Saturday, December 31, 2005
I took notes during all the readings, they are full of substantive comments, and also comments on what everyone was wearing. I do not think I will post them. Not all of them anyway.
Lester peeps out! I just woke up and so I am sleepy.
Monday, December 26, 2005
My mom has FIVE books by Paul Bowles on her shelf--and everyone thinks I'm the weirdo of the family (note to mom, this is a compliment). This (the books on the shelf) has something to do with why I am an artist, writer, whatever.
I also am tempted to borrow The Rape of the Fly: Explorations in New Guinea, by John Goode, about Luigi Maria D'Albertis and Lawrence Hargrave's violent journey in the 1870s up 580 miles of the Fly River in what is now Papua new Guinea.
The OK Tedi (in, on, through which the OK Tedi mine is located,) flows into the Fly. Tabubil didn't exist then, though there were of course plenty of people living in the area, but D'Albertis and Hargrave did go through Teleformin, which is north and quite a bit east of Tabubil.
Here I Am says Paul Bowles.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
I have always enjoyed taking pictures of feet. I have many pictures of my own feet, since not everyone likes having their feet photographed. It's a little personal.
It's true that the beach and the ocean are beautiful and their sound is theraputic, etc.
Recent thinking/talking about fire: the Christmas tree might catch on fire. Did you see the building in town that burned down? That building looks like it deffinitely caught fire. The lamp is old and might catch fire and burn the house down. The live wires might and do burn things down. Did you hear the sirens? I must have lost it in the fire. I did loose it in the fire. Is something burning? What's burning? If my childhood mementos had all burned up, I'd probably be hyper aware, too.
Still writing a poem for the mlaaaah reading next week. I'd like to make things. Not that a poem isn't a think and writing isn't making.
Thursday December 29th at 7 PM
The mom-poets discussion list presents:
Julie Carr, Lisa Fishman, Christine Hume, Kristin Prevallet, Elizabeth Robinson, Kathrine Varnes, Catherine Wagner, Rebecca Wolff
This reading immediately precedes the DC Poets MLA Multi-Poet Extravaganza readubg 8 PM in the same space.
- Jean Donnelly
- Buck Downs
- Cathy Eisenhower
- Heather Fuller
- Lorraine Graham
- Dan Gutstein
- Chris Nealon
- Mel Nichols
- Tom Orange
- Phyllis Rosenzweig
- Jessica Smith
- Rod Smith
- Ward Tietz
- Ryan Walker
- Mark Wallace
The DC Arts Center is located at 2438 18th Street NW, just south of Columbia Road in the heart of the Adams Morgan neighborhood, a short cab ride or walk from MLA convention hotels.
Wednesday December 28th 8:00 prereading reception at Bridge Street Books with wine & cheese & books by the readers. Two doors from the reading.
9:00 reading @ the Four Seasons, 2 doors from Bridge Street
Joel Bettridge, Louis Cabri, Joshua Clover, Brent Cunningham, Richard Deming, Patrick Durgin, Judith Goldman, Nancy Kuhl, Nicole Markotic, Camille Martin, Laura Moriarty, AL Nielsen, Bob Perelman, Joan Retallack, Linda Russo, Jennifer Scappetone, Susan Schultz, Rodrigo Toscano, Shanxing Wang, Tyrone Williams
11:00 Post-reading reception at Bridge Street. More wine, more cheese, more books.
this spectacular event curated by:Tom Orange & Rod Smith
Bridge Street Books 2814 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.(202) 965-5200
The Four Seasons Hotel2800 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.Washington, DC Located in Georgetown, 5 blocks from the Foggy Bottom Metro station(blue & orange lines). A short cab ride from MLA convention hotels.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
- Parking space 2d339
- The Book of the Celestial Cow is an Egyptian funerary text--I bought a sacred cow magnet!
- The magical brick of Thutmosislh (1400-1390 BCE) has the following inscription, ddressed to the demons of the north: "You who come to pull my hair, I will not allow you to pull my hair."
- Horus the elder is a funerary god, the falcon is one of his symbols. Here be Horus:
- Faience is blue stuff that the ancient Egyptians used
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Does anyone know the meaning of "shake-a-doo"?
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Look, I'm a teacher! Ahh! My students asked me to dress up. I do dress up, just not for work. However, I chose to appease them. So here I am, all dressed up. I thought I looked nice but a bit tartish for school. You can't see it in this picture, but my skirt was too tight to be "professional." Everyone liked it, of course. My hair has gotten so long!
My noodle-ey arms could only hold me up for 8 rapid breaths, and not the usual 10, but at least I practiced today. Last night I went to the ILI holiday party, which was unexpectedly nice. I never expect work social events to be fun, but this one was. I like my coworkers! Afterwards, Mark and I went to see Buck's show at DCAC.
Everyone knows my love is back in town, so I am happy!
Things found while packing: the first poem I ever published, in an issue of 108, guest edited by Tom Orange. Here's some of the original piece. It is weird:
tradict my- self.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
And this is an erhu is kind of like a fiddle, sort of. But there's only two strings. I learned to play, sort of, when I lived in Harbin.
I left my kiefer in the refridgerator while it was being cleaned, but fortunatly my boss came and asked, "is this yours?" It was, so I taught for a while with the bottle on my desk. This caused quite a stir--you drink kiefer? Yes. I think you are the only person in Washington, DC who drinks kiefer. I'm not the only one, am I?
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
- Portable music stand
- Wooden antique music stand that had been hidden in the closet to prevent it from being damaged (and used--what good is a music stand a closet?)
- An extra copy of Piece pour flute seule by Jaques Ibert. What was I, a musician or something?
- A t-shirt from Australia that has a Koala on it. I'd like to wear it, but it also says "Friends of the bush." I feel odd about wearing it given the current political context in the US. Too bad, I am a friend of the bush. But not of Bush.
- Old ballet clothes--including two pairs of pink tights and an old pair of pointe shoes with broken shanks. I remember when those shoes broke.
- A leather leash
- Pictures of my graduation from GW. My hair is short and I look happy, and also as if I'm wearing makeup that's a bit too dark for my skin.
- More than 7 pairs of thigh-high stockings in colors ranging from black to pink to white to silver.
Monday, December 12, 2005
I bird-sat Arnold for a week or two a few years ago when Ryan was somewhere, maybe Equador. We'd been thinking about bringing another bird into our home, and Arnold was so winning that we decided a parrotlet was the way to go.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Anyway, so I found a rosary. I also found one of my journals. I'm 12:
"I am so hungry. We are going out for brunch today. The olympics have started! The opening ceremonys were kind of hokey, oh well. It's a beautiful day out side. The sun, shining through my window woke me. I don't think it's all that warm, but, it's february, so what am I supposed to expect. I am so sorry that I couldn't see M-- play. It wasn't a jazz band concert, so he probly did not have that great A part. I don't know. Why do I like him so much? There are so many thinks that I want to do and know. I want to go back to stonhenge and to dive in the blue hole in Belize and see spring in Whales in Caer-Myrddin and see the mound where Galapas was perhaps buried. I'll never have enough money to do this. I have a good life, better than most people and I can play almost any wind insturment and arrange notes. Oh boy, here I go again, I can't get my mind off M--. He's not georgeous, he's not popular. Oh God Do I Love it when he plays drums! I love his drum set. It is black. It's not his but I think of it as his. I love this ache. It's not a painful ache, it is the type of ache that is like someone rubbing your shoulders when you are really really sore. I guess that hurts. Do you understand? No, you don't understand. You are a book. Y maent yr mynyddoedd yn canu, ac y mae'r arglwyddes yn dod. The mountains are singing and the lady comes. I love music. When I am alone I like to sing.
"I just got back from the park. I'm sick so I didn't run I just walked Cabal. This pen leaks. I'm getting blue ink all over my finders. I don't really want to go to school tomorrow. The weekend goes fast. When I was walking in the park today I was alone and I liked it. I sang a little. It is one of the most uplifting things in the world other than love. Without love we are empty. It is hard to love everyone. I love the grubby people on the street. I love the grass."
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Minnesota Education Effectiveness Plan
Mir Environmental Effects Payload
Municipal Energy Efficiency Program
Minibus Emergency Evacuation Procedures
Mutton Export Expansion Program
Manufacturing Engineering Education Partnership
Mechanical Engineering and Energy Processes
Mnipo Ergoliptiko Epicheiriseso
Mir Environmental Effects Package
Mir Environmental Effects Payloads
Master of Energy and Environmental Policy
Middle East Egypt and Pakistan
O ye readers, BEWARE the scope creep.
Scope Creep is a good name for a villan.
And "creep" is another one of those words like "week." Double Es always look so weird to me. Sleep. Beep. Sheep. Meep. Is meep a word?
Friday, December 09, 2005
Some people I know isare moving to Oman! Hooray. I am truely powerful. I was campaigning for a move to Oman, I have obsessed about Oman for months, and now my psychic wishes have come true. Hooray!
I think that everyone has Oman fever these days. Including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. I heart the Smithsonian, but it's still the government. A few years ago they focused on the Silk Road (while we were bombing Afghanistan and being smoochy with other central Asian republics). I feel like China was a focus on year duing Clinton. So now Oman. What does this mean. Why Oman? I didn't go to the festival because it was hot and I was overworked. Now I am cold (except for my left hand) and overworked, but at least I'll get to go to Oman. Maybe.
Here is another example of my amazing psychic powers. I was walking down the street this morning, swearing and cursing the wimpy GRE test proctors who could not drive to work in three inches of snow. Wimps! Selfish jerks! But then I began to think about Ryan Walker's writing, because he is going to read at Ruthless Grip tomorrow night with Lewish Warsh. And then I started writing his intro in my head. And then I heard someone honking, saw a white car and thought, F-off. Don't honk and me. Oh, that kind of looks like Ryan's car. Of course, I wasn't wearing my glasses and so had no idea who it was. But I walked up to the car and yelled, "who are you?" And it was Ryan. He rolled down the window and said "Hi."
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I poured boiling water all over my left hand last night. It was just great! I managed to give myself second-degree burns! I had to keep my hand submerged in cold water, directly under running water, or surrounded by bags of frozen goods from the freezer to keep from screaming. My least sucessful moment was when the bag of "mixed berries" defrosted and began to leak out onto my lap. After that I switched to frozen corn, which worked well. All night I slept with my hand in a bag of frozen french fries. This morning I kept my hand underneath a bag of frozen tater tots while I taught. At this point, the pain is now beginning to subside. I can keep my hand out of the freezer for more than a few seconds without going insane. Obviously, I need to get a proper ice pack.
Mmm. Tater tots.
Peter and Tina's reading was excellent. I have more to say about it. But I will not say it now. Nope.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Still thinking about repetition, pattern, still listening to J.S. Bach. Supposedly, we learn through repetition. When a nerve signal goes from one brain cell to the next, the receptor cell sends back a little proof of recipt message to the sender cell. But it also sends the message to all other nerve cells that are active at that same time. The recipt message activates little proteins called GAP-43. Lots of activated GAP-43 makes it easier to send and recive more future messages. To be honest, I'm not sure why this means that repetition makes us learn. Do we have to send the same messages? Why can't we buff up our GAP-43 by sending and recieving all sorts of different messages? Why, oh why?
Like everyone, I learned my multiplication tables when I was in 2nd & 3rd grade. Or maybe 3rd and 4th. But I have no idea what 6 x 7 is. Go on. Ask me. It's a new f-ing problem every time. I'm ok with multiplying 6 by even numbers, because there's an easy pattern. 6 x 8 = 48 because half of 8 is 4, and 4 x 10 is 40 + 8 = 48. Even though I've forgotten most of my calculus, I was far better at calculus than algebra. I need the big associative picture before I can understand anything. This will either make me a good critic or a terrible one. I know that details are important, but I just don't or can't care about them. Or if I do, they're always secondary to context. Screw working "step by step."
But some pattern is ok. For example, walking to the Corcoran every Monday and Thursday to go teach. I like this walk. And I have to force myself to have pattern so that I can remember things.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Someone yesterday tried to tell me that I had an upper-class upbringing. I told him that he just didn't understand my international expatriate playmobile-playing white girl middle-class New England/Texan context. How dull.
I'd miss the readings and the poets. Terribly. If I lived in Oman, I mean. I may miss them in San Diego. But I'm trying to convince everyone that they should move to San Diego so I don't have to miss them. Selfish, I know. The weather is good, UCSD has great archives, and it's easy to leave the country--Tiajuana is just a light-rail ride away.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
The only art I can handle right now is music. Have been listening to J.S. Bach's unaccompanied cello suites (the recording I have is Yo-Yo Ma, 1982) over and over, and also the Goldberg Variatons. J.S Bach is what I first started playing as a child. His music is comforting and orderly but also often lively and dark. Technically, it's fun to play. I'd always feel so mediative after I'd memorized all of those eigth-note variations on a theme. I'm also still obssesively listening to imogen heap. So yeah, Baroque and really poppy trip-hop.
I love the fact that so many birds go to the arctic in the summer to nest and raise bird-children. I'm going to add this to my list of things to think about when I'm depressed.
I am drinking tea. Black tea. With milk in it.
- Go for walk
- Prepare to teach tomorrow
- Go to reading at Bridge Street Books
- Look at the classifieds for places to live in Oceanside/Encinitas/Carlsbad
- Clean the floor
My level of thought has been pretty basic recently: get up, take pills, eat, talk to bird, talk to bird, work, talk to bird, obsess about grammar. I like teaching EFL more than I like most other jobs. My current esteemed colleagues are a great bunch of peoples. And even if we do fall into our same old same old kinds of conversations, at least it's along the lines of "when I was in Africa..." etc and not "I bought a lovely new set dinning room table." Nothing against tables.
In a few moments I'm going to turn up the heat and give Lester a spray bath. He loves to bathe but hates a spray bath--I'm not sure why. But it's a good way of cleaning him and his cage, and he's always happy and full of song afterwards.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
So here's Bhaishajyaguru, or Medicine Buddha. Dear reader, if you are ill, which you are in some way, stare at this image and imagine yourself to be Bhaishajyaguru.
Normally, Bhaishajyaguru is blue.
Lester and I are going to watch Winged Migration and eat corn bread now.
Friday, December 02, 2005
Lester is now feasting on lima beans, corn, carrots, almond butter, hemp seeds, yogurt, tofu, and those wierd hard whole wheat swedish cracker things--he likes the way they crunch.
So, yes, someone set fire to something. It wasn't my students, but I'm pretty sure one of my students was involved. I can't control 18 students if 15 of them are helions. I like them, and they are smart, but they are immature. I've been spineless and haven't actually sent them to the administration's office enough. But that's only recently become an option, and the admin folks are always busy on the last day of the session. Next session I resolve to be more of a badass. I just want them to be mature, so it makes me depressed to have to discipline them at all. Uhg. This is why I like teaching adults. Perhaps I should go back to working at night. Night students go to school at night because they have to work for a living, and hence they are kinder to their teachers.
But today had its high points. One of my students is an artist--and he's interested in words. He often makes up his own alphabets and symbols and then uses them in his paintings. Anyway, I brought one of my books--The Splendor of Islamic Caligraphy--for him to look at. He was so excited that I'm letting him keep the book over the weekend.
I had to retype that sentence several times. And this one. I cannot spell, and after teaching English all week, my spelling and grammar is even worse. Words begin to look strange and foreign. Like the word "week." What's with those two Es? Week. Wek. Weak. Weec. Weke. Ees. Ease. Eaze. Eshe. But I enjoy teaching grammar because grammar is all about illogical patterns that have endless excepts. Learning/teaching a foreign language makes a gal more aware of how language shapes the brain. But I'm a poet so I knew that already.
Off to "happy" hour.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I like other places too but I will dwell on them or in them later.
There are no teaching screw ups to report. I did smear more marker on my face today than is usual, even for me. My current class of students never tell me.
It's cold and I have a cold, also. Also, my soup is cold.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
ancient bearded king
skeptical scholars sweet eel
* * *
I think I remember what the first part is about, but I don't know about the stuff in large blue letters."phallic serpent" seems kind of obvious. I like "skeptical scholars sweet eel" the best, and also "ancient bearded king," even though it is as obvous as "phallic serpant."
I'm not throwing up anymore, and this is joyous.
Monday, November 28, 2005
- I went to San Diego
- The sun shone in San Diego and its environs
- I read Giovanni Boccaccio's The Decameron, which I have to teach in less than an hour.
- I also read some of Franch Petrarch's Rhymes. I'm not so into them, but that's OK. I am also teaching them in less than an hour.
- I ate a doughnut.
- I ate pizza.
- I ate really good BBQ.
- I went to the La Jolla art museum and learned about Elenore Antin's 100 boots.
- Lots of Elephans died all over the world.
- I went running by the beach.
- Lester continued to molt and eat hemp seeds. He is ornery because his new feathers are bothering him.
- I got really ill on Sunday and threw up the whole plane ride home and then on the ride from the airport home and then at home and then went to bed at 9:30 and got up at 7 amd threw up again! Isn't that great! Great!
Monday, November 21, 2005
* Talking about subject-verb agreement in the following sentence: "The number of students in the classroom is 20" by saying that subject, "the number of students in the classroom" was plural. If the article changes to an indeffinite article, this is true: "A number of students in my classroom are loud and youthful!"
* Actually saying "fuck fuck fuck" not so softly under my breath when I realized that I was giving the explaination completely backwards.
* general aversion to the smokey smell in the hallway. It's getting cold, so everyone in my building is staying indoors with their windows shut and smoking.
* dry skin
* difficulty sleeping
* general malaise (always a problem)
Lester took his bath yesterday, except that as he splashed around in the water dish, he mumbled "very gooood, very gooood" to himself.
On typos and my crappy spelling:
My spelling is crappy and there are lots of typos. In general.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Let's also hear it for Marie de France! Even though she never had the pleasure of hearing madrigals--she lived in the 12th century, and madrigals don't show up until the renaissance. She would have heard troubador and trouvère music though--she would have heard aubades. John Donne wrote a metaphysical aubade, "The Sunne Rising." I want to read nothing but John Donne ever again. What is better than John Donne?
Who else is running around in the 12th century? Genghis Khan, Abélard & Héloïse, Saladin, Maimonides, Minamoto no Yoritomo, and Omar Khayyám, among others.
And how about Omar Khayyám? I ask you, dear readers, what is better than a poet and astronomer?
Languages to study:
- Classical Chinese
- All the various forms of old French.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
I liked it. It was good. It being the poems and the reading of them. What's always interesting is the ways that subjectivity comes back in, or really is reformed. Language is about subjects, even if it's made by computers. Kenny and Darren were OUCH (Lester bit my finger trying to bite the keyboard). I think I was going to say that they were pleasant. I expect everyone to be an asshole. Kenny brought an enitre bottle of Talisker with him.
Larry King is going radio advertisements for Ester-C vitamins.
It's going to be in te 20s tonight. That's too cold. Guess I'll have to move to California.
Ah. I'd like to go to Skye almost as much as I'd like to go to the Marquesas.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The last time Jessica read, she didn't "read," but instead had an installation piece called "veil." Tom Orange and I read. "Veil" was beautiful. I think this poem from Dear [Blank] I Believe in Other Worlds is about that evening:
"Tempting to create a veil through which we walk, are beaded in code and forgotten, against lyric where there is no physical geography, an exercise in subjectivity becomes vulnerable and we are trying to sound human, believe that not all movies move me but only hopeful romance and dramatic soundtracks and Rod says I don’t believe you, but not about that. The impulse to kiss anyone speaking of birds, to love those who live away or move away, envy the cold. How easy it is to go crazy says the one who has gone crazy to the one who will not, which is how we operate. Click open envelopes."
The themes of Jessica's reading included "pink" and "China," so I was happy. I know that polyvocal work is difficult to perform. But in performing it, the entire evening made me interested in ways of being more polyvocal.
Am more interested now than I used to be in incorporating movement and physicality into my work. Jamie mentioned that he'd studied release technique. Their (Thalia Field and Jamie Jewett)'s work was vertically dense but horizontally, um, alternately spaced and rapid. And Thalia has lived with parrots--a lovebird, an African Gray, and Amazon, and a Cockatoo--so I like her.
Release technique. In practice, I like the idea of movement that minimizes tension and searches for clarity, for efficient use of energy and breath. This is ashtanga yoga at its best. Asanas are meant to be practiced in a series, with each asana balancing the previous one in a specifically therapeutic physical way. This is nothing like my poetics. Not that I have a poetics statement, as such, but if I did I don't think it would be about clarity and balance. Maybe it would be about longing for clarity, vulnerability, and taking stupid risks. I'm into longing lately. Probably always. But I wonder if anyone has worked with choreography that projects vulnerability and struggle with fluidity, or questions the possibility of fluidity. Probably. Dialectics of tension! (Uh. A dialectic is tension, I guess). I've been working on my statement of interest for graduate school applications and so have theory words in the brain a bit more than usual.
Movement based on inability seems intellectually interesting but I wonder if it would be in practice: Look, there's Lorraine, she has really tight exterior rotators! Wow, look! She can barely lift her leg!
Like many girly girls perhaps I wish I'd never taken a hiatus from dancing and piano. I didn't know an artist was something one could be until I was 23. Yes. I know. 23 sounds young. But it's not if you're a dancer.
I have 266 messages in my inbox. Recently, I've started receiving messages from a Christian dating service. I've never even been baptized. I was conceived in Iran. I am not Christian.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Saturday, November 12, 2005
This weekend at Dance Place: Carla & Company, Bosma Dance & Amir Kolben
"Carla & Company will be joined this season by special guest choreographer Amir Kolben from Jerusalem, Israel and guest performers Meisha Bosma with members of her company BosmaDance, along with the Dance Place Repertory Class and young dancers from the DC Prep Charter School. Amir Kolben is currently in residence at Dance Place, creating a new work on dancers of BosmaDance and Carla & Company."
I prefer "dance concert" to "dance recital." As in, "my friend has a dance concert this weekend, wanna come?" "I wish I could, but I am going to a poetry reading."
Recital is what we do in conservatories to pass examinations. But thank you Levine School of music and Karen Johnson for my knowledge of music theory and love of chamber music and Bach!
San Diego has a happnen' dance community/scene/network.
To look into:
Yes, I have a lot of writing lying around, although I gave a stack of it to Rod and Mel after a reading last month, so now I have less lying around, which is nice.
My students have noted that I say "So...." and "then...." a lot. There is a recording of me when I was 3 years old talking about a camping trip to the redwoods. I am very excited and I keep saying "SO...." and "THEN...."
I'm feeling nostalgic for DC before I've even left. I'm writing (wrote "righting" first) lots of poems about listening to the birds sing outside my window. Many of them sing all night long.
I've not been able to go to yoga class for several weeks and this is frustrating. Instead, I'm sitting in a chair tutoring or teaching or writing. I've been sick, I've had visitors, etc. I think I need a standing desk. Or rather, a desk at which I must stand instead of sit.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Forgetting that "lie" can mean "to recline" in as well as "to not tell the truth" then trying to explain the difference between "lay" and "lie" and becoming especially confused with the sentence "Baltimore lies north of Washington, DC." I said something bizarre about the difference being about transitive/intransitive verbs, gave up, and then said, "I'll come up with a better explanation tomorrow." Then had to explain what the idiomatic expression "come up with" means.
My students often look very tired, hung over, or overly hot.
I do believe I was overly sarcastic with two of my students in a writing class. They are often sarcastic, so I think I was trying to be sympathetic.
"I wasn't interested in the assignment."
"That's fine, as long as you understand that you'll get a zero. You know, I'm not 'interested' in going to work every day, but I do."
"Well that's your fault then."
"It's not my fault I wasn't born independently wealthy. But perhaps you have a different understanding of economics than I do."
Isn't that a great fantasy! If it really were my fault then that would mean I could do something about it, and that would mean I have all this control over my life that I don't have. I could save my money my who f-ing life and never ever be financially wealthy. Capitalism might more flexible than say, communist-stateism (and many would debate that), but the goal of capitalism isn't to make me wealthy, it's to perpetuate itself and make it impossible for me to live outside of it. And all that without a conspiracy.
I live with a little green bird named Lester. He sings "salt peanuts salt peanuts" when the sun goes down and all the birds in the trees and buildings outside our window also sing. Together, we eat oatmeal with blueberries and almonds in the morning and read the newspaper. Then Lester tries to ingest the news but I don't let him, obviously. There is also a mouse in this apartment and it might sing too, and then there will be more mice, and they will eat the birdseed and defecate all over everything. I've mouse-proofed Lester's cage, I think. So they can only eat the birdseed that falls on the floor. There is a lot of birdseed on the floor. Every day, I talk to my class about the mouse, or mice. It's important for them to understand that their teacher lives in a ratty old building with nice elevators.
"Elevators are an amazing invention." I hadn't expected this answer, but I agreed.
But everything is A-ok with the little green bird. I think about Lester at least once every hour, and probably more. When I start to feel upset and overwhelmed, I think about Lester. Hence the "turn to Lester" that so frequently occurs in my "bla bla bla" posts.
Tomorrow I will wear a green shirt.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
A shout out also goes to Brianne Bland, who danced beautifully in Seranade.
This was the first time I'd seen any Balanchine performed live. Seranade was the first Balanchine ballet made in the US (June 10, 1934) set to Tchaikovsky's Seranade in C Major for strings. Seranade has no plot, which was of course shocking in 1934. Seeing ballerinas in point shoes, with their strong, sharp movement was even shocking to me last night. I study modern dance, I've spent a lot of time on Hawkins technique (a student of Balanchine before he joined Martha Graham's company). I heart Isadora Duncan, and Denishawn, I have no problem with a lack of plot. But, ah, it was classical and modern at the same time, the corps was beautiful.
The whole thing excited me so much that I stayed for a ballet class after jazz this afternoon. However, despite feeling aesthetically elated, I feel like someone has poured cement into my hip sockets, especially on the left. Ach.
A very good visit with mum.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Am applying to PhD programs and MFA programs and community college jobs.
Am paying bills.
Fence and feminism disucssion continues on Wom-Po.
Also have a look at Carnival of Feminists 2.
Speaking of feminism. I am obsessing over what I will cook for Thanksgiving dinner, if I am cooking at all. I know where I'll be for bird day, but not if I will be cooking or have access to a kitchen.
(Oooh, the first track on Speak for Yourself is soo soo goooood!!!! Let's put it on repeat!)
My students asked me about my religion. So I had to explain that I grew up as a Baha'i, and then I had to explain what a Baha'i is, that I'm not a Baha'i anymore but still respect the religion. "I think you must be a Buddha" one of my students said, and of course I corrected him: "Buddhist."
I also told my students "I was born in 1962" in order to demonstrate the passive voice. Several were suprised that we grammatically leave out the role our mothers played in our births when we speak. "You are older than my mother," one said. "May I call you mother?" He was being ironic, I think. And of course was lying about my date of birth, but for a few moments they believed me.
The New York Times Magazine on October 30 had an article by Maurine Dawd that aggrivated many people. Third wave fights with 2nd wave.
Once, drunk and a little tipsy, I wailed, "when I'm no longer young beautiful, no one will love me." Not a feminist sentiment.
"Get over it." My (male poet) friend said. "And anyway it's not true. Lyn Hejinian is beautiful and loved."
The sound of the birds singing down the sun inside and outside my window is amazing. I'll miss that about this apartament.
Mice also sing. This is news that elivates mice "to an exclusive musical club until now populated mostly by birds, whales, dolphins and gibbons. The article in the guardian has clips of mice singing. Go listen to them!
What is a gibbon? I believe it's a kind of monkey--several live at the national zoo and naturally in Thailand. They sing in the morning. I went to hear them once. They had amazing harmonies--the older males would set the beat with low pitched rhythmic "whoooos" and then others would take up alto, soprano, and even ambiant falsetto parts. The beat starts slow and then gradually builds, getting louder and faster until they all go wild and jump around. Then it starts all over again. Let's google gibbons to see how much of what I remember is true:
"Gibbons are small anthropoid apes that belong to the family Hylobatidae, the name deriving from "hylobates" or "dweller in the trees". Native to the rainforests of India, Bangladesh, Indochina and the Malay archipelago, they are considered to be the most agile, and the most musical, of all mammals. Gibbons are also the only higher primates that are monogamous. Often referred to as the lesser apes, there are nine recognised species of gibbons - all endangered. "
Monday, October 31, 2005
* Week One
**The Poetry of Lust of Love
The poetry of lust and love...is rooted in spiritual longing, as demonstrated by the poetics of Sappho and the amatory poems of the Greek anthology and the classical poets of India, China, and Japan. Drawing on these traditions, we explore the erotic lyrical imagination from alayman's Zen perspective, including a look at the poetry of several Zenmasters.
Today one of my students dressed up like Michael Myers from "Halloween." He had the mask and the hair and the orange "correctional facility" union suit and white sneakers and white socks. It was pretty creepy.
I feed Lester hemp seeds. In the recent issue of Self Magazine, I read an article that said people should eat hemp seeds, too, tossed in olive oil. Yum!
Sunday, October 30, 2005
How do folks feel about the cover of Summer 2005 issue of Fence? My feelings about porn--alt porn etc--are complicated and probably not terribly uh, specific to me.
And even if I didn't have a personal aversion to porn....Well, it seems worth noting, duh, that a poetry magazine has alt-porn on its cover and then a link to an alt-porn site with lots of cred in the pop-alt world.
I'm not sure why suicide girls is feminist. Yes: you can have market sex appeal even if you're an alt-girl with dark hair and piercing. But that's more about niche-marketing and cultural management than Feminism. If I had my notes to Empire by Hardt and Negiri I could be more articulate about "cultural management."
But I have some. Here:
"We have thus arrived at a series of distinctions that conceptually mark the passage from modern to imperial sovereignty: from the people to the multitude, from dialectical opposition to the management of hybridities, from the place of modern sovereignty to the non-place of Empire, from crisis to corruption." (This is in Part II. I think on page 207.)
Right. Alt-porn=a hybridity. Or am I, like, way out of touch with the third wave? Economic equality is by no means a done deal. But I'm all for the Riot Grrrls and Buffy. And I'm all for the idea of complicating, confusing, questioning what it means to be female, feminine, etc--and that includes playing up and playing with excessive or new forms of traditional femininity (does that sentence cancel itself out?). I enjoy the fact that people often assume I'm a cute bimbo--it makes it that much more devastating and shocking when they find I'm not.
But people still like looking at our tits even when we're displaying them ironically and they'll pay money for it. As Rebecca Wolff notes, tits sell better than almost any thing else. Yup, ok. So put them on a poetry magazine and maybe you'll sell more copies of the magazine. Fine. But why not devote a bit of critical thinking to the implications of this? The editor's note pauses only briefly: "I pause now to muse upon the dubious impulses that govern my own, and the average consumer's, purchases."
I want reflective risk-taking art and reflective, risk-taking criticism, too. The editors of a magazine need to worry about the aesthetic, political, and economic (yes yes) decisions they make--they don't need all the answers, but I want to know that they're at least thinking about them. Sigh.
II. My superstar Parrotlet Lester
Time to talk about Lester. Lester took two baths today. He is very clean and green. Right now he is eating hemp seeds.
III. Criticism I Heart
Speaking of reflective, risk-taking criticism, anyone in New York next weekend should check out the CUNY Conference on Contemporary Poetry. Especially this, like, way cool panel on Friday:
Syntax in Text and (Gender) Performance: Cha, Ono, Waldrop, Weiner
MODERATOR: GENYA TUROVSKAYA
- Linda V. Russo: Spaces too wide to reach the next word: Gesture and Gender in Rosmarie WaldropÂs Poetry
- Kaplan Harris: Fashion Auras, Culture, and Gender Norms: The Journals of Hannah Weiner
- Jessica Smith: Gestural Poetry: The Performance Works of Yoko Ono and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
IV. Reasons to Clean
Me mum is coming to town on Tuesday, and my kitchen is really really messy.
Postmodernism is about longing. Lyric often uses a "beloved" third party in order to form a connection between "I" and "you." I swoon, but poor beloved.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Uh. But this post is supposed to be about publishing. The first poem I published as an adult was in 108, a magazine edited by John Lowther of the Atlanta Poets Group. Tom Orange guest edited a "DC Poets Issue." We were at a party, and Tom said, "are you interested in publishing," and I said "yes." And then I sent him poems.
Someone told me once to not be nervous about publishing poems, because the people who will really pay attention to them have probably already read them. This was a bit of an overstatement, but I think it's true. It is both irksome and a comfort.
I love that I can have this blog and say all sorts of exciting and dull things and it's completely public and no one reads it, except for Kaplan maybe sometimes, who must have been googling too much to have found it in the first place. Or maybe I told him about it after too much scotch. I also love that I can delete and create posts at any time. The archive is totally unreliable.
Monday, October 24, 2005
2. Today's ailments:
- Sinus headache
- Regular headache
- Tight external rotaters (or is it rotators?), especially on the left size
- Asthma acting up
- General nervousness about the weather and the Halloween decorating I must do for my EFL classroom.
3. Today's teaching screw-ups:
- Choosing "pomegranate" for a game of hangman and then spelling it "pommegranet"
- Choosing "mollusk" for a hangman word, then thinking I'd spelled it wrong when in fact I'd spelled it correctly. One of my students is a biologist.
- Asking vague questions such as, "So, what do you think of Aristotle?"
4. Etc. Today I learned the word "pococurante." It can be an adjective, meaning "indifferent" or apathetic." Or a noun, meaning "one who does not care." And yes, pococurantism is a word in use. Are any of you, dear readers, pococurants?
But for now I'm only thinking about the cover. I didn't immediately notice that it's not of a landscape but a garbage dump.
This reminds me of a picture from the most recent issue of National Geographic. There was a picture of a six-month old Laysan albatross chick in the outer Hawaiian Islands who starved to death because its stomach was full of cigarette lighters, pump-top sprayers, nut shells, shotgun shell, broken clothespins, and hundreds of plastic bits. Trash that gets trapped in mid-ocean gyres gets eaten by adults and then regurgitated to chicks. "It's rare now to see one of these masses that doesn't contain marine debris. Starvation associated with marine debris is a significant cause of death in chicks that don't fledge." (NG, October 2005, p. 86)
Sunday, October 23, 2005
I work up early this morning to flocks of geese flying overhead. This is migrating season. It's a clear cool fall day, and I wish I were by the ocean or in the mountains.
So here's my lovey bird poem, written after Frank O'Hara (to prevent it from becoming violent and weird):
I've got to tell you
about living, singing,
fat-feathered birds always
I think of them on
blue mornings or at
sundown out the window
in my mouth the tea
is always too hot
then and the breakfast
of blueberries and
cereal my Chinese
robe warms me I
need to tell you of
birds and look out
the window at noisy
trees at night
on 16th street the
top three floors of
Christian Scientist Church
glow blue sky and I
am lonely thinking of parrots
and the sounds they
make when bathing
I miss you always
at dawn lying in bed
the birdsong comes
in and the serenade
seems specifically mine
although you have
birdsong and I do
not think of life two
months ago in the way
you said you don't
think of life two
no typing at the
computer I say goodbye
to Lester then leave
and comeback to say
goodbye again you are
eating dinner or coming
back from a run what
do you eat is it pasta
and did you at least
ad a few mushrooms it
is difficult not to speak
or birds and us
together you brought
me birds last night I
read a book that you
have read about
looking for self
in the wilderness
and the books I've read
and the poems I've
written of you birds
and the wilderness are
distracts me birdsong is
only everywhere you
know how it is when
you see something once
you see it everywhere
In other news, I am pleased to point out that:
My blog is worth $0.00.
Friday, October 21, 2005
On Saturday I'm going up to Baltimore to do the recording for my chap-CD thing with Narrowhouse. The main question is, will I retain my "endearing" neurotic reading style during recording.
Today's teaching screw-ups:
"Because the weather is cold, Lorraine wears more close."
I think that I should move to Istambul and open a bird sanctuary.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I normaly work at Joy of Motion on Tuesday nights, and it was a big pain to switch my schedule around--but it was worth it! I've been reading his autobiography and am trying to figure out a way of incorporating some of it into the memoir class I'm teaching at the corcoran. It was one of the largest crowds I've ever seen at a reading, and there were students in the front rows actually jumping up and down in their seats because they were so excited.
Have a look at Kaplan's pictures from the event.
I arrived at the pre-reading seminar late. At a certain point the talk turned to the issue of how all art is social and political and the need to cooperate and organize is very real. At the same time, most organizations as we know them suck.
Sample Baraka quote (or perhaps paraphrase, since this is from my notes): "It's a question of cooptation, bribery, and murder." Cooptation, bribery, and murder are of course part of what organized art needs to oppose.
A few students expressed concern that organizing would somehow compromise the "individuality of the artist."
I dislike the idea of the artist as romantic loner and individual. Ok. I don't dislike it. It's appealing in some ways. Ok, a lot of ways. But it's not the only or even best model for an artist. Even if I go and live in the woods alone and write poems and never talk to anyone again, I'm participating in a history of poets going into the woods and never talking to anyone again.
The discussion reminded me of some of Bob Black's writing. His best known essay is called "The Abolition of Work." It also brought to mind Jessica Benjamin's theories of psychology. Subject-subject instead of subject-object.
Uh, pause to check notes.
Jessica Benjamin asserts that there is an “ongoing interplay of destruction and recognition” between subjects, and that this interplay forms a “dialectic between fantasy and external reality” (Like Subjects, Love Objects, 45).
Saturday, October 15, 2005
- Jessica Snowden (formerly Jessica Smith. She did not get married, just changed her name) and Kaplan Harris and Linda Russo are on an ultra groovy panel at the CUNY Conference on Contemporary Poetry.
- Alicia Askenase and I are reading tomorrow, October 16 at In Your Ear at the District of Columbia Arts Center.
- There is talk of the future possibility that the Australian Defense Force will have to go and prevent Papua New Guinea from becoming a "collapsed state."
- Neo-Nazis are active in Ohio. And Anti-Nazi groups are also active.
- I bought Dar William's new album, "My Better Self." There's a really fabulous cover with Ani Difranco of "Comfortably Numb."
- My excessively long work days have altered my body in the past two months. My legs and arms are literally popping out of their sockets.
- Lester is molting, and so he's a bit ornery. He's stitting on the collar of my shirt, underneath my hair and snuggling into the nape of my neck.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
So many ways to make a polite request:
Can I see your passport?
May I see your passport?
Could I see your passport?
Would you mind if I looked at your passport?
Might I look at your passport? I hate the news.
I check my Internet sites every day but I don't really feel like I know or understand "what is going on." I feel like we've been blowing things up and being blown up forever. I know that many folks take comfort in being able to list precise details, in numbers, but lately I feel like that such things are even more abstract than photographs.
I won't ever really know how many votes each presidential candidate really received in any election, I won't know who owned what voting machines, won't know how many died and how. 30 Iraqis in the northern town of Tal Afar and in Baghdad from two separate bomb attacks. Six army personnel washed away in a massive landslide in Tangdhar. According to Xinhua news agency, a least 180,000 people have died in Darfur, many from hunger and disease. About 2 million others have fled their homes to escape the conflict. 21 buffalo are dead of possibly anthrax in the wildlife resort town of Hwange in northwestern Zimbabwe. How about all the nile perch that have been dumped into Lake Victoria that have eaten many of the fish that used to exist in that ecosystem?
I suppose this sounds trite. I miss being forced to read the news in a foreign language. Getting through one article felt like an accomplishment, and at the very least I'd learned something about the culture(s) I was living in and some new vocabulary words. The most daring newspapers in the PRC usually came from the south and took a few days to get to us in Harbin. They reported on Africa and the Pacific, or sometimes India. They managed to print a story about the Falun Gong demonstration on Tiananmen square on April 26, 1999...
I'd read three or four paragraphs of the news after lunch--about half an article--and then go play flute in the bathroom among the dying laundry. I liked the acoustics. So, I'd write my new vocabulary on flash cards, and then go play some sonatas in the bathroom. Usually Mozart. Once, a woman knocked on the door of the bathroom. She was a viola player from Boston. I don't remember why she was in Harbin but she knocked on the door and said, "do you speak English?" I wasn't sure. I was playing the flute in a dormitory bathroom in Harbin. We stared at each other. I hadn't really spoken English in about five months, and my writing was starting to deteriorate. "I play the viola. We could play together."
I am not using correct dialogue format.
I was upset that I wasn't in Beijing when we bombed the embassy during the NATO strikes on Belgrade in April 1999. I wanted to participate in all the outrage and to apologize and to tell people that there were a lot of US citizens who were also angry, not just about the bombing of the PRC embassy, but about the air strikes and the cluster bombs and the situation in general. But I was in Harbin, where there isn't even a US Consulate but there is a mosque and a very lovely Russian Orthodox church.
I was going through a security clearance background check to work in U.S. Intelligence. The agency bureaucrats, seemingly unaware of geography and time differences, would call me at 3 or 4 in the morning. The phone in the hallway would ring, someone would wake up and yell for me in Chinese, and I'd put on my slippers and wool sweater and go out into the hall and say "wei?!" into the phone. They kept asking me to send them official fingerprints. I kept telling them that I was 15 hours away from the nearest branch of the US government. "Look," I'd say, "I can't just go to Beijing tomorrow. I'll try and go this weekend." But we bombed their embassy, and I couldn't go anywhere.
I waited until I returned to DC to be fingerprinted and to break-up with my boyfriend. By April I'd already decided I had no intention of working for the US government, but the process of going through a security clearance seemed "interesting," and it was a way of pretending I wasn't a total weirdo.
Friday, October 07, 2005
- I am suffering from general achiness. Aches are a type of nagging pain. Note that general achiness is often related to general malaise or muscular atrophy. Obvioulsy muscles are just waisting away.
- It rained a lot in DC today. I got caught in it after work and walked home barefoot.
- I saw the mouse yesterday.
- The birds in the trees outside my window are singing. It is sunset and they know it even though it is drizzling. Lester is singing with them. This is what he usually does.
- If he is allowed to wake up with the light, Lester usually sings in the morning.
- I did most of the standing sequence this morning and an abbreviated version of first series. Birds sing, so I am trying to do sun salutations.
- My obturator externus and internus, gemellus superior and inferior, piriformis, and quadratus femoris are really really tight. They have gotten worse over the past few weeks.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
- Emotional problems (of course)
- Stress (certainly)
- Fatigue (yes)
- Depression (no)
- Depressive disorders (no)
- Poor diet (my diet has been mediocre this week but not wretched)
- Inadequate sleep (certainly a factor)
- Illness (maybe)
- Virus (maybe)
- Chronic sinusitis (kind of)
- Toothache (I do not have a toothache)
- Anemia (NO!)
- Hypothyroidism (I was tested for this once and do not have it)
- Certain heart disorders (No, no, no)
- Certain lung disorders (Does asthma count?)
- Certain abdominal disorders (Nope)
- Intestinal disorders (Yuck)
- Certain urinary disorders (Ick)
- Urinary tract infection (YuckIck)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (AH!)
- Prostate disorders (Certainly not)
- Almost any possible condition - Almost every illness makes people feel unwell. (Are there any illnesses that make people feel well? Mania?)
The way to cure general malaise is apparantly through "tonics," "vitamin preparations," and "stimulants." What kind of stimulants? One of my students brought some kola nuts to class....
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Ah. The noble rock hyrax! The one above lives at the national zoo. Those buck teeth are actually tusks!
If ever you find yourself in the house of mamals, go visit the rock hyrax. They usually live in large social groups, and the one at the zoo lives alone. You'll find her around the corner from the chinchilla.
For Further information:
Order Hyracoidea. Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
Hyracoidea. The Ultimate Ungulate Page.
Afrotheria Specialist Group. IUCN - The World Conservation Union. Species Survival Commission.
Order Hyracoidea: the Hyraxes. University of Edinburgh Aubrey Manning Gallery Collection.
Hyrax. African Wildlife Foundation.
Flesh and Bone, Stories (Avec Books, Penngrove 2001)
“In his room he is a famous poet…The further he gets from his apartment, the less well-known he is.” –“Mists”
“This is not unusual and in fact happens to everyone.” – “Flight”
Flesh and Bone, winner of the 2002 Independent Publisher Book Awards for Short Stories, is an elegant collection rendered in a succinct yet lyrical language. Told from the point of view of a “you,” “we” or he/she that always implicates the reader, these stories highlight the often-painful and opaque dynamic between the inner and outer fantasy worlds we create and project on others—and those created by others to which we are in turn subjected.
Flesh and Bone is bound to fascinate and make any reader slightly nervous: Cydney Chadwick exposes emotional secrets, explains sources of fear, and dismantles fantasies. But Chadwick’s understanding of how people emote and attempt to connect with one other is substantial. The stories in Flesh and Bone remind us that, though our emotions and neuroses are powerful, they are not necessarily unique:
“We believe something might be wrong with us or that we have gone crazy…We suspect we are disintegrating so we redouble our efforts to appear stable and competent” (69).
As readers, this statement is obvious and illuminating. The recognition that “we suspect we are disintegrating” is an admission of estrangement. Yet, it is this admitted feeling of alienation that circumscribes the reader back into a community of “we,” even as it articulates a sense of disaffection. Chadwick’s characters are sometimes admirable, sometimes despicable, and always ambivalent. They end up in situations they did not intend to end up in, and most of the time they don’t know why. They are characters whose perceptions of themselves, of others, and the world around them are skewed, but it’s impossible to know where the inaccuracies lie. Although not all of Chadwick’s stories are about “you” or “us,” the frequent use of inclusive pronouns and the narration of familiar emotions open up the possibility of connection, even with characters whose genders and social situations may be very different from that of the reader.
The book opens with a story called “Irritants,” a portrait of a single man who seems to work in a job with a high-paying salary, living alone relatively comfortably with a cat. Throughout the story he is plagued by irritants, both physical and psychological, yet he chooses to ignore them—he is unable to understand them, and maybe he doesn’t even know they exist. There are cat hairs in his eyes; the woman he plays tennis against is too good a player, he finds himself saying things he doesn’t really believe. The man cannot admit his general dissatisfaction, because to do so would be to admit his view of the world and of himself is inaccurate and at best opaque. He can’t get rid of his cat even though she bites him and uses his expensive shoes as a litter box. If he did, “he would be the kind of person who abandons animals and secretly desires to hit women with tennis balls” (16-17). That many of Chadwick’s readers are not single, wealthy businessmen makes familiarity of the character’s loneliness and dissatisfaction all the more uncomfortable and revealing.
Flesh and Bone is a feminist collection, though not in any blatantly ideological sense. Many of Chadwick’s stories are about women trying to live creative lives in a world hostile to both art and women. For example, in “An Adolescence,” the main character and her friend are approached by a man in a bookstore:
“The man says she does not have to talk about such lofty things as art. But I like art! she exclaims. Soon the man grows hostile; she and her friend are hurrying out the door and running to their car as he follows them” (118).
While the disturbing power of men relative to women is addressed in these stories, Chadwick’s view of female oppression is complicated and nuanced. Her characters, both male and female, are all subject to the anger, resentment and ignorance of those around them, but they are also complicit in it: everyone has fantasies. In “Hangman,” pubescent girls divide themselves into two groups, those who “have breasts” and are “wearing dresses and makeup,” and those “who are either pre-pubescent, wear braces, glasses, or have imperfect skin.” This second group of girls amuse themselves at recess by running around on the playground shouting “Ugly bitch…while trying to knock one another down in the dirt” (110).
Cydney Chadwick’s Flesh and Bone portrays a world filled with vulnerable people, often unable to recognize or articulate how enmeshed they are in numerous and conflicting relationships. An attentive reader cannot help but recognize the honesty of such a world as well as their inevitable entanglement within it—as readers, as people. Although at first this recognition creates a sense of bleakness, Chadwick’s stories also assert that being vulnerable and prone to fantasizing is not an entirely negative situation, nor is such a state of being completely our fault. The world of human interaction and emotion is substantially shaped by fantasy, but despite the opaque yet astoundingly common nature of human relationships, connections between people do in fact occur. In the world of Flesh and Bone, misinformation abounds, and misinformation mixed with fantasy yields less than expected results. But expectations are just another form of fantasy, anyway.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Sappho's poetry is so good it makes my hair stand on end!
Lester is asleep right now, but I am awake.
Someone should write a paper about animals and avant-garde poetry.
Marianne Moore wrote about animals and has an essay called 'What There is to See at the Zoo' (1987): "The zoo shows us that privacy is a fundamental need of all animals. For considerable periods, animals in the zoo will remain out of sight in the quiet of their dens or houses. Glass, recently installed in certain parts of the snake house at the Bronx Zoo makes it possible to see from the outside, but not out from the inside."
Guillaume Apollinaire has several animal poems. For example: The Dove, The Dromedary, The Elephant, The Goat of Tibet, The Octopus, The Peacock.
How about Emily Dickenson?
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin,
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Or Gary Snyder's "Smokey the Bear Sutra" ?
Or "A Noiseless, Patient Spider," by Mr. Walt Witman?
Oh, John the rabbit, Yes, Ma’am
Got a mighty habit, Yes, Ma’am
Jumping in my garden, Yes Ma’am
Cutting down my cabbage, Yes Ma’am
My sweet potatoes, Yes Ma’am
My fresh tomatoes, Yes Ma’am
An if I live, Yes Ma’am
To see next fall, Yes, Ma’am
I ain’t gonna have, Yes Ma’am
No garden at all, Yes Ma’am
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Some of the people I talked to at the conference (other than Cheryl) were:
- Rosalind Miles--Author of I, Elizabeth, and The Guenevere Trilogy, among others. Rosalind has a fabulous sense of humor and is a lively conversationalist. Her feminist perspective was necessary and welcomed. She also wore red bejeweled high heels to the end-of conference party.
- Reb Livingston--We were on a panel together and because she lives near DC I like to claim her as a DC poet.
- Ron Hogan--Ron Hogan smokes cigars and drinks scotch. He also edits Beatrice.
Things I learned:
- That I should be more proactive about sending out work. Usually I just wait until someone solicits something from me. But if I'm going to, like, publish more fiction, I need to send out more fiction, and so on.
- In a poetry panel at a writing conference, someone will always ask "what is a poem?" or "how do you deffine a poem?" They will ask this question with some degree of hostility.
- Poets really are viewed with awe or suspicion.
- A possom is the size of a large cat, but they are not as cute and have bigger heads.
- That I am still quite young.
- That the word "craft" is frequently used at a writing conference.
- That people who write in different genres can have fun at parties together.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Some asked, “But isn’t it important that you give papers in your field, aren’t you a modernist?” I didn't tell them that I hadn't even written my paper yet.
Others said sternly, “Resist the urge to join the circus, Lorraine.” I sulked and said nothing.
My advisor was skeptical but not unwilling to help. “What are you going to do in Romania for two weeks? Is it relevant to your thesis?” He had his pen poised to sign a form that would eventually force the department to pay for my plane ticket.
“It’s a translation studies conference,” I said. “And maybe I’ll give a reading there.”
My flight to Bucharest left from New York, so I took a bus up from Washington, DC the night before and stayed with friends in Green Point, Brooklyn.
Here’s the part where I noodle a bit:
Four or maybe five months ago for work, I attended a reading by a well-known and influential poet who said that there had been no good American poets since W. H. Auden. He’s wrong, of course. I probably only care about Auden because of the sense of energy and humor he brought to New York. I can’t fathom the arrogance needed to dismiss, for example, “Beat” poetry, the San Francisco Renaissance, Adrienne Rich, Jerome Rothenberg, the New York School, the Nuyorican Poets, and many many other individuals and groups about which I’ll have to write later.
I don’t know what kind of narrative historians and literary scholars of the future will construct to define and judge the many kinds of poetries being written and performed in the United States. But I can analyze the present, and at present there are a lot of poets. The friends I stayed with in Brooklyn are poets.
Rarely do I exist in a public context where being a poet is relevant, and it's never OK. My partner, Mark, tells a story about traveling in southern Portugal after being at the International Meeting of Poets at the University of Coimbra. He was with the performance artist and writer William R. Howe (although when Mark tells the story it is just “Bill”). Mark and Bill are tall men. At the time Bill was sporting a stiff purple mohawk. They checked into a hotel in a small walled town. They filled out cards with their name, nationality, passport number, and profession. Next to profession they wrote, “poet.” The woman behind the desk didn’t speak any English, but she recognized the word poet.
“Ah, Poetas!” She exclaimed, and gave them a twenty percent discount.
This kind of thing doesn’t happen in the United States. If anything, people want to see cash up front when they find out you’re a poet.
As it turns out, being a poet in Romania is OK, although it has its difficulties. Florin Prodan, poet, critic, and kind host, is often between jobs. When I was in Romania, his friend was making some money by writing an article about garlic.
“Ah,” Florin said, “there is an annual festival of garlic in Bucovina.”
“Tell me, tell me!” His friend replied.
I spent my first three days in Campulung Moldovenesc, a town in Bucovina, nestled in the “foothills” of the Carpathian mountains. I stayed up until 4 in the morning most nights drinking homemade afinata, a liquor made, I think, from a berry similar to blueberries. There was something in the afinata that allowed me to talk all night about poetry, politics, and art. Each morning I woke up at 7:00 am, hyper and excited, without a trace of hangover.
"Afinata is organic," Florin said. "It does not make you sick."
My hosts in Campulung Moldovenesc gave me a large plastic jug of afinata to take with me, since I seemed to like it so much. I lugged this jug on both train and bus rides. In Suceava, the provincial capital of Bucovina, I was starting to feel sentimental and lonely, which meant I haden't had enough sleep. When poet and journalist X showed me a series of achingly lovely unpublished translations of his work, I cried like the Green party/sometimes Democrat I am.
“It’s OK,” he said through a translator. “It’s not your fault you didn’t know of us. But you know us now.”
By the time we arrived in the university town of Iasi, I was strung out and overwhelmed by the number of talented writers I’d met, and had decided once again that I know nothing about anything. I like this feeling, it’s why I travel.
One evening, we retreated to the rooftop balcony in the home of poet Radu Andriescu. Radu is one of the few contemporary Romanian writers to have his work translated into English. On his bookshelves he has a complete set of Sulfur, the magazine edited by Clayton Eshleman dedicated to engaging “multiple aspects of innovative contemporary poetry in the context of international modernism,” etc.
Dizzy, I headed back up the spiral staircase to the roof and complimented Radu on his magazine collection. He looked at me and took my half full glass of Greek (yes, Greek) whisky.
He smiled and says, “let’s put on some Frank Zappa!”
I don't like Frank Zappa, but I like some of Radu's poems. Any man who uses the verb "rape" ironically in song lyrics is not OK. OK, so maybe "Little Rubber Girl" and "Bobby Brown" are ironic, but I don't identify with their glee, and I'm not supposed to, and I don't want to listen to them. But I'm glad that Zappa opposes censorship.
That night, there were no less than five wedding parties at the hotel where we were staying. The music and dancing lasted all night. I called Mark a bit drunk and lonely.
I managed to bring my plastic jug of Afinata back to Washington, DC to share with friends.
“Will it make me blind?” One asked.
Here’s a recipe for Afinata, in Romanian. Anyone who can tell me exactly what "afine" is/are...please do.
5 kg afine, 3 kg zahar, 3 I votcă
Mod de preparareSe aleg afinele si se spala, se scurg si se pun in damigeana cu zaharul presarat in straturi, deasupra fiind stratul de zahar. Se leagă damigeana la gură cu tifon împăturit şi se pune la soare cca 4 saptamini. Cind afinele s-au macerat si-au lasat un sirop care acopera fructele, se adauga alcoolul. Se inchide damigeana cu un dop de pluta si se mai pastreaza la macerat cca 3-4 saptamini. Se strecoara prin tifon sau printr-o strecuratoare deasa, se pune in sticle si se pastreaza la rece. In aceleasi condiţii se prepara si zmeurata, cornata si capsunata.