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, April 30, 2006

My new boyfriend

He was all up in the truthiness. Oh yes.

Surely they'll have clips on tomorrow night's show.

Or you could watch it now.

28 down, 2 to go

Then I think I will celebrate by shredding 1/4 of them into festive confetti!

HEY! You should save the internet. -------------->

Higher. Lonesomer.

JC Oates has called her new selected stories High Lonesome.

High Lonesome is the best title of a collection of short stories ever. Except it's by Barry Hannah. (My favorite collection of stories ever is by him too: Airships.)

To be fair, Hannah probably knew Louis L'Amour had already used the title for one of his novels.

There's also a movie, with John Barrymore, Jr.

I sort of paid homage to Hannah's title with Down Spooky.

& I have a poem in the book called "High Bluffing."

What's my point? I don't know. I think that I am miffed at old JCO. I tried to read The Assassins once, when I found it in the garage. There were very few grown-up books in my house. This belonged to one of the step dads. I didn't finish it. I went to the library & got some horror novels instead. The librarian didn't stop me. She never stopped me. Sometimes if I thought she was going to balk, I'd just take the books without checking them out. I usually brought them back.

But maybe I will call my next book The Ratchet on My Thigh.

Or For Zoom, the Smell Grows.

Or The Naughty Lie Topography of Sally D. Bupkis.

Or The Collected Poems of Family Picks on Them.

Or Charmonium.

Or Weeping with the Picture Mary.

Or Hunch Poems.

Or Sag O' Crime Minds.

Or Witty, the Math Club's Surface, Their Doomed Man Norm.

Or The Bonnets.

Or Petulant Cavities.

Or Fossil-Fuel Head Covering.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Switched over to Haloscan comments...

...which means any Squawkbox comments will be unavailable, though I may repost some from the last few days in the new system just for continuity.

I knew Squawkbox was going outta biz, but they said they'd be online till Dec 06. No such luck. They've been on the blink for weeks now. If Blogger would build in the ability to track/block by IP address I'd just use that, but they don't. (The "registered users" requirement is not really satisfactory, since folks can just make them up. I like allowing anyone--not just registered users--to comment, but also having the ability to ban system abusers if necessary, rather than having to delete individual comments. Haloscan is a good compromise.)

If you use Haloscan but haven't updated in a while, you might check out this add-on.

Update: OK, done.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


The readings are free
The magazine is free
The music is free
The food is free
The drinks are free
Are you free?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Kate Greenstreet's first book is coming out soon...

...and she has been asking other poets what the first-book experience was like for them (including me). (& an extra heap o' thanks to Kate for making our multiple emails seem like one seamless, coherent answer!)

No pretending--that was fun

Shappy floated lemon slices in my hefeweizens. Sharon Mesmer & I revealed to the audience that cleanliness is feminine. I cannot find Jenny Smith's poems online but that doesn't prevent them from being wonderful. I recognized Tim P. from A. Boyer's Flckr. David K. indulged some obsessive talk re: card catalogs (one of my fave objects, disappearing) & lamented himself the transformed role of the proofreader in the Age of the Internet (he used to have to find one book per ref in the library & now proofers just search-engine, which is both great & sad for the poor shelfstuck books.) & everybody impersonating Chrissie Hynde was so cool, 'specially the Sewing Circle (well, just one of them, more like a Sewing Point, geometrically speaking) grunting and moaning "I want love...God, I'm so fucking lonely" in "Show Me." I had to leave a little bit before it was over tho, so I missed Erika Simonian.
But what I really wanted to say is that I bought on my way to the club & as I sat reading it before the show at the bar I must have laughed aloud LOUD at least seven times. & when I laugh it is not always because something is humorous but because something is right.

For instance, here is a poem:

What's at Frank's?
from American Tatts by Linh Dinh (Chax, 2005)

A fake Calder floats over Sheila's head,
Who really should be called Sheila-na-gig,
Because she's all vulva and all suds,
And because she's well-tipped each evening.
On one side of the horseshoe bar is Gummy Christ,
Well-known for his toothy grin, sucking
On a yellow Corona between throws at cricket.
On the other side of the horseshoe bar is Skinny Dave,
Who's all coked-out and skull-plugged
To a quiet walkman playing Nine Inch Nails.
A large trust fund has allowed Dave to be fulfilled
By volume after volume of the fattest sci-fi
He reads zealously while swiveled on his stool.
Dave prefers the ladies' to the mens' room,
Because you can be locked inside, although
The full-bladdered matrons are none-too-happy
Queuing outside waiting for Skinny Dave
To finish powdering his fuckin nose.
"Full pelvic undulation will help to dissolve
All neurotic personal armor," some one has written
With a Magic Marker over the broken sink.

Dude, I've been there.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I Am...

...because my little blog knows me.

Tonight! Boog City's Classic Albums Live presents the Pretenders' Learning to Crawl

Tues. April 25, 8:00 p.m., $7
Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery

Shanna Compton, Sharon Mesmer & Jenny Smith

The Pretenders' Learning To Crawl
will be performed live in order by

Casey Holford
Middle Of The Road
Back On The Chain Gang

Phoebe Kreutz
Time The Avenger
Watching The Clothes

The Sewing Circle
Show Me

The Leader
My City Was Gone
Thin Line Between Love And Hate

Erika Simonian
I Hurt You
2000 Miles

Hosted by Boog City editor & publisher David Kirschenbaum

Directions: F train to Second Avenue, or 6 train to Bleecker Street.
Venue is at foot of 1st Street, between Houston and Bleecker streets,
across from CBGB's.

Call 212-842-BOOG(2664) or email editor[at]boogcity[dot]com for further information

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blogger has righted itself...

...but my comment service is still intermittently freaking out. (Need to switch over anyway, but gotta learn to hack the script first.)

Sunday, April 23, 2006

NaPoWriMo no mo?

Nah, I just got a little behind. I'm going to try to catch up today, with poems for April 21, 22 & 23.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Joshua Clover helps u cram for yr upcoming blogwar

(Whose book The Totality for Kids I just got yesterday, along with Sarah Manguso's Siste Viator, as my reward for completing my taxes, which I still haven't completed but will today.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

WTF R U wearing?

Maybe chicks do dig war.


I did misread Jordan's last comment yesterday. I thought I may have, which is why I began with a request for clarification. Jumping to conclusions can cause serious injury. (I wasn't offended by the fact that I thought you disagreed with me, J. Any heat you feel emanating from that post is my old-news disillusionment with the business I thought I was born to work in. The post I wrote last night was a continuation of what you & I were talking about yesterday, but was more generally addressed, and so's this one, after I close these parens.) I just felt compelled to write a little bit more about why I thought both Ron's lament about what did/didn't appear in the WP poetry feature and what some responses to his post seemed to be saying were off track.

I don't know how many bad (or do-nothing) poems are in magazines, because I don't read that many magazines. (Then again, I don't think anybody reads as many magazines as Jordan does!)

I do read magazines, of course, and I rotate a handful of subscriptions among the little print mags I love, and buy additional single copies. I read many more magazines (or partial magazines) online than I do in print. For me, it's a matter of both time and space. (You should see our apt.) My own preferred way to read a poet is in book (or chapbook) form--a concentrated shot. Some magazines, like No Tell Motel & Carve, let me get the best of both worlds. Just my preference. I understand the importance and appeal of the 1-3 poems per poet X a couple dozen poets format.

I'm not very interested in making any kind of statement about poetry I don't like. I do make those judgments, naturally. I've played gatekeeper (book editor, magazine editor, publisher) and find that role an awkward fit too (as much as I've enjoyed it), because my taste is just my taste. There are editors who see themselves as endorsers/approval-stampers & those that think of themselves mainly as readers/collectors. (I'm one of the latter. And when I agree with an editor of the former type, I naturally think she's brilliant.) There are plenty of people who go cuckoo for stuff I'm indifferent to, and vice versa. So I'm gonna stop short of agreeing that the proliferation of poetry is a problem & quality-control is a pivotal problem. The curb feelers on that bus seem to be reaching toward...well, I don't know. I'm just not comfortable saying that poems that don't do it for me might not do it for somebody, and that anything that doesn't do it for me is piling up in such a way as to interfere with what I do enjoy, to a degree that I need to worry about cleaning things up around here. I skip what I don't like and trust that everybody else can & will do the same. I'd be interested in hearing more about the quality-control problem, as you see it, though.

I can't find any reason to disagree with you, dear Mr. Robot, about how to make sure one's own work is best prepared for publication. I hope your lunch was delicious.

LIT 11

LIT 11 contains poetry and prose by Samuel Amadon * Anne Boyer * Michael Burkard * Heather Christle * Adam Clay * Bruce Covey * Lisa Croneberg * Katie Degentesh * Stephen Dixon * Stephen Dunn * Russell Edson * Jim Goar * Nada Gordon * Rae Gouirand * Kate Greenstreet * Christine Grillo * James Grinwis * Joshua Harmon * Jennifer Michael Hecht * Nathan Hoks * Nicolas Hundley * Lisa Jarnot * Brian Kalkbrenner * Amy King * Caroline Knox * Justin Lacour * Ben Lerner * Timothy Liu * Michael Loughran * David McAleavey * Anthony McCann * Marc McKee * Corey Mead * Peter Mishler * Ange Mlinko * Dennis Must * Philip Nikolayev * D. Nurkse * Geoffrey O'Brien * Jacquelyn Pope * Jerome Rothenberg * Kevin Sampsell * Greg Sanders * Cindy Savett * Morgan Lucas Schuldt * Andrew Seguin * Spencer Selby * David Silverstein * Rick Snyder * Chris Stroffolino * Nova Ren Suma * Rosmarie Waldrop * Alli Warren * Elisabeth Whitehead * David Wilson * Xue Di * Art by Jane Hammond

LIT 11 Launch Party
Thursday, April 27th, 7:00-10:00 PM
(Readings start at 8:00)
New School University
Wollman Hall
66 West 12th St
(Btw 5th and 6th Aves., closer to 6th)


Jennifer Michael Hecht
Amy King
Nova Ren Suma
David Wilson

Music by DJ Juca
Snacks * Beer * Wine

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

This was a comment, but is too long to dangle.

And my comment service is still acting up. So I moved it up from here, where Jordan and I have been picking each others' brains.

I don't understand that last comment [that the model of the last 70 years might not work the same as it did the last 70 years if it's online.] Are you saying things are no different for poetry publishers and individual poets than they were 70 yrs ago? That can't be what you're saying. And you're saying the Sunday book review sections are part of the solution, not part of the problem?

The industry of crapmaking that passes for trade publishing is a lot grosser and more dominant than it used to be, and the book retail business is too. It's all profit margins and volume discounts. It's not about art. You wanna make a place for poetry in that sphere? Knock yrselves out, peoples, & best of luck. I think the entire book industry, reviewing, media & chain retail outlets included, best supports commercially viable mass-market crappola. Its ultimate goal for the publisher is money. Its pinnacle for the authors is money, plus a very shallow idea of celebrity with a pseudointellectual gloss. None of the businesses involved are interested in literature as art (though individual editors and writers within that system may be--are. Many are.) The businesses are interested in literature as product. Oops. Most poets I know don't write product. This big-business media clusterfuck is what the last 70 or 150 years did for books. I don't think it's very realistic to continue to pretend poetry (or literary fiction) can make an impact on the same scale or reach readers in the same way as these other books.

I don't think there is anything tragically flawed about the small/micropress way as it currently stands, in theory. The focus on writing's cultural importance, the assertion that poetry is art, that's the right idea, right? (That's a timeless concept, if you ask me.) It's the execution that seems to get stymied. I think there are new, better ways, evolving ways to get books made & offer them to readers. The new ways may look a lot like the old ways, but they are faster, and less expensive, and more available to anybody who has an interest in making poetry, their own or others.

There's a great deal of difference, for instance, between the mimeographed stapled mag of the 70s that was sold by hand or on consignment through bookstores and a well designed digital short-run perfect-bound book that's distributed via a website. It's not a difference in spirit: both are made in the same (exuberant, hopeful, awesome) spirit. The difference is potential reach. Books (chapbooks, e-books, etc.) like these have a much better chance of finding readers than they did in the mimeograph & staple days. Even if you're into old-school production (which I am; my letterpress class is next month) you can get all new fangled with a website and PayPal. For about the same investment of time, and probably even less money, anybody who wants to publish a book of their own work can do that. Anybody who wants to publish other people's work in book form can do so. Ditto for magazine-style publishing (go read Tony Tost), which can now be done for next to nothing online by a single person, without having to be attached to a university (like the old-school lit journals) or selling advertising to come up with the funds to print it. And the landscape is different for readers too: any reader with internet access can find whatever she's looking for in a short sequence of clicks. These are improvements.

And since I'm typing & repeating myself ad nauseum (my own nausea), when's the last time you went into a bookstore, browsed the poetry section, found exactly what you wanted, and beyond that were introduced to something fantastic you didn't know you needed? I guess it still happens, but is rarer now than it used to be. Most stores are not staffed in such a way to make this happen. And they're not shopped in such a way to make it feasible, even if they did have a poetry enthusiast on the staff. This is the book industry's own fault. They hobbled themselves with rules about retail pricing (can't sell a new book for more than the suggested retail, unlike every other product in the universe) and volume discounts that give a ginormous advantage to chains. Blah blah blah. I get sick of hearing myself talk about it. But the upshot is: the bookstore doesn't function like it used to either. Shelf browsing's out.

Except it's not. The internet's got everything.

Turning back to the Sunday Book Review: who's that aimed at? Legions of bright but clueless readers? Might they all take to poetry like fish to water if some newspaper would just tell them which book to pick up first? I don't know. I guess they might. Maybe they like a major paper or glossy magazine or Oprah or an award committee or a brand name publishing house telling them what they should read, or at least what they should buy. I don't find those kind of recommendations (when they are even endorsements, and more often than not they're tepid or worse) helpful or exciting. And what if the old gray ladies did review small press poetry books? The distribution and retail networks don't work well for them, so the books aren't already sitting in the stores to catch the wave, and we're back to the mythical beast, the potential reader we've got to cajole and beg.

What's really useful to me is what other readers like me think. Check it: I can go online and find out. That's new, ain't it? The crusty old windbags with advertisers to placate can keep telling us all that most contemporary poetry isn't worth reading, and they can keep reviewing books by our deceased forebears, and they can keep pretending they're doing us all a favor with their high-minded guidance, if they want to. I don't particularly care what they think, especially in the "open with a provocative hook, summarize the plot, and add at least one positive/negative point in the second-to-last-paragraph to balance the review on a deadline and here's a coupla bucks and your byline" format.

Unfortunately, I'm not even sure what we're talking about anymore. The Sunday Book Review is probably not in my future, however.

OK, see you back here tomorrow, and I don't have to sell any ads or check with any editors. And you don't have to believe a word that comes outta my mouth because I'm no kind of authority whatsoever.

My comment server is fritzing today.

Actually, for the last few days. Refreshing sometimes helps.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Does anybody actually expect any paper-of-record book review to admit they're more likely to review books by publishers who have the dough to spend on their ridiculously expensive ad space? That they send presses the ad specs and price sheets along with the review copy submission guidelines, sometimes in the same envelope/fax/email? That they tell you never to call, email or otherwise follow up on the 100s of books you send annually into their giant gaping maws? Or that they and the large-circulation mags are often owned by the same megalomedia parent companies as the publishers whose books they review?

No? Good. Because they probably won't.

And the chain bookstores will keep telling you they don't charge for endcap & waterfall display space either.

I'm not saying not to send them. You gotta send them. Send as many as you can afford to send. I'm just saying when they get reviewed it's normal to be stunned. Editors do occasionally champion an underdog--either out of genuine interest or for cultural cachet reasons and the appearance of fairness. There are also reviewers out there who will fight to cover a book their editor doubts is worth the space.

You could focus the rest of your attention, whatever's left over, on building a new an alternative model that goes around the businesses that are keeping the art you practice from being fulfilling in whatever ways you want it to be.

I wonder what that model would look like? Maybe poets publishing, distributing, reviewing themselves & each other, via the low-cost alternative technologies of the internet and POD? Hmm, there's an idea [addendum:] that lots of people have already had & are persuing. [end] But you'd first have to stop worrying about stupid shit like legitimacy & vanity.

Blooming Brooklyn

Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's Easter

...& I happen not to celebrate it religiously, but it's a gorgeous day & I & my sister & my husband & our best pal are going to the Botanic Garden. That makes us all really girly. We're going to have a picnic too. I wish I had a bonnet.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

John Keats probably...

...would have been much better off just focusing on his poems, instead of writing all those damn letters.

Not that I'm finished yet...

...but it seems like an appropriate time to post a poem from Tom Fink's After Taxes (Marsh Hawk, 2004):


we tour the caviar
until it's hacked.
Squamous greenhouse
breathing debt.
Your aggregate

Socratic dealership hats:
strictly invisible.
Under partition circumstance,
tom-tom furnace.

Arctic fast--
Hard-up night

throws me a tarantula
slipcover consolation.

I've never seen any of Tom Fink's paintings in person, but from the photographs of them I've seen I'm drawn to the way he emphasizes texture and surface effects, the simultaneity of back/middle/foregrounds, and this poem exhibits those same tendencies. The diction is textured, never flat, never smooth or overly fluid. It's not complacent, placid. A list of synonyms, none of which get at exactly what I mean.

For instance, the ground is provided by the epistolary "My Dear Bank," opening including the relatively straightforward first three lines in a familiar "we do this and that" formula of the letter, which in this case seems to hover between a formal "To Whom It May Concern" missive and something more personal in tone. But the surface of the poem is then impastoed by the thickly elaborated (how else can I describe them) sounds and syntax of the lines that follow:

Squamous greenhouse
breathing debt.
Your aggregate



There's a swindling going on, by both parties, evidenced by both the disingenuous gracious approach of the speaker toward his "dear bank," and by the invisibility of their Socratic dealership hats. (Though the hats aren't directly assigned to the bankers, I take that hint from "Your aggregate" above.) I see a used car lot man gladhanding in that line, in his professional costume, and pick up the hint that the bankers, while better dressed, are still suited in a similarly devious manner. (There's a poem a few pages before called "STUNG BY SUITS" that resonates with this impression.)

What's that tom-tom furnace? Tom Fink's initials are embedded there, and perhaps a nickname. His heart? And the partitioned circumstance, is that another reference to the veiling of costumes and the frosting of civility over hostility? Under his ambivalent attitude (his superficial politeness, his surface) toward the bankers he addresses (or the institution of the bank they embody maybe) his heart burns. And he's got heartburn. No wonder: he's hacked the caviar mirage. Played at being better off but now has to face the music.

"Consolation" seems to be the key in the last sentence (the final of three complete subject/verb constructions in the poem, interspersed with fragments, if you read "aggregate" as a noun and "gapes" as a verb, which I do.) Two reinforcing meanings lie together in that word: consolation as the process of allaying grief or distress, and the built-in runner-up status of "consolation prize." And both are applicable. The consolation of the caviar mirage disguises the barren sand of financial discomfort or ruin. He can't breathe in this landscape, even within the cash-colored greenhouse. The tarantula's a venomous spider that appears as fuzzy as a teddy bear. The slipcover dresses up the broken-in comfort of the stained couch. Textures. Surfaces.

If I'm still working on them tomorrow, something from Susan Wheeler's Ledger might be next.

Taxes, gag. Poets are no good at math. Or at least this one ain't. And totally disorganized. I'm also a "creative speller." These are some of my flaws.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Kate has posted a collage I love

What is in my pants

My stat counter totally has a hardon this week, by the way.

Ok, so, I'm done with harping on the article

"Harping"--what do I mean by that? That I'm a harpy?

I probably do mean that.

I think what we've all be talking about is not only really interesting, but it's something some of us have been talking about offline for a while now and frankly have been hesitant to discuss here. I can understand why some of our peers would feel a little wary of joining the discussion, or feel that some of the comments made in some of the subthreads have been sexist in their own way against our male peers. I would like to just state here, as I have in all the threads I've participated in, that generally speaking, since entering the blogosphere in mid 2003 I've been encouraged, cheered, welcomed, criticized in a warm and/or genuinely constructive way, flirted with, treated as an intellectual equal, and affectionately accepted as a friend by many many many people, male & female I would otherwise never have known. In general, I have been thrilled by the the interactions I've had with male & female peers in the blogosphere, who by and large I've found even more sensitive and less awkward in their navigation and creation of an egalitarian (in all senses) social space. I've defended you from others who don't quite trust you yet, for reasons that are no fault of yours but social/historical. Anyway, you, this, all of this is why I remain "out here." My complaint (if you could call it that rather than an observation) is that there's a darker side to being out here, just as there is a darker side to participating in any scene. Unfortunately, some of the darkness seems to hover around issues of gender. I'm about to make the same generalization I made in one of Jessica's comment threads, but I'll qualify it first as I did there. This has been my personal experience: That, of all the nasty personal attacks, anonymous/pseudonymous baiting, blogwars, email flaming, harassment, morally-superior schoolings, outright dismissals, rumormongering, and sexually inappropriate/uncomfortable attention I have felt the brush of, almost all of it was directed my way by men. There's no way, for me at least, to respond to this kind of thing in a constructive way. I've got issues, people. I have learned the hard way and from a young age to defend myself by turning off the tap of attention, and eliminating toxic, bullying people from my life. (I make no prescriptions. What works best for me may seem insane to anybody else. Issues. I said it.)

To make another generalization, also based on my personal experience: in practically every instance of disagreement between myself and another woman/women online the conversation has remained fairly civil, even when things have been heated. That's not always the case, of course, as in Craig Teicher's comment box yesterday. I'm not perfect, and a couple of times in the past I have been drawn in enough to act in ways I regret. Not in this case. But I understand from experience how it can happen. Now that I know which Brenda Brenda is and what her relationship to Craig is, I can understand why she felt hurt by my criticism of the article. I apologize for hurting those feelings. I'd like to point out again here, that I don't believe anything I said could be read as a personal attack, nor sexist against men at large, & none of it was intended to feel like an attack. Craig for his part, seems not to have taken it that way. I'm glad.

The absence of women poetry bloggers in Craig's article really is minor when swatched against the larger fabric of social power dynamics in the blogosphere, but it came up (independently I should stress) at the same time as the conversation at Jessica Smith's, which is also related to a conversation (see Stephanie Y., Tony T. & Josh C.) that came out of a blogging panel at AWP in Austin a few weeks ago. [Everybody is linked in the blogroll to your right, if you need the links.]

OK, one more poem to write to catch up with NaPoWriMo.

UPDATE: This post is off the main page now, but people are still visiting, so I thought I'd update it in place, rather than start another one. The discussion continues at Jessica's, Reb's, and Josh's, with related comments at Seth Abramson's blog, Jeffery Bahr's place & Barbara Jane Reyes's relocated blog here. A more recent spinoff conversation that moves beyond gender into race & other issues in the poetry blogosphere is happening over here at C. S. Perez's blog. (It's quite possible that threads are also taking place elsewhere & I've missed them, but I'm doing my best to keep up.)

I just added the following comment to the thread at Jessica's today (Saturday, April 15), and think it's a good idea to reprint it here: I think we're all a little uncomfortable with ["women are this way, men are that way"] generalizations. For myself, I will say that my experience (as elaborated [in the thread at Jessica's] and [here] ) with agression online seems to have a gender component, tho it's not all been necessarily sexist in flavor. In other words, my womanhood hasn't always been the provocation, but the agressors have been more often male than female.

I hope I'm being more clear. I really do love me some dudes.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Maybe this irks more than it normally would...

...because the reviews over there have been including things I have been genuinely surprised--in a good way--to see covered there. I know that does have something to do with Craig Teicher & at least one other person on the current staff & let's thank them (again) for it. (I'm with Jordan re: Mike Scharf, but whaddaya gonna do.) I also was made to panic "recently," if "recently" can mean 2 yrs or a little more ago, by the brief and crazy-making decision of PW to not review poetry at all, which they later reversed. That deserves another round of yays as well. It's one of the only ways nonspecialist bookstore buyers get to know about poetry books prior to the publication date (particularly since Kirkus--another trade mag--can't be bothered).

I was just kidding about being on the rag. How come when I disagree I get characterized as being "angry" or "pissed"? I'm not pissed. When I'm pissed, you'll know it. I'll be really clear. Promise.

Beside the point

Intended audience. I mean, I do get PW--literally. I read the magazine, and I know its audience. In fact, I am its audience. I'd guess a healthy majority of the editors and publicists and publishers and other book industry people who make up PW's readership are women. That would mirror the industry itself.

All beside the point. But so is "the kind of compartmentalized commentary that men tend to be comfortable with," Josh suggests is behind the oversight. Even though that kind of gender-based split may exist, it's not a primary concern in this kind of article, or shouldn't be. (Update: & speaking of gender differences in online behavior, go see Jessica's blog from yesterday. Sorry I didn't point to that sooner.)

In fact, the article says things like: "The Internet is where poetry proliferates."

"Ever at the cutting edge, poetry may have finally found its ideal medium, one in which money, at least, is hardly a factor: the Internet."


"In recent years, poets and poetry enthusiasts have been organically developing a network of linked online poetry publications, blogs and other related sites[....] And thousands of readers are logging on. The Web is allowing poets and publishers of poetry—both the big houses and the many independent, nonprofit and university presses—direct access to their readers."

There were no qualifying statements made that critical writing or poetics-based explorations were the norm in this arena--and they are not--and that those kinds of contributions are only made by men--and they are not. But the article sure as hell gives the impression that they are, despite the fact that the author of the article seems to know better.

Anne, Josh & Tony all wonder if the dominant print model and efforts to legitimize poetry's online inroads in a nonthreatening way--to assimilate, and ease the establishment into the change by focusing on its similarities to the old-school--is partially to blame. OK, I'll buy some of that too.

But. But.

I guess the question is

If you read this article & didn't notice the absence of women poet-bloggers,* why didn't you?

What does the absence mean?
What does your failure (assuming you failed) to notice it mean?
What does it mean that some of us were disappointed by what was missing?
What does it mean that we were mostly disappointed instead of "pissed"?
What does it mean that you (assuming, etc.) failed to anticipate that disappointment?

*Two of the web journals mentioned are indeed edited or coedited by women: La Petite Zine & HOW2. One female web journal editor (unnamed) apparently declined to participate. Two women (who do not participate in the online poetry arena directly) were interviewed for the piece on the online poetry arena: an editor at Graywolf who says the internet may give bring new "mainstream poets" to the attention of publishers, and the publicity director for Knopf who says she loves seeing her poets' poems on Salon.com. Ahem.

Women were included in the piece, but in a sidelong way. As for the rest of the response, since the editorial schedule for PW is set several months in advance for themed issues (so the advertisers know when to buy ads & the publicists can gather their relevant info on time) deadline pressure as an excuse is lame. Pointing to another article in the same issue that does feature a woman (who is also not participating in the online scene which the article in question characterizes as the new vital space) is lame. And implying including a woman poet-blogger would be taking the "opportunity to portray the blogosphere as a space for dialogue on all sorts of issues between and about women and men in poetry and literary culture in general, to show that men and women are equal contributors to the blog scene," is way lame. I asked because I rather expected an OMG-I-totally-fucked-up-gee-whiz-I-wasn't-thinking answer. I wasn't even gonna post about this, because you know, nobody likes looking at my twisted knickers. But there. You made me.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hear, hear!

Except the angry-woman-slapping part, which freaked me out completely, even tho Conrad handled it with absolute grace. "Do you think this is a new idea!? Do you like deviant behavior!? Do you think deviance is an appropriate subject for poetry?!" Picks up, pitches book. Picks up book, slaps Conrad's hand, hard, which is either handing it to her or reaching to take it from her. "Yes, yes I really do. I'm trying to help you out. You're just having a bad day." Then she turned to me, trapped in the corner between the table & the window. "What do you think of all this?" "I, uhhhhhh, I agreeeeeeeeee. I love Conrad & I lovvvvvvve his book. Uh, I'm upssssssssset. You're upsetting me." She turned fiercely toward him again plucking her scarf up toward her mouth. She was anxious to keep her mouth hidden. He smiled at her again, saying nothing more. Something reached her. Then: "I'm sorry for my loud voice," she said, & slipped away. She slipped away. & happier faces filled the spaces in front of the table. The window turned solid again behind us.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Please pardon our appearance

...while I recover from the weekend in NJ & PA.

I love you, Philly. Thanks for being so kind & funny.

NaPoWriMo poems for yesterday & today to come.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Bay-Area peoples,

Tomorrow, you should go see Danielle & Laura & Geraldine & Clay & all the poetry at Pegasus that is 10% for the entire month of April.

I'll be in Philly with Conrad.

Today I am escaping the urban pastoral of the borrowed blooms through my back window & heading for some more accessible outdoors in the wilds of New Jersey. The tug of the two mes: city me, uncity me. Please uncity me. Or at least a different city. I know a decade of threatening to leave. But I couldn't even hack the crowd last night at the Ashbery reading. Flight response led to bufala mozz/broiled eggplant/pesto/prosciutto homemade pizzas, however. Smack.

Ways to offer poems:

As gifts
As proofs

I prefer gifts

First, all actions are poems
& people who make poems are poems
& poems are poems

Yes, to do with relationships
Intended audience
One's "intended"

Including oneself in the audience
of a gift poem transforms
one into a beloved

   including oneself in the audience
of a proof poem transforms
one into a combatant

   one is required
to identify with the author
in choosing up sides

Poems make lame clubs
Lament our baby seals
so flaccidly bludgeoned

(This is not my poem for today)

Friday, April 7, 2006

Free on Sunday

A mini chap of a single poem, in a limited edition of 50, in celebration of this reading in Philadelphia.

Last night

David Shapiro not telling anecdotes.

Star Black loosed a line about "Freilicher skies."

Bob Holman exploded Girls on the Run, warning he "didn't get Helen Vendler's approval to do this."

Deborah Landau read "Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse" & then her own terrific "Human Frailties," a cut-up of Berlitz French for Tourists.

Pawel Marcinkiewicz: "I come from Poland to tell you we admire John Ashbery's poetry very much. And to prove it, I will now read 'Title Search.'"

Honor Moore was "honored to be here" & read "The Problem of Anxiety."

Ron Padgett read "Two Scenes" (after losing out to Ann Lauterbach over "A Blessing in Disguise") & then his own poem "Dead or Alive in Belgium":

Somebody you thought was dead is alive.
Somebody you thought was alive is dead.
Sometimes it's a happy surprise.

James Tate read "My Philosophy of Life," delighting the whole company.

David Shapiro:

"Kenneth Koch said to me that he was jealous even of John's dreams."

"Howard Nemerov asked me once 'But can you memorize his poems?' After walking halfway around the lake, I got it."

[& after a half-dozen other similar miniature anecdotes:]

"Yes, I've memorized pretty much everthing John's ever said to me. But I was asked not to tell anecdotes tonight, so I won't."

Then he read "How to Continue."

He totally stole the show.

I've got more notes & lots more pics. Maybe later. Gotta get back over there.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Ashbery festival begins today...

Here are the details/schedule for the festival at the New School (scroll down a bit) & the Bowery Poetry Club (see Saturday, April 8).

All festival events & readings are free.

And yesterday the New York City Council declared Friday, April 7th JOHN ASHBERY DAY.

NEW YORK, NY 10007
Contact: Anthony Hogrebe


City Hall * At tomorrow's Stated Council Meeting, Speaker Christine C. Quinn will be honoring John Ashbery, one of America's most distinguished poets, with an official proclamation. The proclamation recognizes Ashbery for his literary and cultural contributions, and designates April 7th as "John Ashbery Day" in New York City.

Ashbery has won nearly every major American award for his poetry, including the Pulitzer, the Bollingen, and the National Book Award. A New York City resident for four decades, Ashbery is one of the original members of the celebrated New York school of poets, which flourished as a major avant-garde movement in the 1950s and '60s and which has many adherents and students today.

He has published more than 20 collections, beginning in 1953 with Turandot and Other Poems, and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. He currently serves as the Charles P. Stevenson, Jr. Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College.

WHERE: Council Chambers, City Hall
WHEN: Wednesday, April 5, 2006
TIME: 1:00 PM

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

On the radio, whoa oh oh, on the radio

This morning at 10 CT/11 ET, you could catch me reading my poem "Miss Epistolary" was played on "Poetry Radio" on WGLT, the NPR affiliate outta Normal/Bloomington, if you were into that kind of thing. (I haven't heard it myself, but it was a real studio & a very sexy microphone, I gotta say.) Here is the website for more info.

(I can't figure out how to listen via iTunes, but I can get a stream to play via Windows Media Player on my Mac by clicking "WGLT Live" in that left sidebar, or you could try just clicking here.)

Update: What a cool little show! It's just a simple DJ into, a single poem, then a little outro over the beginning of the next jazz song. So smooth. Why can't every radio station do something like that? Anyway, they'll have a few more of my & Jen's poems, plus us reading Maureen Thorson, Shafer Hall, Ada Limon & Jason Schneiderman, coming up in subsequent months. I'll try to keep up with their schedule so I can post reminders.