Marginalia : Native Speaker


1. I was reading a library copy of Native Speaker. One my predecessors had bracketed a passage in which Henry is describing the reasons he loves his wife. The note asks, Why doesn’t he tell her this? It was probably just diligence, an annotation for an essay, one of many marginalia to be made and forgotten. But I like to imagine the midnight reader with her blunt pencil, and the cold tea, just despairing for him. Why doesn’t he tell her this? For a moment, holding my own warm tea I had an urge to tell everyone how sorely I love them.


2. Skipping through the book to photograph it for this blog post, I noticed a comment I hadn’t seen before. A writer’s dream:
3. Libraries are magical. 



So I took Jessica Hische’s lettering class on skillshare. It’s a lot of fun, The assignment involved doing a book jacket cover. I chose Carver, who gets a lot of flack these days for being a boring old white men. And although I too have had my fill of boring old white men, Carver writes beautifully. (Which is why he has so many mediocre imitators.)

“I remembered having read somewhere that the blind didn’t smoke because, as speculation had it, they couldn’t see the smoke they exhaled. I thought I knew that much and that much only about blind people. But this blind man smoked his cigarette down to the nubbin and then lit another one. This blind man filled his ashtray and my wife emptied it.” – Cathedral Raymond Carver

Old Homes


I’ve been staying in the home where I grew up. It is a quiet part of the city near a canal. Today, I discovered a bookshop barge. I suppose it should be expected that things change on the water. They say you can never go home, but I disagree. Old homes are like old wines more delicious with age, but still perhaps not wise to overindulge in. 


Micro Museuming

harlem Give Us A Poem Glenn Ligon

If you live in New York and haven’t been to the Studio Museum in Harlem, do it. It’s a beautiful, intimate space. Large museums like the Met are vital, but I find gorge on art and soon can’t taste any of it. A smaller museum can be experienced entirely.

Afterwards I had tea with almond milk with my lovely museuming companion.

Sometimes, tea and a small pat on the wrist can get you through the slushiest afternoon.

Other favourite small museums: The Folk Art Museum, The Museum of Art and Design, The Neue Gallerie. What are your favourite small museums?

Scottish Flowers



Song for An Able Bastard

I wish I loved an honest girl,

Unseeking and unsought,

Whose lips were soft as they were shy,

And not as they’d been taught


I wish— but what’s the use of that? 

The only She in town

Is not so honest as she’s fair—

She’s light as thistle-down!


And that’s my luck, for I was born

When a March moon was mad;

I wish I loved an honest girl-

I wish my father had.


Eric Linklater (1899-1974)

Reading Scottish poetry in honor of my current location. But not all Scottish flowers have spines.