Post 1 from March Guest Blogger – Brenda Coultas


March 3, 2010

I envision this as workspace: a place to build a form, to gaze, to know or to try things out.

Did you know there is a field of poetry therapists?

Picture of Sylvia Plath in the chapter on depression in an Introduction to Psychology textbook. Sometimes its a photo of Virginia Woolf,  Great, my students who are mostly non-writers, like to point it out whenever I talk about the life of a writer.

“John McPhee has described writing as “mind-fracturing, self-enslaved labor.” Each day, he says, brings a “new form of writer’s block.” He elaborates: “You suspend the normal world to reproduce the normal world. It is a suspension of ordinary life.” from an interview in the LA Times.

Introducing a writer at the Tenth Muse Series. “…writing about the shadow of a toothpick on an apple” John Ashbery.

“Writing is waiting.” India Radfar

“Its as if the language wants to say this.” Attributed to Bernadette Mayer

Dream: in my cousin’s living room, a family gathering for mother’s day.

My own thoughts are that my teeth, jaw and neck problems are based on my timidity, of self censorship. My speech, my voice. A life long struggle over shyness.

Bought two signed copies of Just Kids, by Patti Smith, as gifts for my die hard Smith friends at St. Marks.  But first I will read one gently, with clean hands, without coffee or tea, opening slowly and turning the pages with care. Saw them online going for a hundred bucks each already.

Listening to Democracy Now in the morning. Cindy Sheehan coming to town. Thinking about how she never sold out and has not been seduced.  Think back to around Christmas of C.A.‘s request to take part in a (soma)tic poetry exercise for a speech against troop escalation in Afganistan. I was in the throes of grading and teaching, so I missed the deadline and finished it too late for him. He graciously read it later, and liked it.

March 4, 2010

David Nolan’s memorial at St. Marks Church. I never knew him very well, he was quiet. I recall him at sound board with John Fisk and I marvel at his patience to sit through marathon readings. At one point, about 15 years ago he purged himself of worldly possession.  He gave me a victorian bedspread, striped bell bottoms, vintage flag. All of which I still have.

Notes from Baldwin – Sheinfeld  conversation at the college where I teach.

For the past two years Prof. Gary Sheinfeld, a close friend of James Baldwin, has read the transcript of a conversation he had with Baldwin, it turned out that this was the last conversation/interview that Baldwin had in the United States. The conversation took place over dinner and in a cab on the way to the PanAm terminal at JFK, in 1987. Sheinfeld read his own part and Dean Tim Taylor read Baldwin’s part. I brought my class.

Notes from the conversation:

Everyone needs a friend to tell the truth too….The self is a journey….

Betrayal is always self betrayal….When in love {I] crawl towards the broken glass…. Trouble of telling the truth…pressure to lie…. Europe is not the center is not the center of the world….Most people want to be saved…. If you are afraid to die you are afraid to live…. Leaving home in the hopes of saving my life. How do you explain that to a 5 year old girl [his niece]?   I’m afraid of flying. ,I hate PanAm,  I’m afraid of London….. If you’ll be my witness, I’ll be yours.

Last night teaching “The Death of Ivan Ilych.” I ask the Russian students to fill the class in on the context of Tolstoy’s time.  A hot debate erupts over the meaning of Tolsoy’s famous line, “Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore the most terrible.”