Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lithuania: K

Me, again. This is my blog, right? Okay. I'm standing in the wall of heroes. It is green, red and yellow and has tiles of names of people who were important in gaining Lithuania's independence from Russia. You could also walk through it through people shaped holes. This was across the river, outside of Old Town, near a large highway and rundown, half built apartments.

I spent this entire day by myself, walking in the cold and the grey. I was over-talkative the day before and had an extrovert hangover.

*And just so you don't get the wrong idea-- the two photos I took of myself are among four such photos on the trip. I am not the sort of blog gal who has a section titled "photos of me." Not that there is anything wrong with that-- well, no, there probably is something wrong with that. To be seen in a bathroom mirror holding a phone is tacky. It just is. If you have to have that bathroom self-portrait, find a way to not include the phone in it. It's not hard to do. Or does having the phone contribute something to the larger cultural movement of Internet and media sharing? To show the phone shows that you are a participant in a major brain shift to processing images through a real time filter- to experience something is to experience it on a screen as it happens in front of you. A remove that is then made virtual. Anyway, those are the few photos of my face from the trip.

Lithuania: J

Jake Levin: A poetry Fulbright scholar, the organizer, the finder of EVERYONE'S hostels, hotels, apartments-- the coordinator of all arrivals and flat mates. The creative force behind the readings, the cultural events and seminars. The leader of a bagel collective and a leader reclaiming Jewish Vilna's history.

And, the man can wear color coordinate his bandannas! Cute.

Lithuania: I

I am visiting the Baltic Sea, surrounded by fifty foot tall sand dunes. I am taking self portraits. One of these is on purpose, the other isn't. I am thirty-one and I think I look thirty-one in one of the pictures and maybe not in the other. Huh!

Lithuania: H

Hothouse: A reading inside one, on the grounds of a tiny restaurant across the river.

That's Robin Hemley-- the incredibly funny, awesome writer.

Jake Levin told the owners that they could easily grow mint in the boxes-- and look at them now! They had been empty before his suggestion.

Lithuania: G

Ghetto: Vilna (the first recorded spelling, the Jewish spelling) was over seventy percent Jewish before WWII. Most were taken to fields and
or forced onto trains and
or fled and

See the small star carved into the cement? This was taken on "German Street," the entrance to the largest ghetto.

I cannot describe the story I read about a rabbi, a Torah and a blade. I cannot.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Lithuania: E (I am mostly proficient)

Edward Hirsch: I can say that he changed the way I read and write poetry-- in six classes! He is a powerful teacher and it was humbling to be in a workshop with someone so completely devoted to poetry. I return to the poems he picked out for us to study and can hear his New York accent talking about Krakow vs. Warsaw, a city intact and a city destroyed, a city of traditional poetry and a city of modern. And of course, Milosz. Milosz, Milosz, Milosz-- a man born in Wilno (Vilnius).

Hirsch taught me to care about form more than I have in the past. He taught the importance of respecting someone as a "maker." His classes were the academic highlight of the trip.