Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Coming Home

Yes, Ithaca is home. Arrived yesterday evening in hallucinatory blue skies, the local climate of gentle hippies and spaced-out kids immediately asserting itself. But it won't be home for very much longer, and that fact keeps me from feeling fully landed here. Home is this enormous pile of mail: student loan consolidation offers, a soup recipe from my dad, Vassar's alumni magazine, NYSEG bills, notice of not-having-won a book prize, Robert Strong's snail-mail blog, or SNOG, though this one is labeled "BOG" (toward the end I like this: "Art: recognizing good mistakes. Craft: anticipating around bad mistakes"), issues of the London Review of Books which I don't remember subscribing to but am glad to have, copies of my own books from a defunct job application, and the following new items I wish I had time to read: Michael Scharf, For Kid Rock Total Freedom (Spectacular Books); the second issue of Practice: New Writing + Art; Soft Targets 2.1; Gunnar Björling, You go the words, translator Fredrik Hertzberg (Action Books); and Pleiades 27:2. Nothing I'd like better to sit in the back yard and page through all these, and perhaps I will.

We have about a month to enjoy an Ithaca summer, during which time I must prepare to defend my dissertation and to teach my Lake Forest classes; we make the move in mid-August. Plus there are all the friends to hang out with and play D&D with and read poems with before we say goodbye. And with everything else that's going on there's writing: where to find time and space for it, including writing this blog—which has strayed, I feel, from its initial impetus and bounds, and may stray further if it continues. After all, I began it in 2003 with the hope and desire of making stronger bonds between myself and the larger literary world from this island of Ithaca. In Chicago I will no longer have such isolation (whether it was real or perceived) to overcome: there is a large and vibrant community of poets there, and strong institutions to work with or against. Of course urban poets blog, maybe even most of them, but the impetus must shift, coming perhaps more from a desire to be heard than from a desire for inclusion. And there's the chasm that I must navigate between student and professor, journeyman and "master," someone with students of his own and a task of his own superadded to the most basic task of writing. "All is, if I have grace to use it so, / As ever in my great taskmaster's eye."


A select handful of European photos:

A travelers' self-portrait in the Newark departure lounge.

Me with a statue of Dr. Johnson's cat, Hodge.

Roman pillars and the Colosseum.

The statue of Giordano Bruno in the Campo dei Fiori.

Emily poses in Calcata, the medieval village north of Rome inhabited entirely by artists and craftspeople.

A view in Umbria.

The courtyard of Agriturismo Marciano, where we stayed for four nights, on the northern edge of Siena.

The ancient Etruscan Gate in Volterra.

Emily with a view of Tuscany.

Obligatory view of Florence.

The beach at Vernazza, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre.

I gatti di Vernazza.

View of Riomaggiore.

Piva, trattoria-owner and troubadour, in action in Vernazza.

Obligatory view of Venice.

A Venetian door-knocker.

The grave of Peggy Guggenheim... and her pets.

The Bridge of Sighs.

A view from the tram in Trieste.

Me and James Joyce.

The Piazza dell'Unita d'Italia in Trieste.

My Triestine friends Michela and Mario.


Vorticist-ish statue of Duke Amedeo of Savoy, an honorary citizen of Trieste who fought for Mussolini, in the park at Miramare.

Vienna powerlines at dusk.

Bust of Mahler inside the Vienna State Opera House during one of the intervals at a performance of Wagner's Lohengrin.

"Fear eats the soul": motto on the safety curtain at the Opera House.

"Art is my hobby." In one of the courtyards of the Museumsquartier, Vienna.

The Hundertwasserhaus.

The Secession Building—locals call it "the golden cabbage."

A curiously nautical ornament of the Secession Building.

Freud's cigars, as displayed at the museum at Berggasse 19.

Outside Vienna state radio.

The blue (?) Danube with a view of Margaret Island, Budapest.

A statue of the world's greatest author in Budapest's City Park.

The Chain Bridge by day.

The Chain Bridge at night.

Fisherman's Bastion in Buda.

Entrance to the Gellert Baths.

Gellert Baths interior.

Marchers in a parade of Hungarian ethnic minorities, Saturday June 23, 2007.

The church-like Great Synagogue in Pest.

Weeping Willow Holocaust Memorial. Each "leaf" has a victim's name inscribed upon it.

Detail from the Weeping Willow.

A menorah from the Jewish Museum honoring Napoleon for giving civil rights to the Jews.

The view from Fisherman's Bastion.

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