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Archive for October, 2013

I like to read poetry. I’m no scholar, and I don’t read as much poetry as I probably should, but I had been reading it since high school, usually with satisfaction and pleasure. In fact, I have been lucky enough to have been a friend and neighbor of a published and prize-winning poet, Helen Conkling, who wrote a beautiful book, Red Peony Night.

Auden Helens Red Peony NIght 1997

This book which came out in 1997 is filled with memories of Helen’s growing up during the depression. It’s wonderful and I was lucky enough to read many of the poems at different stages of their forming. Helen is in her 80s and still writing and being published in little journals. And I have lovely memories of the possibly hundreds of delicious tea parties she gave for her neighboring children, out under the Walnut tree where the fox gloves had naturalized. Beautiful memories, and the artwork and poetry she had them do and carefully saved with a folder for each child. When they turned 18 she gave them their folders.

I probably read more of Mary Oliver than anyone else these days, but I also love reading translations of Tang dynasty poetry and many other works. I do have a desultory mind. And I’m so glad of that fact.

Auden is another poet I’ve read a bit. Some of his works I’ve come across are so lyric and beautiful that I come back to them. So when a favorite novelist, Alexander McCall Smith published a small volume about his discovery and continued close reading of Auden, I bought a copy and am enjoying reading all he has to say in his gentle and sympathetic voice. It’s well worth anyone’s perusal.

Auden amcsmith

I also read mysteries, almost compulsively, and was very amused to pick up a used mystery from 1970 and find it filled with Auden references. I wonder if perhaps more than 40 years ago I read this and unconsciously recalled its Auden association? Such serendipity always makes me wonder a bit but I have no answers…..The mystery is oddly dated. I lived through this time and find reading about it somehow, disconcerting. Students are occupying the Administration building and courses are being altered to fit their ideas of relevance……..Could this really have been the world in which I lived? Well, at the time I was not part of academia, even as a professor’s wife hearing the gossip. But these occupations were in all the news……

Poetic Justice is the title and the author is Amanda Cross. The book is set at the time that rather crazy students were occupying Administration offices as is the case in the book in question. The main character is a serious Auden fan though she doesn’t teach any classes about him, though early on she is part of a PhD dissertation examination committee and the candidate’s thesis is about Auden.

Auden Poetic Justice by Amanda Cross

Auden Keep Calm

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A good friend, who lives near Washington, D.C. and has won awards for her long history of blood donations, posted this on facebook today:

“I have just returned from giving platelets for the 124th time. NIH is suffering badly from the shutdown. Children who were scheduled to start cancer treatment are not coming. No new patients. I am so grateful that the affordable health care act will allow people like my son to finally get insurance. I think the people fighting against this act probably have health insurance. Shutting down the government is no way to solve problems.”

Robert Reich said this:

“An old friend, who has been active in politics for more than thirty years, told me yesterday that he was giving up. “I can’t stomach what’s going on in Washington any more,” he said. “The hell with all of them. I have better things to do with my life.” My friend is falling exactly into the trap that the extreme right wants all of us to fall into — such disgust and cynicism that we all give up on politics. Then they’re free to take over everything.

Make no mistake: Ted Cruz and his Tea Party followers, and the Koch brothers and their other financial patrons, are relishing this shutdown. They’re delighted that 95% of the Environmental Protection Agency is down, so polluters can do whatever they want; that 80% of the Labor Department is down, so unscrupulous employers can trample on their employees; that much of the Securities and Exchange Commission is down, so corporations can have a field day. And they’d like nothing more than a default on the nation’s debt in two weeks, because the resulting financial chaos will cause even more of us to become angry and cynical. That’s the point: They feed off of anger and cynicism.

Our response should be the opposite: We will not give in to bullies or intimidation, and nor will we give in to cynicism about what our government needs to be and who it needs to serve. We will remain engaged and active, and push every member of Congress as well as the President to remain steadfast.”

And I agree.

How can I post pretty pictures of lovely fall foliage when my heart is grieving for the country I love? One faction is holding the entire country hostage. I hope not one of those representatives whom I think are only pursuing their own shockingly selfish agenda is ever, ever reelected. I hope everyone comes to see through their lies.

Read the New York Times editorial and also the comments below which give me heart. I loved reading the comment by the man who had voted for Republican and donated money to Republican candidates and now says he cannot imagine ever voting for a Republican again.The rest of the world, who are affected by what we do and how our economy functions, are baffled and shocked by the kindergarten like way we run our affairs.

Well, on reflection, Kindergarten is a far more benign place than the House of Representatives. It may even be a far more rational place.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/opinion/john-boehners-shutdown.html?src=me&ref=general&_r=0

And one more thing you probably should read:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2013/09/meadows-boehner-defund-obamacare-suicide-caucus-geography.html

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