Friday, April 29, 2005

notes from paris

french keyboqrds qre different qnd wierd: well this is our third day in paris: here in list form is whqt weve done:

1 jetlagged slept
2 pompidu
3 walked
4 bought british books at shakespeare and co
5 hung out by notre damm
6 bickered
7 fought
8 made up
9 romantic walks on seine
10 crepes

Monday, April 25, 2005

Are MFA's worth it?

A fellow mentee of my mentor asked this question in a comment below.

I think so. I had a really good time doing mine. My writing got a shirtload better, I came out connected to magazines I like reading and writing for, and I made a horseload of wonderful and interesting friends. The things I did during my MFA laid the foundation for the beginnings of a literary life. But then I think the pricipal reason to go should be because it'll be fun, or at least pleasurable, and will satisfy something you need satisfied. The only real downside for me has been that Columbia costs a frickin' mint, but I've taught myself to forget about that. Who needs money anyway? And debt builds credit, and character. Columbia's also been the most expensive dating service in the world.

Anyone else wanna weigh in?

Also, B. and I are off to Paris tomorrow. I hope to post a little travelogue as we go.

Saturday, April 23, 2005


I'm being drawn at a ferocious speed through Jose Saramago's Blindness. There's a bit of Kafka to it, but it's a little easier to pin down, so not quite as satis/terri-fying, but what really is? But I'll be taking another Saramago novel with me to Paris.

Check out Matthew Thorburn's blog and his poems in Octpus 5.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Throwing my hat in the ring

Sent poems out to Verse and Volt today, and MacDowell sent an email confirming that they got my application. Waiting to hear from Breadloaf as well. And a bunch of other mags. Does every other poet (and fiction writer, for that matter) find themselves unduly obsessed with their mailboxes, hoping that in every pile of envelopes there's a SASE with something inside other than a rejection slip and their poems folded slightly differently than how they were sent? It strikes me as a terribly unhealthy habit of mind. One of many I have.

I also began working on a longer poem today--3 pages, which is a heck of a lot for 1-page-me. But somehow, when I try to go long, the writing gets slack, and I end up destroying or scrapping the poem a few drafts in. Anybody got any good long poem suggestions?

And my girlfriend and I are going to Paris next week. Anyone got good suggestions for things to do?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

My Wet Notebooks

Hello Dear Readers,

whoever, if ever, you are. I've been away for a couple of days. But I'm back to recount my recent adventures and purchases.

Today, a bottle of gatorade spilled inside my bag, creating a calamity that I'm sure is familiar to all bookish types--water damage. Yes, the Simon Armitage book I'm reading, my daybook, my journal (oh, not my journal!), my dell digital jukebox, and my contributor's copy of the new Western Humanities Review, were all slightly wetted, though fortunately not drenched. How crappy.

But I've been reading these English poets I mentioned earlier. It's a real change, a welcome one, from the looseness and fragmentation of so much contemporary American poetry. I'm reviewing the new Iowa anthology of new American poetries, so I've been steeped in a heavy sampling of po-moetry. The more constrained cleverness of poets like Armitage and Gweneth Lewis has been a welcome alternative.

In other mediums, I've just bought a CD by the jazz drummer Jim Black. It's loose as well, melodic, but sloppy. But Black is amazing, combining almost machine-like precision, chops that are ready to sample the rhythms of any genre, and an experimental flair that makes him not unlike, well, much contemporary poetry.

My thesis conference at Columbia is this week. As my readers are both friends, I don't anticipate being surprised by their responses to my work, but wish me luck. Finally, I will have my MFA. I've been scared a safe would fall on me before I got the damn degree.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

My Girlfriend, My Roommate, My Blog

I am excited about my new blog. When I told my girlfriend this morning, however, that I had stayed up until 3 am setting it up, she was not nearly as enthused. No, she is no fan of blogging, and hardly impressed by my blog. She even said that staying at home and painting military flats would keep me more in touch with reality. I don't see how that's true (I do have a good friend who paints military flats, and he certainly does not do it to get in touch with his reality), but I haven't the skill to try anyway.

As I was creating this blog last night, my roommate also expressed a kind of sarcasm about my new hobby. (Check out his online comic, the only link so far on my blog--he's no less geeky.) He seems to think me an unlikely blogger, someone poorly equipped to out-blog the next guy, thereby drawing the attention of the text-hungry to my page. Maybe so, but I don't care.

I suppose, in the end, all I have is you, Reader. Only you believe in me. Only you care. You are the only one I am writing for. Reader, Reader, are you out there?

I just had to have one...

I don't really understand much about blogging, but I've been reading the damn things lately, and I just had to have one. It's like a new toy.

Today I did my first out of town poetry reading at URI with Sam White. The reading was hosted by my good friend Penelope Cray. It went very well. Small but attentive crowd. I read first, then Sam. I enjoyed his poems a great deal. Then we had an engaging Q & A session during which I learned that I write list poems. News to me, but it's good information.

On the trains today, I read the fairly new anthology called "New British Poetry" from Graywolf press, edited by Don Patterson and Charles Simic. Patterson openly proclaims that it's a conservative collection, representing the mainstream of British poetry. But a few poets really caught my attention, especially Simon Armitage, Alice Oswold, Gweneth Lewis, and Jaime McKendrick, from whom I plan to purchase books.

Ok. Well, it's back to teaching very early tomorrow morning. Grumble.