Full Spiral

office building with window reflection and metallic streamers
Standing in HMH looking across the atrium at more HMH
If you had told me when I was getting a picture book manuscript critiqued at my first SCBWI conference back in 2001 that I would someday be:

  1. on the 6th floor of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  2. as a publisher, surrounded by my peers in the publishing arts
  3. listening to a panel that included a Candlewick Press book designer,

I would have said you needed tranquilizers. Yet last night, there I was in a place I would have killed to be 16 years earlier, just in a completely different role. And what a role I have now: Editor in Chief of Folded Word, exploring the world one voice at a time in little books that breathe. To come full spiral in a skyscraper on a blustery night in Boston after a week-long, tri-state book tour? Someone pinch me!

The panel was amazing, though I have to say I feel blessed that I don’t have to deal with large committees when getting cover and textblock designs approved. I couldn’t believe how many cover iterations some designers had to compose in order to get one that the editor, sales/PR/marketing, and the author could all agree on.

Even more amazing to a type-geek like me was the type-specimen book that Cate Barr (Cengage Learning) brought. Hearing how she used to manually trace letters out of the book to compose an initial cover design reminded me of my days on the high school newspaper, mitering the corners of lined tape with an Xacto knife to make boxes for insets. VERY thankful to be designing books in the age of Adobe’s InDesign!

Big love to Bookbuilders of Boston for binding together all New England presses, regardless of size or budget.

An Evening of NH Landscape Readings with Three Authors

Very excited to be reading in New Hampshire with my mentor and friend, William O’Daly. The Griffin Free Public Library is a cozy, historic venue with a lovely group of patrons. Hope to see you there!

November: Lamprey River

So I think after yesterday’s feedback, we’ve ruled out Flickr as a water-clip host. I also did some digging and found tutorials on how to get better quality uploads to Vine and YouTube. In the process, I found out how to place text on the videos then get the edited version from my computer to my phone for upload to Vine.

Vine:

YouTube:

Any new thoughts?

Testing: Lake Ossipee

I’m feeling the urge to share some of my recent explorations of waterways, but I’m wondering about the best way to share them. Which video solution do you like best?

Vine seems to have poor resolution (even though my original is fine, even on my big computer screen), but it plays in a fun continuous loop and is easy to turn the sound on/off:

YouTube gives the full view (not cropped square like Vine) but seems to have poor resolution too, and then you also get the “next video” and ad things popping up:

Flickr seems to have the best resolution, though still not great. Plus its playback window is tiny and can’t be customized. However if you’re my friend on Flickr, you can go to the site and download the video to see it crisp and clean.

Lake Ossipee

Feedback? Opinions? Help!

Why I Translate: the Gift of Givre

My practice of translating poetry is more than just a decoding of what someone wrote in a tongue not my own. It’s the unlocking of thoughts, the unveiling of sights, and the unmuting of sounds that I would otherwise never imagine. These discoveries facilitate word-play and poetic insight as I interact with my Anglophone world.

givre as it ungives at sunrise
givre as it ungives at sunrise

This week yielded a classic example. We took my daughter north for spring break to Québec QC so we could revisit it without the crush of summer crowds. While there, I read Robert Macfarlane’s essay at The Guardian about his book LANDMARKS. Of all the words he highlighted in his essay, the one that stuck with me was ungive from Northamptonshire /East Anglia and its peculiar definition “to thaw.”

On the same trip, I began researching Québécois snow-poems to translate. One of the books I picked up was Claude Beausoleil’s MÉMOIRE DE NEIGE. As everyone else slept-in after our long drive home, I started reading the book’s first poem “Tempête.” And there it was on the second page: l’effet de givre submergé. I’d never seen the word givre before. Wary from past experience with false cognates, I did a quick search in my French dictionary app. Et voilà: frost — the effect of flooded frost.

Frost/givre. Ungive/thaw. Robert Macfarlane’s thoughts on the derivation of ungive for thaw are poetic, but I wonder if the Norman conquest and its effects on the English language also play a part.

I don’t really want a definitive answer because the fun is in wondering; I only have this kind of fun because I translate. And now, because of translation, I’ll wonder all the more every time the givre on my window ungives at sunrise.

Alliterative Mock-Quiche

a mini version made in a springform pan
a mini version made in a springform pan

Add barley flakes to boiling broth and cover.
Simmer — standing by to stir — for a quarter-hour.
Prepare a pie plate with some oil
then flatten the flakes to form a crust.
Add cod and kale (cooked ahead)
then whisk ricotta, water, and eggs.
Season with salt and a smidge of pepper.
Pour this potion atop the crust
so it fills all fissures ‘mongst flake and leaf.
Place the pie in a pre-heated oven:
four-twenty-five for fifteen minutes
three-fifty for a further hour.
Let it alone to lose some heat
then slide slices off spatula with a knife
(’twill keep the cod from coming off the grain).
Nutritious? Yes. Tasty? No.
Truthfully told, it’s bland.
But fair fare will suffice for now —
with a chaser of chocolate cookie.

Review: Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths

Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths
Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths by Nancy Marie Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I mostly enjoyed this biography of the medieval Icelandic poet Snorri Sturluson, which is interwoven with an introduction to the Norse mythology that Snorri helped preserve. It is engagingly written and its non-linear structure allowed Ms. Brown to pull in modern texts (such as Tolkien and Lewis) inspired by Snorri’s work. However I was a bit frustrated with the loose (and sometimes missing) citations of quotes throughout the book, as well as the author’s repeated referencing of “one translator” or “a modern translator” without giving the translators’ names. I bought this book as a launching point for further study of Icelandic mythology, but many of the items I now want to explore (especially quotes that I would love to record and repeat) were not cited nor did they contain enough key words for me to look up the source texts on my own. I would have rated this book 5-stars if the chapter-by-chapter notes section had been more complete.

View all my reviews

BATTLE [BARDAGI]

Just when I thought my current round of tremors was on the wane, this:

image

Anyone who works daily at not letting chronic illness rule their lives knows the bittersweet that is the loss of a teapot. Or a lunchdate. Or a [name of unexpected sacrifice here].

RIP Brown Betty.  The pot I brew in may be different, but the ritual you taught me will never change.