CorpsePoetics (formerly WinePoetics)
Savasana-inspired poetics and poems (formerly Wine-inspired poetics and poems)


Tuesday, April 29, 2003  

SEX!!!! (AND THE SCRAPPED PREFACE)

She raises her adorable eyebrow after her latest tip-toeing through the daisies across blogland. Hmmmm, she could have sworn she had tippy-toed earlier that day about a rumor over the kind of stuff she writes on her blog....but said rumor seems to have disappeared. (W=I=N=K!). Humming, she tilts her lovely head to consider what to do next. Ah! And the mischievous one decides to dedicate this evening's topic to that imagined rumor-mongerer (you know who you are, Dear One Whose Photo On CyberSpace Is Absolutely HOT!) by choosing to write on....what she shall now write below. First, a sip of the 2000 Cline syrah, then her giggling fingers begins to share:

Dear Twinkies! Pause. Six million twinkies collectively think, Huh? That'sa right, Twinkies. That's the word to be abused in this post -- given recent comments on the Peep-word by David "But Didn't You Know Oulipo is a Metaphor For Certain S&M Practices" Hess. So where I normally would use the P-word: Twinkie. So, where was I? Yah: Yo Twinkies!

Gads: I was a wuss today! Sip. But first, the good news. So a publisher has agreed to publish what would be my first short story collection. Yay, yadda but let's move on to what's been etching a furrow on my otherwise "sunlit & seamless" forehead this week. These stories are from a period of about 3-4 years ago when I was exploring how to write about sex (something I hadn't done before so I wanted to try it because a poet should try many things, right?). Anyway, some of those exercises became short stories. Some were published. Now, they're a significant part of this book.

Okay: here's the dilemma. My mother is bound to read that book. Worst, my father is bound to read that book. YOU ALL KNOW WHAT I MEAN, RIGHT TWINKIES???? Okay, okay okay: so perhaps I'm being not cool or whatever the word is in admitting that I am worried about what my parents will think, but my parents are so....so.....so.....nice...(or whatever the word is)....(And I can hear at least one of ya twinkies wondering -- So how'd they get a daughter like you? -- but just don't go there, okay!?)

I mean, it's easy enough for me to avoid sharing a publication of an individual story (or poem) with the 'rents. But a book....

Glug. Replenish the glass. She thinks about having Mom and Dad read what she wrote about people having sex with each other. Glug the glass down again. (Dang -- I shoulda opened a Petrus if I was gonna be drinking so much!) Replenish the glass.

So, today I was a wuss. I returned to those stories with the thought of trying to edit some of those salient parts -- of course, that swiftly got tossed out of the window due to maintaining the editorial integrity yadda yadda. Equally important, I realized as I read over the ten stories -- most of which I hadn't read in a while -- that it would be impossible to edit out the sexual references. I had forgotten how the stories are REPLETE with them! Edit them out and some of those 7,000-word stories would become single-paragraph prose poems!!

Glug again. Replenish the glass. My parents don't see all copies of journals that publish me but they expect -- quite logically -- to receive copies of my books. Glug. Replenish the glass.

Twinkies, I was so desperate that, cough since I know many of you are writers, I thought of writing a "Preface" along the lines of the following below. Now, of course this Preface is OBVIOUSLY not going to be part of the book, but it may serve to amuse (oh I know it will serve to amuse) many of you. So first, I put an epigraph in the Preface, a section from one of my poems that says "There are so many layers to any story." (Gads: I'm a wimp...but I'ma thinking of my Dad....groan; glug again.) Then, here's as far as I got on the Preface before I realized this approach is simply not going to work:

With the stories in this collection, I wanted to write beyond the limits of my imagination. To facilitate my efforts, I turned -- as I have with poems -- to the visual arts for inspiration. I love art: I feel that paintings, sculptures and drawings speak and I have been blessed that some chose to reveal their tales to me.

These stories would not have been possible without the inspiring creations of the artists [cite a variety of artists here]. Their works are visually appealing and generous with revelations.

In addition to being located in the art world, the stories in this collection share a theme of exploring various aspects of love and desire -- the same impulses that I feel underlie much of the making of art. Some stories incorporate references to aspects to “dominant & submissive” (or D&S) erotic relationships as I thought their psychological intensity heightened the emotions I wished for the characters to embody.

Do I need to note that this book is a work of fiction and not autobiography? Well, esteemed poet Alfred Yuson already has written one poem entitled “Dominatrix” and dedicated to me (the poem introduces Section II) which I suspect was inspired by at least one of my stories. But that riding crop that currently hangs on the knob of the door into my writing studio really was used for riding a horse in Vermont, and nothing more. In anticipation of my mother reading this book, please let me confirm that what I know of the D&S arena stems from research into its psychological underpinnings and not as a participant in that scene. I am, for example, interested in how the labels of “Master” and “Slave” are a bit deceptive as in any responsible D&S engagement, the Master is effective when s/he knows to “order” the Slave to do only what will please the Slave. Thus, the Slave actually controls the Master -- an example of the gray areas, or the fluidity of context that has fascinated me as a writer. (Okay, Mom?)


That Preface was deteriorating the more that I wrote. Can you tell how desperate I was feeling? This is not a new story, right? About how we might think of audience? Well, actually, I don't care what you six million Twinkies think. But Mom? Dad? I am 42 years old and I am very concerned.

She slumps her head over her keyboard, an act that spins out amused letters tippy-toeing onto her blogpost: =-0qm chaosdu[g,qv[wj ;vthk ;alkjsd09 [sdpupgfma]psi e5j oqiua[pn osiud]g,v wenrty[pwu[spog [' etcetera etcetera etcetera.... Then she raises her face to whisper, "You Twinkies are lucky my Mom and Dad don't do the Internet as I'd have to be more prudent on this blog...." then, still very concerned, she smoooshes her head again on the keyboard....

And as her soft cheek remains pressed against the keyboard, she wonders if it will suffice to address this issue when she inserts a page at the beginning of the book that shall quote from Gary "Thanks for the Permission" Sullivan, as follows:

What’s poetry but the world’s ruin?
--from “Letter Poem, February 12” by Gary Sullivan

I thought it might be interesting…to reassemble this book…with similar attention paid to the “inappropriate.”…I’m a great believer in the inappropriate gesture as a kind of wedge into that which we don’t necessarily want to acknowledge, even if it’s something we all agree is true, like death.
--from “How To Proceed In The Arts” by Gary Sullivan


Meanwhile, the fallen angels playing poker above her head pause their game to look down on her. Their faces show a variety of levels of boredom and amusement. Except for The Compassionate One who wonders, "Should I swoop down to her and comfort her within my wings?" The others snort and one speaks for them when she replies, "Leave her alone. She may as well get over this as it pales before the challenges we have yet to put her through...."

Then they yawned, until they notice an e-mail from David that leaves them all giggling: "write sex? how boring is that?"

posted by EILEEN | 11:20 PM


Monday, April 28, 2003  

PEEPS AND A LONG OVERDUE RANT

Am I the only one who missed Stephanie today? She didn't blog once and it was a weekday! Sip. Still, because I'm Ms. WinePoetics and therefore special, I did get my own personalized backchanneled e-mail that explained something about meetings all day (sad to think of Stephanie having to do anything but provide much sun to blogland)....

....and in that same e-mail, Stephanie mentioned she loved the Marshmallow Peeps site that Jean Gier had mentioned earlier. Jean, incidentally, also wrote me:

Hey, that was a cool little blurb you wrote there about the peeps and me. I especially liked the part about me being the most underrated poet in America. Maybe some of those underraters will change their minds! Do you think? Actually, I hadn't thought about it, but yeah, you are right, the Peeps research site IS an anti-sentimentality, anti-kitsch site. There's a Twinkie site somewhere on the web that's similar to this, that I suppose you can call an anti-American capitalist kitsch site, or something like that. I mean there's some mischievously mean anger underlying the Peeps site that is somehow really satisfying in an anti-Global Order kind of way.

I love the one where they experiment on the the quintuplet peeps, and stitch them up with a Swingline office stapler. Unfortunately, one of them has a heart attack, so they have to take the electric paddles to it, which only succeeds in turning him into a flattened barbecue peep. This little farce was obviously undertaken by medical students or interns, in a real operating room, using real operating instruments. Just think about this for a moment. These interns will go on to become OUR doctors in the future!

Your marshmellow peep,
Jean


Nice analysis Sweetie. Hope the doctoral dissertation's going well. Meanwhile, check out Jean's underrated but fabuloso poems at her blogs. The first is defunct but contains great work; the second is, I believe, the ongoing live one (yep Jean: I'ma outing you):

http://www.geocities.com/gier99/nightjar2.html
http://nightjar2.blogspot.com/

But okay, peeps, speaking of peeps, here's another Peeps site sent by Professor Sunny entitled "Great Scenes in Rock & Roll History -- as reenacted by Marshmallow Peeps." I particularly liked the image that was captioned:

November, 1977: The Bee Gees become disco icons with Saturday Night Peeper.

Very amusing. But, peeps: do me a favor, please, with these peep images? Please. That is,

STOP SENDING THEM OVER TO ME!!!!!!

Cough. She feels her throat. She massages her throat. She's worried she bust something when she just yelled out the cease-and-desist to peep lovers...Cough. Nope, that cough didn't help. Lightbulb turns on: Sip. Aaaaah. Wine helped. Glug. Tonight, the 1993 Clos Mogador (Priorat) from lovely Espanya. Of course I'm appreciative of receiving these sites but the consistent images of those purple marshmallow birds in various permutations that elicit responses highlighting my own sick sense of humor ....leaves my pretty head worrying about whoever's cackling back at me in the mirror...

Anyway...wait, not yet. Let's not leave the sunny professor alone yet. What's this? And the long-lashed one flings back her uncut hair to look at Professor Sunny's Wily Filipino Blog. Apparently, the dear Sunny is replying partly to Ms. WinePoetics's and Timothy's recent discussions on Asian American poetry. And he's talking about what exactly is "Filipino." Like, why did he classify WinePoetics as a "Filipino" blog when, though he wisely observed I am Filipina, much of what I discuss are not Filipino topics.

I'm sure the sunny professor doesn't realize he struck a nerve with me (or perhaps he does). You see, prior to tending my grape vines (all one stalk of them), I was fairly active in the Asian American literary scene.....but what I noticed is that much of my work never gets classified as "Asian American" or "Filipino American" literature. Why? Because I don't write the kind of stuff that has mostly become classified (as Timothy has observed) as Asian American works by referencing biography, food and ethnicity. I am not the only "Asian American" poet who's ranted before at this practice.

In fact, there is a certain anthology out there which shall remain nameless (because I am nice -- hah! but you inquisitive peeps I'm sure can figger out which book I'm talking about) which claims to represent 20th century Asian American literature. Its editors asked me to write the introduction to the poetry section. I did. A brilliant essay of course -- it even got props from the Times Literary Supplement. But did this anthology ask for one of my poems? No. At the time, I thought it was because they decided that the essayists (presumably chosen for some sort of expertise in their art) should stick to writing introductions and not feature their own works -- which, as an approach, is something I actually like (I think more anthology editors should try to put in their own works more selectively than has been the practice). Anyway, when this anthology came out, I then realized that I was the only essayist not represented by my own work (e.g. the guy who introduced fiction also had his own story in the book). Now, the last thing I need is another Asian American venue for one of my poems -- but I suspect they didn't think to include my work because they undoubtedly couldn't see anything "ethnic" about (many of) my poems. (But, by the way, I also think it was plain rude. Tsk...tsk: not very Asian, this rudeness).

Now, in an excellent post Professor Sunny admits that, as a teacher, he has found himself also lapsing: Sunny admits (and good for you to share this, Sunny):

I'm preparing for two sections of an "Asian American culture" class in the fall, and as an anthropologist, I taught my previous sections from a social sciences angle, only to be told later on that the classes were meant to deal with "the expressive arts." But while reading through different anthologies recently, I found myself stupidly passing over the fiction and poetry that weren't specifically coded as "Asian American," i.e., those pieces that didn't deal with language or racism or food or repressive tradition, as if "Asian American" couldn't encapsulate anything else. And so I was therefore unwittingly duplicating some Orientalist notion of what Asian or Asian American meant.

Sunny, it's very heartening to me to see this kind of comment from an "Asian American" academic. It's sometimes Asian American academics and teachers who narrow the scope of what's considered Asian American literature and poetry.

Now, since this all is about Me Me Me, Sunny and other Asian American academics reading me (and, yes Sweetie-pies, I know you're out there lurking), let me tell you about my book Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole (see link). When it's taught, it's been taught in creative writing or contemporary literature contexts. Dear Ones in academia, when you and your peers use a book like Reproductions in an "Asian American" or "Filipino/Fil-Am" contest, contact me and I'll pour a good bottle of wine. The book even may surprise you by leading you to discuss Filipino decolonialism (and perhaps you should care to know this) in a way that no other poetry text out there addresses. Is that Asian American enough for you? But you gotta get past the idea that, say, my poems referencing Greek sculptures are not "Asian" or "Filipino."

But, hey, if not....Not. I think Reproductions is going to sell out its printing just because these wine-lovers are buying it up. But it seems to me, dear Asian American peeps, you might care to listen to me on this one. I don't profess at all to define "Asian American" literature, but you know I've earned my Asian American chops and....I AM RANTING! Let me spell it out: if the author is Asian American, that makes the works "Asian American" -- the work itself doesn't have to fit your preconceived paradigms. Kapisch?!

I AM WINEPOETICS. HEAR ME ROAR.

posted by EILEEN | 9:51 PM


Sunday, April 27, 2003  

THE REAL SHOCK AND AWE?

Distill it down, peeps: North Korea.

I had lunch today with a smart military theorist and two visitors from Japan. The latter said they are very nervous since Japan is basically a "backyard to Korea," thus, the North Korean situation. Here's some notes with frightening implications:

The theorist -- and I'd heard him right before on the two Gulf Wars as well as Afghanistan -- noted that one of the basic tenets of wise military strategy is to secure one's supply lines. For the U.S., oil is a major supply. So off the U.S. went to Iraq. Now that it's (presumably) secured that oil supply, the U.S. can turn its attention to someone who was more dangerous than Saddam Hussein while Hussein was still in power. We're talking about a guy who starves his people while he keeps himself well ensconsed in cognac, cigars and kid-napped beautiful women: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The thing is, Kim Jong Il quite understood this need for the U.S. to secure its supply lines. So he was right to show its fear by agitating for a non-aggression pact with the U.S.

Three of many things to keep in mind: North Korea doesn't have anything the U.S. wants (like oil). Secondly, North Korea has nukes. Thirdly, if North Korea strikes, its first target is most likely to be (not South Korea) but Japan; but note that the U.S. and Japan have a bilateral agreement: whoever attacks one, attacks the other.

So the real "Shock and Awe," if and when it happens, is most likely to be the U.S. attacking North Korea. Because (unlike with Iraq) they would need to do that with no advance (diplomatic) warning to the world. And because they would need to make sure that the first strike is indeed also the last strike.

Tough situation. Kim Jong Il is a crazy power-hungry man who hijacks humanitarian aid to feed his military now numbering about a million and a half. The military are mostly the decently fed peeps in this country. Meanwhile, people are starving -- some mothers have even begged their children, "Eat me." And, yes, children....eating their mothers.....

Where has the North Korean economy received its support? Two sources are its sponsor China and Japan. Japan's support, though, has been obtained partly under duress -- e.g. North Korean ships have been kidnapping ordinary Japanese citizens off its coastlines and bringing them over to North Korea. To help ensure their safety -- as well as reflecting the population's migratory linkages between the two countries -- Japan has allowed monies to travel back to North Korea, e.g. through profits made by owners of pachenko parlors, many of whom are North Koreans or supporters of North Korea (I never knew that about the pachenko parlors).

Anyway, I'm trying to summarize what is a complicated situation so this post, I am sure, barely scratches the surface of this multi-layered issue. But it all highlights the importance of one thing: to prevent the real "Shock and Awe" from occuring, China has got to begin exercising maximum leverage on its dufus-protegee to give up atomic and other weapons. These are the weapons which U.S. officials don't want North Korea to supply to anti-U.S. terrorists -- the reason that would be cited if the U.S. lets hell loose over North Korea. That will be the real "Shock and Awe."

So come on, China. Don't let SARS be an excuse for you to try to stick your head in the sand over North Korea. Start imposing pressure on Kim Jong Il. What've they done for you lately anyway? Almost as an aside, but perhaps a sign for optimism: the theorist did note that China is smart enough to understand that the U.S. will not tolerate a nuke-capable North Korea....

Last but not least, Kim Jong Il seems way ahead of the world on one matter: he understands that the U.S. -- or, rather this U.S. administration -- firmly believes the U.S. is at war: that the U.S. was at war before it invaded Iraq and remains at war after it secured its invasion. This North Korean understands that the U.S. actions will be from a country not beginning a new war, but a country *already* waging war.

================

So many blogger-peeps are reporting their scores during SPD's Open House. I missed that event, as I miss many Bay Area events, from having to monitor grapes every weekend in Napa. So, here's my own blogroll:

Wines drunk and recommended:
1999 Draycott Shiraz Grateful Reserve (at my favorite St. Helena restaurant: Roux)
Dutch Henry 2000 zinfandel (at a picnic in a grove bearing over century-old olive trees -- thanks Scott and Sofiya)
1999 Kistler Sonoma Coast pinot noir
1998 Kistler McCrea Chardonnay
1999 Behrens & Hitchcock Merlot Napa Valley Unfiltered Reserve


posted by EILEEN | 10:48 PM


Friday, April 25, 2003  

MALE, UH, MAIL & OTHER ASSORTED MISCHIEF

So several peeps are clamoring about my last post where I was crooning the song of torn footnotes:

Hey: is that based on a true story?

Who’s the poet?!

Was it the same poet in your last post who didn’t call you when he promised he would? (The one that another one of youse, giggle, thought should be whiplashed with a wet pasta noodle for ignoring my gorgeous presence?!?)

Clamor, clamor, clamor....


Finally, the long-lashed – and mischievous one – raises lovely eyes to the screen and parts her lips to demurely … spout off: “Will you peeps please PIPE DOWN?”

Snort. Sip coffee, then snort again. (A charming snort, though...)

Ya know, one of my female buds whose name I naturally can’t remember (was it Kimiko Hahn?) once wrote a poem about how some of these so-called erotica sound fabulous as written material but incredibly not-worth-the-mess in reality. Hello? Honey on my skin? I’ma sorry, peeps: y’all gotta get a handle on the difference between reality – non virtual reality! – and the poem. Like: honey on skin? Take my, cough, a friend’s word for it: it’s highly overrated and the stickiness irritates cause it…sticks. And if you have lovely long hair like I, uh, my friend does….oh, never mind!

Sigh. Then her eyes brighten up as the lightbulb above her perky head suddenly brightens up in a cartoon-like fashion. I have an idea! Let me share one of the ideas to the prose poem! Is this not a poetics space or is this a poetics space?!

Peeps purse lips, shuffle feet beneath their computer desks, and wonder if it’s a good time for lunch.

No, no! Ms. WinePoetics enthusiastically waves at the six million to remain seated! You must understand the significance of what I wrote in my last post!!!! You must!!

Some leave. But two stay. And that suffices for Ms. WinePoetics to continue:

Well, that poem was really about trying to write a poem where I can incorporate my name – as I did in the second paragraph. Because I so loved my “Post Post Avante Poem” (in my 4/21/03 post) that’s comprised solely of my name. But, ya know, Michelle provided some constructive criticism:

"it's not long enough. It leaves me hanging. I think it has to do where my breath is when I say the last Eileen. I have too much breath left to stop there. reminds me of a lesson in high school drama class where we had to have a conversation only speaking the same nonsensical word over and over but changing our voice and interpretation of how it's said to give it a different meaning."

Well, dang. Far be it for me to disappoint. So here’s the latest draft, dedicated now to Nick "Delicious Mental Soup" Piombino for being so appreciative and, for his middle-name which awes me, David “Absolutely Zero Cavities at Age 29” Hess. Hope the rest of you like this version, too (the research really challenged my intellectual capacities):

POST POST AVANT POEM

Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen

Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen

O Eileen!

Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen

Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen

Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen

Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen

Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen

===============

Next. Well, so Timothy is having a good time reminiscing. At one point, he said recently on his blog that he recalled picking up "a copy of an Asian American literary journal. It was one of my first encounters with Asian American writing, and after reading it, and browsing through an anthology of Asian American poetry, I started to have a weird feeling of repetition. In retrospect this seems pretty snotty of me, but I came up with what seemed to be a few dominant categories of poems I was seeing:

--the grandparents poem
--the family photograph poem
--the exotic food poem
--the erotic poem, usually employing imagery from the exotic food poem"

So then, Timothy decided to write parodies of such "Asian American" poems, or, in his words about the sample poem he posts on his blog, "I fully intended this poem to be a parody of the genre, and hence filled it with "lies" (e.g. my grandfather died when I was six, not ten) and with melodramatic ("dead of cigarettes and America") and goofy ("pink cow") images. Finally, in what I thought of as adding insult to injury, I sent the poem off to the Asian American magazine in question--which promptly accepted it."

But the poem was accepted!! So then, Timothy recalls as he continues the reminiscing, "Now I was confused. Had they missed the joke or gotten it? When I looked back over the poem, I realized I was no longer sure what the poem was doing; the biographical information was really only slightly distorted, and the poem's conclusion certainly had a tone of seriousness and even, dare I say, sincerity, despite its arch message. Ultimately, I think, I outsmarted myself; telling myself that I was writing a parody was the only way I could write a poem that turned out to be pretty damn expressive."

Well, it's all very smart and amusing, of course, Timothy. But might I say something, as a former editor at that "Asian American publication" when I still graced New York with my presence? [But of course she can say something; is this not her blog?] She says: What if I were to tell you that, um, one summer when interns were going through our journal's offices, the pile of "accepted" and "rejected" submissions were, um, reversed? Sip. Not that I'ma tellin' ya this, of course. Just wondered what your reaction -- and analysis now -- would be....

Sigh. Lovely interns. But, ya know, sometimes, good help -- particularly at non-profits -- is ....so hard to find....

===============

Next. Ahhh! Poet extraordinaire Jean Gier -- whom I once introduced at a reading as "the most underrated poet in this country" (that's a testament to her modesty, not her talent, for you slow peeps) writes to share a link because I, apparently, am the person she knows who most uses the word "peeps." So I checked out her link, and dang if I learned something new! I never knew that those marshmallow birds popular during Easter were called "Marshmallow Peeps"!!!! I guess that means something about a certain deficiency in my diet....or, cough, religious obeisances (and to think Mom is a classic "church lady"!). Well, so, if you want to see a purple marshmallow bird smoking Camels (that'sa for you, Stephanie -- does it help the maintenance of the quitting?) or -- um, assuming you share my unique sense of humor -- said peeps being tortured (que horror: that hammer on the peep's birdie-head!), have a look-see. Interestingly, though (well, it's interesting to me!) as I obsessively scrolled through the site, I came to consider the whole exercise to be visual metaphors for anti-sentimentality.

===============

Next. Ooooooh! One of my six million peeps reveals himself!

Hello,

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your site -- I wrote an entry about it on my blog (http://www.thewilyfilipino.com/blog/archives/2003_04.html#000252) just recently. (And you're blogrolled as well.)

Hope to see your blog-related entries published some time,
Sunny

----------------------------
Benito M. Vergara, Jr.
Assistant Professor
Department of Asian American Studies / Department of Anthropology
San Francisco State University


Dang! A professorial peep reads me! Well, yes, I think WinePoetics: An Alcobiography (to use a term Garrett Caples suggested) would be a subversive and highly entertaining book (well, as well as being a serious treatise, natch, on matters of high culture like wine, I mean, poetry and art). So: Publishers! Come onto my web! Talk to me -- yah: drink with me!! I'da be a bestselling addition to your lists! And I promise the Book Version would incorporate lush details not yet revealed on the blog!

But, hmmm. Wily Filipino? Well, I'll bite! She bites a hairtip as she goes off, humming, onto the Wily Filipino Blog where the sunny professor has written:

It's about time I wrote a little something about the sparkling joys of poet Eileen Tabios's blog, WinePoetics. I imagine her drinking her wine, her entries spilling like tiny diamonds onto the keyboard, getting stuck between the "j" and "k" keys.

I met her a few months back at a reading, where she stumped me with a question on some offhand statement I made (I was introducing the writers) about how poets are needed to imagine the nation. I couldn't really answer. Then I ran into her again buying Peet's at SF State (god, this is starting to sound like some kind of mash note), just before she had a poetry reading. (I couldn't go because I was teaching my research methods class at the same time.) Anyhow, she clearly had no idea who I was. =)

Her latest entry, "Song of the Torn Footnotes," is characteristically lovely. "Your hands never memorized the circumference of her ankles." And again: "As the moon rose, we never entered a room whose lights I cancelled from a sudden shyness."

So, Eileen, if you're reading this, consider it fan mail. Or better yet, consider it a toast.


Dang! I just ADORE being ADORED! PREEEN! I'ma almost tempted to call this an embarassment of riches but I'd rather call out: "More, peeps! More!" Sigh....an absolutely contented preening sigh...

===============

She de-clumps her extremely lengthy lashes to check her watch. Oh, well, that's enough mischief for today. I must go downtown and allow dear Tom to feed me lunch. The day is bright, just perfect for a lovely glass of , hmmm, let's say the lovely 1985 Krug!

posted by EILEEN | 11:59 AM


Thursday, April 24, 2003  

SONG OF THE TORN FOOTNOTES

and that other woman looking backward--

tearful. holding on to the rail.

I saw it futurally--

stoppered cotton slowly expanding, released.
sliding from the bottle--
--from "The Farewell Stairway" by Barbara Guest


It was just a dream. You never stood before a window watching snow etch Manhattan as you remembered me. You never called my hair "black rain" for striating white sheets. You never evoked Joyce's "The Dead" from a blizzard that united us simply for pacing the same planet that received all snowflakes. You never called their "helpless falls" like the rush of you and I into an "aliveness" you conceded was lost in memory. You never heard me quote Ibn Faraj: those beasts gone wild / who take gardens for pastures--

It was just a dream. Your hands never memorized the circumference of her ankles. It was amoral "condition precedent" to something you never came to label "sweet reserve." You never once whispered, "I want your eyes open as when they must be open to read me." It was a dream: you never wrote her 10,000 poems because you "write as a form of talking" and when you thought of her you felt your "mouth completely stuffed with oatmeal." You never courted her with e-mails replete with “Oh, Eileen….” You never heard her quote Ibn ‘Iyad: the ripe wheat / bending before the wind--

Feathers flutter. Some land on her typing fingers. She knows the pale witches are agonizing over every spilled word. But she cannot stop....

It was just a dream. As the moon rose, we never entered a room whose lights I cancelled from a sudden shyness. You never kissed each inch of my flesh, then again, again, until the sun peeked through and winced at a garish orange -- no, “grass green” -- bedspread. Your nose never memorized each inch of my scalp while whispering, "Darling, this far exceeds my dreams." You never said, "You live, therefore, my blood flows." You never heard me quote Abu I-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Hsn: juniper stains / the muzzle of the antelope--

It was just a dream. You never said you wanted to fill her eyes as much as her arms. The hurtling rain was helpless before gravity but you never called their "steady pulsing" a reminder of the veins that leapt against your tongue. It was just a dream, but not like another dream you never shared where she became "pure liquid" and you drank, and you drank. “O d’Yquem* – you nectar of the gods!” You never heard her quote Muhammad ibn Ghalid al-Rusafi: breeze lifts / the coattails of the hills--

Feathers flutter. Some land on her typing fingers. She knows her wounded angels are agonizing over every spilled word. Increasingly, more feathers are wet, sodden by the color of rubies angels melt then spill from their eyes when they weep. But she cannot stop....

It was just a dream. Thinking of me never made you catch your breath from gratitude our paths -- finally! -- intersected. You never sat patiently on my bed, gently stroking my hair while I napped. You never promised after reading my Enheduanna [see link], "I am the one who walked through the spaces you hollowed out from air & left behind in anticipation of me...." You never heard me quote The Umayyad Prince Marwan ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman: on the page of her cheek / silver flowed over gold--

It was just an impossible dream. You never said you wanted her more than a flower wants the hummingbird. You never paid meticulous attention to the finest hair on the back of her neck. You never licked off her tears then proclaimed, "You shall never starve for affection for as long as I live." Yes, you never dragged her into a park so that you "both would return to the grid of the city smelling of each other, of the grass, of the soil, of spring." You never heard her quote Al-As’ad Ibrahim ibn Billitah: he arises to announce the death of night--

Feathers flutter. Some land on her typing fingers. She knows the fatherless daughters are agonizing over every spilled word. Increasingly, more feathers are wet, sodden by the color of rubies angels spill from their eyes when they weep. The floor by her ankles -- her own ankles -- look bloodied, are bloodied. But she cannot stop....

It was just a dream. I never offered you mango juice, only to drink it back out of your mouth, before offering it back again to you. You never offered the names of flowers I shall never see with your eyes. You never insisted, "You are NOT alone as I have been here as a reader and will stay here as a reader as well as a lover if you can stand to have me as a lover.” I never tugged at your collar, eliciting your lips that never explored the shapes of each of my quivering fingers. You never heard me quote Idris ibn al-Yamani: The goblets were heavy--

It was just a dream. You never thought about recovering the smell of eucalyptus by exploring her neighborhood. You never sent a black and white photo that made her nervously ask, "You're not stern, are you?" You never asked her to write the future of your life -- that, you certainly never once pleaded for after falling on your knees. You never once begged, "Please take my name." You never ever poured honey on her. You never heard her quote Ibn Sharaf: let’s get this straight--

Some feathers cling to her typing fingers. Blood flows then on her keyboard as she continues to type, It was just a dream. She never admitted her fragility and pleaded (Please…!) that you not hurt her. You never promised never to hurt her. It was just a dream. A dream you will never know because you will never read it here. You never heard her silence the song of the footnotes you tore away from the narrative. You never heard her cease the alchemy addicts receive as Poetry--


=====================


* Sip. The poet who relies on long lashes to hide wounds masquerading as eyes began drinking early to counter what spurred her fingers to write the above. Tonight, it's the 1967 d’Yquem in order to facilitate authenticity since the poem threw up the reference to a wine known as "nectar of the gods."

Tasting Notes: Deep gold color. A bouquet of tropical fruits -- coconut, banana and starfruit -- creme brulee, apricot, vanilla and napoleons in the nose. Incredible glycerine and concentration that coated the tongue. Layers and layers of fruits. Rich vibrant flavors of concentrated coconut, banana oil, pineapple, starfruit, sweet deserts, and apricot balanced against crisp acidity. The aftertaste lasted several minutes for this ethereal gem. One of the great wines of all times. Unlike many things in life, this wine has yet to disappoint.


posted by EILEEN | 6:17 PM


Wednesday, April 23, 2003  

STORY
(AFTER INSOMNIA TALK WITH AN ADORED ONE)


They watch her. She is boring. It is tedious to witness a poet at work. Particularly this poet -- there's nothing more boring than watching someone drink when one is not drinking. There she is, frequently raising the goblet she keeps replenishing with the 1983 Haut Brion* while she sits there staring at a blank screen. [Tip for oenophiles: a New Yorker informed me today that the '83 Haut Brion is going for bargain prices at wine auctions.] But because this is what they are doing this evening -- watching her -- they must discuss her, and the conversation is boring.

One says, "Her hair's grown so long."

Another says, "She must stop chewing on her hairtips."

Another says, "She chews on hair when she's anxious."

Another says, "She's frowned too much this week."

Another says, "Huh."

Another doesn't actually say anything but does contribute the sound of a burp.

Another says, "She just got a new e-mail. Let's see...."

And they unfurl their wings and swoop down -- careful of that "brass chandelier" that keeps infiltrating her poems! -- to hover over the long-lashed poet's shoulders. They read over her tight tight shoulders (still tight despite Ashtanga) that another poet has just written her:

I'm serving cacarecce tonight; that's red pepper quarter-moon-shaped pasta with Genoese basil pesto & pan-stirred fiddlehead ferns, brocollini, orange peppers. The wine? you ask! Menzinger Fruhlingsplatzerchen Riesling Kabinet (2001). Sound familiar?

They are relieved to hear her giggle. "Jack -- you are so funny!"

But before she can respond to this Jack whom they suddenly adore for making their beloved poet laugh, they hear AOL proclaim, "You've got mail!"

She turns to said new e-mail. Another poet is writing:

"offer only good while supplies last"

Oh! Her face whitens. They watch her face whiten into fresh bone. They watch her plummet into a trance. They watch her "armless hands"** rise and begin to dance on the keyboard:

for a poem that remains between words

-- though with the same silent music as that emanating from another poet who suddently turned cruel by promising to call but didn't (you reading me, cruel pip, uh, peep?) --

a poem to which all of her six million peeps are deafened except for the line

"I need to finish licking my wounds"

Oh! The winged ones also hear the wounded line and rear back. Then they soar up towards the ceiling where, collectively, they begin shivering. The proverbial Chinese "ten thousand" years of silence pass by.*** Then, slowly, one by one, they begin lowering the wings they'd clapped over their eyes. After a deep breath -- INHALE/EXHALE -- they peer back down at the long-lashed poet.

....a poet now humming to herself between sips, her hair grown to curl about her lovely ankles like dark stormed-up waves. A humming that bears the sensibility of torn footnotes.

One says, "What is the sensibility of torn footnotes?"

She is shusshhed.

Then another says, speaking on behalf of all: "Okay, she's still drinking. But why is she humming? She actually sounds pleased with herself."

Hic. That's when I look up at the dufus angels and yell out -- albeit in a wondrously enchanting manner -- Oh, Winged Peeps!

"Good art often comes from desperation"!****



--------------
* There may be a "Buy" opportunity for 1983 First Growth Bordeauxes which are fabulous but suffering too much in comparison to the more revered 1982 vintage.

** -- after Jose Garcia Villa's line "The,hands,on,the,piano,are,armless"

*** Sentence dedicated to Nick for time travel and to Timothy because, Oh yeah sweetie: I sympathize with not wanting to be the Asian American thought police.

**** This line was stolen gleefully from a poet I adore but who shall remain nameless because I want to be T.S. Eliot -- which is why, before becoming a poet I worked as a British banker coz that's what T.S. did.


posted by EILEEN | 11:33 PM


Monday, April 21, 2003  

PROCESSING THE, UH, PROCESSES

I noticed something unexpected from my two earlier attempts in blogland to post brief comments (unlike my usually lengthy posts which I like doing to subvert preconceived ideas of how to read in cyberspace, but which mostly serve to prove, I believe, that moi has no life). What I felt was that in posting these nuggets, a certain simmer in the belly was woken and if I just flowed with its, uh, simmering flow....something wonderful -- perhaps even the first draft for a poem -- may unfold. So the last 26 posts actually comprise a poem, though the poem would read in the reverse order of how it was written -- and how you now see it -- in this blog format.

The first post was written at 9:41 a.m. and the last at 10:50 a.m., which is to say, I was just writing with the flow -- for as long as mah belly kept simmering. (That'sa right, peeps -- I make many decisions as dictated by my enchantingly-domed belly .... and she pauses to rub it until the genie pops out...)

As I look back now on the results, I realize that today's blogged poem has affinity with process-driven writing -- something applicable to me when (though not always), except for the starting point (whether it's a particular word or a feeling that I determine), the poem writes itself as words engendered specifically by prior words. Was that clear? Well, if not -- go away. Sip. But another way to put it is Michael Arnzen's articulation in the current issue of Sidereality . I was in the mood to compliment Clayton Couch's project Sidereality so went to his site and -- synchronicity! -- Arnzen, the featured poet, is quoted as saying:

"To be a poet means to be an associational thinker -- that is, able to draw unexpected connections (which is what a metaphor does, of course, but I mean "associational" the way a psychologist does). The unconscious does this work naturally (as when we dream); writers capture it, transcribe it. Poetry isn't just channeling, but it should privilege the unconscious. Narrative fiction follows the course of reasoning; poetry often constructs its own course as it goes, obeying a logic all its own, through a form seemingly all its own."

Since 10:50 a.m. when I wrote the last posted line to the poem now bearing the working title of "Blog Poem, April 21, 2003", I've been considering how the blogging made a difference in the writing process. I'm speculating that knowing that each line gets blogged immediately makes a difference. Perhaps blogging offered another means to pressure myself to get it right at the first articulation -- which relates to my love (as I've mentioned before) of this "first draft, last draft" approach.

Or perhaps not. Fortunately, there's no such thing as a right or wrong in poetics. "Just take my word for it." (Quoting there from someone whose name I can't recall but was writing about, yawn, "theory" on the PoeticsList.) Sip.

So now that I have a new poem, I'm wondering whether I should reflect its origins by, say, notating the phrase "posted by Eileen" with the time in, say, smaller type below each posted line. (This idea was first explored, I believe, by Michelle Bautista; but Michelle sweetie -- did you delete those posts from your archives?) I don't know yet whether I'll note my name and times....I'ma just writing a blogpost so I'm letting my mind wander for your amusement....while I drink the aptly named 1996 Behrens & Hitchcock "Ink Grade" Cabernet (Napa Valley).

Hmmm. Although I do like the idea -- naturally -- of a poem comprised solely of my name. Hmmm, like this?

POST POST AVANT POEM

Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen

Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen

O Eileen!

Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen
Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen Eileen

Sip. So. Was that as good for you as it was for me? Blink. That is, blink with lovely long eyelashes....

But but but [check butt to ensure the "Arse Poetica" is holding as, otherwise David "Leash Me To Unleash Me" Hess might get upset], there's more! I have more ideas about the "Blog Poem"! [She narcissistically assumes a collective inhale as audience bates breath.] What I'ma thinking is that the de facto caesuras resulting between each blogged section can become the spaces for a new way of reading a poem that reflects my "integration of the outside world into the inner world of the poem" [See "Six Directions" link for reference]. That is, I would read the poem and in between each blogged section, I would read out some words specific to the context of that reading, whether it's a description of someone in the audience, or the weather peering through the window, etcetera... Had I thought to do this for my Eastwind reading that Stephanie attended (and kindly reported on), I even could have mentally written and read -- in response to her winking eye during my reading -- a line like

"Are you flirting or are you praying and what is the difference?"

....and that such instantaneous writing also fits with the blog's, uh, instantanous writing....

She ignores the loud snores rising now from most of her six million peeps to continue, fascinated as she is by herself:

Although, huh! In its written form, "Blog Poem, April 21, 2003" doesn't look that different in form from the "Capri" poem I wrote without the constraint/support of the blog format. By the way, I am mentioning "Capris" because I want to thank Poethia (and editors Peter Ganick, Jim Leftwich and Annabelle Clipinger) who printed it and who I believe are now open to submissions to poethia@mindspring.com. Anyway, here's "Capri" and I hope you like reading it as much as I enjoyed having to conduct the arduous research underlying it (the first line is supposed to be indented but I've forgotten the only piece of html I know that would allow me to indent it; perhaps the blogger who taught me once could, cough, e-mail me the instructions again?):

CAPRI
--for Tom

And the day begins to be made

this discourse of light

so tantalizing one forgives the cloud

cheerfully straying through bends of alleyways

bougainvillea consistently replete, replete!

uncracked sheen along cracked stones

this discourse of light

your shirt collar an Apollonian white

wet green the potential of olives, grapes

birdsong, cobalt unfurled by ascending wings

these are not marks on a page

O Lunch: you await:

window presentation of trout on ice, cushioned by lemon slices

bottles of Gaja bearing the stance of Praetorian pi

a waiter's napkin crisp, starched, appropriately proud

wine, wine, you pouring a Tuscan son and sun

this discourse of light expanding the veins

O Capri: even austere Tiberius -- that angry Tiberius -- smiled


=========

Speaking of processes, one of my six million readers -- a vintner rather than a poet -- wrote and observed (and which glass did you have in hand as you wrote me?):

"I've been reading you....and began reading other poets who do blogs after I started following some of your links. Some of your poet friends are very...interesting. But now I see why you consider wine your daily vitamin. Still, if wine benefits your poetry-writing, perhaps you should double your intake."

Thanks vintner-peep. [AND HELLO?!!!! DID YOU EVEN REALIZE, MR. NORMALLY NICE, THAT YOU JUST INSULTED MY "POETRY-WRITING"?!!!!] I'll share your suggestion with poetry blogland. There: shared. Hiccup. Ooops. Sip.

Speaking of vintners, I was reminded this weekend of a wine store sign Nick Piombino thoughtfully noted to share:

"Sign outside a wine store (For Eileen Tabios): "There are large bodies of water separating us, and small amounts of wine to bring us together."

Thanks Nick -- I hadn't seen this slogan before (btw, I loved your two audioblogs!). And it may as well be the epigraph to this very amazing tale I'm about to share. This weekend, I met a neighbor, Keith, who owns Eisele Vineyards which happens to supply one of the top five cabernet producers in California: Araujo . Keith came up to the house and, at one point, visited my studio where he saw a copy of the now-defunct The Evening Paper. This Manila-based newspaper had printed a photo of me sipping martinis with Jose Garcia Villa (well, Villa had a martini; I had a margarita). Reflecting the state of poetry within culture, Keith ignored the photo of poets to focus on the photo of politicians; specifically, the photo on the same page of Philippine former President Corazon Aquino.

Keith then turned to me and shared that he grew up in the Philippines until he was 17 years old, after which he returned to the U.S. for college. But check this out you pinoy peeps (and those non-pinoys just riveted to this blog)!!! Keith's mother had been among those hiding from the bombs being let loose by the Japanese during World War II! In fact, as a little girl, Keith's mother once played the piano in the tunneled bomb shelters of Corregidor!!! I know I'm not the only one now nodding their heads up and down in a slow-mo NFW!!!!

Yeah, yeah!!!

And, and, and! Keith's mother had been on the last plane out of Manila as part of General MacArthur's entourage!!!! Geeeeez....the way Keith told that story, I suddenly felt the dust and heat and fear as people tried to scramble on the last plane out. And -- I'd never focused on this before -- the planes back then couldn't travel long distances like they can nowadays. So the planes had to keep stopping to refuel at several places controlled by the Japanese before they finally made their way to Australia! Very dangerous but, of course, people were really focused on getting MacArthur to safety...

Gads! I was looking at this tall gangling fella telling me this story and I was like....speechless! Hard to believe....and hard to believe I was speechless. It's always discombobulating (at least for me) to meet people so close to historical events I know more through history books. I can hear some of you pinoy peeps nudging so, Uh huh [picture my lovely chin moving up and down], Keith's mother indeed was in the Philippines as her family was among the U.S.-Americans who moved there as a result of the Philippine-American War. Keith is the first person I've met with this background....

Anyway, Keith and I were talking about "six degrees of separations" separating most people ("for Filipinos, it's usually two degrees since most are related to each other"). But, yah, as we socialized beneath the black crows riding the wind currents over St. Helena, I could just as easily have said,

"It sure doesn't take much wine to bring people together."

Heck....that wine even brings together the humongous crowd of fallen angels crowding my mind into one .... blog persona....

posted by EILEEN | 11:18 PM
 

A virgin from music.

posted by EILEEN | 10:50 AM
 

The ivory keys cracked and yellow – except the highest note still white like frozen light….

posted by EILEEN | 10:49 AM
 

Now, six million know this: here she can rehearse “Farewell” because he does not read me.

posted by EILEEN | 10:44 AM
 

Java awaits.

posted by EILEEN | 10:41 AM
 

The color of pathos forever contained in crevices…

posted by EILEEN | 10:39 AM
 

Some blueberries are most delicious when overripe, the purple staining the crevices of the oak table…

posted by EILEEN | 10:38 AM
 

How do certain things become ineffectual?

posted by EILEEN | 10:35 AM
 

Except you used the L-word. Except you were generous with the L-word.

posted by EILEEN | 10:34 AM
 

Blood on ledge obviates cliché from “unrequited love” --

posted by EILEEN | 10:30 AM
 

Rise. Stretch. Walk to the window from which I shall not fling myself.

posted by EILEEN | 10:29 AM
 

While we never watched us not blush in yet one more context unknown for “us.”

posted by EILEEN | 10:26 AM
 

Snow packed and rising against the beveled panes while our lips atop Alpine sweaters have never laughed by a blazing fire.

posted by EILEEN | 10:25 AM
 

Yes, that, too….

posted by EILEEN | 10:23 AM
 

Light spills like your finger that once traversed a descent across my cheek.

posted by EILEEN | 10:21 AM
 

Searching for a horizon is a proven means for filling that eye with light until light spills, light spills

posted by EILEEN | 10:20 AM
 

The whisper leaking onto the white page: how many more approximations must one live through before reaching the peak of Lindos?

posted by EILEEN | 10:16 AM
 

As if his first kiss lacked the tang of a stray sea breeze from a childhood your poor memory keeps attempting to grasp…

posted by EILEEN | 10:09 AM
 

As if his first kiss never unfolded without someone else from your future whispering in your ear: “He is just one of the many you must lovingly release.”

posted by EILEEN | 10:08 AM
 

Ankles of white marble as if you never leapt off the pedestal made by fathers….

posted by EILEEN | 10:05 AM
 

Oh. Chilled ankles.

posted by EILEEN | 10:04 AM
 

Rain leaving diamonds where they fall – soon, she shall weave a corset of rain for the poet veiled by hair.

posted by EILEEN | 9:57 AM
 

The cat which does not exist on my window seat that does not exist licks itself where it does not exist before padding over to rub its fur that does not exist against my ankles that, sadly, do exist…

posted by EILEEN | 9:54 AM
 

I return each weekend to the same black crow smashing itself against the library window, bloodying its beak from having fallen in love with its eyes reflecting the cobalt sky.

posted by EILEEN | 9:51 AM
 

Dusting now the ivory keys with my hair rather than tapping the highest note that consistently etches….

posted by EILEEN | 9:47 AM
 

Speaking as one experienced with a waiting long leached of anticipation….

posted by EILEEN | 9:45 AM
 

Had it lasted longer, would it have retained the integrity that shall make us look back?

posted by EILEEN | 9:41 AM
 

GIRL SINGING ON REVERSED CONSONANCE AND REVERSED SILLINESS


O girl singing. O
For whom alone God bows out. O lovely
Throat. O world's end. O brightly
Devised crystal moment.
--from "#21" by Jose Garcia Villa


Michael of http://graywyvern.blogspot.com/ observes:

"Looks like Jose Garcia Villa is being rediscovered. Most famous, perhaps, for his poems in which commas separated every word, i think his most interesting invention was backwards-consonance rhyming. (Edmund Wilson wrote a poem or two that attempted truly phonetic reversal, but his vowels are all messed up.) I still think the number of possible formalisms is much greater than anyone, even versification-geeks, can imagine. But this is probably not the time for such inquiries...!"

I'm not sure on what Michael means by the last sentence in above paragraph, but I much agree with him on his assessment of Villa's inventions. "Reverse consonance" -- which was Villa's label for what Michael describes -- is my favorite of Villa's innovations. Here's an excerpt from The Anchored Angel (see link) from Villa's "Note on Reversed Consonance." The Note references Villa's poem, "1", which happens to be one of my favorites among Villa's oeuvre:

"The principle involved is that of reversed consonance. The last sounded consonants of the last syllable, or the last principal consonants of a word, are reversed for the corresponding rhyme. Thus, a rhyme for near would be run, or rain, green, reign. For light -- tell, tall, tale, steal, etc.

In the case of a word where no consonant follows the last vowel, as in

Leaned in my eyes and loved me

the corresponding rhyme is found by considering the last sounded consonant of the preceding word: thus, a corresponding rhyme, in this case, would be

It to dazzeling diamond made.

Other possible rhymes for this case, then, could be mind, maid, etc.

To illustrate with a full poem, showing each consonantal reversion, rhyme by rhyme, I quote poem "1." The rhyme scheme is a-b, a-b:

It is what I never said,
What I'll always sing--
It's not found in days,
It's what always begins
In half dark, in half light,
It's shining so curved
Yet rises as tall and tells
Where the first flower dove
When God's hands lost love,
It's a great word without sound
Without echo to reveal
Without fragrance went down!
O, but it's all of it there
Above my new poems a Wreath.

[...]In the author's [Villa's] belief, this new rhyme method is subtler and stricter, and less obtrusive on the ear, than ordinary consonance."

==============

By the way, I am writing again on Villa because he just berated me in a dream ("You know damn well I'd hate this 'Asian American' label and you also know damn well there is no such thing as 'Asian American'"!!!!!!) and I promised another post as a mea culpa.

But since I'm writing on him, I might as well address one reader's reaction to my April 15 post on Villa. This reader said that he finds Villa's use of commas to be "a bit precious, even mechanical.... I have a similar problem with [Alice] Notley's use of quotation marks. For me it interferes more than guides."

This makes me want to emphasize that Villa allows for an "out" from his "poetics" (i.e. his suggestion) on the relevance of the commas. That is, Villa said the commas are supposed to endow words with "fuller tonal and sonal value" by using commas to regulate the reading of the poem, BUT the reader also can ignore the commas.

Moreover, Villa had another rationale for his commas: he compared his use of commas to "Seurat's architectonic and measured pointillism." If you look at (vs. read) the sample poem with commas -- that is, if you view that comma poem as a visual poetry, perhaps like a drawing -- I don't think it such a stretch to see how those commas evoke Seurat's paintings. By the way -- and I think also significantly -- Villa was also a visual artist who experimented with typography. For example, one of his poems is entitled "The Shy One" and is simply a white page with a comma lurking at the bottom right corner of the page.

In any event, Villa's concession that the reader could ignore the commas in reading his comma-poems is significant because there often can be a disconnect between what an author intends and what/how the author reads. I don't think this is something bad or good as such disconnect seems a logical result from the diversity of human nature (including how that same person might change over time).

=============

Relatedly, some of you might be interested in José Edmundo Ocampo Reyes's treatment of these issues, partly by conflating both reverse consonance and comma poems in a poem entitled "Villa,Nelle" and which begins as:

VILLA,NELLE

Invite a tiger for a weekend.
-José Garcia Villa



Sir,place,a,comma,after,every,word,
And,make,your,rhymes,seem,somewhat,out,of,place,
So,tigers,will,come,knocking,at,your,door.

You'll,thus,become,the,planet's,goldest,draw,
[...]

Jose's entire poem and a description of his writing process is available in the Archives (March 2003) of "Babaylan Speaks," a publisher's monthly column at Meritage Press (see link) devoted to contemporary English-language Filipino literature, with an emphasis on poetry. In fact, scrolling through those Archives which I began in 2001 might give you a notion of what's happening in Filipino poetry, in the U.S. and elsewhere.

=============

Wines this weekend:

I visited my neighbor Dutch Henry Vineyards where I enjoyed their 2001 Los Carneros Chardonnay. Then I did some barrel tastings: you heard it here first -- I highly recommend the 2001 cabernet which should be bottled later this year.

Later, I imbibed the 1998 Kistler Chardonnay (Durell Vineyards) and the 1983 Haut Brion (but, Sandy, dinner was not at the laundromat; waiting for your visit). The sommelier was sort of sniffy over the Haut Brion -- which Tom speculated was due to the fact that 1982 was a vintage of the (20th) century for Bordeaux, thereby overshadowing other vintages. But that doesn't mean the 1983 was bad -- as exemplified by the Haut Brion: Fabulously well-knitted structure. Bouquet perfumed by cassis, green leaf tobacco, cedar, gravel. Complex taste similar to the nose: cassis, a dash of earth, tobacco. Certain weightlessness on the tongue reflecting balance, elegance, smoothness. At one point over dinner, I happily tossed out, "Liquid feta cheese!"

....at which Tom threw me an irritated glance (okay, he just pretended irritation as the poor man simply adores me, as he should) and said, "You mean 'old saddle leather'." I guess this means that if Tom were a poet, he'd be a formalist as apparently "old saddle leather" is more typical of oenophiliac tasting jargon. And, that makes me -- Missy Liquid Feta Cheese -- what? (Yes, dear Tom Fink -- I don't think the answer is neo-formalist....wink.)

Here's more silliness, dedicated to another poet who insists, "Don't judge me by my tweed jacket." (Yeah, right....)

I THINK

reticence is tweed
as much as
the '83 Haut Brion
coats my tongue
as "liquid feta cheese"

-- the hunched sommelier
with tilted nose corrects:
"you mean saddle leather"

*****

After considering the angle
of the formalist's beak,
I raise eyes above the rim
of Reidel to suggest
"Don't walk in the rain --

you'll drown drown drown..."

posted by EILEEN | 12:17 AM


Friday, April 18, 2003  

ON AUTODIDACTICISM AND WHATEVER ELSE FLOWS AS I FLOW WITH THE, UH, FLOW

Peeps!!!!! I recommend you check out the London Review of Books, Vol 25, No. 8, 17 April 2003. It contains a wonderful essay by Barry Schwabsky entitled "Makeshiftness" that reviews Menzel's Realism: Art and Embodiment in 19th-Century Berlin by Michael Fried. Naturally, because I'm special, I have the article's text (I'd print it all here but we wouldn't want my "tight ass" sued -- see heathenic reference below). Here's an excerpt from Barry's article that is written in the manner that I very much appreciate: using a topic (Menzel) as a springboard to discuss other things that could interest a readership larger than those interested in the core topic. By the way, this essay also is among the best I've ever read by this poet who's highly respected for his criticism (I don't know that this reflects Barry's intent but I thought the second & third sentences hilarious!):

Michael Fried, who is also a poet, has a dense, self-questioning, fervent prose style. Somewhat perversely he has, over the last three decades [...] put this prose to the service of art-historical scholarship. It might have been otherwise. While still in his twenties Fried had become a leading critic of contemporary art, an occupation which may not sound very different from being an art historian, though perhaps less respectable. Yet from Baudelaire onwards, an engagement with contemporary painting has been vital to some of the greatest poets; and the best art critics, aside from those who were primarily artists, have been writers who've taken art on as a sideline. Even the rival giants of American art criticism when Fried was a young man, Harold Rosenberg and Fried's own mentor Clement Greenberg, started out wanting to be all-round literati before becoming specialists in the fine arts; but Fried, who was one of the first wave of art critics to have a PhD in art history, seems to have been the only one of that group to have been tempted, however briefly, by the older model of the writer-critic rather than the academic.

Perhaps this accounts for the difference in tone between Fried's criticism and that of his peers. Where they were combative and polemical, he exhibited near religious intensity, as though he wanted something from art, a sort of exaltation or transcendence, that criticism was hardly suited to express. This desire is most evident in what is probably the best known sentence Fried has written, the last line of his 1967 essay 'Art and Objecthood': 'Presentness is grace' --


"Transcendence"!! I raise the glass!

But the above isn't even the reason I thought to raise Barry's article. I thought the following excerpt applicable to poetry blogland this week. This excerpt follows Barry's depiction of "Fried's passion for precise expression and his determination to make close distinctions, such as the one between the sketchlike and the improvisatory."

"Menzel realigns our sense of the distinction, central to the disputes that shaped 19th-century French art and our response to it, between a sketch and a finished painting. Manet, as the proponents of the academy never tired of complaining, believes that he is making paintings, but in reality he only brushes in sketches. Fried himself explained the force of Manet's rejection of academic finish by saying that his 'problem . . . was not so much to know when a given painting was finished as to discover in himself the conviction that it was now a painting.' Even in paintings which weren't intended for public exhibition, Menzel didn't so much disdain the idea of finish as redefine it.
As his immense productivity alone would attest (his memorial exhibition at Berlin's Nationalgalerie in 1905 included 129 paintings, 291 watercolours, gouaches and pastels, 6405 drawings and 252 prints), Menzel was possessed of a fierce work ethic. His admonition to the gifted younger painter Max Liebermann was: 'Your talent you have from God, I value in an artist only the effort.' It is worth bearing in mind that Menzel was essentially an autodidact, having fled the academy within months of his arrival, and the earnestness and concentration evident in every centimetre of Rear Courtyard and House are indifferent to the academic notion of finish -- which, as Pierre Bourdieu once put it, aims at 'transforming the painting into a literary work' by effacing all reference to the painting's pictorial and material specificity.


Why do I think it relevant? Well, remember that phrase of thinking/doing "out of the box"? So Menzel clearly didn't care about lineage. This means his work took longer to be recognized. But as I think Fried and Schwabsky are now noting, when the work is finally recognized, one sees a more impressive output than perhaps those who never thought beyond the inherited conversation centered on the difference "between a finished sketch and a painting"?

Sip. Rather, the expectancy of sipping later tonight (perhaps the 2001 Irouleguy Domaine Etxegaraya since I'm in the mood to be "pleasantly rough" -- okay, inside joke there). Naturally, the essay reflects other topics beyond how I've contextualized these excerpts....but you already can glean that 'cause you're all smart peeps, correct?

Anyway, speaking of culture, I just finished reading Culture by Daniel Davidson (Krupskaya, 2002). It's a wonderful and wonderfully-layered collection. (In fact, Stephanie, I enjoyed the prose poem entitled "One" more than some of the cited works in the Lehman anthology of prose poems.) Here are some random lines from Davidson that resonate given this week's tenor:

This is playing a game, a cavalcade of desire disguised as tradition, contained and framed in a thirty second grip. (9)

Anyway, we are clutched in the aspirations of a stranger. (9)

Obligation to arrive, when to assert is to know. (10)

People are you when one is one of the world. (11)

Great old ideas are just like animals .... They defend their space. (19)

Embraced in petals, the look of trust, of comfort. (21)
[I dedicate this line today to Stephanie and Caterina; I hear ya, Jordan, on your noticing of their charm....both ladies (Caterina: go Pinay!) dust-glitter cyberspace with their special brand of enchantment.]

I like you, however I'm afraid of your entertainment. (25)
[Now, this I dedicate to....okay, okay: just kidding!]

The resulting sketch = the violence of sight. (85)

Are we knocking at our own doors? (116)

So, peeps -- check out Culture. This Davidson had talent! Props (I just learned that word; see how un-hip I am?) to Krupskaya for publishing this book without which I, for one, wouldn't have known of this poet. And, I also noticed as I read through this book that I felt a/his presence to be quite companionable. Even alluring. Which contrasts with how Gary Sullivan (his literary executor who wrote an Afterword) described him at times to be a bit irascible. And this, in turn, reminded me of how Ted Berrigan once said something about how poets's best selves are their poems. So, yes -- listen to Sandra: let's post poems!

Speaking of culture again, I am eagerly awaiting the collaborative books of Postcard Poems. I just asked Cassie Lewis (the one to contact for your copies; her e-mail's on their site) for a complete set of this wonderful project. I already have the first of the series -- the collaboration between Del Ray Cross and Cassie Lewis -- an absolutely enchanting project partly because of its production: its made-ness! There is a lilting exuberance to the clear presence of human hands in putting together the chap -- the xeroxed and collaged cover, the dark-blue ribbon insouciantly flaring out from the pages to act as a bookmark, the scotch tape refusing to hide its presence, how the staples are a bit off center and the glued-on strips of paper to correct typos. Exquisite wabi sabi!

From the site hosted by the delightful ShampooPoetry, the Postcard Poems series is described as being comprised of:

Cassie Lewis & Del Ray Cross
Stephanie Young & Cassie Lewis
Jennifer Dannenberg & Cassie Lewis
Stephanie Young & Del Ray Cross

Forthcoming:
Cassie Lewis & Tim Yu
Catherine Meng & Stephanie Young
Jim Behrle & Del Ray Cross

I really appreciate how Cassie et all has taken matters into their hands -- both in a loving and lovely way -- to figure out how to let their wonderful poems loose in the world. (I love this mindset which, I think, also underlies the deservedly-popular ShampooPoetry online journal.). So, here is one poem by Del Ray from the first Postcard Poems publication:

The Waters in Arkansas

Shadows moo'd across the pasture.
The riverlight made the pine needles
luminesce. Excuse the
wistfulness, but when you
last called on the telephone,
I was crouched with my waters
cornered. My breath was near the campfire.
Never had I known such a secret
college wish come true.
Up the creek we'd gotten cold
and I made you unfold me
a new bed under the crosshatched stars.
You smelled just like a Christmas tree.

And from the same collaboration, here's a poem by Cassie -- natch, a wine poem:

In Memoriam

On a frosty night
I quoted Piet Mondrian:
'the light is coming'.
The trees intoned, 'it sure is'.

The great ocean road.

Bring closer the wine,
bring closer the moon.
Or a spell to forget you,
as the sayings go.


Last but never least, speaking of culture again, I appreciate David "Steel Yet Gallant Eyes" Hess for printing my well-conceived treatise entitled "My Arse Poetica." That brilliantly-conceived essay required much much arduous research on my part and I am gratified that he found something in the results worth publishing in his blog.

Actually, in celebration of this being, uh, Friday....I'd like to thank Gary, Nick, Stephanie, Timothy, Caterina and Michelle for your gracious mentions this week, especially on Gabriela Silang who required over a year to finally leave the embrace of the other long-haired ones below my ceiling to hover above me....

Gabriela who suddenly yanks the poet's long hair and tumbles her on her ass. The long-lashed one looks up at Gabriela's hovering spirit -- noticing yet again with much awe -- how wounds as eyes do not preclude a face from being bewitching. Gabriela licks pale pink lips, then withdraws the tip of her tongue to whisper, each word scented by crushed sampaguitas:

Please:
Bring closer the wine, / bring closer the moon....


posted by EILEEN | 11:39 AM


Wednesday, April 16, 2003  

I AM HOMEWORK (AKA I THINK STEVE D. SHOULD GIVE SHARON AN "A" DESPITE MY OWN BLATHER)

I just returned from doing a reading at Eastwind Books (thanks Harvey). Thanks Stephanie "As Lovely In Person As She Is On Her Blog" Young, Patricia "We Keep Missing Richter" Dienstfrey and Michelle "She's Cooking YumYums For Me!" Bautista for your lovely presences.

Before the reading, I was interviewed by Sharon who is writing a paper on my poems to fulfill an assignment at SFState (I've become "homework" -- what is it about that word? Anyway....). One of the topics Sharon asked is how I switched careers from finance to poetry. I said I had quit my banking career to try to write Ye Olde Great American Novel. But as I quit on a June 30, I thought I'd "take the summer off and take it easy" (hah!) by attempting poetry. I was 35 years old and, up to that point, had not been interested in poetry; but, relative to the novel, it seemed like poetry should be easy because poems are, um, usually short(er than novels). Sip with a sigh...

So everyday from "9 to 5" (keeping an eye on so-called "banking hours"), I would read or try to write poems; not knowing where to start, I bought every poetry book at the neighborhood Barnes and Noble (so, really, I first learned to write poems by reading poems). As I told Sharon, much to my surprise, by the end of that summer -- when I was supposed to return to that novel -- I discovered that poetry was my gig. So I kept writing poems and other forms of writing -- including fiction -- became secondary. And I trashed the novel (a murder mystery in a bank -- like the world needs another one)....

Then Sharon asked how I began getting poems published. I said I went through the lit journals available at B&N and also discovered the Submission Calls in the back section of Poets & Writers Magazine; and for the next year or so I swamped the continent with the poems I'd written that summer (all that stuff about no simultaenous submissions? I ignored that -- I just swamped the continent. Blink lovely long eyelashes -- nowadays, I abide by the no simultaneous submissions rule primarily by not submitting where that's a rule). I'm on my second glass of the 1997 Turley Lodi Zinfandel (Dogtown Vineyard) which is still good 24 hours after it was opened, so I'm also now gonna reveal what I told Sharon: being an ex-banker, I'd maintained a meticulous data base of my poems during the first couple of years I was writing them (ach! those spreadsheets!). Poems on a spreadsheet -- I am really sheepish now over the thought! But so when Sharon asked about my "acceptance rate," I was able to answer 30% in my first year of submitting -- I submitted to journals I'd never read so these ranged from perfect-bound glossies to a few pages of pink paper stapled together by a teen-editor somewhere in middle America. (Sharon thought 30% pretty good -- but at the time, my mindset was more like 30% ain't good enough on Wall Street). And when Sharon asked about my first poem ever published, I was able to say it was the 17th poem I'd ever written. All this means nothing about my facilities as a poet (or lack thereof): statistical analysis is as murky (or clear but also murky) as interpreting a poem. I'ma just sharing these details coz I'ma writing a blogpost. Sip.

Then Sharon asked about my writing process. I said I rarely know how a poem will turn out; I just need that one thing to get me started, whether it's a word or a feeling. Then, as an example, I pulled out a notepad where I'd just written a poem an hour before we met. I had been spending time at a bookstore flipping through the just-released Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present edited by David Lehman. And something spurred me to take a pad out and write this one-paragraph poem.

*****

THE (FORM OF THE) PROSE POEM

For it is 2003. Hybridity an old story (if it even still exists). Chicken pox blocked from epidermis -- yours and mine. "Epidermis" solicits "hypothermia" (from single syllable "mi"). Ice against flesh defines status quo. For you e-mailed you would snailmail a hand-written letter. Dear, intention is not an object I can press between thighs. Or float there there which you wish to memorize. There where the sea is tropical, durian, sweetly polluted. A sweet scape still virgin as regards drunken captains. Mouths and beards scented with gasoline. Blinded hands birthing wakes of oil spills. Pastel-dressed virgin still lacking black as memory. Still unaware a color can matte instead of shimmer t r a n s l u c e n c e. Still too naive to realize color can smother. While I? I must don the creaking armor I laid aside to nap among the tall grass where you found me after you left the duck lodge to smoke, er, grass. The rifle bent over the crook of your left elbow. Bullets peeping like eyes.

*****

So I read -- inflicted -- that on Sharon. Maybe there'd have been nothing awful about just sharing the poem. But what I told Sharon (though admittedly in the context of having just explained my love for "first draft, last draft" type of poems) is that I called the above poem "pretty good, dontcha think?"

"Pretty good"? How easy to delude one's self -- particularly on the poem... and by the way, peeps, hearing simultaneous laughter from six million mouths is deafening, okay?

Well, but if I wasn't on my second glass, I guess I'da feel purty humiliated about now. But what's interesting (she's trying to switch topics as she tries to dig herself out of this hole -- why are you revealing this about yourself Ms. Winepoetics?) is that I think my enthusiasm for the poem reflects something else, which I later discussed with Patricia after my reading. I think I'm one of those poets who, if asked which is my favorite among my poems, would respond, "The one I'm currently working on" or the most recently-written one. I doubt the above poem is as "good" as I'd thought it to be when I was still wreathed amidst (read: blinded by) the mist of enthusiasm over having written a new poem. But, I think one should be highly enthused about what one is doing while one is doing it....!!

DEEP BREATH. OKAY, GIRL, BRING IT ON HOME....So the point (eh? the point? I can hear you six million peeps asking with varying combinations of astonishment and hilarity....hey, it's not like this ain't a free subscription, okay?)....the point is, my reading tonight is my last official reading for promoting Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole, which is a relief since my current work comes from a different space and it's become jarring for me to read these prose poems. (Ooops...I think my publisher reads me -- so now, this doesn't mean, cough, of course, that you shouldn't buy, read, pay attention to Reproductions -- see link. Dear Beloved Publisher, of course I continue to support that book but in different ways than devoting an entire reading to it....cough.)

Anyway, what was my point? Oh yes. Dear Steve -- when you grade Sharon's paper, please don't penalize her if she references the above stinker, uh, poem. I had been blinded by enthusiasm....instead of wine.

Which is also to say, yes dear David "You are Very Kind" Hess -- I do need to rest. At the moment, the world is too big to fit within my long-lashed eyes and the poems are coming out, uh, like smothering oil spills....

Sip. Something like that anyway. Blink silky long lashes. Whatever.

posted by EILEEN | 10:56 PM


Tuesday, April 15, 2003  

BUT WHO WAS THE LATE ANGEL OF ARTIFICE?

Synchronicities abound. Timothy Yu discusses Villa at his blog "Tympan." What's interesting, too, about the issues raised is how it relates to some recent posts in poetry blogland about transcendence, mysticism, how graduate students perceive things, etc.

I don't see why peeps get so uncomfortable with transcendence et al....but I suppose, unlike the very smart Timothy, that's coz my PhD is in the circles drawn by bees against air. Sip. Duck against those buzzing bees, get up too quickly, inadvertently raise eyes directly against the sun, see black dimes float on air....then transcendence. Hic.

Anyway, here's the transcendent Jose Garcia Villa (1908-1997) with two more transcendent poems. Reading poems like these send me as much as my glass tonight of the yummy 1997 Turley Lodi Zinfandel (Dogtown Vineyard).

4

O the Eyes that will see me,
And the Mouth that will kiss me.
and the Rose I will stand on,
and the hand that will turn me.

This will be in a Time of mirrors.

O the Tiger that will point me,
And the Light that will drown me.
And the Voice that will sing me,
And the God I will dethrone.

This is the Death I will stand on.

And here's another Villa poem that I chose partly because I think Sandra once posted a poem (though I think it was not one of Sandra's poems?) that referred to "the nut of Christ" -- an element also found in "His,under,is,the,socket,//Of,the,/sun." This is also one of Villa's "comma poems" for which he (once) was famous -- where generally each word was followed by a comma.

102

Much,beauty,is,less,than,the,face,of,
My,dark,hero. His,under,is,pure,
Lightning. His,under,is,the,socket,

Of,the,sun. Not,Christ,the,Fox,not,
Christ,the,Lord,His,beauty,is,too,
Sly,too,meek. But,Christ,Oppositor,

Christ,Foeman: The,true,dark,Hero,
He,with,the,three-eyed thunders,he,
With,the,rigorous,terrors: this,

Man's,under,is,pure,lightning. This,
Man's,under,is,the,socket,of,the,
Sun. After,pure,eyes,have,peeled,

Off,skin,who,can,gaze, unburned? Who,
Can,stand,unbowed: Well,be,perceived,
And,well,perceive. Receive,be,received.

Edith Sitwell apparently thought Villa's commas were excessive (and exotic). So she deleted all of them when she helped print Villa's most famous poem "The Anchored Angel" in The Times Literary Supplement of London. Twit-ty witch. (Villa should have renamed his Valentine poem "A Twit for Edith Sitwell"! For colonial thinking in editing Villa, may your bonnet have been buzzed by many bees.)

Anyway, here's an excerpt from my essay in The Anchored Angel (see link) where I discuss Villa's experiment with commas (artifice, anyone? cough):

"This technique was one of Villa's ways of exploring how poetic music may emerge from text. // Similarly, he tried to endow words with 'fuller tonal and sonal value' by using commas to regulate the reading of the poem. One of Villa's most controversial innovations were his 'comma poems' -- a comma after nearly every word partly, he says, to effect a 'time movement' whereby the poems are read with a slight pause after each comma. I do find a difference in reading the same poem with or without adhering to Villa's suggestion (though I do not privilege one mode of reading over the other). I found that the pause after each comma facilitates a meditative mode in reading the poem that, in turn, enhances the intimacy between the reader and the text. In a fast-paced world, Villa's commas can help create another door to that 'space' where the reader may best be able to pay attention to what the poem is saying -- a place where the reader releases life's mundane realities to commune as directly as possible with the poem (or any work of art).

"Indeed, Villa's comma technique evokes for me the intentions of the 3rd and 4th centuries B.C. designers of the acropolis at Lindos. The visitor to the acropolis must climb a hill through a series of entrances which were designed to be non-parallel, so that the visitor must turn left or right to go to the next entryway. By forcing the visitor to walk on this meandering path, the architects intended the visitor to concentrate on reaching the acropolis, thus leaving his/her worldly concerns behind at the foot of the hill. Presumably, the visitor's mind would then be 'emptied' by the time the visitor reaches the top of the hill so that the visitor will be fully focused on the goal of the trip -- pray at the Temple of Athena Lindia on the acropolis. Similarly, Villa wished the commas to facilitate the reader's focus on reading -- and responding to -- each word within his poems.

"Though I mention the Hellenistic Greeks, I note again how Villa's comma technique remains fresh in its affinity with the mindset of certain contemporary poets. His commas remind me of 1999 Pulitzer Poetry Finalist Alice Notley's use of quotation marks in her 1992 book, The Descent of Alette (Penguin). This long poem is comprised of individual phrases, all of which are indicated by quotation marks. Notley explains her technique as a rhythmic unit: 'they're there, mostly, to measure the poem. The phrases they enclose are poetic feet. If I had simply left white spaces between the phrases, the phrases would be rushed by the reader-read too fast for my musical intention. The quotation marks make the reader slow down and silently articulate -- not slur over mentally -- the phrases at the pace, and with the stresses, I intend.' Notley's 'intention' as regards timing certainly seems similar to Villa's thoughts on his commas.

"There are those who do not admire Villa's use of commas; I have heard his technique called pretentious or irrelevant. Such criticisms remind me of what Pico Iyer once said about the comma: 'The gods, they say, give breath, and they take it away. But the same could be said -- could it not? -- of the humble comma. Add it to the present clause, and, of a sudden, the mind is, quite literally, given pause to think: take it out if you wish or forget it and the mind is deprived of a resting place. Yet still the comma gets no respect. It seems just a slip of a thing, a pedant's tick, a blip on the edge of our consciousness, a kind of printer's smudge almost. Yet what is so often used, and so rarely recalled, as the comma -- unless it be breath itself?'

"In my view, Villa's comma poems offer his detractors an easy whale in a barrel to shoot; after all, by Villa's own acknowledgment, he believes there is poetic value to the commas but certainly the reader can disregard the commas as well. In addition, Villa compared his use of commas to 'Seurat's architectonic and measured pointillism -- where the points of color are themselves the medium as well as the technique of expression: therefore functional and valid, as medium of art and as medium of personality.' I empathize with Villa's way of thinking. That is, though I do not always read his 'comma poems' the way he suggested, I respect Villa's approach based on what I have learned in the writing studio communing with my own Muse: the process of art-making often requires experimentation."

posted by EILEEN | 7:18 PM


Monday, April 14, 2003  

BEING MORTAL, I SPILL WORDS:
INVITATION TO A READING, JOSE GARCIA VILLA, SUSAN BEE, MY LATEST SPAM, GABRIELA'S WOUNDED GHOST


A progression of wine
From fruit to poem
Grape: the Corollary
Wine: the Theorem
--from "#89" by Jose Garcia Villa



EASTWIND BOOKS PRESS RELEASE:

POETRY READING: Rick Barot and Eileen R. Tabios

When: April 16, 2003, Wednesday at 6:30pm
Location: Eastwind Books of Berkeley
2066 University Ave., Berkeley
phone: (510) 548-2350

This reading pairs two brilliant poets in a feast of "unpredictable narrative." Rick Barot's poetry in The Darker Fall has been described as "wit that turns dark, darkness that blazes up again in music and story." Eileen Tabios in Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole evokes "a captivating, utterly original imagination...stingers barbed with wit and political incisiveness".

I deleted the Bios from Eastwind's press release but I kept the above paragraph because I didn't want to censor Eastwind from calling Rick "brilliant." Blink -- okay, and it allows me to quote someone calling me brilliant, too. Preen. I am as transparent as I am drop dead gorgeous.

Hic. Tonight, the 1999 Draycott Shiraz (Barossa Valley). Next:

So some of you write me to say you're not familiar with Jose Garcia Villa. It's not surprising. That's why my book on him, The Anchored Angel (see link), was conceived as also a "recovery" project. Here's one of his poems -- this is the one he most recently spouted to me in my dreams -- that I, being mortal, must spill...."and so I spill":

28

By all the luminance of her voice I swear
(and wine is not more wise than whose roses)
sing to me who tigers so musically discover

(deeply) about the bright limbs' pauses.

When in such light -- (though it be darkly, so
beautifully, silently night) my Eden sword
his rose-immortal war halts (briefly) to hoard

the luminous word: the only equal of the foe--

Then do I behold such tigers as more
brilliantly move than the Lord's archangels,
Crouching fair, striped, at the very door

of Heaven: Damoclean princes with bells
of fire all ready to loose and peal
-- to me, mortal -- the Word -- and so I spill.

So those among you six million peeps who have paid attention to so-called "Asian American" literature probably understand the significance of the above poem being categorized as an "Asian American" poem; I'm too much in my cups at the moment to explain here but for further elucidation, see my prior post and the referenced essay by Timothy Yu.

Sip. Next. Oh! Nick reminds me that -- yes, indeed! -- Susan Bee just opened up a new exhibit!

Miss Dynamite: new paintings
at the
A.I.R.Gallery
511 West 25th Street #301
NY,NY 10001 (212)255-6653
April 1- April 26

I live with one of Susan's delightful paintings -- a source of much pleasure. Here's a link to a review I once did on one of Susan's exhibits: http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/bee/reviews/tabios.html. I share the review because -- based on an image of "Miss Dynamite (2001)" on the postcard that Susan sent -- I think many of those points in my old review can be as relevant (and irrelevant) to her work now on exhibit....it's not a "deep" review as I wrote it in about an hour to meet a deadline for REVIEWNY which first printed it. But it's worth two cents anyway....just two cents; in rereading that review for preparing to post it here, I stumbled across the ending sentence of the first paragraph -- mea culpa: I really tortured this sentence:

"Perhaps a different way of considering this question is to ask: if art is to avoid solipsism, how does one create art fully reflective of one's environment and history without being dragged into nihilism from the awareness that oppression will last as long as human history – that to live is to engage, whether knowingly or not, with power struggles?"

I wish I could say I was drunk when I wrote that sentence. Hic. Anyway, speaking of me being brilliant, here's my latest spam based on the contents of my blog:

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See? I don't make these things up! I'm not the only one who thinks that "based on [my] present knowledge and life experience" I deserve all sorts of degrees. I didn't even pay them to say that! Blink. Uh, yah: I guess I gotta pay them though if I want to get my PhD....they'd probably charge at least $100 -- that should allow them at least a 100% profit margin on the cost of printing the diploma....

Sip. Well, now....so what shall I get my doctorate in....? I'ma thinking of the following areas for study....

....but before she can list certain possibilities, Wind suddenly rushes -- whoooosh! -- through her studio, capsizing her plate of spaghetti on her lap. Shezbat! Then her lovely ears perk up, and she forgets about her newly scarlet thighs. From the 18th century, Gabriela is revealing her face to answer her question with a poem the long-haired poet once wrote before burying said poem in the depths of a file drawer. Glass trembles as the poet realizes that, finally, Gabriela is rising her wounded eyes to the 21st century -- this is excerpted from "SECOND LANGUAGE -- As Gabriela Blunts Edges":

I want to mimic M.M.
who stopped “hurrying after

words” to obtain a Ph.D.
in “the circling of bees”

[...]

I want to choreograph
shadows of phantoms

the universe shall rate “X”
“owing to a failure to articulate”—

That's the answer, Peeps! Ms. WinePoetics is about to embark on a doctorate program on the "circling of bees." Undoubtedly, my fabulous complexion soon shall become, uh, de-fabulized as it mottles from bee-stings. Sip. Sigh. What I do for Poetry....and one of youse (yeah: that's you, youse!) wonders why I drink so much....!

posted by EILEEN | 5:50 PM
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