Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Look at this poem by

Arthur Vogelsang, from Left Wing of a Bird:

The Red City


The glue fell out of the book, 1801.
She said in the book,
"I carved a tiny pumpkin for Halloween 2001."
A sound remains over 200 years, choking of course.
Or there's no sound, there's a Polaroid:
An eyedropper towers above a squash.
Tinfoil is spread in front of its face—
To make it blush more she says
Than the little piece of cut candle inside can.

Or it was a whim in 1801 to celebrate a couple of centuries,
To just flat out do something for 2001,
So far away, so science fiction.
How many grandmothers ago, five? six?
A cousin is dead, to the south, in the Cleveland National Forest,
The last of the clan, except for one,
Who has carved a pumpkin in 1801
Or a tiny one for Halloween 2001,
Warm yellow meat, odor of fresh glue.


~~~~~~

Isn't it weird? (I don't know what the rules are about typing up copywrighted material, so, uh...consider this a "review", I guess. (Blah blah blah, really good book, yadda yadda yadda...let's see, it's published by Sarabande, it costs $12.95... there, it's a review.)) I don't know who's who where or what in this poem and that's what I like about it. I like not knowing what "the red city" is, or what this book with the glue is he's talking about, or what happened in the Cleveland National Forest. (What happens in the Cleveland National Forest stays in the Cleveland National Forest.) And what's with the "or" here: "Who has carved a pumpkin in 1801 / Or a tiny one for Halloween 2001"? When is what going on, who, where? What dimension does this pumpkin exist in? Quantum mechanics seem to be involved somehow.

Some people complain when they don't understand what's going on in a poem, or when there's a reference they don't get. They say it's alienating or elitist or something. Like they need every little thing explained to them in a poem in a direct no-nonsense way or they start crying. Boring. Not knowing stuff is like "white space" of the mind. Gaps are fun because you can fill them in. I mean, not with exact words or specific thoughts, but it's like, room to move around in, room for your mind.... I don't like closed poems—I'm not necessarily even talking about endings—but poems where every seat in the auditorium is full—full of the poet—and there's nowhere for your own mind to take a seat and join in on the experience, interact, like you're really inside it.... Poems with thought-gaps are a lot less alienating than poems without them, it seems to me....

I have finished reading Left Wing of a Bird, by Arthur Vogelsang

So it's been four months since I finished a book. This makes eight for the year. The goal is 150.

It's a really good book.

8 down, 142 to go.

Monday, June 29, 2009

I heart this...

A newcomer's view of flarf, a blog post that starts with flarf and sugues seemlessly into some thoughts about A.O. Scott, heroism, and something called the Antiochian Archdiocese. Ch-ch-ch-check it out.

[update: I just realized I misspelled "seamlessly" above. But "seemlessly" seems like a neat word, and I hereby claim its coinage.]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Well, what's-his-face seems to have apologized, or pretended to. I wouldn't call his sincerity into question if this apology hadn't come so abruptly. Seems like maybe he just wants the whole thing to disappear. Well, it's a bit late for that. Hopefully he's at least feeling a modicum of shame. Hopefully people who used to visit his site will start to ignore him and visit instead Kristy Bowen's Chicago Poetry Calendar.

What sexist creepism looks like

It looks like this. 

It also looks like this (read the comments).

After reading those, be sure to check out my new site, Chicago's Poetry Calendar, the official site of Chicago poetry. (You'll only get what that means if you read the previous links. So read them.)

And be sure to let C. J. Laity know what you think about his vicious and boneheaded attacks.  

Friday, June 26, 2009

This soooo does not do it justice!

The best for (almost) last


Cool! Surprise!

Happy!

Did you know that the state quarters program isn't stopping with the states? Nope, this year is the year for D.C. (above, represented by Duke Ellington at his piano—the best "state" quarter yet!), Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, of whose existence I was not even aware before this night.

I've kissed mermaids, rode the El Niño
Walked the sand with the crustaceans
Could find my way to Mariana
On a wave of mutilation...
(I wonder what Duke would have thought of the Pixies....

"If it sounds good, it is good."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Palin thinks she's the Virgin Mary

"Recently we learned of a malicious DESECRATION of a photo of the Governor and baby Trig that has become an iconic representation of a mother's love for a special needs child," Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapelton said in a statement provided to CNN.

(emphasis miiiiiiine)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Slavoj Žižek gives capitalism a shot

I don't know anything about Slavoj Žižek, but something inside me tells me this is very funny. Check it out.

Oh, and the other thing I did 2day besides hook you up with that hott link just now, was to learn from some tweeter that "garlic scapes" is "such a popular search term, [he's] getting three hits a min from people Googling them."

Garlic scapes. Garlic scapes. Mad hits. Garlic scapes.

Notes to self and others

TWO READINGS COMING VERY SOON

READING ONE*

*ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY READING LILY BROWN MATHIAS SVALINA JOSHUA MARIE WILKINSON + VIDEOS BY BRANDON DOWNING JUNE 27 8PM SPACESPACE 390 SENECA AVENUE

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

READING TWO*

*FOURTH OF JULY MUUMUU HOUSE AMERICA FREEDOM MALIA SASHA BOOK RELEASE FIREWORKS HOTDOG 1812 DORITOS SADDAM HUSSEIN GM OUTER SPACE FRANCE EPCOT CENTER READING ZACHARY GERMAN BRANDON SCOTT GORRELL ABIGAIL LLOYD JULY 4th 4PM SPACESPACE (ROOFTOP) 390 SENECA AVENUE

BRING YOUR FLAG

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In which I bitch and moan in a grating, tiresome, hipper-than-thou tone of voice about the American Hybrid anthology

Just kidding. Looks like a pretty good line-up to me. Ignore the whiners. I'm not really an anthology guy—I'm more likely just to seek out the individual books of the various poets at the library—but as anthologies go, it looks 2B better than most.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Well I meant to read from Infinite Jest today but I didn't get around to it. Today is the first day of Infinite Summer. I got caught in the rain, which was nice, but I was stuck under scaffolding for like half an hour.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

In which I pick up, think, knock, forget, decide, abandon, try to keep, look around, see, love, and prefer

Picked up Tony Towle's "Autobiography" and Other Poems at the Strand. They weren't doing bag checks! Are they not doing bag checks anymore ever? 2ruth btold, I think I'll miss that, if it is indeed a permanent change, since now everybody's gonna be walking around in those narrow aisles with their backpacks on knocking over stuff and bumping into folks. I knocked over a David Markson book with my bulging bag, for example. I picked it up, but it was a clear signal that this wearing-the-backpack-in-the-store thing was going to cause a lot of problems. But I don't know, maybe they were just shorthanded 2nite and so didn't—but no I don't think they were...the counter top of the bag check station was piled with books and merch that hadn't been there b4. Like it looked like a pretty permanent new setup....

I forget which David Markson book it was.... In other book nooz, I've just this evening decided to abandon probably for good Lydia Millet's Everyone's Pretty. This brings my "currently-reading" tally to 144, down from 145 (Towle). Trying to keep it under a GROSS here. I should be able to finish one poetry book tonight.

This Towle book is from 1977 and is brown, with Robert Motherwell art on the cover. It's slightly sticky, in that way that 32-year-old books can be. Why don't they make brown books anymore? Is it considered an unattractive color for some strange reason? Looking around cursorily at my boox right now I see that maybe only three or four are mostly brown. I love books from the seventies. Book design was at its best in the 60's and 70's, then it sucked hard in the 80's as we all know, then it started to improve but still kind of sucked in the 90's, and then in the last few years people really seem to have come to their senses book-design-wise. Mostly. I still prefer the ultra cool cover-art and fonts of the 60's and 70's, which most of the time meant something pretty simple, cool like Miles Davis cool, or colorful cool like...I don't know, whoever. But of course, the reason books are looking good today again is because what was old is new again and what was blue is true again. Not just blue, but you know, I did that cuz of the rhyme.

So apparently even though I can now get channel 13 DTV since I rescanned, I can now no longer get channel 11 for some reason. Oh well. It's more, much more, than a fair trade-off....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why would you click "no"?

From the CNN website, today's poll:

Quick Vote

Would you like to live on the moon?

Yes 23% 3589
No 77% 12200

Total Votes: 15789

This is not a scientific poll

Now, I ask you, gentle people, why in the world would anyone not like to live on the moon? And even if you looked at it from a pragmatic perspective—because, you know, living on the moon right now, in reality, would suck hard for a lot of reasons—how devoid of wonder, humor, and imagination do you have to be to actually choose "no" in a casual online poll? Listen, people, no one is actually asking you to live on the moon! Your answer is not binding!

Seventy-seven per cent. Unreal.

These are the same people who deny diplomas to kids who blow kisses to their moms. You know the type. Sadly, now that I think about it, that 77% seems pretty accurate.

In which I read, walk, use terms, love, laugh internally, reflect, look forward

Resumed reading Denis with one n Denis Johnson's Already Dead. I read some of it yesterday walking around in the park. It was perfect weather for reading a book set in California. Overcast, summermoist, room temp. Walked along the part of the park that runs alongside train tracks. It occurred to me that you could shoot a movie of two people walking along those tracks, with the trees in the background, and it could stand in for rural Missouri or something. You could shoot an entire feature film in New York without ever showing a building, if you really wanted to. That would be an interesting thing to do conceptually, if I'm using that term right. Like, "Look at the great expense we went to to shoot this in Manhattan, when it could have been done for a fraction of the cost in Nowheresville, MO, with the same basic stuff on screen." Not sure what the point of such a concept would be, but there you go.

Anyway, still loving AD, even though I laugh internally every time I reflect on the fact it was inspired by a poem by the insufferable Bill Knott. (Bill Knott himself being insufferable, not his poetry, which I'm pretty neutral about.) Got about 70-some pages left. Looking forward to reading more of Denis with one n Denis Johnson "in future" (we used to say "in the future", but now we say "in future", apparently). I've read Jesus' Son, so I'm thinking the next will be Angels.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Even Slower Poetry has arrived...

From the Even Slower Poetry Manifesto:

These aspirations are informed in many ways by other "slow" movements such
as the Slow Laundry movement. Slow Laundry is an idea: a way of cleaning your
clothes using hot water and soap, and a way of falling asleep while you're doing
it. It is a global, grassroots movement with hundreds of members around the
world who link the pleasure of clean laundry with a commitment to rarely leaving the house. Even Slower Poetry, likewise, shares with such movements a commitment to understanding the means of promotion and distribution of plastic things that you're not sure where they came from or what they're for, but it's probably better not to throw them away. DAMN--I'm taking these bad boys down to Kinko's.
Although some may claim that Even Slower Poetry and other Slow Mind
Movements are yuppie fads designed by people with adequate wealth to fund such
endeavors, those of us practicing a slow poetics are not always complete Yuppies
24/7. Just sometimes. We're actually kind of dull, angry hippies with gigantic
chips on our shoulders and some extra discretionary income that we're not sure
what to do with without feeling white guilt. Joy comes about through fulfilling
the plan of Poetry and having the power of the Poem moving in your life and
knowing when you die that you are going to finally see your name in the Don
Allen Anthology.

May this glorious new sapling take root and blossom into a blooming blossoming weeping willow of Poetry salvation.
At some point during the weekend I did twenty-five push-ups, consecutively. It's Wednesday and I can still feel them, in the muscles of the under-arm area. It's not pleasant lifting my arms in the shower or to reach for things. Lifting things doesn't help. Lifting boxes full of paper helps even less. I hope whatever muscles I destroyed grow back.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pound in Indiana

"Sometimes when he came to our house I was exceedingly glad to see him. But by
the time he had stayed from four on Sunday afternoon till twelve or one at
night, and had crawled all over the sofa and stuck his feet up against the wall
and otherwise engaged in unnecessary contortions, I was at least glad to see him
go." —Rollo Walter Brown, a faculty colleague of Ezra Pound at Wabash College.

That's from an article by James Longenbach I might very well one day read in its entirety.


One of Ezra Pound's unnecessary contortions (reenactment).

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Gross of Books, or, How I Read

The other day I reached page 144 of Infinite Jest. On that same day I realized that I am currently reading 144 books. That's one (1) gross. A gross of books. People say you should focus on one book at a time. I wouldn't be able to do that. Sometimes you're not in the mood to read a certain kind of book. It might be fine for one day, but not for the next. Different books require different levels of concentration too. When I read I need to be able to think exactly what the author was thinking, or else I can't go on. It's like every thought, every chain of thoughts, have these cavities with specific contours that I have to fill like a hand goes in a glove. I have to put myself in the mind of the author/character, and if something doesn't seem to follow logically from the previous thought, then I can't go on until I try to figure out what the author or character is thinking. Sometimes I have to force it and I continue reading but I feel uncomfortable. This can stop me for up to twenty or thirty minutes on a single page. This is why it takes me so long to read.

That's how it is with (conventional) prose. With poetry it's not a problem since things don't have to follow logically. Well, in certain kinds of poems it can be a small problem, but still not a big problem.

My goal is to lower that number from 144 as close as I can to zero before I start reading any new books. That's not realistic, so what I might do instead is finish two, start one (no more than one). That way the number goes down, but I still get to start new books.

Another reason it takes me so long to read is because I have trouble trusting page numbers. I worry that when I turn a page I'll accidentally pull one too many, or that there's a printing problem and pages got left out. That's happened to me twice now, so it's become a compulsion, flipping the corner of the page back and forth for several minutes before I can continue. I'm getting better with this though.

Still trying to decide whether to start Ulysses tomorrow.

John Ashbery on Pierre Martory's The Landscapist

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Away We Go was good.

My sister went to India and brought me this:




Friday, June 12, 2009

John David California is the fake Fredrik Colting, or

Fredrik Colting is the real John David California (Salinger sequel dude).

Another literary hoax? Dude, that is sooo 2006! Check it out.

The very

perceptive Nicholas Manning uses my thoughts as a launching point for some further thoughts along the lines of my thoughts. Check it out.
So, Paul Siegell has informed me of his new poem-video, now up at YouTube. Check it out.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009



Infinite Summer
in 13 days...


I have a head start, and I know I still won't finish by the end of summer, but there you go. I got the 10th-anniversary $10 edition in I think '07 and started reading it after Wallace died last year. I'm on page 130-something. It's long but not any more "difficult" to read than your average novel. It is, however, a lot more interesting and fun to read than your average novel, even though I realize that's not saying much considering the state of the average novel today. Never mind that. It—and by "it" I mean the novel Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, in case you're one of those people who just wandered in here looking for "dairy bondage" or "cheebye kia" or pictures of Mila Kunis or Marilyn Monroe (y'all account for about half my readership)—is, I'm quickly discovering, well worth the time and slight inconvenience of its physical cumbersomeness and need for two bookmarks.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I was going to see a movie today using a gift card that I've had for more than a year. I was all set to go see Drag Me To Hell, but the weather was too nice to be indoors. I think I might wait for it on Netflix. I haven't used the card yet because it's an AMC card and AMC never plays the kind of movies I like to see. Except now they're showing the one I just mentioned plus Away We Go and also The Hangover. So I think I'll make those two the ones I see with the card. It's a $25 card, so that will cover exactly two $12.50 tickets.

Another boring Saturday night home alone. Channel 13 shows classic movies on Saturday night, but when analog TV shuts down next week, I won't be able to watch 13 anymore. Without an outdoor antenna, digital reception is spotty, and channel 13 (PBS) doesn't come in at all.

Just chased a horsefly out of my room. Last I saw it was in the kitchen. The window's open in there so hopefully it'll find its way out.

Trying to write a story, but I can't even write one sentence. I really want to write something like The Red Robins by Kenneth Koch, but I know I'll never be able to write anything so weird and wacky and all-over-the-place. I haven't finished a short story in six years, and that was under pressure of a deadline for class.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bloopers are the funniest thing.

Are you like me? Do you laugh harder than you've ever laughed in your life while watching bloopers? Even bloopers of shows that are pretty funny to begin with?

When I watch bloopers I sometimes laugh so hard that it restricts breathing and causes physical discomfort. This rarely, maybe never, happens when I'm watching something that's scripted to be funny and carried out as intended. I think I've figured out why this happens. With bloopers, the Funny Event is unexpected by everyone involved, including the performers. The anarchy of unintended comedy—something about the accidental nature of it gives it that extra juice. Comedy is like pressurized gas in a canister of...gas, or something. Like, it always wants to escape and explode, this being especially apparent when you see actors—professional comedians—trying to keep a straight face when their own comedy threatens to gain control over them. It's like some kind of sentient outside force, Comedy. Bloopers—as well as, to a slightly lesser extent, really good improv—are where this force is really able to blow the lid off the canister....

I made up that theory of comedy as I went along. Don't read too much into it if you don't want to. In fact, don't read at all, just watch these Seinfeld bloopers for a taste of what I'm talking about:

Away We Go

is a movie I plan to see.

Some d-bag critics will inevitably seize on the opportunity to trash Dave Eggers.

Thankfully, other people will come to his defense. Like, say, Stephen Elliott, of The Rumpus.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I wish somebody would just tell me what to do.
There was a girl on the train with a braided ponytail, the kind you want to dip into an inkwell. I would try the "missed connections" thing, but I doubt it would work. It would just make me more depressed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A word people throw around a lot is Muzak,

but do they actually know what it means? It's not a generic term for any kind of commercial music, as so many people seem to believe. It's a specific company, which does a specific thing, which is distribute music to stores to play on the PA system and soothe customers. Did you know it started in the 1930's? History can be found here.

A lot of people like to make themselves feel good about themselves by complaining about Muzak, even though often they're not even talking about Muzak, they're talking about music in TV commercials or other commercial things. If you're going to get on your high horse, at least make sure its feet are planted squarely in the truth.

**********

I wish people here in this room and everywhere else in the world would please just stop making so much NOISE.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In which I buy some books and defend my abode, but not in that order

I wish I had known earlier about that lit mag event thing at Housing Works today. I still could have gone and maybe caught the end of it, but I didn't feel like interrupting my Sunday routine (wake up 1-ish, shower around 2 or 3, lunch around 4-4:30, digest lunch until 6 or 7 when I head "out on the town" which usually just means out to the park or Nussbaum & Wu or any of various bookstores at which I almost invariably end up squandering ten to 20 dollars in cash money). So instead of squandering money at this lit mag event I ended up at Mercer St. Books and suddenly didn't mind missing the lit mag event because at Mercer St. Books I found and made purchases of the following items: Blue Collar Holiday by Jeni Olin; The Bruise by Magdalena Zurawski; The Land-Grant College Review Issue No. One by a whole bunch of people. So I did end up with a lit mag after all. I first wanted to buy that LGCR when it came out six years ago today (June 1, according to Goodreads). Better late than never. I don't even know if they're still in business. I could find out in about two seconds through the use of Google, probably. But I'm even more thrilled finally to be the owner of Jeni Olin's book, which I came close to buying new and at full price at St. Mark's a while ago. But I didn't buy it then because I have a pretty strict policy about buying books used only. So my patience paid off and I got it used tonight for $6.95 instead of $16.00, and in pretty much new condition anyway. Books are the greatest thing to buy used. Unlike, say, a used car, a used book usually is just as good as a new one. No offense to people who buy new books, but people who unthinkingly buy books new all the time are chumps. You're cheating yourselves! Just have a little patience and wait until the book finds you. Could take years, but that, along with the lower cost, makes it all the more satisfying. Anyway. Jeni Olin. I'm so so glad to finally have this book. One of my favorite poets. Poetry magazine should do an all Jeni Olin issue. It would be the best issue of Poetry magazine in quite some time. Even I would buy it.

A pigeon almost entered my room this morning. It must have woken me up by bumping into the blinds, which were down but my window was open. I woke up to fluttering light and noise, unpleasant because so early. I immediately saw through the blinds the pigeon sitting on the ledge, facing away from me. I knew it would go away if I just waited. While I was waiting I half-consciously tried to think of pigeon-related wordplays on "The Raven". I might have been thinking about "The Raven" because I saw the other night for the first time in years the original Simpsons Halloween show, which featured a parody of "The Raven". I remembered while watching it that that episode was almost certainly my first encounter with "The Raven". I like to think so anyway. Anyway that's the version of the story that has stuck with me. But back to the pigeon. It was still there after, I don't know, a minute, so I decided to take action. I gently "rapped" on the wall next to my bed, sending vibrations through the wall and air, enough to disturb the pigeon from its perch, it never even looking back as it took off. I promptly went back to sleep. After closing the window.

You wanna feel depressed? I'll tell you how: take a walk on a Sunday night through a place that's crowded during the day.