Can a Poem Save the World?

 

We are all in love with the written word

The annual LitTAP convening draws people out of their insular silos and into a space where we are startled by the presence of so many others just like us – lovers of the written word.

Actually, I am hopping around in the space where text, image and  restless thought live at the center of the Venn diagram of my life.  I wrestle with each demon that fights for center stage.

 

It is a stage as gracious as the head of a pin.

This recent convening took place on another kind of stage. A sound stage at Kaufman Astoria Studios at the intersection of creative industry, Queens Council on the Arts, fabulous food, the Museum of the Moving Image and the flagship performing high school created by the Sinatra family and Tony Bennett, Astoria’s home boy.

A perfect place to make visual how one board member’s passion for the work of the Queens Council on the Arts became the site of a statewide discussion on how we and our board members can be better champions of the literary world. H

Here are some things I heard that stuck with me:

  • Mission gives you the power to say no.
  • Don’t be afraid to make the ask. Think of it as a chance for someone to invest in something they care about.
  • “No” is often code for “not yet”.
  • Say “Thank you” a lot.
  • I don’t know what to do first. Maybe I should eat this cookie.

 

Love those Poets in Unexpected Places!

I captured what I could with my Flip video camera.  Watch the magic here!

 

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How To Memorize 32 Beethoven Sonatas

Is this intelligence?

 

 

Is memorization intelligence? What is the point of memorizing random strings of numbers, unrelated words, decks of cards? Isn’t this a skill better mastered by computer?

The acquisition of knowledge involves many functions, memory being one of them. To become an intelligent person, you do not necessarily need to memorize. What you do with information is much more important.

As a young pianist, my teachers believed in the memory of muscles. That it was important to get the shape of the music in your hands, the notes in your memory at a young age. As you mature, you will be able to add experience to your performances of this repertoire.

So, I dutifully memorized my way through Preludes and Fugues by Bach, Etudes by Chopin and –

32 Beethoven Sonatas.

 

Why bother?

 

If you ask me what I have on my iPod,  you would see right away I am a classically trained pianist.  An unapologetically opinionated lover of piano repertoire.

I have recordings of the four Chopin Ballades by several great pianists performed live and in the studio at various points of their careers.   Arturo Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Lang Lang.  Bach’s Goldberg Variations by Glenn Gould, both versions.  Anything by Granados performed by Alicia De Larrocha.

Obviously, it is not their prowess in memorization that is impressive.  The ability to memorize is a given.  The power to touch souls  is something much greater.

Go ahead, impress me

 

You can learn some cool tricks to help you memorize all kinds of things.  I, who did OK in high school for a lazy Asian kid growing up in Queens, did not have the talent for standardized testing that my brother and sister had.  I had to find ways to stuff incredible amounts of – at the time, meaningless – data in my head for short periods of time.  I used “memory palaces”, chunking, visual associations, all kinds of tricks and shortcuts that you will probably find in Joshua Foer’s book, Moonwalking with Einstein.

What you will be able to do is memorize poems.

That is really wonderful.

Especially if you want to impress someone on a first date.

 

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Hoong Yee

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Word of mouth is the best way to share, don’t you agree?

 

Ghostmistress: Characters that Haunt

Boo Who?

When I started writing Ghostmistress, I asked Sky what he liked to read and why in a post about what thirteen year olds like to read.  He shrugged and said,

“I dunno. Whatever.”

He was, however, thoughtful enough to suggest that I put together a writing elective with his teacher and work with a group of kids, not him of course, to find out for myself what appeals to young readers.

Ghostmistress is the result of this journey and it is the place where close to fifty members of my Boo Crew read my weekly serial ghost story, comment, and post their own writing.  We are at Week 5 and heavy into character development and figurative language.  I am amazed and truly appreciative of the feedback I get from this group and I love their boldness in their thinking and their own creative writing.

Inspired?

Float by Ghostmistress and subscribe as a Boo Crew writer!

Here’s a video about writing great characters for you.

 

 

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Hoong Yee

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How to Enjoy Wine in Astoria

Looking for a Cool Place to Take Your Mom Out to?

 

 

We were out on the town for a night of flamenco and a Greek dinner.  Seth, me and my mom.  A triple date.

The American Bolero Dance Company presented a Tablao Flamenco in a packed auditorium in Astoria.  Disclaimer: This group received a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts and we were invited to the performance as site auditors.  My mother loves to dance and if you haven’t seen my little video of her cha cha class, here it is.  She was delighted to have the chance to sit knee to knee among flamenco lovers at cafe tables to watch this passionate group of dancers.  In fact, she has volunteered to do more of these performance audits.

“I could bring my dance class.  They would love to see other dancers.  And in Queens!”

Why Look Outside Your Own Backyard?

 

 

What did Dorothy discover at the end of the Wizard of Oz?

That’s right.  There’s no place like home.

And if you live in Queens like I do, boy is that ever true.  Not only is it home for me, it is home for people from over 147 different countries.

Do the math.  That is 147 different types of cuisines, culture, music, art …

What a moveable feast!

Here’s What You Do

 

 

 

Gus and his brother Chris buy the wine and beer for Sanfords in Astoria.  They have one of the most intriguing menus and drinks to go with it.  You can usually find Gus holding court with local impresarios and characters in the back booth from the late afternoon to evening.  When his dad, the original proprietor of the original Sanfords in its black and white photo days, is not cruising around Greece, he is also part of the character set of this very eclectic and uniquely Astoria establishment.

Check out Sanfords after work.  Have a seat at the bar in the back and order a glass of Tres Picos.  That’s what Gus put in my hands the last time we were there.

Delicioso!

 

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If you want style notes and more for people who change the world, please check out:

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Style Notes from me, your artspy

Hoong Yee

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Thanks so much! I really appreciate your help.

Word of mouth is the best way to share, don’t you agree?

 

A Ghostmistress Video For Restless Writers

Hey Boo Crew!

I’m not sure what happened but I really thought I had embedded this video in yesterday’s post.    This is Rockaway in all of its wintry windswept splendor – the setting for Ghostmistress, my online writing project for thirteen year old writers.

Anyway, here it is.

Enjoy!

Get more Wow!

If you want style notes and more for people who change the world, please check out:

Getting to Wow! to feel good, do good and look good

Nonprofit Knitwear for all things knit and nonprofit

Style Notes from me, your artspy

Hoong Yee

— Subscribe and get a little Wow! every day

— Forward the link to someone you think would be interested

— Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @hylkrakauer)

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Thanks so much! I really appreciate your help.

Word of mouth is the best way to share, don’t you agree?