I am temporarily parking archived blog posts here while I redesign my site and change servers. For current content, please visit blog.shannacompton.com.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

What was the point again?

I can't recall what Chris Connelly & I (that's me in the Spiderman glove) were talking about last night or why we were trying to remember this Stevens poem, but we couldn't. Dan & I squared off 'bout Stevens vs. Williams, which is kind of silly, since both are necessary.



Ach, Mutter,

This old, black dress,

I have been embroidering

French flowers on it. 

Not by way of romance,

Here is nothing of the ideal,



It would have been different,


If I had imagined myself,

In an orange gown,

Drifting through space,

Like a figure on the church-wall.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Writing music...

And today is a good day for it.

New posts at Rebel Edit...

include a Sudanese poem and an Iraqi poem edited by Shannon Holman, a remix of Nicolas Guillén poem by Gary Norris, and a letter from Castro to Roosevelt edited by Sister Mary Sunshine.

Mistranslations of Cuban, Sudanese, Iranian, Iraqi, and Libyan poetries and short prose also encouraged.

Resource links and related articles are also welcome.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Where have I been?

I didn't even know Reb Livingston had a blog. And look, the day I found her she's saying nice stuff about Down Spooky. Thanks, Reb. Welcome to the blog roll.

Reb & I have never met, but she has thee very fine poems forthcoming in LIT 8 due out any day. One of them is called "The Color of Ass" and is dedicated to Amy Gertsler.

PS: I am going to do a second printing of Spookies soon because they are almost gone.

Lost notes...

in the myriad stacks about my office, bedroom, and living room, or perhaps the dining table. It's like a freaking paper factory exploded in here. And maybe a laundry truck. But as soon as I find them, I will indeed write up the Ann Lauterbach reading, as I have been promising oh these long last three days.

Adult Head by Jeff Tweedy

comes out in March and I just got to read the proofs. It's really good. Five poems from the collection will be published in the next LIT.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Rebel Edit

This is important.

Please go to Rebel Edit & spread the word.

Thank you.

Drink recipe

I watched Runaway Jury last night and finished it this morning. Despite the completely idiotic high French spoken in a voodoo shop to a woman Rachel Weitz identifies as Cajun (um, you mean maybe Creole, or Haitian, or Haitian Creole?), it was pretty good. And later on she did pronounce "Chartres" authentically: it's just "charters." Not frenchified.

Anyway, there are two scenes filmed at Napoleon House, where hubby & I made it official. 1) The jury goes for drinks after one of their first days on duty. 2) The final confrontation between RW, John Cusack & Gene Hackman. You can see the Napoleon bust on the bar in one of them, the first one I think. And the arched doorways and the peeling paint.

Yes, it's a bar. But we met in a bar, dated in a bar, and I'm not gonna mention what all else in a bar. But Napoleon House is our favorite bar by far. And upstairs is L'Appartment de l'Empereur, where Napoleon was supposed to hide out after being rescued from exile by some NOLA-based plotters, including former NOLA mayor, Nicholas Girod. That's were we tied the knot and tied one on.

The Pimm's Cup, 12 oz.

The signature drink of Napoleon House


1.25 oz of Pimm's #1

3 oz lemonade

Top off with 7-Up

Garnish with cucumber spear or wheel


Is this how you got here? Recent keyword searches.

poems for insects

bishop_ elizabeth grotesque

brick oven restaurants in waco texas

grafitti letter print outs

skanky party themes

brand new jordans for 2004*

days of our lives friday february 20 brian her purse

poems for a brand new day

bon wier texas lumber saw mill

[judged too dirty for publication]

immortal lyric

neck face grafitti

mrs alexander teacher oh special**

compton sunshine girls

poem buying a bra

gabriel gudding and bush

ford maddox browns paintings work

and my favorite:

quotations high maintenance car woman

* Repeatedly. My MS title + Jordan Davis = Somebody's coveted sneakers!

** Mrs. Alexander, or a Mrs. A, was my 3rd & 4th grade teacher. The one that forced me to write my first poem. She didn't like my long bangs falling in front of my face, so once she grabbed me and made an impromptu ponytail on my forehead. Horrifyingly shy, I ran from the room, thusly unicorned. Ms. Fuson, my science teacher, helped me undo the rubberband and stop the flow of tears. So yes, dear Googler, that was special & thanks for the memories. Actually, Ms. Fuson is in this poem, under a soodonim.

Double digits at Amazon!


Yesterday it got as high as 25! I am experiencing Small Press Elation.

Writing music...

This morning I asked hubby for Ottmar Liebert and got Norbert Kraft instead.

Villa Lobos: Complete Music for Spanish Guitar


Researching links for this post, I found Ottmar's blog!

You're Prufrock and Other Observations!

by T.S. Eliot

Though you are very short and often overshadowed, your voice is poetic and lyrical. Dark and brooding, you see the world as a hopeless effort of people trying to impress other people. Though you make reference to almost everything, you've really heard enough about Michelangelo. You measure out your life with coffee spoons.

Take the Book Quiz

at the Blue Pyramid.

You're Thailand!

Calmer and more staunchly independent than almost all those around you, you have a long history of rising above adversity. Recent adversity has led to questions about your sexual promiscuity and the threat of disease, but you still manage to attract a number of tourists and admirers. And despite any setbacks, you can really cook a good meal whenever it's called for. Good enough to make people cry.

Take the Country

at the Blue Pyramid

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


Calligrammes: Poems of Peace & War (1913-1916) by Guillaume Apollinaire.

Collected Works by Lorine Niedecker, but in paperback.

Vanished Act: The Life & Art of Weldon Kees by James Reidel.

Via the WONDERFUL Coliseum Books across from Bryant Park. They are hiring in the café too. Espresso & a discount! Go now. If I didn't already have seventeen jobs they could sign me up.

Aside: I love the way the St. Marks Bookshop website can tell you what they have on the shelves RIGHT NOW.

I have not forgotten to post my Ann Lauterbach report, but have been in the LIT office. Will do it tomorrow, promise.

Chad in China: Part 2*

One of Chad's new students sent him the following email.

"Nice to talk to you. I am your student this term. My Chinese name is Yu dan and my English name is Danny. And I'm a student of the department of digital art. I'm glad to introduce myself to you.

Sometimes I saw you attended our class. Do you like digital art? Maybe you have had practical experience.

I think you are lonely now, could I help you something?



That last line really gets me.

* For part one, click here.

Crowning Laurel with laurels*

"It’s like they imagine I’ve just gotten off a conference call with Ariel Sharon, my bubbe’s ghost, the Elders of Zion, Moses, Chabad, The Beastie Boys, and the ADL."

And don't miss her poems over at Unpleasant Event Schedule (the journal).

* Yeah, like she hasn't heard that one before.

A common misconception...

but you must be born in Texas to be a Texan. You can be an honorary Texan if you were transplanted at a young age or "take to it like a duck to water." Grudgingly, I admit that the Unelected Bozo is a pretty decent transplant. But he was born in Connecticut. So he is not really Southern.

However, he would probably beat me on this quiz.

How Southern are you?

I am quite positive that I would beat him on any other kind of quiz.

Note: The "route" question--well that just depends. I'd say "root" if I were talking about the path I took to get somewhere, and rhyme with "out" if I were giving my old Rural Route 4 address in Moffit, TX. On the "rolling" question, we'd actually say "wrapping." And on the "Party barn" question--dude, that's a chain.

Did anyone see the Today Show?

Because Soft Skull author Matthew Sharpe was chosen for their book club! What is this world coming to? An appreciation of excellent fiction? My goodness! Have been under gag order till now.

Simply bursting with pride. If you have not read this book, you may get it here or at fine bookstores everywhere.

UPDATE: Sister Mary Sunshine (who copyedits/proofreads for SSP) says, "Take that, Tom Clancy!"

Daniel Nester is turning nine on Leap Day!

And I just couldn't resist sending him this card. (Wait a few secs for the music to load.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Oh, and how could I forget!

Gastronomica is out! (Well, the website doesn't show the new issue yet, but trust me, it's out. It came in the mail yesterday!)

It's been about two years I think since my love poem to Jacques Pépin was accepted. There's something really exciting about all the breathtaking white space around my li'l poem on these big creamy pages. It's just gorgeous.

If you like food, and like to read really very fine writing about food, I highly recommend Gastronomica. And yes, they did pay me to say that!


'bout John's nice sentences.

Public Service Announcement, filed under "Last Minute"

Ann Lauterbach is doing a forum at the New School this evening. This is the same format as the Ashbery reading I reported on a couple of weeks ago. She'll read, then David Lehman and the students/audience will ask questions. The public is invited. Sometimes they charge $5 at the door, but this is rarely enforced.

New School University

66 West 12th Street

Room 510 (5th floor, straight ahead off the elevators)

6:30 p.m.

I have been decidedly unpoetic in my choice of blogmatter lately, so I thought I'd post a couple of thoughts I had about Lauterbach this morning while reading her on the train. Then I'll follow up with a full report tomorrow. (Note to self: Damn it! I forgot my voice recorder.)

The first book by Ann Lauterbach I purchased was And for Example. I got it used, in 1995 or early 1996. Either at the Strand or Alabaster around the corner. I remember it being a fruitful shopping trip but can't recall which store yielded what treasures.

Overcame initial objection to the cover.

I don't like Mythology in a (contemporary) poem. And that's putting it mildly. This is of course excepting classical poetry, the genius of Virgil's Aeneid, Ovid & even the Bullfinchean versions. But in a contemporary poem, the name Persephone or Io or Hera or Juno or Pericles or especially Prometheus or Apollo or--what's his name, Orpheus!--can send me into a eye-rolling nose-holding tizzy. (Here: this might shed some light.)

I do battle with this silly prejudice all the time. I have to, or I couldn't read the many many excellent examples of poetry that can address such subjects and reinterpret such figures with grace, intelligence & humor, and make it new. But still. It's a hump for me. Janus. Yuck. NOTE: I am more than happy to read every single example any of you feel like mentioning.

Anyway. Here's what I like about Lauterbach. She can do the delicate & studious thing but also tell a dirty joke and be genuinely funny and surprising and quick. It's not all snowy swans and trailing togas, which while beautiful are chocking full the mental files already, okay? Her Penelope is a real, earthy, sexy broad. Here's a poem I particularly like from And for Example:

Rancor of the Empirical

A lavish pilgrim, her robes unbound,

checks into a nearby hotel.

Let us spread the wealth.

Let us speak in such a way

we are understood, as a shadow

is understood to assuage these prisms

and these mercurial clasps. She was told

yes and she was told no

which is how she became excessive, spilling

over the sequestered path, her wild garments

lacerating stones.

She took pills against rain.

She slept under tinfoil.

In that country, there were no heroes

to invent a way to fill the hours

with parables of longing, so her dreams

were blank. Sometimes she imagined

voices which led to her uneven gait

and to her partial song. Once she was seen

running. A child saw her fly

low over the back meadow and into the pines, her

feet raving in the wind. The child

was punished for lying, made to eat ashes

in front of the congregation. The priest said,

You have made a petty story. Now enter duration.

I probably would have called this poem, had I written it, something like "The Pilgrim in the Hotel." Because I use words like "rancor" and "empirical" only when I really can't help it. But still, isn't this a terrific poem? And aren't those central lines "She took pills against rain. / She slept under tinfoil." surprising and right?

(To be continued with more about Penelope & dirty jokes & a reading report tomorrow. Lunch break over.)


--adj. 4. having never listened to the music of Queen or Freddie Mercury, but considering it.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Now available as a T-shirt!

Either I look Russian...

or that was the worst pick-up line I've ever heard.

Answer me this...

If I wanted stamps, why would I stand in line for 10 minutes instead of just using the machine? Huh, postal lady?

Chad in China, Email One*

"goddamn, I had blood last night for dinner. one of the plates was coagulated duck blood and I was eating away until I asked what it was."

*Chad is my brother-in-law, as some of you know. He recently went to China to teach. I think excerpts from his communications home might be a regular feature here. I mean, I'm certainly glad to learn about the duck blood, aren't you?

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Some of my best friends are doughy white men

I agree that book reviewers should stay away from commenting on the physical appearance of the author. Me personally? I love doughy white men.


--adj. 1. inquistive about all things changeable. 2. having a fickle sense of curiosity. 3. quick-witted yet erratic. --mercuriously, adv. --mercuriosity, mercuriousness, mercuriousility. n.

That's because you're a Mercurist,

Dan, like I told you before. Mercurial is not just an adjectival form for Freddie's pop-star surname.

Yesterday I admitted my affinity with e.e. cummings.

Frivolously (and mercuriously) yours,


Matt Madden's Exercises in Style

Matt Madden's acclaimed Exercises in Style are back on-line on their own web site.

The newly launched site features eleven new exercises that have not been shown anywhere yet. Check in regularly for new comics and news about the project.

Matt's also happy to announce that an excerpt from Exercises in Style that appeared in the New School's LIT magazine has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the Best of the Small Presses.*

About the project: Exercises in Style was inspired by a work of the same name by the French writer Raymond Queneau. In that book, Queneau spun 99 variations out of a mundane, two-part text about two chance encounters with a mildly irritating character during the course of a day. The goal of this project is to apply the same principle to comics by creating as many variations as possible on a simple one-page nonstory: different points of view, different genres, different formal games, and so on.

*The contributing editors of the Pushcart Prize anthologies nominated Matt's work from issue 7 in addition to Rachel Zucker's poem in issue 7 and Adam Desnoyers story in issue 8. SC

Saturday, February 21, 2004

'Scrapes is short for what now?

There's a typo in one of my pieces in Eye-Rhyme. The word 'scapes, which is short for fire escapes was changed to 'scrapes. Hmmm.

But the issue otherwise looks really cool.

Poetic jitters lead to psycho pants...

Get back on stage sometime, Tonio!

The first two times I read my work in public, I didn't read my work in public. I mean somebody else read my work for me. I was the poetry editor of our high school literary magazine, somebody else read a poem by me at the launch party while I squirmed in the back. The second time came as a complete surprise, and went badly. A friend decided to read one my poems in addition to his own--without telling me about it first. He was trying to be helpful, or encouraging, or something. But I got so freaked out I ran from the club and actually hopped in my car and drove away. After that I skipped the oportunity to read at the launch reading of a journal (which had given me an award even) and sent a proxy to the announcement ceremony for an English department writing contest I'd been honored in. I sat in a bar across campus waiting for him to report back. Ridiculous.

I didn't read in public again until after I started the New School program. I was so terrified in workshops even that I would go into a kind of trance and not remember anything I said afterward. Ridiculous.

But hosting Frequency and events at the Bowery Poetry Club really helped me get used to being on stage. I've mentioned Karaoke + Poetry = Fun--it actually takes the pressure off. You're expected to kind of suck (or really suck) at the song, so the poem's a breeze.

Anyway, it gets better. Now I enjoy doing readings.

Friday, February 20, 2004

A$s bitten, once again...

and [expurgated] tried to tell me, but I didn't listen. Must I always be such an optimist? I think it's a birth defect.

Unsubcribe today. It's easy, painless, discrete. You can do it too.

I hearby declare this a one-line poem...

by Stephanie.

[E]xclamation points appearing in this space in the last month were forced, like bulbs.

Reading for LIT 9 now.

You heard me. More info here (but please ignore the ghost of the writing hand in the upper right that I begged to discard).

Cool...I'm reading at AWP.

Details on the readings page.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

It was learned early today...

that this poem is wonderful. (Scroll down to 9:10 AM post, dang these less-than-specific archive links.) I love poems friends write for each other.

And as for the promised # of pages--go Eileen!

I guess this is announcement day...

because here's another one.

Attention Reader !

This issue is gold: a new form of currency, minted in your honor.

It will not buy your coffee, your cigarettes or your groceries. It will not fill your tank with gas or buy you one of those tasty sandwiches from the cart down the street. It does not fit in the vending machine or the condom dispenser. It will not give you credit at your video store and will not gain you entrance to the most exclusive dance clubs—although we recommend you try.

We cannot tell you for certain what it will buy, or where to spend it, but we are certain its value is tangible and transferable, like a solid gold coin.

With this issue, we invite you to join us in participating in a new economy, where words are traded, ink is wealth, and experimentation is the new standard.

Welcome to eye~rhyme: the gold issue.

The Eds.


Larissa Amir

Ptim Callan

Alan Catlin

Shanna Compton

Bridget Cross

Brandon Freels

Susanna Fry

Adam Golaski

Ray Gonzalez

john Grey

Kaja Katamay

W.B. Keckler

Scott Keeney

R. Kimm

Jeffrey Little

Christopher Luna

patrick mckinnon

Mar Montás

Michael Morical

Steve Nelson

Lisa Pearson

Jay Ponteri

Chris Romeis

Chris Semansky

Matt Sorenson

Rosalind Palermo-Stevenson

Erin Teegarden

Paul A. Toth

Charles Valle

Instant Nirvana...

hi all,

thanks for heeding the call and getting me acrostics. I put together a new

Boog Reader, #3, "For Kurt on His 37th Birthday," that's resting on my bed,

ready for tonight's event.

It contains work from:

Todd Colby, Sean Cole, Shanna Compton, Jordan Davis, Erica Kaufman,

Aaron Kiely, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Tony Rubin, Alan Semerdjian,

Jill Stengel, Edwin Torres, Dana Ward, Ian Wilder, and Stephanie Young

If we may see each other soon, I'll hand you yr copies, to save some postage

$. Those who know they won't see me anytime soon, if you're unsure that i

have yr mailing address please send it to me so I can post them to you.

again, much thanks, as this was one close to my heart.




David A. Kirschenbaum, editor and publisher

Boog City

330 W.28th St., Suite 6H

NY, NY 10001-4754

For event and publication information:




Eavesdropping on the shelves...

what a wonderful idea!

A glance behind me reveals that on my (deeply disarrayed) shelves (where Shawn and I separate out fiction, nonfiction, poetry + poetry-related nonfiction) the following clusters of party chatter have arranged themselves:

• Alice Notley with Robert Hayden & Neruda.

• Stevens (of Opus Posthumous) & Baudelaire.

• Jim Harrison, Randall Jarell & Salvador Espriu

• Marianne Moore & Octavio Paz (this discussion is very intense)

• Ashbery's got half a shelf staked out by himself, but has attracted a crowd populated by Delmore Schwartz, Archie Ammons, Lydia Davis, Rilke & Auden

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I should probably keep this one to myself, but...

I have a penchant for peanuts and eat them at my freelance desk on a semiregular basis--especially when I have to postpone lunch for a deadline. In order not to get salt all over my hands and clothes, I pour the bag into a paper receptacle meant for coffee or tea. Then I shake them into my mouth.

It has just come to my attention that I have been referring to this ad-hoc device, in my mind at least, as a Nut Cup.

Geez louise.

Tell me about the fashion on your home world, Usil.

I just typed "Pair with the matching jacket for a sophisticated, fremenine spring suit."

I suppose maybe some chick from Arrakis might trade in her desert suit for one, but it won't recycle her urine as drinking water.

Note to self...

"Dear Victor: Ignore the a@$hole. It's hard enough to be a writer. It's even harder to be a thin-skinned writer."

--David Lehman, from "Letters to Young Poets"

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Spookies in the mail...

to Harry, Stephanie, Matthew, John, mIKEAL, and Noah. The rest will go out tomorrow or Thursday. That silly computer mess put me behind.

If you are in Cambridge, you just might find a copy in the Harvard Bookstore next to The Collected Poems of Hart Crane. I gave into the urge to alphabetize myself.

That's so weird...

because I was reading Stephen Burt last night. He's made handwritten corrections in the copy I got a Shortwave (presumably when he read there in May). But he has pretty bad handwriting, and I can't always tell what they are. (Dan, I know you have the same book and bought it at the same place--Popular Music--is yours like that too?)

Poems I have to force are the ones that don't get finished. Poems that get tossed off generally, though not always, emerge from their crysalises as new insects. So I guess I combine the two approaches. The initial writing should be somewhat easy--or seeming to happen by itself suddenly. Then I "work" at it. I have a very difficult time beginning by forcing myself to choose a subject or theme first. Often, of course, one a poem begins to happen subjects or themes that have recently been in mind emerge in the poem too.

UPDATE: And congratulations, Jordan. Wow, that review is smashing!

Did you say Mars or Oz?

Jack Horkheimer from the Miami Planetarium was on CNN this morning talking about rocks found on Mars. He's a regular guest, and I always enjoy his spots. But I can't help noticing that he bears a striking resemblance to Frank Morgan in one of his many Wizard of Oz roles, keeper of the gate.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Here We Stand Before the Temporal World

by Joan Murray (1917-1942)

Here we stand before the temporal world,

And whether we care to cast our minds

Or shiver from our words all that refutes

The clarity of thought...*

Whether we wish to deflect the rudiments of source

...Bare bastard brats in summing up the whole...

These things I do not know.

Words have been to me like steps

Revolving and revolving in one cell.

Perhaps others have felt the limits of the pendulum,

Looking to the vast confines of night,

And conscious only of the narrow head,

The brief skull imminent of life,

Gray granules that, like Time, run through the hours.

Caesar walked quietly in his garden.

Two scribes walked gravely at his side.

The smooth pink marble of the fluted column passed

Reminded him of warm wine from the grapes,

The glitter of a spear dropped carelessly,

And caught by a hand quicker than he could see

Its slanting fall,

Reminded him of the shallow eyes that glinted

As he passed between two worlds, their own and his.

His thoughts tended toward irrelevance,

But his words cut out the veriest patterns

Of an easter drive toward the steeples of far Babylon.

*Author's elipses throughout.

Holy moly...

A couple of days ago I installed Site Meter, as some of you may have noticed. I've rarely bothered to look up my stats before now, this blog mostly being just another way for me to talk to myself. (I'm sure I have driven cubiclemates nuts at times. My cat thinks I'm addressing him. I also hum. And tap. And whistle.) But I just checked my Urchin stats with Earthlink. What the heck. For shits & grins, as we say.

Since August 2003, when I officially began the blog, I have had 15,595 visitors to this site, though it includes the Frequency schedule and a bunch of other pages too. So I checked the stats for the blog itself. The blog has received almost 10,000 visitors--9,946 to be exact.

Now I know that "visitors" don't actually represent individuals, being based on some kind of IP address-recycling formula, but da-yumn. That's way more than I ever would have figured.

So, hi y'all. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, February 13, 2004

New Nester...

"...what despair it is to add importance to words as you talk."


A few slots remaining in this anthology I'm editing. Personal essays (sorry, no poems). Topic broadly interpreted for general reader/casual gamer. Essays (two by MacArthur fellows) on everything from meditative qualities of video golf to games & queer culture to games' influence on pop music. Scheduled for fall 2004. Email me at shanna at soft skull dot com for more info, please.


Apologies to George Murray for not adding his amazingly thorough and energetic lit blog sooner! Welcome to the blogroll, guys.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

A(n exepensive) miracle!

My computer is back from the dead! Tekserve just called. I can pick him up after 6pm tonight. What a relief. What a bank-account-depleting relief.

Well, "audience" is a mass noun...

I'm always interested to read reports for readings I wanted to attend but missed, but it's sometimes even more interesting to read a report by someone else on a reading I did attend.

I had a completely different experience of this reading. First, I should say right up front that I'm an alumna of the New School, the editor of the journal there, and that DL has been my teacher, mentor, and friend for the last couple of years. (And as an aside, might I suggest that his "last-avant garde" claim for the NY School is issued as a challenge?) And maybe I should also point out that while the NSU poetry forums are open to the public (usually for an entrance fee of 5$, though this time I saw nobody collecting this time), they are designed for the program's students. Obviously these facts color my experience, but that's what makes it my experience, right?

Room 510 holds maybe 80 comfortably, but at JA's reading I'd estimate there were 120 minimum. Probably the smallest crowd I've seen at an Ashbery reading in New York (since moving here in 1995, I've managed to catch him at least once a year). And since the wine and snacks were free, it was also the cheapest.

The NSU forums (in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, & children's writing) are by nature informal, intimate, usually rather small gatherings--30 or 40 students, a handful of faculty members, the occasional "woman from the public." Usually some of the visiting poet's work is read and discussed in the weeks prior to the event, and students shuffle off to class at 8pm, immediately after the forum, where further discussion often takes place. The forum itself, in other words, is sometimes only a third of the whole. The moderator begins by asking questions--as the students often seem shy to begin. The fact that the audience members know each other and the host (different faculty members for the different genres) can and does color the tone of the event, naturally.

First, Ashbery read for a little more than 30 minutes. Poems from Chinese Whispers mostly, and then new poems. The new poems were exciting to hear, though harder for me to keep, being previously unread.

DL did quote an article on JA in his introduction to get a laugh. But the quotation was amusing--and it was later the basis some of DL's questions. He read several paragraphs from a review of CW by John Tranter in which Tranter posits a difference between JA the poet and JA the person (and JA the readable, the interviewee, etc.). It is all about Ashberyness, or John Ashbery the brand. (Somehow I thought he said this essay was from Fence, but I guess I misunderstood.) I think this is funny, and I'm not nervous about it:

"John Ashbery (the person) has always maintained a discreet distance from the hoo-ha surrounding new product development, but he did admit--or at least Ashbery the interviewee admitted--that he doesn't think too much of the title poem in that book: in a 1985 interview with the present author he said 'I've never really cared for 'Self-Portrait' very much, and I must say I didn't like it any more when I reread it. But I obviously had to put it in [to his 1985 Selected Poems] because people would expect it to be there'."

The plug for Great American Prose Poems that I remember actually came later, and from Ashbery's mouth, after DL asked him a question about prose poetry--paraphrases as "you've been writing prose poetry more recently, what attracts you to it, what other poets who write prose poetry do you recommend, etc." The conversation between them was easy and joking--they've known each other for years. I'd say it was their genuine affection for one other coming through--and of course, a little showmanship, DL hamming it up for his students. (And yeah, he encourages the students to read his books, especially the anthologies and the critcism. But why not?) But readings without any showmanship are boring. I'd rather stay home.

Ashbery did say he wrote about an hour a week--sometimes less. DL quoted JA as having said so several years back and asked if it were still true. I heard this question as a reassurance to the students. JA is genuinely funny about it. And DL had put on that jokey way he has. They were trying to entertain us, and most people seemed to laugh not in a nervous way, but because their schtick was working. In another setting, like at KGB where I saw DL introduce JA another time, the mood was completely different--more like your "standard" intro.

Two of poets from the 40s Ashbery mentioned were Joan Murray (whereupon DL helpfully mentioned my name and the fact that I've written about her, to my amusement & flushed cheeks) and Helen (somebody). JA has mentioned in the past the possibility of editing such an anthology, so this question was about whether or not the book was still in JA's plans.

I read the mention of Oscar Williams, who edited mostly terrible anthologies and always included his wife who was also fairly terrible, as a subtle joke at the self- and cross-promoting DL & JA were doing of each other's work. But hey, maybe that's just me. JA did point out that these old anthologies are interesting b/c readers sometimes stumble upon a gem. Helen--not Duberstein, was it?--was an example of this. (Tom Disch also recommends old, out-of-print anthologies as a interesting investigation into tastes, poetic endurance, etc.)

I thoroughly enjoyed this event--except the heat was up too high and it was awfully crowded in the back--folks were standing on the steps outside and sitting on benches in the hallway. They couldn't possibly have heard much.

So there you have it. A completely different take from a completely different audience member. I mean no disrespect to Sasha at all--y'all know me better than that--just marvelling here at how our experiences differed. Wild, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

A Found Poem for a JLO by Jennifer Lopez Jumpsuit*

I'm living plush to touch

your velour you JLO jumpsuit,

you hot combination

of halter, hoodie, revved-up

sporty styles. Loving

that logo-ribbon drawstring

and your athletic waistband.

Who can resist

your open halter back,

your side contrast piping,

your small embroidered logo

just above the ass. If your inseams

are approximate, I don't care.

33 inches is long enough for me.

* In honor of Fashion Week. Unfortunately, I also wrote the original copy.

Writing music...

by Bill Frisell! (Fashion copywriting assignment optional.)

I guess it's possible...

and I think it might be the nervous tension in the air, but sometimes, pretty often, I imagine that right after I step off the elevator the couple left in there starts making out.

Review roundup...

with the phrase "weaponized love poems," over at Josh's place.

Monday, February 9, 2004

Daphne Gottlieb & me at Ernie K-Doe's Lounge

Shot on location in New Orleans by Mr. Tom Hopkins. More of Tom's NOLA pics here.

Happy birthday, honey.

Today is Shawn's birthday. He doesn't like to make a big deal about it.

But since I can't, somebody go see Jordan at Pete's and report, so I can feel like I was there.

Briefest reading report, ever:

Erica did read the frog poems, to my delight. Catherine laughed so hard she dropped her manuscript. Catherine read her "Palm Anthology" from DaDaDa. The Four-Faced Liar makes a superb home for a series--spacious, sunny, an attentive bartender, an enthusiastic audience, Boggle & checkers. The readers sit on stools at the end of the bar. I took some photos (but have to find some way to edit them--this machine's not capable). The bar owners, Conner & his wife Mary, are swell. I believe it's named for clocktower in Ireland that tells a different time on each side.

UPDATE: Here's a photo of Catherine & Erica (reading).

Sunday, February 8, 2004

Today @ Frequency!

Catherine Daly & Erica Kaufman. Maybe Erica will read frog poems.

Info here.

Chukka chukka woo woo: Time's Fool by Glyn Maxwell

In this book-length "tale in verse," Edmund Lea spends 49 years on a train to nowhere, through nowhere, with no one, stopping once every seven years on Christmas Eve in his hometown where everyone he's known and loved has aged, moved on, died. He's perpetually 17.

The book moves between Edmund's time on the train and these Christmas Eve stops--during which he has the night to discover the secret that will release him from his curse--and his endless ride. The rhythm of the book--a combination of both the narrative and the meter--is this:


The holidays in Hartisle punctuate the flow of the whole with crowds and noise and speed, and in those sections the poem picks up slang, elisions, contractions, a tumble of place names, jokes. Beneath the sections on the train, the meter chugs along chukka chukka chukka chukka, chukka chukka chukka chukka, with an occasional woo woo!

There are three figures on the train with him: Happy Hour, the dining-car attendant; Inspector Tick, who berates him daily for having no ticket; and the Conductor. Occasionally another passenger will appear, or Edmund will run into someone on one of his permitted rambles into nameless fields outside the train. He speaks to them, but when they answer their words are in no language he can understand. He resorts to speaking both his own part and that of Happy Hour.

With friends and family who "disbelieve" he is who he claims to be, and his train companions with whom he cannot converse, Edmund struggles to communicate. Anything. To anyone. He meets a poet on the train, and takes up writing himself. But each morning his notebook is blank. He turns to sketching, watercolors, with the same result: blank sheets each morning. So he memorizes a poem--in terza rima--the story of his trip and his attempts to disembark forever. As playwright (in making conversation with HH), writer, and artist, he has failed to make his mark. The memorized poem (the book) means nothing until he can pass it to a hearer, a reader.

No spoilers here, but after trying several desparate ploys to break the curse, Edmund finally succeeds, though he doesn't achieve the ending he'd hoped for. Read it now. Glyn Maxwell will be in NYC soon: April 12 at KGB, and also some time (that I can't find right now) at the Bowery Poetry Club.

Again, thanks to Mike for this recommendation for SF poetry. I'd picked up a book of Maxwell's before on the recommendation of Susan Wheeler a coupla years ago, but this one really hit the spot. I've found a few other things to scratch the SF/poetry itch with as well, which I will surely report on here.

Friday, February 6, 2004

"The Hawk Who Became a Dove" by Hal Sirowitz*

Most people start off supporting

their country's war efforts,

Father said, but as soon as someone

close to them gets drafted

they suddenly change their tune

& begin to question their government.

Your friend's father was a hawk.

When his son received a draft notice

he became a dove. Instead of swooping down

on anyone opposed to the war he

started to do lots of cooing. He's

easier to listen to now, because he

isn't always ruffling someone's feathers.

It's a shame that he needed the possibility

of his son's death to improve his personality.

*Breaking my "no Soft Skull biz on the blog" rule to say that one of my most enjoyable jobs of the moment has been preparing Hal's new manuscript Father Said. It's coming out in June, just in time for Father's Day, of course.


I've been afraid to call Tekserve, you know? And so the guy just calls me. "I have some kind of bad news. I have to replace the logic board." He seemed genuinely sympathetic, and didn't mind the language I used.

Now where did I put all that scratch I made last year as a poet?

I don't recall posing for this...

I should get out more

See that straight shot up to Canada from Texas? Shortly after my return from San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico (where I played hooky from college in 1993 and thus flunked Sculptural Ceramics), I woke up in a car in Kansas the day after Christmas. Got stuck in some village in Saskatchewan over New Year's (the holiday spent in Regina where we drank Molson Ice and danced to Bryan Adams having no other options). It was so cold folks plugged in their cars and my nose hairs froze. Never been so cold. Finally had to take a Greyhound aaaaaaall the way back to Austin. An instance of impulsive decision-making gone, um, awry.

Does Kansas City also count as Missouri?

Should have been in St. Louis, MO in September 2001, but my flight for 9/14 was canceled. My sister used to live there, but is now back in the Friendly State (where the unelected bozo was NOT born).

Will probably be in Montana sometime soon, because my father figure recently bought a place there.

Skipping breakfast...

is bad for you. So here's a little something cooked up for you by the unstoppable Shafer Hall.

I am totally digging the daily zine. Thanks, [expurgated]!

Thursday, February 5, 2004

How cool is that?

Powell's ordered 5 copies of Down Spooky today. And I have shipped all the orders that have come in via Pay Pal.

Now I'm working on fulfilling the collaborator mailing. Patience--and some of you have addresses locked away in the sick iBook and I will have to ask you again. Forgive.

Last night, since we were speaking of Joan Murray, I saw John Ashbery at the New School. David Lehman hosted a forum with him. And JA now owns Down Spooky #15.

Typewriters & longhand

Yes! This is why I use my manual typewriter--a seafoam green Olivetti Lettera 22--for revisions. After I've moved the poem from head to notebook to computer, I print it out. Then I retype it over and over on the Lettera 22. Having to go slowly and deliberately, much more so than on a springy, superresponsive computer keyboard, does two things: 1) occupies "front room" of my awareness with a "hit this key, then this key, return here, double space" dancing kind of sequence, and 2) allows the occupants of the other "rooms" to peek their heads in, or sometimes waltz right in and take over the party. New lines, alternate words or phrasing, line breaks often rearrange themselves this way.

When I was working on Joan Murray (1917-1942), I wrote out her entire book in longhand, into a notebook. Copied the poems out several times, typed some too. Same thing. Poems get deeper when your (my) entire attention is occupied with them, reading and writing them simultaneously. It shuts off the backing tracks--wasn't Jordan talking about this when reading? That way your mind has of paying partial attention to the words you're reading, but partial attention to other things simultaneously.

Then again, in my own writing, I've always been interested in this simultaneity--finding ways to cultivate it--rather than distracted by it. I used to assistant-manage a record store in college, and had the job of unpacking and tracking all the shipments of cassettes and cds. On days they'd come in, I'd be in the backroom, alphabetizing & categorizing, sliding plastic cases in smooth motions across a long table. Sometimes music playing sometimes not. Always with a notebook and pen nearby. Stray lines, single words, sometimes whole poems appeared out the alphabetical repetition in my front subvocal track.

Well, I've mixed my metaphors, but you get what I'm saying.

Multiple mindtracks are one of the subjects of "Murmur" and several other older poems written around the same time. The conjuctions and synchronicities can be alot like blogging, actually. Several conversations touching on the same topics or tangential topics, a trail of links, or Jonathan saying he's not really into Sun Ra the day after I admitted the same to hubby who loaded my iPod with it, Chris Lott & I quoting O'Connors letters within days of each other, or John Latta and I reading Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer at the same time, for a few recent examples. It's like there's someone else in here with you--or out there with you--and it's comforting. I enjoy the little shocks of surprise the back tracks (or front room party crashers) can provide. It happens with automatic or constraint writing too. Process as subject, as goal.

Always arriving back at Harry Mathews. Satisfaction with result vs. pleasure in process.

Poachry from the past!

Thanks to Reen (linked at right) for the "carry on" and the literary context. And to Maisie for this fabulous link.

NOTE: I've been forced to resort to our old first-generation iMac running 8.1 and Netscape 4.7 with a dial-up connection. Everything looks like poop! And I'm having to confront my internet-instant-info addiction! Dear Tekserve, please call soon. Amen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

"Bites off More Than She Can Chew"...

is my middle name. Yep, that's me.

Two great tastes that taste great together...

Poetry + time travel.

Reading Time's Fool by Glyn Maxwell. And just heard he'll be at the Bowery Poetry Club later this month. Thanks to Mike Snider for the recommendation.

And speaking of being time's fool...

Public service announcements...

Friday @ Belladonna



back at BLUESTOCKINGS with

3 fabulous performers and poets

Caroline Bergvall, Catherine Daly & Nada Gordon

Bluestockings Bookstore

172 Allen Street (between Stanton & Rivington)

$7-10 donation goes to the poets

Sunday at Halcyon

FEBRUARY 8, 12:30PM:



227 Smith St. (between Butler and Douglass Sts.)

Brooklyn, NY

718 260-WAXY

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Sample Poachry


You are not aware I watch you.

I use myself as bait

for you.

You want to crush me.

I show a little leg near the edge of the sink.

I linger by your empty juice glass.

My seductions are intricate.

I provoke you to raise a hand.

You want to crush me.

In the moment before I die

I know how much I love you.

More Gina Myers...


What a sweetheart.

Hubby just sent me this. Nice.

He & I have written collaborative cockroach poems. We call them Poachry. Nobody thinks they are funny but us. I read one with the line "showing a little leg by the sink" once at Frequency and somebody audibly gagged. An illustrated chap would be fun.

Next chap, by the way, is with Shafer Hall. We've been swapping titles. Rocking. Charlie Orr will preside over groovy design.

And the reading itself...

I'm a little hard of hearing--my mother's right, and it's time I admit it. I often have a difficult time hearing voices because they seem to get lost in background noise. But Gina was miked, and tho she's soft spoken and I was in the back, I could hear her fine. I don't recall which poems she read--and anyway they aren't titled--but I caught the last half-dozen or so, and have read Saginaw several times since. (Another blogger--who?--remarked recently that she has a hard time absorbing poems when they're read aloud at events--and I sometimes do too. A phrase or two will stick, but usually I come away with an impression of the work, rather vague.) Her chapbook is a linked series of numbered poems recounting her memories of Saginaw, Michigan. I suppose that's where she grew up.

The said something about poetry, about greenhouses and

mental breakdowns, the Pulitzer Prize.

We read "The Heron" and "My Papa's Waltz." Al asked

what a Heron would taste like--imagined it a part of

Thanksgiving dinner. [...]

So when Gina finished [expurgated] stood to introduce me. It's funny that we'd never met before, though he read at Frequency (I was out of town that weekend) and & KPF (I sat up front and missed him afterward), so I introduced myself on the way up.

I never know what I'm going to say until I start. Same way with introductions. If I plan something specific, it falls apart. So I just start talking. Usually works out fine. I mean, I have a general idea--I just don't write a script. I'm much more comfortable EMcing an event for somebody else than I am reading my own work. But considering that two years ago I couldn't even get through workshop without almost passing out, or open a door and enter a place I'd never been without freaking, I've made a lot of progress. Luckily hubby says I don't seem as nervous as I feel. It's hilarious to think of poetry readings & KPF as forms of behavioral therapy. But they are.

Anyway, I read some poems from Brand New Insects and then some from Down Spooky. [expurgated]'s great to have in the audience--he was there in the front row laughing and chatting with me between poems. Shafer's friends (locals) Jaime Corbacho & John came out, so they were a nice surprise, though I wish they could have hung out after! And Gabriella came with Gina. And Mark Lamoureaux and Chris Rizzo and John Mulrooney. Some other people whose names I didn't catch. Another Wordsworths employee in the back. It was a nice event, I thought. I even read "Cherry" without flubbing.

Gina and I swapped chapbooks and I sold three, gave one to [expurgated]. Then we planned to meet up at Charlie's Kitchen. Shawn and I went to dump our backpack and books at the hotel. I called Amanda, who had to miss the reading because her flight from Omaha was canceled and she got in late. She said she'd meet us there.

Monday, February 2, 2004

Our adventures in Cambridge: The Commute

Saturday morning we left the house at 9:15 or so, heading for Penn Station via the C train. We planned to catch the 10:00 am train to Boston, for which we already had tickets. But an A train ahead of us had "mechanical difficulties" and we sat between stations for a murderously long time. By the time we got to Penn, our train was gone.

Oh well, we thought. We exchanged our tickets and waited for the 12:03--which was an Acela Express and should have gotten us to Boston South Station at 3:37. Plenty of time. No worries. I finished folding sewn Spookies and started marking poems I thought I might like to read. But as the time for our departure drew nearer, Amtrak let us down. Our train was 20 minutes late, then 30 minutes late, then 40 minutes late, then 50 minutes late, then 1 hr 10 minutes late. We finally left the station around 1:20. I asked after boarding if the conductor expected to make up time on the way--no, not really. Great. But there was nothing I could do but sit and enjoy the ride, so I did.

I'm cursed with motion sickness (much worse in buses than trains and planes, which was one reason we didn't take the Fung Wah!), which means I can't read for long stretches while in motion. Or sometimes at all. The scenery sliding by as I focus on a page makes me nauseated and dizzy. This is why I prefer to drive--looking straight ahead through the windshield doesn't bother me. And driving gives me something to do. Anyway, I tried pulling the curtain and that helped. Alternated reading with looking out. Pleasant trip.

But as we crept up on 4:00 and were not yet past Providence, I called [expurgated]. Left a message. He was in, but the woman who answered couldn't find him. I said I'd be late because our train was behind schedule, but would call again if I could as we got closer.

Called back just before 5:00 since we were just pulling into Back Bay. Got cut off. Stupid cell phone kept dropping calls. Still had two stops and the cab ride to Harvard Square. At this point, even though I couldn't help the situation by worrying, I was agitated and antsy. The normal case of nerves before a reading was aggravated by the anxiety of being late.

We arrived at South Station about ten after 5:00, I think. We hopped in a cab, said where to go. Arrived at the bookstore at about 5:30, I think. Grabbed a seat in the back as Gina was reading, hoped I hadn't missed too much. She read several poems from her Boog Reader chapbook Saginaw (order from David via editor at boog city dot com). Terrific to hear her, though I was embarassed for arriving in the middle. (Sorry, Gina!) Caught my breath. Etc.


Computer fritz sometime Saturday or Sunday, while home alone and turned off. Must admit miracle of last weekend was accepted on faith too soon?

Computer now in for repairs. Dropped him off with reluctance this morning. If you sent me email last week and I haven't yet answered you, it's because I can't access your message. Please resend.

Supposed to have it back w/in 10 days, maybe quicker. Meanwhile will be using a very generously loaned PowerBook from freelance gig. And during the brief resurrection, I was able to back up all MS, web pages, and Soft Skull items. So at least there's that.

PS: Boston was swell. I will write more about that later.