Friday, October 31, 2008

friday confession: sticking to my ignorance

When Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio won the Nobel Prize for literature, I had never heard of him. A month later, aside from his luscious name, I still know nothing about him. I'm sorry about this, but life is only so long.

The Nobel site describes Le Clezio as an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization."

Actually what they said was "uppbrottets, det poetiska äventyrets och den sinnliga extasens författare, utforskare av en mänsklighet utanför och nedanför den härskande civilisationen".

Wow. Too bad I have such a long reading list. I do not think I will ever get to him.

Monday, October 27, 2008

lap of soot

I finished Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" last week and I thought it was terrific. It's got a ridiculously simple plot that should be monotonous but instead is enthralling. I enjoyed the writing style, too - how he used sentence fragments, dropped apostrophes, and how he gave the dull and desolate landscape texture. I could feel the soot folding and unfolding over the ruin. But mostly I dug into the terrible story. It's an apocalyptic fantasy that everyone has had - McCarthy's version of that fantasy.

Like a lot of readers, I often shy away from the movie versions of good books. But I was interested to find out that "The Road" is being made into a movie. I was just saying yesterday how I refuse to see the adaptation of Denis Johnson's "Jesus' Son," but I am definitely going to see this. There's a slideshow here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

the seriously babbling brook

I am still under the sway of America. I know this because in the shower today I was thinking about Triscuits. Is the cracker named Triscuit because it appears to be woven like a basket, and you should arrive at that subliminally due to “A tisket, a tasket?” The Triscuit does carry edibles, as does a basket. Or is it a play on biscuit, biscuit coming from “biscotti,” meaning “twice baked.” Is the Triscuit thrice-baked? Is the Triscuit a sibling of Bisquick? Or is it simply a cute made-up word that almost rhymes with “mess kit,” or, stretchingly, “gimlet?” My mother always has Triscuits at her house and frankly I find the whole damned contraption too salty. And I am conserving water and arrived at no conclusion before having to evacuate the shower.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

elongated aquariums

I left my book on the plane last week. “Astonishing Splashes of Color.” Nicole recommended it, and I wouldn’t have pursued the book but it was at the register of a store I was at in NJ for some crazy price like $2.49, so I said what the hell. I got to p. 135 then put it under the seat in front of me before nodding off, only to leave the plane next morning without it. It wasn’t bad. It was getting good, and I hoped it would show up somewhere. It didn’t.

So I went to a bookstore with a decent selection in English. I figured “Astonishing Splashes” would be stocked since it was short-listed for the Booker prize, but it wasn't. Not that I wanted to buy the book again. I considered it. But more likely I would have read it on a chair in the store. Anyway, the point was moot. The author’s last name is Morrell, and there I was, dead-suspended at the M shelf wondering what the hell to do with my life. (I am reading a book of short stories, but I don't count that. Unfair, I know. Escapes, by Joy Williams. Very Good.)

A woman next to me was looking into Ian McEwan, but I’ve read all the McEwan I ever want to read (Cement Garden, Comfort of Strangers, Black Dogs, Amsterdam, Saturday, First Love, Last Rites), and I was just talking to a friend the other day about the dead end of him. There was a long line of Haruki Murakami books, whom I do want to read but feared I might not be prepared for. A few shelves higher was Cormac McCarthy. Since seeing No Country for Old Men I have considered reading that. The store had it but the cover was one of those Hollywood covers with a still from the movie. I hate that. So I looked at The Road. Of the Murakami, I looked at The Wind-up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore. I kept rotating the McCarthy and the two Murakimis in my hands until it occurred to me I’d better decide, then go home to make dinner. But I couldn’t decide. So I got them all. May they be marvelous.

foto: sabine rothe

visit to a place that doesn't exist

When I went to Dachau, I didn’t feel much of anything. The experience was purely intellectual – and even that required striving. I felt more vividly about Dachau when I was reading about Dachau, when I looked at photographs of it, when I conjured that apocalypse, working myself into the place with imagination and the memory of all I’d learned. The reality was a failure. There is no Dachau anymore; it’s just tidy rows of sterile geometry, all swept up. No need to leave the small museum. I know that there being no Dachau should be a good thing, but there really is no Dachau. None at all. When I went to Dachau, I didn’t feel much of anything. When I went to Dachau, mostly I was waiting to go home.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008



Monday, October 20, 2008

sad little round of life

I have a ghazal up today in the new issue of Unsplendid, a sleek ezine of formal poetry.

Monday, October 13, 2008

luckless pilgrim

We were sitting on the screen porch. My step-mother was telling us how much she had enjoyed visiting Colonial Williamsburg, how it took her a week to work through it whereas her friend Sally boasted it could be done in 45 minutes. Women cooked at a stove; men fired up the forge; everyone meandered around in full costume speaking a seemingly affected style of English. My step-mother's eyes lit up - she wanted it to be real, she imagined it was real, and she could join it. That's how I feel when I visit America: everyone is dressed up for it, including me. I"m tuned in. I talk the talk. I play that I'm part of it, but really I'm not. It's a reenactment. As my step-mother says, it's living history.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

a room with one cot can be world enough

I found out yesterday that Tilt Press will publish my chapbook In the Voice of a Minor Saint. I couldn't be happier. Thanks to the folks who have already congratulated me.

I chose the poems very carefully but since I'm traveling and without my files, I can't recall what they all are... mind of cheesecloth, folks. I'll update on that.

Moreover, instead of publishing three chapbooks as planned, the editors have decided to publish five. I think that's great since we all know how hard it is to get published, how limited the options often seem. So in addition to mine, here are the other four:

a / long / division by Hanna Andrews
Leaf Weather by Shira Dentz
In the Kingdom of My Familiar by Julie Platt
Handle This Bludgeon and Run Me Through by Andrew Terhune

I'll be making more noise about this later.

Monday, October 06, 2008

dein goldenes Haar Margarete

I was at the funnel cake stand in Dorney Park and their menu of beverages included "white milk."

It was the only milk on the menu.

I asked the guy what other kind of milk there might be. He suggested low-fat, 2%, and skim. They're all white, too, of course, and none of them were on the menu.

In the right light, milk fresh from the cow can appear slightly blue. And Paul Celan had his "black milk of daybreak." Matthew Sweeney also has a poem called "Pink Milk," which, if I remember right, is about milk from goats fed red carnations.

But I've never seen blue or black milk on a menu. If I did, I wouldn't order it. I also wouldn't order spilt milk or mother's milk or grey, or green eggs and ham.

Maybe in the age of obesity white milk is spelled out as an alternative to chocolate milk? Or maybe somebody just mixed "white" up with "whole."

Sunday, October 05, 2008

jane's krazy mixed-up salt

A slum can be a ghetto and a ghetto can be a slum but these are not the same thing.

Sometimes a slum is just a slum. And a ghetto isn't necessarily plagued by crime or, even, poverty.

I read a book review recently that called slums ghettos, and I wanted to get that off my chest.

Just so you know.

swat team

My mother took us on the gospel cruise. You weren't supposed to be on this cruise unless you were prepared to party for the Lord. We found this out after leaving port. I asked my son not to betray me. I asked my mother to please confirm this cruise was only two hours.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

dear newark

Three hours in now on planet palin. I was just kidding about watching the debate, since 9 pm EST is my 3 o'clock in the morning. But who knows, maybe I'll make it.

Read "The Slaves of Solitude" and Tomas Transtromer on the plane. Both recommended.

Funniest is watching my 12-year old watch American tv commercials in complete disbelief. The OTT of it all.

"You'll never have droopy houseplants again!"
Related Posts with Thumbnails