by Ashley David
Tonight in Wilcox County, Georgia, the “white” prom, a private party sponsored for high school students by parents, goes on as planned and as it has since the schools were integrated thirty years ago. Since integration, in a county with about 10,000 people and a high school with a graduating class of about 100, two private proms have occurred each year, one for “blacks” and one for “whites.” Last year, police were called when a biracial student showed up at the “white” prom. Apparently, one drop rules. Tsk, tsk. The story has garnered national and international attention. This story isn’t the only bit of “backward” in the news lately. Catalyzed by Spielberg’s Lincoln, it came to light that Mississippi had “forgotten” to ratify the 13th Amendment banning slavery, an oversight they remedied this February. What year is this?!? Meanwhile, in Boston, police have just wrapped up the “manhunt” for the Boston Marathon bombers, a hunt that included at least four wrongfully accused, and widely publicized via social and conventional media, non-white suspects. My point? Racial tension is alive and well in the good ol’ U.S. of A. So is scapegoating, and much to our detriment.
by Ashley David, et al.
I don’t know about you, but I have tremendous resistance to gunking up my summer with to-do lists. Not that I don’t have them. An MQR summer reading list was at the top of my list, in fact. But summer in Vermont is hard earned, and hiking mountains trumped computer time. Then, there was a trip to Minnesota to help Bridget Beck celebrate her newest sculpture with poetry workshops and a reading in a corn field turned sculpture park; a show of my own to install at the Red Mill Gallery at the Vermont Studio Center; and finally, a move back to Georgia where I’ll finish up my dissertation this year. Now, lo and behold, the passage of Labor Day in the U.S. rules out white shoes till the spring, and college football tells me that it’s definitely fall even if it’s still a sweltering wet here in Georgia. While I can no longer conscionably offer you a summer reading list, the MQR blog contributors took their deadline more seriously than their editor did—bless them for it—and with apologies for my deadbeat-ness, I offer you a wonderful array of books to tempt you inside as the heat abates, and the leaves begin to turn. As the season moves toward a time when it’s cozy to cuddle up with a good book without the burden of a wandering eye begging you to head outside for summer fun, we hope you’ll make time for reading for fun. Our suggestions follow, and we hope that you’ll share your own summer/fall reading list with us (whether it’s actual or aspirational).
by Ashley David
And… we’re off. To Chicago. Along with at least 9300 of our dearest friends aka readers and writers. As you know if you’ve been, and you suspect even if you haven’t, AWP can be overwhelming, the kind of extravaganza that feels like it should feel like home but doesn’t quite. After all, most of us who will be there spend a great deal of time alone, and then, once a year, we squeeze ourselves into “extrovert-in-hyperdrive” mode. The maneuver is not unlike wearing spandex. Only a few look and feel truly fabulous, and it can be a cocktail for well, cocktails. But, it’s also amazing.
by Ashley David
I have been reading Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics at a speed that indicates I must be reading dot by dot. Although I relish Calvino’s experiment for the obvious pleasure its witty, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and intellectually compelling tales offer, I also resist it. I read a mere bit before I run off to pour more tea or move clothes from washer to dryer or decide that the windows must be washed immediately or that the garden needs tending or the animals petting. Alternatively, I sit with the book in my lap and stare…at the page, off the page, into space. Today, I think that I may have figured out why. I find and experience a great sadness in reading this work. It has to do with change and transition, and it cultivates an aggravated restlessness that both makes it difficult for me to read and also accounts for the emotional genius of the Cosmicomics.
by Ashley David
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, “things you can do” books were sprouting like weeds. The Earthworks group published a particularly popular one called 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. It was followed by versions for kids and variations for saving the animals. Other concepts riffed off the title to offer guidance for preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s, for selling things like books, and even for avoiding things like saving the planet. We postmodern folks in the developed world seem to love the concept of a simple list that will smite our woes and assuage our consciences (or at least make us laugh). I have to confess to being one of them if you take as evidence the fact that I purchased and disseminated, with abandon, 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. I come to find, however, that I may have been misguided.