Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Check this amazing blog out--people's secrets on postcards. It's scary and amazing.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Me at the Ear Inn

Hey! I'm reading at the Ear Inn on June 18th at 3:00! It's a saturday! I wish it were sunday! Cause that's my fun day! Click the link above. Hope you can come.

Reading the new Michael Palmer book, Company of Moths. I have a soft place for Palmer. Everyone goes on about how experimental he is, but I just love him cause he draws his imagery from lovely architypes, makes little fragmented myths.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Got a copy of the galley for the new Bidart book. For a long time, I couldn't connect with Bidart's work, then I saw him read "Music like Dirt," the Pulitzer-nominated chapbook that makes up the first section of Stardust. Reading his books with the intensity of his voice in my head made a lot more sense out of them. At this point, I think he's one of the more essential poets writing now. He has a deep sense of what it is to be one individual in the world, of the way in which all we can really do is make things, and of the deep loneliness that comes of putting one's energy out into the world and having little, if anything, come back. A pretty essential human problem, I think.

The book is, of course, stunning. Probably he'll win something for it. It opens with "Music Like Dirt," his sequence about "making." That is followed by a few discreet poems, the best of which are "Curse," one of the most believable poetic responses to 9/11 I've read, "phenomenology of the Prick," and "The Soldier who Guards the Frontier." Then is the requisite Bidart long poem, "The Third Hour of the Night," a prosey account of the life of a sculptor in the Pope's court, the violent third part of which is terrifying and filled with energy.

Do many young poets read Bidart? I don't have a clear sense, but I think so. He really only publishes in the big journals, never in young magazines, and he doesn't teach in MFA's much, so he's a bit out of that loop. He's a close friend of Lucie Brock-Broido at Columbia, so we heart a lot about him there, and he us taught a bit. He seems a bit outside of the trends to me, though he does have a bit to do with the work of other poets who began publishing in the late 70's and 80's--Lucie BB, Henri Cole--at least where that intensity is concerned. I think everyone should read him.

Also reading Susan Wheeler's Ledger, which I'm reviewing for Chelsea. Very good, though a little hard to get into. Astonishing long poem at the end, sort of written after "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror." Read all about it in Chelsea in a few months.

No big acceptances or rejections, except Bread Loaf (why don't they want me?) and letters from Verse and Volt saying they're not reading right now. Wasted Stamps.

Friday, May 20, 2005


My dearest friend has a wonderful business called Empire Waste Designs making hilarious and empathic subversive T-Shirts, among other things. Check her site out! Do it!

Saturday, May 14, 2005

I'm cool

Friday night, B is asleep. I guess we were both pretty beat. There was something in the air this week, something evil and exasperating, and it made all kinds of things go wrong or seem difficult. Why, I wonder, or what, was it. I only hope it's run its course.

Now I'm off to read sonnets until I'm sleepy.

Friday, May 13, 2005

I like Keith Jarrett

One of the two women I lived with my senior year of college was a pianist. She and I used to play music together sometimes--I accompanied her piano playing with a djembe or drum set. How collegeish. But we made some lovely music, and it was lovely to us because, at its best, it vaguely, hopefully echoed Keith Jarrett's solo piano concerts. (That's not to say we played anything that really resembled Jarrett, only that, when we sounded good, we thought we sounded good because we thought we sounded like Jarrett).

Anyway, that roommate introduced me to Jarrett's music early that year, via the Koln Concert, and I very quickly fell in love with the deep and sweeping melodies that characterized the solo concerts. It took me a little longer to get my head around the more fragmented and complex reimaginings of the Standards Trio (which features Jack Dejonette, one of my, and every other drummer's, heroes), but many of those albums, especially the Tokyo '96 concert, have made indelible impressions on me.

And so, through the last six years of music-listening, which have taken me through intense preoccupations with jazz interspersed with prolonged forays into rock, I have kept up with Jarrett's new work, and was even lucky enough to see the Standards Trio (from almost inexplicably high up) at Carnegie Hall. At the moment, I'm listening to his new album, "Radiance," Jarrett's first solo piano concert recording in more than a decade.

It's more fragmented and less melodic than his previous concerts, which, according to his liner notes, is his goal. The same has recently been true of the Trio, which released an album or two of hard-to-follow, but ultimately rewarding improvisations in the last few years. I'm not sure how the album works on me yet, but the second disc is more melodic and lyrical than the first. I'm glad to have this new music, though. Jarrett, like Joni Mitchell, Zappa, Bill Frissell, Gillian Welch, and a few other artists, makes some of the music with which I most deeply identify. I wonder how much that has to do with the fact that, ultimately, he strikes me as an artist who is pretty solopsistic.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

type type type

I'm working as a typist lately, transcribing a text being dictated to me. Many hours of taking dictation, plus teaching two classes, has de-brained me.

Bought the new Ashbery book this afternoon at the Strand for $12.00 (they've got one more copy--buy it now!). Sort of an impuse purchase, but I've been meaning to get it. I've heard good things, read a poem in the store and liked it. Heard that maybe Ashbery is back, if he ever went away. But reading it, it seems like pretty standard Ashbery to me. Maybe it's a bit sharper than usual. I like the poem about the interesting folks in Newfoundland.

I love the newest James Tate, by the way. I've been skeptical about the last few books, but I really feel like he hit on something, on what he's been trying for, with this one. He's made his own kind of little prose-poetry fable. It really excited me.

I've got to stop typing.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Canary #4

Great new poems in Canary #4 by Mark Bibbins, Zachary Schomberg, Dan Beachy-Quick, and Rachel Zucker.

I hadn't so much been able to connect with Zucker's work in the past, but this new poem, "What Dark Thing," slaughters me. It's a sprawling, out of control, and despirate meditation on capitolism, marriage, sex, and infidelity. This poem alone is worth the price of the magazine--a $10 poem.

And I love Beachy-Quick's work. This poem, "Difference in Triplicate," loses me a little, but it's still motored by the fragmenting energy, which still conveys a clear and locatable sense of urgency, that I love so much in his work. He seems to be pumping books out at a fairly ferocious pace--the next one is due out soon from Tupelo--but I'll keep reading them. I love his first one a very great deal, especially the poem "Psalm (Philomela)," which features this lovely passage:

Your thunder over the field but bends the rows
of wheat--my cry
Lord, but moves motes

Of dust to my fevered chord, and then
They settle, Lord,
On the floor

And do not move again...

(blogger seems unwilling to reproduce the indentations, but believe me, I wanted them there.)

Anyway, back to Canary. Bibbins has two very slick poems. It's wonderful to have some new work. I wish I knew the name of an opera singer to sub in to Schomberg's stunning prose poem. There is also some new work by Cole Swenson, whose forthcoming book I am looking forward to.

I suppose you could have found out about all of this via Canary's website, but then what would I have done this morning to take my mind off teaching.

Also, please note new links to Typo Magazine, Adam Clay, and Jesse Ball. They make themselves available to you via the world of wide web.

hope everyone's having a good day.

Friday, May 06, 2005


Encouraging news! I was a finalist for the University of Arizona poetry center summer residency, and chosen (or not chosen, really) by Richard Siken, whose book I mentioned below.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Crow's First Lesson

God tried to teach Crow how to talk.
'Love,' said God. 'Say, Love.'
Crow gaped, and the white shark crashed into the sea
And went rolling downwards, discovering its own depth.

'No, no,' said God. 'Say Love. Now try it. LOVE.
'Crow gaped, and a bluefly, a tsetse, a mosquito
Zoomed out and down
To their sundry flesh-pots.

'A final try,' said God. 'Now, LOVE.'
Crow convulsed, gaped, retched and
Man's bodiless prodigious head
Bulbed out onto the earth, with swivelling eyes,
Jabbering protest--

And Crow retched again, before God could stop him.
And woman's vulva dropped over man's neck and tightened.
The two struggled together on the grass.
God struggled to part them, cursed, wept--

Crow flew guiltily off.

--Ted Hughes, from Crow

How frickin good is that? Look at those wonderful verbs for how Crow speaks: "gaped," "convulsed," "retched". What could be better for the sound he makes than "retched"? Hughes, like Merwin, summons a mythical tone and, with a disarmingly light touch, ropes in the largest and broadest of possible symbols, and his politics don't play into it. It's just good old fashioned myth-making. I'm excited.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Back in the USSA

Got back today from Paris, after a lovely last weekend and a harrowing day of travel. B. lost her luggage and everything on the plane was sluggish and crappy. But we didn't crash, and that's good news to me.

Noteworthy in the last couple of days was the Rodin museum, home of my favorite objects in the world (I had been there years before as well). Both B. and I were vibrating with emotion the whole time we were there.

And at Shakespeare and Co, I picked up every book by Simon Armitage I could find. I'm a little obsessed with him now, and I'm looking back into Ted Hughes as well. Armitage is clear, self-depricating, and loves ending each poem with a clincher (something that seems slightly suspect to me, but I love 'em every time). And I'm surprised I haven't really delved into hughes before. He's got some of that forcefulness I love so much in Merwin, but he's always dark.

Poetry things go well--Pleiades took two more poems and a review of the new Yale book, Crush by Richard Siken, which I recommend highly; it's one of the more exciting first books I've read in a while.