Friday, April 23, 2010

Poetry Friday: Too big to fail

With the presidential Marine 1 helicopter chopping its blades over our offices yesterday, Earth Day didn't feel very green here at Sanford Greenburger. Obama was on his way to scold Wall Street at nearby Cooper Union. Sirens blared, traffic snarled.

But then I received this beautiful message in an email from poet and novelist George Ella Lyon, and the two worlds grafted together.


about the stock market.

Today she is worth

exactly what she was worth

yesterday, a year ago, at creation.

I don’t mean property value,

taxable assets. I mean

milkweed and copper moths

honeybees, cow vetch,

king snakes.

Meadow life

is not money.

What rises

and falls here are stems

and flowers, leaves and fruit.

No zigzag line of profit and panic

but the great wheel turning.

Here God gives of her

extravagance and here, like

flicker, viceroy, dragonfly

we come into our inheritance.

-- Earth Poems, George Ella Lyon

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Acts of God

Today was the closest we'll ever get to The Devil Wears Prada at Sanford Greenburger. Volcanic ash engulfed European skies -- just as the London Book Fair was about to begin. So as some of us were assiduously attending to our clients' needs (i.e., glumly going about our business as our fellows dashed off abroad), others were madly canceling flights, rebooking through Bournemouth, through Glasgow, through Paris, through the Chunnel, via Liverpool, over land, sea, air, foam. I'm not sure whether my colleagues actually will make it to London, but they gave it their all, trying to get there.

Our newest hire, dewy-eyed Rachael, observed wonderingly: "At my last job, they would have said the volcano was my fault!" It's good to know that in book publishing, at least, we can't resort to flying on Donatella's private jet, and sometimes must stand aside as God and Nature, in all their glory, have their way.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Mozart Season rises again

Do you know about the Phoenix Award? I have to admit, shamefully, that I did not -- until tonight. Tonight, Virginia Euwer Wolff was named the recipient of the 2011 Phoenix Award for her glorious novel, The Mozart Season.

Could there ever be a better reason for giving a prize than this one? Here is the citation:

The Children's Literature Association Phoenix Award is presented annually to the author of a children's or young adult book, originally published in English twenty years earlier, that did not win a major award at the time of its publication. The award recognizes works of high literary merit and lasting significance.

Jinny Wolff is almost pathologically modest, so I will crow on her behalf. The Mozart Season is a book that bears reading and re-reading. (So great was my respect for her novel that I'd clean my apartment on druggy St. Mark's Place -- vacuum even! -- before I'd allow myself to open her manuscript and read her sentences.) Read it if you have a chance.

Hats off to the 2011 Children's Literature Association committee for their far-sighted choice; three cheers for the 17-year-old boy who composed that stunning violin concerto; and kudos to the brilliant Virginia Euwer Wolff for writing a book that will rise again and again.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Poetry Friday: What's truly English?

My walk to work takes me through Central Park. It's like walking through a picture book: dog-walkers, joggers, school children, the turning of the seasons. I passed a host of golden daffodils this morning and thought: Shall I use Wordsworth's well-worn chestnut for Poetry Friday today? Nah. Who can bear to read that one again.

Then came to mind "Oh, to be in England, Now that April's there!" a poem I once had by heart but which now mercifully is gone from memory.

No to Browning, no to Wordsworth, but England seemed to be in the air. Hence the below, from that great unsung Irish laureate, Spike Milligan:


English Teeth, English Teeth!
Shining in the sun
A part of British heritage
Aye, each and every one.

English Teeth, Happy Teeth!
Always having fun
Clamping down on bits of fish
And sausages half done.

English Teeth! HEROES' Teeth!
Hear them click! and clack!
Let's sing a song of praise to them --
Three Cheers for the Brown Grey and Black.

Thanks again to the brilliant anthologist Wallace Tripp, in whose Marguerite, Go Wash Your Feet! I first found this poem.