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Monday, January 30, 2006

The difference between John Ashbery and Paris Hilton...


...according this this review in Entertainment Weekly is that Ashbery's "much, much smarter."

Friend-who-shall-remain-nameless reports that he called up JA to tell him the good news, and his reply was: "I'm much prettier, too."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Tired of Trebuchet...

...so we're going to be looking at Georgia for a while here, folks. Classic and bookish, substantial in a small point size. I'll keep Trebuchet for the dates, titles, and footers. I just don't like reading sans-serif (or in the case of Trebuchet semi sans) type for more than a paragraph or two at a time, especially with too tight leading, and the Internets don't give a damn.

But here I can change and so do change.

I'm a sucker for a good biography...

ceci n'est pas keith, ceci n'est pas rosmarie ...as I'm sure I've mentioned here before. I guess not everybody feels that the circumstances of a artist's life are relevant to an understanding of their work, and I agree that the poems (or novels or paintings or whatever) are the main thing.* But their stories are sometimes interesting, whether laid out in thorough detail by a biographer (I can hardly wait for Lisa Jarnot's Duncan book) or related by the authors themselves. In other words, in some cases I'm just as interested in the poets as I am the poems.

Another bias: I'm not so charmed by the modern memoir trend though--the idea that everybody has a story--in which the subject is noteworthy merely as his own subject, and the autobiographical book itself (or ugh, series of books) make up the extent of the writer's work. I'm more interested in reading biographies or autobiographies of figures I already appreciate in another context, so I generally prefer to read about writers or other artists, occasionally a historical figure, as a kind of supplement to their work. Collections of letters too. A couple of weeks ago I read Ceci n'est pas Keith. Ceci n'est pas Rosmarie. by Keith & Rosmarie Waldrop.

Like Ron Silliman's Under Albany, (which I have not read yet, but soon soon), the Waldrop's memoirs were originally written for the Gale Research Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series.** For such a short book (under 100 pp.), it contains heaps upon heaps: we get the highlights of their childhoods, his in Kansas and South Carolina, hers in Germany; the story of their courtship and of Rosmarie coming to the US on the Hopwood Award prize money Keith's "old seminar paper" won at the University of Michigan; a litany of hilarious theatrical pranks staged by Keith, XJ Kennedy, and other friends, which eventually cost Keith a job; the events that led to the founding of Burning Deck magazine and press; a moving account of the Waldrops' friendship with Edmond and Arlette Jabès; and insight into how each of them wrote several of their books and translations. Lots more about their theater activities in Providence, and other friends in New York and San Francisco. Keith's version of things comes first, then Rosmarie's, in distinct halves, each episodic, sketchy, overlapping. Some of my favorite passages:

My first love was theatre. In Kindergarten I played Peter Rabbit--chosen for the part, I should add, because I was the smallest child in the class, the one who could most easily get under a screen representing the fence around Farmer Smith's garden."

[immediately followed by]
I have always despised the pompous sound of

And death shall have no dominion

along with its silly message.

[and later, about Rosmarie's coming from Germany:]
To marry Rosmarie, I was first required to send her astrologer father exact coordinates of my birth: day, hour, latitude, longitude.

For something so momentous, and so personal, he did not trust himself to cast the horoscope, but sent the appropriate details--of my birth and of hers--to a master astrologer whom he revered.

We never learned what revelations he received.

Except the lucky conclusion. It is all right, said Herr Sebald, after consulting the documents. We might marry.

Rosmarie's ship was a day late because of storms on the Atlantic. When she did arrive, it was with three large wooden crates. The customs officials glanced at her, at the crates, began to stamp them without ceremony.

Then I became visible.

They reconsidered, made her open everything, went over it all with a geiger counter.

[and a little later, about their first house together in Ann Arbor:]
The walls of every room we lined with books, all but kitchen and bathroom--for fear of grease and steam.

Between grease and steam, steam seemed the less dangerous and, when the volumes reached too great an overflow, we decided to put up shelves in the bathroom.

So what books should go there?

Books we decided, with something in the title or author to suggest that locus.

We began. Ubu Roi, of course.

The Golden Pot.

Anything by Adelaide Crapsey.

The search gained momentum. The Sitwells. The Brownings. The Golden Ass. Privy Seal. Free Fall.

Let It Come Down.

Finally it was hopeless, any word at all doubling its meaning with an excremental shadow.

Howard's End.

Gone with the Wind.

And from RW:

All men are old. Shoes always too small. Cold oozed up through the holes. Uniforms moved with great speed. Mother thrust her chin forward with a new violence. Examined ration cards and missed coffee. At night the town gave in to the dark as if electricity had never been invented. So many things I did not understand. War as sufficient explanation. Balked in my simulation of childhood. Mother, I cried, extremely. At home in winter, wool pulled over my eyes. At the sound of the siren everybody ran into the cellar.

[Later, after:]

I dreamed I was human, but not sure it was possible. The naked part of morning had disappeared. Natural space lost to mirrors on the wall.

Things settled down to "normal." The quarrels, the silences. My sister Dorle married and became my refuge. Mother cleared my throat. Every few weeks she moved all the furniture. Father retreated into his astral body, quoting Goethe and working the Rühmkorff pendulum. I barricaded myself behind books.

[And later, in Paris:]
Work was going well. We were happy to be alone with each other and did not try to meet anybody. In January 1971, George Tysh, who had been Keith's student at Wayne, found us. He had been working in a Paris gallery for some time. He arranged a poetry reading of David Rosenberg and the French Canadian Robert Hébert in our living room.

Claude Royet-Journoud and Anne-Marie Albiach were there. Claude noticed Edmond Jabè's Livres des questions in our bookcase and asked if we had just bought it. "No," Keith said, "we brought it along because Rosmarie has started translating it." At this Claude shot across the room:


[One more:]
is one of my main methods. No text has one single author in any case. The blank page is not blank. Whether we are conscious of it or not, we always write on top of a palimpsest. Like many writers, I have foregrounded this awareness of the palimpsest as a method: using, trans-forming, "translating" parts of other works. It is not a question of linear "influence" and not just a tradition. It is a way of getting out of myself. Into what? An interaction, a dialog with language, with a whole net of earlier and concurrent texts. Relation. Between.

I once wrote: "I need a book to say I love you." The distance of another's words to say what touches me most. Or is it that it needs to remain masked? Hofmannsthal: "We must hid what is deep. Where? On the surface."

One of the best reasons to read this book is to learn from the Waldrops why they founded the press and what working as publishers, editors, book artists, and translators has meant to them. Rosmarie refers to an image from Don Quixote comparing translation to working on a tapestry: "you sit behind the canvas..." and the scenes of the tapesty, which were designed by someone else, appear on the right side of the fabric. It's an apt image to describe editing too, I think.

I'm also reading RW's Split Infinities. Might get to write about that here too. (Never enough time to get to everything I'd like to. I'd have half as much time to read and less to say.)

* Aside to note that I like my life-facts tempered in the poems themselves: I love the name-dropping and intimacy of the NY School but am not as drawn to the (pick your favorite) confessional poets, for instance. I've joked that I could write a daddy poem to out-Plath Sylvia, but I'm not interested in going there.

** I used to write for the related Contemporary Authors Biography Series, and wrote about 100 essays for it in the late 90s when I first started freelancing. The pay wasn't so hot and because they are reference books my prose had to be pretty buttoned-up, but I got hooked on the process of organizing the various source materials (which were provided for me) into a coherent picture of a writer's life in work in less than however many words.

I was going to say I don't remember reading many biographies before that time, and so this is probably when I picked up the habit. But now I remember Virginia Woolf's & Anais Nin's zillion diaries and Henry & June, plus Henry Miller's biography of Rimbaud (as well as several of his novels and memoirs, which tend to blur the line). And biographies of Alfred Stieglitz & Geogia O'Keefe, which led me to a book whose title and author I forget about artist couples like Sonia and Robert Delaunay. So I dunno, I guess my gateway must have been Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own (well, it's partially a personal history) in about 1990 or so and on from there. I'd like to write one. Of somebody else. Sometime.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Didja Digerati yet?

digerati cover Steve Mueske at Three Candles Press offers a sweet discount for preorders on Digerati: 20 Contemporary Poets in the Virtual World, now through February 14th.

Peter Pereira
Eduardo C. Corral
Aaron Anstett
Paul Guest
Alison Pelegrin
Teresa Ballard
RJ McCaffery
Seth Abramson
Nancy Eimers
Anthony Robinson
Deborah Keenan
Tony Trigilio
Lee Ann Roripaugh
Shanna Compton
Jake Adam York
Michael Meyerhofer
Matthew Shindell
Jacqueline Marcus
William E. Stobb
Frank Matagrano

Click and ye shall receive.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Shaman Drum to the rescue

I've had about a half-dozen emails from folks recently saying they've had trouble finding Down Spooky. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm checking. There's some kind of temporary backlog with orders. Very sorry!

In the meantime, Shaman Drum in Ann Arbor still has copies for sale via their website. (Though my name is misspelled, so it's a bit hard to find.) You can also get it in person at the stores listed on my books page, and probably elsewhere.

Also, your local store can order it from Baker & Taylor.

If all else fails, feel free to email me. I have some copies here that I've already paid the press for.

Congrats to CAConrad...

...for this really great review from Publishers Weekly.

And Deviant Propulsion will indeed be available soon soon soon. Promise.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Saying so makes it so

I'm planning to read all (or at least mostly) new work at my next reading.

OK. Better get busy.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A couple of months ago...

...Coco Crisp emailed me asking for advice about how to promote his new chapbook.

Doesn't seem like a devious prank really, but I do feel kind of silly now.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I've been windowlicked...

...and it tickles. Hee hee.

(Thanks, Lauren!)

See you tomorrow.

REMINDER: First Frequency of 2006!

Saturday, January 21 at 2:00 PM
Danielle Pafunda, Lara Glenum,
Kirsten Kaschock & Sabrina Orah Mark
FREQUENCY SERIES (new schedule TK)
Hosted by Shafer Hall & Sam Amadon
The Four-Faced Liar
165 West 4th Street
New York, NY

(And in case you missed it...) Danielle's Pretty Young Thing receives an enthusiastic review in the brand-spanking new Octopus here. And I just happen to know where you can get one.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sure you saw it, but just in case...

...Ron Silliman has posted a bit on Joan Murray today.

She is indeed a very strange duck. She spent hardly any time in school, restricted in many ways by her long serious illnesses, but her isolation and self-education had at least one happy result: as a poet she was unfettered, as Ron suggests. Grant (Hyde) Code (whose own poetry--at least what I've seen--was rotten) cleaned up her awful spelling, titled almost all of the poems, and worst of all, substituted some of what Ron calls her Zen-garden stones with less thought-provoking clods, because he'd decided that she didn't really know what she was saying. Harrumph!

Grant Code published a poetry collection called Chalk Marks: Satires & City Poems (Branden Books, 1973) and was also apparently a somewhat successful movie actor. He appeared in both Serpico and The Miracle Worker, for instance.

Anyway, get Murray's poems here.

Monday, January 16, 2006

If you are not from...

...where my hubby is from or from somewhere purt' nearby, you are probably not aware of the existence of the creature known as the alligator gar.

The alligator gar is a nasty looking thing with serious armorlike scales and a mouth full of mean teeth. (Thus, the gar jaw is totemic to fishermen, like shark teeth to surfers or big cat claws to safari hunters. You can even get a pair of earrings made from the scales, if'n you want.)

They can get up to 300 lbs.

They can breathe for long periods out of water just fine.

And yes, people eat them. [I no longer would.*]

Gar balls are similar to Cajun boudin balls, but with the fish pickings (they are very bony) instead of pork sausage bits mixed with rice or potatoes and rolled in cornmeal, then deep fried.

Here is a pic a friend sent me today. I don't know where he got it. But I can't let it go unremarked.

This monstrosity was apparently captured in Lake Sam Rayburn, down in Southeast Texas. I am guessing these dudes followed the oft-repeated caution: "Never bring an alligator gar aboard unless you know for sure it's dead."

The snakehead might be ferocious (and still thriving in Queens), but the alligator gar has been rumored to occasionally take momentos. I think I'd prefer to be sucked dry by the chupacabra, myself.

So don't dangle your feet offa no piers!

*[This post has been modified because I have since gone vegan.]

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Double hot damn

I just proofed my pages for the upcoming issues of Spork & the tiny.

Looking over the TOC of one and the contributors' notes of the other, I'd say they're both gonna be fanfreakingtastic.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Doesn't mean I don't do.

But that I feel I shouldn't have to.

So when I say "I am not a ________ writer" that doesn't mean I am not a ________, just that I'd prefer just to be a writer.

For instance, when I say "I am a reluctant feminist" that means "I am pissed off about having to expend any energy on making some kind of point about gender equality rather than expend that energy on something else."

Like putting up billboards announcing the sky is blue. The color of the sky isn't a stance.

Anyway I don't really believe that bigots (of any stripe) can be cured. Bigotry isn't synonymous with ignorance. I think that view is too optimistic.

See how boring it is when I talk like this?

I'm much cuter with pom-poms.

Feel the love, oh neglected ones!

Tom Orange has posted a PDF of Rosalie Moore's forgotten book The Grasshopper Man & Other Poems.

And Alex Gildzen notes today that the poems of Herman Fetzer a.k.a. Jake Falstaff prefigured Frank O'Hara's. Check it.

Also, don't forget Octopus's Recovery Project.

Conrad's project is gonna be amazing. I can't wait to see what everybody digs up.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Joan Murray's Poems now available

Managed to get all the Joan Murray poems scanned this weekend. But now I am trying to find a way to get them into a PDF that's small enough to post, but doesn't sacrifice too much resolutionwise. The pages are all image files.

UPDATE: Big thanks to David Grillo for technical assistance. The PDF of Joan Murray's Poems is now available on the Half Empty/Half Full page here.

You can download it and view it/print it via Adobe Acrobat Reader (which is free) or Apple Preview for Mac. Depending on your plug-ins you may also be able to view it online.

It's a 9.710.1 MB file, but if you have a high-speed connection, it just takes a few minutes to download.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Cori Copp has pointed out that the PDF is missing pp. 70-71, which includes the beginning of "An Epithalamium." Not sure what happened. I have the scan. I looked through and it's also missing 88-89. Oops! Sorry about that. (And thanks, Cori!) I'll add those and will repost today. Stay tuned.

LAST UPDATE: OK, both missing spreads have been added and the file has been reposted. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Joan Murray, coming up

If you've expressed interest in a photocopy of Poems by Joan Murray (see discussion at Silliman's blog yesterday), give me a few days. Rather than continue to photocopy it dozens of times a year, I have decided to make the book available as a free PDF and perhaps as a printed Lulu.com book, sold for cost. It's long out of print, and Yale University Press apparently did not extend the copyright after it lapsed in 1975.

I should be able to get the PDF up this weekend.

What I'd really like to do eventually is to create a restored edition, revise my paper for the introduction, include poem variants and perhaps a few letters or notebook pages. In 2002, I plowed through all of Murray's papers at Smith College, and discovered that Grant Code, the editor Murray's mother hired to prepare the book for publication, made significant revisions, which naturally the deceased author could not approve. I found myself disagreeing with many of the so-called improvements! It's a really interesting story. A drama-queen mother; a morose, deeply weird deceased daughter; a verbose, overbearing editor-for-hire; the staff of a prestigious university press; and Auden, who eventually told everybody to bugger off.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006


The first two hours of the marathon were terrific. I had to follow Bob Holman, but at least I ONLY had to follow Bob Holman--he kicked it off and I was second! My favorite performance was by the ambassador of cheer Sparrow and his band Foamola. The song "Slow," "so slow that JLO may be divorced by the end of this song. Sloooooooowwwww." Whee! I wanted to stay longer, but I was coughing so much I went through an entire pack of drops and still disturbed everybody trying to listen around me, while struggling against the urge to dispense roomfuls of hugs for fear of infecting everybody w/ the flu. And I didn't get a single photo. Who's got some?

Monday, January 2, 2006

New year, new anthology...

Aaron Anstett * Molly Arden * Robert W. Barnett * Aaron Belz * Jasper Bernes * Remica L. Bingham * Anne Boyer * Elizabeth Bradfield * Gayle Brandeis * Suzanne Burns * Britton Carducci * Laura Carter * Shanna Compton * Bruce Covey * Matt Cox * Laura Cronk * Catherine Daly * Denise Duhamel * Peg Duthie * Jilly Dybka * Jill Alexander Essbaum * Marta Ferguson * Alice B. Fogel * Jeannine Hall Gailey * Amy Gerstler * Jim Goar * Noah Eli Gordon * Anne Gorrick * Carolyn Guinzio * Jennifer Michael Hecht * Shafer Hall * Michael Hoerman * Cynthia Huntington * Charles Jensen * Paul Jones * Kirsten Kaschock * Amy King * Craig Kirchner * David Laskowski * Dorothee Lang * Ann Neuser Lederer * Reb Livingston * Emily Lloyd * Rebecca Loudon * Oliver Luker * Tatjana Lukic * Clay Matthews * Corey Mesler * Charlton Metcalf * Michael Meyerhofer * Andrew Mister * Steve Mueske * Anita Naegeli * William Orem * Eden Osucha * Shin Yu Pai * Cami Park * Karl Parker * Dan Pinkerton * Lance Phillips * P.F. Potvin * Nate Pritts * Francis Raven * Kim Roberts * Anthony Robinson * Ken Rumble * Jenni Russell * Carly Sachs * Christopher Salerno * Standard Schaefer * Zachary Schomburg * Penelope Scambly Schott * Ravi Shankar * Brandon Shimoda * Matthew Shindell * Laurel Snyder * Heidi Lynn Staples * Hugh Steinberg * Matthew Thorburn * Aaron Tieger * Maureen Thorson * Betsy Wheeler * Allyssa Wolf * Christy Zink

Cheap...just the way you like it. Get it here.

(And big cheers & hearty thanks to Reb & Molly!)

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Happy New Year, y'all.

Recommended Poetry & Maybe Some Fiction 2006*


The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch (Knopf, 2005)
Petroleum Hat by Drew Gardner (Roof, 2005)
The Collected Poems of Ted Berrigan (University of California, 2005)
Antidotes for an Alibi by Amy King (BlazeVox, 2005)
The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel edited by Reb Livingston & Molly Arden (No Tell Motel, 2006)+
Ceci n'est pas Keith. Ceci n'est pas Rosmarie. by Keith & Rosmarie Waldrop (Burning Deck, 2002)
Split Infinities by Rosmarie Waldrop (Singing Horse, 1998)
Lucky Wreck by Ada Limon (Autumn House, 2006)
Murder Ballads by Jake Adam York (Elixir, 2005)
Under Albany by Ron Silliman (Salt 2004)
Gardener of Stars by Carla Harryman (Atelos, 2001) [a novel by a poet]
The Hounds of No by Lara Glenum (Action Books, 2005) [rereading]
Forces of Imagination by Barbara Guest (Kelsey Street Press, 2003)
Series by Robert Grenier (This Press, 1978)


The Thorn by David Larsen (Faux, 2005)
Record Palace by Susan Wheeler (Graywolf, 2005) [a novel by a poet--this is really damn fantastic]
The Nearness of the Way You Look Tonight by Charles North (Adventures In Poetry, 2000)
After Taxes by Thomas Fink (Marsh Hawk, 2004)
American Tatts by Linh Dinh (Chax Press, 2005) [run, don't walk!]
My Brother Is Getting Arrested Again by Daisy Fried (Univ. of Pittsburgh, 2006)
Siste Viator by Sarah Manguso (Four Way, 2006)

Some Notes on My Programming by Anselm Berrigan (Edge, 2006)
Blood & Soap by Linh Dinh (Seven Stories, 2004) [short stories]
[one love affair]* by Jenny Boully (Tarpaulin Sky, 2006)
This Connection of Everyone with Lungs by Juliana Spahr (University of California Press, 2005)
A Different Person: A Memoir by James Merrill (Harper/SanFrancisco, 1993)
Herself Defined: The Poet H. D. and Her World by Barbara Guest (Doubleday, 1984)
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (Vintage, 2006) [w/ library specializing in Japanese poetry as a pivotal location]
White Jazz by James Elroy (Vintage, 2001) [rhythm, disjunctive gaps & verbal sparks galore, plus badass 1950s street lingo]

The Confetti Trees by Barbara Guest (Green Integer, 1999)
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (Random House, 2004)
The Green Lake Is Awake by Joseph Ceravolo (Coffee House, 1994)
Villanelles Are Retarded by Shafer Hall & Maureen Thorson (Big Game Books, 2006)
Elapsing Speedway Organism by Bruce Covey (proofs, forthcoming from No Tell Books, 2006)
Applies to Oranges by Maureen Thorson (in manuscript)
His Dark Materials I: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (Knopf, 1996/2002) [tho it be for "young readers;" perhaps I still am one, because I can't wait to read the other two; kicks the crap out of Narnia.]
A Flag for Sunrise by Robert Stone (Vintage, 1992) [some incidental poetry, including some spoof bad verse, in this novel of political intrigue, murder, & mayhem, which is a doozy.]

His Dark Materials II: The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (Knopf, 1997/2002)
His Dark Materials III: The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (Knopf, 2000/2002)
Post~Twyla by Jack Kimball (Blue Lion, 2006)
Blue Studios by Rachel Blau DuPlessis (University of Alabama, 2006)
Organic Furniture Cellar by Jessica Smith (Outside Voices, 2006)
case sensitive by Kate Greenstreet (Ahsahta, 2006)
The Anger Scale by Katie Degentesh (Combo Books, 2006)
Mainstream Poetry by Michael Magee (BlazeVox, 2006)
Unprotected Texts by Tom Beckett (Meritage Press, 2006)
Good Apocalypse by Anne Boyer (Effing, 2006)

The Love Hotel Poems by Shin Yu Pai (Everywhere Godfrey/Press Lorentz, 2006)
The Physiognomy by Jeffrey Ford (Eos, 1998) [I read a different edition, but this one's more commonly available.]
Musee Mechanique by Rodney Koeneke (Combo, 2006)
Joe Brainard: A Retrospective by Constance M. Lewallen (University of California, 2001)
Digressions on Some Poems by Frank O'Hara: A Memoir by Joe LeSueur (FSG, 2004)
The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara edited by Donald Allen (California, 1995) [again]
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (Knopf, 1992)
Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch (Tarcher, 2006)

* Poetry or poetry-related books and maybe also the occasional novel, story collection, or biography, listed in the order read. Excluding anything I edited. All mentions are recommendations. If it sucked or was so-so, why bring it up? Then again, if it's not here, maybe I just haven't gotten around to starting and/or finishing it yet.

+ I happen to be in this, but f*ck it, it's good.