Chimera Song Mosaic
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
I just realized while writing an email (to one person), well, I just recognized the urge to put that email on my blog for what it was: the efficiency ethic.
When I am composing a particularly thoughty email, one that will make me look all brilliant and shiny, I am writing to one, but I am having the urge to spread it to all. I am thinking, "Hey! This is looking really good! Why am I just letting one person see this when I could be sharing it with everybody!" That and the feeling: it's okay if this is really sloppy; after all, I'm not going to post this.
Stephanie, you hear me. We have said this (to each other, but I'm not going to share it! It's ours! Go get your own!).
Okay, so everybody, help me out: is this good or evil? Is this a corporate mentality or a Marxist one? (invert those pairs, please)
The Panel! is shaping up quite nicely. Thank you! There might be room for one or two more.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Sunday, April 25, 2004
Free Radicals: American Poets Before Their First Books (Jordan)
Catherine Meng’s chapbook
Jim Berhle’s (Purple) Notebook of the Lake (Braincase Press)
Shanna Compton’s Down Spooky
Jordan Davis’s Million Poems Journal
Smokers Die Younger (Stephanie)
These I can figure out how to get, but many I cannot or have forgotten the reference. If anyone is willing to send me an “If you liked The Little Door Slides Back, try ____________!” note, I would deeply appreciate it since this list is nowhere near complete.
Also, any issues of Court Green or any likeminded new journal that I have been hearing about, since I can’t figure out how to get them online and have no access to an independent bookstore.
Also, if any of the minds behind these creations would take pity on me and send them to me, perhaps free of charge, I would be most honored, grateful—and such texts would be sure to take first place in the things-I-should-read-as-soon-as-the-f-ing-semester-is-over section of my bookcase. And it’s so wrong to try to get away with not paying. So even if such text is sent with a brief, handwritten note—perhaps, “You still owe me 5 bucks, bee-ATCH!” I would still be grateful and would still read it.
I know that I should just be able to follow the instructions, hidden as they are, somewhere on someone’s weblog (some of them are easier to locate, thank you for that). However, I am so over-loaded with essays to be graded right now that I simply feel that taking the time to stop and write the necessary check with the necessary address with the necessary return postage would be too much to manage. And if I wait, such things will be gone, or else I’ll never be able to trace these things back to their source again. It’s not like there’s a Wish List, a la Amazon. Hence my own (woefully skimpy) wishlist above.
And part of me, too, thinks that it’s ridiculous to have to pay for the privilege of keeping up with other people’s lives and work—work that I would love to read—people who I suspect would be my peers, were I only more closely related to them, geographically. Don’t underestimate the happy convenience of seeing someone (at a reading, an organic grocer, a second-hand clothes store, a non-Starbucks coffeeshop) and saying, “Oh, yeah! I’ve been wanting to read your chapbook, etc.” and that person remembering you, having the benefit of an image as well as a solid memory, and that person then doing half the work involved in getting his or her work read.
Perhaps people live in the poetic hotspots (San Francisco, New York, Boston—I only suspect these are the hotspots from the blogs I read) for that reason—so they don’t miss out on anything. Perhaps that is what is so frustrating and, for someone with my head-in-the-clouds disposition, makes it so utterly impossible for me to keep up.
The bloggers I feel closest to, geographically speaking, are Chris Murry in North Texas, because she also seems somewhat isolated, although it’s clear that she has deep and substantial poetic roots and connections, probably because of her own impressive effort and probably also partially because of her job. She also seems fabulous and intelligent and nice. The obvious analogy is with Texas. The second blogger is Heriberto Yepez, who is living in a border town, too, but not the same one as I am, not even on the same side of the border. He fascinates me, reminds me of myself, and also intimidates me, probably because of the language thing, also because I am almost sure I have reached out to him (in a pathetic, challenging, mentioning-him-on-my-blog kind of way), and he has not responded, which makes me feel, of course, rejected, which leads me to the only obvious conclusion: he hates me.
Am I Emily Dickinson? I seem to think so. Although I have often been critical of her foolish paranoia and delusions, as they were, of grandeur (although in her case, perhaps delusions is not the correct assessment of her confidence in her writing). But it should be noted that the bloggers I have mentioned above are at least 10 hours or 1,300+ miles distant from me. I’m not sure I have much of a chance. Maybe that is what Dickinson was doing--not giving herself a chance. Limiting what comes into her house, what goes out. (As Claudia Rankin once said to me (about why she doesn't send out submissions), I don't want that kind of noise disrupting my life.) It's so much easier if no one is bothering you. It's so much easier to control. Maybe that is what I want: control of the situation. Instead of being energized by the cool stuff that other people are doing (like I should be), I am freaked out, humbled, silenced. I often wish people would just stop making chapbooks, finding new journals, changing their blogsites, linking to new blogs. Don't we already have enough to read? And so I freeze. Keats ran away from other poets becuase he was worried that he would be too influenced by them (paraphrase). I suspect his motives. Perhaps, instead, it's cowardice. Perhaps it is an unwillingness to compete. I was very overwhelmed in graduate school by the plethora of readings, the scenes, ubiquitous. I resented them somewhat. How much worse would it be for me in New York? So I move to a place, albeit somewhat against my will, that has almost zero readings. Hmm. I suspect my own motives.
Jonathan Mayhew said on April 20th, “Why apologize for being a poet? None of the rest of you do...” Except me. I do apologize for being a poet. I do so because that is what people ask of me. The people I am around—people I love (husband, fiction writers, close friends, friends from high school)—ask that of me, demand that of me, because I must pay for asking them, inviting them to listen to my poetry, if only for a few minutes. “Why is it so obscure?” they ask. (It isn’t.) “Why do you use words that I have to look up in a dictionary—or that sometimes I look up in a dictionary and cannot find in the dictionary?” (“The" dictionary, note.) Well, I do have an answer for this, one that I finally, verbally articulated yesterday, one that I will maybe someday, somehow articulate in words and post here. But for now, it is enough to note that I constantly apologize for being a poet, seem to think, perversely, that there is nothing wrong with doing so. This to help further explain my situation.
If my ridiculous and self-serving pitiful plea has moved you, please send me an email, I’ll send you my address, and you can send me your stuff or recommended stuff from others. Like I said, you can bill me later, or I can hopefully send you the money right away. If it’s readers you want, I am a reader for your work, and I will read it. Then maybe I’ll even get some time this summer to write about it on my blog since I like to do that kind of thing.
Or I could just save up my money, save up money that is not mine, and go to AWP next year. I do love Vancouver. I like to think about the Victorian horror of the dead kids in Stanley Park. I like the beach. I like thinking I will recognize locations from The x-Files. I Like Canadians. I love LUSH. I like Japanese and Ukrainian food. I like Grouse Mountain. I like Au Bon Pain. I like those Delaney’s coffee shops, Delaney’s on Denman and Delaney’s in the Village (I have, too, (2) giant mugs from these places expressing such sentiment that I bought while visiting Vancouver while living in Montana while attending graduate school at the University of Montana in a desperate attempt to buy up any representation of culture or coolness or art or like-mindedness, much like buying bushels of books at AWP, which I did in March 2002 in New Orleans, in a desperate attempt to stave off the feeling of sinking further and further into obscurity, of essentially not existing at all on the poetic radar. . .) . . . I like Death by Chocolate, an all-dessert store, featuring chocolate.
I am getting really excited about this!
Of course I should go to Vancouver, even if it means keeping the heinous job that forces me to comment extensively on other people’s writing and therefore neglect my own writing, which is assumed (by me) to be my life’s work, in order to afford it! Of course! That’s the answer! I don’t need to write poetry; I can just go to AWP! (At this point my genuine enthusiasm is, regrettably, squashed by my hard-won cynicism.)
I was going to hold out for AWP until it convened in Hawaii. But there’s no time like the present (or like 11 months from now). If anyone is doing a panel on the Impossible Situation of Living Far from the Place You Should be Living and Having a Job that is Far from the Job that You Should be Having (in Order to be a Poet—or, let’s say, a Writer) and You Know about It, and Despite Knowing this You Continue to Exist in this State of Frustration, to Put it Mildly, and Do Not Do Anything to Help Your Situation, Despite the Nagging Feeling that You Might Be Purposely Setting Yourself Up for Failure, so that After Failing, You Can Always Say that It Wasn’t Your Fault, that You Tried, that If Only You Had Lived in a Poetic Hotspot, This Wouldn’t Be Happening . . .
Heriberto Yepez, join my panel; Chris Murry, join my panel; Nicole Cordrey, join my panel; Jonathan Mayhew, join my panel; David Hess, join my panel; Kathy Acker, join my panel; who else should join my panel? I know I must be missing someone (and it’s not deliberate at all, only a function of time lack and disorganization, just as the editors claim). Join my panel because I need someone to chair it; it probably shouldn’t be me. Join my panel so that it does not erupt into a narcissistic pity session, the kind that everyone avoids like poison so as not to be infected by that thing that breaks all poets: defeat.
Join my panel; we only have 6 days left to apply!
Join my panel, or else do not join my panel, but set me straight; tell me whatever it is I need to hear so that such a panel never needs to exist (although I believe this panel does exist and always must exist because for every insider, there are five or so outsiders; for every winner, there are 600 or so losers. I see germs of this mentally in the existence of the anthology of Free Radicals: American Poets Before Their First Books. I am not the only one who feels this way. I can’t be; it wouldn’t be logical). Isn’t this a cry for help? Aren’t I asking for a lifeline—an intervention—a bone?
I am now so ashamed that I must turn my head away from the computer screen and cover my face with half a hand. Which of course means that I should post this. What else should I post? I realize that I am socially punished for not updating my links, just as others are socially punished for not linking to such and such a blogger and such and such a blog. I don’t think poets should do this to each other. I think we should have better things to do, like write poetry. Secondarily, we should try to ensure that we and others read the poetry that others write, including their blogs. These are the two most important things we should do, in this order.
Monday, April 19, 2004
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
"I want so much for these young girls to succeed." --Angelina Jolie: Notes from My Travels
Nobody's cheating on this, are they?
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Here is my poem for Lil' George. Maybe I'll read it tomorrow in Austin. It still sounds good without the foreign policy reflex gag.
Kiss, with Tongues
There are tongues in various
places, tongues in the desert,
the thick tongues dense
with grit and alum, tongues
in the unknown, tongues
in the pickle-jar, seamless
bolts of tongues folded
over satin-trimmed saw-
tongues, slick and elegant
worldly orbs of bunchy
elocution, stained tongues
in sewer-pits, tongues
bouncing on the mattress
sprung and deft and
bunty tongues, tongues in
your sphere of
reference, each tongue
a monolith, each tongue
a witness, each tongue
brethren to your pits
and whorls and growths
and sporesÂeach tongue
tongues, tongues of gravity
and atmosphere, depression,
a velvet curtain
tongue as tongue
to taste the weather
and gage the lustrum,
a mani-folded tongue,
a tongue to warp the
forum and cull the
radium from the
sun, a tongue born
of acids and ante-
bellum, a tongue of
construction, a tongue
and calcium; these
tongues are fleshing
out the heavens,
feather forth from
a stylus and a pistil
and a drum and lick
the chalk off the cliffs
and bid the vacant
home to dinner
and rid the angry
and the bellicose
of shades of pink
and fashions of ink
that really make
you stop and
think about a
or how love is not
indelible, but like
a ______, it starts
to bleed and
runs and runs and runs.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
Surgery went great. Lots of hot doctors. Blow by blow later, for those who are interested in swirly lights and panic fantasies and modern minor surgery. Can see 20/20. Pre surgery (contact lens vision): -5.25 (left eye); -4.75 (right eye). Total charge on American Express Optima: $2,600. Which is a lot of freakin' money.
Thursday, April 08, 2004
This isn't helped by the fact that I am almost beyond that point. There are so many things demanding my attention right now that I am reduced to a blubbering mass of tension, manifested in eyelid ticks and illegitimate word substitution. But I try not to show this to my classes; I joke around; I have a fun time; I am calm. This is very stressful to have to pretend I am not walking a fine line, emotionally.
One of the things that has weighed most heavily on me is my upcoming eye surgery. I am getting LASIK surgery on my very poor eyes tomorrow (!). Don't get excited; I don't have the money at all. My Dad is paying for it; he approves of surgeries. Anyway, my eyes are pretty important to me, and of course I have anxiety about the surgery, even though I keep telling myself it will go fine. But I've made it worse for myself by getting the surgery done in Houston (half price!), which is 6 hours drive from my home in the Valley. So this weekend, the only long weekend left in the semester, I have had to drive *home* (here I am, in Houston), rest, will prep for the surgery, get it done, drive home Sunday, face another nightmarish week of classes, drive to Austin on Thursday, read at the Austin International Poetry Festival, miss class on Friday, drive from Houston to Austin (3 hours) for my eye check up, go back to the festival, read again on Saturday, play with friends in Austin, buy some books (must have: new Jeff Clark, new L B-B, Court Green, Nils's new book), drive back to the Valley on Sunday.
If this seems like a really dumb schedule, it is necessary because I have no other time to do the surgery, unless I want to wait until late summer (which seems like a pretty good idea right now). A week after graduation (mandatory attendance), I am going to NYC for a week with Lance, my mom, and my sister (and see Caeli while I am there!). A week after I get back, I am hopefully going to Saint Petersburg for the Summer Literary Seminars. I have been offered a partial scholarship to attend, but it's another thing I truly cannot afford. Perhaps I should allow myself to go further into debt. I really want to go. I am worried my dog will die while I am gone (I feel your pain, Catfu!). Anyway, I can't get surgery and get on an airplane for a month or so after it (something about the nasty air encouraging infections of the eye). So here I am.
I wish I had the pre-commitment clarity to see how much of a jackass I am for doing this to myself. Right now, the simple solution to the surgery would have been to wait until the end of summer. But this only occurs to me after writing about it, so perhaps I should write everything out whenever I have a big decision(s) to make, and that will help me reach the best conclusion. It's better on paper than in your head. Writing will be my salvation. Hear here!
Although I have been avoiding writing lately (especially writing poetry!), I have been more or less keeping up with some of the exciting posts of late: Nick's *moving* chronicles, which I sympathize with; Jim's speech of 2/15/03, which inspires me; Stephanie's April Fool's Day quest for THE name for her new press (how about: Who's Your Daddy Press or feelingluckypunk? Press or perhaps just Punk Press), which moved me to actually respond by posting in the comment box; Chris's irrepressible and awesomely dependable recent manic bits of information and of poetry, which befuddle and delight. There's more, but I forgot. Also various genius South Park episodes, such as the recent ones on J.Lo. and on The Passion, which seem to fit so beautifully in my head and let me know that I am not along in the world--South Park is not a blog, but it makes me happy like a blog does (maybe expect for last night's yucky one with the gore, which amused me but didn't appeal,-- and maybe except for some big blog fights that I missed entriely and that have been so rudely stricken from existence. Hey, I already have some kind of problem with technology; the idea of someone erasing something that's *published* is very disturbing. Let's stop doing this, okay?). I also forgot everything I had to say along with this--responses to other's posts, perhaps--or my own ideas. I have been keeping a running blog in my head, but haven't had time to type it. All those wasted posts! Where is my voice-recording device!
Also, I have this fear (an obvious one) that my surgery might raise the risk of blindness, and after reading Shanna's painful concerns about possibly losing her sight, I am humbled by this and by the blind in general (although one is always humbled by those who achieve). I have been made to practice blindness a little bit myself. I have to administer a drop of antibiotics in my eyes four times a day in preparation for my surgery, and each dose presents some interesting problems. I have to wash my hands immediately before; I have to not touch anything but the dropper bottle; I have to tilt my head back; I have to make a small pouch with my lower eye lid; I have to squeeze one drop into each eye; I have to close the eyes immediately; I have to exert mild pressure on my inner corners of my closed eyelids (to keep the medicine from escaping there); my eyes must remain closed for one or two minutes (which one?); I have to count the seconds because I can't look at a watch; I sometimes don't count the seconds and simply guess.
I have performed this task with the many steps in several different locations as accorded by my schedule: the restroom in my office building at work; a public restroom stall at a gas station on the side of the road on the way to Houston; the empty bathtub at my Mom's house. Because I have to keep my eyes closed for a while and can?t do much else, I have been interested in experimenting with this to accommodate my previously very busy schedule. I had to leave class yesterday immediately after it was over and couldn't stop at home before driving to Houston so that I would make it to my appointment. So I had to put in the drops at the gas station. Lance and I worked out a system where I put the dropper vial in my mouth, washed my hands, didn't touch anything, walked into an empty stall, tilted my head back, followed the above steps, and with my eyes closed, closed the door, dropped my pants, sat down on the toilet, and went to the bathroom. Having to break things down into categories of what I can and can't do with my eyes closed. Going to the bathroom is one of the former.
The bathtub experience was even more interesting. I took my clothes off, washed my hands, dropped in the drops, closed my eyes, searched for the vial cap on the counter where I had left it, found it, closed the vial, felt my way to the tub, crouched in the tub, ran the water until it was hot, turned off the water, closed the stopper on the tub, felt the bottom of the cold tub with my hand for ferrets, sat down in the cold tub, felt a furry ferret against my arm at the rim of the tub and flinched in fright, but relaxed upon realizing it was a ferret and not (what?), turned on the water and splashed in it as the warm water began to fill the tub.
And after that I felt the entire world opening up around me. I wasn't in my mom's tub anymore at the house I grew up in. I lacked my primary sensory information receptors but was enveloped in warmth and smells of mint and the musky smell of ferrets and the knowledge of the existence of ferrets and not much else. I perceived that I could be anywhere. The world had never felt so big before. My thoughts immediately jumped to a clearer understanding of the end of Raymond Carver's "Cathedral."
Anyway, that took a long time, but that's what I really wanted to say today.