Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2004
The local indep. music store (gate city noise) sent out an emergency email. They could go under in less than a month. So a big group of writers spent money on good music.

I picked up:

The Flaming Lips (The Soft Bulletin)
Ted Leo/Pharmacists (The Tyranny of Distance)
Califone (Heron King BLVES)
The Wrens (Meadowlands)

Also burned a copy of The Clientele. Good stuff.

I wish we had an independent bookstore in Greensboro. ABE is good, but I like to feel before I buy sometimes.

I returned Tony Hoagland's newest book (narcisism and me) and Charles Simic's Walking the Black Cat (since I already have two selected books of Simic) to Barnes and Nobles. In exchange I picked up C.D. Wright's "Steal Away"

I read Deepstep Come Shining a while back and enjoyed it. I hope I enjoy Wright's selected.

I like what C.D. Wright says in an interview about scenes, groups, etc. She says she learned from the various happenings and scenes in San Fran. but she didn't let that dic…
Reading a Frank Bidart interview from Chicago Review (fall 2001). He talks about how irony can be a kind of "sophicated armored writing." Bidart says, "I like extreme art. So much middle of the road art is simply boring . . . sophisticated armored writing feels very middle of the road to me. Aping the manners of the cutting edge in the twenties and thirties."

I sometimes get bothered with irony. At the end of the day I also want extreme poetry. Extreme poetry that's earned. Not cheapened by either the conventions of avant guarde poetics or "mainstream" poetics.

So I love Roethke and Michael Palmer. To me, despite being classified as "Mainstream" and "avant guarde," they both write extreme poetry.

Means and ends are never just means and ends. The ends justify nothing. The means justify nothing.

Take my head off as sister Emily would say.

Is honest searching for difference different than sinister specialness. When does specialness become sinister. Is it possible for extreme individualism to screw up a society?

Maybe what I mean is beside the point rather than the point.
(Ha. I'm clever. I'm special. I'm unique. I'm me. etc.)

I worry about difference daily. And community. I think about community a lot. I want to belong and not belong.

Alright. Onto sillyness. Tricky deep poetic silliness in the name of specialness (there's deep meaning here. Poetry is deep. That's what my students say).

A lot of "well-respected" visiting poets have shook their all-knowing heads at the young poets full of caustic irony and sillyness.

"How can we know when we are saying something if we don't believe in saying anything?"

In other words where's the fire baby?

I believe. Many others believe. Get some new reading

I say enough is never enough.


and so on.
How can we know our victories?

I hear a lot of complaints about the Iowa poets (I have participated sometimes) from the 1970's. A kind of McPoem (ala Mr. Hall) narrative, easily digested etc. Now Iowa is on the other side. Mostly avant guarde inspired/influenced poetry. Iowa has power. Iowa is bringing the avant strategies into the mainstream. Are those of us who didn't attend Iowa on their shirttails?

Tony Tost pondered period style briefly on his blog a while back. Not sure how to define the period. But like the last 60 or so years, Iowa might be at the center. An example: I heard a lot of the criticism against APR for publishing the period style coming out of Iowa (in the 70's and 80's especially). Now APR is publishing a different kind of poetry. "Risky." But it's still the kind of poetry coming out of Iowa.

Originality. How can we know we are not just plugging in to the period surge? Is it ok to plug into the period surge (with a little of our own …
Wondering and worrying audience. The creation of audience versus the packaging of poetry for an audience. Writing for other poets versus writing for?????

Sometimes non-readers of poetry (close friends) say they feel unintelligent because they don't get process oriented poetry. I don't want anyone to feel stupid and unworthy, including myself.

I am driven to process (non-neat, anti) but I don't want to feel elitist.

This is the old question of difficulty, I know.

Is re-education, re-conditioning neccesary rather than pandering to audience (or some notion of audience)?

I am ok with not getting everything. I like not getting everything. Is not getting everything ever a hoax?

Can a hoax ever be a good thing?
Group identification seems to get a bad name (NY School, Language Poetry etc.) Why is that?


Of course classification enhances and limits the work of the artist.

Over and over again I hear muscians getting mad with labels (not alt country just good music).

Don't we have to classify and label in order to have conversation. We need comparision (i.e. metaphor) in order to say anything.

Yes, labels can limit. No doubt. But the resistance of some artists to labels/group identification might need questioning (the old scale, pendulum and so on and so on forever and eternity).

Automatic shunning of labels/group indentity should be questioned/interrogated.

A strong reaction requires strong interrogation.

I am included in this assessment. I don't want to be part of a group. I am a genius, a true original.

(but secretly I do).

Cough up the stigmata burger. Astigmatism is like a deflated football.

(The previous sentence mimics the new method of closure d…
FIFA is playing downstairs on the PS 1. I need distraction sometimes. Leisure has such bad connotations for me. I see well to do English chaps playing badminton.

Quite a tightrope. Labor and leisure.

Looking at independent secondary schools for a teaching gig. I like teaching all in all. I need headspace for writing poetry. Perhaps headspace is more important than physical time.

Telemarketing did not create headspace. All I wrote about was telemarketing and the numb mind.

The numb may be good
for some
but as for me
I need a mind
unstuck in time.

Graded 44 essays for my existentialism class (a freshman seminar). The essays were on free will (since existentialism hinges on complete free will and responsibility. You can't be responsible for actions/choices unless you have free will). Most of the students believed they had very limited free will. The few that believed in free will took the patriotic line. one began: "For centuries man has fought for freedom. Today is no different. After the terrorists attack of September 11th George Bush began the forever battle for freedom." AGH!!!!

Many students who did not believe in free will thought they were clever in saying the do not have free will because they are writing a paper on free will they don't won't to write.

There were a few good papers. The good ones talked about how free will can lead to limiting your free will but this does not negate free will in itself.

I want security (a job I enjoy with a wee bit of money) with novelty (always searching and protes…
Why do I find the seahorse specifically romantic?

Something about the reduction of something huge and bulging into a tiny little repoduction that lives in water.

Shrinkage into water (shrink back into womb perhaps).

Spoke with a youngish yale winning poet a few weeks ago who said to be careful with blogs sucking dry and giving away stuff for free.

Suck dry for free.

Suck dry for money.

Either way, you're still suck dry.

I was locked out of the house and my toes are cold.

Someone had an extra key and let me in.
Someone should always have an extra key.

Nice little surprise in the mail today. Columbia Poetry Review accepted a poem.

I wonder how many journals are named after animals versus how many are named after food (milk and octopus for example). By far, the so and so review has to be the most popular. Does the word review make a journal seem more legit?

The word review sometimes puts me off. Although there are some very good journals with the word review in the title. I do like Columbia and sometimes Hayden's Ferry and Iowa (all reviews).

Scientific sounding journals are quite hip now (animals and food are always hip).

scientific (Conduit, Diagram, Forklift),
animals (Octopus)
food (Milk)
beauty products (Shampoo)
language based (typo)
Body parts (Gut Cult)

The tide is rising. The guards are switching. The I is being replaced by the eye.


"Poetry doesn't need skilled practitioners, she needs lovers, and she lays down brambles and shards of glass for the hands that search for her with love."

Maybe I do go to poetry for answers. But not answers in the empirical sense.

What is an answer anyway? Is love an answer or a question or both?

Going to watch Last Tango in Paris later. It's been on my list for a while.

Not sure about the redemption at the end of Mystic River. The silent wife who decides to speak.

Other than that it was quite a good movie.

How to Do Things with Tears is so amazing! Lorca and Grossman are convincing me of "poetic realism."

The imagination as the grounding and inspiration as flight.

Perhaps there is a lot of inspiration going on right now in younger poetry and not enough imagination.

Perhaps is a very caustic word. It has real bite.

Perhaps pretends to be wishy washy but we all know what it really means.

Not all wanderers are lost.

Must always ride the caboose.

Lorca's "Imagination, Inspiration, Evasion"

Reading a little Lorca in Jubilat #7 today.

Lorca: "no one should say this is clear, because poetry is obscure. And no one should say this is obscure, because poetry is clear. . . we need to have forgotten poetry completely before it call fall naked into our arms."

I suppose that's what I search for in poetry (both writing and reading). I am most excited when I forget what poetry is and go on a hunt with letters, words, images, music etc. I also want my poetry hot ("what poetry cannot bear is indifference" as Lorca says).

Lorca says "not creation" but "discovery."

What is the difference between creation and discovery? Art as closed field (objects) versus art as open field (subjects).

"The imagination is a spirtual apparatus. . . [it] merely discovers things already created, it does not invent, and whenever it does so it is defeated by the beauty of reality."

Can a good movie be mainstream? Can good music be mainstream?

Can can (no longer a great dance since it went mainstream).

Can a rap artist sample country music (or is she/he wishy washy and mixing their politics). Country music= mostly white folks who are often rural. Rap music=mostly black folk who are often urban.

(I am well aware this isn't always the case. But don't the two types of music make political statements beyond a twang or a boom?) Or is it more a case of "alternative" country and "alternative" rap versus mainstream rap and country?

If alternative country is different than country are poets who sample from soq different than soq?

What is the value of sampling art that differs from your own aesthetically and politically? Is something new a means to an end or an end in itself?

When we "buy" into something that doesn't cost anything what are the "payoffs?"

I am more and more impatient with "mainstream" poetry. I…