What a wonder! Another week punctuated by steady rain. a true Los Angeles winter. I've only had to water my lawn once since December, that once in February when we had 90 degrees+ three days running. Now it's late winter cool again and the San Gabriels blur in a gray white smear of rain and snow. This evening I sit and listen to another steady rainfall in wonder at our brave trust that unreliable clouds will sustain us through another season.
Last week in the College of Arts & Letters @ Cal State LA proved that at least we can sustain ourselves through a very difficult season by embracing what we love, in remembering our better selves. Last Wednesday the American Communities Program sponsored Leon Leyson, the youngest member of Schindler's List. Although he claimed not to be a polished public speaker, Mr. Leyson spoke very movingly and with excruciating detail of the outbreak of World War II, his entrapment in and rescue from the Krakow Ghetto, his hunger, fear, and luck, and the difference that one individual, Oskar Schindler, was able to make in the lives of many thousands.
On Thursday evening Dr. Timothy Steele, Director of the Center for Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, hosted an evening with the renowned English poet, Wendy Cope, in this year's Jean Burden reading. Among Friends of Jean, Peggy Spear and Barbara Sweeney said how much Jean would have enjoyed Wendy Cope, who rarely travels to the west coast of the U.S.. Full of humor and sass, Ms. Cope read everything from haiku to villanelles in her 45-minute presentation and then generously took a number of questions from the audience. One question was about twittering poetry and Ms. Cope replied, in essence, "Why would I do that? I want to sell my writing." But I'm sure that she wouldn't mind if I quote a single stanza from one of the poems she read, as encouragement to you to seek out one of her books. Here's the first stanza of her "Bloody Men":
Bloody men are like bloody buses--
You wait for about a year
And as soon as one approaches your stop
Two or three others appear.
On Friday after catching part of a campus assessment workshop and part of the Department of English meeting, I enjoyed an afternoon at the Huntington with this year's "Powerful Visions" presentations. Namhee Lee (Modern Languages and Literatures), Elizabeth Bryant and Carole Lung (Art), and Mohammed Abed (Philosophy) demonstrated the incredible creativity and intellectual power of our faculty. From the symbolosphere to collage, found objects, artists' collectives, and the ethics of terrorism,our faculty and the audience engaged in contemporary topics in the humanities that interwove to produce new understandings and altered perspectives.
I topped off my work week by attending the latest version of Moving Dance Images, our students' choreographic work. This year we had more hip hop and African dance influences while drawing on the exceptional talents of our students.
Saturday I gave a brief welcome at the Japanese speech contest and was able to urge on the contestants with a "Gambate Kudosai" (Do your best!). It was wonderful to see the Japan Foundation and the Japanese Consulate present, especially in their role as judges and scholarship donors.
In weeks like this, when we enjoy the merciful rain and a bounty of intellectual and creative splendor, I'm particularly proud to be your Dancing Dean.