Hoppin’ Kudos

Okay, I know I’m at risk of exhausting your patience with all the recent round of congratulations, thanks, trophy-giving, and so on. I just want to point you in the direction of one more nice little feather in the cap of an RAMH regular. It’s especially nice to be able to do so via a post at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (a/k/a “7-Imp”) — whose innkeeper, Jules, also frequents the corridors here.

Sundays at 7-Imp are always special. Besides celebrating (as usual) the work of wonderful authors and illustrators of books for children, the blog also asks commenters to chime in with their own lists of seven impossibly great, hilarious, etc. things which happened to them in the previous week.

The first Sunday of each month focuses on an up-and-coming artist and illustrator (of kids’ books or otherwise) whose work has especially caught Jules’s eye, or outright dazzled her.

Which is why the 7-Imp post today is so cool, because it’s all about the artwork of Marta Pelrine-BaconRAMH‘s commenter with the longest tenure, having first shown up out of the blue a couple of months after I started the blog.

Very nice, Marta, to find yourself featured in the first post of the year at a blog which has also featured the work of the likes of Ed Young, Grace Lin, Daniel Pinkwater, et al…. what company!

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So Your Book Just Sits There, Inert?

(hat tip to Janet Reid)

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Finding the Life You Want in the Life You’ve Got

[“Crossroads,” by Hungarian artist István Orosz. For more about this image, see the Note at the bottom of this post.]

From whiskey river:

A Note

Life is the only way
to get covered in leaves,
catch your breath on the sand,
rise on wings;

to be a dog
or stroke its warm fur;

to tell pain
from everything it’s not;

to squeeze inside events,
dawdle in views,
to seek the least of all possible mistakes.

An extraordinary chance
to remember for a moment
a conversation held
with the lamp switched off;

and if only once
to stumble upon a stone,
end up soaked in one downpour or another,

mislay your keys in the grass;
and to follow a spark on the wind with your eyes;

and to keep on not knowing
something important.

(Wislawa Szymborska [source])


I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on the world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again. I know this is all mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that. There is a human beauty in it. And I can’t believe that, when we have all been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality, and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the whole world to us. In eternity this will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets. Because I don’t imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try.

(Marilynne Robinson, Gilead [source])

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Building Buildings, Building Books

A recent Murderati blog entry by Toni McGee Causey just knocked me out. Her “simple” premise: our designing and constructing the imaginative world of a book resembles an architect’s designing and constructing a real-world building.

Excerpting it here would not do justice to what the piece says about buildings and books. But her conclusion is worth hanging on the wall of anyone’s workspace, whether they’re a writer, an architect, or otherwise:

…take the time to enjoy the people around you. Take the time to look at the things you have done and enjoy them. Dwell. Be. Replenish. The world and the race will still be there when you’re ready to re-join. There is no one final race anyway, but millions of races. If you don’t join this day’s race, you can join tomorrow’s.

(Thanks to Janet Reid for the recommendation.)

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Off Balance

[Image by Jan Piller at redbubble.com. Click the image for the original/to purchase.]

From whiskey river (italicized portion):

Taking a walk with you

lacking the wit and depth
that inform our dreams’
bright landscapes,
this countryside
through which we walk
is no less beautiful for being only what it seems.
rising from the dyed
pool of its shade,
the tree we lean against
was never made to stand
for something else,
let alone ourselves.
nor were these fields
and gullies planned
with us in mind.
we live unsettled lives
and stay in a place
only long enough to find
we don’t belong.
even the clouds, forming
noiselessly overhead,
are cloudy without
resembling us, and, storming
the vacant air,
don’t take into account
our present loneliness.
and yet, why should we care?
already we are walking off
as if to say,
we are not here,
we’ve always been away.

(Mark Strand [source])


Anyone whose goal is “something higher” must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.

(Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being [source])

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So Deep a Sound in Autumn

[Image: “Autumn Grasses,” a two-panel folding screen by 19th-century
Japanese artist Shibata Zeshin. Click image for more information.]

From whiskey river (which has been on a William Stafford binge for a few weeks, not that you’ll find me complaining):


You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes. Yellow
pulls across the hills and thrums,
or in the silence after lightning before it says
its names — and then the clouds’ wide-mouthed
apologies. You were aimed from birth:
you will never be alone. Rain
will come, a gutter filled, an Amazon,
long aisles — you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head —
that’s what the silence meant: you’re not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.

(William Stafford [source])

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No Words…

Per agent Janet Reid, who called her post “Stop what you’re doing and watch this” (a title which is hard to improve on, and I didn’t even try):

As Janet says, for some context you can read this blog post.

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A Little Learning, a Little Yearning

[Image above shows the Parthenon, and its reflection in the facade of the New Acropolis Museum. Click image for more information and the original photo.]

From whiskey river:

Just Thinking

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot — peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.

(William Stafford [source])


There is a bitter aftertaste when one swallows the truth, sometimes. It may be years before it becomes apparent, so long that you’ve forgotten that first taste, but it does come. It comes when, having thought you swallowed truth whole, what you got was only a morsel. Further, the spreading bitterness derives from understanding that what you thought was true was, actually, true, but not in the way you thought or wanted it to be.

(Terrance Keenan [source (p. 169)])

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Costs of Creation

From whiskey river:

The Midnight Club

The gifted have told us for years that they want to be loved
For what they are, that they, in whatever fullness is theirs,
Are perishable in twilight, just like us. So they work all night
In rooms that are cold and webbed with the moon’s light;
Sometimes, during the day, they lean on their cars,
And stare into the blistering valley, glassy and golden,
But mainly they sit, hunched in the dark, feet on the floor,
Hands on the table, shirts with a bloodstain over the heart.

(Mark Strand, The Continuous Life [source])


The important thing about despair is never to give up, never wrap up and put away a sterile life, but somehow keep it open. Because you never can know what’s coming; never. That’s the great thing about life, the crucial thing to remember. You may beat your fists on a stone wall for years and years, and every consideration of common sense will say it’s hopeless, forget it, spare yourself; and then one day your bleeding hand will go through as if the wall were theatrical gauze; you’ll be in another realm where birds are singing and love is possible, and you’d have missed it if you’d given up, because it might be only that one day the wall was not stone.

(Allen Wheelis, from The Illusionless Man [source])

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Art Forms

[Above, the trailer for the short film Lost and Found, an adaptation of the children’s book of the same name by Oliver Jeffers. For stills from the movie, visit the Cartoon Brew link above, and STUDIO aka.]

From whiskey river:

Recipe for an Ocean in the Absence of the Sea

You have the ingredients on hand,
Get to the edge of something,
yourself best of all, and take
yourself in hand. Take, I mean, your hand,
trace out the blue menaces
released and lapsing there,
watch closely around the wrist: they will
remind you what you must do,
They are what you must do. Be
them, until there is nothing but them,
then you are ready. Now take
time, all there is in the house —
it does not have to be yours. Take time
and never for a moment
losing track of what changes
back into yourself, bitter enough
so that you will need almost
no salt, mix well and then leap
over the edge. Wait there. When you can
wait no longer, it is done.
Serve at once. It does not keep.

(Richard Howard [source])


The world of the arts is by no means always comfortable, but neither is it likely ever to be boring. It is full of surprises, humor, traps for the unwary, and challenges to smugness. It is a world of moods as well as of revelation, of beliefs and fears, of unpleasant truth as well as of delicious fantasy. Perhaps it is arrogant to say that anyone who does not venture into this world is only half-interested in life. I say it, nonetheless.

(Russell Lynes, The Fine Edge of Awareness)

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