Hold It All

Tag: Eduardo Galeano

Writing Our Own Histories: A Spring/Summer Class

“First We Read, Then We Write”
–title of Robert D. Richardson’s study on Emerson’s creative life

“Something that you feel will find its own form”
–Jack Kerouac, U.S. novelist and poet

“You have to write your own history, nobody’s going to do it for you. “
—Allen Ginsberg, bard, activist, professor

This class invites you to experiment with several creative forms that I have found engaging, energizing, and intriguing. The practice of imitation can lead to fresh inspiration for embarking on new work or for reclaiming work we’ve been putting off.

During class sessions we will examine the structure of works by Alice Walker, Svetlana Alexievich, Eduardo Galeano, and Joe Brainard. We will cover each book in two sessions. We will do relevant writing practices in and outside of class, for example, getting in touch with our vast storehouse of memories (Brainard). Also, by the end of each session we will make plans for writing on our own in the week ahead. Possible areas for exploration are personal and collective memoir and autobiography. Participants will be encouraged to connect during the week, and share how the writing and reading processes inter-are. I will be happy to meet up, listen, and share when it is convenient for you. Read the rest of this entry »

Milosz’s ABC’s

Milosz’s ABC’s
Translated from the Polish by Madeline G. Levine

Listening  last night to Natalie Long talking about Poland and mentioning Czeslaw Milosz  reminded  me of reading his ABC’s back in 2001.  Around  that time I had been reading the Cuban Reinaldo Arenas and the Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano.  I was searching for a “form” to put together my scattered and varied materials pertaining to life with Mev Puleo.  All three of them provided encouragement to synthesize a form of collage/mosaic for the  telling of that story.

Turning back  now to those ABC’s, here are the alphabetical entries that fill his 313-page book.




Adam and Eve




After All




Alik Protasewicz




“What splendor!  What poverty!  What humanity! What inhumanity!  What mutual goodwill!  What individual isolation!  What loyalty to the ideal! What hypocrisy!  What a triumph of conscience!  What perversity!  The America of contradictions can, not must, reveal itself to immigrants who have made it here.  Those who have not made it will see only its brutality.” 25

American Poetry—

“Of American poets, I will always have the greatest affinity with Walt Whitman.”

American Visa


Angelic Sexuality Read the rest of this entry »

Festival of Kissing, Festival of Touching

Eduardo Galeano, The Book of Embraces

Marginalia and Notes, February 2001

I read this book because, like Arenas’s The Color of Summer, it exemplifies a style and structure that I wish to adapt for my second book: short, compressed, packed chapters, thematically linked over the course of the book by numbers, with ample illustrations, mixing autobiography, journalism, “theology,” history, lyricism.

Addition to Jack Kerouac, shorter, the better. Consider, fracturing further currently long chapters.

A part of me died with him. A part of him lives with me. [What for a dedication page?]

Think of all the words I can include, with examples, in my Lexicon chapters.

Depending on layout and format, consider using little photos (of Mev, even) .

Tell my story; no, tell your story.

Do some chapters, like his The Function of the Reader, on “Reading.”

NB: keep the chapters short. 23

Chapter: Voice. And, Voiceless. Check synonyms. Read the rest of this entry »

Her Vivacity Gladdened Life

James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, Knopf: Everyman’s Library,  1992 

I’ve acknowledged previously the importance of Reinaldo Arenas and Eduardo Galeano  during the late 1990s into 2000 as I was trying to figure out how to write what became The Book of Mev.  Also, during that period I read with relish James Boswell’s Life of Johnson.  That biography proved a fecund  encounter, as  some of my marginalia became a “To Do” for my project…

  1. Include a letter to make the point [get another voice in there]
  1. Include some of her more creative pieces [journal or no]
  1. Force, vivacity, and perspicuity [vigor]
  1. Long footnotes of clarification at the bottom of the page
  1. Spend six hours writing, one after the other, all the topics and fragments in my Mev log

Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Reading, 2009

I recently found this in an old file…



Annping Chin, The Authentic Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics
David Hinton, Selected Poems of Wang Wei
D.C. Lau, trans. Mencius
Andrew Plaks, trans., Chung Yung
Ivan Morris, Madly Singing in the Mountains: An Appreciation and Anthology of Arthur Waley
Stephen Ruppenthal, The Path of Direct Awakening
Simon Winchester, The Man Who Loved China
Mao Zedong, Little Red Book


Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins
Noam Chomsky, What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World–Interviews with David Barsamian
Donaldo Macedo, ed., Chomsky on Mis-Education
Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffel, eds., Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
Assaf Khoury, ed. Inside Lebanon: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky Read the rest of this entry »

Words Not Hearable in the US Mainstream

Obama challenged Raúl Castro on Cuba’s human rights record
And though Fidel is renowned for his loquacity, Raúl himself could have gone on for hours to Obama—

Elaborating on the fact of a million U.S. dollars a day during the 80s
for the Salvadoran government’s slaughters

Detailing the ardent U.S. support for General Pinochet
Who upped the torture rate for the good of God and Copper

Itemizing G.W. Bush’s war crimes in Iraq
Aggression being the supreme violation of international law

Citing the various U.S. abominations
Down the road there in Guantanamo, still open

Highlighting the U.S. enthusiasm for Somozan family dictators
Who “massacred their own people,” a familiar phrase, no?

Reminding the U.S. president that he is Asesino Numero Uno
Via the drones he sees fit to use

Wondering aloud why the U.S. seems to have no problem with the Saudi dictatorship,
And its propensity for capital punishment, flogging, and other such niceties for its citizens

Recommending to the U.S. president and handing him a copy of E. Galeano’s Century of the Wind
For insight on the U.S. values as manifested in the interventions in the D.R., Haiti, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Uruguay, for starters


–work-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tusris

Invitation to Memory of Fire Global Reading Circle

Danielle Mackey and I invite you to join us in reading, reflecting, and writing on Eduardo Galeano’s trilogy, Memory of Fire: Genesis, Faces & Masks, and Century of the Wind, a total  of 911 pages.

You have to be willing to confront the histories of the Americas as told by a dissident journalist and savorer of stories.

Commit to one hour of reading and writing a week.

Read 10-20 pages a week of Galeano.

Write at least a paragraph or several lines in response: What emotions, memories, people, connections did the reading trigger for you?

Post at a blog and make comments on other people’s posts.

We propose this unusual approach: start from the end of volume three (Century of the Wind) and move backward in time. The reason for this—most people who would be interested in the subject matter are most likely familiar—because of their own experiences in Latin America—with recent history. Start from there and learn more about the past.

I can make the weekly reading selections and encourage participants to share and connect.

I propose the first posts be done on 11.16.2015, which would mean starting 11.09.2015 with the first reading assignment.

Please send me a message if you want to participate: Markjchmiel@gmail.com

Chiapas, 1983; photo by Mev

Sunset Volcano Beach Soccer! Share the Wealth with John Nolan

This Sunday I will be sharing my experiences and reflections on soccer. Soccer is technically just a game, but those of us who play or follow soccer can rarely see it objectively. Soccer is necessary, and all of the writhing smoldering forces of the world are subject to its criteria.

I began playing much too old to ever be good, but here I am, stronger, faster, and healthier than before. Soccer is my connection to mass hysteria, a new found connection to my body, a way to commune with friends and strangers, a teacher of lessons, and a little stage for the great human drama. Soccer is a reason to laugh, cry, deride, denounce, high five, throw rocks, riot – literally -, drink beers, hug and kiss, or just stand back, slack jawed and in awe of ‘that play!’ Read the rest of this entry »

The Right to Remember

“The right to remember is not among the human rights consecrated by the United Nations, but now more than ever we must insist on it and act on it. Not to repeat the past but to keep it from being repeated. Not to make us ventriloquists for the dead but to allow us to speak with voices that are not condemned to echo perpetually with stupidity and misfortune. When it’s truly alive, memory doesn’t contemplate history, it invites us to make it. More than in museums, where its poor old soul gets bored, memory is in the air we breathe, and from the air it breathes us.”

–Eduardo Galeano

“Be in Love with Yr Life”*: A Spring Writing Course

Like Sontag and Beseda, many of us are tempted to be intolerant of the ambiguity and intimidated by the risks of photography and other art forms.  Ultimately, I believe we are most daunted by the mystery, the question, the possibility:  “It could be us.”  Through my own photography I strive to bridge the distant worlds of our small globe.  I contemplate the mystery:  It is us.
–Mev Puleo

This spring will mark ten years since The Book of Mev was published.  Over the years I’ve been gratified by the responses to that story, from people I’ve known a long time and those I just met. It appears the book has encouraged some people on different aspects of their journeys.

I’ve often noticed  how many readers recognize themselves in Mev’s words, say, from her letters and journals.  I’m reminded of the French novelist Marcel Proust, who wrote:  “In reality every reader is, while she is reading, the reader of her own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable her to discern what, without this book, she could perhaps never have perceived in herself.”

For this spring’s writing class, I invite you to read (or reread) and write off of stories, themes, and questions from The Book of Mev. Read the rest of this entry »