I’ve spent all day thinking about my upcoming trip to India. This was supposed to be a trip to research a book proposal, and it’s turned into all sorts of things: liberation, nature, ashrams, the Ganges. This is part of a quest to integrate yoga and writing. They need to develop in tandem, not apart. The way to address writing is to deal with it like the chakra system—work from the ground up, create balance, clear out blockages, let the energy move through, and send it up and outward.
So far, here’s the itinerary: Rishikesh, Varanasi, Hampi, Kerala, Auroville. And of course other places I don’t even know about yet. I’m going to figure out India like I learn yoga postures: easing into it with curiosity and wonder, examining myself and responding, moving with grace, cultivating strength, listening to the music.
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Longform.org podcast with n+1 editor/founder Keith Gessen:
Gessen: “I learned when I was a staff writer at New York magazine that pitching stuff to editors, in a way it’s kind of hopeless. As a writer, you just don’t know what editors are thinking, and you’ll never know what they’re thinking. The New Yorker . . . sent me to Kazakhstan, and they sent me to the Arctic . . . There’s a kind of vague outline and then you have to fill it in. With ‘Moscow Traffic,’ this is a story I pitched numerous times and they were like, ‘This isn’t gonna work.’ And so I just did it–I’ve done that a few times. You can ask for permission all the time, and if you think it’s a good idea you just do it and send it in.”
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Yesterday I observed an incredible outpouring of support for the New Amsterdam Market, whose existence may be threatened by a plan to develop Lower Manhattan’s Pier 17. Read about it in my Green Rabbits blog post:
“LaValva spoke to the Council, revealing several points about the HHC plan: (1) it would ’cause the City’s existing Lease with Howard Hughes to be amended so that the City would no longer be obliged to maintain the two remaining, historic Fulton Fish Market buildings as a market at all’; (2) ‘only office uses will be permitted in the . . . Tin Building’; and (3) that ‘the EDC and Howard Hughes have a Letter of Intent to redevelop the Fulton Fish Market site as a luxury residential high rise, hotel and retail complex. The proposed rezoning therefore enables a development that has never been revealed to the public or reviewed by the Council.’
What would any city be without markets? British scholar Carolyn Steel writes in Hungry City that pre-industrial cities ‘all [had] markets at their hearts, with routes leading to them like so many arteries carrying in the city’s lifeblood.’ Cities were always nexuses for the transport of food, and markets were considered vital rather than accessories. The New Amsterdam Market’s proposal asks that it be allowed to continue serving its loyal customers and bringing business to the surrounding restaurants and bars, but it also positions itself to take New York City back to pre-industrial days when community mattered and cities were about exchange, not just consumption.”
Posted in Cities, Economic development, food, New York City, Sustainability | Tagged Green Rabbits, New Amsterdam Market, Pier 17, Robert LaValva | Leave a Comment »
Poe was po’.
Probably one of the most interesting components thus far of applying to Creative Writing MFA programs has been following this blog, the “Creative Writing MFA Handbook.” Apparently every year MFA applicants convene here to discuss what schools they applied to and report on their acceptances/rejections as they filter in. I’ve been lurking silently, a voyeur, fascinated by what the comments on this blog say about how writers view themselves and how much weight is placed on obtaining the MFA in order to “be a writer.”
Commenters describe their anxiety levels, state what round of MFA application this is (although some people are accepted on the first try, there are some who are on their second or third go–which is shared as encouragement to re-submit applications next year), and talk about how they are coping with the waiting (whiskey, chili and cornbread, hatching plans to form writing groups, “more yoga”). People also exchange tips about funding, commiserate about the quality of life in cities like Baltimore (so newly gentrified), and wail about how they realize now that they screwed up on the Personal Statement, and “can someone who was accepted explain what they did with their Statement” (I cringe at the incorrect grammar there, but even aspiring writers drift into bloghorrific language). One commenter named “SnackAttack” has become obsessive and dominates the discussion at every turn; when a blog administrator posted a new thread (it’s up to the 5th thread now), Snack Attack jumped in with: “Just wanted to be first in something today. Go team!” And this is not SnackAttack’s first year on the blog; this commenter even remembers what month certain schools notified about poetry acceptances in previous years. Continue Reading »
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As I’ve been going through my yoga teacher training, I’ve been looking around for stuff to read about contemporary yoga practice. There are plenty of blogs out there, and the occasional New York Times review of a book about yoga or some feature story about the New York yoga scene. But I didn’t find any place on the Web that was regularly producing good, creative writing that interested me as a yogi and someone who appreciates journalism and literature.
So, I figured I’d make my own. In March, I will launch Vishuddha Magazine, a website featuring creative nonfiction, journalism, fiction, poetry, and blog posts by yogis for yogis. Ideally, the magazine will publish 2-3 pieces per week. I’ve already received some amazing pitches and submissions, and I’m planning to solicit more plus write some myself.
Here’s the site, and you can like the Facebook page to stay updated. Spread the word!
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“From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.” -George Orwell, “Why I Write“
Philip Roth says it sucks to be a writer. Elizabeth Gilbert says it’s the best job ever (of course, if you go flitting around the world eating, loving, and praying on a book advance, you can’t have too much to complain about). Who wins?
Avi Steinberg, who explained on The New Yorker blog that Roth’s warning to a young writer was a way of toughening him up, making sure he’s ready and willing to enter the guild.
“That’s the kind of a person it takes to be a writer: someone who’s zealous and ready to argue, someone who has Philip Roth tell him, “It’s torture, don’t do it,” and replies, “You had me at ‘torture.’ ” You don’t enter into it because it’s a great lifestyle decision—it isn’t—you do it because, for whatever reason, you believe in it, and you believe in it because, for whatever reason, you need to believe in it.”
Posted in Literature, New York City, Writing | Leave a Comment »