Friday, 14 June 2013
Middle of June, Ten Things
1. For the past year or so, maybe longer I guess, we've been without proper computers in our household. In the old days I had my own machine, something with files on it, with a desktop I could rearrange and add photos to. It was a grounding force, that machine. But circumstances of an expanding household and less money changed all that. At first maybe we didn't notice. The computers were dying, first one, then another, then the iPod got smashed, then the computer we borrowed from friend broke too. Thomas borrowed one from work. We call it "the work computer". We surf on and off it like tourists in an internet cafe. I think, often, that I should only have a notebook.
2. I have three notebooks that Thomas brought home from work. They are mock-ups for books. Most of the pages are shiny white. They're all unlined, which is the dilemna. I think that I should only have a notebook, but it should not be an unlined notebook.
3. In September I'm supposed to write a series for Jacket 2 on Mother Poets. I had in mind that mostly I wanted to write about Bernadette Mayer. And also about being an unschooling poet mom. Then other thoughts crept in. Would I be obliged to write about Sylvia Plath? If I think she is not an interesting poet will I also conclude that she is not an interesting mother. If I write publically about mother poets, will the wrath of the mother poet world come down upon me? For a few days a few years ago I was on a mother poet listserv and I had to leave when some of the mothers began talking about enjoying sleep training their kids. (I did note a trend that conservative poets sleep-trained and avant poets did not. There is a dissertation in there somewhere.)
4. The rains have been torrential in New York City, and it feels more like another place, but I'm not sure what place. The coast of Florida the day before a hurricane? Maybe. We've had one tropical storm come through and we're not even very deep into the season of storns with names.
5. Working in my gardens, I can see the wonders of rain. It's a tropical paradise. Should I plant lemon trees in Queens? Peppermint, Spearmint, Oregano, and Chamomile are growing side by side.
6. In the park this week we made masks. It's part of a summer project to explore theatre with the kids. Next week we do puppets. Masks were exciting, because they were not what I thought they'd be. They are spooky, even if they're light-hearted and yellow and pink. Here is the crew on Summit Rock:
7. I'd like to know more about masks. Bea and I went to look at the Franz Boas collection of masks at the Museum of Natural History:
Spooky especially in the dim light of that room. Bea shrugged and said "let's go to Gems". I still want to know more about masks.
8. In the summer workshop, we're exploring the Five Senses. We started with vision, which to me feels like the hardest to think about as the dominant familiar in your face sense. I started by asking trite questions. Why am I so happy when the sky is blue? I took some pictures:
9. I don't understand philosophy, but Thomas was reading a good book about Spinoza and Leibniz, and then I started telling Bea a story about a bottle nosed turtle named Spinoza, and now Spinoza is all the rage around here. (As a turtle, not a philosopher.)
10. One more picture, this one of Gem Girl in the Gem Room at the Museum of Natural History.
Peace Out People.
Sunday, 2 June 2013
A Shout Out
We've been getting very strange blog comments lately about our unschooling posts. So, this is a shout out to our anonymous friends who want to write, but can't quite tell us who they are. We do like to keep the comments line running for folks who want to connect about poetry, parenting, food politics, and unschooling. So, this is to say if you want to leave a comment, please introduce yourself to the Lisablog Readers! And Hello Walter, thanks for checking in. Peace out People.
Friday, 31 May 2013
Two New Books
City Lights is proud to announce the release of
"Joie de Vivre rings out with troubled beauty, ancient lastingness, and a wild lyricism that shares as much with Johnny Cash as with Gertrude Stein and loves Homer even when it thinks like Abbie Hoffman. This work sets the house of American poetry on fire."—Elizabeth Willis
Inspired by the Beats, Black Mountain, and the New York School, Lisa Jarnot emerged in the 1990s as one of the foremost poets of the post-Language avant-garde. The latest release in the City Lights Spotlight series, Joie de Vivre draws on twenty years of work, from the bold fragmentation of her mixed media debut, Some Other Kind of Mission, to the experimental lyricism of her recent Night Scenes. Following the poet's evolution through her engagements with form and music, Joie de Vivre showcases Jarnot's restless virtuosity and relentless curiosity. The archaic, the surreal, the pastoral, the political—no register of language proves too recalcitrant for her expansive sense of song.
Read an excerpt from the collection here
SOLID OBJECTS NEWS!
We are thrilled to announce that we will be publishing Lisa Jarnot's three-part poem A Princess Magic Presto Spell in winter 2014!
Jarnot is the author of four full-length books of poetry; Joie de Vivre: Selected Poems 1992-2012 was published in 2013. Her Robert Duncan: The Ambassador From Venus: A Comprehensive Biography was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in 2012. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
John Ashbery has said of her work, "Lisa Jarnot . . . suggests that Language Poetry may be mutating, back to the modernism of Stein and Joyce, having been permanently inflected (or deflected) by a late twentieth-century sharpness and exasperation."
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Saturday, 11 May 2013
Lisablog turns nine this month, which makes it a year older than married life (Thomas and I turned eight last week), and five years older than Bea who recently turned four. We were supposed to be heading to Buffalo today to see Bruce who turns 75 on Thursday. But I have a cold and he has leukemia, and the two don't mix. Bruce is a painter, and an old friend, and here's a link to his work:
Speaking of birthdays, Koyuki had one yesterday. Her blog is very funny and quick with its notes on kids, culture, and a little bit of everything else:
Five a.m. in Jackson Heights is really the best time of day, just before the big street light turns off, when there's no traffic on the avenue and the trees are puffy and still. The birds are doing their thing, and the kid is still asleep, as is the Burmese Prince, and the cats are finding napping places, post-breakfast.
With Bea's 4th birthday we went to the doctor for one of those "wellness" check ups. Pediatrician visits have been a trial since the beginning. We never did find a doctor in NYC that was in sync with our kid-raising ideas. Our hippie mom friends say that there is no such doctor. There is one homeopath and one holistic doctor, but we don't have the $400 to shell out for those services, alas.
It used to be that we took Bea for check ups and the conflict was about sleep and feeding routines, and then also vaccines, yes. Don't night nurse! That was always the first thing. (It's bad for their teeth! Time to wean! etc.) Anyway, the kid is going strong with night nursing and no cavities after four years, so maybe we don't need to have that conversation anymore. Now at 4, the issue is learning. Must learn now! The doctor's first question for Bea was "How's school?" I mean come on, she just turned 4. Then the questions for me: Can she spell her name? Does she know her alphabet? How high can she count? Can she hold a pen properly? Does she socialize with other kids? These are things I have never put on an organized scale, nor have I worried about them.
The more the school topic comes up around us, the happier I am that we are an autonomous learning family. (I mean we are "deschooling" or "unschooling" as a family-- the Brits use the term autonomous learning, which I like better these days.) I see all around us the stress that school puts on kids and parents: unhappy sleepy kids marching through the neighborhood first thing in the morning to get to places they don't particularly want to go to, bickering about homework and bedtime routines, the pressure of testing and admissions and interviewing for schools.
One of the things that I admire about autonomous learning communities and families is the desire to keep questioning social values. Why is school valuable if my family can learn everything we want to know without it? Why would I send my kid to school when I love being with her and she loves being with her family and friends (who may or may not at some point go to school)? Why do we accept that "the route" of life is school, college, work? These are just the beginnings of the questions I have about the world (and my assumptions about the world and the role I play in it) as we move along in our autonomous learning journey.
Now, it's almost 7 am and the quiet of the day has been wrecked by the street cleaners. Time to head back to bed.
Friday, 12 April 2013
Announcing a Summer Poetry Workshop in Jackson Heights, Queens
This summer I'll be continuing the theme of The Poet's Notebook with an emphasis on The Five Senses. The class will run for ten weeks, with a sequence of two week segments exploring the fields of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.
We'll experiment with braille and sign language and synesthesia, and we will think about our habits as writers (what sensory information do we favor? what sensory information do we ignore?).
The class is open to creative people of all kinds, and the dates of meetings are Mondays (6 pm to 8:30 pm):
June 3, 10, 17, 24,
July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29,
Fee for the class is $300 ($275 for returning students) and the class will be held in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Contact me at email@example.com to register.
Wednesday, 3 April 2013
From The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter:
Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin, of the University of Chicago, studied the greenhouse gases emitted by the production of animal products, and concluded that the typical US diet , about 28 percent of which comes from animal sources, generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tons more carbon dioxide per year than a vegan diet with the same number of calories. (240)
The prevailing Western ethic assumes that human interests must always prevail over the comparable interests of members of other species. Since the rise of the modern animal movement in the 1970s, however, this ethic has been on the defensive. The argument is that, despite obvious differences between human and nonhuman animals, we share a capacity to suffer, and this means that they, like us, have interests. If we ignore or discount their interests simply on the grounds that they are not members of our species, the logic of our position is similar to that of the most blatant racists or sexists— those who think that to be white, or male, is to be inherently superior in moral status, irrespective of other characteristics or qualities. (246)
According to Dr Timothy Jones, an archaeologist at the University of Arizona who led a US government funded study of food waste, more than 40 percent of the food grown in the United States is lost or thrown away— that's about $100 billion of wasted food a year. (268)
Reasons I'm Becoming Veganlike
I read Peter Singer and Jim Mason's The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, and as I said to my friend Evan today, I don't think a book has changed my life so much since I read Ulysses.
In our household we've eaten sustainable meat and dairy for some time (coming from local farmers at our Green Market or from Amish farmers who also deliver raw milk to us). That felt like a step in the right direction.
We assumed that the animals were better cared for than factory farmed animals (and this was confirmed by word-of-mouth from friends who had visited the farms, and from website information about the farmers' practices.)
A couple things came up in Peter Singer's book that revised our food-thinking yet again. Firstly, we don't own a car and don't drive because of its impact on the environment. I've always thought of that as a basic important step I can take to help. But cow-eating (and milk-drinking) has as much of an impact on the environment as car-driving. So now I ask, do I really need to eat cows? The answer is no. Chickens? Well chickens are treated really poorly, sometimes even in "organic" farming contexts. Cage-free doesn't mean free-range; it can mean that the chicken is kept in a shed in close proximity to a lot of other chickens with its beak clipped off. It can not see sunlight and still be cage-free. So, this is a bummer, as they say. Fish? Forget it. Fishing is almost entirely not-sustainable in the 21st Century. Our old friend salmon is either farmed (requiring tons to fish-food which is trawled from the ocean in the form of fish that are then ground up and processed to feed the salmon fish-pellets) or mislabeled as "wild" when often it is farmed. Turkeys: see Chickens. Pigs: pigs have really awful lives in captivity, and yes, they are pretty smart.
I'm always trying to conserve. (I take public transport, I turn off lights, I dislike plastic bags, etc. etc.) It's nothing radical, and in most of the world it's really just the way things are (in Europe people are food and energy conscious, in the Third World they don't have choices— they eat less meat because they can't afford it or can't access it.) But the impact of animal-eating on land, water reserves, and oil energy (pesticides are oil-based and necessary to grow cattle-feed) is phenomenal. The impact of vegetable and fruit eating is usually three times less and sometimes ten times less than the impact of meat eating. Under these circumstances, I think I shouldn't eat meat. I certainly don't need cow milk. I might still eat some goat cheese. And eggs, yes, I use them for our morning pancakes, but I have an egg connection, and I know those chickens personally. (They're pretty happy girls.)
This is the news from the Lisablog headquarters. I think everyone should read The Way We Eat. I think people should stop eating cows too. I mean people who are worried about global warming need to stop eating cows. People who are worried about corral reefs should stop eating fish and shrimp. People who are worried about global warming and about corral reefs should just give up and become vegetarians.
More on this soon. Meanwhile, keep eating the rich!
Sunday, 17 March 2013
Food is pretty much most of what we think about these days at the Lisablog Offices. Between the three of us, we are not eating various combinations of gluten and sugar, and we're all off meats and dairy that come from factory farms. As for me, I'm reading Peter Singer's book What We Eat and of course, it's a major downer for the meat eaters in the crowd. The bright side is that we still have a lot to eat. The winter has been filled with apples and carrots from the neighborhood green market. The end of gluten has brought us back in touch with our love for rice. The spring brings greens, little radishes, and still more apples and carrots and potatoes. A friend from California sent ducks that he shot— mallards, spoonbills, and teal. So that's a weird, wooly, wonderful addition to our dinners.
What's a little startling—after years of diet modifications to eat right and avoid harming others— is that there's almost nothing we can eat that comes from an American supermarket or restaurant. Corn and corn products and soy and soy products are genetically modified, chickens and cows and pigs are fed antibiotics, factory farmed milk (this includes the Horizon Organic) comes from places where male calves go straight to the garbage heap or the veal bin, and eggs (even cage free) come from chickens who have their beaks seared off. So, yeah, no wonder people go vegan.
Our local diet is becoming more extreme, in a good way. Even at the green market we're asking about where pigs live and what they do with their days, and we're (just speaking for Lisa of the Blog here) cutting back on meat in radical ways. How radical? After the mallards go, the meat is done. And cow milk for the kid is being replaced by goat or sheep milk. And eggs are coming only from our friends in Brooklyn with chickens in their yards. And maybe still from our clandestine Amish source, but only after we visit their farm.
And by the way, what the hell do vegan people feed their pets? Is there any ethical cat food? Of course this leads back to why did you domesticate the cat for your own pleasure anyway?
Yes, I could be lured into a rant here. My favorite childhood place, Lake Erie, is turning into a swamp because of the factory farm chicken shit phosphorus run-off in Ohio. My kid gets hives from a/ food intolerances? b/ environmental pollution? c/ a long line of exposures to toxins beginning with vaccinations that we selectively agreed to (and really if we had had done our homework would have skipped entirely). And then every time we go to a restaurant the kid gets a dose of antibiotics from the meat. And every time I've been given a medication the doctor or dentist says it doesn't really affect the breast-feeding kid. Okay, so I'm kind of mad, not because I expect the powers that be to be accountable, but because I wish there was a corner of ethicality in this nation. And it occurs to me that the logic of "send your kid to school" chimes with "get your kid vaccinated" and "support our troops". If the word "fringe" applies to everyone who allows a child an autonomous education and recognizes that pharmaceutical companies and farming corporations and the military industrial complex don't have our best interests in mind, then the world is in a sad state. Enough said. Peace out.
Wednesday, 20 February 2013
We Were Away
We went to yoga class today and Bea explained that we'd been away to Buffalo, London, and Chicago. That's also part of the reason we've been away from the blog, but the every day of "just being" is really what keeps us away from the blog lately. It's more and more delightful to be offline, which raises a bunch of questions. We dumped Facebook and have forgotten about the chatter on the various neighborhood listservs and really somehow don't miss even the New York Times, but would like to stay informed about meteors striking the earth. Also we dumped Youtube, for the sake of the kid (and the sake of my sanity because My Little Pony was full of baloney.) This has made family movie time a lot more exciting. We watch together on a big screen (not very big.) Our friends Kent and Tara and Lyv and Fyo have a projector for their wall. Hmm. Well, it's a thought. And Thomas brought home some Buster Keaton the other night, which had Bea cackling like a mongoose.
So what is the universe about? Mostly cooking and autonomous learning. (The term "unschooling" increasingly bristles in that it implies that school is a grid from which to "un-".) We're really using schools as places to poach from and doing something that suits us as learners. Art classes, yoga, museum tours. It's all around us and we tend to come and go as we please, depending on what time the kid wakes up and what kind of mood we're in. But let me say now that I hope Bea never wants to go to school because I so much love our lazy morning wake up and variable breakfast-time.) We did talk about "what-school-is" the other day and she said it wouldn't work for her if she couldn't be naked there. Fair enough.
As for breakfasts, we're getting hot and heavy with the gluten-free pancakes. Here's one recipe we've been making use of:
tablespoon of honey
teaspoon of vanilla
teaspoon of baking powder (the hippie non-aluminum kind)
a handful of walnuts
a blended apple
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1/2 cup of raw milk or coconut milk or bone broth
heap up in big silver dollar shapes, slow fry in butter or coconut oil.
And yes! We just got bucket of organic coconut oil and a pound of raw cacoa powder. It's heaven.
We'll be back in a month, give or take a few weeks. And here are some pictures. Peace out people.
Central Park Snow Drops, February
Pool hall at the University of Chicago
Monday, 4 February 2013
Announcing a Poetry Workshop in Jackson Heights, Queens
In the autumn I ran a workshop with the theme "poet's notebooks" and
it went really well. I'm hoping to do part 2 of the class on mondays
6-8:30 from Feb 25 to April 29 at my apartment in Jackson Heights,
Queens. I will see if I can get 7 students-- I think that's a good
number. It would be $300 for new students, $275 for returning
students. I want to run the class as a theater performance of sorts.
There will be five topics that we'll focus on in notebook writing:
State dept (current international affairs)
And we will spend two weeks on each topic. The goal is to write
obsessively in the notebook about the topic in an "as if" mode.
(during these two weeks I AM an architect or I AM fluent in Japanese,
or I AM a state dept official.) I'm thinking of the workshop meetings
as a kind of salon, where we come in, have a glass of wine, (or tea),
and talk about our discoveries, read from our notebooks, and spin off
into in-class writing exercises inspired by the information we've
Please let me know if you're interested, and please forward this to
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