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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Let’s say every word is precious

Let’s say every word is precious (Part of Living Poem) Let’s say every word is precious.Say every word is precious.Every word is precious.Every word precious.Every word.Word.--Rob Neufeld, Oct. 16, 2018See More
Wednesday
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Oct 12
Nancy Sutton replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Metamorphoses
"Poignant in so many ways!   "
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses (Part of Living Poem)Hear audio: Metamorphoses%20181004_0192.MP3 So Apollo committed the first rape.He’d come back from exterminating Python,The Bane of Humanity, now his arrow-victim,And stopped to mock…See More
Oct 2
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

First Drumbeat

First Drumbeat(Part of Living Poem) The time has come.Call it a drum,Or a crumb,What’s left of life. I used to tell a jokeWhen my life was wide,And I was a stud,And not a dud—I knowI’m not a dud.  I’m a dude,A dad.  But everyone mustRebut the dud chargeAt summing up time. Oh yeah, the joke,A trademark one for meIn that it’s not funny. I used to say I’ll never retireFrom writingBecause if I’m ever…See More
Sep 22
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks for the prompt, Joan!  I have attached the whole work in progress as a doc at the bottom of the table of contents page: http://thereadonwnc.ning.com/special/living-poem"
Sep 22
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Is there a way from this website to print everything or might you send me such a document to bayjh@icloud.com?"
Sep 22
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event
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Julia Nunnally Duncan at Marion Branch McDowell County Public Library

October 24, 2018 from 4pm to 5pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be launching her new poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes (Finishing Line Press, 2018) at a book presentation and signing to be held at the McDowell County Public Library in Marion on October 24.See More
Sep 21
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"This could be interesting--thanks!  I'm at 828-505-1973 (my home business office).  And RNeufeld@charter.net."
Sep 20
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"I'll ask the kids, Barb and Ethan, if they have any contacts who might have an interest in this as a unique topic for any performers they know. It might also be something that my friend Ruby Lerner could brainstorm about to her theatre…"
Sep 19
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks much, Joan!  I'm trying to get some attention for these poems.  Triple Whammy is def in rap style.  And the beat goes on.  Hugs from me and Bev."
Sep 19
Joan Henehan posted a discussion

on Reading Living Poem

You might be the first ALS-subject-matter rapper. Add some beats and spread it. the time is now...See More
Sep 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

More from the World of ALS

More from the World of ALS (Part of Living Poem)    Negotiating steps is like someone who seeksTo emulate a goat on mountain peaks. Crossing a threshold, limping inIs like the valley-walking of an Olympian. A cane and its grip make a fellow stopTo consider the physics of leans and drops. To know how a forefinger grabs and digsImagine your digits are chestnut twigs When a new drug trial notably…See More
Sep 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a discussion

RANDALL KENAN SELECTS NANCY WERKING POLING WINNER OF THE 2018 ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE

RANDALL KENAN SELECTS NANCY WERKING POLING WINNER OF THE 2018 ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE(31 August 2018)Nancy Werking Poling of Black Mountain is the winner of the 2018 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition for "Leander’s Lies." Poling will receive $1000 from the North Carolina Literary Review, thanks to a generous NCLR reader’s donation that allowed this year’s honorarium to increase (from the previous award of $250). Her winning essay will be published in the North…See More
Sep 4
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Sep 4

Dance critic applies grace to every move

by Rob Neufeld

 

            It’s nice to find just the right word for something, especially when it sums up a main idea in your way of thinking.

            That was the case with Sarah Kaufman when she’d first felt moved, nine years ago, to write her new book, “The Art of Grace” (W.W. Norton).

            Kaufman, then a veteran dance critic for the “Washington Post,” had already expanded her coverage to include such dancelike subjects as the Tour de France and the Changing of the Guard.  Next, she’d decided, she’d write about Hollywood’s “Golden Age” movie stars, how they walked, faltered, and gestured.

            “The first movie I popped into my DVD,” she said in a recent interview with me, “was ‘The Philadelphia Story,’ and I knew instantly that the core of my essay was going to be about Cary Grant because that word—“grace”—just dropped into my mind when I saw him.”

            Kaufman presents her book at Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville Saturday evening, Jan. 9..

 

Everyday contexts

 

            Kaufman’s subject has become a beacon to her, as she follows it to sports arenas, religious practices, restaurant kitchens, emergency rooms, and ice trucks.

            “There’s so much art all around us, so much beauty,” she explained compassionately—“you know, in the way people tend to fall into step when they walk together; or with an easy exchange in a coffee shop between a barista and a customer; or with a homeless person on the street corner.”

“Have you ever thought of creating—or have you created any choreography?” I asked Kaufman.

            “No, that’s not my art,” she replied.  However, her writing might find expression in a documentary, as “some people are working on it,” she said.

            Passages in “The Art of Grace” would make great filmed scenes, I think—for example, the restaurant kitchen Kaufman writes about in the chapter, “Everyday Grace.”

            “Eight cooks are squeezed together like a submarine crew,” she relates.  “Still, they swivel with graceful ease.”  They bend and spring.  “These toqued commandos glide calmly through the same motions again and again.  They’re a hairbreadth away from ruin, mere seconds from scorched shoat.”

            I had to stop at the word, “toqued.”  Did Kaufman mean “torqued”?  No, toque is the little hat, that’s funny.

            “The Art of Grace,” is a good mix of celebrity anecdotes; timely advice; exuberant story-telling; and delicious wit, though the word-love sometimes spirals into romantic moon-shots.

 

Longed-for expression

 

            From childhood, Kaufman had been a story-teller and seeker.  Dance became a main channel within that interest, partly because of a childhood experience.

            “Born with a heart defect that required surgery when I was seven,” she writes, “I was strictly kept away from physical exertion until a year after I’d had the operation.  I watched and absorbed vicariously all I could of others’ play and sports.  Ballet lessons...finally gave me a way in to the much-longed-for world of physical expression.”

            In the chapter, “To Become Unstuck,” Kaufman reports on a dance class for  people with Parkinson’s Disease at Mark Morris Dance Group’s headquarters.

            “If we think of grace as a magical combination of phrasing, fluidity, musicality, suspension, (and) the sense that one movement leads to the next—all that goes away with Parkinson’s,” Kaufman quotes David Leventhal, program director of “Dance for PD.”

            Beginning with repetitive gliding and expressiveness—not memorization of steps—the class leads participants to a new sense of themselves.

 

Kinds of grace

 

            The meaning of grace contains the ease of movement that people try to attain, the relief of revelation, the power of generosity, and the humility of good manners, Kaufman explicates.

            Kaufman’s saint of gracefulness and graciousness, Cary Grant, purposely flubbed his lines if his co-star’s delivery was off, so that the scene would have to be reshot without embarrassing his partner.

            When the House Un-American Activities Committee revoked Charlie Chaplin’s visa in 1952, Grant announced his retirement, stood up for Chaplin, and told the nation, “We should not go off the deep end.”  In 1940, Grant had donated his entire salary from “The Philadelphia Story” to the British war effort.

            Also that year, Grant had starred in “His Girl Friday” with Rosalind Russell.  Seated at lunch with his ex-wife and her new fiancé, Grant’s character delivers a cutting line that is full of play and pain. 

            The coup de grace in this exchange, Kaufman relates, occurs when an action “that starts in his neck and trickles across the top of his suit jacket shouts out loud and clear that Hildy (his ex) is making a stupid mistake...That liquid, nearly imperceptible roll of a muscle hangs there like an echo...a shiver in the emotional current.”

 

More of the interview

 

            “Your book has been a passion of yours for a long time,” I acknowledged in my interview with Kaufman.

            “It’s true,” she said.  “It’s a topic that I couldn’t find written about already in a way that tries to identify the grace that we see and experience in our everyday lives.”

            When she said she’d been a shy and somewhat socially inept person as a child, I asked her how grace had helped overcome that.

            “One thing to bear in mind,” she advised, “is to take the focus off yourself.  One of the 1930s manuals that I quote in the book said, ‘If you feel self-conscious, think of the other person, and you can’t hold two ideas in your mind at the same time.’”

            “Have you had an eye-opening experience of grace lately?” I wondered.

            “In fact, just a couple of weeks ago,” she recounted, “I was in a grocery store café, doing work on my laptop.  It was a quiet evening.  From across the room, a fellow started singing...the whole Beatles canon!  I was thinking to myself, ‘Why?  I was having such a good time here.’” 

“As I was listening to him,” she continued, “he got to ‘Eleanor Rigby,’ and started singing the line, ‘All the lonely people.’  I felt a tear.  It was one of those moments of two impulses crashing up against each other—a little bit of frustration, and then a lot of compassion.   It was a moment of grace.”

 

AUTHOR EVENT

Sarah Kaufman presents her new book, “The Art of Grace: On Moving Well through Life,” 7 p.m., Sat., Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville (254-6734).

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