ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

Bag of Dust or Self-Help Book?

Sarah Salway's poetry collection, You Do Not Need Another Self-Help BookI started my morning with Dust, a poem by Sarah Salway (@sarahsalway).

More accurately, I started my morning with Sarah Salway. She read her dusty poem. Aloud.

You might consider starting your morning the same way. If it’s not already too late. Or even if it is…

I’ve listened to the poem — from her newest poetry collection, You Do Not Need Another Self-Help Book — three times so far. In fact, I’m afraid I may have inhaled some of the dust while listening. The idea of hording and absorbing a bag of dust, all that remains of a departed spouse, won’t abandon me. Salway’s lines stride — cloying yet tear-jerkingly poignant — toward a horizon that never arrives.

At less than a minute and a half, listening to this audio clip just might be the best invested time of your day. But fair warning: you might listen three times. Or more.

I tip my sombrero to to Nik Perring (@nikperring) for his post “Dust. And Sarah Salway” which opened my ears to Salway’s bag of dust tricks. Want more? Recent stops on Sarah Salway’s virtual poetry reading tour include blog posts by Tania Hershman, Danuta Kean, and Lia Leendertz. Enjoy.

Antigua, AWP and Abiquiu

Curtain Bluff from aboard Sentio for sundowner...

Curtain Bluff from aboard Sentio.

Ready for a reentry rumination? After nine sublime days in the Caribbean, I’m swapping swim trunks and sunscreen for conference kit and desert camo. Here’s a sneak peak at the exciting adventure behind and ahead.

West Indies

Each winter I join my bride and in-laws for a pilgrimage to warmer climes, gentler rhythms and an extended opportunity to catch up. This year we escaped to Curtain Bluff, an intimate resort in Antigua that felt familiar from the moment we arrived. In fact, we were so smitten with the welcoming staff, the gracious guests, the understated decadence and the endless-but-effortless opportunities for recreation that we unanimously voted to return next year, locking in our reservations before departing yesterday afternoon.

The character of Curtain Bluff is truly unique among luxury Caribbean resorts. Its boutique scale and dramatic real estate (two magnificent beaches divided by an elevated promontory permitting accommodations and spa sensational ocean views) provide two important ingredients for their magic formula, but by far the most critical is the people. Simply put, the staff and guests at Curtain Bluff create the most compelling marriage of any resort I’ve ever known in the Caribbean.

@ Thank you for staying with us! We can't wait to welcome you back to Curtain Bluff next year!
Curtain Bluff

It’s not a stretch to talk about Curtain Bluff as a “family”, and not just in the varnished, Technicolor brochure way either. I made new friends virtually every day, friends who work at Curtain Bluff and friends who vacation at Curtain Bluff, friends who have already been in touch and with whom I’ll keep in touch, friends who I look forward to seeing again. Fortunately we’ll see many of them again next winter on vacation. And some we’ll see even sooner. Two different members of the staff have already made arrangements to visit us in the Adirondacks this summer! Watch e-Marginalia for a more contemplative reflection soon…

Windy City

After trickle charging my batteries in Antigua, it’s now time to sharpen my pencil and get back to write write writing. To jump start my creative editing and revising juices I’m heading off to Chicago for The Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference which takes place from February 29 to March 3 and which boasted over 9,000 attendees last year. I’m hoping for a slightly tidier affair this year as it is my first AWP foray, but even if the ranks are once again swollen I am encouraged by the insights of friend and fellow scrivener Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson):

However Borgia-like academic politics in general can become at times, the AWP universe is genteel, tame, even sleepy by comparison to the sharp-edged high-stakes market-banging battles being waged right now between bricks-and-mortar bookstores and the rise of the biggest digital retailer-publisher in history; between traditional publishing and digitally enabled self-publishing; even between centuries-old paper media for reading and the burgeoning popularity of e-readers and tablets. (We Grow Media)

The literary orientation of the AWP Conference & Bookfair will be refreshing after the recent Writer’s Digest Conference, and an appropriate springboard for my monastic month in the desert.

Abiquiu, New Mexico

Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert (Wikipedia)

Remember St. George and the dragon? I won’t pretend saintliness, but I am heading off to the desert Southwest with my vorpal sword in hand to slay the manuscript dragon.

I’ve been honored with an opportunity to sequester myself for a month at the Benedictine Abbey of Christ in the Desert, originally architected by another George, George Nakashima, the Japanese-American woodworker who inspires my brother’s furniture making creativity between diplomatic postings. Tucked into the rugged canyon lands that enchanted Georgia O’Keefe, surrounded by high desert wilderness in all directions, along the banks of the Chama River, in the company of web-savvy, self sustaining, solar power harvesting, beer brewing monks, I will dedicate myself to revising and editing Rosslyn Redux. One month of quiet. Of solitude. Of focus. I can’t wait!

Thanks for your patience during my Curtain Bluff hiatus. More of the same in March, I’m afraid, but I’ve scheduled some interesting posts to appear during my cenobitic Southwestern sojourn. Although I won’t have web access during the week, I’ll venture in to Santa Fe for a few hours each weekend for provisions, I-miss-you-telephone-calls to my bride, and a short wifi fix.

Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part III

Welcome to kindle fire

I ordered my Kindle Fire late Thursday morning and it arrived Friday, charged, linked to my Amazon account and brandishing a batch of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

Okay, so I made up the last… But my Kindle initiation was almost that perfect.

Of course, honeymoons don’t last forever, and three days of drive-my-bride-crazy-intensive-Kindle-Fire-field-testing later I’m ready to share my first impressions of the Kindle Fire. This post follows up on “Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part I” and “Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part II”, but my review doesn’t depend on first reading those posts, so if you’re heart is racing because you’re a mouse click away from investing two hundred clams in a K-Fire, skip the back story and scan, read, consider the following. Read the rest of this entry »

Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part II

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 28:  Amazon founder J...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Time to swap $199 for a Kindle Fire. I’ve to discover firsthand what makes it sexy and/or clunky. I have cast around for reviews, but now it’s time to understand what this increasingly ubiquitous device is all about. While I wait for the brown truck, you can catch up on my journey so far… Read the rest of this entry »

Kindle Fire Pros & Cons, Part I

Kindle Fire: Out of the Box

Image by Brian Sawyer via Flickr

I’ve decided that I need to understand the Kindle Fire. I’ve borrowed, dabbled and delayed. So far it hasn’t been love at first sight. Not like my bride’s iPad, for example. I love it. Crave it. Waiting for next gen to own my own. Happy fortieth birthday, virtualDavis! Perhaps…

But the K-Fire is here to stay. For a while. Until its sexy progeny dethrone it. K-Fire’s adoption rate alone has been staggering, so I need to test drive this chunky Technicolor gizmo posthaste. I’m placing my order tonight, and I’ll dish up pick-nits and plaudits aplenty soon. Stay tuned.

Until then, consider these Kindle Fire pros and cons posted by O’Reilly Media’s Joe Wikert (@jwikert).

Kindle Fire Pros

  • Form factor “It’s nice being able to wrap your hand around the entire device and the lighter weight is a big plus for the Fire.”
  • Meets the needs of typical consumer “Consumers who want a cheap tablet are OK without all the bells and whistles of the iPad…”
  • Connection to Amazon content “Connectivity to Amazon’s ebooks, video and audio content is second to none with the Fire.”

Kindle Fire Cons

  • Connection to Amazon content “As easy as it is for Fire users to access Amazon content it’s just that difficult to access anyone else’s… my next tablet will not be locked in to one provider’s content.”
  • Awful for the early adopter/tinkerer “.if you’re buying it to root and open it up you’ll be disappointed… [For example] some of the apps in the Android Market simply won’t run on it…”
  • Auto-updates “How in the world can Amazon think that forcing OS updates on every Fire owner is the right thing to do? … Really stupid.”
  • “Silk” browser “It turns out the browser isn’t that fast… in my totally unscientific side-by-side testing, the Fire almost always loaded pages slower than both my iPad and my RIM Playbook.”
  • Missing a “killer” app “Amazon should have invested some money with the developers of apps like Zite and Flipboard to make sure they were available when the Fire launched.”

(Kindle Fire pros and cons list via Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog.)

Everything Wikert has listed makes sense to me, but the most likely complaint likely to endure is the Amazon-centric content bias. I imagine the browser will get supercharged, and app developers are already following the consumer flood. But Amazon intends to exploit and nurture the content bias. No surprise there. And with millions of satisfied, well-trained consumers eager to gobble up Amazon distributed content, it’s no surprise that Bezos & Company aren’t eager to give away their monopoly.

Are you pleased or disappointed with your Kindle Fire? Share your experience in the comments below or Twitter, Facebook, Google+. And as soon as I’ve gotten my greedy paws (and eyes) on a Kindle Fire I’ll dish up my own Kindle Fire Pros & Cons. Now, let’s see how lickety-split Amazon Prime can hook me up…

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