1. HISTORIAN AND NOVELIST JASON GOODWIN TALKS ABOUT WRITING AND HIS EDGAR AWARD WINNING CRIME FICTION SERIES THAT INCLUDES THE JANISSARY TREE, THE SNAKE STONE AND THE BELLINI CARD.
2. WRITER AND ILLUSTRATOR JUDY SCHNACHER WHOSE BOOKS, INCLUDING THE SKIPPYJON JONES SERIES, HAVE BROUGHT WONDER AND DELIGHT TO CHILDREN AND THEIR PARENTS.
4. CELLIST AND COMPOSER CLAUDIO JAFFE TALKS ABOUT THE CONNECTION BETWEEN HIS MUSIC AND HIS FAVORITE BOOKS.
Late at night I travel to Istanbul, courtesy of the magic carpet author Jason Goodwin provides with The Janissary Tree. There, gardens bloom on Iznick tiles of splendid blues, greens and pomegranate reds. I dream of asking Goodwin how he recreates this world of opulent color, singing fountains, bright jewels. Good writers are magicians and I am in awe of their power. Dare I ask this particular magician for an interview? Why not? The worst that will happen is that he will say no. I ask and hold my breath, metaphorically speaking.
I wake up to a sky as grey as a chunk of hematite. The temperature has zoomed into the upper eighties. The air is oppressive. The garden looks dry and exhausted. The round ruffled leaves of the Rond de Nice squash droops forlornly. When is these stony clouds going to resolve themselves into a cooling rain? We have had brief showers for the last three days, so brief they do no more than coax plant roots into coming closer to the surface to absorb a few drops before they evaporate. I go out with watering cans filled with grey water. This is not enough, I know. What my plants need is a series of long drizzles, gentle and sweetly thirst quenching.
The day ends without the promised downpour.
“Later,” says the weatherman. “Later.”
I labor over sentences. I murder paragraphs. My characters rebel, throw off the alphabet, become mute. I find a poem that is as fresh and cool as if it had just been written. It refershes the soul. And then, joy of joys, Goodwin says yes. What else can a provincial writing gardener want> Rain, perhaps. But has been promised. It will come.
Conrad Aiken (1889–1973)
When you read Gretchen Primack‘s poems, their music stays with you. There remains an afterglow that follows you and makes visible things invisible to the naked eye. This is an urgent, compelling voice that speaks in incandescent imagery, a voice that echoes in the mind long after you have heard it for the first time.
unable to wake an old dog
by the palace arch.
They spilled knees, hips, hands
through brass bores and bells, and still
she lay there.
Her father was a Briquet Griffon
Vendeen. She inherited his long
white ears. The yellow cornets
waited for her to drift through the gate; still
she lay on her side, as if all the king’s men
crooned only to mend her broken body.
But that was the night she gave over
to space, let the pulley of notes raise her as far
as she could go, and stayed.
That was the night Orion slipped out of the bowl,
leaving only his glittering belt, unbuckled
into an aching arch,
and the slow creaking of planets.