Thursday, October 28, 2010

At the Film Series (Before the Race and Pedagogy Conference)



After the third movie, on Sunday afternoon, the audience moved to a different room in the Cinema Grand for a conversation.


I had a feeling about the third movie that race was emphasized in the narrative when it discusses students - a transition to adult life is difficult for so many students. Featuring these three movies together (I saw them on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday) allowed the movies to give one another balance. For example, every perfect girl graduating from high school faces the transition to adult life. When this was emphasized in the context of undocumented immigration, I reflected on the idea that teen pregnancy is a transition girls face too often.


I commented that I noticed one student finishing college, undocumented, plans to work in the field of Measures of Happiness - often as humans we take it for granted that happiness is not measurable. Psychology has taken up this topic. It applies to the discussion about Race and Pedagogy.


"The world seems to children like "a heartless cold-blooded place because they've been given the short end of the stick and they don't know why," one teachers says in the first movie, "WAITING FOR SUPERMAN".


The second movie "RACE TO NOWHERE" asks if the system is not wrong, if the displaced, marginalized are trying to achieve an unhealthy ethic - this "quantity-driven model" needs reform, says the filmmaker. (She was present when I attended the film and spoke to the audience.)


The topic of the third movie, "PAPERS", that 12 million undocumented lived in United States, and 2 million are children, featured interviews with undocumented children graduating from high school. Undocumented people enter the United States through family members, through asylum if they are not safe where they live, or with a visa through an employer, but most undocumented children have no path to citizenship.


The movie series features a number of other films.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Title for Blog Entry: About a Song Translation

One: About A Song Translation Included on a Panel During The First Tacoma Reads Together, 2002

2010: The Second Conference on Race and Pedagogy at UPS.

2006: The First Conference on Race and Pedagogy at UPS.

2002: The First Tacoma Reads Together, To Kill a Mockingbird

There was a panel discussion at UPS and I was invited by Hans Ostrom to be on the panel. I performed a folk song there - I read my song translation and performed the tune on a recorder.

The theme of "Names" in To Kill A Mockingbird had reminded me of one of the folk songs I had worked on translating from 1987 to 1992.

Atticus (the lawyer definding Tom Robinson) has a Greco-Roman name. The MayElla (the prosecution's witness and and the claimed victim) has a Christian name, Mary Elizabeth. Atticus spares his own motherless daughter and himself by calling her Scout (a nickname). She will not hear her mother call her by her name again. Atticus repeatedly calls the witness by her first name only.

At one point it is said, "The defense is badgering the winess." An important point in the novel is that the dizzying presence of a vigilante group leaves people without recourse to the law.

I believed the song translation might help develop the theme of names.

Two: About the Song and my Translation

In 1987 to 1992 I worked on about six dozen song translations during part of my writing time. My mother had been a talented piano player, accompanied the heritage group choir and in their family dance band. She saved a lot of things. There were song books, a collection of preserved folk music, from Foreningen Brage. Although Säg min vallmoblomma was not a song frequently performed by the heritage group choir, other songs in the book were.

The song Säg min vallmoblomma is reproduced in the next Blog Entry with the permission of Föreningen Brage, Helsinki. The work was arranged by Otto Anderson, the founder of Föreningen Brage and a professor of music and ethnology. A book about the work of Otto Anderson is on the internet, with a summary to the back of the work in English.

My playing songs on a recorder was for me in a way a hobby - I think a hobby is carried along without a highly-powered ambition. From the first I did not consider it an ambitious kind of aspiration, but a deeply felt activity.

One heritage group member once described songs I played on a recorder as being "between her mother and herself". She was comparing me to heritage music performance from a first-hand experience in the old country, or to the music performance from the very active and present Swedish and Swedish-Finnish community in the Pacific Northwest in the earlier half of the twentieth century. The choir in Tacoma began in 1913 at the house of my great-grandfather. By this I explain an idea of caring that existed for me about these songs.

Page Five of Song

Page Four of Song

Page Three of Song

Page Two of Song

The song Säg min vallmoblomma is reproduced with the permission of Föreningen Brage, Helsinki. The work was arranged by Otto Anderson, the founder of Föreningen Brage and a professor of music and ethnology. A book about the work of Otto Anderson is on the internet, with a summary to the back of the work in English.

Säg min vallmoblomma ////Tell me, dear Wallflower
medan skyming ////While the shadows
faller over vägen.//// Fall upon the roadway.

Hör mig, liljefagra,//// Hear me, pretty flower
medan vinden tystnar//// while the wind sighs
i bland träden://// up among the treetops.
Vill du bliva? Säg mig kära/// Is life lovely, tell me dear one
min egen? ////My own one?

Faller svala daggen,//// Swallow falls in dewdrops,

svala daggen. ////Swallows dewdrops.

Säg ej till mig "Kära!"//// Don't say to me, "Dear one"
Sa min namner//// As my father
fader och min moder. ////And my mother called me.
Säg ej till mig "Kära!" ////Don't say to me, "Dear one"

Sa min namner//// As my sister

syster och min broder. ////and my brother called me.

Säg ej "Kära!" ////Don't say, "Dear one"

sa han säger,//// So he called me,

min egen. ////My own one,

Faller svala daggen, ////Swallow falls in dewdrops,

svala daggen. ////Swallows dewdrops.


Säg mig, du, som aldrig//// Tell me, you, who never

ur mitt hjärta ////From my heart

viker uppa jorden://// Gave up the ghost of life here.
Varför blev det ////Why does it become
plotsligt ///So dark and lonely
nu sa morkt och ödsligt ////in the woods
uti skogen?//// so quickly?

Var är vagen,//// Where the road leads,
Led mig kära! ////Lead me, dear one,
Säg vägen! ////The right way!

Faller heta tåren.. ////Falls the name in teardrops.
Heta tåren.//// Name in teardrops

Heta tåren. . ////Name in teardrops.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

75th Anniversary of the Tacoma Art Museum

The Tacoma Arts Museum was stacking mini-cupcakes on tiered cake servers in the foyer and I felt it would be polite to redirect my attention. This was a free party, as I write my blog entry it is still going on. At one side near the store was a table with cards, one could answer the question on the card, so I chose a gray one that read: What makes Tacoma Art Museum Mighty?

faucett faucett
hitching posts
mounting blocks
fire stations

My card was about my earlier visits to the Art Museum at the old Weyerhauser building near the Fireman's Park, near the faucett contributed by Fawcett. The testimony to the horse-drawn vehicles along the streets, in places, reached out.

Several folks from poetry readings were in attendance. I had not planned to stay a long time. One point - the dog sculpture, Leroy, was on an upper floor, one could glimpse his face from the topmost balcony, nice to have Leroy in such a central part of the party.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Books at Twelve-Ten: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Five met to discuss The Thirteenth Tale Tuesday, by Diane Setterfield, October 12, 2010 at Tacoma's Main Library. We started with introductions, then started off with a discussion of our experience of reading the book.

One steadily attending member came slightly tardy. She read the book but found the descriptions of degradation to be very disturbing. Others agreed, there were descriptions of sadistic behavior and self-mutilation, illness and suicide, of a dwelling place left to decline and to moulder.

I had made notes of starting to look at the book on September 19th. In a

chapter called "Rain and Cake" that caught my attention was this passage: "Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes, - characters, even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book they are still with you." It was true, I decided to wait. Later I noticed there was no table of contents for the chapters with titles. Sometimes I outline a little, so I outlined. I read the book on the weekend and on Monday.

Another topic in our group was reading aloud. There is, one person pointed out, a book on tape of The Thirteenth Tale. Before I went into the discussion at the library, I had listened to an interview on You Tube with Diane Setterfield. She had discussed a youthful belief that, because books were wonderful, writers had to be special people. It had taken her some time to get over that and follow her wish to write. She considers herself to be a quite ordinary person.

One person noticed a theme of discoveries and new beginings, a great interpretation. A theme of truth also emerged in our discussion. Another topic we discussed were moments remembered from the narrative after the book ended; no one had guessed what truths would be revealed as the book told the story of the real biography of Vida Winter, author of the most frequently borrowed books from England's public libraries. The ending had been a surprise to everyone.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Event on Sunday with Arnold Alanen, Porfessor

I saw ALASKA FAR AWAY: THE NEW DEAL PIONEERS OF THE MATANUSKA COLONY at the Swedish Cultural Center in Seattle on Sunday afternoon. For a time in 1940 and 1941 my father was with the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Alaska. He visited Palmer, Alaska, for the Matanuska Valley Fair. The autumn of 1941 he returned to Seattle. When the Pearl Harbor attack occurred, he was working as a pharmacist at a drugstore. Before the discussion, during the social hour, I was able to share photographs my father took at Palmer, Alaska, in 1941 with Dr. Alanen and others at the Swedish Cultural Center.

The film followed a short discussion by Arnold Alanen, professor emeritus of University of Wisconsin, about a book he did about Swedish-Finnish structures and architectural preservation. Professor Alanen was featured in the film in an interview.

The trailer for ALASKA FAR AWAY: "The Matanuska Colonization Project of 1935 was among the most unusual and controversial of the many New Deal programs designed to help ordinary citizens crushed by the Great Depression. ALASKA FAR AWAY: THE NEW DEAL PIONEERS OF THE MATANUSKA COLONY tells the story of this bold government experiment, and the families who found themselves thrust into the national spotlight along the way."

After the movie we learned that one family member featured in the film was with us in the audience. A person said to me, ten percent of the colonists to Alaska were Finns. They were recruited from the Northern Border with Canada, in Michigan and Wisconsin, areas with Finnish immigrant centers and hard -hit during the depression.

The movie tells of government recruitment, the journey to Alaska, tent cities in the Matanuska Valley in midnight sun, the first snowfall, and the retreat of some colonists and a search for new recruits, among other historic points. I was left with the impression that the movie was paced well to carry the attention of the audience.

The film shows soldiers working at Alaska farms while stationed nearby during World War Two.

The Swedish-Finnish Historical Society presented crackers, cookies, coffee bread and coffee to the audience. Dr. Alanen was celebrating his book about Midwest structures, but beginning research on Pacific Northwest Swedish-Finnish structures. The Swedish Finnish Historical Society had sent out a call to people who knew of historic structures.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

At U of Washington Tacoma Branch and King's Books

I went to the Senator Murray Vice President Biden Get Out the Vote Rally yesterday at University of Washington Tacoma Branch.

There were one or two snapshots on the roll of film. Earlier on the roll of film was the University of Washington Tacoma Branch during the event to turn parking spaces into park-like activity areas.

The guided tour of all the parking spaces at the Spaces event ended at King's Books.

My day yesterday also ended at King's Books for the Distinguished Writer reading - during the Open Mike I read a translation I had done of a folk song from Swedish-speaking Finland. This weekend Scandinavian Heritage Festival at the fairgrounds, but I am not going there this year.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Issue of Salt River Review Contains Poems and Prose by Laura Jensen

Salt River Review is at a final issue at this point. It celebrates many years of publication by James Cervantes and Greg Simon.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Thoughts About Sunday's Column by Leonard Pitts

"I'd have to be crazy to think of walking 60 miles."

It is National Mental Health Awareness Week. Leonard Pitts' column on Sunday, October 3rd, is about participation in a Walk for the Cure for Breast Cancer. The columnist will be in this walk in the Washington D.C. area from Friday until next Monday. His use of the word crazy is partly colloquial, and

expressions like this in daily life and daily reading cast stigma on people who suffer or who have suffered over psychiatric problems.

His use of the word crazy is partly in reference to his state of mind. By crazy he may mean that he searches his thoughts and wonders if he is using Magical Thinking - Believing that one is able to transcend the laws of cause and effect in order to influence a specific outcome by one;s thoughts, words, or actions. By crazy he may mean that he feels he is in a stage of relapse - Over-extension - in which one feels overwhelmed by daily stress and has difficulty concentrating or attending to the external world -

An event can create challenging stress that becomes an element of mental illness. I wonder if there are columns by Leonard Pitts about psychiatry and psychology. I am reminded of a song by Billy Joel - "You may be right, I may be crazy."