This morning the sky is blue and the clouds are unconcerned. There is a beach nearby, it’s not the most beautiful beach but I won’t hold it against it. I feel like walking. The baby has begun to say words, and dance, and shimmy backwards. I am going to stop drinking coffee for four days. My thesis is almost complete, I am writing about Frances Ellen Watkins Harper whose short story The Two Offers was published in 1859. She was one of the first black short story writers to gain publication and was one of the best selling young authors of her day. As time went on, her feminist principles helped to outcast her work and she was dismissed by scholars. Recently her work is being rediscovered. The Two Offers is about a character who believes that marriage, for any other reason than love, will cause the spiritual death of a woman (and I presume man) which feeds into one of the backstories developing in my new novel. Kafka is one of the other authors with Metamorphoses — probably one of the greatest stories in the world, I never tire of reading it. When Gregor wakes up as a bug it is only the beginning of his metaphorical transformation to the periphery. The bit that really gets me is when his Father throws the apple and it lodges in his back and somehow we all know how it feels to be that bug and live on a periphery where we clearly see the idiocy of lunatics. The third story is Mona by Reinaldo Arenas who I will blog about soon. He was a great writer, almost completely ignored in his lifetime, a Cuban poet who came from illiterate peasant parents, and was imprisoned for his sexuality. There is something about Arenas’s work that draws me back to him again. There were only six people at his funeral after he shot himself, and ended his life in Hells Kitchen in poverty, and in the final grips of Aids. The film of Before Night Falls is well worth seeing, although it does not capture his true caustic brittle nature. As soon as my thesis is finished, I can work solely on the new novel, and tidying up my short story collection — I cannae wait. Academia has had its time in my life and I’m ready to return to studying solo. It never ends the studying, writing — to me — is studying, it is how I live, and think, and dream. Right now I am studying the way my neighbour holds her son’s hand, later I’ll be studying a remote book that I had to order from a strange man, and that has taken a full month to arrive. And pianos. I’m thinking a lot about pianos. I had a Grandad who had a piano and I used to play it for hours. I always thought I’d buy one someday and keep flowers on it and sit my coffee on it, and the baby would draw on it in crayon, and the cat would sleep underneath it while I smoke at 3AM. I don’t live somewhere you could keep a piano but I will, and I’ll teach the wee one chopsticks and why you don’t need to read music to be able to play.
Here is Coeur de Pirate in the Wood & Wires session.