LA Times Book Festival

Went to the LA Times Book Festival this weekend for the first time in my life and I immensely enjoyed it. While it was hot, I went inside to participate (or more like glean) from a couple of panels. I first went to a panel with author William Kittride only because I did not know who he was beforehand and had won an award the night previous. I am not a fan of Westerns, but the talk was good. There is something you always can learn from other authors.
The next panel I went to was with four poets – Muske-Davis, Erin Belieu, Thom Satterlee and David St. John. Out of the four I have to say I liked Thom Satterlee and David St. John the best. They also spoke the least too. Which was not why I liked them the most, it was just that Carol Muske-Davis was long-winded. Thom Satterlee and Erin Belieu were finalists for the LA Times Book Award for Poetry (which again, out of the finalists I liked Thom Satterlee first, then the winner Frank). Erin, Thom and David all had helpful things to say to those who are in the process of writing their own poetry, which is probably why I enjoyed this weekend the most. It was an encouragement to refocus again on why I love to write rather than focusing on it as a product. Too often I find myself wanting to prove myself through producing a product and by not having a book or an official magazine I feel lost. Our culture focuses too much on a product rather than the process. Anyhows…it is late and it was a long weekend. Back to work tomorrow, though hopefully I will have the determination not to let it drain me of all my senses.


Travel Book

It is almost the end of April, but I just wanted to note a book I just finished by Alastair Humphreys. He just (or well just in the past few years) biked/pedeled (not a motorcycle) around the world and now is writing a series of books about his adventures. If you want something different to read, go check him out. I’m reviewing his book “Moods of Future Joys” (and hopefully his new one when it comes out) for RedFence (which you should also check out if you have not already.

In honor of going to San Fran

Here’s something by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (I should be finishing mapping out where I’m going and studying the maps, but well…) about Allen Ginsberg dying. I wanted to post something I liked by Kerouac or Ginsberg, but nothing particularly struck me (except for “Song” by Ginsberg – that came the closest, but still its not a favorite poem). Both poets are striving for the metaphysical – Ginsberg keeps refering to Blake in his poetry, who I also hold a love/hate relationship. What stands out the most in their poetry and writing (I’m also in the middle of “On the Road” by Kerouac) is how misdirected were their passions. They want to burn like Roman Candles, yet they are not sure who or what they want to burn for. If they could have found a calling in which they could burn, then they would have been even more remarkable. As it is, their writings and lives still do stand out, even with heavy weight of lostness. As technology develops more and more, youth will have more freedom to choose and thus be all the more lost in sea of options. It is this feeling that is growing and which most people can share in with Kerouac and Ginsberg. Because Ginsberg (and this is from a light/medium knowledge of his work and life) never acheived or showed a calling that he living out (besides searching the metaphsycial universe and writing poetry that everyone can share in), I do not see him as “great.” And that is why this poem stands out to me, because of its eulogistic nature and thus nobilizing the life and person of Ginsberg. Yes, Ginsberg was famous and did write some lyrics, but what else has he really done? Just think of what he could have done if he only had more direction.

Allen Ginsburg Dying
by Lawerence Ferlinghetti

Allen Ginsburg is dying
It’s all in the papers
It’s on the evening news
A great poet is dying
But his voice
won’t die
His voice is on the land
In Lower Manhattan
in his own bed
he is dying
There is nothing
to do about it
He is dying the death that everyone dies
He is dying the death of a poet
He has a telephone in his hand
and he calls everyone
from his bed in Lower Manhattan
All around the world
late at night
the telephone is ringing
“This is Allen”
The voice says
“Allen Ginsburg calling”
How many times have they heard it
over the long great years
He doesn’t have to say Ginsburg
All around the world
in the world of poets
There is only one Allen
“I wanted to tell you” he says
He tells them what’s happening
what’s coming down
on him
Death the dark lover
going down on him
His voice goes by satellite
over the land
over the Sea of Japam
where he once stood naked
trident in hand
like a young Neptune
a young man with black beard
standing on a stone beach
It is high tide and the seabirds cry
The waves break over him now
and the seabirds cry
on the San Francisco waterfront
There is a high wind
There are great white caps
lashing the Embarcadero
Allen is on the telephone
His voice is on the waves
I am reading Greek poetry
The sea is in it
Horses weep in it
The horses of Achilles
weep in it
here by the sea
in San Francisco
where the waves weep
they make a sibilant sound
a sibylline sound
they whisper

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, April 4,1997

Lately work has been insane, mostly due to the fact that there was that layoff so there’s a lot of work but not enought people to do it all. I have been finding it difficult to keep with anything as I’m constantly busy the entire eight hours. Thankfully, I will be taking off tomorrow for a small roadtrip with my sister up the coast of California. Not quite sure of what all that entails, but it does at least gurantee a week away.

This week I got free dinner tickets to the LA Times Book Prizes ceremony from my dad. I’m fairly certain its the dinner and ceremony, but I can’t remember exactly (I actually found out about it two weeks ago, but didn’t know for certain whether I’d be able to get the tickets or not). Either way, I’m excited to go, especially for free. And I get to bring a guest too, which is always nice.

March Round Up

Books for March, which is early compared to last month.

Theif Lord by Cornelia Funke
My first children’s book in awhile and it was worth it. It is written with children in mind, but I didn’t mind. Especially since the “Theif Lord” was to be like Robin Hood – stealing from the rich to feed orphan children in Vienna. Through the novel the children do come to trust the adults in their lives, which is probably a big lesson for children to learn. [4/5]

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Foer
I listened to this audiobook at work and found myself creating reasons to sit at my desk for long periods of time. If I had to do it again, I would not listen to this book while working. I was surprised at the story and found myself knee-deep in before too long. Oskar is such a likeable character that he wins your heart right along with all the other characters in the book. The images and lessons of loneliness are moving too. Foer paints several beautiful and touching scenes in this book, just like Coupland if not better. [4/5]

The Stranger by Albert Camus
As I read this book I could not help but be further convinced that this man was cold-hearted. This is something I have been wanting to read since it was on a reading list for an Existentialism class in college. Here is a man who awaits his death and thus begins trying to justify a murder and his existence. I wish I knew more about Existentialism to be able to more fully appreciate this book, but alas I have not. The story is short and fairly simple enough for anyone to pick it up. And if you find yourself wishing that he did not have to receive justice, then you did not get the book. [3/5]

It is past my bed time and I honestly can’t remember if I read anything else. I stared at the screen for ten minutes before remembering that I read Camus (and that was only two weeks ago). This month has been stressful at work which has caused my reading to slack some. In a couple weeks I go on vacation and hopefully will have plenty of time to read (or at last read something!)