Walking Boston – A Sonnet

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Conversation with a friend today brought to mind an Italian Sonnet I wrote for ‘Forms of Poetry,’ a class taught by the luminous and charmingly irreverent Bill Knott back in my time at Emerson College.

Ask me today what distinguishes an Italian Sonnet from an English or Contemporary, and I couldn’t begin to tell you. Similarly, I’m not 100% sure why some words in the poem are bolded, other than it has to do with willfully breaking the rules related to pentameter.

I’m not much of a poet. To my memory, that was my reasoning for enrolling in this class (and by enrolling, I mean taking my poetry-phobic self by the figurative collar and giving myself a good shake) that I count among my favorites and most influential. Though I remain, not much of a poet, I do love the sonnet.

Enough dylanizing, as they used to say in my high school writing classes.

Walking Boston/Eyes Shut
(1998)

See my mistake? I leapt to learn this town
Inside and out but now I know so well
(too well) the streets, the smells, the way brick walls
can soak in sound like snow, and have you found
my error? How I spend my time withdrawn,
how I trek the streets alone until
my thoughts run dry and I give up and stroll
with my eyes shut to pass the time. I’ve known

All along my mistake, my faulty thinking.
I thought this Boston winking down at me
Was magic. But perhaps I put the splendor
There? Maybe, while I dreamt-walked, it sank in.
When I awoke to cross the street I may
Have lost it and the city let me wonder.

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The Reading Life – Favorite Begs & Ends

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In a recent assignment I created for my writer’s group, I asked members to identify their favorite beginnings and endings. Readymade blogpost, what-what?! 

The Assignment
Select/identify three to five of your favorite beginning and/or ending sentences from books, articles, poems, what have you. What moves you about each?

Phoebe’s Favs

BEGS
“I can’t believe you’ve come back
Like the train I missed so badly, barely
Which stopped and returned for me. It scared me
Humming backwards along the track.” – sonnet by Brenda Shaughnessy, “Rise” –love the imagery & sensuality, the “meet-cute” of the mundane & the shocking

“Tyger, Tyger burning bright” –sonnet by William BlakeThe Tyger– intrigue, danger, fire, tigers, wow!

EQ This cover alone brought me careening into the world of comics, of which I’m now a lifetime Reader (cap intended)

ENDS
“She was not someone’s sister, she was not someone’s child. She was Dolores, and Dolores was the good guys.” – Bruce BrooksDolores: Seven Stories About Her –I think this is the best summarization of a character; the tone of these two lines has inspired several characters in my own novels

“Peace, tremulous, unexpected, sent a taproot out of nowhere into Morgan’s heart.” –Patricia McKillipRiddle-Master: The Complete TrilogyThis quote appears, unbidden, in my thoughts on a regular basis and has deeply influenced what I think an ending should be

“It was only then that Burl noticed that someone found him a real pair of shoes. They seemed quite new, and they fit him well.” –Tim Wynne-JonesThe Maestrosays so little, says so much, I ♥ the practical

YOU
So how about you, my friend? Begs & Ends?

What Is It: Street Sign Guy

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Not so long ago, I noticed this drawing on the back side of the Rindge & Latin High School in Cambridge.

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I thought: hmmm. Then, one day, I biked past at around dusk and discovered this:

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Ah ha! A perfectly placed street sign turned this bit of silliness into a full-on character, with personality. (Maybe that’s why no one has yet painted over it?) Other than graffiti or street-art, I don’t know what one calls this type of offering, but I’m a fan. Every time I pass, makes me smile.

Long live the Street Sign Guy.

Whole Heart (Accidental) Hiatus

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This accidental Whole Heart vacation, where energies led away from updating this blog, I took part in the following:

Waved so-long, but never goodbye, to good friends Patricia and Yutian, who are continuing their adventures in congressional fellowship-ness (sounds fancy) and law down in DC.

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Bid a final goodbye to my Cousin/Uncle Bubby who, through his teasing, fun-loving nature, taught me how to show up for life. And show up well.

Bubby and Phoebe

Took part in two retreats – one up in Concord, MA with Our Commonwealth, one in Rockport, MA with a group of writer friends.

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Completed a draft of my middle grade novel that I feel, finally, has something of value and uniqueness to tempt the market. Connected to this, got to engage in some really great research via zines.

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Fell in obsession love with fan fiction in a big way. That’s a post for another day.

Practiced standing up . . .

(c) Agassiz Baldwin Community 2014

(c) Agassiz Baldwin Community 2014

. . . learned about surrender with OnBeing podcast.

What will the next season bring?

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Novel Summer

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Dear Wholeheart friends,

I’ve been remiss! This summer, June to September, was spent winding my novel down to a close. Ten years of running towards it/running away/running-in-circles finally culminating in my typing the final words of a strange, difficult, fun, inspiring adventure. Can’t tell you more yet, but soon, I hope.

In the meantime, please enjoy this little snapshot of autumn moving in.

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Dance It Out In the Boston Dance Underground

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Some eleven or twelve years into my Boston life, I discovered what I’ve dubbed the Dance Underground. Not clubs. Not classes. Not weddings or any other official-type events. More like dancing in someone’s living room with a whole host of new friends. Or biking down the Southwest Corridor path and discovering a free dance night hosted in a converted garage. That kind of underground.

Sliding scale cover charge sign

the baby dances

From the annual Cambridge City Dance Party to the Holi Color Festival, there are just so many low (and no!) cost ways to shake your groove thing. Including one frighteningly wonderful offering in my own backyard.

globe string lights

hoola hoops and giant slinky

alison & adreinne at dj station

Modeled after Cambridge’s Dance Freedom and Dance Friday weekly events, Dance JP is the child of two well-organized, tune-toting members of the Boston community. On the third Saturday of each month these ladies and accompanying volunteers rent and set up a function room at the First Baptist Church on Centre Street. There’s food, pillows on which to lounge when not dancing, hoola-hoops, and string lights. And the crowd. Wow, the crowd. Age 0+, age 60+, age everybody-in-between. The smiles and bare feet. The moves and grooves. The leaps and laughter. It’s not something to miss.

See you there?

view of feet in dance space

chatting on the dance floor

out-of-focus dancing at dance jp

balloon and people dancing

When You Wish You Had a Photo, But Are Also Glad You Don’t

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As it often happens, one of the most beautiful and magical moments of my life has no accompanying photo.

It’s a gorgeous summer evening. Campus in Rhode Island that I’ve grown to know twice, through the eyes and experiences of a sweet/funny/gentle friend and a dynamic/gorgeous/brainy cousin. This time I’m here for the cousin. Round bulbs are strung, or maybe they’re string-lights. There’s a wide swarth of soft lawn, slightly wet, mite-bit muddy.

People are everywhere. Many younger than me, some older. I feel them more than see/hear them. There’s expectation, joy, excitement.

With my cousin, mother, and aunt, I’m crossing in front of a band on a stage. My slip-on shoes are off. We’re headed somewhere, perhaps to tables to sit. But first we’re going to dance.

Three of us women, traipsing across the lawn. Cakewalking. Skipping, dancing. Perhaps people notice us, perhaps they don’t. For me the world is just us three, the misty night sky, the music. Planet spinning under foot.

The moment was just that – a moment. And, for me, an eternity of joy.

Beauty in the Mail

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The story, as I like to tell is, is that I knew immediately, when Kirsten punched me (hard!) in the arm while we were meeting for, perhaps, the first time at a volunteer gig in high school: I’m going to be this woman’s friend. That’s it. Ever since.

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In high school, Kirsten introduced me to some of my favorite musicians. Her family always held smiles for me when I visited and treated me like I was an equal, not just their oldest daughter’s friend. Her sister and friends didn’t seem to mind that I tagged along to their parties and events.

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We grew and changed and moved, as friends often do. Yet, the central piece of our friendship remains. That curiosity, that humor, that attention to what is simple and sweet and beautiful.

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Dear Kirsten, I’m sorry I’m late in saying (as I often am, but . . . ) thanks. Those West Coast pinecones are gorgeous.

Library Tour: Portland Multnomah County Library

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Sometimes, my 80s shows when I visit a new (to me) library.

What swivels my head and has me coming for a closer look? Wooden card catalogs, tall-as or taller than me with ornate metal drawer pulls smoothed from many years use.

Card catalog is fragile

While I’m first to want to visit a fresh new library, I’m still there with you, 80s, 70s, 90s. Your wide windows and gleaming hallways. Your themed carpets. Your commemorative plaques.

Moss in tree outside window

Walking up to the top level

Domed roof

Rose city carpet

Beverly Cleary plaque

Beverly Cleary, a childhood (and adulthood) favorite of mine

And then there are those special touches I never saw in the decades of my youth. This is what makes each library I visit so unique. Thoughtfulness: each library’s approach to meeting the needs of its audience, its patrons, its co-collaborators in word-love and learning and listening and reading and play. Discovery.

Library shopping baskets

Zine collection

Zines for the readin’

The Multnomah County Library of Portland, OR, Central Branch, charmed us with its special touches, friendly staff and many, many wooden chairs lining the walls that all but whispered, here, have a seat. Also, if you’re visiting, check out the John Wilson Special Collections room! You will discovery many an enormous and many a tiny book.

Is this your local library? Leave a comment about your experiences/wishes/favorites.

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