30 nov 2007

Working at least two hours a day for four months (122 days in this case) did produce five chapters of a book plus an introduction, leaving me three chapters and a conclusion to go. And I still have December left. My concentration got better over the course of the August-November period, so I can actually get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time.

I know most people don't have two hours a day for four or five months straight. I'm very lucky to have an NEH Fellowship this year. If you are on the tenure track or tenured at a research university, you are actually supposed to be working 40% of your active working time on research (where I work at least). So even if you only worked a 40 hour week (you'll be doing much more usually), that amounts to sixteen hours a week. So what I'm suggesting is a 14 hours minimum: two hours seven days a week, which is two hours less than sixteen. But I'm assuming that you do that through the summer too, not just during your 9-month appointment.

The problem with the school year is that service, supposedly 20%, takes up more than eight hours a week. and teaching, another 40% takes more than sixteen, assuming I am in class six hours and reading for class, preparing, grading, and dealing with the students for more than 10 hours each week.

In addition, I personally need several hours a day for reading, thinking, blogging, etc... that has nothing to do with research, teaching, or service in any MEASURABLE way. I need to read the New York Review of Books, poetry outside my "field," Andrew Shields' and Joseph Duemer's blog, etc... I need to read things in my field even if I will never do "research" on them or use them in my teaching. Not wasted time at all but time that is not counted as "productive." If I hadn't been doing that kind of "work" I would never have written the book on Lorca, because I wouldn't have had that idea without letting my mind wander for hours wherever it wants to. I'm sure every other academic in the world feels the same need.

So when I get back to "work" after my lazy year, I'm going to have to readjust my system a bit. I've always been bad at time management because I've never known where work ends and where the thinking, reading, "idle' time starts.
Is tautology objectionable because it is uninformative or because it is fallacious?
Now I'm starting a chapter called "Lorca par lui-même." As of now I have a lot of paragraphs most of which seem to be repetitions of each other. I was apparently writing down my ideas in the document without realizing that I already written the same ideas in a different form.

The idea is sketch out my own ideas about Lorca before I talk about " Lorca and..." in the rest of the book.

I always liked the illusory sense given by that French series "Rimbaud p-l-m," "Racine p-l-m." etc... That illusory sense of getting the author in the author's own words. Barthes played with that when he himself wrote a book called "Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes." There may even be a book called "Lorca par lui-meme." I'll have to check amazon.fr.

"Selected works" are just as tendentious as critical studies. They impose a certain agenda.

28 nov 2007

I need a little arrogance--as a necessary fiction--in order to write. Being genuinely excited by my own ideas. I need to get in the mind frame of thinking that I'm terribly intelligent in order to make the ideas flow. (Call it the Coleman Hawkins effect.) Then if the results actually do turn out well, all the better. The alternative is that it won't get written at all. I can't write from a position of non-confidence because the prose won't come out that way. It not only won't turn out well, it won't exist in the first place.

Revision entails a similar attitude. I see something very inadequate I've written, and I know that I can revise it into something much better. In fact, I can even be arrogant about my ability to see how bad something is I've done the day before.

These comments are in reference to critical prose, not the writing of poetry which is something a bit different.

27 nov 2007

The indifferent wind ran through the Aeolian saw-blades of the former mill-town. Thick wet mud left only a few roads passable in the surrounding countryside. Big-boned, intrepid Anna braved narrow gravel passageways to deliver firewood and sarcastic cheer to the acne-scarred denizens of Acacia Country. They bought their guitar magazines and treatises on apophatic theology in the convenience store run by the unenigmatic Miles. Taking off her gloves, Anna answered his muttered greeting with a withering look--there was no other kind of "look" in the county, no other kind of "greeting" for that matter.

Artificial owls, an ineffective deterrent to English Sparrows, guarded garages and carports. A stranger finding himself unexpectedly in these environs might well be struck by the material and aesthetic impoverishment of the population. Garden-gnomes, rusted pickups, the aforementioned plastic owls, the aforementioned guitar magazines, seemed designed by some callous creator to present the image of a non-too-genteel indigence. Or maybe not... The marijuana farms, the artisanal distilleries, the mountain bike trails (when the mud dries out enough to make them usable), narrate a different account, for the more astute oberver, attuned to the allusive repartee of those browsing the wares in Miles' establishment. Two or three weeks suffices to gain a superficial appreciation of the difficulty of the problem. It was three or four months after my own arrival, in fact, that I realized ...

26 nov 2007

I had a Creeleyesque idea the other day which is that I can only inhabit a single day. I can inhabit another day at some other time, but only one at a time. It was a strange perception in its obviousness. Everybody knows this, so to picture it as an epiphany seems odd, but it felt like that to me.

Now I don't feel this way about, say, an hour, or a minute, or a week or month or year. It is the day that is the temporal dwelling place, the time that can be inhabited at one stretch. Maybe that's what makes it untrivial.

Why does it seem Creeleyesque to me? It seems to me that that is what he is constrantly trying to get at. That "phenomenological" sense of being aware of being alive in a certain frame.
Tonight I made a pretty decent chicken curry by putting in the blender a clove of garlic, about the same amount of ginger (if ginger came in cloves...), a small onion, 4 oz. of tomato sauce, a red bell pepper, some ground cumin and garam masala, sauteeing the resulting paste in some oil and butter, and then adding a little water, some cut-up boneless pieces of chicken and a small container of plain yogurt. Salt to taste and cook until the chicken is done. It would be good with about a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper or even more but I didn't add it because I was trying to reproduce a restaurant dish that my daughter had liked which was quite mild. I didn't need to put as much water as I did. The sauce was thin but the leftovers should be fine.

I also cooked up some orange lentils with a little turmeric, black mustard seeds, nappa cabbage, and ginger for a nice soup.


The other lentil soup I like involves making a "sofrito" first by sauteeing onions, garlic, and bell peppers in OLIVE OIL in the bottom of a pressure cooker, then adding brown lentils, water, a carrot or two sliced up, and the normal bay leaf, salt, pepper, etc... Pressure cook for 20 minutes, then, when you can open the contraption, add some cut-up baby spinach and cook till that is wilted. It makes a very substantial meal with some bread.


Someone in line in the farmer's market told Akiko to cook swiss chard in a little olive oil, chopped garlic, and raisins. That is very easy and we've been eating that lately.

I made a kind of relish last week by sauteeing tiny pieces of fresh poblano peppers with diced onions and a dash of cumin. It is good on burritos. You want to use twice as much poblano pepper as onion. It's one of those "3 ingredient recipes."


My recipes never have quantities. I rarely look at a cook book when I am cooking something I basically know how to make.
What ever happened to Conrad Aiken? He won all the awards back in his day. Yesterday I played apophatic bookstore for a spell before falling asleep. I also tried to look at my bookshelf at home when I was a kid, where a copy of the Preludes was almost certainly present. Maybe being born in the 1880s Aiken suffered comparisons with Stevens, Eliot, Williams, Pound, H.D., Moore, Stein, Cummings. There doesn't seem much room for a minor modernist.

To play "apophatic bookstore," you simply close your eyes and visit a bookstore in which you once spent a considerable amount of time but which no longer exists, or which you no longer have access to. You wander up and down the stacks and look for books that you might have once browsed through there. I had very specific images last night of books by Kafka and my first glimpse of Magritte. I have spent a good part of my life in bookstores.

25 nov 2007

Real insomniacs have already played any game I might invent. Maybe they should be games for aspiring insomniacs.
Alfred A. Knopf himself, personally, rejected Langston Hughes' translation of Romancero gitano (Gypsy Ballads) in the late 1940s. Literary history would have been different if this book was accepted. It finally appeared only as a chapbook by the Beloit Poetry review in the early 1950s. Imagine what impact it would have made as a trade book by a major NY publisher?
I'm working on more games for insomniacs--"The Apophatic Bookstore," "Symphony Orchestra," "Chicken Farm."

"Cento" is one I've used myself. You simply keep a steady stream of famous lines of poetry, or lines you've memorized in the past, going for as long as you can in your mind. You can use single lines, fragments, or whole poems, and break off a fragment whenever you wish and go on to something else.

Unlike "The Complete Sentence Game" Cento is not theoretically infinite. At a certain point you will run out of poetry to recite to yourself in your head. You will never run out of sentences.

"Sentence Fragment" resembles The Complete Sentence Game except you can freely intersperse fragments of sentences. Like this one. Or this one. Make sure you come to a full stop, marking the end of the fragment with a mental period.
Why I am not a Lorquista

I am very bad at interpreting symbols in poetry. For example, today I was reading some articles that explained why Lorca had put in certain animals in a very difficult poem. There were plausible explanations for the langosta, but the explanations seemed equally possible for the langosta as "lobster" and the langosta as "locust." I found myself not caring too much. The more clever the interpretation of the symbol, the more distance traveled between the natural object, its more or less "transparent" sense, and its symbolic interpretation, the less convincing it is. Yet some degree of doing this is necessary to interpret and understand some Lorca poems.

Maybe I am not interested in "symbols" in poetry in the first place. I don't see poetry as a process of encoding ideas in symbols that the reader then must decode. I understand why anyone who is taught that this is what poetry is might grow up to hate poetry.

Maybe that's why I'm not a "real" Lorca scholar. I am not ever confident ever that my particular take on a poetic symbol is the correct one. There are people who are really good at this and come up with convincing, coherent readings. But there are also those who strain credulity.
I finished a chapter on Rothenberg today. I now have the "core" section of the book done: chapters 4-8 on deep image, Creeley/Spicer, O'Hara, Koch, and Rothenberg. Now I will start on the introduction in earnest.


I've also been riding my bike for about an hour a day. (Except for today and tomorrow with the rain!) I've ridden most every day since I got the bike on October 1. It hasn't rained much, hasn't been that cold yet either, so I've missed only a few days due to horrific allergic reactions to mold and a brief trip to Virginia. It seems to help the writing quite a bit to also be quite physically active.

22 nov 2007

Mayhew is almost a caricature of the type! And I don't mean that negatively. It's that dissonant combination of openness and rigor--holding the tension!. Yes--that's what it's all about--holding the tension. He's amazing--such sharply formulated opinions and yet... he doesn't know what he's going to like till he sees it! So that what he likes, you can trust comes, not from abstractions imposed on what he reads, but from what he discovers from his reading, in the reading. To me, that frees me to both listen deeply to his opinions, and at the same time, never feel obliged to be beholden to them--or to believe he would respect anyone who did.

I wish I were as rigorous as Jacob thinks I am. Sometimes I do know what I like or dislike in advance, though I try not to. And for me the openness is the rigor, in a sense. Or the rigor is in the openness. The fighting against one's dogmatic tendencies.

While the praise is a bit over the top, I do feel that this is perceptive comment on the whole; it rings true with me. I've often felt I'm wired differently from a lot of other literary critics, and this comment "pone el dedo en la llaga" [nails it].

21 nov 2007

Now a languid, unjazzlike, barely listenable "Greensleeves." Yuck. What a sad decline.
Blawking the Hawk, Belabouring the Bean

Now Phil Schaap is giving one of his notoriously long spiels. He is certainly knowledgeable, probably more than anyone alive on this subject, though given to incredible long-windedness and making rather obvious statements. He also doesn't realize that just because he knows some piece of trivia, does not make that trivia significant to any else. Play some music, Phil!
The best solo I've heard today was on "I'm in the Mood For Love." Hawkins with Eldridge, Teddy Wilson...
Blahgging the Hahk

I've heard more this morning, somewhat distractedly as I was writing about something unrelated at the same time.

More thoughts:

Aside from sheer power and confidence, his playing has a kind of exuberance, even at a slow tempo. It's a "Here, let me show you what I can do" feeling. The virtuosity is not over the top in a showy way. A lot of it just having that big sound.

He has a particular rhythmic and harmonic vocabulary over which he has total control. He knows every note of every chord and will play it too. He doesn't need to strain for effects, just step slightly harder on the gas pedal when he needs to.

He plays his style. It's improvisation, yes, one of the first great examples of that in jazz history. But it's not Lee Konitz style improvisation in which there is an emphasis on the purity of the process, the avoidance of pre-established licks and formulas. It's very formulaic in fact. That's part of what gives it it's feeling of self-confident ease, maybe. (Feel free to disagree; I feel my insights are still incomplete here.)

He also has the quality of "tastiness" to which I'd like to devote a treatise. Kind of like umami for the ear. Harold Land has it too.


Coleman Hawkins preferred to have a guitar in the rhythm section for a "fatter" sound.

20 nov 2007

Bloggin' the Bean

Now the Coleman Hawkins event has started for sure. I just heard a track with Roy Eldridge, Curly Russell, Art Blakey, Horace Silver. Blakey has a killer bass drum thump. It's not a little 18" polite jazz bass drum sound.

I'll be blogging this event as it occurs. I have to sleep, eat, shop, and work too so I won't be able to listen to all 24 hours of it.

My first thought is that Hawk is not an over-subtle artist: he makes a supremely self-confident statement in every solo. (Maybe my idea will change as I listen.)

Secondly: he fits in well with the bebop rhythm section. He is one of the great artists of the 40s, though his roots are in earlier jazz.

Now he's playing Rodgers and Hart's "Blue Room." It ends with a big Blakey buzz roll. (It's a live Birdland date.)


Now "Stuffy," a song I know from another recording. Hawk plays four choruses. He basically just plows forward, straight ahead, increasing intensity gradually through the beginning of the fourth chorus, then easing up a bit.

Roy Eldridge's solo uses very similar phrasing to Hawkins. Now they are trading fours with Blakey. Those must be calfskin heads tuned low.


The WKCR announcer said it was Connie Kay on drums? But the club announcer said Blakey I'm pretty sure. And it sounded a whole lot more like Blakey to me.


Now we'll hear Bean with Ben Webster, Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis.

Hawkins solos first, on a slow-to-medium blues. He signals intensity with timbre and pitch, not by playing faster.

Now the sweeter Webster. The ideas are not too creative here!

Now Mr. P. He just fills the space in without doing much. Not an impressive track.


"It Never Entered my Mind." Another Rodgers and Hart ballad. A nice paraphrase/statement of the melody, by breathy Ben Webster, then Hawkins steps in. The rhythm section is a bit clunky. Something doesn't feel quite right.

Stay tuned...
They are doing their Coleman Hawkins celebration on WKCR in New York, which I am listening to streaming over the net. I thought it was tomorrow but it is already going on, apparently, because I just heard an umistakeable Hawkins solo. It's hard to believe Stan Getz and Coleman Hawkins play the same instrument.

19 nov 2007

I haven't been playing the complete sentence game much lately. I'm falling asleep too fast maybe.

Here's another one, called "walking out of the house and going down the street."

Close your eyes. Now, in as much visual detail as you can muster and in real time, or as close at you can get to it, go out of a house in which you lived as a child and walk down the street. Take note of everything you see. See how far you can get (walking or on your bicycle) from your house. Visit a park or a school. Try to fill in the spatial gaps if you can. ( Slowing yourself down helps quite a bit.) Try to have a conversation with a person you encounter--though I myself tend to find the streets empty of people as I play this game.

Now do the same with the place you live now. Leave the house or apartment in your mind's eye and get in your car or on your motorcycle and leave. Where can you go while keeping a consistent visual image. If it takes you twenty minutes to drive to Powell Symphony Hall, for example, you should try to make this trip last twenty minutes in your mind's eye.

Another variation on this is to move through the rooms of a childhood house, examining the objects you find there. You can open books you find on the shelf there and read them...

(You, like my students, probably think I am mildly insane.)
On a good day of writing I make discernible progress on a specific chapter, and the light-bulb is flashing with good ideas every 15 minutes or so. There are some sentences I am happy with.

On a normal day, words are added to the word-count. Some progress is made toward completion of something. The passive voice is abused.

On a below average day, I have the satisfaction of keeping the project going, even without making very great progress.

So there are really no bad days.

18 nov 2007

That doesn't mean after the translator has gotten within 95% of the norm the work is done. No. That's when the significant differences occur. A translation could be grotesque or wonderful and still fall within that range. What it means is that the main issues will have to do with acceptability within the target literary culture.

Let's look at an example, the opening of a Lorca poem:

Aquellos ojos míos de mil novecientos diez
no vieron enterrar a los muertos,
ni la feria de ceniza del que llora por la madrugada,
ni el corazón que tiembla arrinconado como un caballito de mar.

--FGL, "1910"


Those eyes of Nineteen-Ten, my very eyes,
saw no dead man buried,
no ashen bazaars of dawn's mourners
nor the heart, in its recess, like sea-horses, wavering.

Statman and Medina from the most recent APR

My eyes in 1910
never saw the dead being buried
or the ashen festival of a man weeping at dawn,
or the heart that trembles cornered like a seahorse.

What is the variance between those two versions, and the variance between either of them and Lorca's stanza? Belitt might not even reach the 95% standard. He's at about 92% maybe. Statman and Medina are at about 97%. (These percentages have no real quantitative meaning; I'm just using them as a way of communicating my own judgment.) The only thing that they leave out, in semantic terms is the demonstrative force of "aquellos ojos míos..." I'm not saying that 100% is ideal, either. Look how Belitt, in trying to keep both the demonstrative adjective "aquellos" and the emphatic force of the accented "míos," totally fucks up the line in rhythmic terms. In fact, he seems to be trying for a padded iambic pentameter there.

So the superiority of the Statman/Medina version is not that extra 7 percentage points of accuracy. I don't really care that Belitt switched a plural for a singular and a singular for a plural, that Statman/Medina intensify a "did not" to a "never."

No. The superiority is in a better feel for the text, better rhythm and diction. Would I have translated this the way Medina/Statman do? No. But that is because I am a different translator. My version might be closer or further from the norm, i.e. the average of linguistically competent translators.

17 nov 2007

I love wire brushes because of the textural dimension and dynamic potential. The take trap drumming a step toward hand drumming, in the variety of available sounds. There's a horizontal movement in place of the mostly vertical, up and down dimension of sticks. There's also a sensuality there. Metal on skin. I had a lesson just on brushes today and I got a lot of good metaphors for poetry out of it. Hopefully I'll be able to play them more convincingly too.

"Conviene percutir"

I've always like that line by Valente. (It behooves {you} to percuss)

Brushes are only part percussive, the other part being frictional. That's where the sensuality comes in.

They work at fast tempos too.

16 nov 2007

More tips on finishing your novel or dissertation

If you are traveling and having a hard time sitting down at the computer, bring a legal pad and just brainstorm for as long as you can. You will keep up the continuity with your project and also refresh yourself by working in a different context/medium. Or print out previous work and bring it along so you can edit it. Don't say it is impossible to work without every single piece of research material on hand.

I find it useful to write in the morning and then at some point in the afternoon have a planning session--away from the computer-- in which I think about what I am going to do the next day and week and jot down a few notes--which I never look at the next day.

If you absolutely must skip a day of work, make sure you don't think about your work AT ALL. Just start a new cycle the next day.
Mayhew's 153rd idea about translation

Once a translation falls within an acceptable range of semantic accuracy, then the main issues remaining to be discussed will have to do with the target language and culture, not the source text and its traditions, etc...

An acceptable range of accuracy could be defined as something reasonably close to the "consensus" translation as defined by the most frequent translation of any given phrase or sentence arrived at by at least half a dozen competent translators. In other words, a translation is faithful if it does not diverge from the norm by more than 5% or so.

After a certain point, any quibbles and arguments have to be considered in relation to the needs and desires of those reading the translation. It won't do any good to evoke one translator's superior knowledge of Chinese, or Russian if the two translations being compared are, semantically, not-all-that-far-apart.

So once a translator is satisfied that the semantic part is present and accounted for, he or she should not go back to the original much.

The alternate view, which I am rejecting at least provisionally, would be that the translator's goal is to get closer and closer to the original, making a version more perfect than the simple consensus view.
Data Laundering

The dryer had some kind of object in it which was making a clanking noise, as though I had left a fingernail clipper or a quarter in my pants pocket. So I opened the dyer and found... a Kingston data drive that I had been missing since coming back from Virginia. Very dry, the one where I store a backup of my entire Lorca book. Doesn't matter, since I have everything backed up on Kingston Data Stick #2.

But I was curious, so I took #2 off the USB port and attached #1 (very clean and dry) to the port. Opened up a Lorca chapter... and my data was still there, seemingly unscathed after having been washed and dried.

Greek Salad: Green leaf lettuce, pitted Calamata olives, red onion, crumbled feta, vinagrette.

Gambas al ajillo: Shrimp sauteed with garlic in olive oil, with a little salt and paprika, a little white wine added in at the end.
To celebrate the completion of another chapter this morning, this one on the shallow image, I took my longest ride today since I was a teenager. 18 miles give or take a few. From my house in Olivette MO to Washington University, around the 7-mile Forest Park bike trail, and back home. My legs do feel like I have biked 18 miles, but I am not particularly tired otherwise. I stopped twice for about 20 mintues each time, once to eat lunch and once for a latte near Wash U before heading home. Perfect biking weather of 50 degrees, wind from the South at about 15 mph.

15 nov 2007

Harold Bloom seems to be praising Robert Alter's Psalms in the New York Review of Books this week, but actually he is saying that Alter's translations do not hold up to previous translations, that they are the translations of a scholar not a poet. All the lavish praise at the beginning of the review, you know it's not going to end well.

And Harold has been fretting for years about the lack of significant Jewish contribution to American culture? What about Benny Goodman, Stan Getz? Saul Bellow and Philip Roth? Malamud? Harold Arlen and Kenneth Koch? Jerome Rothenberg? Allen Ginsberg? How about Zukofsky? Larry Rivers? I could go on and on though for some strange reason only the names of men are occuring to me right now...

12 nov 2007

I met two people in one day in Charlottesville who, completely independently of each other, had translated Creeley into Spanish--Pieces in one case and Life and Death in the other. How's that for a convergence? I kept waitng to meet Creeley's third translator. One of these is Marcos Canteli, a grad. student at Duke and friend of Tony Tost. The other, Alan Smith, a friend of my wife's whom I had never met myself and knew only by name as a scholar of 19th century Spanish novel.

My friend the Spanish poet Juan Carlos Mestre was there too. I gave my talk on Lorca and Frank O'Hara.

7 nov 2007

I'm headed to Charlottesville for an hispanic poetry conference at UVA. I'm hoping my Seinfeld streak is not broken by travel. I'm 99 days into it now. If I can get through this trip I'll be set until December.

I'm about a week from completing this chapter on deep image poetry. I'll have a bit to say about Robert Bly, then about Rothenberg's Lorca Variations.

Bly is on record as saying

"... the younger poets, in failing to attack Merwin, or Rich, or Levertov, or me, or Ginsberg, or Simpson, or Hall, or Ed Dorn, are not doing their job."

[emphasis added]

So quite literally, HE'S ASKING FOR IT. Though I've decided to blunt my attack somewhat. It isn't the main focus of my book.

Then I'll have to find a way of finessing the JR issue.

4 nov 2007

Just when I thought of Creeley as sentimental I come across

"Between what was
and what might be
still seems to be
a life"


"Gods one would have
hauled out like props"


"When the world has become a pestilence..."

"the ridiculous small places
of the patient hates"

"Oh dull edge of prospect"

or maybe

"Shuddering racket of
air conditioner's colder

than imagined winter.."

A rigorously unsentimental view of life, really. Not every poem is of the "magnitude" of Creeley's "major" early lyrics, the ones everyone knows.

But part of that is a sense of limitation, of measure. There are no easy epiphanies to be had.

Anyway, Creeley turns the idea of being "major" on its head, as in the poem "EPIC"

"Wanting to tell
a story,
like hell's simple invention, or
some neat recovery

of the state of grace,
I can recall lace curtains,
people I think I remember,
Mrs. Curley's face."

What is the yardstick? Can Creeley's Minimus Poems be "greater" than Olson's Maximus? Isn't funny how greatness implies a sense of scale, of sheer size? Like Creeley's poem for Berrigan that does acknowledge that size and scale of a different kind of writer...

What's the rap on Creeley?: domestic, trivial, self-indulgent, dull, no "images," or uninteresting ones, weak sense of narrative, stuttering, strained, limited and minimalistic--too "theoretical," too involved with the sense of writing itself. Yet each of many separate instances gives the lie to all that.

3 nov 2007

Today I'm making a Boatman's Stew.

Boil some water, and while the water boils

Take some cod (1/2 pound per person) and lay it in the bottom of a different saucepan.

Add to the pot with a the fish: a bay leaf, some salt and pepper, a little white wine, a T of olive oil, cayenne pepper to taste

some chopped celery, tomatoes, onion, garlic, bell peppers, parsley, a smallish potato, etc...

With all of the above there in your pot, with the cod at the bottom, pour the boiling water over it till everthing is covered and switch it to the burner that is already hot from boiling your water. Cook 45-60 minutes over medium heat. There will be a tasty broth filled with fish and whatever else you put into it.

This dish cannot fail with high quality ingredients.

Eat with a little fresh bread.

2 nov 2007

I wrote a letter to The New York Review of Books about the Simic / Creeley review. Very moderate in tone. It basically says "I'd love to show Simic my 400 pages of Creeley." I doubt they will publish it because they get "thousands of letters."


Certain of us need the Creeleyesque. Sometimes for me it's an actual physical craving I get on occasion for that particular tone, that "insistence," to use a word he himself might use. It's a language that without him would not exist, an idiolect. For me, unoriginal poet, it's a useful register to be able to call upon. Creeleytude, Creeleytas.


Certain others are Creeley skeptics, the way I am a Duncan skeptic. The skeptics say that it is dull (Berryman), that there's nothing there. There's probably nothing to be done--in the sense that a justification not immanent to the work itself will not convince. It is an immanent sort of thing. The Creeley skeptics are not less cultivated, less intelligent, or less anything else. They are just less in need of what Creeley offers. It's there in just a few words, recognizable

"Most explicit--
the sense of trap"

1 nov 2007

This woman, tonight, read every line of her poetry with the exact same (monotonous) intonation and (loud) volume, whatever nuance or emotional tone the line should have had, way too loud into a microphone, in a high-pitched screech. (Did I mention she was LOUD?) Stephen Schroeder and I were sitting in the back listening to this. The thing was, the poems themselves were very good, if you listened through the reading, not to the reading. They were funny. The other two readers I'd prefer not to comment on. At least Ms. Screecher had good poems.

I hate poetry readings.
It takes Ron about 4,000 words to twist around what should have been a positive--The Hat is a good magazine, good poems and poets, clearly defined editorial agenda--into a negative. With some misdirection about fonts (what's a "san seraph" by the way? I've never heard of that category of fonts! something to do with a lack of angels?), the lack of contributor notes, alphabetial order, etc.., a little slight of hand, he ends up with the conclusion that the strength of the magazine is really a weakness. Ok... if you so say so.

I'm totally biased, of course, since I am a Hat contributor. I think it's pound-for-pound about the best publication that's out there. That's the only criterion that matters. The more you overthink it, the less clear you will be on that.