Daily Archives: September 25, 2019

Volcanoes be in Sicily

Neapolitan School Travellers At The Crater At Mount Vesuvius, 19th century, Unknown
Background Image: Neapolitan School Travellers At The Crater At Mount Vesuvius, 19th century, Unknown

I’m going to go way of script with this poem and talk about its meter because it’s a very fun poem to recite out loud, especially if you do it without pausing at the end of each line. I count 16 beats in this poem when I read it and it flows out like “Lava” flowing quickly from the “crater” and gives the poem an almost jump-rope beat, the way kids would sing rhyme a poem. It’s very fun.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading about Emily’s home life and how she spent most her of day working in the kitchen, or in the garden, or doing numerous domestic duties, that made me think that when she read that Vesuvius had erupted yet again, that she composed this poem as a fun way to pass the time.

The way I read the poem is like this:

be in Sicily
And South
America I
from my Geography
nearer here
A Lava
step at any
time Am I
inclined to climb
A Crater
I may contemplate
at Home

I thought of reading it this way because the poem (in both versions) does not contain any dashes, it just reads as a straight run, so when you get to the end of the poem you can start again and keep repeating it – which is why I thought of kids jumping rope and singing rhymes for the beat. And so I imagined her in the kitchen, perhaps mixing something in bowls or on the stove and it bubbles over and reminds her of the eruption and so she stirs to the beat of this poem over and over again.

I know this is a total stretch of the imagination and that I’m not really talking about the poem’s content, but there is such a rhythm to it that it’s impossible for me not to hear it and have fun reciting it over and over again.

page 216 of 294 of There There

I wonder if the story of his dad is from the author’s father or from personal experience? Something about it feels a little more personal that other moments in the novel – maybe it’s because his father is 1000% Indian and proud of it and other than his bad knees seems to be otherwise free of the issues all the other characters in the book struggle with, like he’s the “perfect” Indian nobody else can live up to.

page 213 of 294 of There There

“Voice can take a long time to come all the way out, brother”. Good line, especially in relation to the traditional drumming. He’s comfortable with the beat (even uses the word “triumph” but to add his own voice to it, to personalize the drumming with himself, to be something more than a beat is harder to do, it’s harder to speak up and not be silent.

page 211 of 294 of There There

As a drummer I can relate to the need to always be finding a beat in everything, though it never occurred to me to also hear it in “gunshots and backfire, the howl of trains at night, the wind against your windows”. I wonder if what he’s saying here is that there is a rhythm that’s there for everyone to hear, not just a few people, but maybe we’ve forgotten how to listen?

page 202 of 294 of There There

The rich people paying to listen to women scream probably would have sounded like fiction before that Epstein guy was busted and now it seems like a substantial percentage of very wealthy people in the real world are more fucking depraved than we realized. And in this example it’s not a race thing, it’s a class thing, and everyone, white, black, Indian, Latino are in it together against the rich.

page 199 of 294 of There There

It wouldn’t drama if none of the characters had flaws, but it feels like everyone is either an abuser or damaged with only maybe Dene being the least scared. And it can be a lot to take, reading about pretty much every female character abused and or raped, everyone on some sort of drug or escapist fantasy, and nobody really happy. Is this any more authentic than what the characters are fighting against?