Lois Lowry's Blog


"Entirely happy"

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Monday, 13 October 2008 in Uncategorized

I have just returned from Nebraska, and Nebraska always makes me think of Willa Cather. For many years I have saved...in a way that I see it each day...a quote of hers from "My Antonia": 

I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun or air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

and there I was, on the drive from Lincoln to Seward, looking out at her landscape, so different from New England's which is also beautiful, but more compressed and uneven.

I was there for the annual Plum Creek Literary Festival, for which 4000 Nebraska schoolchildren are bussed in to meet and hear authors. It is an amazing feat of organization and coordination on the part of the sponsors, faculty members at Concordia University in Seward.

Here is a very spooky photo (you have to hum "Twilight Zone" music while looking at it) of the passageway between two terminals at the Detroit Airport.  This is in blue light but the lights shift and change, so it would have been green shortly thereafter, then yellow, then......whatever:

Detroit aitport

One of the best parts of such events, for me, is being with other authors, meeting some new ones, seeing some I see rarely.  This time it was Mo Willems, Hans Wilhelm, Cynthia DeFelice, Joan Bauer, and Gale Gibbons.  Here I am (below) with Hans (he just emailed me this photo)...

But this trip, a real highlight was the final dinner, where I was the speaker..(but no, that speech was hardly the highlight)...it was meeting poet Ted Kooser---whom I had just mentioned in a recent post--- who was there at the dinner. I have been such a fan of his for many years but had forgotten that he lived in Nebraska and certainly didn't know he would be at this dinner!

And here is a poem by Ted Kooser, which is related, I think, in complex ways, to the quotation from Willa Cather:

After Years
 Today, from a distance, I saw you
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer's retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell. 

Ted Kooser

Lois Lowry H…Festival 08
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Jay Monday, 29 November 1999

With a latin grave accent it would be Alyssà I believe.

Ruth Monday, 29 November 1999

I love names, too. Long ago, when I worked in the overdues division of a large library system, I used to keep a list of interesting names I encountered... how I wish I still had that list!

Dawn Farmer Monday, 29 November 1999

I must confess that I too have kept, for years, a list of names that I have found throughout various reading selections. I also made note on my list of an unusual custom used in one society where age can be determined by the number of syllables in ones name. Hmmm...I wonder where I got that idea from? ;)

Annie Monday, 29 November 1999

I can understand the frustration of having a name constantly spelled wrong. (When I say "Anne," I watch to see if the other person adds the 'e' or not, and then I judge them.) But Alyssa-with-an-accent could have been nicer about it!

Max Vasilatos Monday, 29 November 1999

In French, the marks are accents, but in Arabic, the marks as often as not are actually short vowels! Who knew?

debrennersmith Monday, 29 November 1999

I named my daughter, Ashleigh. At the time I didn't realize the trouble I caused her. She goes through life spelling her name, Ashleigh spelled, "l-e-i-g-h". She has often said, "You could not think of a normal spelling or name?" Who knew? I spent 9 months thinking of the perfect name and still messed up. http://writingeverydayworks.wordpress.com/">http://writingeverydayworks.wordpress.com/" rel="nofollow">http://writingeverydayworks.wordpress.com/">http://writingeverydayworks.wordpress.com/

Harriett Monday, 29 November 1999

As teachers, we come across VERY interesting names. My friend, a teacher in Arkansas had a student in her school named Le-a.
Not knowing how to pronounce this, many of the teachers were befuddled. The mother stepped in to correct them stating it was pronounced Luh dasha. Obviously the "dash" was not silent!

Blake Stacey Monday, 29 November 1999

OK, now I really want a dash in my name!
Or a silent 3, or something. . . .

NL Monday, 29 November 1999

Incidentally, the accent in "voilà" actually goes the other way (it's an accent grave).

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