The Art of Positive Thinking

“Healing Art: Don’t Let Anything Ruin Your Day” by Robert Flatt (Bright Sky Press, 2016)

“As our bodies degenerate, due to a disease or the inevitabilities of aging, we can no longer do some things we really have enjoyed. Over ten years ago I could no longer work at my job. Then I could no longer play tennis. Now I can no longer drive a car. I will not be able to teach much longer. I have a choice: I can spend my days worrying about these changes, or I can decide not to let them ruin my day and get on with my life. It’s never too late to change your major.” — Robert Flatt in “Healing Art”

ROBERT FLATT ’69 spent three decades in the oil service industry before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1999. Rather than see his diagnosis as a devastating setback, however, he took it as an opportunity to pursue his true passion: photography. “Healing Art,” in which these photographs and excerpt appear, is his newest book. He has also self-published two previous photography books, “West Boulevard Night-Herons” and “Rice’s Owls,” a chronicle of the daily life of a family of owls that took up residence on the Rice campus in 2010, and which won the 2013 IndieReader Discovery Award for photography. A number of his photographs are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Photo Courtesy of Robert Flatt

Photo courtesy of Robert Flatt

Photo courtesy of Robert Flatt

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L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems

Elisa Gabbert ’02 (Black Ocean, 2016)

The witty, provocative narrative voice in Gabbert’s newest book of poetry belongs to the fictional Judy, based on a character from Wallace Shawn’s play “The Designated Mourner,” which documents the dissolution of a marriage in the midst of a political revolution. Gabbert’s poems give Judy a backstory and an inner life that transcends the play’s boundaries, creating a character study of a complicated woman that is poignant, richly textured and at times bitingly funny. Gabbert’s previous book, “The Self Unstable,” was named one of The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2013. Reviewer Teju Cole called it “the most intelligent and most intriguing thing I’ve read in a while, moving between lyric poetry, aphorism, and memoir.”


Cassandra and the Night Sky

Amy Jackson ’05 (Bright Sky Press, 2017)

This celestial children’s book tells the story of a greedy king who steals all the stars from the night sky — and the brave princess who sets out to put them back. It’s a stargazing primer for young readers that riffs on the Greek mythology behind some of the constellations. The subject isn’t a stretch for Jackson, who studied physics at the University of Houston before earning her Master of Science degree in teaching at Rice and has long dreamed of becoming an astronaut. She’s also the founder and director of Starry Sky Austin, where she teaches hands-on astronomy classes to students of all ages.