Jul 29, 2005

Save the Date

The release reading for my Katalanche Press chapbook, Film Poems / going away party for yours truly will be Friday, August 12th at the Katalanche Press headquarters (e.g. Mick's house). More details as the day approaches.

Jul 28, 2005

Poet Tics

Since we're all into manifest toes these days, I thought I would share this that I wrote a few years back and still holds true for the most part. One can't do footnotes in Blogger, so I have tried to indicate them as unobtrusively as possible.

I write to set the river on fire. {FN1}.

Amid the din of work and the commerce of narrative, {FN2} thoughts leave the marks of their mouths (the grins of their teeth, the spit on their tongues) on whatever surface is made available to them. These small wounds make poems when left undressed.

A poem comes into the world numb, dumb, and moaning for the attentions of the demon emotion. {FN3} It is made pretty through revision until ready to meet the eyes of the world unflinching, as a corpse is made ready for a wake. It is at this point that the demon has had its way with it and leaves the poem to recount: weeping, laughing or sleeping according to its nature.

Through its life, the poem will teach us that our dead cannot be reclaimed, the things that things without brains know, and the names of our doubles, if we're lucky. Our doubles who listen to each word we speak and shriek and cackle. {FN4}

The poem will forget what it speaks at the moment it is spoken. This speech is recorded as marks on the poem's body. The poem speaks most clearly, most musically those words that are written on its back, the balls of its feet. These assertions will run counter to those found on the hands, the forearms and the face of the poem. {FN5} Some say this speech is musical, some say it is like silence. {FN6} Some listen to this speech and mistake it for the sound of their watches. It is these people who comprise the majority of our populace.

Some poems lack certain limbs, some with flippers instead of legs, wasps' nests instead of heads. It is these poems we must listen to most carefully, the ones the demon emotion scorns and is secretly afraid of, the ones whose speech amongst themselves mimics the ticking of watches.


1. The river remembers every injustice done to it, the name of each person who has offered it a kindness & the stories of those injustices and those names. These stories move through the river in a kind of communal dream. The figures of this dream can be seen as shadows dancing in the flames when the river burns. The river burns only when no human eye is watching, a sight that birds know but cannot speak of.
2. Desire, acquisition, the release of desire, regret.
3. The angel emotion.
4. The existence of these doubles has been all but ignored by contemporary thought; the doubles of a few have been made known and assigned the names of particular deities.
5. Common practice in preliterate cultures is the recording of stories as pictures on the body. The practice is similar in literate cultures, but the recordings themselves move though the world as words, carried forth by the invisible bodies beneath them. These ghost-word bodies will inhabit our cities and occupy our homes when we are but dust; never speaking, the task of speech having been completed already.
6. "I can write a rhyme where nothin' rhymes,"--High Priest of the Antipop Consortium.

Jul 27, 2005

Still speaking of hot, the July 2005 issue of Carve looks to be just that. I'm in there with some of my favorite poets. Makes me feel nekkid. Which I suppose is a good thing on a day like today...
I am hot, too. It is very hot here. Hard to think.

Jul 26, 2005

Jul 25, 2005

Je Suis L'autre

The mysterious Clifford Duffy seems to be behind a watershed of poet-machines over Here.

Jul 21, 2005

Since we're on the subject of children's literature, I feel compelled to point to what was perhaps my earliest experience with the novel: Thornton W. Burgess. Though I suspect my interest in these books was fueled largely by my love of Harrison Cady's illustrations. Burgess's world was engrossing, though; once you had entered, the repetition of characters and themes made for an incredibly vast-seeming community of anthropomorphosized animals. (Most likely similar to the books that Kasey and Ron mention). Burgess wrote around the turn of the cetnury so his stilted and idomatic language sounded exotic and arcane to a kid in the 70's. There was a novel for virtually every species of animal one was likely to encounter in the New England forest (Burgess was from Sandwich, MA)--what's more, Burgess was a naturalist and a realist--his love of animals extended to possums, muskrats, rats, wolves, coyotes, the lives of whom were explored with naturalistic detail and a humanistic eye (animal characters were motivated largely by hunger, protection of their families, etc.) which transcended (or at least looking back) the usual good/evil dichotomies of children's literature. The most questionable characters in these books are the humans. A lesson we all do well to learn early on.

Jul 20, 2005

C'mon, what good's a swimsuit calendar without a redhead?

Jul 18, 2005

I don't really know where my garden-gnome fixation comes from. Maybe because my pediatrician had one of those old Gnomes books in his office, which may have been the first place I ever saw pictures of naked people (well, in this case, gnomes, I guess). But for whatever reason they pop up in my writing on numerous occasions. I consider lawn ornamentation in general to be a worthy subject, so alternately this could simply be an anglophilic manifestation of a general interest in vernacular public art...

Apparently I am not the only one, either.

Et Tu, Alibris?

Just got an email from Alibris stating that they had plenty of copies of Harry Potter and the Well-paid Ghostwriter or whatever it is available. Just in case I missed the display NEXT TO THE SPAGHETTI SAUCE AT THE FUCKING SUPERMARKET.

Though I have to say, upon seeing a townie-ish looking woman sitting on a lawnchair in front of her apartment reading the text out loud to her young child, my general reaction skewed slightly from bilious to indifferent. I suppose if it is getting people who ordinarily wouldn't to pick up a flesh-and-blood book, it can't be all bad. Though to my mind it just seems like a bowdlerization of any number of classics (C.S. Lewis's Narnia, Lloyd Alexander, Ursula LeGuin) with a shot of John Hughes Botox. I'm most likely not qualified to state this, however, having seen only about 45 minutes of one of the films, and never having read a word of Rowling's prose...

Jul 15, 2005

Somebody, quick! Rehnquist is in need of the BLOOD OF THE LIVING!

Jul 13, 2005

Maya Deren said the project of mythology was that it illustrated "the facts of the mind made manifest in a fiction of matter."

I think this is also an apt analogy for poetry. Articulating that world of one's own sentience that nobody else will ever truly be able to inhabit.

Thus in speaking of one's own work there is only the phrase: "Does the noise in my head bother you?"
Received and read Maureen Thorson's UDP book, Novelty Act this weekend and I give it 4 thumbs up. Reading the book inspired the following poem by way of praise. (Unrelatedly, the phrase "black arts" is stolen from Aaron Tieger.)

-After Maureen Thorson's Novelty Act

That moon is goddamn green &
the cheerleader's dreams are all sinister:

black arts, brown heart & red
boots. All the rockets hung low
from her bower.

An eyeless boy comes to serenade,
his lungs are full of years--

that's how you were born.

Little weevils in a maze of salt:
the statuettes are tired of the yard.

Solemn, the bad gnomes abandon
the Scrabble bush--the letters click
on the hard, dry ground. O our sorrow is made
all of vowels:

little brother fell down a molehole,
he sends back cash & posters
for strange films about heaven.

Down by the sea, a shelf
of tight-lipped oysters where monsters
have hidden tiny, luminous pearls.

Jul 8, 2005

So, NYC folks, I will be living in Astoria, Queens as of August 27. Come and visit then and help me uncurl from the foetal position...

Jul 4, 2005

Aaron Tieger and I once decided to start a literary movement called the Venomous Dogs. (There is a long story behind the title). I don't remember coming up with any particular tenets for the movement. I suppose whatever tenets Aaron had would have become the editorial slant of Carve Magazine. Though given this was about 10 years ago, I suspect many of our perceptions of poetry have changed. I myself have written a statement of poetics once and only once (unrelated to the Venomous Dogs). Personally, I'd be suspicious of any movement that would have me... I suppose that makes me a pretty much garden-variety postmodernist. But I am willing to substitute for any movement that doesn't make me pay dues... Alternately you can think of me as some sort of literary mercenary. Call me "The Fixer."

Jul 1, 2005

Check out some beautiful photographs from Poland.
Get well soon, Eileen!