Because I am a poet, I respond to words before images, sentences before styles, paragraphs before pigments. I love to look at paintings, but for me words come first. It is not surprising, then, that my obsession with Albert Pinkham Ryder, a painter who was born, as I was, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, began… Continue reading Albert Pinkham Ryder’s Chemical Sins, and Me →
Yesterday was the Fourth of July. Independence Day is not my favorite holiday. In fact, it’s my least favorite holiday, not because I lack patriotic fervor and not because I hate fireworks (although I do hate fireworks if they’re directly over my head)—no, not for either of those reasons. I certainly don’t hate the music,… Continue reading The Bizarro Yankee Doodle Dandy →
There are many ways to get from Kashgar, China’s westernmost city, to Aksu, about 300 miles to the east. If you left on train #7558, you would arrive in Aksu 9 hours and 28 minutes later. On this slowest and cheapest of the railroad options, a ticket costs only ¥53, or about US$8.… Continue reading Slow: Kashgar to Aksu →
A couple of weeks ago, as I was scrolling through the news items on Poetry Daily’s website, I came upon Ruth Weiss’s obituary. Although I didn’t know who Ruth Weiss was, the thumbnail in the news feed immediately caught my attention. Ruth Weiss, who was, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, a “trailblazing poet in… Continue reading Green Hair & Jam →
I have an ancestor from Santa Maria, Azores. His name is António Ferreira Couto, and he was born probably between 1660 and 1680. He married a woman named Catarina Velho, who was probably also born on the ilha de Santa Maria, but I don’t know that for sure. António and Catarina are my 7th great-grandparents.… Continue reading Looking for António Ferreira Couto →
When my great-grandmother Maria Julia da Costa Frias, my maternal grandmother’s mother, died in New Bedford in 1909, her family of new immigrants didn’t have enough money to erect a gravestone. Her grave had only a round stone marker with a number on it, small and sunk into the ground. There were many graves with… Continue reading Lost in the Cemetery →
Was it 1975, the year my brother and I caught the bus to Boston to see a Red Sox game and the finish of the Boston Marathon? I know it was Patriot’s Day, because we both had the day off and also because that’s when the Boston Marathon happens. Although we didn’t stay for the… Continue reading Marathon Girl →
Margarida saw the Queen in that summer of 1901 when all the days were damp and filled with the smell of salt. She couldn’t see the future through the fog, but she imagined machines, money, and motion, a city crammed with tenement houses and streetcars. She was fourteen years old. She and her mother, Maria… Continue reading Margarida, José, and the Queen →
Prague is a labyrinth. Seen from Google Maps satellite view, it is all red roofs twisting and winding into one another. There are streets and street numbers, but they are hidden under the labyrinthine turns of the red roofs, and a first-time visitor is likely to get lost. At least we did. Last October, when… Continue reading Bohemian Pleasures: Revisiting the Labyrinth →
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