ON THIS DAY: August 23, 2019

August 23rd is

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade & its Abolition *

Ride the Wind Day *

Spongecake Day

Valentino Day *

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MORE! Nazik Al-Malaika, Frank Capra and Halimah Yacob, click

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Word Cloud: GOLDEN (Redux)

by NONA BLYTH CLOUD

A poet with an MBA from the Stanford Business School who became a Vice President at General Foods and marketed Kool-Aid? Doesn’t sound very promising, does it?

Even more damning, he’s written literary criticism, in books and articles like An Introduction to Fiction, Can Poetry Matter? and Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture, in which he wrote:

The purpose of art is not to deny artifice but to manage it so well that it appears inevitable…

As long as humanity faces mortality and uses language to describe its existence, poetry will remain one of its essential spiritual resources. Poetry is an art that preceded writing, and it will survive television and video games. How? Mostly by being itself—concise, immediate, emotive, memorable, and musical, the qualities most prized in the new oral culture, which are also the virtues traditionally associated with the art…

The problem won’t be finding an audience. The challenge will be writing well enough to deserve one. Even if there are fewer readers, people will be listening.

Dana Gioia (1950 –  ) isn’t your typical Ivory Tower academic, but he’s not a “man of the people” either. His look at the current massive cultural shift from “literary poetry,” which is meant to be viewed by a reader on the printed page, to “popular poetry” which is recited aloud for an audience, as in Rap or at poetry slams, makes for interesting reading. For those of us who do still read.

I have always straddled the line between written and spoken verse. I love books and the written word, but my background is in theatre, not academia, so I respond more to poets who use rhythm and resounding words meant for the ear than poets who focus on laying out a poem on the page for a reader’s eye. I often read a poem aloud to get the feel of it in my mouth, as well as listening for its subtler meaning.

Dana Gioia is also a Californian, so we share its landscape, one that is not commonly found in literary poetry. There’s something about the West Coast – all the miles of chalk desert and lush forest, the rugged coastline and bright-sand beaches, and always the biggest thing under our sky, our ever-never-changing Ocean – that calls for waves of sound layered with silence.

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In this poem, Gioia makes you see it, but if you listen, you can also hear the waiting silence of our August:

California Hills in August

I can imagine someone who found
these fields unbearable, who climbed
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
wishing a few more trees for shade.

An Easterner especially, who would scorn
the meagerness of summer, the dry
twisted shapes of black elm,
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
August has already drained of green.

One who would hurry over the clinging
thistle, foxtail, golden poppy,
knowing everything was just a weed,
unable to conceive that these trees
and sparse brown bushes were alive.

And hate the bright stillness of the noon
without wind, without motion.
the only other living thing
a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
in the blinding, sunlit blue.

And yet how gentle it seems to someone
raised in a landscape short of rain—
the skyline of a hill broken by no more
trees than one can count, the grass,
the empty sky, the wish for water.

California dry hills

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ON THIS DAY: August 22, 2019

August 22nd is

Be an Angel Day *

Eat a Peach Day

Pecan Torte Day

Tooth Fairy Day

Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

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MORE! Dorothy Parker, Ray Bradbury and Althea Gibson, click

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ON THIS DAY: August 21, 2019

August 21st is

Senior Citizens Day *

National Spumoni Day

Sweet Tea Day

World P.O.E.T. Day
(Aussie slang – Piss Off Early Today)

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MORE! Nat Turner, Lili Boulanger and Count Basie, click

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ON THIS DAY: August 20, 2019

August 20th is

Chocolate Pecan Pie Day

National Lemonade Day *

National Radio Day

World Mosquito Day *

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MORE! ‘Noni’ Jabavu, Akira Kurosawa and Connie Chung, click

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ON THIS DAY: August 19, 2019

August 19th is

Coco Chanel Day *

National Aviation Day *

International Orangutan Day

Soft-Serve Ice Cream Day

World Humanitarian Day *

World Photography Day

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MORE! Mary Ellen Pleasant, Joaquim Nabuco and Patricia Scotland, click

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TCS: A Roar of Wings – Poems for National Aviation Day

. . . Good Morning!

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Welcome to The Coffee Shop, just for you early risers on Monday mornings.
This is an Open Thread forum, so if you have an off-topic opinion burning
a hole in your brainpan, feel free to add a comment.

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“If you were born without wings, do
nothing to prevent them from growing.”

– Coco Chanel 

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