Monday, December 5, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Monday, August 15, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
She was a ballerina. Actually, she was a budding ballerina. That’s what they call the young ones who visualize starring in Giselle or Swan Lake, but whose talent is not yet refined, their technique not yet precise. Still, even at the age of 15, she walked with her feet already severely pointing outward. Her turnout, as it’s called, was well beyond her young life. She dreamed of living in New York City. I dreamed of being her lover.
She attended ballet classes twice a week on Wednesday afternoons after school and again on Saturday mornings. She always arrived early to do extra barre work. Once, I came along and watched. She progressed through a series of beautifully graceful movements: the demi plie, the full plie, the grande battement front. Her body squatting nearly to the floor, her back straight, and the lights in the room casting delicate shadows on her sinewy tendons and muscles. With each move, she sculpted herself into a new work of art.
“Ballet is a dance executed by the human soul,” Alexander Pushkin, the Russian poet, was believed to have said. I was a freshman in high school; I didn’t know anything at all about Pushkin. But if I had heard someone quote the poet as I saw her move through the elegant routine, I would have agreed. I witnessed her soul at work that day. Something I believed I had glimpsed in the moments we spent alone. The dance was different, but fueled by the same spirit. Some might say I was too young, too naive to recognize this, but I know what I saw.
The lesson focused primarily on perfection of the brise, a sharp movement that throws the working leg into the air while pushing off from the supporting leg. The dancer lands on crossed feet, knees bent. Standing in 5th position, she briskly jumped, beating one leg against the other in midair. Even in its quickness, the movement remained elegant, like that of a jaguar – powerful and graceful. To reveal her beauty the cat needs to do nothing more than move its body, to allow the working muscles to expose its magnificence. She needed no partner. Like the cat, she was a singular being focused solely on where her body was, would be, and how she would get it there. She was keenly aware of herself, yet moved only by instinct, as if in a dream. Her eyes gave away nothing. No one could breakthrough the intensity, the dancer’s wall. She would not let them.
It was no different with us. I wanted to get closer to her somehow, climb over the wall, but she would only let me scale it enough to see through the tiny cracks. Her parents had insisted she see other people, they told her she was too young to be so serious with one boy. “I’m don’t know what to do,” she said, “I have to listen to my parents, but I can’t imagine what things will be like.”
To dance is to sacrifice. The body is contorted into what the art needs. To be who she became required all of her. It is also true of love. We give up pieces of ourselves, transform to meet the requests of our lovers, shape our souls into what is desired. To be in love, to experience it, requires all we have.
After her lesson, after the barre work and the final brise, I told her I wouldn’t be coming to any more of her ballet lessons. She kissed me. “Promise you’ll get to New York to see me one day,” she said. “Promise me you won’t forget.”
Friday, July 29, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Friday, July 22, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
What does one say about a magnificent night? You know the kind: the one that lingers; the one that won't let you sleep when it over. That's this night in Orlando.
I sit on the porch at the Kerouac house with a liquor-tinged cup of coffee considering the gift I have been given: the chance to write and perform here. It's very early Sunday morning and I'm just back from a lovely event at the splendid home of Summer Rodman, a board member of the Jack Kerouac Project, a sweet, energetic woman - and an accomplished poet. The Per Danielsson Trio played marvelously complex piano and string bass jazz, the kind Jack would have loved. Joseph Reed Hayes, poet and playwright, read from his work. And I had the opportunity to read from my new - in progress – manuscript, and breathe the same air of some 100 other creative comrades who love art, the beauty of jazz, and the spoken word.
The event was webcast live and I'm sure it will be available to see again through the Jazz on Edge website (www.jazzonedge.com) but the real thrill was being there live, drinking the wine, talking about Kerouac, sharing my work with other talented artists - poets, writers, musicians. The creative life was alive tonight in Orlando, a heart beating to the rhythms of so many good souls.
The neighborhood is quiet now; only the crickets and a far-off train whistle hang in the heavy Florida air. But if these were the late 1950s, there would be one other sound carrying over this memorable night: the furious tap of the keys on Kerouac's Underwood, emanating from the small room in the back where Jack wrote until morning under a lonely, naked light bulb. It is said that one of Jack's neighbors used to hear the music of Kerouac's typing move lightly out of the small apartment and into dark night. What I would give to hear a little of that tonight? Ah, but it's early. There are many hours before dawn.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
The back part of this Florida bungalow is where Jack lived with his mother for a time. He rented the space for something like $40 a month, a fortune for a guy who had no real job and had not yet published On the Road. He got word of its publication while living here.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
- Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice
Loraine Herring, Publisher: Shambhala
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Anne Lamott, Publisher: Anchor
- The Writing Life
Annie Dillard, Publisher: Harper Perennial
- Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writer’s Guide
Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, Publisher: Plume
- Shimmering Images: A Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir
Lisa Dale North, Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
- Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir
Russell Baker, Publisher: Mariner Books
- Ernest Hemingway on Writing
Editor: Larry W. Phillips, Publisher: Scribner
- The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing
Norman Mailer, Publisher: Random House