Quote of the Week

(c) Bookbub

Saturday Poem - Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

I love this poem and I love Margaret Atwood.  Helen of Troy is one of those utterly blank figures from mythology (mostly women) who exist only as a cipher for what was going on around them.  I love that Atwood has finally made her roar.

Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing

The world is full of women
who'd tell me I should be ashamed of myself
if they had the chance. Quit dancing.
Get some self-respect
and a day job.
Right. And minimum wage,
and varicose veins, just standing
in one place for eight hours
behind a glass counter
bundled up to the neck, instead of
naked as a meat sandwich.
Selling gloves, or something.
Instead of what I do sell.
You have to have talent
to peddle a thing so nebulous
and without material form.
Exploited, they'd say. Yes, any way
you cut it, but I've a choice
of how, and I'll take the money.

I do give value.
Like preachers, I sell vision,
like perfume ads, desire
or its facsimile. Like jokes
or war, it's all in the timing.
I sell men back their worse suspicions:
that everything's for sale,
and piecemeal. They gaze at me and see
a chain-saw murder just before it happens,
when thigh, ass, inkblot, crevice, tit, and nipple
are still connected.
Such hatred leaps in them,
my beery worshippers! That, or a bleary
hopeless love. Seeing the rows of heads
and upturned eyes, imploring
but ready to snap at my ankles,
I understand floods and earthquakes, and the urge
to step on ants. I keep the beat,
and dance for them because
they can't. The music smells like foxes,
crisp as heated metal
searing the nostrils
or humid as August, hazy and languorous
as a looted city the day after,
when all the rape's been done
already, and the killing,
and the survivors wander around
looking for garbage
to eat, and there's only a bleak exhaustion.
Speaking of which, it's the smiling
tires me out the most.
This, and the pretence
that I can't hear them.
And I can't, because I'm after all
a foreigner to them.
The speech here is all warty gutturals,
obvious as a slab of ham,
but I come from the province of the gods
where meanings are lilting and oblique.
I don't let on to everyone,
but lean close, and I'll whisper:
My mother was raped by a holy swan.
You believe that? You can take me out to dinner.
That's what we tell all the husbands.
There sure are a lot of dangerous birds around.

Not that anyone here
but you would understand.
The rest of them would like to watch me
and feel nothing. Reduce me to components
as in a clock factory or abattoir.
Crush out the mystery.
Wall me up alive
in my own body.
They'd like to see through me,
but nothing is more opaque
than absolute transparency.
Look--my feet don't hit the marble!
Like breath or a balloon, I'm rising,
I hover six inches in the air
in my blazing swan-egg of light.
You think I'm not a goddess?
Try me.
This is a torch song.
Touch me and you'll burn.

Margaret Atwood

Thursday Picture - Elizabeth Sees Darcy's Portrait

Not the first time I've picked something Austen-related but there is so much going on in this picture, I just think it's beautiful!

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books Which Celebrate Diversity

The Broke and Bookish picked this topic for this week and I mentally winced.  As a term, I think diversity is a label which covers a multitude of sins - some people do 'round the world' reading challenges, trying to read books from various countries.  Others look for protagonists or authors of different ethnicities.  Then there's the route of looking for Issues fiction.  Unfortunately, I am guilty of looking at the blurb, deciding if I like the look of it and then not even thinking after that.  Or more recently, of signing up to a mailing list that appears to offer free books, getting snowed under and then not having time to consider the diversity or otherwise of my reading list.  This is not an excuse.  Still, I do know that it is through my reading that my eyes have been opened to a huge range of issues and reaches of society which might otherwise have remained far beyond my ken.  So I tried to think about the books which stuck out in my memory.

Review: Anita and Me, Meera Syal

I have adored Meera Syal for years wherever she has turned up, whether she is being an actress, comedienne, cultural commentator or even being Granny on The Kumars at No. 42.  Strangely however, I had never read any of her books until now.  Still, a combination of hearing that Anita and Me had made it on to the GCSE syllabus and receiving her new book The House of Hidden Mothers on Netgalley made me decide to find out more.  I had always had the idea that this was a memoir but although it does fall into the fiction category, it is plain to see that it comes with a hefty dose of Syal's own personal experiences.  The central character, the 'me' of the title, is ten year-old Meena and the reader ambles alongside her as she navigates life as a second-generation Punjabi immigrant in a 1970s mining village near Birmingham.

Quote of the Week

(c) Aumroom

I love this quote, a Hermione Granger/JK Rowling special, it does rather sum up the way readers can feel about non-readers!

Saturday Poem - Messy Room

This one made me giggle and wince a little in recognition.  Several weeks of zooming from place to place have meant that my room is a mess even by my own fairly relaxed standards.  Note to self - tidy thy room this week!

Messy Room

Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
His underwear is hanging on the lamp.
His raincoat is there in the overstuffed chair,
And the chair is becoming quite mucky and damp.
His workbook is wedged in the window,
His sweater's been thrown on the floor.
His scarf and one ski are beneath the TV,
And his pants have been carelessly hung on the door.
His books are all jammed in the closet,
His vest has been left in the hall.
A lizard named Ed is asleep in his bed,
And his smelly old sock has been stuck to the wall.
Whosever room this is should be ashamed!
Donald or Robert or Willie or--
Huh? You say it's mine? Oh, dear,

I knew it looked familiar!

Shel Silverstein