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Terra Firma: Trinity University Press blog

Liz Ward: Drawings for Unchopping a Tree

by Sarah Cooper on

An opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, March 20, for an exhibit of drawings by Liz Ward, in the Michael and Noémi Neidorff Art Gallery at Trinity University. Ward will discuss her work at 5:30, with a book signing following. Ward, a professor of art at Trinity, is the artist behind the beautiful, delicate silverpoint drawings featured throughout W.S. Merwin’s book, Unchopping a Tree, published this month by TU Press. 

Ward’s drawings depict the cellular life of trees and illustrate Merwin’s poetic elegance in his description of how to resurrect a fallen tree. 

The gallery show is open to the public and will run through April 8.

The Bob Shacochis Guide to Food and Romance

by Burgin Streetman on


Bob Shacochis, the award winning writer of the critically acclaimed novel The Woman Who Lost Her Soul and the classic culinary memoir Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love, has been married to the same woman for more than 40 years, so obviously he knows a thing or two about how to keep a lady satisfied. More often than not, it's not about what's in her heart. This Valentine's Day, Bob offers up a few tips on how to win and keep the lover of your dreams. Through her stomach.

Know Your Lover’s Tastes

No doubt about it, if you want a pure insight into other people’s lives, find out what they most enjoy eating, and what they would never eat, even if it meant starvation. It’s a good idea never to cook for somebody without knowing this information. More importantly, it’s romantic suicide to live with somebody until you’re sure your gastronomic stars aren’t crossed. 

Forget Fancy Restaurants, Home is Where the Heart Is

Okay, so one fellow’s domesticity is another man’s shackles. I too am seduced by cosmopolitan restaurants and trendy bistros, menus indecipherable except to a graduate degree holder in the Romance languages. Ultimately, however, these establishments can become bordellos of endless gastronomic affairs with the appetite prowling and carousing, lascivious and transient. Little more is generated here but an ephemeral commitment that applies only to the glamor of the moment. I am no more immune to these moments of escape than anyone else but I know I’ll always come home, with a sense of relief, to my own table, convinced that home is the setting of something better, where meaning and satisfaction are anchored firmly into the foundation of our private lives and don’t drag off in the tide of yet one more inflated transaction added to the commerce of the day.

Skip the Spuds

A woman who believes in the amorous properties of potatoes shouldn’t be difficult to please, but frankly I don’t recall any mention of starchy foods in the Karma Sutra. Common sense tells me that not many of us, male or female, tend to be sexually aroused by spuds. They champion neither evocative shape nor aesthetic lure, have a taste only a bad poet would bother to describe, and conceived in subterranean ignorance of passion, quickly mature to frumpy ordinariness, and connote the long pedestrian haul of love rather than the wild lather of its overture. What pitiful son-of-a-bitch has ever looked upon a lump of mashed potatoes, then raised a wolfish gaze to the coquette responsible for the lump, put two and two together and concluded, “Good Lord, I must have my way with her! I must!” 

Spice Up the Morning After

Usually, what I don’t want is to have the dreamy child in me consoled by cereals and juices. I want to be startled in the morning, even shocked; I want to be bruised by ethnicity; I want to hoard my sensual pleasures and eat them too. Does this make sense? Of course not, but so go the idiosyncratic moods of breakfast. I’ll take Lancashire’s grilled blood sausages. I’ll take the Caribbean’s mashed sardines and saltfish cakes. Japan’s pickled vegetables and seaweeds. Ditto Mexico’s huevos rancheros or my grandmother’s sunrise plates of steamed spaghetti. And – ah! – to come awake to a bagel smeared with cream cheese, layered with flabby lox, mounded with slices of red onions. Give me fruits that have no name and emanate weird fragrance. Give me something volcanic, and something arctic! 

When In Doubt, Serve Oysters

From the gastronomic point of view, to die in the saddle (a la Rockefeller), eating a well-iced dozen on the half shell, is not at all an ignoble fate. Nine Floridians succumbed in 1992 as a result of eating raw oysters. The culprit is Vibrio vulnificus, a naturally occurring marine bacterium that preys on weak livers. For those of us with healthy constitutions, the threat is nonexistent. My advice is to belly up to the raw bar and not step back until you’re acutely aware of the improvement in your sperm count. If you harbor doubts, manly or otherwise, about eating it raw, heat it up. Vibrio vulnificus can’t survive the cooking process. Think of it as foreplay. 

Excerpted from Domesticity: A Gastronomic Interpretation of Love (Trinity University Press, 2013)

Azar Nafisi Comes to Trinity University

by Rachel Cooley on

On Tuesday, March 4, Trinity University Press will host Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, in a discussion on human rights and women’s education in the Middle East, and on literature as a tool of social change. 

Nafisi has argued not only for the importance of literature, both fiction and nonfiction, for its own sake, but also for how it creates connections between peoples and cultures. She asserts that reading can promote understanding and present cultural complexities without reducing a society to one feature of itself. 

In a speech to Vanderbilt University in 2012, Nafisi said, “I was shocked to see that all of the country that, before I left the United States, had various cultures, histories and political systems, was now reduced to one aspect of it—religion, which was reduced to only one aspect of itself.” 

Readers can explore Iranian culture, and not just its government, through Nafisi’s books and lectures, and through Iranian history and literature. 

In an interview with the World Future Society, Nafisi said, “I was first introduced to America by Huck Finn. I want people to come to Iran through Ferdowsi, a poet. Perhaps I can help with this. Art and literature should not be bound by nationality.” 

Learn more about Nafisi’s work and message at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 4, in the Stieren Theater on Trinity’s campus. Free and open to the public. Book signing and reception to follow. The event is in celebration of the Trinity University Press tenth anniversary and is made possible through funds from the Elbert and Esther Fertig DeCoursey Fund.

More here.

Happy Birthday William Stafford!

by Rachel Cooley on

January 17, 2014, marks the centennial of poet William Stafford’s birth, and events across the  world will celebrate his poetry and influence all year long. With many events in the Pacific Northwest, in Nevada and Arkansas, and even in Glasgow, Scotland, everyone can celebrate the life and works of this beloved poet. 

The Friends of William Stafford seek to celebrate Stafford’s influence and the power and importance of the literary arts in our lives. Stafford actively looked for opportunities to see beauty in his life and work, always “listening for the next sound” and “rubbing words together until something sparked.” He followed a “golden thread” among the simple beauties in life and once said of his work, “I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.” 

On what would have been Stafford’s 100th birthday, we can celebrate his life and work by striving to see the beauty he saw and by affirming the significance of the literary arts. We can can also celebrate by reading the compositions of this prolific writer, including The Osage Orange Tree, which gives insight into the nature of a young poet who worked through some of America’s hardest and most inspiring times. For more about Stafford’s life, see the works of his son, Kim Stafford, such as Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford and 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do.

Visit here to see a list of centennial events or organize your own. For information visit the Friends of William Stafford.

Meet Ben Judson

by Burgin Streetman on

Meet Ben Judson, the designer of our tupress.org site (nice, right?) and an all-around awesome guy. He’s a San Antonio–based web developer and writer, and he’s built sites for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the Blue Star Arts Complex, David Shelton Gallery, Friends of Government Canyon, and many other entities. 

He’s so awesome, in fact, that he won a grant from the Awesome Foundation to help launch wabiStory, an app that allows authors, artists, and musicians to leave audio recordings in physical locations all around San Antonio. The app works when the GPS in a user’s phone shows that they are in the place where the author recorded the piece. It’s like a geocaching for the arts! Trinity University creative writing professors Andrew Porter and Jenny Browne have contributed to the project, and singer-songwriter Nicolette Good placed a wabiStory piece on the Trinity campus. 

From 2008 to 2011 Judson was a corresponding editor for Art Lies, a contemporary arts quarterly based in Houston. In February 2011 he began writing a bimonthly column on city planning and community development for the web magazine Plaza de Armas, which ran for two years. He also hosts the weekly Free Jazz Hour at 9 p.m. Mondays on KRTU 91.7 FM.

If you ever have the chance to meet him, be sure and extend a hand. He’s a pretty great guy to know.

(Photo of Ben and his wife Callie Enlow by David Rangel, courtesy of Hello Studio.)