Sunday, September 30, 2007

2nd place - we try harder

I placed second in this month's IBPC competition with a ghazal, a form I love. Here's the judge's commentary with a link to the poem at the bottom of the page. Laura Polley took first place with a gorgeous poem (that I voted for btw).

On Friday I leave with the kids for a two-week vacation in NJ/NY. We're staying with my mother, and will spend a weekend up in Ghent NY with my brother. Very probably we will be in Philadelphia, too, which is great not only because my sister lives there but also because of the incredible used book store in her neighborhood.

Meanwhile I have some books I'm looking forward to waiting at my mother's.
Mystery in Spiderville by John Hartley Williams
The Great Enigma - Tomas Tranströmer
High Lonesome - Joyce Carol Oates
Gulag: A History - Anne Applebaum
The Other Lover - Bruce Smith

And, although I always hope to be writing, I don't know how much time I'll have, so I was glad to finish a poem-a-day forum today (10 days). My poems were: Morning Fragments * From the Top Bunk * Here on Business * Autumn, Reading Kolyma Tales * God Have Pity on the Smell of Gasoline * Snake Kiss * Buzz * Tinnitus Ditty * Iron * Hear What I Hear


Another highlight of visiting Michi was her showing me how to navigate Facebook. I feel awkward about Facebook. It seems static. I'm not sure I'm camping there for good. Unlike Blogger, it’s not focused on posts and writing. But it does have a neat layout, lots of gadgets and groups.
My Facebook status is among the most modest imaginable. I’ve got six friends, and holding. I’ve come across many people I met on the internet, but I wouldn’t presume to be-friend (sic) them without occasion. Blogger is more casual in that way. I’ll throw up a link because I like it, not because I pretend to actually know someone.
My Facebook friend list consists of three face-to-face friends. The other three are people I know from the internet whom I feel comfortable be-friending. My brother Shane is on Facebook, but I’m not be-friending him for now. His friends are all MIT grads, and he doesn’t like poetry. So what’s to say?
Considering this weird beginning, it was interesting to read this Slate article by a woman who just managed to purge her friend list from 274 to 258. She achieved this by eliminating the people she never met in person. My mind kind of boggles at that. She has befriended 258 Facebook friends in person. I really need an hour to sit down and work that out. Even if I were a single college student, I can’t imagine counting that many people on my friend list, however superficial the friendship. The writer mentions those are just her friends who are on Facebook; most of her friends, she says, are not on Facebook. All I can say is holy shit. Does this lady have time to shower, or does she have an email address labeled “everyone I’m friends with at Facebook?”
Call me old-fashioned, but unless you’re doing some serious career-networking or looking for customers or running a brothel, if you’ve got over 250 friends, some weird dynamic has taken over. You’re either sponsoring a charity, or you’re a kind of a slut to friendship.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I've been kind of down, and busy, and busy, and out, but I did want to mention that Vienna is beautiful and stately and dense. Mostly the blocks of buildings are imposing, but also grand and occasionally delicate. It's a very grown-up city. The distractions and pleasures are not light or quick. The city park is pretty for a stroll, but not for playing. I'd love to go back as a real tourist. With free time and a camera.

The highlight of my visit to Michi was sitting at her table listening to her read Tomas Transtromer's "Schubertiana," a wonderful poem. I ordered his Collected Poems this morning, translated by Robin Fulton. God, I hope the translations are good - you never know. Michi's translator was Robert Bly, and I do like his translations generally, but the Fulton book looked so,, complete. We read a few other poems, too, at random, but none were as good as "Schubertiana." Even Szymborska's "Conversation with a Stone," such a great poem, couldn't kindle half the pleasure of it read aloud. Unfortunately it's nowhere on the internet I can find, in English at least.

Friday, September 21, 2007

friday confession

If smoking were not unhealthy, I'd be smoking right now.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

adventure books

Some people, when they travel, choose books to suit their destinations. I don’t do that myself, but on my first trip to England when I was 20, I did have Tess of the D’urbervilles along, and remember how much the landscape added to my experience of the book. I remember in fact being skeptical about Tess, but once I started, the story mixed with the atmosphere of England was true transport.

Other people have a pet book they can’t leave home for a long period without. For me it’s the marvelous Random Book Of 20th Century French Poetry, edited by Paul Auster. Reading this book is like finding a beach where the seashells washed onto shore are in some way particular and, if not beautiful, fascinating. But usually both.

Otherwise, following my trip, bookwise and worldwise I’m glad to report all is not lost. Even if you find yourself marooned bookless at a foreign airport, it’s likely the bookstore will have a palatable title. I was surprised, but there I was, 4/5ths through Kolyma Tales when I started worrying what I’d do if I became stranded. But the rinky-dink bookshop in Zurich Airport actually had among its English selection two Hemingway books. Two Paul Austers! The World According to Garp. Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved (which I intend someday to read). Martin Amis. Richard Ford’s The Lay of the Land. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. And a couple WWII history titles that were actually interesting. Of course it was mixed in with much “Chicken Soup” and “How To Achieve High Tech Hallelujah.” And mysteries galore. Anyway, I didn’t buy, but left with a some faith restored, since judging by what I saw, proably 25% of readers are actually interested in good reading, not just whiling away the hours.

Song of the Day: Ebben? Ne Andrò Lontana, from La Wally

Thanks to Niff for the Sparrow

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

so much depends on the invention of new hairstyle names

Static on the AM
The Josh
Pin cushion

and those popular in the 70's

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Then she thinks about having more children

She browses a shelf of mysteries
At lunch she sits next to a Frenchwoman who shouts
She checks her messages
Somewhere there is an exhibition of Kokoschka paintings
Somewhere a man is driving what used to be her car
They have confiscated her toiletries at the airport
Next to the hotel someone is lighting a candle
Thank god she didn't pack her perfume

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jumping Ship x 6

For Friday, a kind of confession

-We were eating lunch at my house, including salad, and cheese and crackers. He was impressed with my cheese plane and tried his hand at it, if not very smoothly. Later he thanked me for teaching him to use the cheese plane. I found this very bumpkin - not the lack of cheese plane experience, but the way he thanked me for it. As if I’d taught him CPR or something, something he felt he needed to know.

-He drank too much, causing me to drink too much.

-Neediness, your name was George.

-He didn’t drink. That was his thing.

-After a day out, we went to his house and he excused himself to take a shower. From the living room, I could hear him blowing in his nose into the shower. Quite a corker.

-Whenever I’d start to hum or sing something, he would join me. Like a chorus.

the book of right on

A colleague and I went to see Joanna Newsom play last night at the Dreikönigskirche. She played about an hour and a half. Playing the harp must be taxing, plus that energetic singing. It isn't like strumming a guitar and crooning. Anyway, it was a wonderful show and the church was a beautiful setting. She commented on how quiet the audience was, but I think everyone was just absolutely rapt. We arrived early and landed seats in the second row, a mercy on the eyes, as I imagine way back in the pews you wouldn't have seen much through the forest of shoulders and heads.

She played: * Sadie * Colleen* Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie * Only Skin * Inflammatory Writ * Sawdust & Diamonds * The Book of Right On * A Scottish Ballad I don't know the name of * Emily * Monkey & Bear * Bridges & Balloons

There was an opening act of two brothers from California who, despite being obviously sweet and lovable guys, played some very insipid folk music. This made for a rather awkward moment that was 10 songs long.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

johannes, your green apples leave me bitter

My poem "Europa" is in the new issue of American Poetry Journal.

I also just had a poem accepted at Wheelhouse Magazine, due in the Winter 2008 issue.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Guide to Re-Reading Hardy

Jude the Obscure
The evergreen tunic belted with a silk rope would work. If you were walking the tassel would swing like a bell, but lie down on the couch, your hair fanned up and over the arm rest. Be quiet turning the pages. Every sound is a wish that God were possible.

I ordered this necklace today at Etsy after finding a small trove of acorns outside. The acorn has always been a kind of totem of mine. I grew up on a street in Plainfield, NJ lined with huge oaks. Every fall the neighborhood kids would hold acorn fights – one side of the street against the other. We’d go up down the street scooping up acorns, dodging behind and between trees.

I always loved the feel of acorns. Finding one with its cap on was better than a bare one, although you could find stray caps, too, and match-make. The prettiest ones were not to be thrown, but to be saved on the bedroom nightstand like little characters, like jewels or some wonderful, impossibly innocent money.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

e lucevan le stelle

I was sorry to hear that Luciano Pavarotti died this morning, a giant talent. I woke my husband up to tell him. I'm sure William Matthews wrote the poem "E lucevan le stelle" in part as homage to Pavarotti's voice, or what the voice could stir.

E lucevan le stelle
by Wm. Matthews

And the stars shone, and the earth unstoppered
its perfumes, the garden gate scratched
open, footsteps lisped along the path
and they were hers, and she was mine.

And my hand shook the more slowly
I unwrapped and dawdlier I kissed her,
and her aromas rose, and the hour fled,
which is the way with hours.

And I’ve unveiled myself of any hope,
and death’s steps rasp along the path,
and, like any star, I have nothing
to burn but the life I love.

Among my Failures is One of Timing

I have a poem up at Juked today.

And may I add that qarrtsiluni is taking submissions now, too, for its next issue "Making Sense?" Dave of the beautiful ponytail is a curator at qarrtsiluni, and Rob is one of the guest editors for the issue.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Word of the Day

Cumungulous - a cloud or grouping of clouds that is unfuckingbelievably huge.

with thanks to...
"Arbolist - Look up the word. I don't know, maybe I made it up. Anyway, it's an arbo-tree-ist, somebody who knows about trees." - George W. Bush, quoted in USA Today, Aug. 2001

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

interesting call for subs from snakeskin, fyi

Jessy Randall, guest editor of Snakeskin , wants your collaborations for the February issue. Send straightforward literary works (poems or very short prose) by two or more writers working together, or digital poems that are collaborations between writers and computer experts. (See here for information on digitalpoetry.) Send up to 5 collaborations to jessyrandall (at) yahoo (dot) com by Dec. 1.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

i came at a wee hour / into my miniature existence

kaleidowhirl's editor told me yesterday that she's nominated my poem "In the Voice of a Minor Saint" for Best of the Web 2007 anthology. There's a link to the poem at the left if you're interested.

"If you see a man in a blizzard bending over a rock you may be sure it is me and that I am lost."

Isn't this a great chair? It's called a bibliochaise.

Nice for the armchair adventurer.

Coincidentally, I found this list of National Geographic’s 100 Best Adventure Books this morning. Plenty of cannibals, grizzlies, hallucinogens, capsized boats, loneliness, frostbite, nazis, bad omens, scuba gear, man-eating felines, oxygen deprivation, vipers, fatal mistakes, avalanches, flying spears, banditry, dogsleds and rampant malaria.

I am woefully behind, having read only three of the titles (26, 37, 70). But I’ve scribbled down a number of others that I hope to get to (1, 9, 41, 58, 67, 69, 83).

In this life.
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