Asian American poetry webpage

Following up on Sunday’s post — I discovered that the Poetry Foundation has a great short essay on “Asian American Voices in Poetry,” with links to lots of poems by dozens of poets.

Thre are links to some stalwarts of the older generation of poets, including well-known figures like Maxine Hong Kingston. Among the older poets, I was pleased to see a link to some of Lawson Fusao Inada’s poetry. I used to have a book of his poetry which I quite liked but it must have disappeared in the last cross-country move. Reading his poetry again makes me want to get another of his books.

I enjoyed seeing a link to Indran Amirthanagayam’s poems. He’s almost exactly my age (an old guy), and I first saw him maybe forty years ago when he was the lyricist and lead singer of a punk rock band. Now he’s older, respectable, a U.S. diplomat — but his poems still have some of that punk rock energy.

I was also pleased to see links to younger poets like Chen Chen and Ocean Vuong. To my shame, I haven’t kept up with younger poets. It looks like this will be a good way to get introduced to some of the newer poets.

The May Day that mostly doesn’t get celebrated in UU congregations

I’m a day late in celebrating International Working People’s Day, the real Labor Day that’s celebrated pretty much everywhere in the world except in the U.S. My only excuse is that both my personal life and my professional life are overly full these past few weeks. My day-late celebration will include reading UU Patrick Murfin’s excellent May Day post on his blog, then singing a couple of classic labor songs from my short stint in the San Francisco Labor Chorus.

Many UU congregations celebrate the Euro-Pagan Beltane May Day, but there are very few which would seriously celebrate International Working People’s Day during a Sunday morning service. The only UU congregation that I can think of that might do so would be First Unitarian in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles church included “Solidarity Forever” and “The Commonwealth of Toil,” two classic union songs, in the hymnal they published in 1976. But I’m not sure what other UU congregations would be comfortable singing those songs on Sunday morning.

If your UU congregation sang a union song (any union song at all) either last Sunday — or if they plan to sing a union song in this Sunday’s service — I hope you post a comment to that effect.

Another person I need to learn about

Somehow a copy of The Week: The Best of the U.S. and International Media from June 17, 2022, wound up in our bathroom. In it, there was an obituary of Sophie Freud, granddaughter of Sigmund Freud, and long-time professor of social work at Simmons University in Boston, who died on June 2, 2022, in Lincoln, Mass.

Apparently, Sophie called psychoanalysis a “narcissistic indulgence.” She compared Sigmund Freud to Adolph Hitler, saying both were “false prophets of the twentieth century.” Apparently, she also slammed so-called transference and counter-transference between male psychotherapists and female patients — with good reason, I think, as it seems a little too close to sexual misconduct.

She sounds like someone I want to know more about. With luck, a good biography will come out in the not too distant future.

Update, 4/30: The Lincoln Squirrel, the independent newspaper in Lincoln, Mass., provided a link to an excellent profile of Sophie Freud published back in 2007. And there was an obit in the NY Times. In 2007, Sophie Freud published her feminist memoir, Living in the Shadow of the Freud Family.

Urban gulls…human shouting…

In the Mass Audubon class I’m taking, tonight’s lecture was on birds. We learned about a scientific paper titled, “Urban gulls show similar thermographic and behavioral response to human shouting and conspecific alarm cries” (Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 20 Sept. 2022). Equipment used in this research included a plush Cornish pasty and a child’s baby carriage with an infrared camera hidden inside it. No, I am not making this up. Apparently some ornithologists manage to have a sense of humor while doing serious science.

From the Old Web

Websites tend to disappear pretty quickly. But every once in a while, you run into a web page from the last century. I ran into such a web page today: “Journey to the Isles of Hiva, 1993,” with text and photos by Dennis Kawaharada of Kapi’olani Community College, Hawai’i. Considering the changes that have come to the Marquesas Islands, this web page is now something of a historical document.

And I appreciate the fact that the University of Hawai’i has kept this web page up, even though Dr. Kawaharada is now retired.


Ngoc, Matt, and I are gearing up to offer a week of Ecojustice Camp here on the South Shore beginning August 14. I’m looking forward to translating the California Ecojustice Camp curriculum, which I helped develop, to southeastern Massachusetts.

We still haven’t figured out how much we’re going to charge, or what ages we’re going to include. But we’re hoping to keep rates below average for this area, and the ages will probably be much the same as the California camp. Watch the camp website for updates!

Update, April 20: The camp website now has rates and age groups.

I was reminded of this old New England story recently. It’s one of those stories utterly pointless stories you tell in the winter when there’s not much else to do.

Back in the days of coastal schooners, there was a sailor who lived in Gloucester. He lived with his wife in a small house right on the harbor. His wife complained that the roof was leaking. He said he would stay ashore for a while to fix it. He got some back pay that was due him, bought some bundles of shingles, and got ready to fix the roof. He kept putting it off and putting it off, sitting around the house with his feet up, until he could put it off no longer. He grabbed his hammer and climbed up on the roof. Being a sailor, not a carpenter, he started at the ridge and worked his way down, instead of up the roof as he ought to have done. It was one of those foggy days where it was so foggy that when he was at the ridge he couldn’t see the eaves. By the time he was halfway down the roof, he couldn’t see the ridge or the eaves. He kept shingling and shingling, cursing when he bent a nail, which was often. The fog was so thick that he didn’t notice when he passed the eaves. He just kept shingling and shingling down the fog until he bumped up against the foremast of a schooner that was raising anchor, clambered down the ratlins, signed the ship’s papers and joined the crew.

Now that was a thick fog. We don’t have fog that thick any more.

Long distance uke

I’ve picked up the ukulele again, but there’s not a lot of live ukulele happening in southeastern Massachusetts. So I’ve been getting my uke fix watching the weekly video podcast of Hawaii Music Supply, which you can find on their YouTube channel. Yes, they promote their high-end ukuleles. Yes, there’s a lot of pointless chit-chat, as on every podcast. But there’s also plenty of music, with some of the best of the newer ukulele players, sometimes playing songs and compositions they haven’t yet recorded. Players like Honoka, Neil Chin, Taimane Gardner, and many others, appear on the podcast and jam with regulars Corey Fujimoto and Kalei Gamaio.

For someone like me who’s trying to pick up the uke again, it’s really helpful to hear what really good ukulele playing sounds like. Plus ukulele players tend to be welcoming friendly people, and the ukulele itself is a gentle happy instrument. I put this podcast on while I’m cleaning the floor or doing laundry, and it cheers me right up even on a rainy windy winter day.

Black History Month for heretics

On his blog “Heretic, Rebel, a Thing To Flout,” Patrick Murfin writes about backlash against Black history and relates it to Black History Month (BHM). He notes the usual criticisms of BHM such as Morgan Freeman observing, “I don’t want a Black history month. Black history is American history.” Or as a black friend once said to me, “Ah yes. That Month. I don’t do That Month.”

However, times change. Patrick Murfin points out that today, “television stations are being inundated with protests and threats for airing Black History Minutes and other programing that have been routine for years.” Patrick calls himself an “amateur historian.” And this year, he decided he will observe BHM on his blog, while remaining aware of the limitations of its observance. Definitely worth checking out.

Arctic vortex

An “arctic vortex” has hit the Boston area. It’s windy and cold. I was talking to someone much younger, who found out I just moved to Massachusetts from California. They said, “It got down to 11 degrees last night. Must be a big change for you, huh?”

This isn’t cold,” I said. “I grew up in Massachusetts. Back in 1980, my first full-time job was working in a lumberyard. On Christmas Day, it didn’t get above zero. Now that’s cold.”

“Wow,” said the young person out loud. Inside, they were probably thinking: Old people and their stories, always got make it worse back then than it is now.

“Yeah,” I said, grinning. “Now that I’m an old guy, I get to say things like, ‘You young whippersnappers don’t know how good you got it.'” Inside, I was thinking: Summers are now much much hotter than they ever used to be, you young people have got it worse than we did. But I didn’t say it out loud.

The younger person just laughed at what I said. We parted on good terms.