“Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all others were making ships.”―by Dušan Charles Simić
Our February 2023 issue is dedicated to poet Claire Bateman.
From Elizabeth Boleman-Herring: Dr. Sterling “Skip” Eisiminger, Weekly Hubris’s resident mensch, with whose essay on selflessness our February issue opens, writes, “One object of life, as I see it, is to make every human effort to transcend or reify the self; to die as an abstraction of love with a minimum of self remaining and the broadest concept of ‘neighbor’ installed.” In this cold, short month of the new year, Eisiminger’s meditation on altruism is a balm for his editor and readers, alike. Poet Claire Bateman’s column space this month is dedicated to poet Jeff Hardin, one of whose poetry collections found its genesis in important lines by others that have stayed with him through the years: Writes Hardin: “I made a list of these well-known lines (probably 50 or more). I thought of them as touchpoints in my own thinking. I thought of each as a ‘watermark,’ remembering how, in a book arts course I took years ago, handmade paper often held a ‘watermark,’ the evidence of its maker hidden within the paper and visible when held up to the light. The spiritual implications of that idea interested me. I have often said that we are ‘worded into existence’ by the language that matters to us, and my collection Watermark attempts to honor many of the central phrases and lines that have shaped how I move through the world.” Next, Anita Sullivan writes poignantly and briefly of grief and “resurrection,” in the sense of Freddy Silva’s The Lost Art of Resurrection. Diana Farr Louis returns to us after a brief hiatus, with memories of the Greek isle of Chios, Christopher Columbus, and the precious, sweet tears of the mastika tree (plus a recipe, but not for mastika). Kathryn E. Livingston (definitively) answers the pregnant query, “What does (one) woman want?” And Dr. Guy McPherson, my beloved, beleaguered climate crisis prophet channels for us his inner Inigo Montoya. Helen Noakes follows on in a companion piece from the other side of America, where California melts and shudders under the storms of future present. Dean Pratt, on lighter-and-with-liner notes, is up next, with another of his virtual primers for Audrey Mannes Mosello, detailing the essential jazz discs of Manny Albam. And, at Weekly Hubris’s end, there are a heart-shaped box of non-fattening Valentine’s Day cartoons by Mark Addison Kershaw.
About the artist featured on our February Home Page: Since the age of 15, Deborah DeWit’s images have defined the path of her life. A fifth-generation professional artist, self-taught, she began her journey as a fine-art photographer, but always with a vision to paint. She added pastel and oil to her mediums by the time she entered her 30s. Her personal interests and everyday life have served as subject matter and her imagery is a collection of domestic comforts, explorations of the natural world, and contemplations of emotion, intellect, beauty, and ideas. DeWit’s work has been shown in many Northwest galleries and collected by individuals, museums, and corporations. She has written two books, Traveling Light: Chasing an Illuminated Life and Painting Cats, and her images have graced book covers, magazines, calendars, and websites. Many of her paintings about books and reading have been gathered in the volume In the Presence of Books, with an introduction by Northwest poet Kim Stafford. Currently, DeWit shows her original paintings at White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach, Oregon and at her home studio. DeWit and her husband, filmmaker Carl Vandervoort, live with their cat Birdie on the North Oregon Coast. Their 100-year-old house and its four and half acres overlooking Nehalem Bay and the Pacific are a backdrop and inspiration to their work. An extensive selection of her past and current work may be viewed on her website as well as writings about her studio and life at Huckleberry Farm: www.deborahdewit.com. Contact the artist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skip the B.S.
“Caring Enough: Selflessness,” By Dr. Sterling “Skip” Eisiminger
CLEMSON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 February 2023—Though I expect Ingrid will deny it, I married a mensch. I had suspected it all along from the empathetic way she acted around animals and children, but my suspicions were confirmed when we were driving on black ice the day after we wed, late to the train that would take us to the Harz Mountains for a three-day honeymoon. Speeding toward a narrow railroad underpass, the car suddenly began skidding across the cobblestones. As the passenger-side wheels struck the curb, ejecting a hubcap, I realized as I fought to correct my guidance system that Ingrid’s left arm had reached out to protect me even though the direction of our skid was toward her side of the car. Naturally, she wasn’t just thinking of me, for her right hand gripped the dashboard. As we emerged from the underpass, whose dry pavement probably saved us, I grasped her hand on my chest, and thanked her. “Naja,” she said, “of course. We’re married now.” (Read more . . .)
“The Poetry of Jeff Hardin,” By Claire Bateman
GREENVILLE South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 February 2023—Poet Jeff Hardin is the author of seven collections of poetry, most recently Watermark, A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being, and No Other Kind of World. His work has been honored with the Nicholas Roerich Prize, the Donald Justice Prize, and the X. J. Kennedy Prize. Recent poems appear in The Southern Review, The Laurel Review, Literary Matters, Zone 3, The Cortland Review, Cumberland River Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many others. Hardin lives and teaches in Tennessee. About his book Watermark, A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being, Hardin writes: “In 2004, I had this idea that I would find phrases from failed poems of mine and use them as titles for new poems. When I wrote the first line (‘How quiet must I be’) at the top of a page, I suddenly thought of an x/y axis from math classes, so I turned the statement vertically and visibly down the left-hand margin. I began stitching my new lines back through each word of this five-word statement as if I were anchoring myself to a whispered prayer, or a subliminal message, back behind my thinking, perhaps not even noticeable on a first reading.” (Read more . . .)
On the Other Hand
“An Argument for Holding Certain Rituals Above Ground in Winter,” By Anita Sullivan
EUGENE Oregon—(Weekly Hubris)—1 February 2023—As I walk across the sunlit rug towards the front window of my house, I see a small movement in the leafless hydrangea outside and quickly realize it’s a reflection of my feet—the fuzzy pink socks, the red sandals. Just such ghostliness! Since your death, my entire body has gradually dismembered, so why shouldn’t my feet be outside in the bushes walking around by themselves while at the same time not really there at all? The chalk outline of my previous self has been erased to release a horde of molecules. They thunder here and there like a herd of aurochs seeking the familiar scent of lions to steer them onto a coherent path. My bones have splintered into kindling and what remains offers no more than an awkward set of arcs on which to hang a face. “I am selfless!” I whisper with a grim smile. Yes, so recently unselved by grief, I’m easily rescued now by smaller things: coal in ash, saffron in water, boulder crumbling on hillside, feather in air. Lately I have begun to move by surges, by mists and clots of delayed-response to a mind that seems to be evaporating without leaving any salt. What personhood will ensue from this stately and ancient pattern of suffering? (Read more . . .)
Eating Well is The Best Revenge
“Revisiting The Magical Island of Chios,” By Diana Farr Louis
ATHENS Greece—(Weekly Hubris)—1 February 2023—It’s been so long since I’ve been anywhere beyond my own backyard(s)—Athens and Andros—that I’m beginning to feel a nagging wanderlust. All the fuss involved in going abroad doesn’t tempt me, but how I would love to get into the car and head south to the Peloponnese or north to Macedonia. Or board a ship and sail until it reached its final destination. This being winter, and not one but three viruses are making their presence felt, a trip seems out of the question at the moment, so I’ll content myself with memories and take you with me on a series of visits to the remarkable island of Chios in the northeastern Aegean. Although I spent many summers sailing with friends in the Cyclades, Dodecanese, Sporades, and Ionian islands, I never went to Chios until my dear friend Becky Dennison Sakellariou and I formed a partnership called Modus Scribendi and started editing a magazine for the Chandris Hotels. Τhe chain was small, just four hotels—in Athens, Crete, Corfu, and Chios, where the family, more famous in the shipping world, originates—but they were luxurious. And we were treated, with our spouses, to long weekends, all expenses paid, naturally. (Read more . . .)
Words & Wonders
“What This Woman Wants,” By Kathryn E. Livingston
BOGOTA New Jersey—(Weekly Hubris)—1 February 2023—When one of our grown sons was in high school, the Honors English teacher posed the question “What do women want?” She was probably discussing Portrait of a Lady, The Great Gatsby, or some other literary work, though my son doesn’t recall and neither do I. What I do recall is my son’s answer when the teacher surveyed the room, pressing various young scholars for their responses. “Food,” was my boy’s serious, curt, and dry response. Ms. M (not her real initial) was not at all amused. Hearing of the exchange later that day, I was annoyed that my son’s response was summarily dismissed. His answer was authentic, and it was certainly true based on his experience of living in a house for 16 years with myself, his hungry but loving mother. Such answers as “love, respect, trust, children, a compassionate spouse, an intellectual equal, a soul mate, a fulfilling career, to make a difference, to feel valued or honored” . . . and so on, may have garnered more approval from the teacher and classmates. But were these answers really true? What more could a woman want than food? (And perhaps new shoes?) (Read more . . .)
“You Killed My Planet: Prepare to Die,” By Dr. Guy McPherson
BELLOWS FALLS Vermont—Weekly Hubris)—1 February 2023—William Goldman’s The Princess Bride, (full title: The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, The “Good Parts” Version) was published in 1973. Adapted for the screen by its author, the film version, directed by Rob Reiner, was released in 1987. To date, it is the only feature-length film I have seen more than twice. I’ve seen The Princess Bride three times since it was released more than 35 years ago. Over the course of the action, a character played by Mandy Patinkin, one Inigo Montoya, repeats often, and in its entirety, the line: “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” The expert swordsman then proceeds to demonstrate his proficiency with his sword (as well as his feet), and we feel certain he will make good on his promise (once he locates the culprit responsible). A few years after seeing the film for the first time, I adapted the line from Inigo Montoya to fit my own narrative, and reflect my own dire conclusions: “Hello, my name is Guy McPherson. You killed my planet. Prepare to die.” It took me a few years to settle on the maxim because I still held out hope that our species would make a serious effort to retain habitat for itself and for other species. My fondness for every aspect of the living planet interfered with my ability to think in a rational manner. (Read more . . .)
“Tempests Over San Francisco,” By Helen Noakes
SAN FRANCISCO California—(Weekly Hubris)—1 February 2023—Our days are darkened by angry skies. There is a river in the great grey clouds that occlude the sun. And when they release its full devastating deluge on our parched and burned soil, our streets become waterways that sweep away refuse and lives, alike. Terrifying winds so powerful they rip trees, young and ancient, out by their roots. Lightning strikes very close, its shattering zing leaving a trace of ozone. Thunder rattles my windows so wildly I think I feel the house shake. Although alarmed, I stand in awe, gazing at the heaving trees, the white caps crashing on the grey ocean beyond, and understand more fully why our ancient ancestors deified the forces of nature. How else could one describe this tempest but “the wrath of God”? The tumult of raging nature that I watch with fascination incongruously stirs a memory of a Greek song I learned as a child where Thunder is a giant woman whose bracelets rumble as she dances. “Tουμπου, τουμπου, τουμπου, τοομ, θα βραχιόλια της Βροντούμ.” (Loosely translated, “Thump, thump, thump, clash Thunder’s bracelets.”) (Read more . . .)
“Manny Albam: Essential Jazz Listening,” By Dean Pratt
PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 February 2023—Manny Albam was a terrific musician, composer, arranger, teacher and, best of all, a warm, funny human being and friend. I first met Manny when I was in high school in Rochester, New York, performing in an area all-star high school jazz band directed by the Reverend George Wiskirchen. One year, this high school band had the opportunity to perform during the final concert of the Arranger’s Holiday Workshop at the Eastman Theater in Rochester. Since Manny was one of the teachers at the workshop, the good Reverend had rehearsed several charts from Manny’s newly released Solid State LP “Brass On Fire.” When I made it to New York a few years later, I had the good fortune to run into Manny often and we struck up a friendship; I and the entire music community will always miss him. I had already acquired some of the LPs listed here below (as essential jazz listening) when I first met Manny that night in Rochester, and that gave me the courage to approach him. Fortunately for me, it would not be our last creative encounter. (Read more . . .)
“If You Weren’t A Donut, You Could Be A Model,” By Mark Addison Kershaw
ATLANTA Georgia—(Weekly Hubris)—1 February 2023—Editor’s Note: This fall and winter, Mark Addison Kershaw’s identity, Lo, his very being, fell into the hands of thieves, varmints, and villains. His intellectual property writ large (and captioned) across the vasty spaces of the worldwide web was purloined and sullied by anonymous pirates bent on doing him harm. There was nothing his editor here could do about this besides wring her hands. Reader, I wrung my hands, and wring them, still. Mark is a diligent, charming, and honorable soul, all of which shines through his gentle, if piquant, cartoons. He wouldn’t harm a flea in a bunny’s ear, a bear holed up for the winter beneath a preacher’s porch, a goldfish temporarily removed from its wet element onto a (dry!) linoleum floor. I know, from his humor, that Mark would somehow relocate the flea, encourage the pastor to find another avenue of egress, and scoop up the goldfish in a flash. But the web is a dark and hazardous place now, and, without a savvy webmaster (and iron-clad passwords), I and my own trove of scribblings might have gone the way of Kershaw’s more profitable ink. I suppose I’m sharing this information with you, my and Mark’s readers, because he really has been through it during these most recent holidays. So, I’m happy as a flea on a bunny to have him back with us this February. And, at the very end of this month’s issue, here’s dessert, as usual—single-panel sweetery by our resident Addison. Happy Valentine’s Day, Mark! (Read more . . .)
Disclaimer: Weekly Hubris is, properly speaking, a not-for-profit “spiritual (ad)venture,” edited and published on the web by a group of like-minded friends, intended to be read by all and sundry (who manage to find it). The -zine is not a commercial enterprise, which means we have no budget, no coffers, no deep pockets. We do our very best to attribute credit for works used, whenever and however we can, as well as to obtain permissions in advance for the use of materials, but we generate no income and copyright remains with our Contributors in every instance.