Q: What does writing in paradise have to do with a bunch of poets beneath a palm tree? (0)
Several years ago, during the Eden of a Miami dry season (known as winter in most of the country), I sat around with a group of young poets playing language games the French Surrealists made up almost a century ago. Our goal was to unlock the unconscious and share our loamy, gritty, terrible (1) personal ephemera. Or: our goal was to make something new from the viscera of our collective imagination. Or: our goal was to honor insouciance in a scholarly setting (halls of ivy and strangler figs, rules of meter and meaning). Maybe we just wanted to free ourselves from the constraints of rational order, substituting chance and indeterminacy for premeditation and deliberation. (1½)
Carving of the poet Aliagha Vahid (1895-1965) | Baku, Azerbaijan
You don’t need any brains to listen to music.
Almost everyone I know finds something to like about being alive, and right up there on my list is wordplay—capital W, capital P.
For word-struck folks like me that means: First, the way words sound, both solo and strung together, as in good old rhyme and cadence, all that fill-your-mouth assonance and consonance, even the beauty of a certain everyday word—mischief, amuse, lure—whether anyone else thinks it’s beautiful or not—it’s such a personal thing, musicality. I love the word pantaloons, for instance, it moves sweetly over my tongue, but say the word panties and I want to slap someone.
De qué color es el olor del llanto azul de las violetas?
Back in the twentieth century, I was born in the same month that the Hollywood Ten, nine of whom were screenwriters, were charged with Communist affiliations and pled the Fifth before the House Un-American Activities Committee, then went to prison for contempt. Most of the ten spent less than a year in jail, but the nine who were screenwriters remained on the movie industry’s blacklist for fifty years—until 1997, when the Writers Guild of America finally credited them, some posthumously, with their own films. A number of them wrote screenplays under pseudonyms. Others used the names of loyal friends. Surreptitious films by black-listed screenwriters included Spartacus; Broken Arrow; Bridge on the River Kwai; Born Free; Cry, the Beloved Country; and one of my favorites, Roman Holiday, with its oddly satisfying non-“Hollywood” ending. (Something a realist or a socialist might have dreamed up.)
I was not a red diaper baby myself, although my parents voted twice for Adlai Stevenson, who was both an Aquarian and a Unitarian. I was, however, born with a taste for evenhandedness that got me into trouble often enough as a champion of wayward siblings and underdog classmates. At the same time, I was that hyper-shy girl who turned into an almost-nun and then a too-young mom and then a tentative poet, but all I obviously wanted was the peace and solitude of a tiny room (or fire-warmed garret), where I would sit in the only ray of light with a mug of tea between my knees, writing with a fountain pen and a pot of ink.
PRESS RELEASE: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, boy-girls and girl-boys, cats and turtles, Almost Dorothy announces the world premiere and inaugural edition of GLIT LIT, a wickedly funny, and/or serious, somber, smart and/or always or usually interesting series curated by Maureen Seaton, who is currently a professor of Creative Writing at the University of Miami, author of 13 books, and mother of the universe. The GLIT LIT series marks Almost Dorothy’s flowering (or deflowering) of her blog into new realms of discourse and intercourse. Pay attention. Smart stuff is coming your way. Enjoy.
ALL ABOUT GLIT LIT: Well, it’s simple. GLIT LIT is all about glitterature. That’s glitter + literature. According to Maureen Seaton, GLIT LIT is “about (mostly) poets and the stuff they make, brought to you on a rapid if irregular basis (coherent if inchoate, blasé if décolleté, Floridian if Querque, queer if bonsai). Cheers to little A. Dorothy and her entourage of marbles: clearies, puries, and crystals. Enjoy the glit.”