Last night, I had one of my few recurring dreams… no, not the one about water and tsunamis (thought some internet genius insists that this has something to do with emotional instability…), but the one about a small plane I once took with my family from Tanga to Pemba, Pemba to Zanzibar. In the dream, I am a grown woman with my head in my mothers lap, crying and insisting that the plane will crash. My sister and Tom are in the seat in front. My mother is yelling at the pilot who is occupied with a tall European woman sitting co-pilot, as she snaps shots of him carelessly navigating us through the sky.
There are two people behind us. I don’t turn around. I know we don’t know them, but I sense they are there and that one of them, at least, is a young woman. And then I hear this voice….
and it’s Robert Pinsky….
and he’s asking me why I have not updated my blog…
Sooooo the Pinsky part is a new addition to my ongoing dream anxieties. But he does have an excellent plane voice, I will say. And it’s getting me to write what I have being thinking about in Lisbon… in no particular order.
1. Went to Cascais and met Luis D’Sousa, a wonderful Portuguese writer and dear friend of the late poet, Alberto de Lacerda. Luis kept us for hours in hysterics, holding our attention with stories about Eliot and Auden, Lorca and Proust. He had some incredible art by the Portuguese artist, Paula Rego, and books owned by such celebrated writers that my hands shook to hold them. “You better take these back,” I would say to him, and he would smile, re-shelve them gingerly, and then come to me with some other treasure. He likes Whitman. And photography. And talking about his life as a BBC liaison in Washington for years. Weeks later, I met Luis and his familyagain at a party at the US Embassy. More stories and laughter. Here is an art piece by Paulo Rego, an artist who has also been commissioned to do these haunting wine labels:
2. We scootered up the coast to Cabo da Roca, the western-most point in continental Europe. It looked like big sur, but Icouldn’t see any dolphins or whales (California has spoilt me). Nevertheless, it was beautiful, and I sat for a long time on the wooden barrier with my shoes off, kicking my legs towards Boston. Scootering with Camille:
3. Carpe Diem is a phenomenal art space and residency here in Lisbon with an unfortunately un-ironic, somewhat ridiculous name. Don’t hold it against them. They did something heroic here in Lisbon. They took one of the city’s beautiful abandoned estate houses (belle epoch era, I believe) and converted it into an art installation space where the pieces are built into the rooms. They hosted everything from video and sound installations to painting and basement sculptures, and finally, an awesome garden party with fresh lemonade and peacocks… that’s right. Peacocks chilling in the yard.
Some photos of the installations and space:
4. Madrid. I went there for 48 hours. I spent a whole day in the Prado. The queen of Spain was there. I did not see her…. but I could feel her (not really, but someone did tell me she was about that day). What can I say about Madrid? I saw a Gaudi building, ate cured meat, strolled a rose garden, stood before a Don Quixote fountain, and took a gondola ride and then realized, too late, that it was stupid to take a gondola ride as I am clearly terrified of heights. Very clearly… hence my bad dreams about planes.
Photos of bizarre confrontational ads in Madrid, gondolas, Gaudi, and the Prado:
5. I travelled up to France for a few days, visited my sister, an artist, in the south of France. I met my niece, Indigo. They live in Asprières, a small village in the Midi-Pyrénées region of southern France. It is essentially made up of four streets: Rue du Midi, Rue du Centre, Rue du Rouergue, and Rue Belle Vue. There is a small market, a restaurant, a church, and a bed and breakfast inn/pub, but most of the socialization occurs in the narrow paths in the village overlooking fields of sheep, horses, and cows. Asprières is surrounded by meadows, woodland, wild poppies and cornflowers, and is home to over 400 species of butterflies. My sister and I have decided we are going to start a small art collective there, once she can install a kiln. She is going to teach ceramics and drawing. I am going to teach poetry. Summer 2013.
I was very moved by my time in the town… and my sister and I, in an attempt to put the baby to sleep, would walk the village late at night with the baby in her stroller. Under a low moon, we caught up. I asked her what she painted when she was pregnant, curious if it had changed anything about her artistic sensibility. And we had such a nice chance to talk about our developing crafts… and occasionally, of course, to make sure Indigo was tucked in well with her Peppa Pig stuffed animal, dozing off to the sounds of the French countryside. I pretty sure all she dreams of are horses and bunnies.
Also… children’s shows look like the afterlife. They are terrifying. Don’t ever watch them, Judith.
Some photos of Asprières and the surrounding area, the River Lot:
6. The Disquiet Writing Festival has started and it’s 2 weeks long. It deserves it’s own post, so I will write again when it’s closer to finishing. Until then,
poems and dissertation,
poems and dissertation,
poems and dissertations….