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Original Essays | April 30, 2013 1 comment
Note: Rachel Roellke Coddington and Jolby will present their book at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing on Wednesday, May 15, at 7:00 p.m.... Continue »
Mark ReibsteinDescribe your latest project.
My latest project is the picture book Wabi Sabi, illustrated by Ed Young. Wabi-sabi is a way of seeing the world that is at the heart of Japanese culture. It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple, natural, modest, and mysterious. It can be a little dark, but it is also warm and comfortable. It may be best understood as a feeling, rather than an idea. My picture book Wabi Sabi is an exploration of Wabi-sabi from a Westerner's perspective. In it, a cat named Wabi Sabi goes on a journey to discover the meaning of her name. Even though it is a picture book, I think and hope people of all ages will enjoy the story and the incredible art by Caldecott Medalist Ed Young.
Miranda, The Tempest good-hearted and generous, she's someone who knows how to be by herself, but also loves people. She doesn't carry too much baggage, despite having an overbearing dad. If Ferdinand's any judge, she's also a knockout.
What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
How to prepare your mind to become a singer. An attitude of openness, inwardness, gratitude; plus meditation, fasting, a little suffering, some rupturing of the day-to-day ties with the social fabric. I quote again from the Papago: "A man who desires song did not put his mind on words and tunes. He put it on pleasing the supernaturals. He must be a good hunter or a good warrior. Perhaps they would like his ways. And one day in natural sleep he would hear singing. He hears a song and he knows it is the hawk singing to him of the great white birds that fly in from the ocean. Perhaps the clouds sing or the wind or the feathery red rain spider on its invisible rope."
Another favorite passage:
"All this comes," thought Nekhlyudov, "from the fact all these people governors, inspectors, police officers, and policemen consider that there are circumstances when human relations are not necessary between human beings. All these men... thought not of men and their duty towards them but only of the office they themselves filled, and considered the obligations of that office to be above human relations. That is the whole matter...if once we admit be it only for an hour or in some exceptional case that anything can be more important than a feeling of love for our fellows, then there is no crime which we may not commit with easy minds, free from feelings of guilt."
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Aside from other writers, name some artists from whom you draw inspiration and talk a little about their work.
John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman: the sound of soul itself: deep, warm, resonant, and vulnerable.
K. D. Lang: lyricism = power.
The Dutch and Hudson Valley landscape artists, Hokusai and Hiroshige: all those guys were attuned to the moods of clouds, sky-tints, trees, and highways. They captured moments that blow you away (if you're out there and looking) and then are gone.
Frank Lloyd Wright: I love what he did with space.
Pelé, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Takanohana: I love what they did in space.
Gloria Foster: an actress who spoke thunder and flashed lightening, right there on stage.
Kurosawa, Fellini, Bergman, and Kubrick: the triumph of uncompromised aesthetics.
Michael Moore and Jon Stewart: art for sanity; light and levity in a dark time.
Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
These are my top five relating to Japan. They either sparked my interest in going there, or intensified my appreciation of the Japanese culture and sensibility, both classic and modern, once I was there:
You Gotta Have Wa by Robert Whiting
Japanese Inn by Oliver Statler
One Hundred Poems from the Japanese by Kenneth Rexroth
Spring Snow by Yukio Mishima
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
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Mark Reibstein is an English teacher and writer who has lived in New York, California, Hawaii, Japan, and Thailand. Now Mark and his daughter live near San Francisco with their good friend Arlo, who is also a cat. Wabi Sabi is his first picture book.