Tuesday, July 06, 2010

New Blog Space

I've finished moving my blog permanently to www.spooksbyme.org, Come visit me there!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Moving from Blogger to Wordpress

Hello everyone--I'm in the process of moving from Blogger to Wordpress (and trying to keep all my permalinks). This blog will continue to be hosted at spooksbyme.org, but there might be a period of a day or two when the blog is down. No doubt you'll be able to survive, but I thought I'd let you all know!

Friday, June 18, 2010

I'll be in the Bay Area this Saturday and Sunday!

The (New) Reading Series at 21 Grand Presents...

Jeffrey Schrader & K. Lorraine Graham

Sunday, June 20, 2010
6:30 pm, Admission 5 USD

Jeffrey Schrader
’s newest book is Art Fraud (BlazeVOX 2010). This summer his newest work will be gridpattern (www.ErgArts.com). He has previous work in a handful of diy journals & websites. He has some older chapbooks. He’s worked as a factory employee, an outdoor adventure guide for young, urban troublemakers, an arts academy teacher, a bike messenger, a student, an archivist, a recipient of unemployment benefits, and an accountant. He does not blog, but enjoys reading yours. He has occasionally helped out with The Uglyman Collective, Another Thing Books, and (currently) Cricket Online Review. He presently lives in Oakland, CA, but he won’t live there forever. He has received no grants or awards.

K. Lorraine Graham is a writer and visual artist. She is the author of Terminal Humming (Edge Books, 2009) and several chapbooks, including Large Waves to Large Obstacles, forthcoming from Take-Home Project. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Traffic, Area Sneaks, Foursquare and elsewhere. She currently lives in southern California with her partner, Mark Wallace, and Lester Young, a pacific parrotlet.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I've been sucked into facebookland conversations about the Rethinking Poetics Conference. If I lived closer to New York or actually had some kind of academic job that required me to go to such conferences or if I'd been invited or if tickets to New York were really cheap and I'd had a place to stay, I might have gone. Conferences are all slightly doomed. If I ever get to/have to throw a poetry conference, it would be 1) interdisciplinary 2) mix readings/performance/art with critical discussion 3) have time for dancing and parties 4) have good food available--either on site or easily accessible off-site 5) there should be at least one good bar nearby, and preferably several 6) there should be some time for sleeping in and some time for napping.

Now that I think of it, both Post Moot I and II as well as Positions were pretty close to fulfilling all of my criteria. And Press was fun, too. I think it's also notable that Post Moot and Positions didn't call themselves conferences. Post Moot was a "convocation" and Positions was a "colloquium." What about festivals? I know the word "festival" brings up, perhaps, images of people dancing around in the California wilderness, wearing motley, and juggling--but hey, a lot of those motley-wearing jugglers are my friends, and they often throw good parties. I mean, if I had the funds to spare, I'd definitely be going to at least Wanderlust and Burning Man this year.

Enough of that. Mark and I ate the last of the apricot-blackberry tart I made for my birthday, and it was delicious. Otherwise, I've been eating a lot of strawberries. I also made a killer roasted-potato salad with corn (also roasted), zucchini, red onion, green beans and tomatoes. Dressing was made of of tarragon, apple-cider vinegar, mustard, olive oil, hot sauce, etc. Yum.

On Sunday, I managed to get into a full version of Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, with both hands and my head on my foot. Here's a picture of what the full pose looks like for those of you who aren't yogis. Of course, my hips weren't perfectly square or perfectly on the ground, but still, moments of physical opening like that make me hopeful

What else? I did decide to get a pair of Toms. Gold ones.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Post Moot 2010: Day 1

Mark and I arrived just as the Flarf &  friends reading was getting started--so we missed all of the morning's events. I was already in overwhelmed mode. What I mean is that I miss the poetry world a lot here in San Diego, and seeing so many people I love and respect all at once makes me hyper and manic. So many friends, all at the same time! Hyper and manic is a good way to feel at a conference, though.

I didn’t read first, but I’ll describe my reading to get that description out of the way. Because I was suddenly hyper and manic, I was also rather nervous. And I hadn’t had time to put on any make up. So that’s the first thing I did when I got on stage—powder and mascara, which I smudged all over my left eye because my hand was shaking. Performing my own nervousness or needs onstage (for make up, for dancing, for a drink of whiskey, for a comforting stuffed animal) is something I’ve been playing with for a while. It doesn’t make me less nervous, but it does ground me and help me move from the world of my own weirdness to a world of staged public weirdness. I the long poem from Terminal Humming about the “standard government tortured dictator forced to lick boots.” I don’t read it out loud very often, because it’s creepy and not the kind of funny that people laugh at much. But in this particular context, that was good. I’m not going to try and complete with the kinds of laughs the audience wants to laugh when Kasey, Mel, Rod and Adeena are reading. Instead, I tried to be the tense and weird contrast.

Kasey read from of his anagrams of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which, yes, do retain meter and rhyme. I think of the Sonnagrams as structurally conceptual and tonally flarfy. They play with the idea of sonnet as political and social commentary, sometimes through direct address of other writers.

Mel read a variety of pieces, including “Superpoke” and the one I love about Jesus and pimp handshakes. I haven’t had many chances to hear Mel read since I left DC, but I feel like there’s something new (to me) about her use of dynamics and timing—a sophisticated sense of the various performative arcs of the poems, of how the audience is reacting, and how to really work the tension between those two things. And her dress was gorgeous.

Monica Moody mentioned “Adeena Karasick’s preternatural and sexy verbal fireworks” in her post on the Post Moot blog; I think it’s an apt description of Adeena’s poems and performance style. Layered, sexy. Adeena’s poems contain aural & connotative linguistic chain reactions which, to me, feel like they could keep going until they include all of language, given time and space.

“Rod’s Flarf poems make me cry.” That’s what I wrote in my notes. Nothing about which specific poems he read. Grover’s bottom? Voting machine poems? Later, when I write about Rod’s other reading, I’ll talk about what I consider to be his flexible tonal range.

After the reading, I was very ready for some wine, and so glad to head over to the Miami Inn for drinks and more readings. Laura Moriarty and Carla Harryman gave brief readings (more about their work later when I write on their longer performances), and Tom Orange played saxophone. I pretty sure we talked about Pee Wee Russell at some point during the evening.

Mark and I snuck out at around midnight to get a reasonable night’s sleep so that we could be in good form tomorrow morning for the 9am (6am our time) panel/performance.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

"I" "Am" Still "Here"

  1. Spring quarter at UCSD is finished. Which means my first year of my second time in graduate school is finished.
  2. I am reading in Oakland on June 20 with Jeffrey Schrader at The (New) Reading Series at 21 Grand. I will remind you of this next week.
  3. My birthday is this Friday, June 11.
  4. I did type up my notes from Post Moot, but they are not even in a bloggable format.
  5. Most of you have, by now, seen my Post Moot Photo Set on Flickr.
  6. I'm working on a prose piece about Papua New Guinea, fruit, mining, and manifest destiny. The whole project creeps me out.
  7. Also still working on my "White Girl" project, which now includes many footnotes.
  8. I've been hooping more again, and it feels good.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Lester (On Hoola Hoop in Sepia) / How can my blog be treated as a serious poetry blog if I continue to post pictures of Lester the Parrot?

e real question is this: why doesn't Lester get more fan mail?

Posted by Picasa
Although Lester would like his own blog, "The Daily Lester," I think that Friday Lester is enough.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Lester

A Post Moot report is coming, but in the meantime, here's a Friday Lester picture:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Post Moot

I'm so very excited to be heading off to the post_moot convocation at tomorrow for four days of poetry + performance + friends + awesomeness! The photoset from post moot 2006 will give you an idea of what I'm (happily) in for.


Stan Apps • Oana Avasilichioaei • Mike Basinski • Holly Bass • John M. Bennett • Black Took Collective • Sean Bonney • Tammy Brown • Mairéad Byrne •  cris cheek • Daniel Citro • A.M.J. Crawford • Jordan Dalton • Maria Damon  • Ian Davidson •  Ryan Downey • Lara Glenum • Alan Golding •  K. Lorraine Graham • Duriel Harris • Carla Harryman • Jeff Hilson • Jen Hofer  • Josef Horaçek  • William R. Howe •  Jade Hudson • Christine Hume •  Peter Jaeger • Mark Jeffery • Bonnie Jones • Pierre Joris • Adeena Karasick  • KBD sonic collective • Brian Kincaid • A. J. Patrick Liszkiewicz •  José Luna •  Dawn Lundy-Martin •  Mel Nichols •  Hoa Nguyen • Chris Mann • Monica Mody  • K. Silem Mohammad • Laura Moriarty • Judd Morrissey •  Erin Mouré • Jason Nelson  • Mel Nichols • Tom Orange • Jessica Ponto  • Luke Roberts  • Jaime Robles • Ric Royer • Linda Russo • Lisa Samuels •  Standard Schaefer • Jonathan Skinner •  Danny Snelson • Todd Seabrook  • Jessica Smith • Rod Smith  • Kate Sopko • Rodrigo Toscano • Lawrence Upton • Catherine Wagner • Mark Wallace  • Dana Ward • Barrett Watten • Brian Whitener  • Steve Willey • Tyrone Williams • Ronaldo Wilson

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Lester

Lester has a thing for pulling paper over his head.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

I'm participating in two off-site readings at AWP this year--come say hello

To those of you who are heading to AWP this week, I hope to see you at the conference or at an off-site event. Mark is also participating in a panel on "Hybrid Aesthetics and its Discontents" on Friday morning, which I'll be at, as well as the Flarf and Conceptual Poetry Panel on Saturday morning. And finally, I'm reading in two off-site events, so do come say hello:

Wednesday, 7:00PM-10:00PM: Dusie Pussipo Stonecoast Femiganza
Location: at Packing House Center for the Arts, 835 E. 50th Ave. Denver, CO 80216
Cost: FREE! Everybody welcome!
Featuring: Bronwen Tate, Ann Bogle, Jennifer Karmin, Marthe Reed, Annie Finch, Amy King, Cara Benson, Mackenzie Carignan, Danielle Pafunda, Deborah Poe, Ana Bozicevic, Teresa Carmody, Kate Durbin, Megan Volpert, Sarah Rosenthal, Krystal Languell, K. Lorraine Graham, Carmen Gimenez Smith, Robin Reagler, Cheryl Pallant, Shanna Compton, Lara Glenum, Deb Marquart, Elizabeth Searle, and Mel Nichols.

Saturday: 3:30PM-6:00PM Flarf & Conceptual Writing @ MCA Denver
Location: Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
Cost: $5 (includes cost of admission to museum)
A group reading in coordination with the Saturday 9am AWP panel on Flarf & Conceptual Poetry. Reception to follow in rooftop cafe. Conceptual Cocktails & Flarftinis will be served.
Featuring: Christian Bök, Brandon Downing, K. Lorraine Graham, K. Silem Mohammad, Mel Nichols, Vanessa Place, Mathew Timmons, Christine Wertheim

Saturday, April 03, 2010

I Style My Hair With Surf Wax

My anthology arrived yesterday--I'd forgotten that there is a whole visual art section, which is exciting. I'm especially taken with "Starfish," the mixed-media piece by Hope Atherton, whose work is completely new to me. But I'm not going to try and do a mini review of the anthology now. I am going to attempt to respond to some of the comments left on the previous post. What a lot of you are suggesting, and I agree, is that the distinctions between suburban/urban aren't so clear cut--but some of you also point out that imaginary constructions of suburban/urban have real material ramifications. Looking through the anthology I think that an interrogation of some of these imaginary constructions is relevant to some of what the poems in here are doing.

Again, what I'm doing here is writing through some preliminary thoughts, thinking through these ideas as I write and as we all converse.

A large part of my interest in the coding of shared cultural references stems from the fact that growing up, I either lived in a very small town in Maine (graduating high school class had less than 100 people), or I lived outside of the United States--sometimes in isolated places like Papua New Guinea, and sometimes in huge, urban places. In high school and later in college,  I'd obsess about dumb things like how I'd read Naguib Mahfouz and Paul Bowles but not much Shakespeare, and I assumed this was because I'd had an education inferior to that of my peers. I was rather uptight. And getting back to Riot Grrrl music--I was listening to it, but I almost never went to shows, even when I was in college in DC. I was too spaced out, too uptight, taking ridiculously heavy course loads, spending 10-12 hours a week in Chinese class, and leaving the country whenever I could. Pam described her experiences with the Riot Grrrl scene as being peripheral--which is what mine were--and like her I also got the sense that it was an inclusive, coalition-building community.

Ana's comment about how, to quote her directly "city/authentic - suburb/inauthentic might not be the most useful or functional binary anymore"  resonates with me. I'm pretty wary of authenticity to begin with--in part for some of the reasons Ana goes on to mention: "one might conclude that only people who can't afford to make a choice are authentic, unadulterated. Unstained by having the privilege of choosing a brand."

The suburbs are actual places where many people live, grow up and experience the world. Now that I live in a suburb, I'm especially interested in cultural reference points and, yes, consumption choices of everyone else who also lives here--not surprisingly, some people are here because of their ability to choose and some people are here because they can't afford to make a choice.

Before I moved to Carlsbad and the San Diego area in general, I'd never really lived in a suburb, though I guess I did live in Gaithersburg, MD for a year. When I was 13, the distant Maryland suburbs of DC seemed like an exciting place because I could actually get to DC on my own via the Metro.

Pam and Joseph, in their comments, spoke a bit about the ways in which the differences between suburban and urban in LA--and I'd also include San Diego county--are collapsing, maybe have collapsed. The OC has urban density and cultural diversity with the infrastructure of something that feels more like a traditional suburb. San Diego has that same density (though not nearly on the same scale) and infrastructure, but it's not nearly as diverse as the OC or LA--it's significantly whiter, though that demographic is shifting.

What I'm getting to now is an idea Patrick and Pam articulated well. Patrick said: "Pam's remarks on appropriation illuminate the ways in which authenticity and sub-/urban imaginaries have material ramifications. I want to add a personal observation: that it works both ways." And he continues: "The temporary center serves as a figure ground relationship to the authenticity of one's relative privilege. If one marks their origins as suburban in some way, the "urban" becomes fated: the ground to the figure of purchasing power. And one strives to transform that into purchase on one's power of self-determination, despite it all. The point seems to understand that that privilege exists, for whom and how is it exercised."

Yes. For my 8th-grade self, the suburbs were cool because the suburbs were close to the city and offered a way to the urban. I marked my origins, somewhat arbitrarily, as rural, even though the were really a weird combination of rural and and global. Expat communities rework class in complex ways that, of course, imply colonialism: people who'd never be able or want to have servants can have servants, make more money, eat fancier food, and interact with people of a class they'd never be able to interact with at home. I was in school with then President Salinas de Gortari's son and went to a lot of ridiculous parties in everyone's huge houses in Polanco. My family didn't have a maid, but our apartment at Number 5 Plaza Carlos Finlay had a maid's room--my brother lived there over the summer before going back to live with my mom for the school year.

Ana's description of  how how "living in a very uniform Italian suburb in Long Island, after many years in Brooklyn, and this experience has actually jumpstarted [her] thinking about kitsch" also resonates with me. To be autobiographical, again: I went through a year in DC of maintaining a Stevie Nicks haircut, and I've always loved crochet ponchos and bell-sleeved shirts. Last year, I cut my hair short, but instead of it looking cool I decided that I looked like a perky soccer mom--not that I even really know what that means. I've at last embraced the beachy blondness of my hair, which I style with a product I've used since DC called "surf wax." Of course, it isn't really surf wax, and I don't surf, though I think that this summer will finally be the summer that I learn.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pop questionnaire for the poets:

How many of you grew up in the suburbs and left them for the city. And when? And many of you didn't grow up in the US at all, which is great, and I wonder how/if a suburban/urban tension might be relevant for you, too.

I think one (not the only) underlying element of recent debates about queerness and the Gurlesque anthology is a suburban/urban dynamic. Still thinking this through, though, and still waiting for my copy of the anthology to arrive.

I'm slapping my head a little here about, for example, how riot grrrl music and culture can be a reference point for many of us, but have it mean very different things (duh). I've always associated queer with riot grrrl--but a lot of the people that love Sleater-Kinney, for example, don't know that Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein are gay. Or they don't, maybe, care. I find this telling.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Am I Trying Too Hard?

That is me doing a rather failed chest roll.

I've been thinking about the word "precious," and I'm curious about the ways different communities of writers use it--usually negatively. I'll be up front, I really despise the word "precious." However, I'm guilty of calling other people's work precious, and my work's been called precious, but what really are we talking about?

I think that "precious" is code for "pretentious." And we all have different ideas about what exactly is pretentious. Pretension has a lot to do with our notions of boundaries, and those notions are informed by culture. The first time I wrote anything that had references to China and Chinese, someone called the piece pretentious. I've been noodling away with a piece that does in fact use some Chinese language, but it's not going to see the light of day for a while, and when it does, I know someone is going to say it's precious and/or pretentious. No doubt it was probably pretentious of me to study Chinese in the first place.

Preciousness is also related to affect, artificiality, and over-refinement: if a poem is precious, the suggestion is that there's something inappropriately costumed or ornamental (read "trivial") about it--it's paying attention to detail or playing with language that, for whatever reason, is irrelevant. That "precious" tends to have feminine metonymic associations seems quite obvious. That point alone is enough to make me suspicious of it as a vague descriptive term.

I don't think anything can be irrelevant in poetry, though I suppose it's possible to have something irrelevant to a particular poem in a poem, but I'm not even sure about that. Irritating, strange, failed, unexpected, frustrating yes, but not irrelevant. Parataxis, especially when it involves a variety of supposedly trivial details, always risks failure, that's why I like it.

Part of what poetry can do is address things that we can't/don't/aren't allowed to/don't know how to/are afraid to/ talk about in other discourses. Sometimes this means poetry's doing heavy creative thinking on big concepts like hopelessness, violence and racism in the US (Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely, for example), or poetically witnessing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Carol Mirakove's Occupied). But equally important are books like Nada Gordon's Folly, a book that really picks at stubbornly gendered dichotomies like folly/reason, trivial/serious, affect/authenticity in ways that are hilarious, strange, intelligent, and purposely very difficult to pin down. Folly is proof that social critique doesn't have to be the opposite of throwing a party, even though a lot of people, especially those smitten with Reason, would like it to be.

Preciousness is also related to a sense of "trying too hard"--if you're going to impress, you shouldn't give it away that you want to impress. If you're going to wear make up, it should look "natural." I remember having a debate with my mother about this when I was around 12 and busy attempting to wear eyeshadow and nail polish in a way that probably made me look like a confused tart. Eventually I said something like, "but mom, the point of painting my nails red is so that they do not look natural."

The dance movement piece I performed with a lacrosse ball as part of my movement for theater class went well, and I got a lot of useful feedback. However, one of the critiques I received was that one of the movement/shapes I'd held for a sustained period of time clearly looked like a strain, like I was "trying too hard." It's true--I was trying too hard, and I wanted everyone to know it. I wanted to, sigh, be vulnerable, and wanted the piece to be as precarious as possible. That shape was one way of letting the audience see the structure and process of the piece in that moment. I purposely chose a shape that was difficult for me to hold, and I choreographed a variety of ways of falling out of it. I don't believe in self-harm, so I made a conscious decision to not just fall out of the shape. What's weird about that is that my attempt to be direct and honest was read, by some, as artificial.

I've only ever used the word precious to describe someone's work in private conversation, but I'm going to make an effort to not use it as a descriptive word relative to writing again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Want to impress me? Throw a really good party.

I have finished the introduction for Ben Lerner.

I attempted to practice my lacrosse ball choreography piece, but I couldn't practice too much, because my hamstring is really, really still messed up. I hope that I'm in decent shape for tomorrow, and I hope that performing tomorrow doesn't mess it up even more.

I did get some suggestions about what to do for my pedagogical performance, but no thanks to you all, my dear blog readers. Facebook, twitter, and listservs are where it's at now. At least in terms of advice about conceptual pedagogical performances.

I graded.

I did not write a poem, but I will write one after I write this post.

I was reminded of how difficult it is to organize anything. And how I like to organize things anyway, because I like things to happen. Want to impress me? Throw a really good party. Even if you don't want to impress me, throw a really good party, anyway.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Give me suggestions, happy hamstrings, lacross balls, etc...

1. For the cross-genre workshop I'm taking this quarter, I'm preparing a "pedagogical performance" (i.e. a presentation, but more fun), on Notes on Conceptualisms, by Rob Fitterman and Vanessa Place, & Yoko Ono's Grapefruit. I've got a partner, and in theory I'll be focusing more on Notes, and my partner will focus more on Grapefruit. Any ideas on what we should do? I've gotten some good suggestions thus far involving unitards, go-gurt, and skipping class (because, of course, thinking about the pedagogical performance is more important than the actual performance). If I get enough suggestions, I can at least make a conceptual piece based on the suggestions.

2. In the documentary class, I'm working with a group to make a mockumentary about two animal communicators competing for the "Animal Communicator of the Year" award. Yes, I am one of the animal communicators. It's often very funny. I think posting the final project on YouTube is a requirement.

3. The test run of the movement/performance piece with lacross ball went well. I was happy because the sections that I thought were rough or unclear were the sections that the class also thought were rough or unclear. When I write, I know I can trust my sense of when something is finished, when it's working, whatever working means in that particular piece. With movement, I'm less confident about making decisions. So, it's especially helpful to know that my instincts about this particular piece resonated with others.

4. My left hamstring is bothering me again. It's more than bothering me, but I'm not yet willing to say I've injured it yet. But ouch--it was painful enough that I couldn't run today or do any complex contact improvisation. I'm going to take a hot bath, rest it, and hope it's feeling better for the next lacross ball movement performance piece on Thursday. I need to give the piece a title.

5. I am writing an introduction for Ben Lerner, who is coming to read in UCSD's New Writing Series this Thursday.

6. General thoughts on MFA Land: Well, as numbers 1-3 & 5  suggest, I'm having quite a bit of fun. As I've said, I find it more fun to be a graduate student than to be an adjunct.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I had one of those dreams last night where I find myself taking care of a huge number of birds.


The dream often goes like this: I discover that, unknown to me, there is another bird in the cage with Lester, and that all this time I have been feeding and taking care of only Lester, and not this other bird, who is almost dead. In the dream, I always nurse the neglected bird back to health, but there are always close calls. Sometimes the extra bird, or birds, are not in Lester's cage, but in some other part of the house--frequently under the bed. Once, I was on a pirate ship pitching and heaving in the middle of the storm, and I had to prevent several parrots from drowning and going overboard. In another version, I'm swimming through rough seas while two parakeets sit on my head, singing.

In last nights dream, I heard parrots outside, so I went out to see them. There were two hyacinth macaws sitting in the tree about the apartment building dumpster. They looked quite ragged, but I eventually coaxed them down and took them into our apartment. I found an extra, hyacinth-macaw sized jungle gym and put it in one corner of the room. The macaws began to play on the gym and settle in quite happily. Lester didn't mind them, either. After the macaws were relaxed and preening, Mark came in with two rainbow conures. I found a large cage for them and some extra toys, etc, and soon they were settling in, too. Some version of this kept happening--either I'd go outside and see two parrots and bring them in, or Mark would. At a certain point, our entire apartment was filled with parrots--two to three in each cage (Lester was the only one not sharing his space).

The last bird that Mark brought in was a huge pelican--but in the dream it looked more like a cross between a pelican and a stork, since the bird was very tall. The pelican's beak was cracked, and there were stitches all around her neck. We nursed the pelican/stork back to health, and eventually removed the stitches.

I suppose if I were a mother, I might dream about having ridiculous numbers of babies that I had to take care of. In my dream head, I know that birds are a stand in for "responsibility," among other things.

Does anyone else have dreams like this?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Does gender affect x, y and z?" Yes, gender affects everything

What have I been doing recently? I have been making poems, making films (and getting much better at it), hooping, doing acro yoga, choreographing, hanging out with friends, and organizing readings at Agitprop. I've also been working (as in the making money sense--teaching, bits of contract work, my RA duties at UCSD), riding the bus, finally taking advantage of student health insurance by updating some prescriptions, and doing a worse job than usual of putting my clothes away. I also gave myself a large bump on the forehead by walking into a metal lamp post--not my best moment. So, I've been away from blogland.

I am indeed tired of conversations about gender and blogging, gender and publishing, gender and self-promotion. But I'm not tired of the topics--or, at least, I still think the topics are essential. I wish that we lived in a happy land of gender (and racial and socioeconomic) equality, but we don't. So, conversations and actions continue. And will always have to, because even if the world were perfect, we'd still have to work to maintain perfection. But I don't turn to blogland to have great conversations--especially not about gender.

Yes, of course there are exceptions, and I turn to specific blogs for conversation--typically blogs written and moderated by friends that I knew before we interacted in blogland. I've met some people through blogland, and that's been great, but even there, the lasting virtual connections that I make tend to be the result of a whole network of community and social connections that exist alongside the virtual ones.

I do not turn to Harriet or Silliman's blog for conversation. I turn to them for information, but not conversation. In fact, unless I become a paid blogger for Harriet, I'm unlikely to ever join any comment stream on any post there, ever. The comment streams there tend to be repetitive and frustrating. I really do prefer to talk to someone at a bar, or cafe, or over food. I'd rather argue with someone that way, too.

Women do blog, and blog in interesting ways. Smart women and men know this, and read accordingly.

There's almost never any substantial debate in the comment stream on this blog because I rarely make statements like, "Workshopping sucks," "MFA programs are bogus and anyone who does one is a tool." "Women are smarter than men," "white space on the page is lame," "Flarf is more avant-garde than the avant-garde," etc. Blogs that make these kinds of statements are more likely to have overrun and often irritating, unproductive comment threads. My blog is too random, and I post too many pictures of my parrot for that to usually happen. This is fine with me.

The post on this blog that gets the most hits and has the most comments is "Today, I tried to spell fluctuate as 'fluxuate.'"

I think that repeated, community-minded actions and groups of people really do help shift gender (and racial, and socioeconomic) imbalances in the world of writing (and, when I'm feeling idealistic, the world). I can think of numerous examples that have been important to me personally and recently, in no particular order and off the top of my head: HOW2, Delirious Hem, Foursquare, the Press Conference 1, 2 and now 3, the Positions Colloquium in Vancouver, Bridge Street Books, The Flarf Collective, Pussipo, Ruthless Grip reading series in DC, In Your Ear reading series in DC, Palm Press, Tangent Press, Les Figues Press, the Cal Arts Conferences, Area Sneaks, the Poetic Research Bureau, my own attempts in conjunction with others to do a series at Agitprop here in San Diego, the Agitprop Gallery itself, Krikri, and any dinner hosted by Jerry and Diane Rothenberg.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Workshopping is Weird

I've decided to think of workshopping as like a reading where one doesn't always read but people tell you what they think in detail anyway.

Currently reading, for class Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth. Woot!

It's raining.

Filmed today. Editing tomorrow. Using a camera isn't as awkward as I thought it would be.

I had two vaccinations yesterday, and my arms are sore. Ouch. Ouch.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Aliens! Desert! California!

I want to visit the Integratron! And it's all because of someone in my documentary class, whose name I can't now remember, who brought it up. How can I not have heard of the Integratron!

According to its website, the Integraton is " an acoustically perfect tabernacle and energy machine sited on a powerful geomagnetic vortex in the magical Mojave Desert." Van  I've never even been, but I already want to write about it--like the Salton Sea, it's one of those places that, well, if I could kind of understand it and write about it, then I feel I might understand something essential about Southern California. The history, briefly:

George Van Tassel was an aeronautical engineer and test pilot who worked for Lockheed, Douglas Aircraft and alongside Howard Hughes at Hughes Aviation. After retiring from his aviation career, Van Tassel and is family moved to a place called Giant Rock--a 7-story high, freestanding boulder--in the Mojave Desert near Landers, California, where they opened an airport and restaurant.

Van Tassel initially learned about the rock from a prospector and desert dweller named Frank Critzer, who had created a cave-like dwelling under the boulder. Because Critzer was a prospector, he always had a lot of dynamite, and one day he died in an explosion. Van Tassel eventually acquired the land surrounding the boulder from the Bureau of Land Management, and went on running the airport and the cafe.

Until....he began hosting/conducting meditation sessions in 1953 in the rooms underneath Giant Rock, which "led to UFO contacts and finally to an actual encounter with extra-terrestrials when, in August of that year, a saucer landed from the plant Venus, woke Van Tassel up and invited him onto the ship. There the aliens gave him the technique for rejuvenating living cell tissues."

Aliens! Desert! California! Prospectors! Meditation meetings! Men in the aeronautics industry! Huge boulders! UFO conventions that were eventually held at Giant Rock! The word on the street that Giant Rock was a sacred site for the Native American people(s) who originally lived in the area! The weird utopian, anti-government, anti-tax subtext of so much UFO literature!

Monday, January 18, 2010

My happiness is largely dependent on my ability to express negativity and to feel crappy

I don't trust people who don't express negative emotions. Of course, there are a variety of ways of expressing negative emotions that don't always involve heated arguments or punching and being punched.

I have similar feelings about sarcasm and irony--both tend to make me feel comfortable because they're a form of sharing social negativity and combining it with humor. Humor itself has to do with social and aesthetic values. The world is full of incongruities between our understanding/expectation and what actually happens or exists. When I'm sarcastic and someone else gets it, we're having a moment of a shared understanding of some particular incongruity or another. What could be more comforting?

But I've been thinking about all of this a lot recently, especially in light of my feelings about my residency here in the San Diego region. There are numerous things I deeply dislike about my life here, but this weekend has been a good weekend, because it was a combination of almost everything I love: talking with friends about stuff that is irritating and stuff that isn't, time outside, movement, art and food. The only thing missing was a poetry reading--a big gap, certainly, but also offset but the fact that the art show was good.

It was also a three-day weekend.

Happy hour on Thursday! I won't sing the praises of D Street Bar and Grill in Encinitas. It's big, it was in a good location for most of us, they serve a variety of different drinks, have solid food, and a reasonable happy hour. So, it's fine with me. Happy hour is a perfect environment during which to express negativity in an energetic, friendly way. Dinner again with friends on Friday--more talking, more friendly negativity. Stayed up too late.

All that socializing and friendly negativity put me in a good mood for Saturday: Mark and I went to Batiquitos lagoon for a leisurely walk and some birdwatching: unusually peaceful crows, a juvenile northern harrier, a very large flock of semipalmated plovers, whimbrels, several terns (maybe Caspian? I couldn't tell), lots of little bushtits, a golden-crowned kinglet, several brown pelicans who were fishing, and an anna's hummingbird. We also saw some other kind of hummingbird--I couldn't identify him, but I know he was a male because he was doing display dives. He'd fly up really really high and then dive down really fast, making an ark at the bottom and a kind of whistling sound.

That afternoon, I went to Swami's Beach for a hoop class and jam. I had a gorgeous time and learned a variety of new ways to break--but now I have weird bruises on the insides of my upper arms, very similar to the kind I used to get on my hands when I started doing more off-body work. Next weekend I'm going to a workshop with Julia Hartsell at the Circus Fund in Del Mar. If I had my way, I'd be taking just about every class they offer there!

On Sunday I saw the splash from a whale breaching (I missed the actual breach), but a few minutes later s/he did a fantastic tale slap.

Today, we somehow avoided the rain (well, almost) and took the train down to see the Tara Donovan exhibit at MCASD Downtown. I'd seen the piece made with pins before, and I still love it, but my favorite was Haze, made entirely out of clear plastic straws, and completely beautiful:

After the show, we walked around, and I eventually ate a hamburger. On the way home from the train station, it rained and rained. We actually got soaked.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Now, I use it with some regularity--when appropriate.

1. Before moving to California, I never used the word "motherfucker."

2. A new quarter at UCSD has begun. I am taking 1) a multi-genre workshop that all MFAs must take with Anna Joy Springer 2) The second class in the movement for theater sequence, still with Charlie Oates, 3) a seminar in the Visual Art Department on subcultures with Ruben Ortiz-Torres.

3. Beyond that, I'm TAing for an intro poetry class with Michael Davidson and still RAing for the New Writing Series. And I'm teaching online, and doing bits of contract work here and there.

4. I have blisters from playing Zen Chaos in movement for theater. Someday I will describe Zen Chaos in detail, and write down all the rules. It's a bit like ultimate frisbee with two hacky sacks instead of one frisbee, and cartwheels are a regular part of the game.

5. In the multigenre workshop, I said that my goal was to make my work somehow a combination of the Bee Gees and Sun Ra. I got very excited.

6. No doubt you have all seen the video of "Stayin' Alive." But just in case you haven't: