Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Confession

I have a poem that has accumulated between 20-30 rejections. With another poem, I might have given up long ago, but this one's a pet, and more Segugio Italiano than lap dog. I've never gotten a word of encouragement on it, even as editors have accepted other poems from the submission litters it's mingled in. Considering the record, I've given the poem plenty of second, third and fourth thoughts, but continue to send this one out to much underwhelmment. I figure once I've sent it to the 72 journals I have in mind, the editors from the first rounds will have passed away and I can start over again.
Or maybe I'll change the title to something a la Stevens, like "Inchoate Hoisery" or "The Calm Embalmed in Oriental Foil."

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Name Your Poison

American Dream Syndrome, claims cultural influence, of wanting to get ahead economically causes crime.

Antisocial Personality Disorder, Does not normally satisfy requirements to be declared incompetent or insane, but is often admitted in court to explain chronic fits of anger and violence if subject takes pleasure in violating society's rules (as with sociopathy or psychopathy). Used as part of a defense or mitigating factor by defense attorneys, but more commonly seen as an aggravating factor by prosecutors, judges, and juries.

Arbitrary Abuse of Power Syndrome, claims behavior due to dealing with bureaucrats all day.

Black Rage Syndrome, created by NY attorney William Kunstler after reading Black Rage by Grier & Cobbs. Anger over racial injustice serves as catalyst or trigger for pre-existing mental problem. Used unsuccessfully in the Colin Ferguson case who killed six passengers on a Long Island train.

Cherambault-Kandinsky Syndrome, or CKS, an erotomanic disorder invented by John Hopkins sexologists to explain desparate acts, such as child abduction and extortion, common to lovesick parents or ex-spouses, person presumably falls under a "spell" much like epilepsy. Admitted in a NY court in 1992.

Distant Father Syndrome, invented by Robert Bly in "Iron John," explains crime as vindictiveness toward an absent father who never payed child support and never showed son his workplace.

Gone with the Wind Syndrome, used by rape experts to explain why rapists believe sex has to be spontaneous and done after some resistance on the part of the woman.

Mother Lion Defense, seeks to justify mother's violent reactions taken to protect her children. Often admitted and successful!

Nice-Lady Syndrome, used to explain why unhappy people stay with abusive or unsatisfactory mates, because they care about other's feelings more than their own, co-dependency, Al-Anon.

Premenstrual Stress Syndrome, hormonal changes are so severe that a woman is driven to the unthinkable. Used successfully to acquit Virginia surgeon Geraldine Richter in 1991 for DUI & Zsa Zsa-type behavior.

Situational Stress Syndrome, the idea that trivial things, like acne pimple outbreaks, cause crime.

SuperJock Syndrome
, part of the O.J. Simpson defense. Coined by Dr. Susan Forward, the therapist who treated Nicole Simpson. Athletes, especially superstars, are presumably prone to violence when frustrated. No respected psychology organization recognized this syndrome.

Twinkie Defense, in 1978, Dan White was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter instead of first degree murder for the killing of San Fransisco Mayor, George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. At the time immediately before the killings, Dan White only consumed junk food.

Unhappy Gay Sailor Syndrome, a condition describing the frustration and anger of gay & lesbian soldiers forced to serve out their tour of duty in the closet, first used to justify the charge of sabotage when a gun turret exploded on the USS Iowa.

and that's not all....

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

One if by Dare

Lately I've been mostly revising poems. In part it's laziness that keeps me from writing something new, but more than that - and I find this is consistently the case with me - it's a lack of nerve. I'm there with my pen and I just don't dare. I hope, again, it's temporary.

Juked accepted two poems this week, and I have a poem called "Some Things I Didn't Tell You About Tuesday" in the new River Oak Review.

Somewhere in the past months I've reached the 100-poems-accepted mark. They haven't all been published, so I can't yet say "She has had over 100 poems published...." But I would never say that. Reading stuff like that in bios irks me, along with "in 100s of magazines." Also because, honestly, if you had all your poems back unpublished, would they all go back out? Or to the same places?

Still, I added a link list at the bottom left with publications where I've had/will have poems.

the firebreather is beneath the clover

My colleague was trolling through the newspapers yesterday and discovered that Joanna Newsom is performing in Frankfurt Sept. 13. We both freaked out a little, and this morning, after checking with our respective spouses, we got tickets. It's in a church in the Sachsenhausen neighborhood of Frankfurt.

Our spouses declined. His wife re-listened to Ys and gave the thumbs-down. I reminded Carlo of who Joanna Newsom is ("is that yoko ono?," he once asked) and he also bowed out.

So nothing but real fans attending.

Friday, August 24, 2007

malaprop +

A Canadian colleague of mine the other day said her condition was "exasperated" by a certain habit. I zoned out for a moment on that one.

Another colleague, German this time, handed me a piece of paper this morning, saying "the parts that are orangely highlighted are new." That made us both laugh, and I had to think of ee cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees...

Friday Confession

I've never read On the Road. I've never read Kerouac at all.
But I wish I had, because I have no real desire to do so now.
Nor, perhaps sadly, have I ever.

I've added a number of books to my wish list in the last few days, including The Catastrophist, The Translator, Continental Drift, Hotel Imperium (recommended by Sara Kearns), and Sorry, Tree (sampled on Robin's beautiful Big Window).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

From John Glad’s introduction to Kolyma Tales

I pulled Kolyma Tales off the shelf this morning, and the introduction has to be among the best I've ever read.

"While the work of art “enriches” … , at the same time it creates a postpartum sense of loss: the first experience is unique, an act never to be repeated – no matter how great the understanding and appreciation later achieved through the most intent study. If only we could erase from our minds the memory of our favorite books and return to the still unsuspected wonder contained in those works! When we recommend them to our friends, we do so in envy – that we cannot recreate that initial magic for ourselves. And the more we love a book, the greater is our own wistfulness. We cannot step into the same river twice, not so much because the river is different, but because we ourselves are in flux.

"If you are about to read the stories of Varlam Shalomov for the first time, you are a person to be envied, a person whose life is about to be changed, a person who will envy others once you yourself have forded these waters."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day Off

Candles at breakfast,
hot milk for coffee.
Barefoot in the yard,
the grass is cold.

Is summer over already?
They slipped that one past me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I finished reading „Bel Canto“ by Ann Patchett on the train today. All in all it was a little too sugar-coated for my taste – the discovered friendships, unlikely loves, the pervading beauty of every damn thing…. And the purported passion surrounding one of the most important elements, opera, was unconvincing. It felt largely like a vacuous prop to be honest, like rattling off a list of arias.

But the writing was decent and I decided about a quarter of the way through I shouldn’t be too hard-hearted (and the book aimed to soften the petrified heart). I should just try to enjoy it, which, following my snobotomy, I guess I did. But I don’t think it was a marvel of modern literature, or that it deserved the PEN/Faulkner award. I took a look at the list of PEN/Faulkner award winners and have to say those I’ve read were in another league.

Finally, the end asked too much of me in terms of plausibility. Not to be mysterious. If you read it, you know what I mean.

Or maybe you loved it. My mother did, which is why I read it at all. My mother begs me to read certain books. That is her word, beg… “I am begging you, please, you have to. . .” It is hard not to try to comply once in a while. Still, she just read another Ann Patchett book about a magician and I’m going to have to tell her I’m passing on that one. . . She also loved “The Kite Runner” and whatever that writer’s new book is. I got a very long begging on that, but my snobotomy only goes so far...

little poem that changed the morning

I recently got David Ignatow’s book of selected poems Against the Evidence. He’s not fond of ornament or adjective – he goes skinny on the props. You won’t find a lot of birdsong, rosebuds, dead Pompeiians or delicate tendrils climbing a trellis! I find the straightforwardness appealing, and like how a statement that starts out simple can take on an unexpected depth and implication. He can also be funny, which I appreciate. Here’s a poem I read this morning.

The Signal

How can I regret my life
when I find the blue-green traffic light
on the corner delightful against the red brick
of my house. It is when the signal turns red
that I lose interest. At night
I am content to watch the blue-green
come on against the dark
and I do not torture myself
with my shortcomings.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bad Day at Black Rock

My kids go back to school today.

I hate school. And I hate to disappoint everyone who says to me, "You must be glad the kids are back in school!" I'm not glad. I hate school. I hate homework, I hate grades, I hate tests, and more than anything I hate the German school system.

Have a nice day.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Because there aren't enough cute animals on the internet

Dogs with barks blog.
Dogs with smarts blog.
Dogs in clogs that bark with smarts blog.

Dog run – food bowl
Milk bone - blogroll
Flea spray - wolfboy
Blogspot – chewtoy

Chew the chewtoy in the foodbowl.
Add the wolfboy to the blogroll.
Spray the fleaspray on our dog Spot.
Run spot! Run spot!
Run, spot, run!

thanks to gardenpainter for doggirl

Friday Confession

I never liked Elvis.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

mariners, all

"Just because you're concerned about climate change doesn't mean you have to live in a yurt in outer Mongolia. You can be passionate about the environment, without strapping yourself to a whaling ship or using yourself as a human shield against bulldozers that mow down old-growth trees. All it takes are a few smart, fuss-free choices to make the change you wish to see in the world, while rejuvenating your body, home, and planet at the same time. Choosing green might even save you some green in the process. Our list is by no means exhaustive, but it's a righteous start." (from an article on live science)

I cringe at the tone of this - the assumption that being concerned about the environment is a silly extremist attitude that could embarrass you and the rest of us, for chrissakes! I think the writer struggled not to strew exclamation points all over.

And I wince at how the alliteration of “mow down old-growth trees” blows “MOLD!” in my ear, insinuating maybe it’s time those futzy old trees made way. Not to mention the word “yurt,” which says to me yoghurt --> kefir --> grunge. As if being green means living with permanent dirt under your fingernails.

I guess it’s positive that the writer is trying to make environmental protection “palatable,” but that saving the planet could in some way be “fuss-free” is such absolute bullshit it makes me want to die.

And since protecting the planet, ie saving your own ass, isn’t incentive enough for the consumer, doing a couple convenient things around the house can also “rejuvenate your body!” OK? And “save you some green.” (It’s not possible the writer used that pun, is it? Groan.)

And what does the word “righteous” reveal besides that the writer has had it with the holier-than-thou-ness of people concerned about the environment?

I ask you.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I didn't even vote for myself

Boxcar Poetry just wrote to tell me my poem Hive was voted "Poem of the Issue." I'm pleased as punch. Thanks to whoever voted for me. (I voted for the poem "Seven," myself.) As as if the honor wasn't nice enough, I also won $25. Which is great. Because I bought myself a dress today at Marimekko.

Friday, August 10, 2007

friday confession: what an idiot

I just looked at the cover letter I sent to a journal with a submission in May. There I was pasting in a sentence about where I've been published and I notice the sentence begins "You published my poem 'Tralala' last year and I have also had poems in A, B and C." Groooooaaaaan. This journal didn't publish my poem. I pasted the sentence in from a letter to another journal that did.

oh, jeezus. I am resigning as my agent.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

another birthday

So, yesterday my sister, and today my stepbrother's birthday. You like photography? Street photography? Grotestques? Why not buy his book, goddammit?

I wrote a couple poems for him last year. Actually because he asked me to. Actually he had a lot of suggestions for how these poems should go. Which made me laugh. He's like that.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I’ve never kept sheep, / but it’s as if I did. / My soul is like a shepherd.

Buffalo Carp turned down five poems. Too bad. I will try again probably. With other poems.

Kaleidowhirl accepted “Henry, the World,” which is a veiled epistle to an old boyfriend of mine, who is named Peter and not Henry, and “Hurricane Season,” which is, believe it or not, a hurricane poem.

Crab Orchard rejected five poems. They put a note at the bottom saying they’d liked “Used Books,” which I’d withdrawn. They’re taking submissions on the theme of adolescence now for anyone so inclined.

Opium accepted “On the Way to Meet my Daughter’s Teacher“ for Opium5. It’s a variety of suicide poem. But it uses the phrase “kill myself” instead of “suicide” for the sake of subtlety.

Wicked Alice took “Stovetop,” an empty nest poem, and “Snorkeling,” a snorkeling poem. I've never been snorkeling, but it’s as if I have.

Things My Sister Taught Me

It's my sister's birthday - 45, and all her life a priceless font of information.

Things My Sister Taught Me

Without factories, there wouldn’t be clouds.

Bats live in the tree outside your bedroom.
They see better than anybody because they’re blind.

Sneeze, and your heart stops.

Thunder is the sound
of houses hit by lightning

Sing at the table
and you’ll marry a man
who beats you.

If in a dream
you dream
you die,
you die.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Owl & the Pussycat in Jive

De owl and da damn pussycat went t'see in some fine peagreen boat. Man! Dey took some honey and plenty uh bre'd wrapped down in some five-pound note. De owl looked down t'de stars above and sang t'a small guitar, "oh lovely pussy, oh pussy mah' love, whut some fine pussy ya' are, ya' are, ya' are! Right on! Whut some fine pussy ya' are." Pussy said t'de owl, "ya' elegant fowl, how charmin'ly sweet ya' rap. Oh let us be married, too long we gots tarried. But whut shall we do fo' some rin'?" Dey sailed away fo' some year and some day t'de land where da damn bong tree grows, and dere in some wood, some piggywig stood wid some rin' at da damn end uh his nose, his nose, his nose, wid some rin' at da damn end uh his nose.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
You can translate your poems into dialect - jive, redneck, pig latin, swedish chef, etc. - here.

Cleaning Up After the Dog

This poem is funny.
For me, as a dog owner.
As a cleaner-upper.
As someone intimate with the workings of a beast.
As a beast.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Charles Simic named Poet Laureate

And not a moment too soon. Shake out the pillows and quilts, beat the rugs clean and delouse the upholstery. Charles Simic not only has a tentacle-like intelligence, he is also a crack-up. Funniest, cutest, most likely to succeed, you name it. I love him. May I be so bold as to say I probably possibly very likely love him more than you do? In 58 shades of maroon? In ten years aboard the Titanic? At impossible temperatures?

(NYT) Charles Simic, a writer who juxtaposes dark imagery with ironic humor, is to be named the country's 15th poet laureate by the Librarian of Congress today.
Mr. Simic, 69, was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and immigrated to the United States at 16. He started writing poetry in English only a few years after learning the language and has published more than 20 volumes of poetry, as well as essay collections, translations and a memoir.
A retired professor of American literature and creative writing at the University of New Hampshire, he won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1990 and held a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant from 1984 to 1989.
He succeeds Donald Hall, a fellow New Englander, who has been poet laureate for the past year.
James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, will announce Mr. Simic's appointment. Mr. Billington said he chose Mr. Simic from a short list of 15 poets because of "the rather stunning and original quality of his poetry," adding: "He's very hard to describe, and that's a great tribute to him. His poems have a sequence that you encounter in dreams, and therefore they have a reality that does not correspond to the reality that we perceive with our eyes and ears."
Mr. Simic, speaking by telephone from his home in Strafford, N.H., described himself as a "city poet" because he has "lived in cities all of my life, except for the last 35 years." Before settling into academia, he held a number of jobs in New York, including bookkeeping, bookselling and shirt sales. He originally wanted to be a painter, he said, until "I realized that I had no talent."
He started writing poems while in high school in Chicago, in part, he said, to impress girls. He published his first poems in The Chicago Review when he was 21.
Mr. Simic said his chief poetic preoccupation has been history. "I'm sort of the product of history; Hitler and Stalin were my travel agents," he said. "If they weren't around, I probably would have stayed on the same street where I was born. My family, like millions of others, had to pack up and go, so that has always interested me tremendously: human tragedy and human vileness and stupidity."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I didn’t get a rejection from Poetry Magazine

Because a slurry of moisty debilitating leeches began to nibble and suckle me every time my mind came closer than 10 miles to the idea of submitting, I have not received a rejection. It is unbelievable! No rejection from Poetry! I feel very alone among men.
Related Posts with Thumbnails