A couple of years ago I planted wildflower seeds across the border between my mowed lawn and my meadow..
Lois Lowry's Blog
This morning I answered an email from a teacher who is about to start using "Number the Stars" with a group of boys and wondered if I had any additional information that would enhance the experience for them. I suggested that he? she? (can't remember) research Kim Malthe-Bruun, the young resistance fighter who was executed in Denmark by the Nazis, and who was the model for Peter in the book.
(1) Kim Malthe-Bruun, letter to Hanne about his experiences of being tortured by the Gestapo (3rd March, 1945)...
My friend, writer Kathryn Lasky, lives in Cambridge, as I do, and summers in Maine, as I do, but quite a distance from me. Recently she emailed me a photo of a piece of sculpture made of found objects - created by a sculptor who lives near her in Deer Isle. Kathy is the author of the owl series: The Guardians of Ga'Hoole (which I may have spelled wrong, Sorry, Kathy) so her owl sculpture is quite appropriate.
She was terrified. Until Kuzo laughed at her from the bedroom.
Pileated woodpecker in the apple tree. Evening grosbeak on the bird feeder. Two wild turkeys just strutting around. An average day.
Now that I am back from New York, the play is off and running and in the hands of the two directors, Stan Foote in Oregon and Jeff Frank in Milwaukee This morning Jeff sent me sketches of set design and costumes..all of the behind-the-scenes, before-the-show stuff is so interesting! The final readings in New York went smoothly and the audiences at the three performances had lots of comments. Me, I can see how it begins to come together and jumps off the page and into a whole other realm. I'll see the final version in its opening in Milwaukee September 19th, and then...different version...in Portland in late October.
Well, this is irreverent, I know. But I am picturing an interview show in the afterlife, with host Tim Russert having two guests: Tasha Tudor and George Carlin.
Someone has just alerted me to the fact that there is a band in North Carolina called "Jonas Sees in Color," their name inspired by The Giver . Attached, a photo of the band, looking not at all like members of The Community!
I am still in New York, still in the apartment that NYU has made available to me in a high rise building in Greenwich Village. My apartment is on the 13th floor.
Coming back to my temporary apartment in Greenwich Village last night after the play rehearsal, I passed a sports bar that was open to the street...inside everyone was watching the Celtics/Lakers game; I was able to stop and see that the good guys were ahead. I was too tired to stay up for the end of the game but in the morning there was a text message on my cell from my son: YES! it said; so I knew the Celtics had won.
Last night (Sunday) was the evening that began the workshopping-of-Gossamer-the-Play. If I can successfully move the snapshot from my cell phone to this site, you will see a group of actors sitting around a table, along with me (playwright), Stan (director) and Cecily (dramaturg). First, the entire play was read straight through, with very few interruptions (although Actors Equity requires a ten minute break every hour and twenty minutes) and then it was read a second time, (but without the stage directions being read this time) with the director stopping things now and then for (sometimes lengthy) discussion about a particular character, or the relationship between characters in a scene, how the characters were evolving, or what exactly we were trying to do, with a bit of dialogue. There was some trying things different ways, some experimentation. My role was mostly listening, and I did that with enormous interest and appreciation for the hard work everyone else was putting into it..
I spent yesterday afternoon on the island where i lived when I was 15, 16, and 17 years old... It was a very hot day- and I was going on from there to dinner and the theater - so I didn't want to have a camera dangling around my neck; but I wish I had been able to take better pictures. This is just a snapshot with my cell phone, of the house where I lived....but what you can't see is that from the windows in the back of the house, you looked out to the water of New York Harbor, and beyond it to the skyline of Manhattan, a 7-minute boat ride (one I took each morning to school) away.
I couldn't get a very good scan, unfortunate]y, of this new paperback book cover for MESSENGER; it goes with the two previous in the trilogy, in their adult versions...by which I mean intended to be in the adult, vs. the young-adult, sections of bookstores. I like these covers; the first is green, the second blue, and this third one is brownish red...(it appears much redder in this scan)... each of them with two artfully-posed hands. I think they're quite evocative.
After a week of cool rainy weather...followed by a couple of hot sunny days...the gardens have flung themselves into summer. And wouldn't you know it, I have to leave Maine Wednesday, day after tomorrow, for ten days.
My friend Nancy was here for the weekend and being an organized person, she sorted out all of my spices...threw away everything with overdue expiration dates...and alphabetized them. Is that a great friend, or what?!
I am now back in Maine...for the summer, though I have large chunks of interrupted Maine time coming up...and was pleased to see the gardens looking beautiful (thanks, Lucia, master gardener) and my new bathroom looking great (thanks, Dan and Darel, master remodelers) and my little town here starting to rev up for summer tourists. I stopped in the local bookstore, always one of my first stops, and though neither Justin nor Pam (the owners) were there, I look forward to seeing them soon. In the meantime, I bought a book on Saturday which I have just finished, (on Tuesday, despite having had company here)....and am recommending it highly: "The Blood of Flowers" by Anita Amirrezvani. Yet if someone had said to me: "Want to read a book about 17th century Persia?" I probably would have said (politely, of course): "Ah, no thanks." But I would have been wrong.
Here is Alfie, supervising the set-up of a treadmill in my studio in Maine. I have one in Cambridge but soon will move up to Maine for the summer and need to continue trudging away. My friend Kay has convinced (make that coerced) me to go with her in January to a place that I am thinking of as Torture Resort (see website: http://www.theashram.com) so I have to prepare myself. Kay doesn't need to; Kay is always prepared! As I speak she is leaving for Peru to hike the Inca Trail; and she spends time each day at the gym, or rowing on the Charles River, but only of course when she is not off trekking the tundra of northern Canada.
The childish part of me (my main component part, actually) would like to say, of Kay, "Well, nyah, nyah, she can't write a book!" but the fact is she is in the middle of writing a book right now, while she is on sabattical from her teaching chores at Harvard.
The treadmill allows me to prop up my Kindle and read while treading, and I have just finished Barbara Walters' much-publicized memoir. In it she mentions a question she sometimes asks during interviews: 'What do you think is the biggest misconception that people hold about you?' So I have been thinking about that, and mentioned it to Martin (who arrived here yesterday) over a glass of wine last night. I told him that my first response was "that I am well-organized."
Then, after a second, I said, "But I am pretty well-organized, actually," and he agreed....
Here is Darel. As I am out in the studio trying to create a new book, Darel is on the second floor of my house trying to create a new bathroom.
And he's doing a great job.
I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
IN my first book about Anastasia Krupnik...and that's its title....she, at age 10, accompanies her father to a Harvard English class in which he is teaching this Wordsworth poem to his bored students. Walking home with him afterward, they talk about "the inward eye which is the bliss of solitude" and the little girl realizes that her grandmother, in a nursing home, has such an inward eye....memory....that provides company for her.
I love inserting literary references into fiction for young people. Recently, in the book "Messenger," after the death of the character Matty, I quoted the second verse of this Houseman poem, "To an Athlete Dying Young":
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.
Play rehearsals for "Gossamer" have begun in Milwaukee, and that means the playwright is back at work. Funny how you don't perceive stuff until director and actors begin working with it. Jeff Frank, the director, emailed me that the transition from Scene 1 to Scene 2 didn't work well...getting the characters from one place to the next was difficult, but what if we...? And he was right. I re-wrote Scene 1 and now, he tells me, that problem is solved.
Now I am about to deal with a number of other thoughts/suggestions from Jeff after he held a reading in front of an audience. This is the type of thing (I hope he doesn't mind my posting his quote here):
As much as I love scene 17 and the humor within (which I think is necessary in the rhythm of the piece), I do feel that it goes on too long – interrupting the build in tension for too great a time. We also lose some of the dramatic tension in the scene if we venture too far into the humorous aspect.
Of course this is the sort of collaborative work that ultimately strengthens the play and for which I'm very grateful. It's fun, actually, to trim and tighten with the help of such input.
He also mentioned the possibililty of switching scenes 14 and 16 with each other and this is something I'll look at when I have a little more time to sit and think. Today I am flying to Newport News, Virginia, in order to speak at a Holocaust Remembrance ceremony there tonight. But I'll be home tomorrow (Friday) and back at my desk....