Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Delicacy and Strength of Lace : Book Review

So, what was I doing in my long absence from blogging? Well, I've been very busy with work, and when I had spare time, I was reading rather than writing. One of the books I've read in the past few months was : The Delicacy and Strength of Lace, a collection of letters between two poets (and professors), Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright.

I enjoyed it very much. It's a very short book, only 106 pages. You can see above how I spilled coffee on it. I was so upset, but now it looks like a much loved and used book, eh?

My favorite part of the book: I did not know before reading it that Leslie Marmon Silko was a Native American, a Laguna Pueblo Indian. One of my favorite parts of the book was when she talks about the importance of place and shared knowledge in storytelling.

"I am pushing to finish the first of the scripts which attempt to tell the Laguna stories on film using the storyteller's voice with the actual locations where these stories are supposed to have taken place. In a strange sort of way, the film project is an experiment in translation - bringing the land - the hills, the arroyos, the boulders, the cottonwoods in October - to people unfamiliar with it, because after all, the stories grow out of this land as much as we see ourselves as having emerged from the land there. Translations of Laguna stories seem terribly bleak on the printed page. A voice, a face, hands to point and gesture to bring them alive, but if you do not know the places which the storyteller calls up in the telling, if you have not waded in the San Jose River below the village, if you have not hidden in the river willows and sand with your lover, then even as the teller relates a story, you will miss something which people from the Laguna community would not have missed. Laguna narratives are very lean because so much of the stories are shared knowledge..."

I've moved around a fair bit in the past 7 years, and as I've moved places have become more and more special to me. Knowing what things are, where things are... when you meet someone who knows what (where) you know- it's so exciting and I feel a kinship with them. I really love this idea that Leslie Silko had about filming the locations of poems. I've found out that in 1980 she made a film called "Arrowboy and the Witches" but I haven't been able to find it. Maybe at my university library.

My least favorite part about the book: Silko and Wright were both university professors and being in the academic world myself, it was kind of painful to read about some of the annoyances they faced, because I understand the frustration all too well.

Really, this was an excellent book, and I think I would reread in the future.


  1. This book sounds neat! I love letter collections turned into books. Have you ever read Sabine's Notebook by Nick Bantock? It's totally fiction but it's a beautiful series of letters and mail art.

  2. oh my this book sounds lovely and something I would enjoy.