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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Snowing, but not sticking

Off and on.

Have had to cancel our plans for this evening due to flu. Blue.

But still hoping to make tomorrow's big party.

Here's the line-up:

32nd Annual New Year's Marathon at the Poetry Project

3-4: Bob Holman, Shanna Compton, Jose Angel Figueroa, Ethan Fugate, Yuko Otomo, Michael Lydon, Susan Maurer, Nicholas Powers, Gina Myers, Don Yorty, Lauren Russell, Courtney Frederick, Denizé Lauture, Bob Rosenthal

4-5: Merry Fortune, Steve Cannon, Marc Ribot, Rosa Alcala, Tan Lin, Susan Landers, Foamola, Joanna Sondheim, Hassen, Bruce Weber, Prageeta Sharma, Bethany Spiers, Paul Catafago, Aaron Kiely, Marianne Shaneen

5-6: Philip Glass, David Mills, Brenda Iijima, Huang Xiang, Patricia Spears Jones, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Blind, Kazim Ali, Kimberly Lyons, Steve Dalachinsky, Paolo Javier, Lourdes Vazquez, Donna Brook, Bob Hershon, Ted Greenwald

6-7: Filip Marinovic, Latasha Diggs, Ammiel Alcalay, Lo Galluccio, Dorothy August Friedman, Rebecca Moore, Shanxing Wang, Chris Rael, Bill Kushner, Cheryl B., Jim Neu, Charles Bernstein, Anne Tardos, Tyehimba Jess

7-8: Adeena Karasick, King Missile, Christopher Stackhouse, Maggie Dubris, Lenny Kaye, Avra Koufmann, John Giorno, Ange Mlinko, Murat Nemet-Nejat, Penny Arcade, Dana Bryant, Ed Friedman, Yoshiko Chuma, Steve Earle

8-9: Willie Perdomo, Elliott Sharp, Kimiko Hahn, Todd Colby, Taylor Mead, Brenda Coultas, Edwin Torres, Edmund Berrigan, Anne Waldman, Tuli Kupferberg, Eileen Myles, Eric Bogosian, Patti Smith

9-10: Rodrigo Toscano, Jackie Sheeler, Janet Hamill, Keith Roach, Hal Sirowitz, Elizabeth Castagna, Judith Malina & Hanon Reznikov, Tracie Morris, Mercedes Roffé, Brendan Lorber, Wanda Phipps, Stephanie Gray, Sharon Mesmer, Drew Gardner

10-11: Douglas Dunn, Jo Ann Wasserman, Gillian McCain, Steven Hall & Arthur’s Landing, Tonya Foster, Tom Savage, Jenny Smith, Joe Elliott, Vicki Hudspith, Mitch Highfill, David Vogen, Tracey McTague, Paul Lafarge, David Henderson

11-12: Marcella Durand, Alan Gilbert, Monica de la Torre, Joshua Beckman, Jen Benka, Nathaniel Siegel, Katie Degentesh, Douglas Rothschild, Charles Babinski, Karen Weiser, MacGregor Card, Brad Will, Greg Fuchs

12-1: Brian Kim Stefans, Erica Kaufman, Dana Maisel, CA Conrad, Jessica Rogers, Frank Sherlock, Corrine Fitzpatrick, Stacy Szymaszek, Anselm Berrigan.

The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church
131 East 10th Street
$8 general admission
$7 for students & seniors
$5 for members

Friday, December 30, 2005

Kevin Sampsell interviews Jennifer L. Knox

...over at the Powell's Books Blog.


...to make it to the marathon on Sunday. I'm supposed to read in the first hour and I have been really looking foward to it.

Right now though, it still looks iffy. This flu's got a real mean streak.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Jiggedy jig

Home from a swell Texmas, where it was sunny and 80 degrees yesterday and an incredibly pleasant 70-75 the rest of the time. Egg nog on the back deck in shirtsleeves is pretty freaking nice. My mom and sisters remain gorgeous and funny. My father-figure entertained us with tales of Australia, China, and Montana and stocked us up on crysanthemum tea. My brother-in-law languished under the influence of a stomach virus, poor thing. My nieces & nephew amazed everybody with moon shoes and spy kits and glow sticks, props hardly equal to their various talents.

Unfortunately...nieces + nephew = fevers + achoo.

Or perhaps I was poisoned by Mr. & Mrs. Wiggle in front of us on the plane, whose magical infant apparently excepted them from common courtesies.

Either way, I'm home today imbibing Airborne, sucking on Zicam, and simmering a giant spicy sausage [veggie*] stew. And I was actually looking forward to going to the office since I only made it in one day last week during the strike.

Still, hello Brooklyn. We missed ya.

*[This post has been modified because I have since gone vegan. Ever considered it?]

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Ahem. Your neurosis is showing.


Gonna try to work from home if freelance job can send me files. Day's pay just not worth a 3-hour 50-dollar commute to go 10 miles. Walking that far in below-freezing temps? Uh, nuh unh.

The strike is emphasizing the feeling I always have about the tail-end of the year: lots of waiting around, but lots of wondering why, since what's next is more of the same.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The post that was here...

...has expired.

This post brought to you by the TWU strike

Wow, getting around today is going to be one giant pain.

My sister apparently made it to the airport to catch her flight to Texas. Early enough in the morning she could still get a car and she didn't need to go thru Manhattan.

Getting over for work is gonna be a bitch... not going to happen.

I don't think I'll even attempted it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Make it stop!

I know this isn't very cheerful/seasonally appropriate but I LOATHE x-mas music.


It's too bad I'm not a programmer...

...because The Descent of Alette would make a totally awesome video game.

Fight your way through a series of subway cars full of the blur-faced homeless and menacing suit-clad businessmen until you reach a linked maze of caverns populated by serpents, headless women, owls, bats, and legions of the dead in this action-packed single-player adventure game. As Alette, you must confront and kill the superpowerful Tyrant, without destroying all of creation, which is somehow part of his body. Your guide through this under-underworld is a sadistic owl who may or may not be the spirit of your long-departed father. You'll collect a bit of blue stone, drown in a hellish lake, grow a beak, and be implanted with a talon along the way, and perhaps learn to fly. You'll need to amass a hefty arsenal and rebel against your feminine nature by assuming your animal self for your final showdown with the Tyrant, and to survive the fragile new world that dawns upon his death.

So if you're a programmer, and you want to develop game scripts based on epic poetry, and pitch the idea to the publishers who will quickly come up game tie-in packaging and see skyrocketing sales for these adventuresome tales, my email address is in the top-right corner.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I think years are too short. Days are too short.

In fact, I don't enjoy Time at all. The way it presses in, diminishes, sneaks away.


Tomorrow is my birthday. I got my gift early. It was a surprise.

My last guitar was a hand-me-down.

This one is just beautiful!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Strike mostly averted...with happy poetic consequences!

The partial transit strike seems to be only affecting buses in Queens at the moment, which is good news for us, because it means we can and certainly should go see Stephanie Young & David Larsen & Brandon Downing at Teachers & Writers Collaborative dealything tonight. I just got all three books--Stephanie's a few weeks ago, and the other two just arrived yesterday. Here is just one of many kick-ass poems from Stephanie's Telling the Future Off. It's so great, it doesn't even need a title.

I take my leisure wherever I can
like I am cherry blossoms

a wall of trees blooming
without regard to season.

I ate a mango in winter.
Cherry flavor.

I bloomed
and I bloomed and I bloomed.

This much
and no more?

A crowd in the breeze
delicate print body

and I
to suit you with violent declarations.

Triumphant, your head
stuffed into my apron.

Baby lamb butts thigh.
Thigh to baby lamb:

embedded in the covers

a dream in the forehead of blossoms
and each more than the next

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Oh (!) but physically...

...the quotation marks resemble a doubling effect, halos or psilocybin tracers. Mutliple outlines, blurred, a visual image Notley uses with some frequency. Cars and rooms and caves also have curved walls.

I'll try to find you some supporting words.

This a-ha moment brought to you by Billy Blanks.

Update: Here are some words I found, as promised.

[...] "'Where are" "my companions?'" "'You are" "your

companions--" "your companions" "have temporarily" "become you'"
"I saw that" "my hands' outlines" "we several" "& seemed blurred"
"Likewise" "my arms & legs--" "I looked plural" "'But my eyes are"
"unified,' I said," "'my vision single," "my mind single" "Inside I

feel like" "one person'" "'Of course," "he said" "'That is the only way"
"to know & see," "through one person's" "mind & senses" "But in this
place," "in these depths--" "a cave network, as you will find--"
"what you see" "pertains to everyone'" [...]

Something to read at lunch

Jordan on Alice Notley's Coming After at Constant Critic.

Taking things apart

Still reading The Descent of Alette and also holy moly Petroleum Hat by one Drew Gardner. (Y'all might know him. More on that one when I'm done.)

And I just finished My Life in CIA by the charming hero Harry Mathews and it is the bomb; read it just for the couple of times Georges Perec appears if you're into that Oulipo jazz. But you should read it for more than that. For one, the sex scenes are great. There's not much poetry in it. But poets who don't read novels kind of freak me out. I love tuna fish and arthouse documentaries but tuna fish forever, or just one kind of movie? Nah. Go flip some pages in a more rapid fashion. Read paragraphs just once for a change. Pay a different kind of attention. Harry pretended to be a spy! He makes covert drops with one hand and pulls your leg with the other!

The ongoing temptation to tinker with AN's quotation marks is a tough one to overcome, for me. (Don't forget what I am doing here. I read and uh, write about reading, like a writer, not like a reader. This is why I don't write reviews.) I want to take the thing apart and wonder about those parts and imagine a new arrangement and completely ignore the author's intention. That this particular author's intention is so insistent makes me all the more rebellious. I earned my first D in conduct at 10 yrs.

Again, snatch an Alette if you have a chance. And if you live in NYC or some other city with a subway system, read it there. Each poem is a car, then a cave. I recognize the multiplicity Alette experiences--the kind of intensly asserted self-awareness harnessed to utter anonymity. It's city living. And it's also, agreed agreed, feminine.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hello cookie


Reading Alice Notley

I read Coming After a few weeks ago, and I have picked up The Descent of Alette and given it another try--the first try having been unfortunately stymied by my reaction to the quotation marks. I do understand them, and have gotten used to them mostly, but they still seem intrusive to me, like being read to. While it is interesting to me to feel the disparity in how I would hear the phrasing if not being so micromanaged, it's still somewhat affronting. I dislike audio books for this reason, and honestly, sometimes, some performances of work I know well. Still, we all direct readers in this way, with punctuation, with line breaks, with space. We use these and other devices to create a poem that will be heard by the reader the same way we hear it ourselves. The goal is to make the experiences as close as possible. Isn't it? And I am enjoying the book, and her phrasing, even when forced to ventriloquize against myself. It's a less solitary kind of reading, if that makes sense. I think my main objection to the quotation marks is not the new purpose she assigns them--to indicate her measure, the cadence of phrases--but that their traditional purpose is so at odds with this new purpose. It takes a bit of retraining (uh, perhaps particularly for someone trained as an editor/copyeditor) to read this book. Even reading each chapter/poem/piece twice or three times, and being halfway into the book, I can't help but hear some of the phrases, particularly the one-word and shorter adjectival phrases, as being enclosed in "scare quotes"--one of my least favorite abuses. It's a valence I don't think the author intends, so I find it problematic. Also, where there is dialogue the marks are just ugh a nested mess. Notley's note on the marks makes good sense there at the beginning, on its page, and she knows she's being controlling: "If I had simply left white spaces between the phrases, the phrases would be rushed by the reader--read too fast for my musical intention. [...] Finally they may remind a reader that each phrase is a thing said by a voice: this is not a thought, or a record of thought process, this is a story, told." Notley is so concerned (to generalize from this statement and a few of the essays) about her voice, that I find myself asking (as a reader, in this case) "Where's my voice?" Her anxiety about controlling the way I read her comes through. And I feel necessarily less like a collaborator in the experience of reading the poem. It's uncomfortable for me.

Which is not to say that I am not marveling at runs like this one (to chose a random example):

"I walked" "into a car where" "everything was membrane-
like" "thin-membrane petal-like" "& veined"
"Fetus-like" "fetus-flesh-like" "In shades of pink" "purple black &"
"brown" "Thin" "reddish veins" "Fetal flower" "soaked in

subway light" "The car walls were translucent" "orchid-
flesh" "The seats were & the floor--" "All was naked flesh"
"We were naked" "A fetus" "delicate" "tiny-faced," "eyes closed,
concentrating" "curled" "almost spiraling," "floated high" "in the

air." "We sat naked on our" " membrane-like" "tan benches"
"All of us" "smooth & wrinkled" "brownish, or"
"darker," "or paler," "palest" "were as if" "within a flower"
"as if" "within us" "This" "This is" "simultaneous," "I understood"

"Uncontrolled by" "the tyrant" "Someone else"
"in all of us" "is this lovely" "fetal flesh," "flower skin"
"We are being this" "this flower" "And then" "the flower
vanished" "I was clothed, there was" "no fetus" "Gray subway car

of people" "riding quietly some sleeping" "Someone's earphones"
"turned up too loud" "buzzing wire" "vaguely song"

In her essay on The Descent of Alette in Coming After, "The Feminine Epic," Notley says "I don't think you can write a real epic (as opposed to the twentieth-century Big Poem) without some, even a lot of, regularity of line. I wanted something regular, but also catchy--not some prosy long-line spinoff of the what-had-come-before; I'm afraid I wanted something all my own. As I worked on the first part of Alette, the line of the previous two poems evolved into something I could depend on, not think about, have to invent while I was inventing the story. I needed more freedom to tell the story than a constantly changing metrics would allow me. Thus I arrived at, and stuck with, a four-line stanza, each line of which usually consists of three to four feet or phrases[.]"

One thing that's particularly fascinating about reading Coming After, much of which is Notley's articulation of the feminine and its intersection with poetics, and The Descent of Alette is that in Alette she chose to work with 1) the epic model which is 2) a narrative stucture 3) a regular metric (tho her application of both regular and metric is idiosyncratic) and 4) allegory (the Tyrant and Alette being symbols as well as characters, particularly the Tyrant) and in Coming After talks about these choices using phrases like "freedom" and "all my own."

Here is where I get to a point. I'm trying to write a long, somewhat narrative, not-exactly-a-novel-nor-a-poem book now, with a principal female character. One the problems I am attempting to solve is how to write accurately (oh more to be said about accurately) about the historical past (as opposed to the autobiographical past, which is more forgiving) without hobbling it with been-there-done-that methods. Results? Giving myself the same template as Notley gave herself for Alette, I'm not sure that I wouldn't feel so oppressed that I couldn't write at all. I have had to admit (and not for the first time) while reading Notley, that my feminism is, uh, reluctant. (I'm no longer talking or thinking about her; this is personal now.) I resent the pressure I feel (and have always felt) to make my gender an issue in or focus of my writing. As much as I admire Notley, I bristle at some of her feminist bristling in Coming After, and similar bristling by others, not to pick on her. If this were an essay and not a blog post I'd give examples. I realize I'm not saying this well. I don't mean I disagree, don't understand her, or am unempathetic. I simultaneouly accept (identify with) and reject (deny the truth of) the circumstances of being a woman poet she describes. Part of this is no doubt generational. And maybe part is wishful thinking.

Update: In looking up the online store links to give you impulse-clickability I had a hard time finding The Descent of Alette. It's a shame, but the book seems to be out of print. Hello, Penguin? Anybody home?

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Well, I missed it, after all.

Instead of celebrating Kochmas at the Church, I was enjoying the Collected Tapas of Casa Mono: frisee and manchego, duck with capers, Spanish jamon, pumpkin and chevre croquetas, duck egg with truffles and salmon, surrounded by lovely bottles.

Or, rather, that's what I was doing in the hour we had to kill before Kochnukah, but then I realized I'd left my keys at my office uptown.

Dinner was lovely, but I regret. Please do report.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Shafer Hall discovered in Jakarta!

Red, Catlike Animal May Be a New Species
Published: December 6, 2005
Filed at 8:36 p.m. ET

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- A stealthy catlike creature pouring very strong but still sorta crappy drinks was photographed by camera traps on Borneo Island and is likely to be a new species of carnivorous poet, the World Wildlife Fund said Tuesday.

If confirmed, the animal -- which has dark red fur and a long, bushy tail -- would be first new carnivorous poetic species discovered on the island since 1895, when the Borneo ferret-badger bard was found, clutching a manuscript of ballads scribbled on turtle hides. That particular ferret-badger bard went on to win Jakarta's highest literary honor, before scurrying off to lick himself in musky places.

Cameras set up to photograph wildlife in Kayan Mentarang National Park on the Indonesian side of Borneo island have twice captured images of this new poet, said Stephan Wulffraat, a Dutch literary critic who is coordinating the WWF's research into the species.

''We have consulted several Bornean poetic experts. Some thought it looked like a lemur, but most were convinced it was a new species of poet,'' Wulffraat said. ''Until we have a live specimen in our hands, we can't be 100 percent sure. Now, I'm only 90 percent sure.''

Since 1994, researchers have found more than 360 new species on Borneo island, most of them fiction writers and memoirists.

My spider sense is tingling

Something is about to go very wrong.

Imaginary Poets tonight at Poets House

...was a good time.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Pretty Young Thing coming (back) to town in January!

Danielle Pafunda just wrote to say she'll be in town January 21 to read at the Frequency Series with Sabrina Orah Mark, Lara Glenum, and Kristen Kaschock. (I'm excited already.)

If you've got a slot for Danielle around that time, holler. She'd love to read for you!

Saturday, December 3, 2005

Jen Bervin's a non-breaking space

If you haven't yet experienced this new
online book from Ugly Duckling, do it soon.


Thursday, December 1, 2005

Registration now open for Spring Chapbook Workshop

The Chapbook: A Poetry Workshop
Course number NWRW3255
The New School
A 15 session(s). Wed., 6:00-7:50 PM, beg. January 25. $545.00
Open enrollment for noncredit & credit students
Instructor: Shanna Compton

For a number of poets, the chapbook functions as a primary literary unit--serving as the ideal publication outlet for a long poem, themed selection, or interrelated sequence. Chapbooks can provide poets with something to sell or trade at readings, span the gap between (or before) full-length collections, and create an opportunity to extend the creative process into the making of a physical object. In this class, we'll approach the poetry chapbook as a discrete entity, full of innovative possibilities in terms of length, thematic concerns, and aesthetic, looking at the form as both readers and writers. Workshop sessions alternate with discussions of books on the reading list, and as a final project, each student completes a chapbook manuscript. We'll also discuss publishing options, including small presses, specialty printers and book arts studios, DIY production and distribution, and chapbook contests. (3 credits)

Reading list includes recent chapbooks published by Ugly Duckling, Burning Deck, Booklyn, Faux Press, Pressed Wafer, Evil Twin, CyPress, Sardines Press, the Poetry Society of America, New Michigan Press, & other presses.

Register online or by phone, fax, or mail.