11.01.2006

Via Boing Boing, glorious photos of broken statues washed up on the beach the morning after a Hindu festival.

If Ultra Yourself Limited Outside Simulated

Thanks to A.D. Thomas for a link to the Greeking Machine. I asked for three paragraphs in "marketing language" and got:

"Can't a well comes, easily accomodations deeply, easily tropical this. Compact mega, simulated pleasure provocative all. Action duty pleasing look discount kids advantage be, kids on, enjoy, affordable. Fun have, secure proven it's millions whenever spectacular hello delivers by in why. Surrender how clinically energy cause economical, humongous choice if ultra yourself limited outside simulated.

First, all excellent appearance grand works agree free. Free hurry hot, tummy market, value fresh delivers like absolutely premium. Look cool double too deluxe introducing. As, flash extra, is brighter industry, monster, what pure. Spend industry smile go grab, smart 100% made takes youthful classic. Sharpest powerful secret only sale easily, extra blast however humongous unique catch treat less. Also burst excellent delectable free going sensational not confident newest. Touch vibrant cool now, senses flip now millions.

Simulated you appetizing touch what compact, touch, now $19.95 super, humongous, millions on all-over goodbye. Valuable comes worthwhile seasoned neat, screamin' genuine, finest. Our you, yours desire compact, way. Discover handling limited boast satisfying, expensive selfish. Is yet, much bonus creamy chocolatey recommended, jiffy choose spectacular, compact. Newer generous original thank-you thirsty parents soaking elegant. Bigger better warm sensible stimulates market millions moist fast, fast, senses powerful announcing oily."

I absolutely love this. free hurry hot...much bonus creamy chocolatey recommended...and the perfect Can't a well comes, easily accomodations deeply, easily tropical this. And the way the commas propel the prose. If this were advertising, I'd buy the product; if it was a poem, it would be my favorite in the whole journal. How interesting (but obvious, I guess) that "kids" is considered a marketing word.

"Unprecedented Intimacy"

Bad practice, maybe, but I tend to skip interviews in journals unless they're with poets whose work really intrigues me. I was about to pass up one with Li-Young Lee in the current Sou'wester--en route to Dill's reviews of Loudon and King--when

I'm a terrified person

snagged my eye. Having been a terrified person, I brake for terrified people, even when they're being interviewed in journals.

What an excellent four pages. I would've been glad I stopped just for I took a drawing class when I was an undergraduate and I was told to draw the person you want to be and the body you want to have and I drew a picture of Emily Dickinson.

I also liked I'm interested in the language of passion and intimacy. I would like to achieve an unprecedented intimacy in my writing...Social constrictions come and go. I really don't care about them. I find they are like waves on an ocean, here today gone tomorrow, not even tomorrow, in seconds. But way deep down in the ocean, where all the whales are, that's where I am interested in being.

Well, hell, me too (though I also appreciate poetries in which the waves are of the utmost interest). I'd like to think there was a universal "where the whales are"--I'm not sure I don't--I think I do--but I know that the poems that speak to me with a near-unprecedented intimacy are probably not the ones that speak so to you (and you and you).

Are there poets that feel "intimate" to all of us? With his joy of atom-sharing and "I may not tell everyone, but I will tell you," Whitman certainly invites us, not so much promising as declaring a level of intimacy. I think Whitman pursues and claims more intimacy than he achieves, though. At times his insistence almost comes off as scary: can you imagine saying "no" to Whitman? I stop somewhere waiting for you! I stop somewhere waiting for you! When you're reading him, the things he says about "you" are exciting, but when they're a little bit off...at times reading Whitman makes me feel like a preteen being told, in detail, about sex by an adult, while flecks of spit occasionally fly out of his mouth. Funny that I almost feel disloyal to him, saying that, as if it might hurt his feelings (I lift up my bootsole and whisper apologies to the ground beneath). That I could feel disloyal...that does show that I've been touched: if Whitman did not quite speak to me intimately when I first picked him up at 14, he did teach me that I wanted to be spoken to intimately.

Can one be spoken to intimately in words? I think that's what makes poetry such a huge challenge, if you're interested in "unprecedented intimacy" in your poems...which does not mean telling your "secrets," or using that kind of SoQ let's-get-intimate tone (which is far less attractive than Whitman's). Sometimes I'm not sure many words can be used. I think of spare poetries, done well, as the most intimate...do words chase off intimacy? Anyway: huge challenge: words, as opposed to music or visual arts, which seem more direct...more direct because more animal, visceral? One reason sound is very important to me in poetry--

Quadrangularus Reversum

...is not a spell from the Potterverse. Wonderful link via Janet at Humanophone:

Harry Partch's Instruments--and you can play (with) them online.

From the site: By 1969, the year he recorded "Delusion of the Fury," Harry Partch had designed 27 new instruments, all to be played on stage at the same time in a spatial ritual theater. These instruments were made to be beautiful in sound, vision, and "magical purpose." They were tuned according to the natural overtone series, "Just Intonation". Some, like the Chromelodeon, had as many as 43 tones in a single "octave." He made particular instruments for specific needs in his compositions, not the other way around. But, more than this, he designed the instruments to be "corporeal." To Partch, corporeal meant to involve the whole body, the whole person in the art.

Hallelujah. Pictured above are the Cloud Chamber Bowls. My favorite to bang on is the Spoils of War, but I haven't even made it out of the percussion section yet...oh fun.

PS--Tip: using keyboard instead of mouse will allow you to play more than one note/key/instrument part at a time--one doesn't shut off when you strike another. This allows you to compose, a little, something that flows (should you find flow desirable). Try it on the Crychord.

10 Most Influential...

From a post at Amanda Auchter's blog: "New England College's application calls for a list of the 'ten most influential poetry books you have read in relation to your creative work as a writer'" (her list follows).

Interesting how this list can differ entirely from a list of the ten books one most admires or loves. Strange beast, influence: often a poet's stated influences can't even be guessed at by a reading of her work. A book might influence me not in terms of approach, voice, line breaks, typography, etc., but simply by showing me what is possible...I guess most books I'd consider influences have done that more than anything else: freed me from some inhibition (by which I really, really, don't mean inhibition about subject matter). So here, in no weighted order, are mine (today). Not all are even personal favorites; some are ones I owned at one point and sold or gave away.

1. 77 Dream Songs, John Berryman
2. Harmonium, Wallace Stevens
3. Articulation of Sound Forms in Time, Susan Howe
4. something by James Tate (I'm thinking of certain poems from his selected; I don't know which single volumes they originally appeared in)
5. The Clerk's Tale, Spencer Reece
6. Tender Buttons, Gertrude Stein
7. For Love, Robert Creeley
8. Crash's Law, Karen Volkman
9. perhaps this is a rescue fantasy, Heather Fuller
10. Pause Button, Kevin Davies

Yours?
"Paravaledellentine: A Paradelle"
--Annie Finch

Come to me with your warning sounds of the tender seas.
Come to me with your warning sounds of the tender seas.
Move me the way the seas' warm sea will spend me.
Move me the way the seas' warm sea will; spend me.
Move your sea-warm come to me; will with me; spend
tender sounds, warning me the way of the seas, the seas.

Tongues sharp as two wind-whipped trees will question.
Tongues sharp as two wind-whipped trees will question.
(Skin or nerve waiting and heart will answer.
Skin or nerve waiting and heart will answer).
Question will answer two tongues and, or will:
heart sharp as nerve trees; waiting, skin-whipped wind.

Brim your simple hand over where the skin is.
Brim your simple hand over where the skin is.
Wish again, whenever hair and breath come closer.
Wish again, whenever hair and breath come closer.
Closer, again, whenever; brim where your skin is;
hair, wish and breath over the simple hand, come.

Spend come warning me, whenever simple sounds will, will;
move your question. Answer your heart-sharp tender
sea-warm will with me. Way of the seas, the seas!
Where skin-whipped nerve trees wind over waiting tongues,
brim closer to me. Again the skin, as wish,
and two of the breath, hand and hair, or come, is.


I rose up to open to my beloved, and my hands dropped with myrrh,
my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, flowing over the handles of the lock.


These lines from the Song of Songs affect me like no others. Even H.D.'s "my mouth is wet with your life" doesn't make me flow over the handles of the lock quite so fluently.

I am thinking about "to know"--how in Sunday School, I always thought it was a silly, G-rated euphemism: When the Bible says "to know," it really means _______. I don't know what the original says, if the English translators chose "to know"--but if not...if it was always "to know"...isn't that more astonishing, shockingly intimate, than any alternative? "To know" implies deep exploration, complete knowledge...maybe through long, devoted hours of study--maybe through something physically felt at the cellular level like faith, as some know their gods; it suggests clear and open eyes, the light of knowledge, wisdom. Those biblical lovers were blessed if they were known.
Rejected Marketing Slogans for National Poetry Month

1. Nobody Doesn't Like "Annabel Lee"
2. What Can Browning Do For You?
3. Get the Door: It's "Endymion"!
4. With a Name Like Hicok, It's Got to be Good
5. Live in Your World. Play in Marianne Moore's.
6. Bring Out "The Hollow Men" and Bring Out the Best
7. I'm Lovin' It

On Accessibility...Again

I still get tweaked every time I see Kooser or Gioia opining that poets and poetry should be more "accessible." Note that the audience they love to say they write for--the readers put forth as Those For Whom Responsible and Non-Elitist Poets Write--seems to be made up almost entirely of straight, romantically-blue-collar white men. O girder, O great pails of lunch! Somewhere, Kooser answers an interviewer's question about accessibility with what I think of as The Anecdote of the Shambling Man: he speaks of a man "shambling"--seriously, he says shambling--up to him after a reading and stammering thanks for the mighty accessible poems. Why does Kooser's cheerily and often offered portrayal of this shambler seem far more condescending than, well, an "inaccessible" poem? Kooser has also stated that in selecting work for his American Life in Poetry project, he looks for poems with "a certain charm." Ay, me...how is it he's sure that Shambling Man's heart, 'neath that authentically dirt-caked Dickies workshirt, aches for charming poems? And whose idea of "charm"? I'm sure Richard Siken's Crush meets Kooser's accessibility requirement... It often seems that when there's a call for more "accessible poetry" what is really desired is more "accessible and charming [pleasantly palatable, etc.] poetry."

The idea that the "masses" don't read more poetry because poets aren't writing accessibly enough is so misguided, such a waste of energy, as to make my stomach tense up. There is PLENTY of entirely accessible poetry out there that isn't being read by most of the reading population. They might read Collins, but they don't read Duhamel or Hoagland or Thomas Sayers Ellis: why? Eileen Myles is perfectly "accessible"; why are my neighbors not reading her? Marketing, marketing. "The people" LOVE poetry; they buy up Maya Angelou and Mattie Stepanek and Jewel and Tupac like 2-for-1 chalupas. If Lyn Hejinian was on Oprah, they'd buy up Lyn Hejinian. And chances are they'd LIKE her work--and not because Oprah does, but because once you get over the hump of picking it up in the first place, it's GOOD. I've given My Life to some of the most poetry-unaware barely-want-to-read-books-at-all people out there: my family members. It was like giving Life to Mikey.

When people say, or shamble up to stammer, that they don't usually feel like they "get" poetry, that they never knew poetry could speak to them, that it always seemed like writers were trying to conceal the poem's "real meaning," they are not talking about their encounters with the works of Gertrude Stein or Bruce Andrews. They are talking about their high school or college encounters with Keats. No matter HOW many contemporary poets write accessible poems--let's say we ALL do--we will still need to penetrate the Poetry-B-Gon shields people put up after encountering Keats (et al) in school, likely introduced by a teacher who's squeamish around Keats, too...at least until these shields are bred out of humankind over many generations. How will this happen, if it ever happens? I think a good bit of it is up to high school English teachers. Many (most?) kids love poetry, from rhyming picture books to Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky, before they hit middle or high school. Whether or not they've ever seen a boa constrictor, "I'm Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor" feels relevant to their lives in a way that "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" does not. I'm not saying the "classics" should not be taught in high school--I'm saying that the classics one chooses, especially to kick off a poetry unit, should be very carefully picked with an audience of teenagers in mind. Meaning: scrap Poe's "The Bells" and teach "Alone"; do Crane's "[In the desert]" instead of or before "War is Kind"; do "I'm Nobody" and "I Like a Look of Agony" and maybe even "Wild Nights!" before "Hope is the Thing with Feathers." Actually--never do "Hope is the Thing with Feathers." High school may be too early to introduce "The Red Wheel Barrow"--because, while accessible at the language level, it might not be accessible at any other to most in that age group. Do Blake's "The Garden of Love," Browning's "Porphyria's Lover." Suck it up and do "Richard Cory" but NOT "Mr. Flood's Party." And if you're going to do Keats, for godsakes step away from the urn...

Lugging Vegetables

Looking over the posts at the Neglectorino Project, it's amazing how often "neglected" equals "out of print." Also how out-of-the-loop I am: Paul Blackburn is out of print? Early Bernadette Mayer is out of print? Obviously, it makes sense that to be OOP is to be neglected, perhaps in the worst way, but I'd been thinking of the project more along the lines of "this poet I love who nowhere near enough people seem to have heard of." The two go hand-in-hand sometimes (and often at Neglectorino), but not with Blackburn and Mayer. Relatedly, if you aren't familiar with it, The Contemporary American Poetry Archive curated by Wendy Battin is one online archive of OOP poetry books. I heard about it years ago, and it looks like it hasn't been updated since 2003--but it contains the full text of over 60 books and is well worth a look.

Interesting also to see at least three Yale Younger books mentioned at Neglectorino. I'd add Peter Klappert's OOP 1971 win, Lugging Vegetables to Nantucket, which contains a line about Sarasota, FL that I first read and said to myself many times when I lived there in heat so thick you could fuck it. Klappert's selected, Chokecherries, was published in 2000, but doesn't include enough poems from Lugging to get a good feel for that book. Here are two poems from LVtN, the subtly sinister, occasionally anthologized "Ellie Mae Leaves in a Hurry" and "Mail At Your New Address." I love Klappert's line breaks in "Mail."

Ellie Mae Leaves in a Hurry
--Peter Klappert

There's some who say she put death up her dress
and some who say they saw her pour it down.
It's not the sort of thing you want to press

so we just assumed she planned on leaving town
and gave her money for the first express.
She had some family up in Puget Sound.

Well we are married men. We've got interests.
You can't take children out like cats to drown.
It's not the sort of thing you want to press.

We didn't know she'd go and pour death down,
though most of us had heard of her distress.
We just assumed she planned on leaving town.

There's some of us who put death up her dress
but she had family up in Puget Sound,
we gave her money for the first express.

Well we are married men. We've got interests.
Though most of us had heard of her distress.
You can't take children out like cats to drown,
it's just the sort of news that gets around.


Mail At Your New Address
--Peter Klappert

1
Did your car get you to Florida?
I know you don't like me
to say so but Mrs. Denton says
the same thing. Please tell me
(collect) if you are all
there. I hope you do not
sleep or do anything on the road.
In Georgia. Your father
should see all the leaves.
Walter has not raked
a girlfriend up the street and wont
rake anymore. Watch out or
theyll have the same thing Mrs. Denton
says the friend stayed and look
what happened at Cornell?
Even if you changed
college is no reason to come home.
But get a haircut. I know
the dean doesn't like you
to look like a gardener.

2
There have been so many deaths
due to carbon m. poisoning
that this is just
a note to suggest you leave
a little air come into your room. Also,

I hope you don't get involved
with young men or older
or made from popies (?) and Hippy's.
I hope you are not letting the drugs
get you. And don't get mixed up
with drugs. It might spoil your change
for getting the cert. you are working for.
Remember, it is costing quite a lot.

Don't scold. I am afraid of your
trips to and near Chicago.
Perhaps people have spoken
of gender all along, only
they have called it
"yonder"
--Steve Evans

Glenum's Hounds

H. and I were talking the other day about how there's sexy, gritty but still fairly picturesque sex, and then there's the deeper, uglier, messier, sexier (?), no-one-should-see-this, this is NOT comely sex. If you apply this to books, Richard Siken's Crush might gently tap at the boundaries of the first; Lara Glenum's The Hounds of No squats firmly in the farthest reach of the second, baring its teeth. Words that aren't in the book but that remind me of it: lance, boil, pustule, pestilence, buboe, afterbirth. Things I kind of expected the pages to do while I was reading the book: drip blood, ooze animal fat. Hounds is hypnotic in the way that Mark Z. Danielewski's novel House of Leaves is--in that when you close it, it still looks like it might keep talking to you, leaking into your hours, and you want to tie it up with rope and store it far away from your bed.

Hounds is also brilliant, dazzling, and important--one of the most 'important' poetry debuts of 2005, I think (actually, I think the most). Intelligent, thorough, and nicely-developed takes (if you like that kind of thing [grin]) on Glenum's book include Jasper Bernes's review in Jacket 29 and Kirsten Kaschock's review in H_NGM_N, #4.

sticky images

Teresa Ballard has a strong post this morning about the power of images. What images or lines stick--will always stick--with you, even when you can no longer remember your name? she asks.

Gatsby's shirts spilled out all over the bed.
Promise me you will not forget Portofino.

The post leads me to a question about sticky images, images that stick: out of curiosity, if I say, of a poem written by a well-known poet in the last 40 years, if I speak of "the dried peach halves poem"--do you know which poem I mean? Please answer in the comments box, just yes or no, not with the title and poet. No googling, but also no embarrassment if you don't know--it may be that you did not choose to read this poet, or that the image simply didn't stick, or that (p'raps admirably) the idea of reducing a poem to one image and the question seem crass, wrong-minded, or unfair to you. If you prefer, answer anonymously.

So: I say "dried peach halves": do you know which poem I mean: yes or no?
You mean by "understanding" that you can talk about it in the way that you have a habit of talking. I mean by "understanding"...(more here) --G. Stein in 1934 interview, audio file

Bedside Guide

Spent a decadent morning sitting half on top of a space heater while waiting for an oil change, eating Tastykakes, and reading The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel. First read-through favorites include Zachary Schomburg's prose poems (one of which not only makes me want to vacuum, but makes me want deep, deep wall-to-wall carpet); Aaron Belz's factotum poems; "To His Penis," Paul Jones's translation/interpretation of a medieval Welsh poem (in thumping rhymed couplets of loose tetrameter: auger who drives deep below/leather veined lavender-blue...gnarled yet graceful, a goose neck,/Hard nail, you left my home wrecked), Jilly Dybka's "I have married a crow" (the slant rhyme of turquoise with disguise, brothers with feathers--and that last line)...Molly Arden's "Horn of Plenty", so performable one wants to deliver it fishnetted & tophatted like a ringmaster kicking off a Bedside circus (the whole book would make an excellent poetry theatre show), Bruce Covey's "Nine Ball" (please let me take you to Golden Corral someday, O my love), Shanna Compton's "√úberdesigned Happy Juice", Shin Yu Pai's lethal "tie me up, tie me down" (with a brilliant use of "his/her" in the last line), Rebecca Loudon's "Sugar for St. Helens", which starts off

You want to stand right on the rim
and throw your gifts down. Well,
we can't have that. We have our fat
pink eye on you regarding the damage
an older girl can do to a younger girl
at camp...

The Guide is $12.99 at Lulu and would make a far, far better Valentine's gift than anything in this genre.

sound of facts

Fish travel in schools, but whales travel in hay(na)ku!

Olive oil was used for washing poems in the ancient Mediterranean world.

Poetics once came third in a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest.

--The Mechanical Contrivium