- Baba Ghanouj
- Skordalia (Greek potato and almond dip/sauce, one of my favorite things ever)
- Hummus with Paprika and Whole Chickpeas (the most fancy hummus I've ever made)
- Egyptian Spiced Carrot Puree (I also love this, mostly for the spice topping part, which is made of toasted ground hazelnuts, coconuts, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds, and other stuff)
- Roasted Red Pepper Involtini (little rolls made out of roasted red peppers filled with a ricotta mixture. These taste good but fall apart)
- Roasted tomatoes with honey and thyme (they are so good! Good on bread, especially with some ricotta)
- Rice Salad with Merguez and Preserved Lemon Dressing (I couldn't actually find any Merguez, so I used some spicy chicken sausage, but it tastes good)
- Three Pea Salad (hurray for peas!)
- Beet Salad with Candied Marcona Almonds (Marconas are addictive even when they're not candied. And I love roasted beets)
- Cheese, fruit, etc
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Waiting at the Carlsbad Village Coaster Station:
Until the train came:
I wasn't the only one reading and writing on the train ride:
At San Diego Old Town Station, where I got off, you can catch the trolley to San Ysidro, and from there walk through the turnstiles and over the border to Tijuana.
It was a short ride from the station to Lester's vet. I picked him up, packed up all his toys, and put him in the travel cage, which fits quite nicely in my bike bag. This was the first time he'd ridden in with me on the bike, but he seemed to like it. He sang most of the time. He did make a nervous contact call once or twice when a large car passed us, but I answered him, and he went back to singing.
We had about 45 minutes to kill before our train came, so we looked around San Diego Old Town. Lester sang to the cheesy Mexican music. Together we attacked a lot of attention. Several people asked me if I'd just bought him (yikes, NO). A schizophrenicaly dressed Australian woman waiting to get on a tour bus with very precise circles of pink rouge on her cheeks asked me if he was "a peach face" and I said no. Parrotlets are kind of like lovebirds, but they are smaller and from south America, not Africa.
Lester admired the adobe construction.
Finally, we got on the train. While waiting for the train a guy named Paul told me about his mother's lovebird, and how the bird is vicious and likes to bite him. An elderly woman with a little poodle told me about how her mother used to befriend coyotes, and how her sister's cockatoo loves her and not her sister, and that this has created a rift between her and her sister, but that she was moving down to Rosarito soon, and would take her sister's cockatoo with her.
Lester sang for most of the train ride. The two guys next to me were on their way to the race track. They asked me if I'd been to the track here and I said no. But I told them about how I used to go to the races in Mexico City with my Dad and a guy from San Diego I called "Uncle Geno." Our bookie's name was Rambo, and I remember that he had bad posture. I am nostalgic about the races in Mexico City, but I don't support horse racing now.
Lester's been very mellow and happy since we all returned home, though I doubt he'll appreciate my absence next week when I go to Maine for my cousin's wedding.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
There was a lot I wanted to talk about after the panel on "Alpha Bets: Language Gambles on Land," but didn't. This panel was moderated by Rita Wong. Presenters were Juliana Spahr, Pat O'Riley, Reg Johanson, and Peter Cole. I'm either one quarter or one eighth Comanche on my father's side. My father looks native American, but I don't, really. And getting accurate information about it is impossible--my father doesn't even know the name of his grandfather (my aunt claims it was "Julius Caesar Graham" and that he had over 30 children), and whatever native American heritage I do or don't have came from my father's mother, anyway. My father's distinctly not-white appearance was helpful when he was a hostage at in Baghdad during the Gulf War. He wore an Iraqi soccer team t-shirt (which my brother had, for a while. I wonder where it is?) and wandered around Baghdad without incident, buying food and noting the positions of anti-aircraft weaponry.
I suppose that discussions of race and class always interest me and make me uncomfortable. Really, I am as white and WASPY as can be. Except that I'm not. I'm not-white enough to have official tribal affiliation (which my brother successfully applied for, was going to accept, and then didn't), and I've never been baptized. My mom comes from a family descended from Jamaican, slave-owning creoles (my great-grandmother called the African Americans who worked in the nursing home where she lived "darkies") and my dad is a cracker Comanche who lived and worked on reservations in his 20s. I grew up in South America, the Asia-Pacific, and Maine. I tell people I'm from Washington, DC, but that isn't true. Unless you're a diplomat, many ex-pat communities are usually made of ambitious working-class people who want to get the hell out of their town and country, and who enjoy a standard of living totally impossible for them if they still lived at home. Class is weird among ex-pat communities. It's an old story though. Certain Europeans left Europe for the colonies in order to make their fortunes, or at least to be more economically and social mobile then they could ever be in their home countries.
So, what's my point (which is related to the actual panel discussion, but which has now wandered far from it)? Maybe that I approach conversations about race, class, and language in an overly hopeful way. However, the problem is that everyone needs to spend a lot of time explaining why they have a specific, unique identity (as I just did), and why that specific, unique identity is relevant, has been ignored, or can't really be talked about. Then the conversation moves to one of two places, usually: 1) we want to be more recognized and integrated into mainstream societies or 2) Mainstream societies suck and we don't want to be integrated into them and we should resist integration. Eventually the conversation might end in this way: some integration is inevitable or even desirable. However, we must be wary of it, even when it benefits us(especially then) and resist it simultaneously.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I won't admit to feeling optimistic, but I will officially state that I experienced feelings of joy and a distinct reduction in overall alienation.
Vancouver is in the midst of some serious post-factory, rust belt gentrification and, more recently, gentrification brought on in part by all the money pouring into the city for the upcoming 2010 winter Olympics. The thing is, it's still a really fabulous city: the public transportation works. There are sidewalks. Not everyone is white. Not every news anchor has hair dyed blond for marketing purposes. It's a city in which a collective poetic and political organization has been able to exist for more than a decade.
My notes from the panels are some combination of doodles and language. I'll post them as soon as I can get to a scanner. For now, here's most of the language, with some descriptions of doodles.
AM: "On Line: Poetics and the Distribution of Meaning" (Darren Wershler-Henry, Brian Kim Stefans, Judy Radul, and Sianne Ngai). Information always comes from somewhere else, someone else. The desire to impose magic on things that aren't inherently magic. How avant-garde techniques are used in commercials. Facebook status updates as auto surveillance. The meat always comes shambling along after you ( I drew a zombie army, which was easy for me since most of my stick figures already look like the undead). Rapture as sublimity (I think I meant as "sublime." As in computer fantasies of transcending the body). Reinventing the page for myself/ourselves. Font de psychology (in response to Brian Kim Stefans' flash font doodling program and exploding poems). Form as distribution (remember mail art?) Sitting at a computer does have a physicality. How to render this? What's embarrassing about each form of technology is interesting(Judy Radu said that).
PM: "The Clifford Irving Show" (Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy with Guests--I remember that Colin Smith & Lisa Robertson were among them). Feminist barf wears bad shoes. I said I was fake but didn't mean it. Ibiza. No one wants to be the mother but a lot of us need mothering and lesbian tensions in mother-daughter relationships that no one talks about. Chickens RCA Cows RCA Pigs RCA but but but. Customs House. Tariq Alvi.
Lunch/Dinner: chicken and mushroom congee at the Congee House on Broadway. Yum. It was raining. I hadn't eaten congee in years, and this was an incredibly satisfying meal. Lisa Robertson recommended Mosses From an Old Manse.
Evening Readings: (Darren Wershler-Henry, Colin Smith, Brian Kim Stefans, Clint Burnham, Robert Fitterman). People are rent. I drew a picture of a baby in a crib saying "kill the fucker" and wrote a note to myself: "the fuwuyuan on the train from Harbin to Shanghai with the angry, haphazard coral red lipstick and Jamie describing it." I'm not sure what part of the reading made me think of that. I also wrote "suburban ennui" and "surprisingly, I have never watched a full episode of Lost. I also drew a picture of two people leaping on a tightly coiled, dangerous looking mattress.
To be more specific, Darren read from Status Update, a new project he did with Bill Kennedy that's rather meticulous and hilarious.
Colin Smith read from 8x8x7, recently out from Krupskaya Books. I'd heard his name before but didn't know his work--I really liked it. It has an energy, intensity, and torque that reminded me a bit of Kevin Killian, but it also seemed brutal and even a bit personal. I'll certainly be writing about his work more after I get a hold of the book (really, I should have brought more money with me to the conference)!
BKS read some recent (I think) poems with some projections of exploding flash poems behind him--WCW, if I remember correctly. I met BKS once back in New York when I'd just started going to readings. I think it was at double happiness, and maybe Abigail Child was reading. I also remember that I was being a bit shy, and also that I drank my first Boddingtons beer. Anyway, it was good to hear him read, and a reminder to look at his work as I continue to noodle around with coding and some of the visual stuff I've been doing. Plus, he's moving to LA soon.
Clint Burnham read a series of procedural homophonic translations of. What? Walter Benjamin? Somehow that detail isn't in my notes. I love sound-based translation--so often we rely on image or denotation for meaning, but sound is important, too, and a homophonic translation highlights this. Obviously, sounds have texture and mouth feel, as well as connotative and denotative meanings, and these meanings etc are also at least in part cultural. Poems that focus on sound, for me at least, always open up meanings and connections that I wouldn't think of otherwise. Plus, they're fun to listen to and write.
Rob Fitterman read a procedural piece called "Free" made of lines from classifieds. It was funny and rather horrifying--people give away strange things, and other people give other people's things away when people die. What does bacon stretcher look like? Rob also showed a power point presentation in which every slide was a smiling picture of himself. Rob's work continues to examine subjectivity and appropriation in interesting ways.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Kevin Davies' line, "hand me the Bulgarian umbrella, comrade," from Comp, has always been a favorite of mine.
This was going to be a long post, but it will be a shorter post. I'm so happy to be going to Vancouver and to see so many friends. And to eat a lot of Asian food. And I'm going to draw a lot of doodles and reading responses.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
In San Diego county people I don't know frequently tell me details about their personal lives within a minute or two of meeting me. This tends to happen in coffee shops, at bus stops and train stations, and on buses and trains. Probably if I hung out in bars alone it would happen to me there.
It's always been true that marginal people talk to me, especially if I'm traveling alone. In high school and college, there would always be a vaguely lecherous and lonely middle-aged man who would offer to buy me a soda while waiting for the bus/train and want to sit next to me. Now it's usually disenfranchised middle-aged men who want to tell me their problems. Occasionally some twenty or thirty-some guy will come on to me, but the moment I tell them I'm a teacher, they usually become intimidated. It's true I'm pretty and blonde and generally seem younger than I am. But this is California, and the world is full of pretty young women, many with blond hair. It has to be more than my physical appearance that causes these men to talk to me about their personal lives. I know that I don't appear threatening to anyone.
And it isn't just men, it's women, too. Usually, these women are also middle-aged, but they are more likely to be homeless or transient. The young men I meet are not yet homeless, and the middle-aged men usually have some kind of job (often a post-rehab transitional job). Both the men and the women are often on some kind of psychiatric medication (or at least claim to be). But I was talking about the women: the women are usually fighting with their husbands, boyfriends, sons, or all of the above. Often their husbands, boyfriends, and sons are the same young men or older post-rehab men that talk to me.
(Aside: the marginal women who talked to me in DC tended to be a lot more aggressive and hostile. I don't have an analysis of that difference yet, really.)
Both the men and the women frequently look like they've been beat up. Even the ones that look healthy look fragile. In fact, anyone on the sidewalk in North County looks fragile--pedestrians here always look like they're about to fall off the sidewalk and into the street.
For the past two days there's been a guy at the bus stop and on the bus named Bob (or Robert or Bobby) who has been telling me all about his DUI case and how he lost his license and his quest to find a lawyer. Bob grew up in San Clemente in the 70s and moved to Carlsbad about four or five months ago. He says he has family who work in law and lives in down town Carlsbad. That may be true, but if it's true, it doesn't make sense that he's taking the bus to see a lawyer or hanging out at the court house to talk to a public defender. Maybe he's lying. Or maybe his family give him some money to live off of and are happy that he's not homeless. He's got the clean cut 70s look of a man just out of rehab even though I don't think he's just out of rehab: new jordache jeans, new sneakers, and a new aloha-print short sleeve button-down shirt. He carries a rather beat-up legal pad and no pen.
This morning on the bus he asked if he could borrow my pen. The only one I had was my favorite purple one, but I lent it to him but said, "I'll need that back before I get off the bus." After I pulled the cord for my stop, he asked if he could borrow it for the day and I said no, but very nicely. The woman sitting next to him and across from me gave him her pen. She'd been trying to catch my eye the whole bus ride, so this was her opportunity to enter the conversation. She said that it was a good pen, but that the ink was permanent and would mark up a car or a shirt forever. "I broke up with my boyfriend over that pen," she said, and then went on to tell a story about accidentally marking up the leather seats of her boyfriend's car, and how he got angry, and how she didn't want to be with someone who got angry over little things, so she'd broken up with him, that morning, and that the pen was good luck.
Robert was looking for some good luck, so this seemed to make him happy.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The typesetter I worked with was potentially a murderer, and the whole building was full of creepy Victorian scientific equipment as well as printing machinery. There was one machine that was like a huge typewriter, but for shapes and flourishes instead of letters. Sometimes a larger version of Lester lived in the house with us, and he looked very very green against the dark gray colors of the print shop.
At one point, the typesetter and I were giving a tour of the shop to someone--perhaps someone who knew that the typesetter was a murderer and was trying to secretly find some evidence. I remember thinking that I would have helped him find the evidence if I knew what it was. At the far corner of the print shop, which was in the huge attic of the mansion, was a door. The typesetter led us through the door and said, "And this is my master suite bedroom." The walls, floor, and ceiling were covered with loose type, and there was loose type rolling about on the floors, unfixed. At the back corner were a series of metallic frames that looked like old bed frames, but were also pieces of type, somehow.
Then my alarm went off, and I got up and ate some high fiber high protein cereal with blueberries.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I went to school in
My BA is in East Asian Studies and Chinese, which means that I spent 6-10 hours a week studying Chinese language and linguistics, and the rest of the 16-21 hours each week studying East Asian history and politics. I also took several semesters of Chinese and Japanese literature, and a graduate seminar on Central Asian history because I was obsessed with Xinjiang. I wrote a historical senior thesis on Yakub Beg. I went to Asia almost every year during college—either to
I didn’t start going to poetry readings or writing poetry seriously until my last year of college. I was well-read, but not in any standard sense, and I had really no clue about the typical cannons of British and
Because I went through an obsession with all things having to do with King Arthur and Celtic mythology, I’d read anything I could find having to do with that, including several translations of the Mabinogion and the Táin Bó Cúailnge, Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, and Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. Other than that, I knew nothing about British literature and history. I was in
By the time I got to GW, my knowledge of
I suppose my point is that I really knew nothing about contemporary US literature when I started going to poetry readings in
Friday, August 08, 2008
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Sunday, August 03, 2008
I'm back from the fun and festivities of LA, sitting here with Lester who is doing some post-shower preening. I thought I'd write my thoughts on the comments to my post below on Ariana Reines' Coeur de Lion here instead of in the comments box.
Emotional nakedness in writing can be incredibly interesting. I’m also intrigued by Q’s comment about manipulation, sincerity, and vulnerability. The writing I love most takes risks—sometimes these risks veer more towards intimate emotional vulnerability and sometimes they’re more formal. The writing I like most often plays with some kind of a tension between these two things, and (again), Bellamy’s work is a good example of that—I’m thinking right now of The Letters of Mina Harker, Cunt Ups, and also her recent collection of essays, Academonia. Her subject matter is a choice, and I’d argue that she’s very much in control of it—it’s neither purely conceptual nor unregulated emotional nakedness. She chooses what to write about, what is edited out (or in), appropriates and changes texts, connects them to her own experiences, etc. I suppose I’m trying to say that her work is both emotionally and formally complex, and I see a lot of similarities between the concerns in her work and, for example, Lyn Hejinian’s My Life, or even Charles Bernstein’s poem "Sentences my Father Used." There’s a lot of personal detail and information in both, and all three writers have a deep commitment to understanding personal experience, and questioning how that experience can be and is represented. Nick Piombino is a writer often associated Language poetry and also a practicing psychotherapist. He’s spent much of his life exploring emotion. His book from Green Integer, Theoretical Objects, is one of my favorites.
I’ve also heard the story about someone suggesting that Bellamy see a therapist after reading her writing. In fact, I’m drawn back to that anecdote again and again. The suggestion that she see a therapist was certainly meant as an insult, and whenever I hear people talk about it they also seem to feel like it was an insult. However, in my perfect world, everyone would see a good psychotherapist. Thinking about, understanding and questioning the structures and narratives behind feelings and emotions doesn’t make those feelings and emotions less real or intimate—instead it can create other possibilities for expressing them and connecting to others. That’s probably another characteristic of the writing I’m most interested in: I like writing that investigates structures of emotion and experience with attention to social and cultural contexts. The poems I love most question their own assumptions and make me question mine.
The ways a poem might question its own assumptions and require its audience to question theirs really depends on the context of the poem. Avant-garde writing isn’t about a specific set of aesthetic moves. It’s about a risky investigation of assumptions—and that investigation involves taking risks in both the form and content of the poem.
Here’s a section from “Avant-Garde Deodorant,” an essay that always makes me feel cheerful. You can find in Mark’s book Haze: Essays, Poems, Prose.
“When it comes to deodorant, I’ve always preferred Gillette’s Avant Garde to either Academic Speed Stick or Bureaucratic Sure. But this may just be personal preference.
“However, the question of the forum, ‘What Does It Mean To Be Avant Garde?’ confuses me. Avant Garde is the deodorant I use, but I’m not at all sure how a person can be a deodorant.
“In any case, it sees clear that one uses a deodorant in order NOT TO STINK. After you take a shower, rub it back and forth under your arm, and the world’s your oyster, that is at least if you believe the commercials.
“Of course, the problem of whether or not you stink has a lot to do with other people. After all, for the most part it will be them, not you, who will notice what you smell like. So whether you stink or not is a matter of social mores…”
A risk in a poem is only a risk in context (a social context, a cultural context, a political context, a gendered context, a linguistic context, a psychological context, a historical context…usually some combination of all of the above and more). The term “avant-garde” itself is tangled up in a variety of contexts, and I’m not interested in stabilizing it.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
Reading with Michelle Detorie, K. Lorraine Graham, Amanda Ackerman, Vanessa Place, and Carribean Fragoza
Saturday, August 2
(directions to Betalevel below)
Doors open at 7pm; Reading at 7:30pm
Ice Age art
Something beautiful …
"You can be sure, that there has been art in Swabia for over 35,000 years."
The figure of the woolly mammoth is tiny, measuring just 3.7 cm long
and weighing a mere 7.5 grams, and displays skillfully detailed
carvings. It is unique in its slim form, pointed tail, powerful legs
and dynamically arched trunk. It is decorated with six short
incisions, and the soles of the pachyderm's feet show a crosshatch
Michelle Detorie grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. She currently
lives in Goleta, California where she edits WOMB, an online magazine
for poetries by women, and Hex Presse. She is also a contributing
editor for Little Red Leaves and Narrative Magazine. Michelle is a
2007 National Endowment for the Arts literary fellow. Her poems have
appeared or are forthcoming in How2, Chelsea, Bird Dog, Blackbird,
Verse Daily, The Notre Dame Review, Typo, Dusie, POOL, Pindeldyboz,
DIAGRAM, La Petite Zine, Cranky, Caketrain, The Tiny, The Potomac
Review, FOURSQUARE, Confrontation, The Southern Poetry Review, The
Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel(2007), Poetry East, Letters to the
World, and The Outside Voices 2008 Anthology of Younger Poets.
K. Lorraine Graham is a writer and visual artist. She is the author of
Terminal Humming, forthcoming from Edge Books in 2009. She is also the
author of several chapbooks: including Large Waves to Large Obstacles,
forthcoming from Take Home Project. Ron Her poetry, critical writing,
and visual art has appeared or is forthcoming in Traffic, Jacket, Area
Sneaks, Fold, Magazine Cypress, HOW2 and elsewhere. A limited-edition
CD of her work called Moving Walkways is available Narrowhouse
Recordings. Lorraine has taught poetry and memoir at the Corcoran
College of Art + Design in Washington, DC and at California State
University in San Marcos. She lives in southern California with her
partner Mark Wallace and Lester Young, a pacific parrotlet.
Amanda Ackerman lives in Los Angeles where she writes and teaches. She
is co-editor of the press eohippus labs. She is a member of UNFO (The
Unauthorized Narrative Freedom Organization) and writes as part of Sam
or Samantha Yams. She is also a member of the event space Betalevel.
Her work has been published or is forthcoming in flim forum; String of
Small Machines; The Physical Poets; WOMB; and the Encyclopedia
Project, Volume F-K. With Harold Abramowitz, she is also co-author of
the book Sin is to Celebration, soon to be published by House Press in
the fall. (www.eohippuslabs.com)
Vanessa Place is a writer and lawyer, and co-director of Les Figues
Press. She is the author of /Dies: A Sentence/, a 50,000-word,
one-sentence novella, the post-conceptual novel /La Medusa/ (Fiction
Collective 2), a chapbook, /Figure from The Gates of Paradise
/(Woodland Editions/Five Fingers Review) and the forthcoming
/Conceptualisms: An Ill-Conceived Guide to Kinda Conceptual,
Post-Conceptual, Extant and Taxonomical Writings, etc.,/ written with
Robert Fitterman (Ugly Duckling Presse). Her nonfiction book, /The
Guilt Project: Rape and Morality/, will be published in Fall 2009 by
Other Press. Her collaboration with artist/performer Lamya Regragui
will debut at Cent Quatre in Paris/Los Angeles in 2009, and she is
collaborating with conceptual artist Stephanie Taylor on "Olady," a
visual/sound project. She lives in Los Angeles.
1. Find yourself in front of "FULL HOUSE RESTAURANT" located at 963
N. Hill Street in Chinatown.
[Map to Full House]
2. Locate the alley on the left hand side of Full House.
3. Walk about 20 feet down the alley (away from the street).
5. Notice dumpster on your right hand side.
6. Take a right and continue down the alley.
7. Exercise caution so as not trip on the wobbly cement blocks underfoot
8. The entrance to Betalevel is located 10 yards down on left side,
behind a red door, down a black staircase