Friday, August 27, 2004

Info Desk Blogging

It seems someone didn't show up for their Info Desk hour so I've been sent to do the duty.

Busier with only one person on the desk. But it's not been hectic, exactly. I'm a little unclear on whether we're supposed to check the shelf for patrons who call in ... or whether we're just supposed to put a hold on the book via the computer and let a library aide hunt it up after hours.

... ooh, the time it goes so fast. Time to return to my usual cubicle.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

dreaming it up

Steve Mueske has been trying to figure out where a poem comes from. See his blog.

Steve says he dreams about working on poems. So I responded, "One morning upon awaking I found my notebook open next to the bed. There was on a blank page a very intently written squiggle about the size of a single word. It wasn't till later that day I remembered that I had been writing down a dream word, a word from a language other than English. In the dream I might have thought it was Spanish but I remembered wondering if it really was a Spanish word (or any word that might be recognizable in waking life), so I propped myself on my elbow and pulled my notebook over and wrote it down.

Maybe I should've turned on the light."

Saturday, August 21, 2004

bad writing

Nick Page has devoted his life to the quest for the worst writers of all time. By "worst" he means writers who are "so wonderfully awful, they have unwittingly arrived at genius ..."

Page disparages James Whitcomb Riley, a poet very popular in his day. An example:

Thweet Poethy! let me lithp forthwith
That I may thhing of the name of Smith --
which name, alath!
In harmony hath
No adequate rhyme, letht you grant me thith--
That the thimple, thibillant thound of eth --
(Which to thave my thoul, I cannot expreth!)
Thuth I may thhingingly,
Wooingly and winningly
Thu-thu-thound in the name of Smith.


I don't know. At least it's funny. Sorta. There's so much boring writing. I guess that's part of Page's point. I can agree that at times bad writing can be so awful it's its own kind of amazing. But poking around his site I keep reading work that's not really bad.

comments on "Our Two Trees", version 3

I didn't really have ideas when I started revising tonight. There were enough problems with version 2, I guess. I posted version 1 on a couple poetry bulletin boards, Haven and Melic Review's Roundtable.

I don't know that the comments were helpful. They weren't NOT helpful. But they didn't tell me anything I didn't know. Except that I got a more enthusiastic response than I expected. That was something, wasn't it? I'm not going to post this version. I'm thinking I'll wait for version 4. I don't expect it to be much different. But who knows?

"Our Two Trees" version 3

The maple’s spring is seed-first.
Red head to red head, the seeds edge
out in twos , the body of each a wing,
also red and still too soft for flight.

Out of the apple, however, spring spills.
Up all limbs buds’ dark shells have split
and big green leaves flop over
sudden white blossoms.

Monday, August 16, 2004

thoughts & thinking

First workday I've taken off since my mother died. I called in sick, feeling weary, achy, melancholy.

Have spent much of the day reading. I finished the chapbook Jack Martin gave me when he visited. Bark. Jack dares to be sentimental. Reminded me a little of Edward Field, another poet who gets sentimental, but whose writing is good to read. The horror over sentimentality. I don't get it. There are worse sins. Excess of sentiment. But what is excess? I wrote a poem once in which I talked about carrying around a box for tears. An editor called it "maudlin." Excess bad. Excess can be bad. Moderation can be bad, of course. Good can be bad. Etc. Many times I've had the physical sensation of a knot of tears in my chest. This is merely descriptive, not melodramatic. Not excess. Unless truth be excessive. Or fact. Or the presence.

Absence of sentiment. Can you have a poetry absent of sentiment?

My brother David writes about our mother's last days. July 25. July 30. August 5.

Kent suggested fish for dinner tonight. I like the idea. When I finish writing I'll go to Andronico's and get some fish.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

comments on "Our Two Trees", version 2

Why do I find this poem so tired? Certainly the subject is about as done as done can be. As in the first version I'm trying too hard to be fancy. I envy people who are good at description. I sure don't feel I am. Acknowledging that, I've turned my poetry to what I think are my strengths -- metaphor (not simile) that builds a story of itself, and imaginative leaps (often suggested by the metaphor). In "Our Two Trees" I try to capture the contrasts of the spring styles of the trees in the yard. But who cares?

Our Two Trees, version 2

The maple’s spring is seed-first,
in twos, red head to red head,
from each seed, not yet stiffened for flight,
one red wing’s been lowered.

Out of the apple, however, spring spills.
Too tightly packed? The leaves’ green,
blossoms’ white – hurled out,
thrown, falling. From invisible wire exploding.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

definition of art

from Edmund White's The Farewell Symphony:

"To me, a work of art is a performance of a certain length that generates interest." (italics in original)