Samara O'Shea

Archive for June, 2009

Committed to Memory

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Have I ever told you that I memorize poetry? It’s something I started doing as a freshman in high school and have done sporadically ever since (read sporadically: sometimes an entire year will go by without me memorizing and other times I’ll absorb two poems in one week). Memorizing poetry is gratifying in and of itself—without an audience. It grants one a deeper understanding of the poem, and not always right away. Sometimes I’ll re-recite something to myself years after first memorizing it and pick up on something new. I also love having access to inspirational words at all times and in all places. Yesterday an idea came to me: What if I start a new blog and upload videos of myself (with the hopes that other enthusiastic poetry memorizers will join in) reciting that which I’ve committed to memory? It might be fun to have an audience and show off my skills, and if no one ends up watching then I’ve lost nothing. I’m going to memorize the poetry (sometimes compelling prose) regardless.

Part of what made me think to do this is that I’ve been invited recently to become a founding council member of a new association. I can’t name the association just yet because the organization’s leader has asked us all to keep quiet until a formal announcement is made. I’m very excited about it though and can’t wait to tell you! Anyway, as part of our matriculation each member of the council is to produce a 5-minute video in which we discuss our work. In order to do this we’ll be given (and get to keep!) a flip-video camera and mini-tripod. I’ve been assured that the camera is ridiculously easy to use and upload content even for techies like me still operating on the elementary level. Having the camera makes me think posting a weekly / bi-weekly poem recital is doable.

Last night I Googled “memorizing poetry” to see if anyone else is doing this. I came across this great article courtesy of (once again) the NY Times about the joys of memorizing poetry and it was posted (drum roll please) just this past April. Hooray for old trends becoming new again! It totally reinforced my idea, and I reserved this morning.

I’m nervous to speak of this because it might be one of those projects I get excited about and ultimately abandon for one reason or another. The only thing I can see stopping me will be the camera never coming or my not figuring out how to work it. Right now, I’m confident it’ll come together. I’ll keep you posted. And if you like memorizing poetry or want to give it a go for the first time—please join me!

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Another way to live slowly: By letting your laundry air dry. Check out

The Slower the Better

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I caught the movie trailer for the documentary Food, Inc. (I thought it was forthcoming, but apparently it’s already out!), and it reminded me of letter writing. Yes it’s true that most things remind me of letter writing, but bear with me for a moment. Two weekends ago, I referred to letter writing as the organic way of communicating for the first time—it seems rather obvious in retrospect. Anyway, I love the concept of “organic” applying to more than food. Of course it should apply to food! It should also apply to relationships. And quilts. And traveling. And, again, communicating. We, as a society, spent the latter half of the 20th-century trying to make everything happen faster and be easier only to discover that there was something special about doing things slowly. A relationship—romantic or platonic—that unfolds slowly has a more solid foundation. A tomato that grows at its natural pace is healthier. A walk to the store is better for the environment and the walker. Writing a letter is more meaningful to the recipient and eye opening for the writer. A dress or a grandfather clock made by hand will last that much longer. There’s a Web site called GetRichSlowly, and it’s a great idea. Work up to your wealth. Earning it rather than expecting it is much more rewarding.

Of course, not all of the inventions that have come to us are bad and some certainly serve to improve our circumstances. It’s important though—now more than ever—to find balance between the two. If you find yourself at the crossroads of Instant Happiness and Success and Take Your Time Figuring Out What Happiness and Success Mean to You then I say it’s better to err on the slow side. In fact, I beg us all to take the scenic route more often.

The aforementioned movie trailer:

First Things First

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I have more to say today, but first: Great opinion piece about Laura and Euna in the NY Times.

In a Country Far, Far Away

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

For the most part, I had a good weekend. The ominous cloud overhead, unfortunately, was all the news streaming in from Iran in devastating sound bites. It’s a news story that renders one helpless. I feel bad, first, for not knowing enough about the situation, but I feel even worse that I can’t do anything. What in world could I do from my little home in southeastern, PA? I changed my Twitter location to say that I’m tweeting from Tehran. The reason for this being that the Iranian Powers that Be are trying to stop people from blogging and tweeting about protests. The more people they have to shut down, the more difficult the task. I don’t really think that’ll help, but it made me feel better. But maybe I’m not supposed to feel better, maybe no one is.

I am moved by the bravery and dedication displayed again and again by the Irani people. I can only hope (HOPE) that I would have it in me to do what they’re doing—to protest knowing I could be beaten badly or lose my life. “Give me liberty or give me death.”

It is only in the presence of people willing to go to such extremes that realities change. Below is a speech given by Susan B. Anthony with regards to her arrest. She voted in the 1872 Presidential election and was arrested for it. The right to vote is an essential one, and one that was not automatically given to black people or woman living in the United States. They fought (and fought) to make it happen. The Iranians are not fighting for the right to vote. They are fighting for the right to an honest election and to protest in peace. It is a fight I hope and pray that they win.

Friends and fellow citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen’s rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any state to deny.

The preamble of the Federal Constitution says:
“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people – women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government – the ballot.

For any state to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people, is to pass a bill of attainder, or, an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity.

To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters, of every household – which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord, and rebellion into every home of the nation.
Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office.

The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several states is today null and void, precisely as is every one against Negroes.

Susan B. Anthony – 1873

Learning Something New . . .

Friday, June 19th, 2009

It is my pleasure to introduce you to a Web site after my own heart: Felt & Wire. I uncovered this gem when the lovely Trish Kinsella (of Dauphine Press) attended my workshop last weekend and told me that she would be writing a review of the event for F&W. The review is up today (thank you Trish!), and the pictures I was unable to post here are posted over there (they’re a little more tech savvy). Here’s a bit about F&W:

Felt & Wire is about paper in its many-splendored forms: from postage stamps to posters, from memorable mail to beautiful books, from invitations to artistic innovations. The site was conceived (our editor would say kuhnceived) at Mohawk Fine Papers, by people who love the feel of paper, the look of paper, the marvel of ink on paper, and the magic of what people do with paper. The papers we make at Mohawk are esteemed by designers, fine printers, and letter-writers around the world. Our relationships with the greater design community provide creative grist for our mill every day.

The mastermind (read: editor) behind the paper-obsessed blog, Alyson Kuhn, and I spent some time marveling over e-mail about how we hadn’t heard of each other before. It’s no matter! We know of each other now, and I’m excited to point everyone in the F&W direction. I also look forward to future collaborations with this glorious site.

Unrelated note: My latest guest blog for Giftsin24 is about RSVPing and writing thank you notes for wedding season. Check it out if you have a chance. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

J.D. Salinger Update

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Here’s a snarky update on the J.D. Salinger court case I blogged about earlier this month. Looks like Salinger will prevail.