When I recently heard Ray Bradbury’s comment that a Kindle smells like burning plastic (see NPR) I thought of the transience of this digital media. Ours is the age of impermanence, to say nothing of its toxicity. Some months ago we got a call from someone who sounded familiar. A frequent customer, he had found a book on the street in New York inscribed by a poet from Sag Harbor. Did we happen to know this man? Yes, we did. Vince had been a loyal customer before moving into the city. A published poet, essayist and Whitman scholar, he gave several readings, led an in-depth poetry workshop and championed John Ciardi’s seminal works. The caller had picked up Vince’s copy of Cellini’s autobiography. A note scribbled in the flyleaf indicated that Vince’s ancestors came from the same part of Italy as did the caller’s. Though he made his living as an accountant, the caller also wrote poetry. He said he felt as if he’d found a long lost family member he never knew. All this from a few notes marked in a book, and picked up by a passing stranger one afternoon. The caller had prepared a letter including several poems, some he’d written in honor of his grandfather whose passport photograph he’d copied onto the page. All this, gentle reader, to say our books are our passports into that boarder-less country, the territory of our shared human experience. They are the currency of our community.
Archive for the 'Italian literature' Category
Tags: book books, digital media, found books, Italian ancestory, John Ciardi, Ray Bradbury, serendipity, Vince Clemente
You could say the luck began back around Thanksgiving time. Mark Doty had been announced the winner of the National Book Award for his poetry collection Fire to Fire. We’d already scheduled a reading from his memoir Dog Years. How fortuitous now that our audience could congratulate him on this great honor. When the poet read from his memoir, he read each word with the breath and sound of poetry. Just now an old golden lab and a young man are walking through the light snowfall on upper Main Street, Sag Harbor. A sign of Beau, perhaps? or just another daily ritual of caring this dark afternoon? Mark spent time with each question from the audience, answered each generously, encouragingly, the poet teacher sharing his gifts. Here, he seemed to say, you try…
Some weeks later, storyteller and novelist Gioia Timpanelli lit the candles for Santa Lucia on her feast day, December 13. The patron saint of Siracusa offered her eyes to the world. “Here,” she might have said, “take them, and see.” Gioia’s new novel What Makes a Child Lucky takes place in Sicily, in a time of great hunger, or as the introduction suggests: “anyplace at anytime.” Gioia spun out the story as we sat rapt in its charms. Lucky us, we were able to make an audio recording thanks again to Tony Ernst at WPKN independent radio. Check the link for this and other special programs: http://eastendink.blogspot.com
Books bring light to our lives. .. Bright Solstice to all!