Thursday, December 28, 2006

the problem of impartiality and reviewing

At the risk of getting nothing but negative reviews for the rest of my life I have to comment on the terrible state of reviewing....thinking of course, of the recent slaughter of Nathalie Stephens in the Globe & Mail versus the glowing, gloss of a review such as the recent one of Paul Muldoon by Ken Babstock. Let me just say up front that I don't have a problem with glowing reviews, or Ken Babstock, or Paul Muldoon for that matter, but don't these extremes point to an inconsistency of editorial policy at what is probably the only national venue for poetry reviews in the country?
The G&M seems to be very good at assigning certain kinds of poetry (or maybe certain people get to pick the ones they love). Babstock loves Muldoon ergo we're going to get a positive review of Muldoon; Todd Swift loves Babstock therefore we're going to get a glowing, over-the-top review of Babstock...whereas who (or what pray tell?) does Judith Fitzgerald love?
While there are those who prefer the scalding review, I wonder what the point of Fitzgerald's approach is? Who wins from this? At least Babstock writes an intelligent and often instructive, review, whereas all one feels from Fitzgerald is her bite.
Is that what we expect from newspaper reviews? Can't we expect a little more from a national "Book Review"? Unbiased I mean. Informative. If the G&M intends to be unbiased it should be unbiased...for all. It should decide whether it wants critical reviews and then go for critical reviews, illuminating critical reviews, reviews that will give people an opportunity to actually learn and think about poetry, about a book that is being offered for their consumption...
I've said this before and I say it again, like or don't like just isn't interesting. Maybe for a blog, but not for what we look to for a critical review... One wonders whether the G&M feels that poetry isn't worth the attention? Isn't worth finding the appropriate reviewer for a given book? Or, does it have an agenda, like so many other publications seem to have, of promoting a certain--very limited idea of poetry? If so, then why bother attempting to be inclusive? I haven't done the math, I wish someone would...I would be surprised to find a balanced representation, but it's possible.
This lack of inclusiveness is disappointing, particularly given the rich poetries currently being published in Canada...or is it just outside of the country that people see how rich and diverse and enviable the state of poetry in Canada is?
Is editorial consistency too much to ask for? Can we not expect as much from a publication such as this? Or is it really just the luck of the draw and innovative writers just happen to find their books in the hands of people predisposed to not liking them?
Finally, whatever happened to How Poetry Works? That was brilliant--those columns were clearly taking advantage of and allowing poets to show their smarts in their choosing and reading of poems. It appealed to poets and non-poets alike--why not build a critical community by informing people of the real range of contemporary poetries, and allowing them a way in to appreciating them? Or at least learning something about the work, at least coming to it open...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Felix Reading Series, Madison Wisconsin

Ray Hsu, Hai, and Peter O' was a long time coming, but I came home from that trip with a nasty, nasty virus that lasted several weeks. Go Badgers!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Big drama around the bird bath. The Robins do not like to share...and it seems like bathing is just a little erotic for them. Perhaps why they don't like onlookers?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ah,'s one tradition I can't help but miss...the Queen's annual Christmas address. Is the fact that I'm a good girl from the colonies why I loved The Queen, as well? Or is it that we're just so starved for women in leadership roles? Even if they are tertiary? I had an Episcopalian Christmas Eve...very classy in the 18th Century church with a chamber orchestra and everyone in little boxes like carriages facing one another. But far too bright for a lapsed Roman Catholic--we like our churches to resemble caves...

St. Peter's, post Xmas Eve Service

Saturday, December 23, 2006

random fiction notes, part 1

Photo: NY Times
Nadine Gordimer: I have been remiss on this recent biography, though biographies are notoriously, well, strained (I'm trying to think of a good one). Clearly there is much more to this particular bio and the young Ronald Suresh Roberts must have had a difficult time in many respects...
On the other hand it looks as though Dave Eggers has scored with What is the What...reviewed in the NY Times by Francine Prose...the immediacy of first person when a writer nails the voice is fairly irresistible.
I'm intrigued with Zoetrope, which has a hip mix of contributors ranging from David Byrne to Margaret Atwood, Huruki Murakami to Mary Gaitskill, and well, a lot of people I'm curious about for one reason or another... Zoetrope also offers a number of the stories online, something I appreciate enormously.
Paris Review has archived interviews available on line, and as I've already posted last year, offers proof of the ongoing, and apparently well-accepted sexism in the literary world. (See my earlier post with stats...) What else can we say when even into the 21st century the number of writers interviewed is so skewed to the male gender? That's not mentioning the racial blinders. Is the Paris Review still a serious contender for fiction? They published Etgar Keret (whom I've posted on several times...) in Summer 2005 issue, they had an interview with Anne Carson (well, poetry, okay, but it was great to see her there: "If God were knowable, why would we believe in him?"), Spring 2005 had A.S. byatt, Rick Moody, Mogera Wogura...looking good.

I could ask the same question of Granta which has over the years, offered consistantly excellent round-ups of younger writers, the Best of the Young British Novelists (the 93 0ne in any case), as well as cross-over literary writing, thematic writing in issues such as This Overheating World with the amazing Burtynsky cover, etc. Including this piece by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

This week's New Yorker has an odd little piece of fiction from Marguerite Duras translated by Deborah Treisman, fiction editor, and one who does get things right often. This week's issue also features Orhan Pamuk's Nobel Lecture, which is quite moving. I'm not a fan of Pamuk's work, though I can see why others are. It isn't that I don't see the beauty of the craft, it just doesn't speak to me.

Richard Ford on the other hand I do remain a fan of, and having just read through the Bascombe trilogy (Lay of the Land being the latest...) I have to say that it's a strong series--though oddly enough the first one, The Sportswriter, remains my favorite. I love Ford. He's just so much what he is, so deeply himself, and stubbornly old-fashioned... But also smart: he was clearly marketing himself in this series. By next year I assume we'll be able to buy a boxed set and it will be the Dad gift for many. Not a bad one either. Here he is again.

There will be more on fiction soon enough, and not all of it so conventional...Biting the Error and Mary Burger's Sonny...she'll be coming to my class at Haverford this spring.

Lyn Hejinian, from Happily

Constantly I write this happily

Hazards that hope may break open my lips

What I feel is taking place, a large context, long yielding, and to doubt it would be a crime against it

I sense that in stating "this is happening"

Waiting for us?

It has existence in fact without that

We came when it arrived

Here I write with inexact straightness but into a place in place immediately passing between phrases of the imagination

Flowers optimistically going to seed, fluttering candles lapping the air, persevering saws swimming into boards, buckets taking dents, and the hands on the clock turning—they aren't melancholy

Whether or not the future looks back to trigger a longing for consonance grieving over brevity living is 'unfinished work' to remember to locate something in times to come

Sure a terrible thing whistling at the end of the rope is a poor way of laughing...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Xmas MLA troll...I don't know...but I'm sure they aren't all this cute.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm it...

Tagged by the poetry meme and ET. Though as usual, I'm not sure I did it right...

The first "real" poem I remember reading was...a poem by Margaret Atwood in The Circle Game, with the words "man-hating bitch" scrawled in the margins.

I was forced to memorize numerous poems in school and...Nope, no one ever asked me to memorize anything but the Ten Commandments for which I was given a dollar per commandment memorized and promptly spent the money in a pool hall.

I read poetry because...I can’t seem to quit it.

A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is...probably Kenneth Patchen’s Only Cherries, because I discovered Patchen in high school and he made me laugh and I didn't know that was possible in poetry.

I write poetry, because...I love writing it, but I’m not sure why I publish it.

My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of that it makes me itchy and temperamental and doesn't produce a soporific feeling as with a novel…

I find poetry...often lacks humor.

The last time I heard poetry was...the mellifluous strains of gas-guzzling SUVS barreling down the expressway.

I think poetry a terrible addiction…though one I'm not entirely sure I want to recover from...

my favorite park...

Storm damage right where my sister's memorial bench was to be placed on February 14th, 2007. And another storm coming...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

more musing on the idea of blog

I said in an earlier post that I think one of the downsides of blogs and blogging in general is it seems that we pay less attention to actual books. I still think that's Noah Eli Gordon suggested recently at Kelly Writers House, the danger of blogs etc., is that we get caught up in the cult of personality rather than the poetry...that seems a danger no matter what the venue, but I agree on some level.

Though I do think that blogs bring attention to books that might otherwise be missed. I know people email me to say they heard of this or that book and have found it, and so on, and I know I've heard of poets and books that I wasn't aware of through other's blogs. And these books might not be reviewed in mainstream venues, so how would one necessarily find them?

On the other hand, I wonder if people are still paying attention to print journals. Or, do we assume blogs will take the place of such traditional reviewing venues... Do we need print journals?

Another, even more disconcerting aspect of blogging for this writer is that the idea of public has entered into my workspace. This is not good. My laptop is wireless so pretty much wherever I am I can be online, I can be connected. This has many benefits--but I'm not sure discussions about poetry is one of them. It makes for little distance. It flattens the process, makes visible, and while collaborative thinking/writing might be exciting, for this writer, it needs to be one part of a whole range of things, and there needs to be much more alone time. Suddenly that's difficult to achieve.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Came across Eyemazing, a photography magazine with an extremely lame title, but gorgeous production values and really quirky selections. Antony Crossfield for example...check out his "Foreign Body" series...and Aline Smithson does what many female photographers apparently do, photograph their feet in a variety of settings...

Friday, December 15, 2006

as applies to the end of term feeling...

from The Character, Beacon Press, Boston 1999
Jena Osman
In waking up she decides that blowing on the wrist does not help a person. Then turns off the clock. Whatever the time might seem to be she realizes that she is in it because of exhaustion cross-barring the sound of somone reading to him or herself.
Finally had the pleasure of hearing Jena Osman last week out in Bryn Mawr at a Barnes & Noble of all places...(see Silliman for a detailed account of that). This is one smart book. Osman situates herself within the poem in a completely new way (at least to this reader). The structural, authorial, and thematic investigations have the cool exactness of a laboratory, and a kind of inventiveness that is conceptual, and utterly unique it seems to me. It puts me in mind of Joan Retallack for sure, and Leslie Scalapino, but there is something else here, a startling combination of things, and a very intense sense of a poet tackling the responsibility of utterance and the creation of yet more text in a time of overflowing utterance and physical text...formidable. And humble: a quality not found in abundance these days.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

This from CA Conrad.
My mother saw an albino deer in the mountains recently. None of the men believed her until one of them caught a glimpse of it while fishing. "Then of course they believed me because a man saw it too. FUCKING MEN! I can't believe you're gay, how can you stand it? If I was a man I'd get a sex change and become a lesbian!"That's what kari edwards did, and suddenly my mother wanted to know more.
I feel a memoir coming on..

How to end?

Currently musing over how to end. With a bang? With a delete all? Abandon ship? Winnow the entries down? Leave a storefront?

Gender and blogging is still a major issue and that makes me want to at least leave some of the discussions up.

On the other hand after nearly two years of blogging I am not convinced that the public dailiness of blogging is of any use.

And who needs trolls visiting their site? Why do female bloggers feel so harassed?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

or lack thereof...counting down the days till blog ends

Sunday, December 10, 2006


I clapped until little drops of blood
jumped out of my finger.

My life is not large-scale—
but intense.

fr. Mairead Byrne's heaven with thanks

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Feel the need to give?

Here's one that I am going to contribute to. Thanks to Amy King for this information:

Dear Friends:

As you know, I am the Director of Homeless Youth Services at Metropolitan Community Church. We operate Sylvia’s Place, a shelter for homeless LGBT youth. Young people come to us in a variety of painful situations - they have suffered abuse, rape, domestic violence, hate crimes, sex work, addiction, HIV infection and mental illness. The one thing they have in common is that their families either can’t or won’t be there for them. We’re the only family they have.

This Christmas season, I’m asking you to be a “gay santa” - help us make sure that each of our young people has a gift under the shelter tree.

How it works:

Contact us (manager at with your snail mail address, and we’ll send you a “dear santa” letter written by one of the youth.


Hi, thanks for your interest in the Santa program. We currently have enough people buying gifts, but are in need of items to stuff in the young people’s stockings. Please consider sending 20 of any of the following items, or use your imagination:

1) Candy
2) Hats, gloves, or scarves
3) Small toys (cards, yo-yos, bubbles, etc)
4) Small sizes of hygiene items such as lotion, hand sanitizer, etc
5) Lip gloss, toenail clippers
6) Socks

Also, if you’re in the NYC area, we need food for Christmas dinner, including ham, side dishes, soda, cider, desserts.

Please send to:

MCCNY/Homeless Youth Services
Attn: Santa Project
446 W 36th St NYC NY 10018

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Laura Sims


Have I seen such a tower

Her fleshy, spectacular hand

Would the dogs not find

A tower of ash when the hearth wound down

What it costs

to put winter in you!

Her nails cleanly sculpted, bare

And the autumn?

One buys tires for life


Then her hair falls down

Her hand

Is the winter

lost, little innocent people?

"Winter in You," originally published in Fence Magazine, is the first poem in Sim's first book, Practice Restraint. This book, which Rae Armantrout describes as "resonant of minimalism while engaging in "lyric critically on its own ground," is extremely of the moment it seems to me. The lines here, like Armantrout's, are clipped, the gaps in the poem doing all kinds of work. The Dickinsonian wit snapping the page here and there. These poems read in fact like fragmented, or rather, gutted prose poems. And this is interesting to me--they are in some ways very conventional narrative poems, but scaled back and chiseled with razor sharp insight.

Formally I'm not sure what to make of all the space in the poems, nor the regular shape of them. It's intriguing, and somehow more conventional than one might expect. Not quite abstract, but perhaps more like video feed. This might not be the most interesting aspect of the poems, but it's of interest to me...

From the series BANK here is "Bank Thirty-One"

Trees over here

Over there

In one empty classroom

The girl is turning

The town inside out


The worst is


This reads like an elongated post-post modern haiku.

What pleases me about this book is the very clipped nature, the highly condensed particulars. Sims wide-ranging engagement is quite spectacular, and I revel in the consistency of voice over a good 100 pages (that length in itself an accomplishment in these days of 49 page first books).

This is a fabulous book and a very impressive first book. Still, I'm not yet sure what I think of it as a poetic experience. This is something I've been worrying over for a while now about a strand of poetry that is becoming more and more prevalent in the US, and probably doesn't belong in a review (though I suppose this being on my blog I can do what I want). One thing I notice is that my engagement with the text is very tentative. The book doesn't want me to linger in it. I read several poems and grow intimate with the cadence of the poet, but the very nature of the poetic project itself seems to spurn the reader. At least momentarily...these interruptions are of course part of the point, and perhaps my comments are more about my own reading than the work itself, but I suspect if I keep noticing it (and I have...) that it must be worth thinking about. I'm just registering a nagging at the base of my poetic spine that is becoming increasingly attuned to poetry that is kicking me out of orbit.

Sims' book skirts this line with a great deal of success.

Laura Sims
Practice, Restraint, Fence Books, 2005

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

National Day of Mourning

The statistics for violence against women remain alarmingly high, and December 6th remains a highly charged day for me, and many women, particularly in Canada. I can't be in a classroom without knowing where the door is and how to get out--for me it was never a given that I should have access, and even today I'm not convinced that right won't be taken away from me. In Montreal women gather to protest violence and to remember:

Anne St-Arneault, 23; Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klueznick, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 22; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; and Annie Turcotte, 21.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bruce Whiteman

I've been reading Bruce Whiteman's The Invisible World is in Decline, and loving it. I have no idea who this poet is and until I discovered it in my mailbox I had never read a poem of his. And yet I'm smitten. Truly I am. So without knowing much else about this poet I have to say that these prose poems are really fine, so consistant in tone, and vast in their landscape. Just gorgeous, thoughtful observations and penetrating insights that reveal a mind engaged not only in literature or the small "I" of my career, My Career! This guy is out there doing backflips through the literary landscape just for the fun of it, and so gently: "Six green pears on a piece of crumpled newspaper beside a poinsettia that will not flower" and later "They will not speak of rot, but someone thinks it and the first pear turns brown. The painting of them all wants to speak immaculately of their future, when they cannot be eaten by birds or poets."

The prose poem--that form never to appear in the over-wrought pages of Poetry magazine--is o M of the most exciting forms of our time for my money. Condensed lyricism, surreal anecdote, or small abstract canvases, the prose poem ticks along like a view from a train window, click, click, from hydro pole to hydro pole--an image that in fact speaks to the quaint sense of the prose poem now seeming from another century. Which it does. So unchic in its completeness, in its bid for unity, for a sense of narrative satisfaction...

And yet here is Whiteman: "The dead do not speak unless it is through lovemaking and that is another story..."

What I wish for reviewers is that they see what they have in front of them, not what they are expecting to see... Such a simple request, and yet seemingly impossible. Why? Because it asks them to be present? To take a risk? To engage with the work itself ? These are gorgeous poems. They are coiffed only in their desire for precision, not for gloss. Impressive. Someone, just read this book and appreciate it for what it is...

kari edwards

Still reeling over here from the news regarding kari edwards who passed away this weekend in San Fransisco from cardiac arrest. Geoffrey Gatza at Blazevox has made her new book having been blue for charity, available online. kari was one of the gentlest people I've ever met, and also one of the most active.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

looking at art in madison

There was a sol lewitt show at the beautiful contemporary art gallery in madison ( I spent an extra 24 hours there this weekend due to a bit of weather in the midwest. If 12 inches of snow can cause that much trouble in a city like Chicago that gets "weather" every year, I wonder what some of the real extremes of weather we have in store for us will do?? ). Thank God for art, that's all I can say. Aside from the lewitt they had art that he had collected from other artists over the years. A potentially intersting idea but somehow not that interesting...though he had an Eva Hesse and a Chuck Close. But I did enjoy seeing the repetitions and variations and in general I think there are few places I'd rather spend an afternoon than a gallery. And this one is is the view from the 3rd floor looking down State Street in Madison.
Oh, yes, I read with Peter O'Leary and got to meet Ray Hsu finally. Excellent. Came away with a book of Ronald Johnson's--something I've been wanting for a while now. Peter O'Leary is Johnson's literary executor. The book Shrubberies, is gorgeous.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Awesome woman of the week

The Story of My Accident is Ours by Rachel Levitsky now up on Conjunctions. Levitsky is of course the founder of the belladonna reading series which has hosted very close to 100 kick-ass women in NYC and which I have been very happy to be a part of for the last few years. Under the Sun is available from Futurepoem.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Issue Number Two
ed. Elizabeth Treadwell

Okay, I've been wanting to post about this but really, I still feel I haven't had enough time to adequately describe the excellence of this project. My first reaction was Yes, oh Yes! Here's a fabulous example of what one might accomplish in lieu of blogging. At just over 200 pages Treadwell offers up poetry and prose from Alice Notley, Leslie Scalapino, Mary Burger, Nada Gordon and other poets whom I don't know (Steffi Drewes for example); essays on Notley & Scalapino, Cather, Deloria & Stein, and Aime Cesaire & Bei Dao (the latter being completely new to me); and essays on poetics from Alicia Cohen and Tonya Foster... There is also a generous review section with smart shortish readings of new books by Carol Mirakove, Joanna Fuhrman, Arielle Greenberg, Bernadette Meyer, Juliana Spahr, Norma Cole and others. As well there's an editor's forum of engaging and unexpected discussions (An exchange between Elaine Miles and Jennifer Firestone about Andy Goldsworthy (Hello, yes, is this guy the King of precious, or what?)) some of which I've taken up in other forms here on Lemon Hound...I'm so excited.

This is a fine journal with strong unpredictable selections all around, very multi-faceted (did I mention the interview with Yedda Morrison and E. Treadwell?), and what I want to say to everyone who reads this is SUBSCRIBE. Yes, do that old fashioned thing involving a check book and envelope: SUBSCRIBE. This is just what we need, and headed in an interesting direction if you ask me. Refreshing.

I had an email in my inbox a while back about trying to resuscitate the Women's Review of Books, and while I want to support all things women-related, I was disheartened by the lack of change in vision. I mean if there is little support for a project so that it ultimately shuts down, and then you reinvent it, why not reinvent? Why not try to think about where women's writing might be going, and try to look at where we've been and are with a wider perspective and sharp eye? Which is what we find in Traffic...

Can there be an online companion to this?? That's the only thing would make it better.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Elizabeth Bachinsky

You can see and hear Bachinsky read from Curio, published this year with Bookthug. One of the poems she reads is her anagram poem of TS Eliot's "The Wasteland" titled "Lead the Wants"...

Friday, November 24, 2006

buy nothing day and making meaning

Today is Buy Nothing Day, an annual event and so far I think not one that has made any major mark on our society. Adbusters is amazing. But in a sense it is preaching to the converted. Particularly since those of us who are even aware of it are usually folks who are already fairly conscious of things such as environmental footprints and "real costs" of things.

I've been thinking of other ways to use the time I would normally use blogging, I'm convinced that there are more effective ways of being at the moment. Particularly as it seems that while I sit here typing (even now), whole species are becoming extinct and with the same zeal that folks have wiped out much of the old growth trees and stripped resources and polluted water bodies and soil and air in North America, the entire globe is being developed at a rate that makes my head to take all of this in??

Meanwhile our world becomes smaller under the guise of being more global...we come to our screens in the morning but what are we looking at? Most often it seems to me we are looking at ourselves. And poetry? Well, as much as I believe in poetry and will obviously always engage in it, I worry about an art form that seems to have completely accepted the idea that it is only talking to itself.

This poet wants to talk to non-poets as well as poets. This poet wants to hear good news about the human race. This poet wants to see some hopeful signs for the planet. I'm concerned about gender and power and poetry yes, but like so many other things, water, global warming, I generally feel hopeless about it. Meanwhile there are people who are putting their foot down, who are really seeing what the implications are of us allowing the privatization of our water sources, the dislocation of local in terms of water, and what that will mean even five years down the road.... Who would have expected this stance from a Christian organization?

One of the most inspiring people I've ever heard of is a man whose name I don't remember. He's a man who, when forced to retire from his work due to a head injury began walking daily in Toronto's Don Valley. After a few days he began picking up garbage. Then he began to bring bags with him because he found so much. Then he began recording what he found. Then he began looking further into the land around him and began discovering bigger things, shopping carts, televisions, etc., which he diligently hauled out and recorded. Then he began to talk about it, then he began to get attention, then more people became involved and ten years later the Don was suddenly showing signs of revitalization... I love that story because it's a great reminder that dailiness adds up. That "heroes" are usually the most common people doing common things. That there are signs of hope. Real, not virtual. Real.

And I suppose in the face of this a daily blog is harmless enough. But I want more than harmless. I want to shift things. I want to shift. What would I have after ten years of blogging?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

winding down

After much consideration, I've finally chosen a date to pull the plug on this adventure. Lemon Hound will officially end along with this turbulent year. Hopefully I'll be able write at least mini-reviews of all those books I have stacked by my ugly orange chair. What's next? Indeed. What's next.

nouvelle vague...

a little morning music...and while you're on coolhunting check out the latest in Brooklyn edginess from Bushwick. Bap took place this summer. Thanks Zzee...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

cyberwomen poets, a post in progress

Quickly, quickly, name all the cyberwomen poets you know...

Exactly. Well, Stephanie Strickland comes to mind, yes, Stephanie Strickland...and...and...well? Well, here are some ideas for you. Check out Betty Nkomo (a wow) by Young-Hae Chang at poems that go, and then born magazine...and then over at logolalia...thanks to mairead for those links...I can't help but pass them on and I am now onto this, so a more detailed post to come.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Angela Carr

Does the line last longer
than the point at which you wanted me?
After a time.
Am I fragile at this point you wanting me?
Am I lasting at this point?
Am I coming at this point and is it lasting?
Am I nettles?
Are you burning in this point?
Am I centered in your beauty and is it cold and are we holding?
from "The Louise Labe Poems" Ropewalk, Angela Carr, Snare Books, 2006.

Enjoying Carr's three part book, staring with "The Louise Labe Poems" , which you can hear her read from courtesy of the Atwater Reading Series in Montreal. These are collaborative poems, generously spaced on the page and engaging, lush silences, leaps, acrostic in the Jackson Mac Low sense of writing through.

"Empty Cups," a series exploring Steinian non-sequiturs:
This spine with bapitzer. A name in abeyance. Atop the slide I open the here.
beautiful, slender poems, very delicate on the page.

The final section is particularly haunting. "Mountance of a Dream is the length of time it takes to travel a dream." This section recalls childhood dreams, the entering into and attempt to exit from, the hangover dream state that often creates a permanent shadow in our adult world, and later the circularity of language and desire, what brings us back to that inner landscape: "My first memory is a set of stairs," "If at the top of the stairs I shed myself effortlessly...."

These poems linger. The mirror stage of a dream, stuck in a stairway, all of these images ring true, and then some:
If the tongue were a leaf I would be silent all winter.

If time was singular and without grief, time was.
This is an impressive first book. Quietly confident, and best of all it has all the earmarks of a long conversation just begun, in no hurry, enjoying the nuances of itself.

This is the third or fourth publication from Jon Paul Fiorentino's upstart Snare Books out of Montreal. The other fall book was Zoe Whittal's The Emily Valentine Poems. If Snare and the other new press, Bookthug, are any indication, the future of publishing poetry in Canada is looking good. Very good.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

good lord! oceans, greycup and ginsberg

Thanks to Jordan for the link to this horror. Recycle, recycle, recycle...but that's just the tip of the wasteberg: more ocean horrors in this week's New Yorker, but only the print edition. All this pales next to previous headlines announcing the end of fish within the next 50 years...ocean fish in any case.

Meanwhile Ginsberg continues to hold interest. See NY Times Book section for a bevy of bad boys.

Sook Yin on CBC cheering me a little in the face of all this bad news...and hey, Americans ever heard of the Grey Cup? Oh, yes, the Canadian Football League's version of the super bowl.

Kate Greenstreet

Kate Greenstreet's reading on Thursday night was a breath of fresh air. Yes, the Hound finally made up to Kelly Writers House on the Penn campus, 3508 Locust Walk, for the Emergency Reading Series. Featuring Kate along with Jason Zuzga and Noah Eli Gordon.

Gordon's assaultive approach to reading is intense, energetic, almost compulsive and I wish I had been twice as far back from him (as it was I was already at the back of the room). He has tremendous energy and am now curious to encounter his texts in the silence of my own room. But for me, Kate was the highlight of the evening. Her work is completely out of step, not trying to do anything but be itself, and itself is a methodically-paced 37 degree, now 49 degree musing on the state of being human. The perspective in her poems is always a little off in just the right way. I felt as wonderfully disoriented in fact as I had by the time I got to the top floor of the Guggenheim at the Zaha Hadid show.

Otherwise, excellent to talk to Nick Montfort about Autostart, which I missed (just one of the KWH events missed due to weekly trips to NYC). Montfort and Stephanie Strickland are two people who I need more of. Meanwhile I have this to dip into, though the pile of books I've been meaning to post on has not diminished...and I better hurry. There is a time-limit on this blog and it is running out.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

New Jersey as an Impossible Object

Joe Milutis has an intriguing project in the works, an explication (a multiple rendering...) of William Carlos William's long poem, Paterson. Aside from the obvious, and yes, intriguing connection between Robert Smithson's work and William Carlos Williams work which is explored here, there is a kind of sonic exploration of the implications of the Williams text, and like Smithson, a gesture of making literal, or firm, the dimensionality of the text. Check out this sound file.

What I found interesting about this project is first of all, that it made me go back to Paterson which I hadn't read in a while, second that it made me cognizant of the difference in the way I perceive that text now, as opposed to my initial introduction, which was entirely without any geographic or cultural context, and finally, that it made me consider the difference in the way we might perceive the text now, so many decades later.

Our encounter with Williams' texts must be profoundly different than the attention with which they were created, or what he might have imagined possible. I wonder too about the different perceptions of geography and the intersections of human development which Williams must have existed in...what seismic shifts did he witness? How do we experience those now?

Isn't there a movement to make Paterson's Industrial district a national park? And why not. It is as much a part of America as anything else, and I for one think the process of reclamation and destruction is an interesting one to watch...but perhaps that is not what those wanting to make this area a park have in mind...

In any case, a great project. And it just enforced my thinking that the most successful texts must exist beyond the author's ability to control them in some way, that they must be fluid, collaborative, and unruly, and in this way morph and change as the world around them does, offering many levels of potential engagement and readings...and as Mr. Milutis shows us, multiple entry points and potential excavations.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Caroline Bergvall reading at Haverford and Shanna's blog

Bergvall read the 4 Shorter Chaucer Tales tonight, along with More Pets, and Gong. The Chaucer pieces are a "must hear."

And over at Shanna's place the question of female role models and literary continues...

Music turns my head

Now and then I remember one of my earlier desires, which was to write for Rolling Stone Magazine and take photos of women like Chrissie Hynde and Annie Lennox... Lately CBC's Radio 3 Podcast has been introducing me to a host of Canadian bands (see #76 Tintin in the Land of the Podcast) that make me wish I were 21 again and interested in hanging out in nightclubs, looking slightly bored, prone to rolling around near the stage to get a shot...I'm not. But I'm still interested in music. Joanna Newsome turned my ear recently, and Arc Lab, Carmaromance (no album yet that I can find), Amy Millan, and yes, Final Fantasy's "He Poos Clouds" (Yes, I feel too old for this, but it's good...) Caribou, even Peaches (who knew she was Canadian...oops!?) which you'll find on the electronic playlist...And here's a link to the #77. Enjoy. And in case you missed it when I posted this link earlier, this is one of my all-time favorite playlists...ambient.

Monday, November 13, 2006

New poems!

Post Lemon Hound poems up on MiPOesias thank you very much. For some reason I don't have many poems online so this is fun, and new work, well that's always fun.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

ouch, wow, zowee

Okay, now I get why everyone is talking about Battlestar Galactica...I have some catching up to do. And I only discovered this because I was looking to post a link to Martha Wainwright, who is awesome and kicks ass... I found this video which is wacky and well, confusing, but you get to hear Martha...

foulipo and drunken boat #8

In my round-up of journals I forgot to mention the new issue of Drunken Boat, which contains a folio of Canadian writing I edited. It's a slim feature with many ghostly contributors whose work you will find on this blog either to come, or in the archives, or on the links when I can figure out how to move them to the beta blogger. The Drunken Boat also has an exhaustive Oulipo folio containing among other excellent essays and poems, an essay by Juliana Spahr/Stephanie Young, which asks the questions we've all been thinking for a while now, and murmuring about behind the scenes...
In the middle of all this convesation we wote to Craig Dworkin and asked him what was up with all the men and thei love of estictive, numbe based pocesses and he said he didn't know but he told us a joke about a photogaph he once saw of himself and Kenny Goldsmith, Rob Fitterman, Christian Bök, and Darren Wershler-Henry, all in a line, all basically the same age, same stocky build, same bad haicuts, and black t-shits. We could think of no photogaph of Jena Osman, Nada Gordon, Caroline Bergvall, Joan Retallack, Johanna Drucker, and Harryette Mullen all looking the same age, same build, same bad haicuts, same black t-shits. Fo some eason this wok did not unite them. And how thee still seemed, like Michelle Grangaud, elected to the Oulipo in 1995, oom fo only one o two women wites to build a caee in this categoy.
What they suggest is a new category called foulipo.
We thought about Caroline Bergvall's wok, like "About Face," which might be one of the foundational woks of foulipo if foulipo had foundational woks because it is witten out of the emoval of a painful tooth and the wok seems to be slendeizing he face.
And I say, yes, my thought exactly. No offense, I adore you Christian Bok and derek beaulieu, Darren Werschler Henry, Kenneth Goldsmith et al...but why not our own coterie? Never mind looking to the big old Poetry Daddy's for approval, what woman do you want to read your work and go, Oh, yah, that's where I'm heading...

I know who that is for me, though I don't always have a way of connecting with those women and I'm not sure why that is: accessibility, scheduling, a different kind of network, or do we just file ourselves in and focus upward? Is there a Silliwoman out there? Is there someone keeping all the darts in a row, categorizing and canonizing the work? Or, is the work just assembling: Lyn Hejinian, Carla Harryman, Ann Waldman, Susan Howe, Alice Notley, Rae Armantrout, Gail Scott, Lisa Robertson, Erin Moure, Joan Retallack, Rachel Blau Duplessis...and yes, Juliana Spahr, Jena Osman, Elizabeth Treadwell, Mairead Byrne, Carole Mirakove, Rachel Levitsky, Margaret Christakos, Elizabeth Willis, Gail Scott, Renee Gladman, Mary Burger...and overflowing in its excellentness? I'm stopping only because I have laundry to do...and I can't name all of the hot young poets doing curatorial and editorial work...but where is the center I wonder? And what direction?

The center problem is a big one and certainly I don't expect any easy answer. I can look admiringly at folks like Jena Osman, Juliana Spahr, Claudia Rankine, Elizabeth Frost, etc., who are doing amazing work on our behalf. In terms of the poetry however, and a future feminist poetic, I did argue on an earlier post, and in the Brooklyn Rail, that Caroline Bergvall is a new model for an experimental poetic, one that offers new ways for women to investigate language and sound while allowing themselves to experience the headier performative elements of the Boks and Goldsmith's of the world. Taking up an innovative space that is in fact radically feminist...and rooted in the above poets, but moving into a space heretofore claimed by the boys of poetry.

And this bore out when I saw/heard Bergvall read at Fordam in the summer. The 4 Shorter Chaucer Tales are in your face experimental feminist innovations, that are risky, and political, and fun. Bergvall is having fun, and kicking ass...and yes, creating new routes for us to follow. Not sure how this relates to all the flarf fluff fireworks, but I admire Bergvall's ability to have fun and be relevant, or maybe that's not a good word, I guess to provide a polemic of some kind, one that moves us forward... but this is raw and thinking still. Just some thoughts.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

ww, sh sd, wh fn.
wh nds vwls nyhw?
nt hr. nt hm.
n nd n th rn wnt wtht rmrs

nd thn sh wnt fr dnnr wth hr lvr
wt sh crd! thr s smthng mssng!

n, n, nly vwls.

rmmbr, rmmbr, nvr frgt.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bat Barbie redux

Found in the garbage files...

Hola? Girl gang leaps tall buildings for pretty things...

One of Chile's most notorious gangs, and they're all girls... Check out the Spider Girls.

On the newstands

In this week's New Yorker Janet Malcom provides more evidence of Gertrude Stein's bad behaviour and Rachel Cohen reviews a new book about Leonard Woolf. Is everyone still loving the Believer? I haven't found a magazine to be excited about in years...and I'm not a believer Believer, not yet. But this piece on a newspaper that featured a column in rhyming couplets caught my attention. And what about Tin House? Here's another one I'm supposed to like, but don't quite for lit journals. What on earth? Am I just getting crusty? What is anyone reading these days? What is exciting out there? Poetry Magazine just gets worse and worse (and what does that tell you about giving poets money???). Fence, well, it's a good idea, and sometimes Court Green works, but these journals...I find them fat and unfocused, filled with too much half considered work. God, just give us a slice of well-considered work...all this mish just dilutes the conversation if you ask me. Not that anyone is... But I guess what I'm asking for is a well considered publication and I just don't see that out there. Well, not often. The Virginia Quarterly Review is a wonderful production--though I haven't been excited about the poetry I find in there in general. The following often get my pulse going: Cabinet, Geist, Jubilat, Bordercrossings, Open Letter, Chicago Review, Boston Review, Brooklyn Rail, Chain (which we have no more), W, Matrix.
As for fiction, that's another area of great disappointment. The new online Narrative Magazine? Snore. Noon, the annual publication edited by Diane Williams, yes, yes, yes!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

News Round Up

Alice Notley is everywhere (Kelly Writers House, Cue Gallery, Poets House, Cuny) at the moment, and I keep missing her! Well, I did hear her read an Allen Ginsberg poem but it's not the same... Also three books in one year, phew, and I have none of them...yet.

Next week in NYC a Festival of Contemporary Japanese Women Poets sponsored by belladonna, Poets House, The Bowery, and Litmus Press.

Is this guy really the greatest living poet? Why am I laughing? Is it funny? Should I be laughing? I'm so confused...

Meanwhile in Non-literary News:

Three blind mice regain sight. No, really, scientists successfully restore vision.

Dismantling industry in the forest, BC Lumber Mills not what they used to be.

Snakes in the pulpit: ouch. Woman dies from snake handling in Kentucky church.

Meanwhile in South Africa man bites deadly snake and lives...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Happy Birthday This Magazine

This Magazine is 40! In the birthday issue, the iconic Canadian magazine of youth/left/hipster politics out of Toronto offers up 40 Big Ideas we need to know about. Here's a snippet from the ubiquitous Clive Thompson. Let the revolution begin. Or is this not what Hilary Clinton was talking about last night?
A few years ago, Merlin Mann hit the wall.

The San Francisco web developer was completely disorganized. He was juggling five projects at work, and to try and keep the chaos in check, he produced endless to-do lists, rolodexes full of phone numbers, and calendar reminder-notes. As things spiralled more and more out of control, he desperately tried ever more organizational technology: A Palm Pilot, Microsoft Outlook, anything else his high-tech friends recommended. “But nothing really worked,” he admits, because as most of today’s office drones know, those personal data organizers—or PDAs—are usually more hassle than they’re worth. With all the typing in of notes, synching to your laptop, and sitting there while it harangues you with reminders, you become a slave to the machine.

So Mann threw the technology out the window, and started with a fresh idea: Pen and paper. He bought a stack of 3’’ by 5’’ index cards, and fastened a few dozen together with a big alligator clip. Now whenever he needs to remember something or make a to-do list, he just pulls out a Sharpie marker and writes it down. There’s nothing to synch, no batteries to recharge—just an incredibly elegant “device for capturing and sharing information.”

He even gave it a name: The “Hipster PDA.”

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Caroline Bergvall's Shorter Chaucer Tales

Hey kids, I posted on this back in the summer and now Bergvall's awesome revisioning of Chaucer is up on Penn Sound. My personal fave being the Franker Tale... There is apparently something printed from this in Jacket, but I couldn't find it. And guess what Philly poets, Bergvall will be reading here at Haverford on Tuesday, November 14th, at 4:30, tea at 4:15 in Chase Hall, 104.
ps the Jacket link here.
Jacket also has an interesting essay on flarf. Flarf off already. No, me like flarf. Me do. Me don't know where it leading us but me like its a good mirror for our times. No one likes accurate mirrors.

On the desk & in the works

Poetry, yes, more on that soon. In a stack by the ugly orange chair: Sue Wheeler, Anne Szumgalski, Diana Hartog, Steve Noyes, Jan Conn, Bread Not Pain, Marlene Cookshaw, Michael Kenyon, David Seymour, Karen Solie, Steven Price, Howard Akler, Nathalie Stephens, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Angela Carr, Kate Colby, Sarah Manguso, Amy King, Beverly Dahlen, Sharon Mesmer, Rae Armantrout, Laura Sims, Jena Osman, Lyn Hejinian, Rachel Blau Duplessis, Yedda it any wonder I'm feeling a little overwhelmed? Lust list including both Alma, Grave of Light, and the Notley essays, the new Atwood (of course...), Carson's Grief Lessons, Stephanie Young's Bay Poetics, all of Carole Mirakove...

Other new and newish Canadian poetry I want to get my paws on: Jacqueline Turner's Seven into Even, Dionne brand's Inventory, Jason Christie's I Robot, Sharon Thesen's The Good Bacteria, Matt Holmes, Hitch, and Abandon by Oana Avasilichioaei

Where are you Shani Mootoo?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

crimes against humanity no fish in fifty years crimes against humanity six women killed in iraq crimes against humanity is good for the Iraqi people crimes against humanity sentenced to death by hanging crimes against humanity in Beirut crimes against humanity in Iran crimes against humanity is crimes against humanity is no fish in fifty years is blind eyes and blind eyes is crimes against humanity what are crimes against humanity stay in bed for humanity stay in bed for humanity read newspapers for humanity write letters for humanity who hangs who for humanity who kills who for humanity i don't understand humanity i am not fond of humanity i want humanity back i want to believe in humanity i am not understanding of this humanity i am all over this humanity where is humanity hanging for humanity war crimes against humanity is bones is humanity is confused is humanity is the bill coming soon who will pay the price for humanity and fish and fish and fish and fish and don't confuse fish with humanity and don't confuse humanity with humanity and it is time to unplug and walk it is time to unplug and walk while we can still walk while we can still walk while we can still walk

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Blah, blah, blah, who's really killing poetry?

Ug. Can anyone make it through either of these postured and out of touch attempts to get at something about contemporary poetry? I mean, really, how can anyone be so verbose and say so little? And AWP is an organization that is supposed to somehow be advocating for writing? And this one! Ugh, ugh, and more ugh. Gee, could the problem be that Poetry and readers of Poetry Magazine just aren't looking around at contemporary poetry (which is thriving very much thank you very much, and largely without the help of billion dollar endowments... as it always has).
These guys are so out of touch it's staggering... I have refrained from posting on this for an impressive length of time. I refrained when I got a long, insipid letter outlining how remarkable Poetry Magazine was and how it had resuscitated poetry under the editorship of Christian Wiman, but I can hold my tongue no longer. BLACH!

Excuse me while I go attempt to keep my dinner down.

Awesome woman of the week

She feels embarrassed by the fuss around the world after being robbed and locked in room in her house. She feels compassion for the robbers. Through all of its turbulence, South African novelist Nadine Gordimer remains in her country, and even when faced with violence she remains open, looking beyond the surface into the violence's architecture. It's been a long while since I read one of Gordimer's books, but perhaps it's time again. In fact, it would be interesting to read a survey now of South African literature--and to see more contemporary art. If recent photography on view at Moma is any indication, things are more on the edge than I've seen in some time. But I so admire Gordimer for sticking it out in South Africa when so many have left, and for trying to do something more than just understand or write about what happened in her world (although that would be enough...). Staying put is so often the most difficult thing to do. And peace and reconciliation? Who of us can even contemplate such a thing?

Moma this week: Brice Marden

Last week I was able to see the Brice Marden retrospective at MOMA prior to my workshop at Poets House. A retrospective, the show offers fifty paintings and an equal number of drawings (which I didn't have time to see). You enter into the first room and see four nearly solid colored canvases with titles such as "Dylan" and "Nebraska." Immediately stress levels plunge. There is something very calming, very slowing, about the work. It has give, it has room to enter, no pressure to translate or process. At least this earlier work, which is very much in the vein of minimalist art that was common in the 1960s a la Martin, Rothko, etc. The grays here are more Jasper Johns than Rothko, and somehow as sweet. Yes, sweet, and that is a surprising achievement in a gray palate, no?

If you access the audio guide you eavesdrop on a conversation between Marden and Moma curator in which much is revealed about the origins of the work, influences, and most interestingly, the artist's process. You hear details such as "refrigerator door" as palate, and "metal spatula" as paint knife. You begin to imagine the artist stripping away, an approach more like a sculptor who carves away, than a painter who builds up on the canvas. You are directed on how to look at the paintings: stand as far from the work as the size of the canvas, look at the surface, approach the canvas up close, notice the marks, or "events" I think he says, then move back as far as you can and take it in like a horizon... All of this is extremely helpful and pleasant in fact, and I found myself more drawn to the work after listening to the artist discuss it.

The paintings themselves--and incidentally, I'm still in the first room--are soft and skin-like in the way that Marcia Hafif's monochrome work is, but there is something even warmer about these, and I swear that a hint of that is in the scent: Marden added beeswax to his paint. The result is a lovely matte texture, but also, like Hafif's glaze paintings, an intense organic sense about the work, a kind of glow and vibrancy. Yes, Rothko achieves this too, yes, of course, but here one begins to feel the surprising "narrative" of monochrome, and by now, monochrome seems the most sensible response to our time..

What surprises me is the collaborative nature of the work. How have I gone so long not seeing this? After all, when Marden talks about the surprising geographical details of the Nebraska landscape as inspiration for the monochrome gray canvas, one begins to sense that landscape, the scent and movement of viewing it from a car window, passing by at 20th century speeds, the physical nature of painting yes, but also of looking, feeling, sensing.

As one progresses chronologically through the show the canvases seem to shrink and multiply as the artist explores composition and color relationships. There is a studied classical nature to this work that makes more sense to me than some of the more famous minimalist artists. Here's a hint at why this might be:
From single-panel paintings, Mr. Marden moved to two and three panels, keeping theme vertical. One of these is the imposing yet delicate ''D'après la Marquise de la Solana,'' inspired by Goya's portrait of the pert, lavishly gowned aristocrat standing on and in front of an ambiguous plane of shadowy gray. Mr. Marden distilled the basic elements of the image into slablike planes of gray-green (background), gray-gray (garments) and grayed pink (flesh). A collage spells it out, juxtaposing three postcards of the Goya with three rectangles of graphite built into hard, shiny planes.
Perhaps I'm just becoming more comfortable with this vein of work, but there was something utterly timeless about these canvases, a natural progression, a line connecting them back through art time to Goya, etc., in a way I've never seen or understood. When the grid appears as DNA-like stands in the work, there is a moment of shudder, but this gives way quickly as the lines themselves soften both in tone, texture, and shape. Ironically, this shift corresponds to an interest in Chinese characters. The poetic rendering of the lines is deeply satisfying when they achieve a kind of symmetrical unity. There are obvious connections here, to Johns, as I mentioned earlier, to Stella, and at this point, to Pollack. However there is something more confident about these Marden canvases. The abstract more physical, or robust in its rhythms...

I didn't like all of the work here. When Marden dips into orange I couldn't stay in the room for long. But by the end he had won me over again with the plane surface, a series of large, dynamic paintings that seemed to harken back to the first canvases and extend the more energetic explorations of lines and movements from the middle period. I was surprised by this work. Pleasantly. And now I want more. I also want to read poetry, and even a novel that resembles in some way, this approach to the canvas. I want to be in this world for much longer stretches of time. And I want to go back to Moma next week and check out the drawings.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Reading Ginsberg at Poetry Project

Caught the tale end of the Ginsberg tribute reading at Poetry Project last night. I was blown away by CA Conrad's reading of half a dozen or so poems incluing "is about" and "you know what i'm saying," and one that he sang. Beautifully. Absolutely beautifully. A great reminder that poems, even list poems, are about, or should be about so much more. It was great to see some passion again! Fuck all the over-serious, or overly arch shit. Just poetry. Refreshing as hell.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Ya you. You know who you are: go fuck yourself.

-- Sir Hound

The irony of feminism

The sharpest irony of the everyday feminism
turned out to be a unicorn after all
Angry and Queer
Because Ampersand was the author of Male Privilege
this situation is dripping with irony.
Feminism will never be a profitable…
Other scholars have written about and criticized more extensively
Pumping Irony: The Construction of Masculinity in a Post-Feminist...
In the following paper I argue that in a post-feminist era, advertisers strategically employ irony...
Her extensive writings, both on postmodernity and feminism, provide lucid and succinct analyses of the most slippery of topics -- parody, irony...
After arousing the ire of the feminist blogosphere
Well, I guess feminism failed.
Irony, Nostalgia, and the Postmodern
But it was postmodernism that brought the conjunction of irony and nostalgia quite
See also Barbara Creed, "From Here to Modernity: Feminism and ...
Nowheresville, USA: Where feeling a little bit lost means you're ...
No, I think the grand irony of feminism is that it is at least as damaging to the female sex as is the chauvanistic patriarchy against which it was…
Why don't anti-feminist commentators appreciate irony
Pinko Feminist Hellcat: Tom DeLay tries out irony
You'll have to leave Washington to find an audience who gets your irony
Pinko Feminist Hellcat: My irony meter is going off
And another irony alert
Letter to a Young Girl by Dr Alice ...
Surfing the Waves of Feminism
Cyberfeminism is associated with the so-called third wave feminism, characterized by irony
Redneck Feminist: A Free Market Feminist Blog: The *Right* Victims
Every one, it seems, has been swallowed by the excesses of feminism

Smith Street, Brooklyn

Monday, October 30, 2006

CA's project

CA & The Hound celebrate at a Diner...
Isn't this a great idea... Of course the difference between prose writers and poetry writers is that FICTION writers would charge for this whereas poets, as usual, give it away.

Good God! The resemblence is uncanny!
John Lennon's Face?
"Keith Andrews (pictured) of Wavertree, Liverpool (England) was one of the first people to notice a strange simulacrum of John Lennon's face on a stone gatepost in Newcastle Road - the road where John Lennon was born in 1940. The gatepost was being stripped of its 40-year-layer of paint when the image of the trademark NHS specs and the face were uncovered. John Lennon's birthplace is less than 50 yards from the post. Mr. Andrews, 61, was a childhood friend of the murdered Beatle, and often visited John's home at Number 9 Newcastle Road."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Awesome woman of the week

This is a tough call for a new category of posting, but the inaugural award goes to Suzan-Lori Parks, playwright, muse, muse-lover, agitator, and individual. She does the work for the work, not for the reviews. She does the work that engages her, not what she thinks will be produced, or published. And sometimes that pays off. Witness Top Dog Underdog. No, I have yet to read her novel Getting Mother's Body, and yes, she is apparently writing a screenplay based on a Toni Morrison novel. Here's a writer who does the work that needs doing, and wow, she very often gets it right. The New Yorker takes a good long look...
“All writing is atonement. I am always writing to make up for things I've done.”

Alice Munro

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Poetry is a heartbreaker.

-- Sign on the back of a mouse.

Found and randomized


Poll aide rejecting mounting Policy

War sorry

Us for official disapprove Slogan in election

Republicans Iraq they House those signals eats and defines

two-thirds has voters as violence of switch

dilemma "stupid" in mull Bush's policies

Bush, talk

Bush arrogance of war shift Iraq Bush in change military flip-flop

Iraq finds Iraq Iraq of concern' said top tactics War disapproved in Iraq Iraq

What commanders mulls Iraq surveyed Iraq of in in possible Bush's Bush's Montana adjustments stupidity?

Stupidity about policy

White crow Iraq

Muddled 'serious tactics

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Quote of the week

Let’s cut right to the chase. With words that made my blood run cold. “We’re not going to beat you or even threaten you. We’re going to kill you by raping you.” Those words haunt the painful memory of Athanasie Mukarwego. They are the words spoken by the men who raped and humiliated this Rwandan mother in front of her children. They are words that continue to cry out in all of us.
Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean Keynote Address for the International Conference "Violence Against Women: Diversifying Social Responses"

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sook-Yin Lee & Short Bus

Okay, so who doesn't have a crush on Sook-Yin Lee? And isn't she the coolest thing about CBC?? And have you seen Short Bus?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

CA Conrad

Philly is CA. Here's another interview and you must go to the end to see the most excellent photo of CA and Jen Benka.

new Marcia Hafif at Becker, Philadelphia

Larry Becker Contemporary Art
Marcia Hafif: “New Paintings: TGGT.” Thru Nov. 18. 43 N. Second St. 215.925.5389

After years of investigating single colour panels, abstract minimalist painter Marcia Hafif has moved to incorporate two colors per canvas. This isn't necessarily news to the art world, or to minimalist painting, or to the color field, but it is for fans of Hafif, who has really, sort of stubbornly stuck to her meditative brush strokes. Until now. The paintings up at Larry Becker Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, small and demure, are of slightly different sizes and each (aside from TGGT: 12 which features a red-gold, violet combination) investigate two single colors. Similar in texture to the Glaze paintings, the application is consistent, unremarkable, simply stroke after stroke after stroke, straight up and down. There is something absolutely soothing about the couplings, the colors not quite complimenting, but not jarring either. There is a sense of possibility, as if two disparate elements can coexist entirely independent of each other and still compliment, still move forward in that still way that minimalist painting always suggests to me.

Philadelphia is not Chelsea. The Larry Becker Gallery wasn't open when I went by on Wednesday to have a look, but they came and opened the door and let me wander, happy to discuss the work. In fact this human contact is a surprising element in Philadelphia gallery going...I can't count the number of visits or the number of galleries I have visited in New York over the past six years and I don't recall anyone ever so much as looking up at me, let alone say anything to me when I walked in...

The discussions are good, one feels welcome, but I realize that I became very invested in my invisibility too: slipping in and out one can move through Chelsea at breakneck speed, saving up one's energy and attention for the show that stops you in your tracks. In Philadelphia it seems I will have to look closer at the individual pieces themselves for engagement. The scale is vastly different and will require, I think, a new way of looking.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Check out joni Mitchell

May 1, 1967...

Listening in on Canada

I love BBC for classical (though I'll listen to Jurgen Goethe talk about just about anything over on CBC Radio 2) but CBC's Radio 3 has it all going on at the moment. There's just a lot of fabulous new musical energy north of the border. Great weekly podcasts...sign up here.
Also, and this is random, but there's Sexsmith, Sigur Ros, and lots of great ambient stuff here including Broken Social Scene, which I am still hopelessly in love with... I hope that link works. Scroll the genres, there are lots of great playlists but the house set is really great too...and AU4 a new band out of Vancouver. All good. The amount of fantastic music out there just blows me away. Maybe I've been in poetry world too long, or too deeply?

And now I'm off on this playlist...and checking out this new site.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

reading the newspaper: beaulieu

To create the paintings above poet and artist derek beaulieu read the Thursday July 18, 2002 edition of The Calgary Herald, and continued, over the next two years, to read the same day's newspaper... That alone is a feat, that alone is a complete reversal of the deeply ingrained instructiveness of our culture, how we are supposed to ingest materials at particular speeds. A little like cracking open the opium vial, rather than allowing the slow drip... However, like conceptual poet Kenny Goldsmith, or fellow Canadian poet, Christian Bok, beaulieu did not stop there. After exhaustively reading every page of the July 18, 2002 Calgary Herald, beaulieu "reconstructed each of the 124 pages as a full-scale painting."

There was nothing particularly eventful about July 18, 2002, other than the fact that papers were produced and consumed, largely unconsciously. beaulieu says:
I wanted to explore the way that information is presented to us, and the way that we are informed by its packaging. The newspaper is taken for granted as an “artless” media, a utilitarian media devoid of non-informative spaces. This is clearly not the case.
So, we see a colour coordinated layout of the system of transmitting information. The solid black of what must be an ad, speaks volumes I think. The newsier items usually regulated to the bottom inner corner. Having spent my early teenage years working in a newspaper I get a certain satisfaction out of this show. There is a lot of discussion about placement and percentages per page, there is a lot of play in terms of headlines and cut-lines. The editor of the small paper I worked on from age 15 to 17 would often sit around and embed coded messages denouncing a particularly despicable politician...but I digress. There is much more than placement here. And like an editor/publisher, beaulieu examined the layout of the paper and recreated his own system:
I created a representative system based not on the specific content of each article, but rather on the over-arching subject matters of those articles: international, national, provincial and local news, entertainment, sports, business, health and ever-present advertising. These differing subjects interact in a grid structure resembling Piet Mondrian’s highly modernist geometric paintings.
Of late I have been a aspiring to a hum in my own work, a wall of words that might replicate the glaze paintings of Marcia Hafif, or a room full of Agnes Martin. Pure colour, or pure form, seems the only acceptable response to the virulent misuse of words, the way that politicians disabuse them, clinging to various meanings at their convenience. As if in the ultimate transubstantiative moment whatever Bush says at a given moment is truth because he said it, no matter what the meaning might be...

What beaulieu achieves here makes me see that this is possible, this finding meaning in alternate ways. As beaulieu notes:
Reading the newspaper in a typical fashion – reading the actual content of each article, following fractures across pages and eliding the advertisements – prompted Marshall McLuhan to observe that reading a newspaper was an experience of Cubism in the everyday world.
Yes. And more than ever we need to take words to task. We need to think about what are the white hots, how we are shading what ideas we are ingesting. Consider the following:
I assigned each category a different hue, and then each article within each category a varying shade of that hue: 30 international news reds, 9 national news yellows, 11 provincial news browns, 12 local news pinks, 28 entertainment blues, 32 sports greens, 19 business purples, 10 health oranges.
What an amazing system we are all unconsciously subscribed to.

What do we want poetry to do? A friend asked me this recently over a cup of coffee in Soho as I lamented the lack of direction and passion. What indeed. Do we want our poetry to make people feel good about their inaction? Do we want porchverse, as Lisa Robertson so piercingly mocks it in The Weather. Or do we want to make visible the architectures we are all ingesting?

Again, beaulieu:<br>kquote>There are 151 different news articles in 8 separate categories in that single day’s Calgary Herald. And over 125 different ads – and 36 full pages of flyers – all represented through 4 shades of grey.

In Counterblast, McLuhan stated that “the newspaper […] structures ordinary unawareness in patterns which correspond to the most sophisticated maneuvers of mathematical physics and modern painting,” and the newspaper has continued to be an inspiration to artists who seek to interpret and “make strange” the quotidian information contained in each issue. For a year Nancy Chunn rubberstamped and collaged on top of every front page of The New York Times creating Front Pages. Kenneth Goldsmith’s DAY transcribes every single word in a single copy of The New York Times into a single monolithic volume.

As I laboured through the series of paintings, the vocabulary of The Calgary Herald was systematically replaced with colours. Naphtha Red, Turner’s Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Phthalocyanine Green, Dioxanine Purple, Perinone Orange.
br>Like any constraint-based project despite the restrictions I placed on language the form itself asserted a moment of chromatic editorializing: what had been lengthy reports on the Klein** government’s drought relief effort were now simply fields of Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber.What I want is precisely this: to see what I am daily ingesting in an entirely new way. And to have that done in innovative, thoughtful ways. To be as fully conscious of my surroundings as I can be, and to be astonished, yes, and of course, to come back to words. Or, at least to poetry. For more on derek beaulieu see my posts on his href="">Winnipeg Suite here, some thoughts on concrete poetry here, and my mini-review of Shift & Switch here, and finally, beaulieu's essay on concrete poetry can be found on ubu here, and this just in, a <a href="">page of his own on the Buffalo Poetics site.

**Conservative Premier of the province of Alberta