Thursday, March 3, 2011

Muses, China, a Birthday and Books

Time for another splendid edition of Pleasantly Disturbed Thursdays, with our host Marty Duane Scott, who’s been pining away up in Iowa while his better half is visiting in California. On Twitter we would add this hashtag: #separationanxiety.

Someone asked if I were turning this blog into an all-poetry blog, given my posts for the first three days of this week, and the answer is no. What happened is that the poetry muse moved, and I got carried away. Well, the poetry muse really moved, and I even have another already scheduled for next Tuesday.

Another person asked where the poem “The Angle of the Chinese Shadow” came from. It started last Sunday in church. During one of the hymns, I happened to look toward the stained glass windows and the sunlight coming through and the phrase “angle of light” came into my head. Then I was reminded of the bedroom I occupied as a child; the hallway light was right outside my door and it cast a triangular shaped shadow on the door. I likely fell asleep at least 1800 times watching that shadow, which seemed to resemble what we would call a Chinese “coolie” hat. Then I recalled reading the Hardy Boys novel The Mystery of the Chinese Junk (I think I’ve read every Hardy Boys novel ever written.) Then many of the other references starting coming to mind spontaneously, and some I deliberately added.

A side note: I was in college when President Nixon established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. My senior year, for the first time since 1949 (the fall of the Nationalist government), LSU offered two semesters of Chinese history, and I took both courses. I was more diligent about going to class during the first course. The mid-term exam was a take-home research paper, and in keeping with how Chinese government officials were tested and selected for offices, I wrote a play. And got an A. And a special class presentation of a Chinese calendar. During the second course, part of the required reading was Edgar Snow’s Red Star Over China.

Last Saturday, we celebrated my oldest son’s birthday at a Bosnian restaurant in south St. Louis called Grbic (pronounced gribick). It actually services continental European food with a tilt toward Central European and Bosnian fare. I’ve had the sarma several times (cabbage rolls stuffed with ground meat and topped with a red sauce) and the goulash. This time I had strips of chicken baked with spaetzle (egg noodles common in Central Europe). We were kept entertained at dinner by my grandson, who has discovered that if he yells, adults frantically do things. I suppose I didn’t help by laughing every time he did it.

I’ve been reading a new fantasy novel called The Canticles of Andurun: Dragonsong by Ian Thomas Curtis. I’m about halfway through it, and I’m completely enthralled with the world Curtis has created. The sheer imagination involved boggles the mind. A big story like this also requires a very tight control of the fictional world that’s been created, or otherwise the story will get away from the author and the reader. Curtis has pulled it off; it’s an amazing novel. The author blogs at What’s in a Name.

Next on the reading list: The Faithful by Jonathan Weyer; Resurrection by Mike Duran; and Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer. And my copy of The Four Holy Gospels, illustrated by Makoto Fujimura, finally arrived, and it’s spectacular. Here’s a sneak peak.


Anonymous said...

Glynn - You have had and continue to lead such a culturally-rich life. I love hearing how your poetry is born.

Blessings for a pleasantly disturbed Thursday.

Louise Gallagher said...

Thanks for waking my thursday morning up with such pleasantly disturbed offerings. It's a beautiful -- can you believe it -- still winter morning!

Maureen said...

So interesting to hear what prompted your poem.

I think I'm going to have to break down and buy Fujimura's book. His paintings are so stunning.

S. Etole said...

smiling at your laughing at your grandson ... what are grandparents for??!!!!