Thursday, February 17, 2011

Workshop: Redclay Dreamboat Lieutenant Disher

This workshop is in honor of the Westminster Dog Show, which recently crowned yet another best in show. It celebrates the strange, sometimes hilarious tradition of show dog names. The rules for naming your show dog are simple:

  1. Include the name of the kennel
  2. If significant, include an ancestor's name
  3. Make sure the proper name is unique (no duplicates allowed)
  4. Decide on the call name, or everyday name (which, incidentally, shouldn't sound like common commands such as "sit" or "come")

For this workshop, you can come up with your own show dog (or show cat/pigeon/child/stuffed animal/car, etc.) name to use as the title of a poem or prose piece. Or, you can use one of these wonderfully strange and real show dog names. A few of my favorites:

  • Brownwood D'Geno Rock (smooth dachsund)
  • Quietcreek's Kiss and Tell (bloodhound)
  • Invictus Nightmare before Xmas (rhodesian ridgeback)
  • My Thai Ta Sen Halleluiah Chorus (lhasa apso)
  • Liontame's 1-800-Hotstuff (chow chow)
Let's see what we can come up with, dog-lovers...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!

Globe-trotters and rural folks alike, rejoice! In celebration of Elizabeth Bishop's centennial, three new books are to be released which will include previously unpublished work along with well-known favorites. If poets could be saints, Bishop would be the patron saint of travelers...and whether you are interested in exotic lands or small towns (or even if you're a traveler of the animal kingdom) she's the poet for you.

To get the books, click on the links at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, enjoy my favorite Bishop poem:

The Fish

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled and barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
--the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly--
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
--It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
--if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels--until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.