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Sharon Dolin
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Yes, of course I've been to a mikveh, more than one. Often there's a separate mikveh for women and for men, though sometimes they use the same one at different hours. I'm no expert, of course. It was just deeply sad to me that it took so long for anyone In Catalunya to figure out that the structure was a mikveh. The Catholic analogy would be like finding a small font and not realizing it was for baptism.
It sounds like a popular song. Sorry I can't be of more help.
Drawings by Jabes on the manuscript of The Book of Questions The place that felt to me just as holy as all the churches I visited (the Dourade with its Black Madonna that I described in my last post) is a large bookstore called Librairie Ombres Blanches (white shade/shadows). When I entered there was the same holy hush of a multifarious array of people. And poetry (unlike in the States, where it is banished to some obscure corner, usually downstairs) is right there at the entrance. Poetry with newly released editions by Classic authors such as Baudelaire. Then an extensive... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
I spent the day in Toulouse, which meant there was only so much I could see. Kind of like life. After talking briefly to a couple in Auvillar, Gerhard, originally from Germany, and Marie-Josef, from France, about their project of creating a memorial to the 4 families who were deported to Auschwitz from Auvillar, I had a bit of an edge—more so than usual—when Gerhard described to me that even during the first crusade, in 1095, the French made a decision to lengthen their route to Jerusalem by first going through the area where I am to kill whatever Jews... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
one of the painters in the painting competition whose muse (a grey parrot) is sitting in a tree nearby Village life has its advantages. You stroll around on market days and everyone knows your favorite chevre, your passion for lemon cookies. And then there are events that seem to capture the attention of the entire village (try that in New York!). As I write this, there are painters spread out all over the town of Auvillar, painting landscapes. This annual event, "Paint My Village," which apparently happens in different places in France, is a competition, in which painters at 3... Continue reading
Posted Jul 28, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Birthday Macarons from Le Varens de Gens, neighboring town This was my birthday present from Cheryl and John, who hosted a fabulous birthday dinner party for me in the garden here. It's a feast of colors and flavors, as is my stay here. Cheryl Fortier is the Director of Moulin a Nef, the artist colony where I'm staying. artisanal soap shop in town One of the four artists staying here left today, so it was a little bit sad. In the morning, I walked into town with Yona Harvey, the other American poet in residence here, and we stopped in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Thanks, Stacey! Sharon
La Garonne Water Before, there is water. After, there is water. during, always during. —Lake water? —River water? —Sea water? Never water over water Never water for water; but water where there is no longer water; water in the dead memory of water. —Edmond Jabes Twenty years ago, in a Paris bookshop, I picked up a little book by Edmond Jabes called La Memoire et La Main and proceeded to translate it on small pieces of tracing paper I interleaved in the book. Then, nothing. Before coming to France, I thought to have a look through my book shelves at... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
view through the poplars "Machinery will have so much Americanized us, progress will have so much atrophied our spiritual element, that nothing in the sanguinary, blasphemous or or unnatural dreams of the Utopists can be compared to what will actually happen." That statement was written 150 years ago by Charles Baudelaire in an unfinished work published posthumously in 1887, 20 years after his death, and translated by Richard Howard in a little book called Intimate Journals. Merely change the word "machinery" to "technology" and it sounds fairly accurate. Compare it to this contemporary aphorism by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Lebanese, educated... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
I am residing next to a hunting club. Every day, since I arrived, groups of men go past my window early each morning, busy with preparations for a midday feast that took place today. How could I not attend. It was a barbeque feast of wild deer and wild boar. . . lots of wine . . lots of talk . . . and lots of hunting still going on. Suffice it to say that a male stag of a certain age saw me as American game and relentlessly hunted me. But he did not bank on my stubborn armor... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
photo by Michelle Acuff This is where I am living: where they grow sunflowers and are in love with nuclear power. This plant, Golfech Nuclear Power Plant in La Garonne, is so close that I could see it in the distance from my bicycle as I sped to the local pool. This photo is by one of the artists here, Michelle Acuff, a sculptor with an amazing eye. She went right up to the power plant, something I am not prepared to do, that actually makes me tremble with fear. The proximity of the plant almost stopped me from coming... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
I just arrived in the southwest of France (in the Midi-Pyrenees) to begin an artist residency at Le Moulin a Nef in a tiny village called Auvillar. Quite a culture shock after pinxtos (tapas)-bar-hopping in San Sebastian, Spain till all hours of the night. On my first morning here, today, the Residency Director Cheryl Fortier and her husband John invited the artists (there are 4 of us) to come with them to watch the Tour de France cyclists go speeding by. Pourquois pas? So, of course, I went. There we were, with about 100 locals, on the side of the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Alas. I didn't jot them down. It was a few lines from one of his sonnets. It was late at night. Mi disculpe. Sharon