Sarah Messer’s surreal poetics

first_imgWith long, sun-streaked tresses, Sarah Messer doesn’t strike one as a poetess whose work conjures American histories in bewitching, surrealist twists. But Messer’s poems navigate farther and farther from the familiar mainland into a world wholly her own. In “America, the Hallelujah,” a winding poem that nears incantation, Messer plucked each line from an 1852 book of hymnals:My country ’tis of thee. My God, how endless. My never – ceasing song. Nearer my God to thee. Not let me make. O, come loud anthems. O, I could find. O, for a shout. O, for a thousand.This Marshfield, Mass.-bred poet, who now lives in Wilmington, N.C., grew up in a historic 17th century house, writes about Jesse James, and is an outlaw herself — an outlaw of poetry.Messer’s wild, sweeping, electric poems capped off the year’s Radcliffe Fellow Lecture Series during a reading from her new book, “Mouse Oracle,” inside the Radcliffe Gymnasium on Monday (May 18).Passing out printed broadsides of her poem “Blue,” Messer crafted one fine finale, wiping away tears when discussing how much she will miss Radcliffe and her fellow fellows. But it was her convention-defying poetry that made the afternoon unforgettable, as Messer provided an insightful peek into the unique poetic methods that make her the outlaw she is.Using “procedural poetics,” which include everything from “exquisite corpse” to “erasures,” Messer does not simply gain inspiration from gazing into a sunlit meadow; she seeks out poetry, hunts it, or, in some cases, it hunts her.At Radcliffe, Messer unexpectedly found herself entering into a collaborative partnership with her research assistant, John Dillon ’09. “I didn’t have anything for him to do,” she said of the haphazard nature of their early relationship, which eventually led to nearly 20 poems together. For “Blue,” one of their joint works, Messer and Dillon used the “exquisite corpse” technique, which begins with a piece of paper, one person writing a line, then folding the paper so the line is hidden, and, without knowledge of the line’s content, the other person writes a line, and the steps are repeated.“It’s blind, so you don’t know what the poem is going to be about,” she said. “To complicate that further, we used found language.”Found language, or lines pulled from texts culled from Schlesinger shelves, included 19th century books on anatomy, hygiene, and electrocution, among others.“You’d think that this process would become ‘word salad,’” Messer said, “but what’s miraculous about working with John is the poems did make a lot of sense, and we’d find that we were thinking the same things, writing the same things, writing the same kind of lines when we were sitting together in my office, playing this word game.”For Messer and Dillon, it was magic from the get-go: “You find a person who you can collaborate with and it’s really rare.”Dillon, Messer’s partner in crime, who will matriculate in the fall to the University of Notre Dame as a Ph.D. candidate in 20th century poetry, read some of their collaborations. “Love Triangle” takes its inspiration from an Ansel Adams photograph but one would never know it, as it features a carrot named Frank who “smokes menthols and really wants to go snorkeling.”Messer, the author of the poetry collection “Bandit Letters” and the memoir “Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England’s Oldest Continuously Lived-in House,” says most of her poems have no real meaning, likening them to something Dada-esque, and told the audience, “The fun thing about surrealism is if you just relax, you’re just like ‘one weird picture, another weird picture.’ … It’s just a different kind of experience.”The most narrative or digestible of Messer’s poems is the supernatural, skin-crawlingly beautiful “Looking at Satan,” which finds a family’s imagination enraptured with the idea of a fallen Satan:If Satan was actually here on earth, he would certainly not be my poor father, retreating after the fact to walled cities, selling painted roosters as luck charms in golf resorts.In “I am the Real Jesse James,” an oblique ranting poem composed on a 1950s Olympia typewriter, Messer recycles words and phrases that blur the lives of Jesse James, a horse, a girl, and the story of a friend of Messer’s sister who got really drunk one night:I am the real Jesse James. I know you have heard of me. That was what I was supposed to say, the last thought before I turned my head away from him and he flew into a rage. I am the real Jesse James. But I have drunk far too much tonight. And I am just a girl. Perhaps you have heard of his legend? “Never wear rat skin. Don’t point a mirror at the sun. If you lose a tooth, crush it / and throw it into the sky. Never call mice or snakes by their names,” begins Messer’s “Stump Speech,” a compilation of strange instructions, which ends with a vow foxily summing up her haunting, strange, unfathomable work: “I will keep your secret my entire life.”last_img read more

LEGO is Now Offering to Pay For You to Ship Your Unused Bricks to Children in Need

first_imgThe package will be sent to the Give Back Box facility, where each brick will be sorted, inspected by hand, and given a rigorous cleaning.The effort is a collaboration with Give Back Box, Teach For America, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston.WATCH: He Built His Own Prosthetic Out of LEGOS and Hopes to Provide Cheap Solutions for Others Who Need a HandMost people don’t throw away their LEGO bricks, according to Tim Brooks, the Environmental Responsibility Vice President at the LEGO Group. “The vast majority hand them down to their children or grandchildren. But others have asked us for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks. With Replay, they have an easy option that’s both sustainable and socially impactful.”Brooks and his team spent the past three years working on the project to ensure the process met the highest quality and safety standards and adhered to U.S. regulations. They then connected with Give Back Box, a charity dedicated to “recycling” 11 million tons of unused clothing, footwear, and other textiles that end up in U.S. landfills each year.“I am excited to join the LEGO Group in this pilot program,” said Monika Wiela, founder of Give Back Box. “Growing up in Poland, I didn’t have many toys as a child, so this collaboration is rather personal for me. What’s better than giving a child the gift of play?”CHECK OUT: LEGO Bricks on Sale Now Are Plant-based Instead of PlasticTeach For America will receive the majority of the elements and will provide them to thousands of classrooms across the country.“Learning through play can have a tremendous impact on a child’s cognitive development. Through play, children develop fine motor skills, think creatively, and can learn how to problem solve through teamwork,” said Susan Asiyanbi, Teach For America’s chief operating and program officer. “But not everyone has access to such resources. LEGO Replay, and the instructional resources they provide educators, will help give more students access to this opportunity.”MORE: Colombians Are Building Houses With Wasted Plastic—Shaped Into Huge Lego BricksBricks will also be sent to Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston for their after-school programs. Both non-profits can expect to receive the first shipments in November 2019. Once the pilot is complete in spring 2020, the LEGO Group will evaluate a possible expansion of the program.LEGO Replay is one of the many sustainable and philanthropic efforts the LEGO Group has announced in the past year. Recent efforts include Plants from Plants, LEGO Braille Bricks and LEGO Audio and Braille Instructions.Build Up Some Positivity Amongst Your Friends By Sharing The Sweet Story To Social Media…AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreEarlier this week the LEGO Group announced the launch of a new project to encourage their fans to donate their old LEGO bricks so they can be used by less fortunate children.LEGO Replay is a new pilot program that will accept any and all previously used LEGO bricks and donate them to children’s nonprofits in the United States. The process is simple, because it needs to be. The number of donations they receive is critical to a successful campaign, so they’ve made it as easy as possible for folks at home to send in their idle bricks.Collect any loose LEGO pieces, sets, or elements, place them into a cardboard box, and visit the LEGO Replay website to print out a free shipping label, and possibly call the service, either UPS or FedEx, depending on your location and the label, to have them pick up the package at your door.last_img read more

What Athletes See

first_imgThe Atlantic:Consider two very different basketball players. The Los Angeles Clippers star DeAndre Jordan, one of the strongest, quickest players in the NBA,  nevertheless made only 39 percent of his free throws last year. Then there’s his teammate, Jamal Crawford—not as fast or as strong as Jordan, but he makes 90 percent of the shots he takes from the foul line, a rate that’s among the best in the league.…Some evidence indicates that the quiet-eye technique stimulates the dorsal area of the brain, which regulates focused, goal-directed attention. It may also suppress activity the ventral region, which oversees stimulus-driven attention—the kind that keeps track of a scattered, fluid set of variables. There’s probably more to it, though: Mark Wilson, a psychology professor at Exeter who studies quiet eye, points out that training in the technique tends to change a range of physiological measures, including heart rate and patterns of muscle movement.Read the whole story: The Atlantic More of our Members in the Media >last_img read more

2015 Subaru STI: Blueing past the competition

first_imgYou’re awesome, dude.Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the type of place that’ll make you feel that way. The 11-turn asphalted climbing and diving ribbon of perfection in Monterey, Calif., isn’t the type of track that puts you to sleep. The longest straight, a run from Andretti corner through the start/finish line, is a blind hill before you hit the first two turns. It wakes you up like hot coffee in your face at 97 mph.Laguna Seca is also the best place to take the Subaru, the automaker’s newest in a slew of cars that quite frankly, everyone seems to love right now. The 2015 WRX STI is the last of the compact cars to come from Subaru for a while and the brand’s halo car; the summit of all-wheel drive mountain.Normally, the words “halo car” means expensive, loud, impractical or a combination of any or all three. Halo cars are engineering exercises first, bedroom posters second, and realistic comes in at a distant third. But for Subaru and the STI, its heritage is firmly planted on solid ground — or, rather, loose gravel.In the 1990s, Subaru dominated world rally with their all-wheel drive systems and drivers. The enthusiasm for those cars trickled down to the Impreza STI, a stiffened, more powerful version of their road car, complete with a tail wing borrowed from a mid-sized Cessna and iconic blue with gold wheel paint scheme. The small production and numerous special editions of the STI have kept the sports car in rarified air for more than two decades, even if the car wasn’t spectacular.This car doesn’t have that pedigree. Beginning in 2008, Subaru shifted from rally to road racing, in part, because of a rules change.The 2015 WRX STI is a road car, through and through, and it’s better for it.Up front, the STI sports the older, bigger 2.5-liter engine from the last generation. The inclusion is a surprise considering the WRX has a smaller engine this time and STI often shared many similar components with the less potent version, engine included. The turbocharged, flat four cranks just over 300 horsepower and 290 lb.-ft. of torque in the STI, virtually unchanged from the generation before it. The decision to carry over an engine is risky, but not as risky as slipping a shift on Laguna Seca’s famous corkscrew (that’s because it drops 59 feet vertically in 450 feet of track, like falling out of a five-story building in a race car).In the 2015 STI the engine feels maxed with a chassis that won’t lose grip. Pulling gears and pushing the engine is infinitely easier when you know your fillings will break loose before the tires ever will. That’s due to stiffened cross members and bigger stabilizer bars up front, a stiffened rear subframe and all sorts of higher strength steel in the chassis everywhere that stiffens the STI 24 percent over last generation. Engineers claim the STI can pull nearly 1g in a corner, which is a great way to wake up in the morning.It’s possible to dork out on the STI’s suspension. Beginning with the Impreza two years ago and moving to the WRX last year, it’s been clear that a stiffer, stronger and better chassis was due for the STI when it finally arrives in showrooms this spring. It was a calculated move for Subaru, considering high performance cars follow the formula of either supreme engine or supreme chassis. There really wasn’t any question of whether the STI would be stiff, rather if it’d live up to the expectations set before it. Does it?High five, dude.To say that the STI is the best STI so far does a disservice to the heritage of the car. It’s really a different STI, and one that’s better than I could imagine. As Subaru’s halo car, it lives up to the expectation that a sports sedan can be handling first, power second. The STI’s quicker steering ratio this year dives the car into the corners at a flick, and active torque vectoring keeps you there.Driving an STI at its limit is holding a bear by the ears; you’re shocked that you made it that far and you’re deathly scared of letting it go. I highly recommend it.As for the interior, it has one. The 2015 STI is better than last generation, but you’re not driving the car for its interior. Starting at $34,495 for a base STI and $37,395 for the STI Launch Edition (blue paint scheme and gold-colored BBS wheels) the launch edition will be the go-to model for the first 1,000 customers to buy one.Subaru expects only 4,000 will be sold in the states this year, which makes it a relatively low-volume car. But for the customers brave enough to challenge the 2015 Subaru STI, there’s only this:You’re awesome dude. HIGH RES GOLD WHEEL OPTION Modesty is totally overrated.The pyramids weren’t built to be the second-biggest sand castle on the planet, and there’s a reason we sent TV cameras to land on the moon. Excellence deserves attention.If you’re going to make a car that goes, grips and growls like a jungle cat, put a spoiler a foot and a half off the deck and then high-five yourself. That’s what life is like in the 2015 Subaru WRX STI. Repeated high-fives to yourself after you’ve conquered the physical world.last_img read more