Summer report from a lazy Poem Elf

I’m still a schoolgirl when it comes to summer’s end.  I dread the fall.  Pumpkins and football games make me anxious. Give me hot, humid weather, a little body odor, and a good book every time.


Speaking of good books, there’s still a few weeks to enjoy summer reading.  On a friend’s recommendation, I’ve been reading everything by Barbara Trapido that I can find. (Temples of Delight is my favorite so far.)  I can’t resist British humor and eccentric characters.  Also been reading Elizabeth Bowen, another British writer.  She’s as somber as Trapido is delightful, but oh, those sentences!  I don’t cry reading too many books, but  The House in Paris left me stunned and weepy.


On a lighter note, my summer song this year is “Pata Pata,” by Miriam Makeba.  Link here for the best audio version, but be sure to watch this video of Makeba singing the song.  Great set, great costumes, and Makeba’s stage presence is enchanting. I’m a Johnny-come-lately to “Pata Pata”–it was released in 1957–but it sounds current to me and I can’t stop dancing to it.  Makeba, an anti-apartheid activist, breast cancer survivor (at age 18), wife of Stokey Carmichael, and international star, is long due for a bio-pic.


So what have you been reading this summer?  And what’s your summer song?



  1. Trish Rawlings

    Thanks, poemelf, for Pata Pata. It accompanied a car ad a few years ago and I loved it and had no idea what it was….

    Just finished Elizabeth Bowen’s The Death of the Heart. Loved it. Was sometimes made scared by Bowen’s powerful knowing…

    Then read Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Following Bowen, was perhaps inevitble that it would seem thin and be disappointing. Perhaps this was unfair to Sparks…

    Now am into The Portrait of a Lady. Find James so funny. I stand on his turf and he digs a verbal hole around me and I slowly sink into it, then look up and see him on the edge, looking down at me, and laughing.

    Some of his sentences I have yet to unravel. Just don’t comprehend, no matter how many times I go back over.

    He reminds me of Emily Dickenson and her obscurantisms and her telling it slant.

    How did he sit and write these compound-complex-times-five sentences longhand?

    I hear he suffered from chronic constipation.

    All that sitting and writing these sentences! Should have taken more evening constitutionals.

    But I love him, and love Isabel Archer. I keep picturing not Nicole Kidman in the role but a British actress named Rebecca Peacock.

    Back to The Portrait… more holes to get out of!

    1. poemelf

      Bowen understands children very well, I think. Yeah, she scares me too. What a powerhouse.

      A few months ago I got half way through Portrait of a Lady. So different than when I read it at 24. So much sadder to me. I loved it, but somehow ran out of steam and stopped.

      I love your description of reading James. The hemorrhoids he must have had!

  2. Trish Rawlings

    P.S. My summer song is Just Give Me A Reason by Pink…(think that’s the title). Sung by she and Nate Ruess–wonderful!

    1. poemelf

      Just heard this for the first time. Great song! Watched the music video too, and I have to ask what’s up with the little girl dress and the teddy bear. Recently on Fresh Air I heard a voice-over actress talk about the ubiquity of the “little girl sexy voice”–she compared it to the throaty knowingness of Lauren Bacall’s and Anne Bancroft’s voice. It’s so twisted to make grown women juvenile. Bothers me.

      1. Trish Rawlings

        Poemelf I just found the Nate Ruess Pink duet that you mention–the one with the pink girly dress and teddy…so strange for her…doesn’t seem to fit…yet looking at it again I saw the much more adult and extreme bleach-blonde hairdo and thought wha???

        Compared it to Try where she (live) does this incredible dance duo with a fellow at the AMAs and no lip-synching…so powerful..

        Cynical me sez the pink dress teddy bear thing is to appeal to the pre-pubescent group still in the Hello Kitty groove…what? Ten to twelve?

        But then what about the wild hair-do? Is that to appeal to the next age group?

        I think I’ve been on this topic too long….

  3. Trish Rawlings

    I missed the video with the little girl dress and teddy bear…looked for it on youtube but can’t find it..saw just the one where she duets with Nate Ruess. But I think I know what you mean about the voice thing. I, though, am bothered by the little BOY voice guy singers use…they sort of tiptoe breathily into and around the song in an anti-good-singer way..I picture them when I’m listening: floppy tennis shoes, tight and too-short pants, too-small buttoned sweater a la 1940, big-collared shirt straight outta Goodwill five-for-a-dollar day…almost an anti-perfect-guy-hero-hunk-Superman thing. Like Don’t be afraid of me, honey, I’m just a little fellow, harmless…is that what they are saying? I think of that song I think called So You’ve Had a Bad Day…is this the gal’s gay friend commisserating with her? Like Midol with legs… Here, listen to my song and your cramps will go away!! Hah!

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