At the risk of sounding insufferably pretentious, this week I want to write about a book of Greek poetry that my father brought me as a gift on his last visit to New York. The collection is titled “Αποκυρηγμένα” (“Disavowed”), and consists of celebrated Greek poet Constantine Cavafy’s early poems and translations; these were published in his youth, but are never included in his formal body of work. Cavafy is primarily known and celebrated for his historical poems, which often portray heroes of antiquity or of the Hellenistic era in their decline. It was fascinating to see how Cavafy began to develop his distinct voice, draw inspiration from historical subjects, and build on the use of subtle, dry irony in these very early, and often not quite polished works. While this particular collection is not (as far as I know) available in translation, I would wholeheartedly recommend one of the many editions of his complete poems in English.
The Collected Poems: with parallel Greek text (Oxford World’s Classics)
The Complete Poems of Cavafy (Mariner Books)
Complete Poems (Knopf)
C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems (Princeton University Press)
and many more.
Northern Woodlands, one of my favorite magazines, delivered me a link to this recording in a recent newsletter. Bartolomäus Traubeck has made a record, Years, that features seven different Austrian trees. The music comes from their yearly ring data being “translated” (as Traubeck would describe it) into the language of music. His one-of-a-kind record player uses a PlayStation Eye Camera and a stepper motor attached to its control arm to relay information to a computer with Ableton Live, which synthesizes piano lines.
This particular track is from an ash, whose sound is a poignant one for this rural New Englander, especially given another item that came in the newsletter: the announcement that yet another emerald ash borer infestation has been reported in New Hampshire.
A social media campaign celebrating multiculturalism and diversity in reading launched at the beginning of May, and has since, in technical industry terms, "gone viral." The creators of #WeNeedDiverseBooks were initially inspired by recent complaints about the homogeneity of children's books, but have identified a similar, larger pattern across all literature. Mobilizing a host of writers, editors, and readers to explain why they need diverse books, the campaign has been extremely successful in raising awareness about this important issue. We can only hope that this call to action results in an outpouring of diverse new writing–for starters, the New York Public Library has put together a list of their favorite children's books that fit the bill.