Monday, February 27, 2006

My literary Niederlage

Another Literary Failure

I have tried and failed to read Ulysses. Solemnly I came forward and mounted the tome. I turned around on it so as to face the window, blessed gravely the book thrice, each page as well as the room’s stale air and a nearby stack of magazines. Then, catching sight of my son Miles, I leaned over him and blessed him likewise thrice, making rabid jabberings and wild crosses in the air, while shaking my short brunette mane. Miles, perturbed and sleepy, looked peeved in my direction and demanded to know the purpose of my aforesaid gurglings, which disturbed the morning like a case of tonsillitis. His breath was biscuity.

--Cut it out, mommy.

--I must read Joyce!

--That annoying Irishman, who refused to kneel at the deathbed of his mother? The bloody bum, bursting with obscure words and ambiguous transitions. There’s no sense in it. His name is absurd, too. Never trust a man with two first names. And certainly he’s no gentleman if you have to read him in that manner. Come, let’s play Battleship.

I dismounted.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Eric Asimov had an article in the NYTimes this week (that I read online) about how he's a fan of the Rioja wines from Spain. So of course I sent him my Rioja poem. And he sent me back a mail that said "Bless your Spain-shaped heart."

i need more money to pay these poets

Cesar Vallejo - The Gravest Moment In Life - $3.1 million
Tomaz Salamun - Only the Snow Stays - $2.91 million
Gerald Stern - The Law - $88,045
Lia Purpura – Cicada – $43,672

gotta get more ladies in there...

Got a rejection from West Branch. Aside from their probably not liking the poems, the editor said they don’t usually run a poet in consecutive issues. So I’m ready to swallow that.

Also, in sending a note on to Bitter Oleander that a poem I’d submitted there ages ago was accepted elsewhere, the editor said he thought he’d already responded to my previous query saying he hadn’t accepted any of my poems. Well, I can’t say I’d overlook an email from them very easily, but these things happen. Clarity!

On the acceptance side, Third Coast accepted my poem “The Problem with Everything.” That was a boon.

And DMQ Review accepted “Year in Milan” and “Postcards from Paris.” They turned down “Lisbeth,” which I’m fond of. But so what.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cresent Moon

I spent the last couple weeks helping round up some photographers for Cresent Moon Review, which was time-consuming but fun.

I kept thinking, hey, I'd like to own a couple of these photographs, and then the sad lot of poets occurred to me . . . how we can't just put up a site or a stand on the corner and sell our poems for $10 buck a pop or so. And there are so many poems out there worth thousands of dollars.

Lorca's "Gacela of the Dark Death" - $3.21 million
Pablo Neruda's "Walking Around" - $2.08 million
W.S. Merwin's "Departure's Girlfriend" - $989,768

I'll be back with more.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

been so busy

Sunday: plush, nicked and languishing
Monday: lush, rich and ravishing
Tuesday: much, tricked and scavaging
Wednesday: mulch, ditch and savaging
Thursday: rush, licked and brandishing
Friday: such, snitched and vanishing
Saturday: gush, bitch and managing

Saturday, February 11, 2006

If you're near NYC, get ye to my brother's book launch

Book Launch and Party
Friday, February 17
6.00 PM – 8.00 PM

Exhibition - February 15 -- 27
The National Arts Club
15 Gramercy Park South
New York, NY
Contact: 212.475-3424

Please visit to see more work by the photographer, or to order CONFIDENCE GAMES.

NEW YORK CITY, January 20, 2006 – Edizioni Charta of Milan, Italy, has published Confidence Games, a book of photographs by Thatcher Keats that plumbs the yearnings, failings and pleasures of his subjects.

“The work in Confidence Games touches a lot of the obsessions I've indulged over time, from punk rock to religious charismatics to the literary symbolists to cryptology,” explained Keats, whose photos are an exhilarating mix of reportage, portraiture and theater.

The book's title, “Confidence Games” expresses the tension evoked by Keats’ method and attitude. It suggests exploitation but also the act of confiding. “I didn't take these pictures to titillate or exploit. I shoot people who warm to me, who let me in, who give me access. I hope my work is honest. I'm fascinated by people, how they live, how they get through the day. I like kids, stoners, complicated families because they tend to let it all hang out.

I'm not a distant observer. I'm as participatory as I can be without being in the frame. I don't stage events but I'm not some invisible observer in the corner either,” Keats said.

Rick Moody wrote the book's introduction in the guise of a psychiatric field study. “Issues economic, cultural, psychosexual, were always in rich solution during inquiries,” he writes. “Keats… exists in a vocabulary of infiltration hoaxes…What he was doing, according to respondents, was taking them out for a meal or a beer. Or: he was at the beach with them or he was singing, in a warbly voice, imitative of bootleg recordings, and he was therefore offering a photographic writing of human pathos.”

Even in Keats’ darkest pieces, there’s usually an element of joy. “I think a lot about the Asian kid I shot while in Thailand. The one with the ripped eye and the lollipop. I feel bad for him. But he's smiling. He's happy. He doesn't know he should have Blue Cross instead of H-I-P instead of nothing. He's full of life. I like shooting kids because they lack self-consciousness. Behaviorally, they're so open.”

Thatcher Keats started working in the 1980's, taking his cues from American traditional modernists like Robert Frank, Minor White, Diane Arbus, Larry Clark and Arthur Tress. As a young man he worked for a number of photographers including Larry Clark and Rosalind Solomon and had his first show at public exhibition space ‘10 on 8’ when he was 18. Self-taught, he is also a master printer – he does all his own printing and processes -- and a commercial photographer whose work has appeared in ID, The Fader, Vanity Fair, Esquire and Vice, among others. Confidence Games, his first book, is a survey of his black and white work from the 80s and 90s.

Confidence Games will be available in February through DAP, in bookstores, at online booksellers or may be purchased directly from the photographer at .

Thursday, February 09, 2006

book habit

I got five new books the other day:

Selected Writings of Guillaume Apollinaire (new directions). I haven’t really started reading this, but his Alcools is one of my favorite poetry books. Part of the reason I bought this book is to compare the translations of the poems in my version of Alcools. I love doing that.

“donnez moi pour toujours une chamber a semaine…”

I also got A Self Portrait in Letters, a collection of Anne Sexton letters. It’s interesting, but I must say I prefer reading her poetry. Apparently all her bad spelling has been corrected.

Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities, by Olena Kalytiak Davis. Oh, this is a disappointment. I hate to say it. Her first book was fabulous. I asked myself, if the book had been by another poet, would I have been more receptive? No. Except for “six apologies, lord,” which I love, the poems leave me asking myself “so what?”

More interesting is Brenda Shaughnessy’s Interior with Sudden Joy, but it’s also not a blockbuster. She’s a bit like an erotic Lucie Brock-Broido, whose influence is very clear. Shaughnessy acknowledges her in the book, saying Brock-Broido’s teaching “helped shape this book in a mysterious way.” Mysterious? It didn’t seem mysterious to me. Shaughnessy has a similarly nimble syntax and vocabulary. I love many of her phrases like “spastic blizzard” and “I’ve been so lovingly breathed into it appears I can’t move.” It’s good, and clever, and entertaining, but not a substitute for Brock-Broido.

The best of the five is Marie Howe’s What the Living Do. It’s beautiful, moving and spiritual. It knocks me out. So far my favorite poem is “My Dead Friends.” I know it’s a seemingly morbid title, but the poem is wonderful. It starts –

I have begun,
when I am weary and can’t decide an answer to a
bewildering question

to ask my dead friends for their opinion
and the answer is often immediate and clear.

Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child
in my middle age?

They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling –
whatever leads
to joy they always answer,


This morning I am asking my cousin Christopher, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident about 15 years ago, if I should get the puppy we’re thinking about getting. I told him how it would surely be me doing most of the caretaking of this puppy and how my nerves are strained most of the time anyway. And Christopher answers?


chairman / businessman
fisherman / fireman / policeman / postman
frogman / horseman / the elephant man
Batman / Spiderman / Superman
candyman / handyman
Piltdown man
barman / gagman / lawman / gunman / bowman
clansman / kinsman / tribesman
hitman / hatchetman
yes man / leg man / dead man
preacher man
ironman / strongman
cave man / meat-and-potatoes man
secret agent man
alderman / bogeyman / foreman
piano man / jazzman
mr. tally man / ice cream man / repo man
draftsman / sportsman / backwoodsman / frontiersman / huntsman
lover man
six-million-dollar man
hangman / brakeman
man’s man / ladies’ man / boy man / girly man
popeye the sailorman

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

the boat family

Wrote two poems, drafts i guess, since thursday. One aims to be funny, called "lice." yep, I had them in solidarity with my kids, and nearly went insane. The other is called "Zurich" and is not funny, but may be overwritten, which makes some people laugh.

Also added a bunch of songs to the iPod. 3 Roches songs, 3 Steely Dan, 1 Tribalistas, 1 Mazzy Star, Joan Osborne's version of "Son of a Preacher Man," 1 Burt Bacharach (ben folds singing "raindrops keep falling..."), and some other mostly upbeat stuff.

gotta work tomorrow, like most of us.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

what i'm really saying

When I’m writing about glass
of course I’m writing about bottles.
When I’m writing about bottles
usually I’m writing about booze
or maybe mother, nurture,
sand, or possibly fragility.

When I write about the snow
I’m really writing about all the people
who have touched me
about the hands that wake me
to smell the coffee, smell the roses
smell the animal pen across the street

and about my anxiety about the future
how I'm looking for a sign
or anything you think I’m writing about.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

alphabet poems

This month's Snakeskin is a special alphabet issue.
Some very delightful stuff in there. I especially like the short ones: HH Hill's "H" poem, Nick Carter's "Q" and Michael Dion's "S." Read those! J.D. Heskin's "A and B" is also terrificly (i can't be spelling that right) funny, and Gary Blankenship's W poem, "Waw," was a good read, too.

I'm filed there under O, with my Jackie O. poem.

it boggles the mind

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