29/4/2004

Dear Head Nation?
Aubergines

The aubergine craze passed me by
in a blur of purple and orange.
How can depression coincide with extreme efforts to break myself out of it? With immense, wonderful projects that might not ever get completed? I'm working on a poem now that I don't want to jinx by talking about it too much.

28/4/2004

I could do close readings of individual poems on my blog too. If I've avoided that, it might have something to do with the notion that this is considered by many to be a fairly routine skill. For example, when reviewing a book, I'll often say that the close readings are ok, but that the book is deficient in other ways--even when I believe that the close readings are not particularly good at all. It's almost as though I were considering this to be a lower level skill, something anyone should be able to do just to merit inclusion in the conversation. Actually, I believe it is a capability that needs to be more highly valued. But in that case, I would no longer make routinized concessions that, yes, a critic has the competence to point out certain obvious things about the text. Deep analysis rather than close analysis.
Ceravolo appreciation ongeneva convention.
In honor of Gunn, I'm reposting something I wrote a little while back:

Poet A writes like this:

"Half of my youth I watched the soldiers
And saw mechanic clerk and cook
Subsumed beneath a uniform.
Grey black and Khaki was their look
Whose tool and instrument were death."

Or like this,

"Impatient all the foggy day for night
You plunged into the bar eager to loot.
A self-defeating eagerness: you're light...."

"The fog drifts slowly down the hill
And as I mount gets thicker still..."

Poet B writes like this:

"Lank potato, darkening
cabbage, tattered raspberry
canes, but the flower beds
so crammed there is
no room for weeds."

Or like this:

"But there's something going on
in those twisted brown limbs,
it starts as a need
and it takes over, a need
to push..."

"You recognize it like
the smell of the sour chemical
that gets into the sweat
of some people from
birth onward."

B seems to have a sharper eye (and ear), and writes with more immediacy and power than A. Why the redundancy of "tool and instrument," for example? Why the Audenesque rhetoric? Is it because A is writing in meter and rhyme? No, there is no intrinsic reason why meter should make a poet less energetic or alert. There is no reason why writing in free verse should free a poet up in this way either. That's just where the chips fall in this case.

Poet A is British poet long a resident of the SF Bay area. So is poet B. In fact, both poet A and poet B are Thom Gunn. He is a very-good-to-excellent poet not matter what form he is writing in. His metrical poems are not bad, but his poetry gains something significant when he abandons meter and rhyme. Why? My hypothesis is that meter pushes some poets into a rhetorical mode that prevents them from saying what they really want and need to say. It doesn't have to be this way, that's just how it happens in many cases.

Recent deaths. Thom Gunn, with whom I studied very briefly when I was very young. Claude "Fiddler" Williams, Kansas City Jazz legend.

27/4/2004

Is it possible to read too much poetry? I would have to say yes, based on the 50 books I've read in the last few months. But the effect is like drinking too much water. Momentary saturation, but no long term health effects. I'm going back to read poems and plays, essays and novels.
I've looked over my poetry manuscript Minor Poets of the New York School and I like it very much! Not that my own opinion counts for anything, but it wouldn't be a good sign if I hated it.

Autobiography by Tony Towle. Sun, 1977.

This is the last complete book I'm going to read for a while. I'm getting disgusted with my own obsessiveness.

26/4/2004

I'm in a pretty bad state of mind. I don't know what it is about this time of year...
Chimera Song Mosaic"If anyone is doing a panel on the Impossible Situation of Living Far from the Place You Should be Living and Having a Job that is Far from the Job that You Should be Having (in Order to be a Poet—or, let’s say, a Writer) and You Know about It, and Despite Knowing this You Continue to Exist in this State of Frustration, to Put it Mildly, and Do Not Do Anything to Help Your Situation, Despite the Nagging Feeling that You Might Be Purposely Setting Yourself Up for Failure, so that After Failing, You Can Always Say that It Wasn’t Your Fault, that You Tried, that If Only You Had Lived in a Poetic Hotspot, This Wouldn’t Be Happening . . .
Heriberto Yepez, join my panel; Chris Murry, join my panel; Nicole Cordrey, join my panel; Jonathan Mayhew, join my panel; David Hess, join my panel; Kathy Acker, join my panel; who else should join my panel? I know I must be missing someone (and it’s not deliberate at all, only a function of time lack and disorganization, just as the editors claim). Join my panel because I need someone to chair it; it probably shouldn’t be me. Join my panel so that it does not erupt into a narcissistic pity session, the kind that everyone avoids like poison so as not to be infected by that thing that breaks all poets: defeat. "

I don't know what to say...
Clamor by Ann Lauterbach. 1991.

I haven't been able to decide what I think about this book. Was I (am I) missing something?

25/4/2004

Poetry Daily Prose Feature: August Kleinzahler on Garrison Keillor: "No Antonin Artaud with the Flapjacks, Please"

Kleinzahler's bizarre fantasy of forcing Garrison Keillor listen to Albert Ayler reveals more about the reviewer than the one reviewed:

Albert Ayler could only be a tonic for Keillor — a tonic we will force-feed him as they force-feed a goose in Perigord for foie gras — because Ayler's art is opposite to Keillor's shtick.

It's a cultural fantasy--force-feeding the middle-brow NPR with avant-garde art--that ends up reinforcing the worst stereotype of the embittered, would-be experimental poet.
The Midnight by Susan Howe. New Directions, 2003.
I have zero interest in the labels we attach to "avant-garde" or "experimental" or "innovative" poetry. I think it is a wretchedly nominalist way of discussing poetry.

What if innovative poetry is not really all that innovative, because it uses techniques invented 100 years ago? I wouldn't care, because these techniques still work; they are still viable and stimulate my imagination. What if the avant-garde is a militaristic metaphor? Well, I don't really care about that either. Call it what you will, it's still where it's at. You say Wash and I say Warsh, you say Mayer and I say Mayhew, let's call the whole thing off.

If academia has absorbed language poetry, all the better! I am an academic and language poetry makes my life a whole lot more interesting. I don't even care whether you call it language poetry or not or put little equal signs between all the letters. Shakepeare's plays were written by Shakespeare or someone else with the same name.

24/4/2004

The Jim Behrle Show: Get Your Jim On #1

My cartoon would go something like this.

Standing Jim: What do you have for me, I'm running out of material?

Sitting Jim: Management Secrets of the Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara?

Standing Jim: I suppose you've checked with the estate...

Sitting Jim: Oops. We don't want a repeat of the woofle ball situation.

Standing Jim: Never mind, tell me more...

Sitting Jim: Listen to this: make better use of your lunch hours. Go for a walk among the hum-colored cabs.

Standing Jim: I thought I put up a security firewall. Have you been reading Bemsha Swing again?
The Art of Love by Kenneth Koch. 1975.

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I hadn't re-read it in many years, though.

23/4/2004

Eagle's Wing: How Plants Became Green.
The Vermont Notebook by John Ashbery and Joe Brainard. 1975.

A work like this is easy to underestimate. I prefer it to many Ashbery books.
The Harbor Master of Hong Kong, Shroud of the Gnome, Sun, The Little Door Slides Back, Teoría del miedo, Theoretical Objects, Toujours l'amour, Some Other Kind of Mission, Ridge to Ridge, Transmigration Solo, The World Doesn't End, Some Words, Variaciones en blanco, Syntax, La lentitud de los bueyes, Quill Solitary Apparition, Dreaming as One, SPACE, A Boy's Will, Blizzard of One, Gone to Earth, Nadie, A Certain Slant of Sunlight, what is means to be avant-garde, In Memory of My Theories, Sentences, Arboles que ya florecerán, h.j.r., The Fatalist, Shadow Train, Oracle Night


Moly, North of Boston, Response, Own Face, Gone, Freely Espousing, Straits, Noon, Our Selves, Moscow Mansions, Life & Death, The Year of the Olive Oil, Album de vers antiques, the torches, Aleatory Allegories, How to Get Started, How to Keep Going, How to Stop, Noche abierta, The Captain Lands in Paradise, Paradise, Lateness, Lo de ella, La mano muerta cuenta el dinero de la vida, La Source, The Daily Round, Information From the Surface of Venus, My Book, On My Way, Up To Speed, Customs, The Bounty, Breath's Burial, Deer Head Nation

Shall We Gather at the River, A Few Days, Arden las pérdidas, Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, The Crystal Text, Serenade, Planetary Gear, After Lorca, A Burning Interior, The Immoral Proposition, Precedence, Musicality, The Constructor, The Vermont Notebook, The Art of Love, The Midnight, Clamor, Autobiography, Minor Poets of the New York School


The Constructor by John Koethe. 1999.

I notice an Ashbery meme constantly repeated in this book. Mono-syllabic adjective, comma, polysyllabic adjective, polysyllabic noun. I'll make up some examples myself: "flat, noncommittal discernments." "sharp, nonreferential landscapes." Koethe fills his blue, intellectualized ideolect of Ashberyese with an attempt to transcend his own strange, impassive solipsism. I want to say there isn't a physical sensation in the book. (Ok, maybe one or two.) "Mistral" is a brilliant poem. So is the title poem. Koethe does better when he has plenty of space to accumulate his wry, variegated reflections.

Since I read the entire book aloud, I noticed a tendency to string long passages of iambics together, stretching over several lines, and producing almost sing-song effect that cuts across the seemingly more prosaic tone.

22/4/2004

I feel awful today (insomnia last night), and must go and teach some Charles Bernstein essays to some graduate students in 15 minutes. I can't predict their reactions with any accuracy. Will Bernstein provoke loquaciousness or silence in them? The first rule of teaching graduate courses is that the more the students talk, the less you the instructor have to talk. I don't even know if I am articulate today or not. The concept of "frame lock."
I tried to do that 5th sentence on page 23 thing a couple of times, but I always picked up a poetry book that didn't have 5 sentences on page 23.
Geoffrey Nunberg - the language of blogs: "The high, formal style of the newspaper op-ed page may be nobody's native language, but at least it's a neutral voice that doesn't privilege the speech of any particular group or class. Whereas blogspeak is basically an adaptation of the table talk of the urban middle class -- it isn't a language that everybody in the cafeteria is equally adept at speaking."

Huh? The op-ed page of a newspaper doesn't privilege the language of the urban middle class? I think it does. Newpaper editorials tend to be pompous, with a tone of civic-highmindedness that asks for vague, well-meaning assent.

***

I guess I know what he means. The editorial addresses the generic citizen, whereas the blog assumes the reader is part of an ongoing conversation.

21/4/2004

Why apologize for being a poet? None of the rest of you do...
~~ululations~~"When I am deciding which turnstile to walk through at the subway station I look at who is going before me and decide on the basis of 'the person in whose footsteps I would most like to follow.'"

Send your superstitions to Nada.
Musicality by Barbara Guest. Drawings by June Felter. 1988.
The Immoral Proposition by Robert Creeley. Jargon Books, 1953. (Read on cd-rom).

Precedence by Rae Armantrout. Burning Deck, 1985.

20/4/2004

The dullest blog in the world: "I had a mug of coffee sitting on my desk. I reached out my hand and picked up the mug. I took a sip of coffee before returning the mug to it's former position on my desk. "
Poem de uno que pasa by Jorge Riechmann. 2002.
{lime tree}: Enough? Crisis?

There's a discussion going on here about the "Is poetry enough?" event. Not so much the event itself, which I'm sure was extremely worthwhile, but the title and the explanatory justification for this title. I am made nervous by the idea of a "special" role for poetry. As Dave Hess points out in a comment, no other art form is called upon to justify itself in this way. Or, to put it another way: no other art form arrogates to itself the task of being sufficient to solve the world's problems. If only they'd listen to us! The combination of ressentiment and complacency that HG notes in a comment to another post on Lime Tree.

There are two versions of the same fantasy:

1) Poets can abandon their avant-garde pretensions so as to be heard in a larger public sphere.

2) The public can be educated in avant-garde poetics and thus find a politico-cultural salvation.

Yet the underlying fallacy ("unacknowledged legislators" for short) is the same.

***

Update. I take all this back. It seems mean-spirited of me to make these points, somehow. I don't know what I really think anymore.

19/4/2004

WITHOUT WHICH
POEM
SARDINES
FROM THE SPANISH
HIS MASTER’S VOICE
MINOR STUPIDITIES
HOMAGE TO CREELEY (AND KENNETH KOCH)
LATE ASHBERY
TWO FOR WCW
HEROIC COUPLETS
AFTER DUCASSE
THE UNSURE EGOIST
SIMILES
AGAINST TRANSLATION
IN FAVOR OF TRANSLATION
LONG, NARROW POEM
TWELVE POEMS
AFTER DAVID SHAPIRO
POEM OF WHITE THINGS
AWASH IN THIS
I ATTEMPT TO EXPLAIN MYSELF
AVANT-GARDE POETRY BOOTCAMP
THINGS AIN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE
SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY
MINOR POETS OF THE NEW YORK SCHOOL
GREATEST HITS
SEPTEMBER ESSAYS
THE BARBECUE ARTIST: A NOVEL IN VERSE
I DISLIKE CHILLED SOUPS
TWO BY JEAN-PIERRE RESTIF
UNTITLED ORIGINAL

This is my book manuscript so far. I'd actually like to publish it.
A Burning Interior by David Shapiro. 2002.

My response was deeper the second time around with this book, after having read Lateness recently.

18/4/2004

After Lorca by Jack Spicer. 1974.

Most days I'm ending up reading two books of poetry. I'm learning a lot, to say the least. I don't know that I'm reading a whole lot more poetry than I always did--the idea of reading whole books, however, has made the activity more purposeful and easier to track. I'm still reading a quarter or a third of other books as I go along.

I remember people in writing programs when I was younger; it seemed like they only read Norman Dubie and other fairly contemporary poets. Very little poetry of the past. I would feel the same about someone who read mostly poetry by those in their immediate social circle. It's true I haven't gone too far alfield myself in this little experiment I'm trying. I'll have to remedy that somehow.

Another thing: I don't have to worry about whether I like any particular book or not. Even reading a bad book teaches me something. With this attitude I've found surprisingly few duds.
Planetary Gear by Ted Pearson. Roof, 1991.

Another new book (for me) by new poet. It took me about half way through to begin to get it.

17/4/2004

Serenade by Bernard Welt. Z Press, 1979.

Wow, where did this book come from, by poet unkown to me? I bought it because of the publisher. It contains poems dedicated to Bruce Andrews, Brad Gooch, Michael Lally, Terence Winch, Steve Benson. There are things here I really like, but I wonder what ever became of Welt?
The Crystal Text by Clark Coolidge. Sun & Moon. 1986, 1995.

I never mark up my poetry books. Yet I make an exception with Coolidge. I always mark the poems, or sections of poems, that I like the best. Two check marks next to a passage means that I think it truly extraordinary. The Crystal Text is one of my favorite books of all time, and I am constantly marking new passages each time I read it. I can go through again and read only those passages marked twice. The book still has some passages I have a harder time getting through. Yet I wouldn't wish them absent from the book.

16/4/2004

Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts by Jorie Graham. Princeton UP, 1980.

There is some hint of Graham's subsequent verbosity here, though not too much. There is a cool assuredness in her poetry, an emotional guardedness. We sense her fearing to make a poetic "mistake."
Arden las pérdidas by Antonio Gamoneda. 2003.

15/4/2004

I'm still waiting to here back from a certain Language Poet named Ron about an invitation extended a few weeks ago. Maybe he'll read this and be reminded of it.
A Few Days by James Schuyler. Random House, 1985.

I was trying to remember whether I liked The Morning of the Poem slightly better than this collection. I'm having a hard time recreating my excitement when I first read Schuyler. It's more a memory of my earlier affection now.
A conversation with Jean-Pierre Restif

PART ONE

JM: Why did you choose me as your translator. Frankly, my French is not that good.

JPR: ... Yes, but your American is very good. You can reproduce that Ron Padgett tone I am looking for. Only Ron Padgett could translate me better! In fact, your translation comes closer than my "original" to that ideal of "imperfection" I am seeking. That awkward interstice between stiffness and stupidity.

JM: Maybe you can explain your idea of "stupidity" in poetry. As in your line "Il faut payer la taxe de la bêtise..."

JPR: Yes, I view it as a sort of tribute or tax that one must pay.

JM: Irony? Playing the fool?

JPR: Of a sort. One must be very intelligent to pull this off successfully. I did it well in "A Dog Named Illiinois," but "Traduit au Américain" came out badly.

JM: What didn't work in that poem? It was a devil to translate.

JPR: It's not your fault, I assure you. You asked me write a bad poem, but what came out was simply bad. It lacked that lightness of touch. It was heavy, leaden, especially at the end. I ended it in disgust with myself.

JM: Maybe I was pushing you too far in that direction. Protestantism is very dull, both to the French, because it evokes nothing mysterious, and to us, because it is too familiar.

JPR: Yes, I am much more interested in your American Jewish poetry, Shapiro, Warsh, Lopate, Koch. Is Ron Padgett Jewish or Protestant, or maybe Catholic? His father was a bootlegger, no?

JM: We will have to investigate that in the second half of our conversation.

Thoughtful reflections in tympan on the Foetry controversy.
Feeling very retro avant today.

14/4/2004

Another one by Jean-Pierre Restif:

TRADUIT AU AMERICAIN

Joseph Cornell was a Christian Scientist, as was
James Schuyler's mother. How can a Surrealist
be a Protestant? In France
We don't understand Protestantism very well
Despite Gide and Barthes. We are unmoved by it.
Was Beckett a Protestant?
I ask Jonathan about it, my American translator
and friend. He shrugs his shoulders, as though to say
Protestantism is boring. How can he think that?
He gives me a book of Ron Padgett to read,
My favorite American poet; its title is in French.
Why is Ron Padgett your favorite American poet,
asks Jonathan? He taught me imperfection,
I respond. French poetry is too boring, too perfect.
Is Ron Padgett a protestant? Jonathan doesn't know...

Shall We Gather At the River by James Wright. Wesleyan, 1968.

What I find odd, on re-reading this book, is the disjunction between the hobo who is the poetic persona and the oddly stilted poetic diction. Is this meant as a form of campiness? I doubt it; yet that's how I read it now. This allows me to like the book that I disliked the last time I looked at it.

Breath's Burial by Gustaf Sobin. New Directions, 1995.
Deer Head Nation by k. silem mohammad. Tougher Disguises, 2003.



Why do I resist Sobin, find him pretentious, mannered? Is it the lack of humor, of modesty, in his work that turns me off? I would not argue with someone who finds his work compelling. I can certainly appreciate its claims on me, but I still resist it.

On the other hand, I've always gotten Kasey's work. I've had this book for five or six months, and dip into it frequently. I like how a single line works on three or four different levels: as found object, as found object ironized by the poet, as cultural referent, as part of the larger poem, etc...

13/4/2004

I've been getting hits to this blog all day from people searching google "Dr. Seuss Tautology." Some insane teacher has given an assigment, apparently, to find a tautology in Dr. Seuss.

A TAUTOLOGY IS A TAUTOLOGY

DR SEUSS IS DR SEUSS

A PERSON'S A PERSON, NO MATTTER HOW SMALL
Customs by Joseph Duemer. Georgia, 1987.

I came across this book for $3.98. I had to buy it, since I've always enjoyed Joe's blog. When I got it home, I noticed it was a signed, dedicated copy. The sestina "Origins of the Englsh Language" is quite striking.

The Bounty by Myung Mi Kim. Chax, 1996.

I had never read anything by this poet before. I will definitely be reading more.

12/4/2004

I've been thinking a bit about the "Foetry" site. Poets in the mainstream are going to pick manuscripts from Iowa graduates not because of where they got their degrees, but because that program represents the "cutting edge" of the mainstream, if that's not a contradiction in terms. That is to say, there is a basic Iowa style that is renovated every five years or so. Iowa will absorb a little postmodern Ashberyianism, ma non troppo. But they are top dog, "The Yankees," if you follow Jordan's analogy. This is different from out-and-out cronyism, where a teacher will select own student for "open" competition.

The mixture of hard facts and reckless innuendo at the Foetry site is disturbing to me. If Bin Ramke selects Iowa graduates repeatedly for a certain prize, it is probably because that's the kind of poetry he likes. There is no reason to suppose he prefers other mss. but selects the ones from Iowa to curry favor. This sort of elective affinity should be separated from clear cases of conflict of interest.
I've been looking back at old poems on my hard drive. Some I've forgotten I wrote. Others I can't find. Like "The Barbecue Artist, A Novel in Verse." Where is it? If I posted it way back when to the poetics list, I might be able to retrieve it. Otherwise it is lost.

***

Update. I found it; it was part of a cryptically named document: IF new version. I'm not going to post it here.
I'm going to start featuring the work of a poet-friend of mine, Jean-Pierre Restif. Here's a few of his poems. Some he's translated into English (with my help); others he wrote originally in English, with French interjections, which we have not been translated:

A DOG NAMED ILLINOIS

If I had a dog I would name him Illinois

We would go to the park and meet pretty girls

And other pleasant, down-to-earth people

I would not be allergic to him; life would be good

We would listen to NPR and the BBC World Service

And to Illinois Jacquet at JATP

A real cool cat

A dog more cat than wolf



NO MFA PROGRAMS IN FRANCE

In France we have no MFA programs

Instead a young poet will burn down the house of an elder poet

The elder poet will come home to find no home

The young poet will have perfected his art in secret, voici l'essentiel

In French we have a future perfect tense adequate to the task

(Est-ce que vous-avez la même chose en anglais? Mais oui!)

The village elders will emerge from their hovels to judge a drunken poetry contest between the two poets, the loser never to write again

This is a metaphor, we French poets actually disapprove of arson

It's true, though, we have no ateliers to speak of.

The issue is not teachers promoting their students' work. In some sense, they have a responsibility to do so. When people write dissertations with me, I am supposed to help them in their subsequent careers. A teacher should not help a student, however, by choosing his or her work in an open competition requiring an entrance fee. (If Jorie Graham were poetry editor of Iowa University Press and had absolute power to choose whomever she wanted for whatever reason, then the process would be above board.)

11/4/2004

Up to Speed by Rae Armantrout. 2004.

This book makes me feel Armantrout is a real poet and the rest of us (most of us) are amateurs. It is just so polished and consistently well written--and interesting.


Faux Press, 2004.

I especially liked the concluding essay, "The End of New England." Myles is a poet I'm liking more and more.

10/4/2004

My Book by Jim McCrary. 2003.

Jim is a local Lawrence poet who may be known to some of you. This book is really a single poem, privately printed. It's some of his best work.

Information From the Surface of Venus by Lewis Warsh. United Artists, 1987.

This book seems even better now than the first time I read it. The first time I might have "discounted" it a little, seeing as more uneven in quality. Now I endorse it whole-heartedly.
Only rich white men disdain the confessional

Rich white men write experimental poetry on their yachts

The cretin arguing this resorts to irrelevant Asian-American stereotypes

Much to the dismay of Tim Yu and me

I am instructed to vacuum a hardwood floor; instead I use a broom and then a mop

Another day, water gushes down the street from a broken main, toward the storm drain; I call the water company

An Asian-American Robert Lowell jumps out of a Kung Fu movie to kick our asses

Or so we fear; not me though


8/4/2004

I also bought a book by Gustav Sobin for 98c. I haven't read it yet, though. Maybe tonight. Better yet, maybe I'll go back and see if there's anything I missed yesterday at Half Priced Books.
The Daily Round by Phllip Lopate. Sun, 1976.

I got this one for a dollar-ninety-eight when I picked up the Shapiro. I knew Lopate previously only from None of the Above. The Daily Round is a very wise and funny book. I looked up him up on Amazon and found that he's done quite a bit. Elizabeth Horath once owned this book.
Paradise by Ron Silliman. 1985.

I love this book. Palatino is one of my favorite fonts, and the book is beautifully printed. I don't know why the copyright page gives his birth as 1935, when it should be 1946. It is a perfect book to read in one sitting; while seemingly disjointed, it does provide a unified reading experience.

Lateness by David Shapiro. 1977. 1980.

I gasped audibly when I found this book in a bookstore here in Lawrence for $7. Luckily no one heard me. It is a hard book to find. Even though this was the paperback reprinting and not the first edition I felt very fortunate. The emotion of finding it carried through into the reading. "Devil Trill Sonata" is truly a great poem. I read the whole book through in one long sitting, even though i had read the Silliman in the afternoon. I also read two other shorter books of Spanish poetry and Raymond Roussel's La Source yesterday.

7/4/2004

Eileen writes to point out that my walls are unadorned. Indeed they are. I should put up that Miles Davis poster I bought a few years ago.

On a related note, from the email inbox: "I am showing the photo of your cluttered blogging den to my wife to show her that (other) respectable people also live like blogging cave bears: it's called 'creative chaos.'"
A New Broom has some comments and questions about my book a day project, which I began in February. (I don't have a proper name to associate with this blog.) Longer works can be accomodated by counting them on the day I happen to finish them. I've skipped some days, it's true, but there have also been days I've read two or three books. Another rule is that no author can be repeated in each group of 30 or so books. I am still reading some poetry the old way--isolated poems here or there. Sometimes I'll start a book and read about half of it.

An ancillary goal is to write a prose-poem consisting of the titles of all the books I've read. I am constantly updating this text and putting it on the top of the blog.

I've read some Franz Wright poems. He's not bad, given that the Pulitzer has to go to someone of that ilk. "My name is Franz and I'm a recovering asshole." (That's an actual quote, and quite funny.) He's had to deal with being James Wright's son. That's a lot of baggage.

They're not going to give it to Barbara Guest or Clark Coolidge; that's just a given. I'll have to check; I think the last P-Prize I approved of whole-heartedly was James Schuyler.
The Captain Lands in Paradise by Sarah Manguso. Farmington, Maine: Alice James Books, 2002.

A nicely designed book, aside from the 7-point type, hard on my 43-year-old eyes. The mode is mostly third-generation deep-image Iowa, with some New York school whimsy: "A girl walks up the dunes with the aid of a cane, trying not to get sand in her heart. All around her, very beautifully, houses fall in the ocean and disappear." "At a party in January an entire shelf of books / fell on some teenagers. // They weren't expecting it. / They found it delightful and newsworthy." I found the book as a whole charming and true to its self.

6/4/2004

Mexico: The Web Log as Literary Genre | Blogalization
Noche abierta by Hugo Mujica. Pretextos 1999.

A very nice, gentle book by an Argentine poet I met in Spain a few years ago.

4/4/2004



Here I am blogging in my office last week. Picture by JD.
How to Get Started, How to Keep Going, How to Stop by Jordan Davis. Unpublished book ms.

I got to read this and the Susan Schultz book on the same day. Sundays can be good.
Aleatory Allegories by Susan M. Schultz. 2000.

I've never actually owend a book by Schultz up to this point. This book is very substantial, almost meaty in texture. I love those shifts of attention from one line, one image, to the next, especially in the longer poems.
Meeting someone who says: "Oh, you're that email person."
The Susan M. Schultz, Mary Jo Bang reading at the City Museum last night was well attended. Probably a lot of WashU students there to see Mary Jo. I had Susan sign some books for me. Aloha. Had a conversation with David Hess afterwards by the bonfire about Ted Berrigan. Aaron Belz told me he just passed his PhD exams at SLU. Next year the readings will be in a less hostile environment. Perhaps the new museum of contemporary art?

Took Julia to baseball practice this morning. She loves the game. If I didn't have a kid I probably wouldn't even own a baseball glove.

Did you see the letter to the editor by Henry Gould in the New York Times Magazine this morning?

3/4/2004

I'll see you at the Susan Schultz reading in a couple hours. I think I'll bring Julia with me.

2/4/2004



Left to right: Stan Lombardo, Ken Irby, Jordan Davis, Judy Roitman. Photo by JM.
I hadn't really thought about Berrigan's sonnets when beginning my "100 Trillion Poems." I was thinking mainly of Queneau...

1/4/2004



Another photo by JD.


A photo taken by Jordan Davis in Kansas on his recent visit.
I have a new blog (temporary I hope):

One Hundred Trillion Poems

This is the poem mentioned on Nick's blog, if you got here from there. I'm not trying to upstage Million Poems. As Jordan pointed out to me, it's cheating anyway.
the torches by James Tate. Unicorn Press, 1968, 1971.

I have affection for this book, having purchased it at Serendipity Books in Berkeley for $2 when I was 15 or 16, when Tate used to be a better poet. Sure, it has some corny "deep images," but also some wacky humor, not too jaded, as Tate later became.
Whose birthday is it today?:

"Blue Windows, blue rooftops
and the blue light of the rain,
these contiguous phrases of Rachmaninoff
pouring into my enormous ears
and the tears falling into my blindness

for without him I do not play,
especially in the afternoon
on the day of his birthday. Good
Fortune, you would have been
my teacher and I your only pupil

and I would always play again.
Secrets of Liszt and Scriabin
whispered to me over the keyboard
on unsunny afternoons! and growing
still in my stormy heart.

Only my eyes would be blue as I played
and you rapped my knuckles,
dearest father of all the Russias,
placing my fingers
tenderly upon your cold, tired eyes."

April 1, 1954.
Album de vers antiques by Paul Valéry.

This was a lot of fun to read, especially since I didn't understand all of it. The poem "Eté" [summer] is full of a romantic effusiveness that I don't associate with Valéry.