary sublime. 

Lunch hour, even the foods are fast, potluck 
In the melting pot: the Italian girl 
With a carton of chicken; Puerto Rican folding 
A pizza; the black woman with an egg roll; 
A crop-headed secretary in round, 
Metal spectacles eats plain yogurt (she’s 
Already mantis thin) and devours glamour 
Mags . . . . Our crowd scene, a moving fresco: 
But is it really there? The adversary 
Today is named Random. How capture all this 
Without being taken captive in turn, 
Install it as something more than backdrop, 
As a necessity, not a sundry? 
Suppose just an awareness of the way 
Living details might be felt as vision 
Is vision, full, all there ever was—this 
Instant palindromic noon, the joined hands 
Of the clock, end and beginning . . . . Surely 
The first to consider imagining stars 
Constellations had already done as much, 
Just by making some brilliant connections; 
Mind crowned itself in a round of leaps from point 
To point across the empty stage of night . . . . 

* * * * * 

Now as a pigeon banks, descends, hovers, 
And drops on asphalt with back-thrust wings, 
Comes a desire to be lifted in the balance, 
Rise to some highest point and then be met 
By a fierce new light haloing lashes shatter 
Into spears of aurora, naked eye become 
Prismatic at last and given to see in kind 
All the transformed inhabitants forever go 
About their errands, on a new scale: the rainbow 
Is the emblem for this moment filtering through 
The body’s meshwork nerves, and a heartbeat impulse 
All around puts troops of feet in step with music, 
Persistent, availing, that disregards the frayed 
Years, vagaries, downfall among trash, accident, 
Loss; or because it knows these rushes upward 
On something like heartbreak into the only sky, 
Air aspirant with fractioned voices, feverfew 
Of the sensed illusion, higher ground, progressions 
Sounded in the spheres—so each step takes them further, 
Sceptered, into daytime, saluting the outcome. 
There is a fire that surpasses the known burning, 
Its phoenix center a couple that must be there, 
Blast furnace, dynamo, engendering a city, 
Phosphor spines that bend and meet to weld, to fuse 
As a divining rod—sluicings, spillway, braid, 
Chorded basses that set myriad threads afire, 
Newborn limbs and reach of the proven tendon now 
Let go into empowered brilliance, rayed showers, 
The garden regained. In this light the place appears: 
Hands that rise or fall, muted gestures of welcome 
And good-bye, face that turns and comes forward to claim 
A smile latent in the afternoon air, vague crowds 
Falling down streets without character toward 
An offered covenant—love that gives them each a name. 



To learn more about Alfred Corn, check out this interview with Jorge Rodriguez-Miralles in 2013 as well as Huff Post Interview about World War I poets and Pif Magazine's interview with Derek Alger.

*****************************************************
Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.



Sunday, August 6, 2017

BW32: Dorothy Dunnett

Dorothy Dunnett
Courtesy of the Dorothy Dunnett Society

I am currently reading Dorothy Dunnett's  historical fiction novel Niccolo Rising set in the mid 15th Century.  It is well written and is one of those hard to put down, forget what time it is, and stay up way past your bedtime reads.  

Dorothy was born August 25, 1923 and grew up in Edinburgh.  She discovered writing at the age of 38 and during her lifetime, wrote twenty two books and helped compile two companion books detailing the historical events and characters in her books.

She started writing The Game of Kings, the first book in the Lymond Chronicles, in the late 50's.  After being rejected by British publishers, she had it published in America.  Her husband, Alistair, asked Lois Dwight Cole, the American editor of Gone With the Wind if she'd read the manuscript. Immediately upon reading the book, she offered Dunnett a writing contract.

Dunnett went on to write 6 books in the Lymond Chronicles series:

The Game of Kings
Queens’ Play
The Disorderly Knights
Pawn in Frankincense
The Ringed Castle
Checkmate

Upon finishing the Lymond series, her publisher requested she write a standalone novel about a major historical figure.  She went on to write King Hereafter, the story of the real Macbeth (not Shakespeare's version) with the premise Macbeth was Thorfinn, the Earl of Orkney.

Not satisfied with writing stand alone novels, she went on to write the 8 books series called The House of Niccolo:

Niccolò Rising
Spring of the Ram
Race of Scorpions
Scales of Gold
The Unicorn Hunt
To Lie with Lions
Caprice and Rondo
Gemini

Meanwhile, while writing both the Chronicles and the Niccolo series, she also wrote a detective series called the Dolly series,,also known as the Johnson Johnson series which were published under her maiden name, then later republished and renamed.   The series was reprinted in 2012 and all are available on Kindle.

Dorothy died at the age of 78 on November 9th, 2001 after a short illness. The Dorothy Dunnett Society had a memorial stone created in her honor in 2006 and placed near the entrance to the Scottish Writer's Museum.  




Join me in reading one or more of Dorothy Dunnett's novels.  


*************************************************************
Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.