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Showing posts from March, 2004

Swinging swinging swinging

Josh Corey's notes from the AWP conference are fascinating.

The MFA as a gated community. As post-MFA I can see this. However, the "avant guarde" feels like a gated community as well.

When will we get a new noun?

I teach full time as a lecturer and I feel more and more drawn to work outside the academy. I get bored with the intro to lit classes and I don't want to teach in the typical workshop MFA world. I do feel grateful to have a job doing something I actually enjoy. Teaching four classes a semester and earning more than I've ever earned after eight years of university (a little over $20,000/year and benefits). But I've seen a lot of "edgy" poets compromise in order to appear legit get tenure appear professional etc. As a whole, strange sounding journals don't sound as professional as a journal with a university attached to it. The so and so review. I realize there are some exceptions to this, but they are few and far between.

I don't w…

Post-Avant by Daniel Zimmerman

My friend Dan returned with goodies from AWP:

Poker by Tomaz Salamun (ugly ducking press. really well made)
Fa(r)ther Down: Songs from the Allegy Trials by Arielle Greenberg (New Michigan press)
Post-Avant by Daniel Zimmerman (Pavement Saw Press)

I just started Post-Avant. Very impressed so far. I hadn't even heard of Daniel Zimmerman until today.

Also picked up a free poster of Iron and Wine (Our Endless Numbered Days).

Got to stop listing books. Slow down and actually start reading them.

I am crossing my fingers for a job editing textbooks next year.

Now it's time to teach Ciaran Carson and Medbh McGuckian in my Irish Lit. class.

Great games over the weekend.

Go Duke!

I can't stop . . . I just can't stop

Obessions. Yeah obessions.

I am redoing my library like I used to redo my hair. I would grow it for a few months then shave it bald. All go then start from scratch.

Here a beard gone tomorrow.

So I took more books into the Bookshop. Ate some Greek stuff at the Med. cafe. Traded in more Seamus Heaney and Stephen Dobyns. Picked up:

New American Poetry (Donald Allen)
Collected Patchen (New Directions)
My Life, Lyn Hejinian
Scratching the Beat Surface, Michael McClure
Speed of Life, Edward Kleinschmidt Mayes
The Geographics, Albert Mobilio
School of Fish, Eileen Myles
Sleepwalker's Fate, Tom Clark

My good friend Dan Albergotti is coming back from AWP today. I gave him a list and $40 for the bookfair. Hoping to get some Aaron Tieger and Tomaz Salamun from Ugly Duckling Press.

Tony's talk of deer and walks and spots and reinventing the pastoral made me want some silence. My ever present constant chatterbrain. His post even suggested he has a dog to play fetch with.

I do love my t…

The Bookshop

Met a few poets and scholars at the bookshop in Chapel Hill yesterday. In particular a real nice guy named Joe Donahue who teaches at Duke. He told me about a reading series in carborro at the Sizl art gallery. In April Rod Smith is coming to read. Maybe Carborro is my saviour. Greensboro is very very boring.

Traded in 12 Seamus Heaney books (kept his selected). Got $50 in credit and picked up:

David Antin, Code of Flag behavior (Black Sparrow press)
Joane Kyger, Again
Alice Notley, the descent of Alette
Diana Wakoski, Greed/parts 8,9,1 (Black Sparrow Press)
Michael McLure, September Blackberries and The New Book/A Book of Torture (Evergreen Original)
Dapne Gottlied, Why Things Burn (Soft Skull Press)
Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 (Wesleyan)
Caesar Vallejo (Trans. Clayton Eschleman), Spain, Take This Cup From Me, (Evergreen)
Gill ott, Public Domain

Great finds. Going back to Chapel Hill today to turn in Natasha Trethewey's Domestic Work, some David Lee pig poems, and…

Good News for People Who Love Bad News

Excited to get the new Modest Mouse CD and bootleg. The cd is being released spot dead on my b-day. April 6th 2004. Only heard "float on." Liked it. Hope it's as good as the Moon. Their albums declined after the moon.

Couldn't finish watching Incubus last night. felt like the 7th seal. good the first or second time but then gets old.

Watched Charlie Chaplin right before bed. The Gold Rush. Good to go to bed with Charlie Chaplin in my head. I love the bum rub. He even eats his shoe.

Modest Mouse

Some confessions of branding

In the process of writing maybe brand is in the background somewhere but after a while it seems to me the author is branded.

What are blurbs but a brand? I often glance at the blurbs for names/brands (shameful I know). Not to rule out the book completely. But if Dana Gioia blurbs a book of poetry, I am cautious.

Sidenote: I met Dana Gioia at a book fair in Seattle about five years ago. I talked to him after a panel celebrating Graywolf and small press publishing. He repeated a lot of info word for word from his Can Poetry Matter and took down my address. A few weeks later I received an invitation to a conference in PA on writing poetry in form etc. He also sent a huge blow up of an article about him with a little note saying: a small triffle. It also contained his signature in case I wanted to frame it. Don't know where it went. Somehow it got lost in the shuffle when I moved from Bellingham, WA to Greensboro, NC.

Back to main idea: I want to be open, not too narrow. But in all h…


I am floored. Moved. Excited. Yes Yes Yes. There goes my head. I am alive.

Check out K. Silem Mohammad's electronic chapbook:

Duration Press

The only way out is in since the out has already been appropriated by the in.

In other words, I agree with
>Silliman's defense of branding. At first I wasn't sure. How could a marxist work as a marketing specialist? Now I understand more.

It's great to alive. Something is happening alright.

I am excited to hear K. Silem Mohammad read at the Carborro poetry festival on June 5th. Very excited.

April will be very cool as well. A beat conference at UNC Chapel Hill on April 3rd with David Amram and Michael McClure. Tony Tost reading at Green Bean coffee shop in Greensboro on April 13th. Aaron McCollough reading at the NC Writers Festival in Raleigh on April 17th.

Also going to hit NYC for my 30th birthday. I've only been to NYC once but we spent most our time in NJ at the Dodge poetry festival. I still enjoyed it, but didn't…

When do we move past the post?

From the intro to the Portable Beat Reader:

"Earlier in the history of American literature, the novelist Henry James acknowledged in his biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne that "the best things come, as a general thing, from the talents that are members of a group; every works better when he has companions working in the same line, and yielding the stimulus of suggestion, comparison, emulation. As a facet of country's cultural history, clusters have been an outstanding feature of our literature."

So we all know about community. Wouldn't be here if we didn't believe in it right. But why are we afraid of losing ourselves to a cluster? The possibility of narrowing, constricting but at the same time the possibility of expanding. Since the self is a little s anyway mirrored from others why not just let go of the delusion that we are special (same compost heap etc.)

Then again, we are special. If we were too similar the clusters would fail. And fail they haven'…

Fascination Streaks

Anyone else feel like they make decisions as all or nothing. I get rid of a lot of books in order to trade for books I want (trying to build my own canon) but I sometimes regret getting rid of some books. I am in that mode right now. Tempted to get rid of Levine and Lowell in exchange for Women of the Beat Generation. Is that an adolescent choice?

I didn't read any of the "beats" until about one year ago. Now that I'm turning thirty in a few weeks, I feel drawn to them. Is it a passing fascination? Quite a few fellow friends and writers told me they loved the beats when they were 18-19 yrs old but they grew out of them.

Then again, not all beats are the same. Philip Whalen hits me a lot stronger than Allen Ginsberg. Corso hits me more than Ted Berrigan. O' Hara hits me more than Kerowrack.

I steared clear of the beats because of their followers. You know the baret sporting poets who read in annoying coffee shop voices. Hemp happy and narrow minded.

But it's…

March Madness

This is my first year with March madness even though I have lived in the States for quite some time now.

The Air Force/Carolina game last night was great. A push and pull.

Play my kind of game no play mine. Slow fast slow fast. Eventually fast one (thank god).

I'm currently 12th in the pool (out of 20).

Stanford better win the whole thing and Wake better lose the next round.

Arizona disappointed me (it was expected I suppose).

Carolina is dangerous. So is Duke. So is Georgia Tech.

I kinda like Stockton from my days living in Utah so I suppose I kinda like Gonzaga. But they haven't really been tested.

Close games: Maryland barely. Ditto Wake.

Now I see the madness. I better shower and start watching. Big money at stake. I lived in Las Vegas for seven years and this is my first time betting. (parents became Mormon after arriving from Ireland.)

Betting is good. Betting is fun. But I don't want to lose.

I wouldn't mind winning the $100 and spending it all on small pr…

Innovative/experimental poetry in General Ed classes

My students connected much more to the innovative poetry than the traditional in my Irish Lit. class.

I played Seamus Heaney for 20 min. Then some audio of Gabe Gudding reading from a Defense of Poetry, then Mairéad Byrne's "The Pillar" and Randolph Healy's "Daylight Savings Sex."

Almost all of my students have not read any contemporary poetry. By their excitement, comments etc. they connected emotionally and intellectually to:

#1 Mairéad Byrne's "The Pillar"
#2 Gabriel Gudding's A Defense of Poetry
#3 Randolph Healy's Daylight Savings Sex
#4 Seamus Heaney

That's right. Hand's down, the most popular poet since Frost finished last.

A very interesting, thrilling class.

The notion of difficulty needs some serious examination.

I am ready to go drink some whiskey now.

If anyone hasn't heard some these poets read, check out the real audio at:

Wild Honey Press

Invisible Bride

For outness is but the feeling of otherness (alterity) rendered intuitive, or alterity visually represented. --Coleridge.

Just purchased Tony Tost's >Invisible Bride last night.

I'm only a little ways in, but I am hooked and altered.

The alterity in Invisible Bride feels genuine.

What I mean is I got some serious head chills.

The whim feels spiritual in the best sense of the word.

Imagistic and easy going voice pleasures
with so much more underneath.

There's something here.

I wish I didn't have to teach today.

I want to curl up with Invisible Bride and D.J. Shadow.

to be continued . . .

Heaney vs. Healy on St. Paddy's

In my Irish lit class I am teaching from the penguin book of contemp. poetry. The usual poets. I am bored.

So I logged onto the internet and played some poems in real audio of Lisa Jarnot and Wanda Coleman.

A little talk about tradition and innovation.

Students were shocked by Lisa Jarnot.

Who's emp. wu? Whose neighborhood is this?

I said, yes, exactly. That's it. Whose neighborhood is this?

One student said Lisa Jarnot better not quit her dayjob.

A telling product based comment.

Some students asked if Lisa Jarnot loved Dr. Suess.

I told them I am not sure. I told them to look up Getrude Stein.
(This is a general education class).

I wish I found Wild Honey Press before I put together this Irish lit. class.

Next time.

On Wed we are discussing Heaney but I'm going to broadcast a little Healy as well. A little daylight savings sex.

vs. >Healy on St. Paddy's day

I am tired sick of

"look at me/ I'm Irish/ I'm different/ we've all suffer…

Poetry Workshops

Gotta guest teach an undergrad beginning poetry workshop in half an hour.

Not sure what I'm going to say.

All the poems are very stale, boring, cliched.

Gotta talk about the difference between writing out your feelings in a journal and writing a poem.

Not that a combo of journal/blogging and other types of discourse can't make a poem.

It's more poetry=self expression than anything I suppose.

most of the students will be very young. Recent high school grads.

I don't think a regular workshop will help them a lot.

Gotta interrogate more than negotiate.

I wish all workshops interrogated assumptions rather than treating the poem as object to perfect and clarify.

Diction is one of the main issues. The romantic.

Maybe I'll ask them if a musician can blow us all away
if they only listen to songs by Elvis?

Or a photographer if they only look at photos
in the NY Times?

How did I actually believe
there was a seperation between the aesthetic and the political
just five …

Let's talk about Gimmick!

Not sure about TV on the Radio.

Some songs were quite interesting. My friends were not impressed.

One friend said, "Fishbone meets Grateful Dead."

Another said, "a new and improved punkier version of Hootie and the Blowfish.

A third good friend said, "Gimmick. All gimmick."

The gimmick comment stuck.

What distinguishes a gimmick? Innovation as gimmick versus innovation as honest?


1. a piece of trickery or manipulation intended to achieve a result dishonestly
2. a piece of concealed information that, if known, would make an offer or opportunity less attractive
3. something such as a new technique or device that attracts attention or publicity
4. an ingenious device, mechanism, or ploy, especially one that works in a concealed way

My students would say if it's deep, it's not a gimmick.

A gimmick is all surface? Surface of "smart" with nothing underneath?

The period style is not a gimmick. Repeat, the period style is not a gimmick…

TV on the Radio

Going to see TV on the Radio tonight in Greensboro.

I don't have their cd. Only heard "staring at the sun." I've heard good things about them. Hope they put on a jolly good show.

Also going to see Leo/Pharmacists at GO! on Sunday.

Good week to rock.

APR and Poetry magazine

Just ran across an ad in APR for the new and improved poetry magazine with Pound's "make it new" a crazy photograph of an electrified woman, and a quote from August Kleinzahler about poetry magazine being wide awake with its new editor. The new issue has a bunch of poems by Bill Knot. The latest APR has poems from John Yau. Fence magazine. The Best American Poetry series. The insider outsiders are moving into the mainstream at a rapid pace.

The Positions

Aaron McCollough
has a very thought provoking response to Ron's poetry test.

The rapid response (myself included) to Ron's poetry test seemed in part motivated by approval.

How smart can I sound so Ron will like me? Does Ron ever read my blog?

The Patchen poem Aaron looks at is a very interesting example.

I feel torn between wanting to find the little things that don't jive with the current allowed positions and letting myself feel the lines Aaron singles out.

In short, I am afraid of letting down my guarde.

Patchen's poem is not cynical enough. It's too sure and satisfied. Satisfaction equals complacent. Complacent equals apolitical. And so on.

I feel torn constantly between choosing a position, a stance, and hunkering down or mixing it all up.

I don't want to be wishy washy but I don't want to narrow my experiences too much.

Transgressions moves into acceptable position(s) and the acceptable position(s) move into transgressions.

What if I secretly like J…

New used books

Traded in some Pinsky, some Steve Orlen, some Don Delillo, some Stephen Dobyns, some Thomas Lux at The Bookshop in Chapel Hill.

In exchange I picked up:

Philip Whalen's Decompressions
Gregory Corso's Mindfield
Denise Levertov's O Taste and See
Clark Coolidge's Own Face
Josh Corey's Madonna anno domini

I'm building here. Trade out old tastes for new.

I loved Shanna Compton's
Down Spooky

"We the Blind Need Pushing" deserves many reads and many readers.

Much better than Sad Little Breathing Machine just out from Graywolf press.

Ron Silliman and the Cult of Personality

I was fascinated by the responses on Ron Silliman's blog to the poetry test.

The attempt to focus on the work of a writer is sometimes an attempt to increase the credability of the writer in question. Thereby increasing artistic capital.

Does Ann Carson's short short bio increase her artistic capital? Does the mystery surrounding the identity of Thomas Pynchon increase his artistic capital?

Granted that's only two examples. But maybe it will become the new trend.

Capitalism can suck, anything, big time.

It was really interesting to see how similar the poems sounded. My first response was to try and see all the poems as a sequence by one poet. I thought it was Ron Silliman at first, moving in a new direction.

Often, when I read lit. journals, I go straight to the poems written by females. Then, slowly, I go back and read the males. Why?

I would like to score a few points and say some of the great innovators are female. But it might be equally true that I find smart sexy.

Mr. Aristotle's Triangle

We question the gatekeepers and if what they are guarding is worth the entry fee. Can we get rid of the gatekeepers?

I'm suspicious of gatekeepers because I am often denied entry.

So often I hear it's harder to make sense, speak clearly than speak/write cryptic. It's the old text/reader/writer (Mr. Aristotle's rhetorical triangle). Get rid of the writer and what does the shape become. A vertical line. Text to reader?

Intention is not always bad. It's too easily dismissed. The point is to keep things fluid to begin and begin and begin and begin with/in/between mystery and clarity.

There's a there there indeed. But the there shifts constantly and the reader must shift with it (as well as the writer). The there is not a location but consists of peddling wheres, many wheres. If anyone attempts to explain why one where is better than another where it is suspect (and must always continue shifting with the location that never exists except in it's shifting).

Is …

Wild Honey Press

So far I've spent $50 from Mr. Bush's tax return on small press poetry and indie music. I am very excited by
Wild Honey Press

Blackwards by Rosmarie Waldrop ($5.00 USD)
Daylight Saving Sex by Randolph Healy ($5.00 USD)
Shipping and Handling: $2.50 USD
Total: $12.50 USD

$12.50 for two books from the other Ireland. Yes. There is another Ireland. Ireland + America k-i-s-s-i-n-g

My two countries of many.

I don't have to choose just one. I don't have to essentialize or stilt myself into an Irish poet.

What a great time to be alive. Beckett and Joyce continue. . .

A Paradise of Poets

Mini vacation to Chapel Hill yesterday. Art musuem at UNC then The bookshop. Found about 16 books I wanted. Ended up getting:

A Paradise of Poets by Jerome Rothenberg
Voice Over by Elaine Equi
Lit by Ron Silliman
The Happy Birthday of Death by Gregory Corso (with a nice little fold out poem)

really digging Vert

How not to stop changing.

Now the question is whether to get a selected HD or The Beat Reader from the used book store with my credit?


Sleeping with the Dictionary

Rainy and sticky with lots of birds right now.

I slept well. Watched American Splendor. I need to find some underground comics. I haven't read comics since I was a little in Ireland. Loved Ajax.

Traded Bob Hicok for the revised and enlarged selected Robert Duncan edited by robert j. bertholf.

Play at hand:

1) Sleeping with the dictionary by Harryette Mullen
2) Steal Way By C.D. Wright
3) revised and enlarged by Robert Duncan

sleep with the dictionary, steal away, revise and enlarge.

Ted Leo is coming next sunday at cat's cradle in Chapel Hill.

I am going to see tv on the radio on thursday in Greensboro.

Music week ahead.

The trivial can be more than trivial. high/low. basketball, fixin, elbow grease, washing, drying, suds and dusting.


poetry= low p in high fi

free play without sponge
then with sponge.

hoke, poke,
turn around.

Serious thick bricks and lamb chops.

I pay my debts to the gents of delayed hunger.
I was born on the founding of…

Done with Bob

Returning Bob Hicok. He bored me after six poems.

Per the suggestion of Aaron McCollough, I am going to order

Shanna Compton's Down Spooky.

Liked the audio of "We the blind need pushing."

Picked up Sleeping with the Dictionary. I am very excited.
Got a serious roll. Sacked the headmaster for a monkey.

Post Date: Fri Mar 05, 09:23:53 AM

Take me back to the Concrete Streets

Wondering about the head/intellect. It's all up there, but is it useful to pretend the 'ole heart is something else?

(All of a sudden I feel like that main character from Sex and the City typing on her mac).

Playground tactics. Original tactics not like the rabbit in a hat trick.

Disarm the Horses

reread Tony Tost's Disarm the settlers at Typo and thinking about programs. My cousin visitied from Ireland two summers ago and found it really strange we kept introducing people as: this is so and so, he's from the program. Which reminds of: the church. The church says. . .
As if everyone belonged to the said speaker's church.

I also read some Adorno and felt guilty about watching the t.v. show Angel. But is popular culture just straight evil across the board? I don't feel less political. Vote vampire etc.

I find some pleasure in Bob Hicok. I find myself wanting to stick to the gun but unable. I have too many likes that divide.

I like the idea of the one from the many rather than the many from the one (whose blog did I read?) So many voices knocking about knocking me off. How can I choose just one? They are all so compelling.

So I want interest. I get tired of the little dictator self telling my other selves how to act talk walk.

I am not the driver of the chariot. …

Artifice of Absorption

I am really digging Berstein's "Artifice of Absorption." I read parts of it a while back, but I wasn't ready.

Berstein says/writes: "Antiabsorptive does not necessarily mean nonentertaining . . . readers can be expected to enjoy a device that ruptures the commodification of reading insofar as this fulfills their desire for such a work."

I am wondering about absorption and antiabsorption in terms of Bob Hicok and Dean Young. Both are said to straddle the line between official verse culture and avant (although Hicok may just be official verse culture). I can absorb almost all of Bob Hicok and I am entertained. Dean Young has a lot of antiabsorption and it's entertaining. Bob Hicok has many of the characteristics of official verse culture: a lot of poems about his father, epiphanies at the end of the poem etc.

I enjoy the NY school poets because they make me uncomfortable but they are also highly entertaining. I also enjoy Lisa Jarnot and Matthew Rohrer fo…

New and innovative from GE

innovation, difference, and process become part of the machine of capitalism. The new, innovative food processor from GE etc.

How can the new get over its specialness?

I picked up Charles Bernstein's A Poetics at the used book store and Insomnia Diary by Bob Hicok.

I've only read four pages of Bernstein and it's really got me thinking again. I read quite a bit of "language poetry" in grad school, as well as a lot of theory, but then I left it all behind. Gave away all my theory books, small chapbooks, and hemp hat. Even tossed all of my Evergreen Reviews. (ah regret).

Now I feel like I can enter that world again.

For example:

I do not like Las Vegas even if it is a perfect post modern (mordem, boredom) playground.

I do not believe in the leveling. Nice idea, but. . .

I think I think that the historical Greeks are different than the Greeks who stand outside Caesar's Palace. But I suppose either way I cannot know the historical Greeks, I can only imagine them. …