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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Two of my fave poets emailing each other about lots of cool stuff

Re: the typing of poems, I think I told Conrad this already, but I do this a lot. I have probably typed most of Wallace Stevens's long poems, and I typed several (including a collab by Anne Waldman and Eileen Myles) recently for the collab anthology, and when I was working on the Joan Murray thesis I wrote out her whole book by hand, then also typed it. I type and retype my own drafts, after writing first in longhand, using a manual typewriter. Manuals are even better (I think) than computer typing for revisions (because you can feel it on a manual, which requires a more deliberate motion of the hands to operate, more pressure, better for noticing when something is off or awry or which extraneous words can just be dropped away), but computer keyboards are best for really getting a good reading of squirmy or drifting long poem, because you can go almost as fast as you read with the inner voice.

You have probably noticed this effect when typing in a poem to quote in a review or paper, yes? How you must repeat each phrase and line to yourself in a loopy kind of way, looking back from the book to the screen (or typing paper) again and again so that nothing shakes loose, and it really gets in there. No? Go do it.

I've always thought of it as being similar to playing a piece of music. I don't play piano (well, not really, I can pick out a few melodies) but I do read music (bass and treble clef, thanks) and the difference between reading the music and playing the music is remarkable, of course. And different again from hearing the music played by somebody else. (Reading aloud is another variation on the "playing music" theme. The poem on the page always changes when it's riding the voice, eh?)

Anyway, this interview is freaking fantastic. I blew off work for like an hour just to read it.


Like at Elsewhere, for instance, Gary posts and posts and posts while the rest of us slack off.

& hey, lookie! Jack's reading Katie.

That makes it a good time to mention that Katie, Jen Tynes, & I, with the yet-to-be-met Sam Starkweather, will be reading in Cambridge in about a week and a half. Saturday, February 10th. You coming? You should. We'll be throwing chairs and doing stage dives at the So and So series. Details. (Note that the venue may change from the Lily Pad to Porter Square Books, due to ongoing renovations, which we would probably just wreck anyhow.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Me too

David Trinidad had a list of words that should never go in poems.
But I can't remember them now.

I think one was miasma.

Or maybe it was gloaming.

I don't like bones (though they are very useful in the body).

I have been known to purposely include cringemaking words tho, just to see if I could do it.

It's funny to write OTT poems in overblown language full of poetry words.

I like the purposely bad.

Especially when they rhyme.

Or are on silly topics, such as cheese.

There's a kind of wobbly funked-up tension between tone and effect in such hideous verse that I find elating.

One of the things I like about flarf, actually, too.


Yes, & also well.

Missed the opportunity to commute yesterday because movers' tardiness (& general suckitude) made Sunday a real drag.
Drove home in blinding snow in a full-up cargo van down dark (& when I say!) country roads very late that night.
Too late to unload till yesterday morning.

So yesterday I unpacked & tried to recover.

Mebbe by the next time I move, someone will have perfected teleportation.
Beam me the eff up, Scotty.

Settling in, adapting to new routines.

I say "opportunity" because I love trains.
(Anything with wheels or an engine, truthfully.
When Mrs. Lancaster asked in 2nd grade what I'd be: a truckdriver.
Was told 'twas not a job for girls, but just to be clear, I'm only not because I changed my own mind, so there.)
This morning there were three slick bald Mr. Cleans in my compartment.
The glint off their pates was mesmerizing.
The man next to me was reading Plutarch, in Greek.
I saw graffiti that said "Fuck You, David" in foot-high letters & some other things that made me wish I'd packed my camera.

Pictures, to be sure, to come.
& poems too. The train is a good place to write.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


. . . is how I'm liking my new house, my new town, the dinner we had last night, having good friends close.

Our movers were three hours late.
(They got lost in Brooklyn.)
It took them another three to drive what took me one and a half.
(They got lost in New Jersey.)
We missed delivery of our stove.
(That's sandwiches for a week.)
The artery road is closed for the weekend.
(Provisional mental maps thus nonsensical.)
Digging out sheets at nearly midnight.
(Had internets before I had furniture.)

This daybreak, all the boxes (oh how they incessantly complained about the books) are on the first floor. They need to be on the second, mostly. Eh, no rush.

Gotta go get the last few things in Brooklyn, including the cat. Clean up.
So today's full too. (Been awake, if not up, since 4. Just can't sleep. Making lists.)

Still. Yesterday around 5, the sun through the spiky blur of the treeline, smudged lavender under gray, condensing into tangerine at the horizon, past an amber field interrogated by the dark curls of feeding geese, & me alone in my car on an empty road, I spilled over.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Worst Mailman

Yes, I've upgraded (downgraded?) his status from Bad to Worst.

Previously on The Bad Mailman: Shanna is distressed and puzzled as her packages are returned to sender marked "undeliverable" and her mail is withheld by the local PO a whole two weeks before the forwarding order was supposed to start. When at least two packages go MIA, she loses her patience in an unseemly manner.

In today's episode: Ten days after the order took effect, Shanna is dismayed to discover that she's still getting mail at the old address.

I'm up to my ears (really) in moving boxes

. . . but everybody else should go to Ada's book party tonight.

Dusie 5

I've got a few poems there, as do Eileen, Anne, Kate, & many other fine peeps.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'll miss this window. (But I'm trading it for three.)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Even slower . . .

. . . than packing books goes packing notebooks.

I just spent an hour reading my younger selves.

It was mostly excruciatingly embarrassing. But funny in parts.

& I found dozens of poems that were never typed up. (They'll probably stay that way tho!)


I watch a movie almost every night. I hardly ever talk about them here, tho I think about them lots. I love movies.

This week I saw this, which I liked very much.

But then I saw this one, which I liked even better.

(But then again, I liked this'un. You didn't? I also heart him. You don't? No nevermind. I think the key to my high enjoyment-return re: film is that I do not read reviews or see trailers, etc. so come to each experience on its own terms, knowing nothing. Expert status has a way of turning one cranky & exacting, don't it?)

& last night I watched o my this. Again. I can't believe it's 20 yrs old.

This is the house. It's a duplex. We'll be on the left.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Better (vroom, vroom)

OK, had a decently productive afternoon & morning.

Buying a car this time is not nearly as simple as it was when I went to a used car place on the purchasing power of my Whataburger paychecks in 1985. (Nor will any car ever be as awesome as my first & so-far only. Oh, poor Bel Air. She sits, & rusts, alas.)

Anyway, if you must do this anytime soon, I recommend this service, which got us 15 competitive bids & walks you through a no-hassle no-negotiations process.

Suddenly I feel so, uh, adult.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

No time to waste

Yet, & possibly predictably, that's what happens.

Endless back and forth with bank re: car loan. As soon as I hung up this morning (32 minutes on hold, thank you), I got an email asking me to please call at my earliest etc.

Several deliveries missed due to the Bad Mailman deciding to act EARLY on the freaking forwarding notice. Typical.

Do you know anybody at your electric company by name? I do.

UPS came so late today (just now) that I might as well not even go to work.

It's official: I hate moving.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Empty bookcases are:

a) creepy

b) sad

c) exciting

d) a great place to store your cat when you're not using him

Friday, January 12, 2007

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

Free LIT?

I just unearthed a cache of back issues of LIT. I've got several copies of #9, and a couple each of one left of #8 #10, #11.

If ya want one, PayPal me postage, specifying which in an email? It's not much. Media mail is $2.00 for #9, and $1.59 for each of the others. That's less than a sample copy if y're of a mind to submit. (I just want them to go to good homes.)

Speaking of LIT, I hear the special John Ashbery issue #12 is coming soonish. Keep yr peepers open.


UPDATE: Alternatively, if you order a copy of Down Spooky (button in sidebar) and/or A Slice of Cherry Pie (follow the Half Empty logo), I will throw in a LIT of yr choice gratis. Everything must go! And I'm not just saying that.

Random reading

Yes, still packing. I wish somebody would take this apt so I could stop stopping to clean up. It's getting old.

I packed about half the poetry bookcases yesterday. (There are some things I can't bear to put in a box just in case I might wanna look at them between now and moving day. I keep stopping to read. At this rate . . . )

I've been meaning to write about Bruce Covey's new book anyway, which made my list. It'll probably make your list too.

Elapsing Speedway Organism is aswirl with things & people. It's poppy & busy. There are crowds. Tourists, often. (Americans in otherwhere mirrors.) Attractions (in multiple senses). Everyday objects rendered in cartoony strokes, somehow miniaturized, & all giving off beeps & waves. (We're to tune in, find the frequency & pick up each clear-singing poem.) Idioms, superstitions, fortunes (as in cookies), forecasts, gaming odds, instructions, percentages of chance, flight numbers, the facts & wishes that electrify a life, marking or tweaking it as it goes speeding along. As in,

What an enchanting homepage
Everyone wishes to fast forward to you
Your expectation of citrus, lemons mostly
Cirrus constellates about you
The graceful use of your canopener
You have an impeccable sense of direction
Your thoughts, I've noticed, count to ten
The delivery of your pitch always
Catches me off guard
Salem never saw such a beauty
You have more facets than a carrot
At the top of your line, the train stops
The abatement of time is up to your shadow
You cleave the rainbow from its pot
& wrap it around your reeboks
My personality split when you
Spoke to me for the first time
Your moss gathers no stones
Even ivory would beckon your thighs
Silk would hazard your expectations
If driving east, you would
Superimpose upon the rising sun
Your duty lies in explosions
Half the meals want to eat you
Trees bend, tides flow,
Volcanoes pop, waterfalls zigzag
All toward the florid canoe of your sublimity

Though it's somewhat ironized by the title, that there's a love poem on the order of Lisa Jarnot's "They Loved These Things Too" (one of my favorites) or Ron Padgett's many you-focused ecstasies. The seemingly exaggerated line "my personality split when you / spoke to me for the first time" turns out to be apt--it feels like that, doesn't it? Falling in love? There's the You before, & the changed You after. The You that's with your beloved & the You you are when you are not. Inconsequential & practical things become adorable, "your graceful use of a canopener," and "impeccable sense of direction." It's vulnerable/trusting to engage in such silliness as "half the meals want to eat you," but there's a carnality there as well, as there is in "even ivory would beckon your thighs." Actually that's a sexy little run there at the end, if you're paying attention: your moss, your thighs, silky expectations, driving east (a little more to the right, don't stop), the rising sun (a glowing crescendo), explosions, and then all of nature climaxes too, toward "the florid canoe"--my, my!

Oh, & just in case you missed it: Collin Kelley's audio interview with Bruce is here.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Looking for me? I'm over here.

Here ye can hear me

Here's a direct link to Gary's intro & (eventually, after my interminable chatter) me reading lots of the "For Girls" poems at Segue in October.

Not to be missed: Nada's (brilliant musical) intro & Mike Magee's performance from the same reading, here.

Here's the index.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

the 4th wiseman

Just realized my new "photos" tag fails to pull up any pics prior to 2004.
They're tagged the same as the others, but maybe there's a limit or something?

The Bad Mailman has done it again (& again, & again)

At least three (properly addressed) packages have been returned as "undeliverable" in the last month: a box of peppers from Texas (which sadly did not survive the return trip), Ivy's book Mortal, & a package from Australia for S.

So much for postal service in 11238. Our forwarding order kicks in Jan 15. Here's hoping they get that right. I'm not really counting on it.

If you are in the (cherished) habit of sending me mail & need the new address, please email me.


Obviously I can't sleep.

At least it's Sunday. I can take a nap later.


I think the people who came to see the apartment yesterday are taking it.

I hope so.

It's tough to both pack and keep things neat for prospectives. I'm tired.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Duck, Duck, Goose

I've been tagged twice to tell 5 things that are little known about me. (But I ain't givin' away 10.)

Lessee. This is actually kind of hard. Most of what I keep private is gonna stay that way.

1. Between kindergarten and sixth grade, I attended 5 different schools in two different towns. Though I have always been naturally shy, I think the experience made me more socially flexible by forcibly expanding my comfort zones. By the time I got to high school (our town had only one, which also served the surrounding farming towns), I knew pretty much all the kids in my class of 500, and moved easily between cliques. That flexibility notwithstanding, I usually only have 1-3 close friends at a time. I feel immense affection for many friends, but find it intense/difficult to be really close. My husband is my best friend & the only person in the world who knows everything that could really be interesting on a list like this.

2. In the summer before first grade, one of those moves was from our apartment in Temple to a farm in a teeny town called Moffat. Moffat was so small it had only a few houses, a church, and a rarely used community center--not even a store or gas station, and certainly not a school. (The landmark for directions to our house was a turkey farm and a dirt road.) So I was bussed to Belton for school, the closest city. On my first day at my new school, as the teacher went down the roll calling names, I spontaneously told her I preferred to be called by my middle name (which nobody ever called me), and all that year I was known as Dawn. (I guess I figured: new town, new name.) Several weeks into the semester when my teacher (the only teacher whose name I can't remember) called to give a progress report to my mother, she'd talked for several minutes before my mom stopped her and said, "Wait, I think you must have the wrong parent. My daughter's name is Shanna." The next year, when we moved back to Temple and I went to a new school, I switched back.

3. In high school I dated a "weird" guy (about whom I was teased) who grew up to be the singer in a fairly successful band. You've probably heard of them. One of our first dates was an all-ages Ramones show. We were roommates for a while in college, during the time he started the band (his third or fourth). He once called my husband (when I'd first started dating him) a "buttmunch." That didn't go over so well. Now it's just funny. We're not in touch anymore, but I've always been really pleased he's done well. He's a talented dude.

4. The woman who watched me after school and taught me to cook (at the Girl's Club) was murdered by her boyfriend when I was in the third grade. A few years later, when I was in seventh grade, one of her sons was shot at a high school football game. It was half-time and my friends and I were going to get sodas at the concession stand. I saw the gunman as he ran past me and grabbed both of my friends by the hand and whirled them around in the opposite direction saying gun, gun, he has a gun. Then we heard the shot.

5. I was born with a hole in my heart that miraculously closed itself a few days before I was meant to have major surgery that I might not have survived (because I was only a few weeks old). It's a slight murmur now, but not at all dangerous. Actually, I think I've mentioned that before, maybe. I'm just not feeling all that confessional.

It's taken me 2.5 hours to complete this meme, including several complete erasures. If you would like to be tagged, consider yourself so.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


To look back. 2006 was a funny as in weird year for me. I was entirely too busy, didn't write enough (or submit hardly at all), & it flew by.

In January, I read at the Poetry Project's New Year's Day Marathon, despite a raging fever. I vaguely remember pronouncing that 2006 would be the year of Kip Winger. (Beats me.)

In February, I went to Maine and got snowed in a few extra days. Perfect. Also, I read at the Poetry Project again, with Rachel Blau DuPlessis & really, in my opinion, choked. I was entirely nervous. Physically trembling. I don't know why that one was so bad. Even though reading at the Project has always been a "big deal" for me as a NY School devotee, that was my *third* time. Actually, I do know why. I'd had a particularly rough couple of weeks, & read mostly new work, which turned out to be too raw/unready. But I also went to Harvard with Jen (again) & that was a ball.

In March, I went back to Austin for the first time since I moved away in 1995. I was almost totally distracted from the AWP swirl, and hardly spent any time with people I could have been seeing at the conference, feeling compelled to revisit old haunts. It was very strange the way the city had changed in ten years, & how everything seemed smaller than I remembered it, except the UT campus, which remained the same. There was no one to visit, but I did have several excellent tacos, & it was pretty cool to give a reading there for the first time ever (entirely too shy when I lived there). My panel at the conference went well, but after three years in a row, I decided not to bother in 2007.

In April, Maureen's NaPoWriMo party inspired me to begin the For Girls series (which I'm gonna put out as a bookish thing later this year). I also read in Philly with Conrad, for his book launch party. I'll never forget looking out at more than one hundred of his friends' faces packed into the balcony at Robin's.

In May, I took a letterpress class at the Center for Book Arts, & fell head over heels. From the first day I began plotting how to get the necessary two tons of equipment into a Brooklyn apartment.

In June, not much, except we visited the region of NJ we'll soon be calling home for the first time, & realized what leaving NYC could mean.

In July, we went to Montana. I saw a real live wild bear. & a moose. & a bunch of other critters. I gave up everything that comes in plastic bottles.

In August, we went to Maine again. As usual, we never wanted to leave. I finally finished laying out the anthology (started in February) & got all the proofs to the contributors.

In September, we hunted for jobs in Maine. No luck. There's just not much to do there, & we didn't want to risk an out-of-state move on just my freelancing. Also went back to the letterpress studio for more practice. & printed the first edition of A Slice of Cherry Pie.

In October, Ivy & I released the cherries. My mom came to visit. I read with Mike Magee for Segue. & with Conrad & Buck Downs in Baltimore. The first printing of my book sold out. All fun.

In November, the book was reprinted. We went back to Jersey & decided for sure. A tiny Thanksgiving at our house with little sis & a few other dears. I suddenly wrote a bunch of new poems. Read in Ithaca (it's gorge-ous).

In December, more trips to Jersey, one to Texas, my birthday, Christmas, New Year's. Mostly packing, showing the apartment.

Oh, & I read some terrific books. Guess I'll start this year's list now, & link it to the sidebar icon.

Some belated

Between the moving preparations, holiday travel, & suddenly a head-twisting cold, I've neglected to say congratulations to Jordan & Ali (whom I "know" only through her blog, hello), Laurel (who's owed at *least* two hoorays, if not three!), & Heidi. Good news is an antidote for winter, the extra sun the sky withholds. Be happy, all: you shine.

Also, thanks to Jeannine, Anne, & Adam (& yay for Robin's Books!) for their thoughts on Down Spooky. I'm really pleased my little book has brought enjoyment to *anyone* other than me. That's what it's for.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007


No, really!

Hello, 2007

Happy New Year, y'all.

Do you have big plans?

My big plans are to do less (of many things) & accomplish more (of other things).

Monday, January 1, 2007

Recommended Poetry & Maybe Some Fiction 2007*

My Angie Dickinson by Michael Magee (Zasterle, 2007)
Day Poems by Mel Nichols (chapbook, Edge, 2006)
Info Ration by Stan Apps (Make Now, 2007)
Drunk by Noon by Jennifer L. Knox (Well now I *am* editing it, so it can't be here on that technicality)
Folly by Nada Gordon (Roof, 2007)
Applies to Oranges by Maureen Thorson (again, revised manuscript, hopefully forthcoming from somebody very soon)
The Town That Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey (Picador, 2006)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, 2004)
What's Your Idea of a Good Time? Interviews and Letters, 1977-1985 by Bill Berkson & Bernadette Mayer (Tuumba, 2007)
The Romance of Happy Workers & Other Poems by Anne Boyer (forthcoming, Coffee House)

Last year's list

* 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.