Monday, December 29, 2003

silliman on the line

I like this bit of musing on the poetic line. Ron Silliman says, "[I]t is poetry that has recognized & acknowledged that, even prior to the invention of writing, the line is implicit in all language – without it, even an individual spoken word would lack beginning, middle & end. One might well argue that poetry is precisely that medium which foregrounds the presence of the line in language, even if it does so with no great consensus as to what a line might be." He then goes on to discuss Marianne Moore's line, calling her work essentially prose. What, he asks, is she doing when she breaks her writing into lines?

If you want Moore go over to Silliman's Blog. Me, I'm still swirling around the line being "implicit in all language", the idea that "without it even an individual spoken word would lack beginning, middle & end." What the hell is he talking about?

In From the Country of Eight Islands Hioraki Sato gives the English versions of the haiku one line only. The book's other editor-translator, Burton Watson, gives us English versions with the more familiar short-longer-short lines (conventionally 5-7-5 syllable lines). I find I prefer the 3 line haiku. The poem is so brief the visual delay of the line break allows the poem to unfold more deliberately, parts saying things to the other parts. A single line is relatively sudden. The difference is interesting, but not dramatic. Take away the spacesbetweenthewords and what happens? Something dramatic? Not really. You get used to it. As I said in an earlier post, "I want a line to justify itself." This implies that I think there are lines that don't. I'm most dubious of the ultra skinny line where one word gets a line all to itself. A word is already a lone object (much more than a line, anyway) so, it seems to me, making it stand by itself forces on it an extra weight, a weight that it must be a strong word to carry. If the word is most important as a part of the poem's whole, the word being communitarian rather than individualist, standing the word out there by itself calls the larger piece into question. There are poems that want you to spend time on the words as individuals, as in the Aram Saroyan here or some of the Clark Coolidge poems here (scroll to the bottom of the page). In the cases of Coolidge and Saroyan part of what the poet wants to say is that words atomize, become separated like leaves from the context of tree or other leaves. A word broken apart retains space one may explore.

Justification? Sufficient?

I get the feeling some poets, especially those new to poetry, break writing into lines in order to make their work look like a poem. Several years ago I worked on a community college literary magazine. The faculty advisor was put off by one of the poems I thought very nice. When I read the poem aloud he agreed it was better than he'd thought it, having been put off primarily by the poet's use of the very short line. Because the poem was a series of transformations I thought the short line acceptable. The individual lines, yes, often did not quite justify themselves. The piece worked as a whole, I thought, considering its theme and the fact that we were editing a community college magazine part of the mission of which was to build beginning writers.

Thoughts on the line ... I think I'm not saying the same thing Silliman's saying.

Could he and I achieve "consensus as to what a line might be"? Consider this talk on the way to failure.

Sunday, December 28, 2003


Transgender men fascinate me. Sorta mystified, sorta intrigued, there's one who lives nearby, Loren Cameron, whose book of photographs I bought a few years ago, on whom I have a little crush. I see him walking his pansy little dog and I think, Boy, you need a big husky wolfy thing. I still think Loren's cute as the dickens, as a man. But, get this, I still lapse into thinking (or using) female pronouns when thinking about Loren. It's not like I look at Loren and think, Hot Chick. No indeed. I look at Loren and think, Cute guy. So why would I think "she"? Do I call boys "girlfriend" and "oh look at her"? Only when I'm being really campy, which is totally rare cuz I'm not good at it. And it's not like I know Loren personally, never saw him before he had the beard and bald dome. So it's not like I have to train myself against ingrained habit.

Anyway. This post got started after I followed a link to Jasper's exasperation about not being taken for a man, or rather, for being almost taken for a man. Because he doesn't immediately describe himself, and I know there are a lot of girls who have short hair and wear jeans, I wondered what made the women he talks about assume he's male. Facial hair? Seems not, as he yearns after the validating beard. Tall? Says that in there somewhere. Baggy pants? Dunno. Doesn't say how he's dressed. Jasper has a boyfriend, Adam, of whom Jas says, he has "a beautiful swish."

Saturday, December 27, 2003

may I be a victim too please

The Dan Brown novel The Da Vinci Code is a real phenomenon. The hold list at the Berkeley Public Library has had about 150 people on it for months. As of today there are 144 holds, (check here if you want to see the current number). Given that a book is checked out for three weeks, and the library owns 33 copies of the Code the book has already gone through the hands of a lot of people.

SFGate has an article about the supposed Jesus controversy the book has stoked. The article has some quotes typical of conservative victimology. You know, the big & powerful are victims of "the last acceptable prejudice." Boo-hoo, boo-hoo, I'm now wringing my handkerchief of its thousand captured tears. If I may quote another Catholic in the same article: "sheer delusion." Because the novel (a work of fiction, remember those?) posits some ideas about the life of Jesus quite counter to the Church-approved story these "pitiful adherents" (says one) feel all put-upon. Look, if you have the Truth on your side, what have you got to worry about? Especially if besides Truth you have 2 billion compatriots, wealth in the billions of dollars (most of it in property -- most of that untaxed), hundreds of thousands (millions?) who work full time spreading your ideology ... Boy, next we're going to weep for Coca Cola, poor put-upon corporation wilting before the thuggery of those damn villains who think carbonated sugar water is overpriced & unhealthy. Unjust! Prejudice! Cornsyrupophobes! Carbonation-haters!

When the churches stop trying to destroy my family, I'll revisit the possibility of sympathy for them. Until then? We'll leave our sympathies in their nice shrink-wrap.

Thursday, December 25, 2003


from The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell:
"The world is full of ... mutually contending bands: totem-, flag-, and party-worshippers. Even the so-called Christian nations -- which are supposed to be following a 'World' Redeemer -- are better known to history for their colonial barbarity and internecine strife than for any practical display of that unconditioned love ... which was taught by their professed supreme Lord ..."

That's just so darn snarky.

"'Love your enemies, do good to them ... Give to every man that asketh of thee ... [A]s ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise ... Be ye ... merciful ...'"

Or, you know, punish them. There's lots in the Bible about punishing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

change mind

Give me a day off work and I go into a funk. What say. Maybe I need a clock on the head with a rolled up movie screen. Without the audience I s'pose I'd miss half the experience, eh?

Aak! Fluffy cat bringing rain in on his back, jumps into my lap. I have a towel beside the desk for just such an incident but he's in my lap before I think. He is, however, the skittish type and when I go, "Aak!" he gives me a stunned look and exits.

Here I was telling myself I wasn't going to be using the blog for the personal drizzle but Kent's off at work this chilly wet Xmas eve and I ... I ... oh hush ... Now Sundy, the short hair, is myowing at me to play, very insistent. He even comes up to the chair and hooks me with his claws, play now play now play now. Lookin' silly there, kit, with the shoelace wrapped around your middle. Kent tied a black feather to the end of the string, the string being tied to an arm-long bamboo. Sundy thrills to hunting this feather. Such jumps we haven't seen in months. But, y'know, I don't always want to play.

After work last evening (& after yoga class at the Y) I stopped in at Comic Relief to see if Rory was around. Big collection of comics, I said. Any ideas?

You'd get best value if you can donate them and get a tax write-off. Book value? Sure. On paper looks like money. But you won't get book value thru e-bay, certainly a comic store couldn't afford to buy at top price, how would they make anything on the sale? Only a small fraction of the collection will have a ready buyer. If we do donate the whole bit I suppose Rory's right that we ought to go through the boxes and make sure we're not just dumping stuff we'll have regrets about losing. Ugh. But who'd want a fat donation of comics? Literacy Volunteers. Children's Hospital. One would have to make sure the Undergrounds don't get in the kiddie batch. Getting a tax write-off means making enough money to itemize, and determining the hassle in itself is worth it. I hate the idea of organizing my life around the desire to avoid taxes. I figure if I have so much money I'm paying big money in taxes I have so much money worrying is superfluous. I've always been poor. Not on-the-street poor, not deep-in-debt poor. But keep-your-expenses-low poor? Yes yes.

Maybe we can get up to Sebastopol this weekend and do more sorting and tossing (let's not talk about the oh-no-we-can't-throw-away-thats) ... I don't want to do this in the rain. Rain depresses me. Going through old stuff depresses me. Man, gravity is thick where I live.

Hey, the brothers are playing with each other. 'Bout time they amused themselves. Cats.

Do I need a cup of coffee?

Tuesday, December 23, 2003


I got letters from the Martins, Michael & Jack (no relation, shared last name purely coincidental, really, I asssure you), and I asked each if I could excerpt from their letters. Both said NO. Guess that's what comes of them being writers and such. Yvo and Schuyler aren't writers. (OK, Schuyler is a scientist and writes for papers for publication, but that's diff, yeah?)

Mike had written in response to my concerns about soliciting work in my capacity as guest poetry editor -- particularly the thought that one might ask a writer one admires to cough up some poems only to dislike the poems thus coughed. Does one reject the poems? Mike told me about a couple exchanges he's had with writers, him being ed of Hogtown Creek Review an' all. I thought editors don't talk enough about hurting people's feelings so I wanted to post Mike's comments. No, no, says he. What if one of the persons googles "Michael Martin" and "Hogtown Creek Review" and ends up at LuvSet and reads this stuff and feels even worse? I'd already prepped the excerpt, changing all Mike's archy-like "i"s to "I"s. Thing even got posted briefly. Not that I intended it to be posted. I hit the "preview your post" button, not the "publish" button. Somehow publication happened. Such has been corrected. 'Tis well gone now. Gonest goner done gone. Full on. So, you with the feelings, fear not.

Jack's letter included a thorough account of his being clocked on the head by a rolled up movie screen. He teaches high school English, had been using the screen to show some transparencies. When he got hit the class busted up, cracked up, went wild ... all of this sounds more dangerous than the accident ... they laughed a lot. Which was, you know, kinda peculiar, it being possible that Jack had been like hurt and everything. I thought it all read well, the very thoroughness of the account. But I can't post it cuz Jack says he's going to "use" it. Reminds me what Tess Gallagher said about husband Raymond Carver: tell him a story, even if you're a writer yourself, and next you know he's snuck yours into one his own darn stories.


Have a happy this and a merry that and a jolly other thing.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Ishihara Yoshiro

A bio from the back of From the Country of Eight Islands: an anthology of Japanese poetry edited & translated by Hiroaki Sato and Burton Watson:

Ishihara Yoshiro (1915-1977) A student of German and a Christian convert, he began to write poetry seriously after his experience as a prisoner of war: captured by the Soviet Army in Manchuria, he spent eight years in Siberia, released only by the general amnesty given at Stalin's death. He began to write at that time, he said, because he wanted to examine what it means to be a human being.

... to examine what it means to be a human being.

From Yoshiro's "Song of the Ringing in the Ear":

When ringing begins in my ears
he is perhaps the man that begins
but when he begins abruptly
there's another man
that begins
and all the other men that revive at a stroke.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Phoebe 2002

In my last post I wrote about a poem by David Trinidad, a poem excerpted from a longer work, Phoebe 2002.

The description of the book by its distributor is worth a read all by itself. "[A] collaborative epic poem/essay [Trinidad collaborated with Lynn Crosbie and Jeffrey Conway, two writers with whom I'm unfamiliar] that zings in and out of the scenes [in the movie All About Eve] and makes a thousand connections within the world of popular culture. Drawing from high and low sources, the poets relate All About Eve to such epics as Paradise Lost, The Faerie Queene, The Iliad and The Odyssey, as well as to other movies (Valley of the Dolls, Rosemary's Baby, Silence of the Lambs) and television shows (Gilligan's Island, The Twilight Zone, Scooby-Doo).~The figure of Bette Davis assumes heroic proportions as she descends into a Dante-esque Inferno (a drunken party) and goes on to do battle with husbands, directors, studio heads and archrival Joan Crawford."

Other excerpts from Phoebe 2002 are on the web. I just found them so I'm going to post links without having actually read them:
excerpt at The Literary Review
excerpt at the Electronic Poetry Review
excerpt at Painted Bride Quarterly

Plus there's a rave review at Rain Taxi. And an interview with Trinidad about the book.

power makeover

I haven't paid much attention to the unholing of Saddam Hussein. If it means the US is pulling out of a stable democratic country now, well, GREAT! If it means we'll have a trial in which reams of information about how he destroyed his country will be revealed to people seeking the truth about the fate of their loved ones, well, I'm all for that. If it means we'll get an Iraqi-side view of the US's relations with the country, well, wouldn't it be interesting? But I ain't sure it means any of that.

Besides, what's there to say that isn't filling up pages already?

I've yet to watch Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, the Bravo channel show about gay fashion & lifestyle consultants doing a makeover on a clueless straight bumpkin. It sounds, at best, cute. But I got a good chuckle out of this photo: Hussein's power makeover

The photo illustrates the Data Lounge gossip columnist's take on press coverage of the great capture. As Mr. Barillas says, "We were treated ... to this memorable New York Post headline describing Saddam's hidden desert orifice as his, "Tiny, Dirty, Airless Hole," and as if we weren't close enough already, we hear Fox News chiming in with: "Coming up: Inside Saddam's Hole." ... We're just glad they cut away from the bedraggled former chieftan's medical examination when they did."

Sunday, December 14, 2003

David Trinidad

One thing I've wanted to do since I started this blog was to link to poems out there on the web that I liked, a sort of guide (for anyone who cares) to my tastes. Good poems, as Garrison Keillor has it. Or What I Like, as Edward Field describes it in his A Geography of American Poetry.

So. Here's one: "Searching for Anne's Grave" by David Trinidad

I've enjoyed Trinidad's work since I first came across it in the anthology Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets (35, an age I'm well past but one which was some years in the future when the anthology came out). I've read his collections, Answer Song, Hand Over Heart:  Poems 1981-1988, and Plasticville.

"Searching for Anne's Grave" is talky, prosey. It's as though we're looking in Trinidad's diary. The language is not ramped up. "I stayed in the // air-conditioned bookstore and chatted with its legendary proprietor ..." Does that sound like language distilled? Pushed to an extreme? Nope. At his most descriptive Trinidad virtually subsides into nouns; describing dinner: "olive tapanade, radishes dipped in salt, melon and // prosciutto, grilled salmon and polenta, fresh blueberries with the / most delicious yogurt/whipped cream topping" ... the modifiers are banal, "most delicious", "fresh". I like that Trinidad goes with this chatty talk, "the most delicious ... topping", "as fate would have it", a ramping down. Not poetic. It's the idea of the New York School. That there is poetry in the offhand, the daily. In gossip. Twisty, fantastic language is not wanted here thanks.

I like the poem collage, and here Trinidad cuts into his life incidents from the life of Anne Sexton (whose grave he & his friends visit during the course of the poem) as well as symbolic readings of the eagle as found in an internet search, among other things.

Formally the writing is broken into four-line stanzas, the lines breaking at about the same length. It doesn't look like Trinidad was counting syllables in order to choose line breaks. Counting stresses? Mm. I don't care about stresses. The lines often break abruptly ("symbol- / izing", "of", "to", "the"), arbitrarily? Merely because a line appeared to be the same length as the preceding? I want a line to justify itself. Is this a piece of language that is interesting as a unit? These lines are so long it's not difficult to find interesting stuff in each. But as units? I find in rereading particular lines I like the lunge from line to line that those abrupt breaks force. Is this really different from the breaks at the left margin one would see in a paragraph of prose?

The poem's first words remain opaque, "While Eve grills Phoebe, while Jeffery took (and passed, I must / say, with flying colors) Lynn’s quiz ..." I presume they make more sense in the context of Phoebe 2002.

I like the stuff in this poem. The eagle stuff, the flowers they buy, Beck, dinner. The language may not be distilled, but the material is. It's almost sludgy there's so much -- names, places, times, memories. I like that the talk is unpretentious, a little fey ("Damon and I were / seemed like such a sign." [DT's ellipsis]), candid, seemingly confessional ("confessional" ... what's the word mean in poetry, really?). It's much more entertaining than a diary entry. More like a carefully composed letter to a pal, perhaps. I like Anne Sexton. She's definitely influenced my poetry. And it's funny. ee cummings in "section E ('Capital "E"' ...", the conversation with the Magic 8 Ball, counting cigarettes. Trinidad is fascinated by symbols ... cigarettes as sex? eagle as intermediary between this world and the next? This is not writing you have to figure out. But it is writing that rewards attention; there is, like I said, a lot of stuff in it. Reread and you'll notice how much you didn't quite notice the first time through.

Saturday, December 13, 2003


from Madge Mucker's Media Maven column:

"Roy Horn, one half of the performing duo of Siegfried & Roy, is recovering in a Los Angeles hospital for wounds inflicted in a mauling by one of his trained tigers. His partner Siegfried Fischbacher says that Horn is doing so well that he might be able to go home to Las Vegas for Christmas. In fact, Horn is breathing on his own and is communicating by written notes. His first words? He wrote a note to partner Siegfried saying: 'It is good to hold your hands.'"

Monday, December 08, 2003


The Mac is in the shop. Rats.

So I'm writing this at work, off the clock thank you. Darnit. I was all up to speed on the blog and feelin' groovy and now the spanner in the works.

Not that there's all that much new or anything. Had to return a digital camera we'd borrowed from a friend. I liked having it. So I bought one. Have taken a picture of Sundy (cat), a picture of Flash (dog), and an "arty" (K said) picture of my hand casting a shadow on the rug. Maybe I'll start reading the instruction manual.

I think I'll go to the gym & lift some weights. hup. ho.

Friday, December 05, 2003

favorite political blogs

Here are a few blogs I visit every day, or The Something Interesting Criterion:

Daily Kos
Kos is a Democratic Party activist. When I first started reading it the blog was more about ideas and fighting back against those crazy rightwingers. Now it's heavy on the party strategizing and presidential polls. Still, there's a lot of intelligence in it and Kos & his correspondences always say something, they don't just throw up a link and say, "Here's something interesting." The kind of thing that often isn't.

The Mighty Atrios
Atrios blogs lots. He's snarky without being bitter and the man adds value to his links. Yeah, once in a while he pulls the "something interesting" link bit, but not so often as to be annoying.

Steve Gilliard
Thinks he knows what he's talking about. Does. Mostly.

Talking Points Memo
A real working journalist.

Silliman's Blog
Tend to disagree with him half the time, but in an at-least-he's-speaking-intelligently-about-something-interesting sort of way. About poetry? Yeah, about poetry.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Scoop on LSD

From Wes "Scoop" Nisker's "The Big Bang, the Buddha, and the Baby Boom: the spiritual experiments of my generation": LSD was a "real maker of mystics ... Although serious Western Buddhist and Hindu meditators don't talk about it much today, for many the psychedelic drug experience accounted for at least a few degrees of their turning eastward. Mushroom and peyote derivatives or LSD could give people at least the temporary ability to see through the fictions of the ego and separation that seemed to engulf humanity. At their most benevolent, these psychedelics could offer a direct experience of coexistence with all things and help to open one's heart to the mystery of life itself."

Such, as the govt knows, is "extremely dangerous" ... see my posting yesterday for more on that.

Friday, November 28, 2003

the harm in LSD

This week two men were sentenced to long prison terms (one received two life terms so he has no possibility of seeing the outside again) for having manufactured large amounts of LSD.


The government, home of the Drug War and fomenter of hysteria, ought to know. So let's go their webpage on the effects & dangers of LSD. After talking about uncomfortable physical sensations like "sleeplessless" and "loss of appetite" and "dry mouth" our govt tells us the drug "produces delusions and visual hallucinations." Well. So what? There are lots of over-the-counter medications that cause sleeplessness, dry mouth, loss of appetite ... that are even dangerous if taken to excess ... aspirin can be deadly to children under twelve. And we all know alcohol can bring on hallucinations and delusions.

But, judging by the severity of the punishment LSD must be much more poisonous than aspirin or alcohol, right? The govt lays on the big guns. It seems, "Some fatal accidents have occurred during states of LSD intoxication."

So nobody has died from taking LSD? No cases of LSD poisoning? That's surprising, isn't it? You can drink so much water your bodily tissues begin to dilute and you die. And water is about as safe an ingestible as you can get. But the govt mentions no case of someone dying from the ingestion of LSD? Why not? Would they hide such a thing? Wouldn't they want to make the best possible case for the drug's dangers? Curiously, toward the bottom of the page govt talks about tolerance for LSD. If you take a lot of it over time, you'll develop a tolerance. If you want to get as great an effect the 10th time as you did the first you'll probably have to take a larger dose. Says govt, "This is an extremely dangerous practice, given the unpredictability of the drug." Define "extremely dangerous" please. They do define "unpredictable" in their first paragraph, the effects of LSD "depend on the amount taken; the user's personality, mood, and expectations; and the surroundings in which the drug is used." Is there anything of which this is not true? Again, this sort of thing is so weak as to beg the question. Jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Extremely dangerous? Fewer than one in ten survive the plunge. Check. Extremely dangerous. How about flying? Can you name anybody who died while flying? All those people on 9/11? If a terrorist spiked the water supply of a major city with LSD how many poisonings leading to death would result? Any? John Denver piloted a little plane into the ground. And John Kennedy (son of the president) piloted his into the sea. Has anyone dropped acid and died from the drug? The govt says cocaine has caused strokes and heart attacks and seizures. So govt is capable of offering up "extremely dangerous" effects of drugs when they know of some.

There is a paragraph on the LSD page that suggests, "LSD users may manifest relatively long-lasting psychoses, such as schizophrenia or severe depression." Although govt admits, "It is difficult to determine the extent and mechanism of the LSD involvement in these illnesses." It could be that it is difficult because it's not possible. I'm sure there are many people who have taken LSD who have later been diagnosed depressed or schizophrenic. But it could merely be coincidence. It doesn't seem to be listed among the possible causes of schizophrenia. Who knows? A lot of people have taken LSD over the last half century. A lot of people have done a lot of things. Voted Republican, let dogs lick their faces. One theory has it that our pet cats give us schizophrenia.

Researchers who worked with LSD in the 50s called it a "psychotomimetic", that is, a chemical that will create psychoses. There was some hope in the CIA that it would prove a good drug for interrogations. As I understand it, that did not pan out. However, one might remember the govt's description of LSD's "unpredictability", that is the "user's personality, mood, and expectations; and the surroundings in which the drug is used." How might you feel were you being interrogated by unfriendly persons in an institution where you have no power and little hope of escape? How might you feel were you in a warm beach house with friends on a sunny day? I expect your emotional state would differ in each circumstance. Govt doesn't want to hint at it, but there is such a thing as a good trip. People can enjoy and learn from an LSD experience.

Erowid collects info that is rather more sympathetic to LSD than govt.

Let me return to one little govt point. "Some fatal accidents have occurred during states of LSD intoxication." Someone on a drug, any drug that effects perceptions, and such can be legal or illegal, may misjudge their abilities, their skills, the risks, and do something that causes injury. When I hear that someone has died from an illegal drug, I ask, "Did they die from the drug or from doing something stupid while intoxicated?" Intoxication is not bad. Some fatal accidents have occurred during states of tiredness, anger, distraction, even joy. But you have to be ... what? careful? responsible? Can you make that legal?

Two life terms. For what?

Thursday, November 27, 2003

guest editor

Michael Martin has asked me to be poetry editor for the next issue of Hogtown Creek Review.

In an interview with the poet Lola Haskins in the 2003 issue Mike asks "about poets" ... Haskins replies, "The truth is I don't subscribe to any poet. ... I subscribe to poems. This poem, that poem."

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


I burned a CD tonight. The 8th of my "CMJ set" series. CMJ is a music magazine that comes with a sampler CD. As with any collection of music there's some you like, some you'd prefer never to hear again. I guess we've been subscribing to CMJ for almost ten years. I've tried before to separate out the songs I like. I did a mix tape a couple times. But it was a real hassle and then you're pretty much stuck listening to the songs in one order. So this CD burning stuff is cool. I listen to the CDs at my desk at work as I do my repetitive daily tasks and pick out the songs I want to hear again. Most of the songs on tonight's playlist are from 1995 CMJs. A few are from other sampler CDs I've picked up at local record shops. I move the songs around until I get the order I think works best. Each mix has its own character and I name them. (When you play the thing you can always choose "random" on the CD player. Or just play the one song you're in the mood for.)


Insomniac -- Kensuke Shiina
Paiute Stitch Game Song -- Judy Trejo
Phiescope -- myu-Ziq
In The Name Of The Father -- Black Grape
Moonbeam Monkey -- Tanya Donelly
Somebody Else's Body -- Urge Overkill
Come On My Darlin' -- Pima Express
Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick -- Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Jack Names The Planets -- Ash
Mighty K.C. -- For Squirrels
Ground On Down -- Ben Harper
Give Me One Reason -- Tracy Chapman
Thrash -- Underworld
O Pastor -- Madredeus
Crossroads -- Robert Tree Cody & Xavier Quijas Yxayotl
Malign -- Hungry Ghost
Boogie Down Seductions -- Silverkick
The Hearts Filthy Lesson -- David Bowie

Monday, November 24, 2003

Bush in England

I want to share another dispatch from an email group to which I belong. Schuyler Waynforth writes from England:

Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair came to town yesterday. They were accompanied by their wives and their many, many, many security people. We were kept on the green in front of our house with a metal barricade and a wall of police officers (from all over the region) between us and the armored cars they arrived in. I managed to catch glimpses of all the major figures. I first spotted Cherie Blaire with her wide grinning face peering out the window waving at what few protesters had figured out this was the way into the village, a few neighbors, ourselves, and the backs of what seemed at least 100 police. I must admit I had this wonderful fantasy of the police, in unison, mooning the president as he passed, their yellow and white reflective vests snapping in the movement of them lowering their pants and presenting for America's commander in chief. But, they remained vigilant and alert and didn't once acknowledge anything but those of us who stood in front of them. David swears he saw Laura Bush on the first pass, but I only managed an etching glimpse of George W. Bush, with his Charlie Brownish head, waving and smiling, sound-proofed away from the shouts of "Bush Go Home" and the general booing that surrounded me. I saw Blair as he greeted Bush. I had to stand on a pillar that once supported a fence that surrounded "our" front yard (the yard is really council property, but it is in front of our house, so I feel a bit possessive) leaning against David to really see if it was him.

No people but those chosen to meet with them were allowed within 100 yards of him. Two buses of select constituents were brought in to the Dun Cow Inn (I heard one reporter calling it the Cow Dun Inn or Cow Dung Inn, either way she was mistaken) to enjoy lunch with the families. The Dun Cow Inn got a new kitchen out of the deal. Some neighbors wondered at the health risks they had been taking eating there before this Friday. It's a good pub; probably one of the better pubs in the region, which is probably why Blair used it. Or else it's because it sits at a junction that allows for a number of exit routes and that gives a lot of control over how far people can be kept away. Not that they weren't prepared to lay siege from where they stood. 4 snipers were visible from where I stood and I suspect there were a few on the church tower and in other areas less visible to me.

On their way out I did spot Laura. She was sitting in a rear facing seat in one of the Suburbans brought over from the U.S. She was smiling and waving and looked overly made up and so very rigid.

After lunch they had gone to a local high school (or comprehensive college as they are known here) to see a few kids play football. The Guardian reported that those students who had left for lunch and had been told that they would be permitted to return if they could prove their identity were kept from returning if they were wearing anti-Bush or anti-Blair paraphernalia. I figured it was about the best example of free-speech practice that most students could possibly hope to get.

I found I didn't agree with many of the protesters slogans. They kept telling Bush to go home and to take his poodle with him. But I don't think Blair is Bush's poodle. I think Blair has wanted to go after Saddam Hussein for a while and this has been a good marriage for him. In 1999 Blair gave a speech in Chicago where he said we have Milosevic, now we need to get Hussein. I think the poodle position is a good one for Blair to hide behind. It is much better to let people believe you were following in good faith than encourage them to believe that you had your own blood-lust going. And getting out of Iraq is exactly what Bush wants to do. He wants to set up the commercial oil contracts for American corporations and then by June of 2004 he wants to be out of there at the behest of the new Iraqi government. It is getting too messy and too risky to stay until a stable government can be established. What I really wanted to shout was "Open your mind to new ideas!!!" "Come and live with us for a while and look at the world from a different perspective!!!" "Quit hiding behind security and cameras and sound bytes and money and people who think just like you think and look for a new view." But it's hard to make that sound snappy. And it doesn't fit well on a placard.

It was really exciting. I am so glad that it was here, even with the 1,000,000 pound price tag it carried. I don't know if our council taxes will have to cover the cost. Linnaea and Simon had fun drawing pictures of evil Bush and nice Bush (Linnaea's was the nice Bush, Simon has bought into our whole Bush is evil propaganda, however) and coloring in Go Away Bush signs. It was amazing to see all of the police. The village was so very different in the light of an American invasion.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

more from LeGuin

More quotes from Ursula K. LeGuin's "Dancing at the Edge of the World: thoughts on words, women, places":

In a generally enthusiastic review of a book on depression in women LeGuin takes the author to task for insufficient insight into the plight of old women, "[I]f ECT [electroshock] is so safe ... why not use it on depressives of forty ... or fifteen? But [the author] doesn't suggest that, leaving me with an unhappy impression she thinks ECT is fine for old depressives. Why? Because the old depressives are right, at last? Because what they knew all along, waking alone in the black pit of 2:00 a.m., is true -- they don't matter any more?"

From a review of five poets: "While painting seems more the business of stockbrokers than of artists, while orchestras endlessly replay old symphonies and let living composers go unheard, poetry flourishes. Living way below the bottom line, unexploitable, it remains as threatened and ubiquitous as the trees and the wild grass. Our very lack of a 'great' poet may be a sign of the luxuriant vitality of the art."

From a review of a book about the primate language experiments: "That language -- genuine language including syntactics, jokes, lies, and disinterested or aesthetic observation -- may prove to be a skill accessible in some degree to several species: this is an idea so distasteful to certain behaviorists and linguists that they attack not only the results of experiments but the investigation of the subject. Academic territorialism plays a part in this tabooing, but its basis seems to be a need to believe in human uniqueness, human supremacy."

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Edifying Spectacle

Just been reading Richard Evan Lee's Edifying Spectacle. Quite an active rich blog. He breaks out his interests into six different and sometimes overlapping weblogs: Pansexual Sodomite, Amorous Propensities, Books Do Furnish a Room (Lee is a used book dealer), Gullibility isn't in the dictionary, Diversions, and Computer Toaster. I haven't sampled all that but it looks like a good place to poke around.
When I posted Yvonne's letter to NYT columnist Krugman I said people in the military were being punished for speaking politically -- that is, for countering the official propaganda. I wanted to link to an instance of such, but couldn't figure out how to locate one. What do you put in the search engine? What I tried didn't work, though I knew I'd read some bad stuff recently. Here (thanks to Steve Gilliard's blog) is the sort of thing I'm talking about:

ABC NEWS (Nov. 21)— Two U.S. Army pilots charged with ferrying American military brass around Iraq decided to speak out about the vulnerability of their aircraft. Their reward: criminal charges.

Chief Warrant Officers William Lovett and Robert Jones have 53 years of service between them in the active duty and Army Reserves. Jones has flown in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Bosnia.
But their current mission in central Iraq may be their last. Long before U.S. helicopters were being shot down, the reserve pilots told National Defense Magazine their planes were not properly equipped to fly in a war zone. That interview, which appeared in the September 2003 issue of the magazine, has now led to the charges of dereliction of duty against the pilots for disclosing "vulnerabilities" of the "mission, procedures, and aircraft."

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

A friend posted an email to an email group that I belong to. She'd written it to the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. I asked Yvonne if I could repost her letter on my blog because I thought it well written and, for one like me whose knowledge of the military lifestyle is fairly superficial, illuminating. Now I know only 3 or 4 people read this blog but I said I'd keep her name somewhat obscured. Fact is, people in the military are being punished for expressing their political views. As she said in the subject ine of the email, trying to be funny, "I'll probably be court-marshalled."

Yvonne J writes:
Paul Krugman,
Thank you for writing that article (NYT 11/11/03).  I am an Army Wife; my husband and I met while activated Reservists for Desert Storm at Fort Benning. I have seen the military from the view of Reserves and Active Duty, peace and war, soldier and spouse, barracks life and apartments and on-post housing, enlisted and officer (my husband now, not me), before college and after, as a socially shy newbie and an extremely active volunteer, and with my husband living in all sections of the US but now he's deployed in Iraq.  In addition, I have been very fortunate to see a tiny portion of planning at the DA (Department of the Army) level, and once had the wonderful treat of attending a Congressional Reception with NMFA (National Military Family Association) and an Afternoon Tea at Quarters One with AFTB (Army Family Team Building) in the home of the Shinsekis.  I explain that to show my perspective on the Army so you have a better idea who is responding to you.
In your column you wrote, "The question is whether the military will start to feel taken for granted." In one sense it is a moot question because the soldiers in the military, at least at the levels I've seen, have always felt undervalued for their contributions and experience.  But in the past months I have seen the beginning of what will soon be a potentially devastating situation for the US because NONE of the soldiers I know are planning to continue beyond their current obligated term because of the Iraq situation. 
My husband (also named Paul) and I had worked hard to rise from lower enlisted without college education to both of us getting Bachelor's Degrees, and he is now a Captain with a Master's.  We are extremely grateful to the Army for providing opportunities that, extremely challenging as they were to obtain and achieve, allowed us to reach certain major goals.  Our plan has always been to stay in till and beyond retirement, even though he could be paid much more in the civilian world, out of respect and pride for the Army and the US plus for our enjoyment of the military community lifestyle. 
But no more.  Paul has been deployed seven months and, a nurse anesthetist, has been involved in just four surgeries that whole time.  His military and medical skills are rotting along with those in his unit and hundreds of other medical personnel on deployment.  Yesterday I chatted at the post office with an infantry soldier recently returned who said even his skills declined dramatically while deployed, so many thousands of soldiers are simply decaying and are justifiably extremely angry -- and politically muted.  They have been sent overseas with no mission, no purpose, no acknowledgement, and no hope of a timely return.  Paul has not even been able to get mid-tour leave because of the "medical necessity" of having him there in case of need for surgery. 
What's worse is because his unit isn't really attached to anyone but is rather the asset to many battalions and divisions, the responsibility of none, they have been tossed about between commands, given rules they must abide by and little else.  Only very recently have they even gotten working equipment and comfortable housing (for 4.5 months through spring and summer they were packed in dust-filled tents with no AC - even the surgical area was filled with dust).
But the worst part, the unforgivable part, is that the entire chain up through the General Surgeon and the Secretary of the Army (as I recall) knows about this, sees the immense cost of keeping unnecessary soldiers in Iraq while having to pay exorbitant amounts to fill their slots back home, and still no one will "be the one" to make and act on a decision.  My home currently is Fort Stewart, and as you may recall last month the issue of access to medical care here was proven to be horrendous.  The solution is to farm out soldiers on medical hold to other posts and bring in civilian contractors, yet not bring back the soldiers who are supposed to do that job and are not doing anything else. Ironically, I regularly have to pick up Paul's interoffice mail at the hospital in his inbox.  Housing is now critical in the area, so there really isn't room to bring in more medical providers.
Nothing I have written here is news to anyone now because of the expose on Fort Stewart.  Other soldiers' spouses have written to politicians, the press, and those in military command to no avail.  While none of us likes our soldiers to be deployed, we did "sign up" for that likelihood and happily do what we need to do to make it work.  What so very, very many of us object to is that they are deployed for no reason, are very much POW's without armed guards, and they are sitting ducks for any retribution from the native inhabitants of the occupied country.  Their only purpose seems to be to increase the ego and profits of Bush and friends.  And as long as that profit remains possible to obtain, the soldiers will likely remain in country to "justify" the defense contracts rather than to serve a military or political purpose.
So yes, they do feel taken for granted and abused.  In the coming months and years, while recruitment may be good (perhaps due to lowered enlistment standards and/or higher bonuses), retention will drastically decline.  As the soldiers leave with them goes the knowledge and experience base of the Army.  One officer I know has 18 years of Army service - is therefore very close to the golden retirement - but is getting out as soon as possible anyway.  With these people fleeing service bitterly training of new soldiers by those who do remain will be less adequate, diminished, weaker, so the military itself will be weaker.  The effect may not show for a year or two or maybe more due to the terms of service obligation, and the numbers may never reflect it unless there is closer evaluation of the statistics, but it seems certain to happen.  And while they are muted now by militarily-enforced political forces, those soldiers will not be once they are again civilians. 
Again, I thank you for discussing this subject boldly.  For the same militarily-enforced political reasons I strongly ask you not to publish any of this without discussing it with me first.  A very huge part of me wants to see every word of this in nationwide print - even anonymously (names changed, etc) - to express the importance of what is happening and the effect it will have on the Department of Defense/Offense and therefore the true security of this country.  But the need to be mute makes me extremely cautious.  I write this now only because the press has fortunately revealed this already, making me a small voice in a crowd instead of the lone voice on a podium.
And thank you for reading this, for allowing me a venue to express my perspective.  May you have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Last time I was at the local comic store, this guy asked me to play deliveryman and take to work the book that the store owed the library. Had no problem with that. I had the invoice sitting on my desk awaiting the book.

Anyway. I just read one of the two comics I bought that day, Cavalcade of Boys. It's quite sweet. Creator Tim Fish sets a series of interlocking stories around the holidays -- Halloween, Thanksgiving, Xmas, and New Year's. In one little vignette Tommy at 15 is enduring family teasing. Grandma says, "So, Tommy, do you have a little girlfriend yet?" Dad offers, with a wink, "Anytime you want some Playboys, you just ask me. I won't let your mom know." Mom, overhearing, adds, "Tommy will find a girl when he's ready!" At which, at last, Tommy cries out, "No, I will not!!! I'm GAY!!!"

I never know how to describe art. It's clean, with a lot of friendly white space. And the boys look sexy and real enough (not somebody's overdetermined fantasy). This was issue five. Which means I'll go back and buy the earlier issues, eh?

Monday, November 17, 2003

Read last of seven poets tonight, Loop magazine reading at Moe's.

Nice reading. I invited the Loop crew to read as part of Poetry & Pizza. Probably March.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Two weeks ago I flew my mother up to Seattle to live with her elder son. For the last 30 years Mom has lived in Sebastopol, it's where David & I grew up. In the month leading up to the move I visited Sebastopol (an hour & a half's drive North of Berkeley) every weekend and called Mom every day. She seemed to be doing OK, though time had come she ought not live on her own. Too frail, having confusions. And I was happy that David had asked her to come live with him (& wife Sarah) in Seattle. David even ran a countdown to her arrival on his skook blog. It was a little odd watching the countdown. The days leading up to the move did have a greater weight than the days since. Or so it seemed at first. The trip went fairly smoothly. No accidents, no missed connections. And it was nice seeing David & Sarah again (and, oh yeah, their housemate, Jason, with whom I had one brief but genial conversation). Sarah is a writer (check out her column at tuppenceworth) and now I find myself recipient of full emails in which Sarah talks about Mom and the household adjustment to her. It's not been easy, she says. Has rather been on the verge of emergency and she & D have discovered Mom needs virtually round-the-clock attendance. I've passed on ways I've found to cope with Mom's slow motion ways and inflexible opinions. Sarah says this has been helpful. I hope so. Though I know "helpful" does not mean anything has been fixed. Sarah's last letter includes a number of spiritual sayings/excerpts from writings that she has found help sustain her during the frustrations.

I did a load of whites today. Folding the laundry I discovered a couple pairs of Mom's underwear. She left them here the weekend we were transferring her to Seattle.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

I've been reading a book of occasional writings by Ursula K. LeGuin, "Dancing at the Edge of the World". LeGuin is best known as a science fiction writer, "The Left Hand of Darkness," "The Lathe of Heaven," "Always Coming Home," the EarthSea series. But she writes poetry and fiction of the "New Yorker" sort as well. These essays were mostly written as commencement or other sorts of addresses, or responses to questions about her fiction, or book reviews.

The evening I wrote my last blog entry I began LeGuin's essay "Text, Silence, Performance," which, to my surprise, turned out to be on the same subject. "Information is, or may be, one value or aspect of the word. There are others. Sound is one of them. Significance does not necessarily imply reference to an absent referent; the event itself may be considered significant ... A word in the first place is a noise. ... [Unlike music] the word is a sound that symbolizes, has significance; though it is not pure information it is or can function as a sign. Insofar as it is a sign it can be replaced by another sign, equally arbitrary, and this sign can be a visual one [for example, a written word]."

LeGuin sticks up for the oral arts, questioning the primacy of literature as written. "Isn't there room for both? ... Why have we abandoned and despised the interesting things that happen when the word behaves like music and the author is not just 'a writer' but the player of the instrument of language?"

When I was a baby poet in the Sonoma County (NorCal) poetry scene there was an older poet who would perform his work, sometimes reciting it from memory; when I asked if he sought publication he insisted that publicaton did not matter. It was the spoken word that was the event, the page in a book or magazine was dead. I thought his work good enough to persist on the page and was sorry to hear it would live only in that transitory moment and be gone. I remember him but don't remember his poetry.

"Good enough" ... there's a value judgment, eh?

At a poetry reading I would rather hear a strong performance, even if the writing is relatively weak/uninteresting/unsurprising, than a weak performance of superior writing. There's no point reading it aloud if you read it in a voice that doesn't carry or that mushes the words up or that makes of the sounds a wearying sameness. I've heard few verbal improvs and haven't been impressed by any that I recall. Not saying it couldn't happen but in this culture there's little training available, hence what I've heard tends to the simplistic, the cliche. The "dozens", a form of verbal insult and one-ups-manship in African American culture, which may be more well-known among us paleskins as the rap contest (I'm thinking of Eminem's "8 Mile"; on TV I saw a clip from it in which Eminem competes in a rap contest), could be the sort of training for improv that would produce complex oral texts.

As a professional writer, a white woman, college educated, born and raised in a country and during a period of history in which literacy is predominent, universal literacy being one of the reasons the U.S. judges itself superior to the rest of the world, one ought not be surprised that LeGuin looks around her and sees only disdain for the non-written literatures. This is the stance of the people who count in the U.S., and, probably, most of the world. The university-educated, the social/culture elites.

But TV, the movies, are these written literatures? In the essay LeGuin considers live theatre: "Plays get printed, but their life is still clearly in performance, in the actors' breath, the audience's response. But the drama isn't central to our literature any more." I'm not sure TV isn't at the center of contemporary language arts. "[M]ost film and TV drama," LeGuin says, "use words like they were sanitary landfill." ... "most" ... Most of everything is ... well, as another science fiction writer, Theodore Sturgeon has it, "90% of everything is crud."

LeGuin ends the essay suggesting, "Poets can play new games here [in audio technologies], just as they did when printing (also a technology of reproduction) was new. Unless the poet can afford the machineries and becomes a technician, the work has to be a collaboration; but then, all performance is collaboration. Poetry as the big solo ego trip is only one version of the art ... Aduio poetry is not, of course, performance: if you buy the tape you have the reproduction, not the event. You have the unmortal shadow. But at least it isn't silent; at least the text was woven with the living voice."

I'm not going to let that be the last word. Because silence is OK with me. LeGuin talks about ancient readers who read every word aloud. The written word as a silent experience is fairly new. The written word, in human experience, is still very new, and to many (most?) people still foreign. It has properties different from those of the spoken word. Just as the audio "machineries" provide new ways to "play," so does "printing" (still new) and handwriting/calligraphy ... Recovering the experience of the oral doesn't push out the experience of the silent and visual. As LeGuin says, "We aren't binary. Isn't there room for both? [italics hers]" And more room.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Words. Funny little things. They're things created to represent something else. A word is a particular noise, if spoken. A particular shape, if written. As they originate in sound, even when merely silent on the page, sound inheres in their shapes. We know that "know" and "though" rhyme, for instance, though they look quite different. There is nothing else in the world that exists as nothing but meaning. Not quite right, a word being an object, a sound. When someone utters a word in a language you don't understand or you look at a page of writing you can't read you have a sensory experience independent of meaning. With some confidence we can read emotional states expressed in spoken, sung, shouted language without being able to pin down the particularity of the meaning. A picture -- painted, photo, carved in stone -- will have meanings, more & fewer than words. "A picture is worth a thousand words." Yes, in that it takes many words to draw a picture in someone's mind, a picture that that person could draw in near approximation to the unseen original. But our little words fill up with meanings. "Love", a much-used word in this language, would take many pictures to illustrate because "love" has many meanings. Even "language" proves full of meanings when you try to pin it like a discrete insect to a board. If non-human creatures communicate and language is defined as "the medium of communication," one must assume the non-human creatures are using language. This is something that many refuse to do. Can there be communication without language? Yes, if communication is the transfer of information from one body to another. Pollen transfers information from one body to another. Is that communication? If language is merely "a" medium of communication rather than "the" medium of communication one must talk about it in relation to other media. Scent, perhaps. Or visual signaling. Are these languages? It might be most useful to use the word "language" to speak of the different media of communications. Scent languages, visual languages, spoken languages. A dog's bark. The smell of its genitals. The attitude of its tail. These are elements of information.

At the microcosm of a single word, one can dig amazingly deep. Any one of these words has its history, its accrual and rejection of meanings. As a poet I love to have the words in the poem do many things at once, get as many meanings going as I can. A fractal has the same level of detail no matter how closely you look at it, no matter how far you pull back from it. I like that in a poem.

I have thought about the law. Our society's written rules of conduct. One writes a law as precisely as possible. Unlike my ideal poem, which is loaded with meaning, a law should be stripped of meaning, stripped down until it means only one particular thing and nothing else. This may require a great many words -- the bugaboo being that with the added words one faces the additions and distractions of other meanings.

Al Franken was sued by Fox News when he titled his newest book "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: a fair and balanced look at the right". A transcript of the courtroom proceedings has been posted. I'm most amused by the following exchange betwen the judge and Fox's attorney:

THE COURT: All right. The consumer who would buy the book is a relatively sophisticated consumer, correct? I mean someone interested in political satire and commentary.

MS. HANSWIRTH: I don't agree with that, your Honor. Generally, cases hold that purchasers of books are generally not, neither sophisticated nor unsophisticated.

Ms. Hanswirth is avoiding the word "sophisticated" because, I figure, it requires a greater burden of proof. It doesn't take much to fool a dummy. But a smart person, a "sophisticated" person, an informed person can see through simple ruses. Does Franken's book fool the "sophisticated" person into confusing it with Fox News? Ms. Hanswirth wants to say the book's presentation is confusing regardless of the state of education of the person looking at it. As one is relatively easy or less easy to confuse depending on one's sophistication Ms. Hanswirth wants to avoid that whole area. Convenient for her? Distorting the world to suit a linguistic argument? She doesn't want to say a sophisticated person would be confused because every person who thinks himself mildly sophisticated but yet unfooled would find her argument dubious if not ridiculous. "By that cover it's obvious Franken is criticizing Fox News. What's to confuse?" Neither does Ms. Hanswirth wish to say the book will fool a bunch of dummies. That would be too much like saying that Fox News watchers are a bunch of dummies. And that wouldn't look good. So they are "neither sophisticated nor unsophisticated." Which starts to sound like spiritual language. The way to go is not the way.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Ah, in the post immediately prior I said I couldn't find the comments I'd originally posted at Ron Silliman's blog, those from which Joan Houlihan excerpted one sentence. I found the comments and here's what I said Monday September 15, 2003:

Hi Ron,

I've been reading your blog for some weeks now. You're a pretty sharp guy. And willing to put in the time! My own blog is rather dormant and I was never so on top of it.

As regards Joan Houlihan: I hung out at Web del Sol's poetry bulletin board a couple years ago, even became a board moderator for a month or three, but Mike Neff, WdS's master, descended upon the bulletin board in an avenging fury -- he was offended by people posting poetry he didn't like & too much of it! He called us moderators all sorts of bad names and I swore off the place. Joan Houlihan proved to be his attack puppy and went around to other comment boards slagging the ex-moderators. The woman's arguments are logical fallacies -- sarcasm, ad hominem, scorn. Fact is, her usual resorts are look-at-that-isn't-that-great and look-at-that-isn't-that-stupid. I haven't read Boston Comment in ages, and I'm not feeling the urge now. But the nicest thing about her style is the way she quotes from the poets she slags (or swoons over); thus the reader can see for himself whether she's got a point. I remember in her review of a past Best American Poetry anthology Houlihan quotes lines from a Hejinian in a round-up of lines so obviously bad Houlihan was left speechless. Should be her usual state, right? I liked the Hejinian she quoted, didn't care for much Houlihan thought fab and thereupon realized that Houlie had nothing to say. When I like what Houlie likes, it's coincidence, not a shared aesthetic. (Whereas, when I agree with you, Mr S, it's surely because I'm gradually learning not to be so dumb.)


I hadn't realized that three days later (9/18) an anonymous poster threw up this bile:

headline: "Ingersoll's Dementia"

It's sad the way perennial malcontents like Glen Ingersoll can erupt on a forum and soil it with their juvenile axe grinding.

The incident referred to by Ingersoll re Michael Neff took place two years ago on an poetry forum owned and operated by Web del Sol. A specific person who called himself Native Prancer or Dancer or some such (too shadowy to risk his own name) was attacking a poster who had rightfully criticized his miserably bad scribblings and was doing so in a manner that was both obscene and rant-like. It was board policy to take rants and mean-mouthing to another board designed for more "open debate," but Native Rancid decided to poke at that rule and disguised his rant as "poetry" simply by truncating the lines so that it went something like this:

Who are you to tell
me what the fuck about my
poetry when you don't know
fuck about anything, you
little bastard motherfucker

Well, you get the idea. Since this idiot had been active at this type of trash for weeks and was littering the board with his garbage, Neff asked him to take it elsewhere. At that point, two board editors (one of them a bipolar attorney who actually posted child porn on Neff's board) who were friends of Native convinced the others to abandon the poetry forum in protest of Neff daring to ask an abusive, childish bore to leave.

Ingersoll was among the "editor" mob of hangers-on who had turned the WDS board into their own private playground and effectively chased away anyone serious about getting feedback on their poetry.

[Friend of Neff]


Hmf. This is one way of describing what happened. The comment is unsigned but it reads like Houlihan. Who knows, eh?

James Lineberger posted under the name "native dancer" on web del sol's Writer's Block. That was easy enough to find out via a google search, even if you didn't immediately know who "native dancer" was. Mr Lineberger posted excessively and those of us who were named "editors" had tried to persuade him to post less frequently. (By the way, I quite like James Lineberger's writing.) FON puts "'editor'" in quotes, as I just did because we certainly didn't edit anything. We didn't even have the power to delete obnoxious posts. We were just volunteer moderators, there to make the place feel looked after. There weren't even specified duties. When Neff asked me to be an "editor" I asked him what that entailed, and he said, "What you're doing right now." I figured I'd think about it a couple days and get back to him. Next time I visited the site my name was in the masthead. Well. Whatever. Like he said, I figured I'd just go on doing what I'd been doing. I did feel a little more responsible for making sure poets got comments on their poems so I did spend more time there than I would have otherwise. Reading, thinking, writing. It was useful.

These open boards get messy. And people misbehaved. Other editors who were trying to be conscientious had a chat with Neff and got at last some ground rules and seemingly were given Neff's assurance that he'd support us Blockheads more. Maybe give us the power to delete attack posts? Instead Neff started reading the board and insulting people, one of them native dancer. Native dancer did say something like "you can't tell me what poetry is" when replying to somebody who'd commented on one of his poems. As flame wars go it was cold sparks. But Neff came on like an avenging angel. When editors protested he declared us all the problem and there were mass resignations. I never resigned. I hadn't ever really signed up, I figured. I didn't go at Neff directly but did say something snarky about him when commenting on someone else's thread. Oh such hot heads we have. And that was that. If anything has gone on there since (this was two years or more past) it's proceeded without my witness.

FON's final word:
Oh, and Forgot to Add

For Ingersoll: good job of kissing Ron Silliman's butt, Glen.
You always were a brown-noser.
I've let months pass, haven't I? That soup I was making back in June likely burned into the eyes of any repeat visitor.

So I'm moved to write, right? What could do that? Joan Houlihan. Ugh. She quotes me thusly, "The woman's arguments are logical fallacies -- sarcasm, ad hominem, scorn." I was not commenting specifically on "Post-Post Dementia", the column about which the other quotes there gathered are supposedly talking. I couldn't have been as I haven't read it. The sentence Houlihan excerpts was one I wrote in response to Ron Silliman's discussion at his blog about that anti-language-poetry essay. She did not ask me permission to excerpt my words, nor tell me she was going to. I only found my words at her site because I googled my name. Several pages of google results in Houlihan's site came up. I was surprised. Go figure. What I said is true, however denuded of context.

I just tried to find Silliman's original discussion to link to it and had no luck. Pooh. It doesn't matter all that much, I guess. I'm irked to see my words yanked from their context without my permission or knowledge and reposted on the site of the person I was accusing of bad behavior. Hm. Bad behavior. Yeah. More of it. I have bad memories of Joan Houlihan. When Mike Neff ripped into those of us who were volunteering on his poetry bulletin board at web del sol Joan Houlihan hopped around other bulletin boards loyally toeing his line and trashing us. Far as I recall I didn't respond to her postings. I have no respect for her. And that was what I was talking about. Old stuff. Has she changed? Based on this I'd say no. But I'm not going to rush off and read her silly column hoping I'm wrong.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I'm making soup. Yes, from cans. And some frozen tortellini. Tortellini is good in soup. Maybe best when it's had the heck cooked out of it. But we'll probably be hungry before then. Oh, yeah. I hafta zap a leftover veggie dish. I'll go do that. In a minute.

I've been thinking I'd like to start my own poetry group. Lead it. Not democracy. Me. If you like my stuff and/or just like my style of talking/teaching then you're welcome. There'd be a writing exercise each time. If anybody wants to workshop one of their own poems written outside then fine. Bring copies for everybody. Like that. No long waiting for people to drag some dislike out of the depths of their being. If it hasn't done already riz it's gonna hafta stay down there. I hate them long pauses while everybody thinks, "What the fk'm I gonna say?" There are plenty of things I don't like about workshops. Are they ever useful? I think the useful thing is reading the work aloud. So somebody other than the poet ought to do the reading. You hear it like it's not yours. The problem is thinking there's more in the poem than is; maybe half of it is still in your head.

I'm thinking about it. Have a nice room upstairs we could use.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

Had a good reading last week. It was at Pegasus Books in Berkeley. Turn out? Fifteen ... Something like that, I think.

I debuted recent work. Including, as I announced seconds before launching into it, "the longest poem I've ever written." Kent said the next day, "And nobody let out a groan!" I've mentioned this poem earlier in the blog. The one about emptiness. It was the poem I wrote in April. Margo asks if it's the only thing I wrote in April. I'm not sure what to make of that. Did it seem rather short, after all, to have been all I wrote for an entire month? Or ... hm ... sorry, failure of imagination happening. Dunno. Anyway, Dave Benson emailed me this week, says the damn thing held up. Even being so long and all. He could've said it totally sagged, right? It's not like we have a friendship that demands constant stroking. I mean, he coulda said, "Well, I kinda fell asleep in the middle." Right? That's right. And he didn't! So there. Was nice to meet Dave. I met him online two or three years ago. At a poetry bulletin board. He can write good. Michael M pub'd some Benson in his Hogtown Creek Review. For instance. Dave didn't hang around long. Introduced himself at the end of the reading. I was expecting really long blond hair. And it's more collar-length. Cut it, he said. I'd heard from Jack the Mad Anders that Dave had really long hair. Plus I saw a picture on Dave's girlfriend's blog of Dave with hair down to his butt. Hair aside, I was pleased to make the acquaintance in body which had only been cyberspaced. Wow. Real person. Isn't this stuff all generated inside some great Matrix somewhere? Sorry Dave left after a few sentences. "Been a long day," he said, leaving.

Thea Hillman was good. The other featured reader. Nice to read with somebody good. None of the open mikers were abysmal. Oh open mikes. Worse in my memory than in actuality, but that's cuz so many slosh together in the mind. The horrid stage hogs. The shouters.

Hope all is well with you, dear reader.

Monday, May 19, 2003

I found a chronology of Sept 11 via a link on one of the more frenetic blogs. I can't remember which one at the moment. The focus is on Bush. Where was he? What was he doing that day? It's quite a good read. I'll never forget this quote I 'spect (remember, Bush was scheduled that morning to read to an elementary school class), "On December 4, 2001, Bush was asked: 'How did you feel when you heard about the terrorist attack?' Bush replied, 'I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower - the TV was obviously on. And I used to fly, myself, and I said, well, there's one terrible pilot. I said, it must have been a horrible accident. But I was whisked off there, I didn't have much time to think about it.'" The chronologists wonder how Bush could have seen the event on television when footage of the first crash (the one people guessed was accidental) was not available until Sept 12. So Bush's brain is remembering things other than how they could have happened. But does that bother me? A little. Yeah. But here's the word that gets me: "whisked"

In the same chronology the word recurs. A relative of one of the 9/11 victims, "Kristen Breitweiser told Phil Donahue: 'It was clear that we were under attack. Why didn't the Secret Service whisk [Bush] out of that school? ...'" Now, that's the right use of the word. Ms Breitweiser thinks Bush ought to have been "whisk"ed off to some important place to do important things having to do with important events. Abruptly, nimbly, rapidly.

Where was Bush, according to his recollection, "whisked" that day? When he was "whisked off there, [without] time to think about it"? He was "whisked" off to "Sandra Kay Daniels's second-grade class for a photo-op."

Read it.

Today was Malcolm X Day. That's a Berkeley city holiday. So the library is closed. Nice. Thanks, X. Means I'll have two 3-day weekends in a row, next weekend being Memorial Day weekend. You know what the best day of the week to have off is? Wednesday. Why Wednesday? Because then you have a 2-day work week. Y'see, you have Sat & Sun for your usual 2-day weekend, then you have Mon & Tues for a 2-day work week, then Wednesday, which is your 1-day weekend, then Thurs & Fri, which is another 2-day work week, then we're back to the traditional 2-day weekend. Got it? The rotten thing about a 3-day weekend is, c'mon, one more day really isn't much, is it? Whereas a 4-day work week is just about as bad as a 5-day work week. Maybe you're slightly less tired and fed up at the end of it, but do you notice? But a 2-day work week -- anybody can handle that! Easy easy. And a 1-day weekend not enough? OK, but you'll have a 2-day weekend in just 2 days! Think of it, every work week would have one Monday (boo!) and one Friday (yay!).

Looks like my brother and his sasquatch have put down the blog. But mine own blogging's not been the fast & furious sort these days, eh?

Saturday, May 17, 2003

I've added a couple links to the Lovesettlement poetry. Fact poems are now at alba, for instance.

June 2, 7pm, Pegasus Books on Shattuck in Berkeley I'll be reading with Thea Hillman. The series is the one Tim Donnelly has been helping run. He's working with at least two other poets. They distribute the dates among themselves. The series is monthly so Tim gets 3 or 4 a year. I haven't yet gone. I keep forgetting it exists. Ran into Tim while on break last week. The poet he'd originally scheduled to read with Hillman on June 2 had canceled and he hadn't found a replacement. Yes, I said I'd do it. Even on such short notice. I haven't read in front of an audience in a long time. More than a year? I hope somebody shows up.

Sutra is curled up in my lap. He seems to have settled in for a long snooze. But I gotta go sling the clothes out of the drier. There are more in the washer waiting to be tumbled. Nice to have cat in lap again.

There's a house one block over that's going to be open tomorrow. Nice house. Looks pretty big. At $700 thou it ought to. But big prices don't necessarily mean big places around here. The million dollar house that was our first open house a couple months ago was narrow, cute, not large, had those great bay views.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

I'm listening to some Monty Python songs. Some of them are pretty darn catchy. Love "The Galaxy Song"; I remember it from The Meaning of Life when Eric Idle emerged from the refrigerator and led the housewife (Terry Jones) into the night sky.

I've gotta go through more of the music I've dropped into the computer. Burn it then delete it, or just delete it. Looks like there's -- yipe! -- 20 hours.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

"Duran Duran hated Culture Club and we hated everyone as much as they loathed us. It was great to read the snipes of Holly Johnson [lead singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood] about how I was 'a tired old pantomime dame.' Or Pete Burns [of Dead or Alive] saying he was going to 'send me a wreath' on hearing that one of our songs had failed to chart."

-- Boy George
More here.

I've been writing a long poem. I don't know that it's finished but I haven't added anything to it for a few days.

I was working on this beast series, every poem including a beast that seemed more like a tiger than anything else, but could have been something entirely else as I never described it physically, not fully, and, in fact, it could have been some sort of devil spirit. The last one of those was on the day I saw the first Baghdad bombing photo with the huge smoke clouds rising, mushroom-like, from the crushed buildings. One of the elements of the beast series was a trio of heads (yes, something of an allusion to Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the gates to the underworld), and the bomb clouds reminded me of heads so they became part of the beast series and maybe ended it.

The long poem is built of one-, two-, three-line stanzas. Elements include flowers, "emptiness," wind, hair, bone, and bits from the Iraq invasion that may not even be recognizable as such, especially as time goes on. Am reading Karen Armstrong's A History of God and some of the things she says about God have made their way into the poem, also in possibly unrecognizable form. The poem begins:

I have an emptiness.
It is part of a larger emptiness.

I enter the emptiness, arms loaded with packages,
some perfumed,
some leaking.

A wind follows me ...


I fetched my notebook to copy out the lines above. Rereading the poem I crossed out the poem's heretofore final line and began writing.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

I think he wants to play. Usually he starts with a loud EE-AO. Sometimes he starts just by putting a paw on your leg. Either the one paw tapping the calf or both forefeet stretching up to the knee. Picking him up typically results in more EH! EH! and struggling. So it's not that he wants to be picked up. Curiously he doesn't seem to go for treats. His brother, Sutra, will snarf up bits of chicken or fish. Sundance will sniff like he's all interested. But he always leaves it, whatever it is. Not that it goes to waste. Dog gets it. But Sundance does go quiet when I get the chopstick and wiggle it over his nose. Nothing fascinates him like that little stick. I'm trying right now to interest him in a emptied toilet paper roll tied to a bathrobe sash. He's only meowed at me when I've stopped jiggling it to type this. But it's not one of the big thrills, I can see that.

I'm listening to Kronos Quartet, their African music album. I've deleted a couple tracks. Hm. The one that's playing right now? Nix!

Friday, March 28, 2003

three Glenn Ingersoll poems

The poems were just posted, I think. I ran a google search for my name (which you just gotta do every now & then) and found them. Knew they were coming soon but the editor of Wired Art for Wired Hearts didn't notify me that the site had been updated. Naturally the long lines in "Palapa" got screwed up. Email seems to hate long lines. Or the web does. Or computers. From now on I'm only sending out poems with really short lines.

I like the site's featured artists this month. And there are some interesting dispatches from Iraq.

Speaking of. You know. Here's the pro-war crew's slogan that currently bugs me most:


Not that there isn't plenty to shake one's head at in every of their utterances. Some NPR story has a goofy lady leading an organization to shut down celebrities. No more celebrity pundits! she squeaks. Our president has access to all sorts of information that those Hollywood types will never see. So we gotta trust him!

The information that justifies an invasion is being kept secret, she suggests.

In other words, the information the administration has actively given out is, even to this lady, insufficient to justify an invasion. She did say that, right?

Naturally if the celebrities were all giddy gung-ho for the war she'd not have an opportunity to be interviewed for an NPR story.

Oh, and you've heard, no doubt, about the brouhaha over the Dixie Chicks' criticism of our idiot President. When I read Natalie Maines' apology in a weblog I thought it was brilliant. Too good to be true. In googling for a link to share I discovered the apology at a satire site. Still, it's what she should say: "I'm just supposed to sing and look cute."

Sadly, if you're curious, this is what she really said: "I love my country." Bleh.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Bombs are falling on Baghdad. Cool, huh?

Yeah. Those of us who think about death always like to hear there's more to think about. It gives us purpose.

Who I'm reading to get war stuff: This Modern World and ... well, Tom Tomorrow at This Modern World has lots of links on a links page if you're interested in following this sort of thing. I get OD'd on this quickly but go back and back anyway.

Here's Kent's dispatch on war protest in Walnut Creek, CA:
one tubby guy with a "peace is patriotic" sign with flags attached is sitting on a busstopbench in front of the police station, using a long plastic NFL-style trumpet to toot back the honk patterns offered by sympathetic motorists (e.g., motorist: "toot tootle-ly-toot" peaceguy: "murph murffle-ly-murp"). i wasn't sure how i felt about the "protest" (i looked, i scoffed, i looked again, i reconsidered, i looked away...), but the murff-ly murffles of his horn soon won me over.

Friday, March 14, 2003

I'm listening to Ladysmith Black Mambazo, a South African vocal group most famous for singing with Paul Simon on his "Graceland" album. I think this song, "Ujesu Wami," will be on my second library mix CD. It's quite captivating.

After saving and listening to it a few times I've deleted "Weird Al" Yankovik's parody of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". I like the farm animal sounds but Yankovik's lyrics are just a tease about how the original's lyrics are difficult to understand. The song sounds good because the Nirvana song sounds good. I included Weird Al's "One More Minute" on my last library mix CD and I still like to hear him say he's going to jump into a swimming pool full of double-edged razor blades.

I've been discovering great stuff on CDs from Arhoolie Records and Shanachie. Yes, I'll admit some disturbance in my conscience about not paying for this stuff. In a new book of essays Aram Saroyan, notorious among the anti-NEA set for getting a grant on the basis of his poem "lighght" (that's the whole poem), grumps that maybe writers would have an easier time of it if they got a snippet of royalty every time one of their books was checked out of a library. In an interview with Acoustic Guitar magazine Pete Seeger says he portions out the earnings from his songs to those who had some part in creating them: "All around the world, songs are being written that use old public domain material, and I think it's only fair that some of the money from the songs go to the country or place of origin, even though the composer may be long dead or unknown. That's why 50 percent of [Seeger's earnings for] the story-song 'Abiyoyo' is going to South Africa, because 'Abiyoyo' is an old lullaby."

Now Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love" is playing. Bluesy crooning. Sweet melancholy song. "Just because I'm in misery, I don't beg for sympathy. But if it's not asking too much, please send me someone to love." Yeah, man, I been there.

I just learned that CMJ, the magazine that keeps me up with the music of today, charges to put a song on its sampler CD. $3000? Oh. I find this disappointing. I thought the music was a result of editorial choices. I guess I really have to listen to college radio if I'm going to hear the college radio sound. I don't like radio much. Not for music. I usually don't like what's playing and when I do hear something great that I'm not already familiar with I can rarely figure out who it was.

Sarah Byam, my sis-in-law, in her latest column, says she's frustrated by her lack of productivity. "When I was in my twenties, I promised a friend of mine I would produce '6 feet of red' before I died." The measurement refers to designers who fill up bookshelves. You've seen those nondescript books in furniture stores or catalogs, right? Stephen King, she says, made his six feet. If only she could sleep less there'd be more Sarah footage. I don't think I'm a writer. I used to think I was. Or I wanted to think of myself as a writer. Now I figure I'm a poet. That means I write poetry. Nobody's seen the great bulk of it. Once in awhile a poem gets published. I have some footage on the shelves here at home. The poems and diaries I've kept in bound notebooks. There's some good stuff there. And I do derive some satisfaction from the quantity, from the bookliness of these gathered works. I gotta admit that every time I read a book I'm frequently checking to see where am in it -- 1/3 of the way through? halfway? only ten pages to go? I do the same with my notebooks. It only really provides usable information when I'm a handful of pages from filling the book and might write a poem too long for the available space. I'm not a writer because that suggests I write something other than poetry, something that people will read maybe. Essays, right. Stories or novels. Columns of inches. Inches of columns.

Going on about productivity. Whenever I've taken a creative writing class I've been the most productive. Or the second most. I haven't taken any classes in awhile. Nice thing about a class: getting credit for something you'd do anyway. An audience. Of other students, yeah. An audience. Am I ambivalent about having an audience? Am I not ambivalent about something?

The forthcoming attack on Iraq. Yes, I'm even ambivalent about that. Frankly, I'm looking forward to the appalling death and destruction and misery and the failure of the U.S.-installed government. And would much prefer it all remain my own skull-bounded fantasy. Where it can cozy up next to my fantasies about global justice, love, and sharing.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

I'm listening to John Cale's "Hallelujah", though the CD will have moved on to the next song before I finish this sentence. The CD is a mix of songs I plucked from CDs I brought home from the library. It's sure nice to snag the one song I like from an album.

This is only the second CD I've burned. My first was mainly selected from the sampler CDs that came with CMJ New Music Magazine. It's sure nice to have every song a winner. No more tolerating songs because I can't be bothered to go to the CD player and hit the skip forward button. The songs I like I like better when they're surrounded by other songs that please me. Seems logical that one would like the good songs more if they were surrounded by songs one disliked, the liked song seeming that much better judged by its company. It doesn't seem to work that way for me.

For several years I've been doing essentially the same thing with poetry. As I read a book of poems I keep a stack of placemarks handy. If I read a poem I want to read again I pop in the placemark. I revisit the poem, rereading it until I decide whether I'm done, ready to let it go, or I'm not and I want that poem to be around. It's then I hand copy the poem onto binder paper and add it to a collection that's probably hundreds of pages. There have been a couple occasions I've changed my mind about a poem, upon coming across it in this personal anthology found it unbearable. Mostly I honor what captured me at the time I copied the poem originally. I date each poem when I copy it. I want to be able to look back to 1994 and see what I was reading, what I needed then. My tastes have evolved some but I like the poems I copied out ten years ago, 15 years ago, though I've read them a zillion times. Those couple occasions where I changed my mind radically enough to dread coming across a particular poem I have allowed myself to remove it. Over 15 years I can only recall doing that two times. Pretty good.

I 'spect I'll continue to like these mix CDs as the years go by. "Ra Ti Ra Ti Ra Ti Ray" sings Eddy Grant and his back-up singers.

I began copying out poems to take care of some problems I had with reading poems. I didn't like most of them. When someone would ask me who my favorite poets were I didn't have much of an answer. Even the poets whose work impressed me -- William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman -- wrote poems that annoyed me. And annoyance would too often be my main memory. If I were going to know which poets were the poets (of the hundreds cramming the shelves) to whom I wanted to return I had to have a clue. What better than the poem?

I had figure out some things right at the first. Was I copying out my favorites? Or was I copying out poems I admired, wanted to learn from, great poems? And was I copying the poems out by hand or was I typing them or photocopying them? I did all three but settled rather quickly on copying stuff out by hand. Part of it was the added affection I had for a poem when I saw it in my own handwriting. Suddenly that poem really was mine. I had written it. I had a new permission to use the poem in my own writing. When the poem was typed or photocopied it retained a foreign feel. Yes, this meant that long poems really had to prove themselves. If I were going to cramp up my hand transferring them from the source to my own anthology I was going to have to agree with every word. This is easier in a short poem. The longest piece I've yet copied is Lewis Carroll's "Hunting of the Snark". It took a few sessions of copying to get it all. But it was a kick. I didn't regret the decision at any point. I've not copied a large percentage of the poems I've read. 1%? And this is from published books. Not saying the other 99% was wasted time. I do enjoy reading poems, even many of those I know from the first line aren't going to go through my ballpoint. Because I don't copy out great poems or poems I admire. I copy out poems I personally connect to. I've come very close to copying out poems that blew me away but that, ultimately, I didn't look forward to reading again. Usually the subject matter isn't the big thing. But I must say poems that bear down on cruelty and violence have to have a real undercurrent of compassion to be keepers. My criteria were I editing a magazine or anthology would be different. I'd be more open to the poems that do things that startle, the ones that show amazing craft or try things one seldom sees. The personal anthology is where I come to share good company. It's not a collection of poems that prove anything to anybody. Except to me. And what do they prove to me again and again? That there are poems that work, that are wonderful, that are places I can go to and stay. After I've forced myself through the latest Best American Poetry and despair for there being anything worth reading I can retire to the anodyne. By no means are the poems always about cozy comfort. ... But the next thing is to talk about some of the poems I've saved in this anthology, isn't it?

Friday, February 21, 2003

I'm typing this at the new Mac G4. Last weekend K and I took the components of desk that we'd picked up at Ikea the weekend before, flipped open the wordless instruction booklet, fetched the tools they so helpfully pictured (two screwdrivers -- one regular, one philips, a hammer) and one brief spark of frustration, a paper cut, and a packet of good feelings later and we had a desk. It looks pretty sharp. With the flat screen atop it. The keyboard on the sliding tray below.

Worst thing about the G4: it roars. Louder even than the old PC. The one thing it has over the PC in fan noise is the option to put the computer to sleep, which shuts the fan off but allows you to power back up in a flash.

It's late. Kittens are pouncing on each other. I've gotta go clean their litter boxes, refill their food & water dishes and shut them in their luxurious night time accomodations.

OK. I am goosed to post because another friend has started up a blog: Blake

Yes, cats, I'm coming.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

There's a bent toothpick on the desk by the keyboard. Uh. Yuck?

Have a subscription to CMJ New Music Magazine, which comes with a sampler CD every month. Just listened to "Here and There" by Homunculus. Sweet song. It's in the issue that came today. There was a pile of stuff on the floor when I got home. We have a mailslot in the door. Among other things was a report on the status of my 401k. I fully expected more negative numbers and was surprised to see every one positive. Not to say I've made back all my losses. As if! Someday I'll graph the thing's progress.

We're going to San Diego at the end of the month. I emailed Eric Shanower about getting together with him and David Maxine for dinner or brunch or something. He says he's attending a science fiction convention that weekend. But he figures a dinner-sized hole can be found in the schedule.

Kent has talked about driving down to Ensenada and I like the idea. Worrying a little bit about the border crossing. How long does it take? Waiting hours in a car is never fun. Wonder if we can cross via train or foot or something and pick up a rental car in Tijuana? I'm going to try to look into that.

I know Bush's antics aren't helping my mood -- from our sucky economy (yeah, I'm blaming Bush, but I ain't letting Gov Davis off the hook either) to, oh yeah, THE WAR. Gosh, maybe it'll be easy like Panama and Grenada and kicking Iraq out of Kuwait. As we all know, those adventures made us proud to be Americans and had no negative consequences. Well, if there were one or two dead civilians, they weren't ours. Whew. I hate these shits in Washington. I hate them!

Is this the sort of rage Clinton's nemeses were feeling? Kent asks.

I fail to see the parallel.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Frustrations. A part of living, eh? Oh little dewdrop, here comes the sun! Gonna warm you right up! Mm MM. Warm you right up. The chill of the night birthed you, little wet, now here comes the warmth of day.


While we wait to evaporate

let's ruminate

on the press notices of friends. Michael Martin emailed me a link to an article in the Gainesville Sun about his literary magazine The Hogtown Creek Review. First picture I've seen of his co-editor, Elisa Maranzana. Google hits on "Hogtown Creek Review" are growing. Used to be you'd get one or two. A call for submission posted on a bulletin board perhaps ... Now poets are naming it bios! How fun. I'd happily edit a literary magazine. If somebody else would do all the business stuff. Consult me on design, sure, but fund it, call the printer, shlep it around to bookstores -- ugh. I do enjoy reading slush piles. And discovering good stuff. I do like that part quite a bit. I don't mind reading lots of bad poems because when you get to the good ones they seem so much better! 'Course one can lose one's head. But one feels intimate with the poems one discovers. And reads over & over in the process of choosing, typesetting, proofreading, flipping through the finished magazine. One takes a proprietary interest. And looks for the poet's further success. That's how I looked at it. When I worked on Berkeley Poetry Review at UCB. And my few other brushes with publishing.

You know, I still have a few copies of the issue of Berkeley Poetry Review for which I served as Ed-in-Chief. If you'd like one, I'll mail you one. Just write me with your mailing address and I'll put one in an envelope and send it to you. Free. Yup. It is a few years old. And I have zero contact with the kids who are working on BPR now. I don't even know whether somebody is working on BPR now. So don't assume you'll learn anything about the sort of poem BPR publishes these days from reading my old ish. This offer is while-supplies-last, you know. Which may be forever if nobody asks. So don't be shy!

Isn't that dewdrop dry?