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

Monday, June 30, 2003  



Read from the book Fair Realism. However, Andrew read his chosen poem "Dissonance Royal Traveler" from the issue of Sulfur in which he first discovered Barbara's poem because he now considers that issue an "oratic" object, "bowled over" as he was when he first encountered the poem in it. The poem, Andrew said, reminds him of "a knight on a chessboard" -- in that if "the chessboard is conventional language," then the knight moves in different, unorthodox ways. Andrew also offered an intelligent observation that concluded, in my notes, of how the poem illustrates the "gothic roots of surrealism which, in turn, roots abstract expressionism."

From "Dissonance Royal Traveler":
sound opens sound ... cloudless movement ... a hypnotic lull in porcelain ... a small seizure from monumentality ... a puddle of minnows ... music disappears into oars ... in the middle, the earth is brown ... the sleeve of heaven ... dissonance may abandon misere ... music imagines this cardboard ... red summit red ... dissonance royal traveler altered the gray sound...

Read/sang from "Often." As I later told him during the reception, it was the first time I saw Kevin read/perform and "now I understand all the things I'd heard about him." He laughed. Amongst what he shared to the audience's delight, singing to the accompaniment of music and sound effects from a CD player:

Often there's a person who assumes several names in the office ... a whisper in the corridor ... over there in underlight....the woman who holds an old shoe wants him to kiss it ... she forgets he's dead ... oh bliss,... hanging on the grapevine .... ostriches in the white air feel their way ... sip a strange drink from the water cooler ... we can see you approve of us....

No one has ever breathed out the word "haircut" -- haiiiiiiiir-cuuuuuut" -- in such a, a....humid tropical way as the man deservedly introduced as "Kevin Killian Karaoke."

LAURIE REID is another artist who's collaborated with Barbara. Fondly, she remembered the luncheon at which Rena Rosenwasser (the indefatigable planner for the event) introduced her to Barbara. Laurie mentioned that she's originally from Eugene, Oregon. To which Barbara proclaimed, "There is a lull in Eugene, Oregon."

Laurie replied, "You're right!"

The rest of the lunch was spent discussing the lull in Eugene, Oregon.

Laurie read from "If So, Tell Me" --

the lull in rain is green ... part of surrendered air

in the mind, a held-back lightning

land unshackled in another country, while dark here

the sensibility that strengthens the page

it may be that absence is the plot of the poem

CAMILLE ROY read from Barbara's only novel, Seeking Air. Camille said she "loves its sense of conundrums....a model for prose consistently seeking poetry. Nourished me first as rumor, then possibility, then text."

Camille read from the novel's Section 22 and here's the line I noted (I could have noted more but, by now, I'm writing on the margins of this one piece of paper):

Come dressed as a perfume.

JOCELYN SAIDENBERG read from The Countess, a work that "nourished me to the space of the 'not yet'." I feel very indebted to Barbara Guest and The Countess for initiating me to that investigation...."

Noted line:

like searching for hen's teeth in the rain

Last but certainly not least, Barbara was persuaded to read. It was quite moving to watch her make her way up to the podium. She began by saying, "It's late...but it's nice."

Barbara also read from "Nostalgia" --

I have lost my detachment

a smile in sunshine

beneath shadows of Columbus waving Farewell

I have lost the doves of Milan

assorted bulletins permit us to be freer in Rome

Recognize me in sunshine

posted by EILEEN | 11:15 PM


Just back from the “Audacious Imagination” event in honor of Barbara Guest, which took place at the Berkeley Art Museum, and where the sense and sensibility debate has, judging from Ann Lauterbach’s little talk, adopted the rhetoric of 30’s American left-literary debates in order to assure itself it is NOT “post-modern” nor “reactionary” – and (importantly) that “critical theory” is on its way “back” where it came from. Despite this pretentious failure to articulate, much less recognize, critical values, the readers somewhat fleshed-out a vast and difficult poetics which, interestingly, teemed with critical insight.
--from Sorter by Patrick F. Durgin

Patrick Durgin's Sorter Blog beat me to reporting on the Barbara Guest event. Unfortunately, I have no clue what he's talking about since there was an accident on the freeway and I was late getting to the event, thus missing the referenced introduction by Ann Lauterbach (it'll undoubtedly be published, though, so we can all have a second chance to conclude for ourselves). Fortunately, however, I have a few notes that may help flesh out what he appropriately called the "critical insight" of the readers.

I'm going to use first names as the conviviality of the occasion seems to warrant such....friendliness. I'll share the notes as I took them during the event, which is to say that I'm sure my notes can't accurately render what was literally said and my quotes of Barbara's poems undoubtedly misquote from the actual lines published in her books....but perhaps that's okay as what I transcribe now (from the scrap of paper that had been in my pocket) offers the honesty of impressions -- at least according to one person: Ms. CorpsePoetics, your diligent reporter (who, at least unlike Ms. WinePoetics, was sober).

Started out by sharing a converation with Barbara who apparently called him up to ask if he had any recommendations about places in San Franciso where she might move (from Berkeley). The idea of becoming Barbara's neighbor delighted him, he said, then added: "Moving to San Francisco is one of life's delusions -- with varying results." [laughter from audience]

On Barbara's poems, he offered the words

"....a filigree....Stripped Tales is a narrative of negative space [I thought that very well-put]....when she breaks an italicized phrase with a block of story, the phrase is suspended by the story"

Some lines from Stripped Tales from his reading:

always a midday sun or sight of a bruised city

opposing eyes: literature, phantom

Philosophy: if linguistics or a pattern of stars rule

intuitionism is a Norway

linear lines of a narrative are intrusive. break it up: instead of lines, planes

a stair (stare) of nutmeg

Read the poem "Nostalgia (after di Chirico)" because it was the most recent poem Barbara had written at the time she made her choice. Mei-mei didn't read long enough, which was unfortunate as I feel she has the perfect(ly breathy) voice for Barbara's poems. To paraphrase from Robert Hass's prefatory remarks (see below), Mei-mei (to me) reads italics better than anyone I know. Frankly, Mei-mei reads caesuras -- reads silences -- better than any poet I've ever heard.

Some lines from "Nostalgia":

I have lost my detachment

I have lost my detachment...the domes of Milan floating politely

Recognize me in sunshine

JUNE FELTER and MARY ABBOTT, the next speakers, are both artists who've collaborated with Barbara. June read from Musicality while Mary offered a brief slide presentation that began with photos of Barbara on a beach -- closeups of Barbara's face showed a luminous smile that fits the radiance of her poetry. Sunlit smile; sunlit poems... Then Mary offered a slide of a collaborative collage, oil on paper, Greek reference. Mary couldn't remember the title; she looked over at Barbara....who couldn't remember either.

Chose to read from Quill Solitary Apparition. Said that when he, in preparation, was reading "Finally To The Italian Girl," he realized how visual Barbara's poetry is; "the mind can hear italics, though not sure how the voice renders" said italics. The mind also hears the parenthesis. "We represent silence as white space but they're not the same thing." The spelling of body is "bodie" in Quill Solitary Apparition and the spelling renders a difference.

a bodie, not luxury, a bodie....not imperial, a guise

Read from Rocks on a Platter:

you walk in hawk shadow, a guise. sad rose.

In many chimed things, a conduit

Midday appears massive .... attraction to distance

You betray biography ... image exchanged for a feather

posted by EILEEN | 10:57 PM

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posted by EILEEN | 10:23 PM


One essay down; one to go. But I'ma taking a break. Let me tell you of kari edwards -- author of a day in the life of p. which I very much recommend. Sip (diet coke) -- yes, yes corpses "sip", 'k?!!

So I was telling kari of CorpsePoetics and asked her to send in a poem on the blog's theme. She said she'd be happy to do so. Preen.

Well, sip. But, first, kari (yah: she doesn't capitalize her name) thinks to check out our Blog -- bearing in mind, I'm sure, that I'd asked for a poem that indicates relevance to this Blog's theme. Checks it out. Then writes me, "I checked out your blog, and.. well.. could you clarify a little..."

So, after a fit of giggles (gads! I so excel at amusing myself!), yours truly makes something up and sends it to her, as follows:

Oh I'm very loooose... Corpse-dom is sorta like the "rested mind" which could be that "zone" that artists (and athletes) get onto and they're writing works that are really *on* with absolutely no intention --


or ya could do wordplay on whatever corpse is.....or however you chooose to interpret (certainly it could include exquisite corpse but it's not just that).

But if corpse-dom is death to intention, it's another way (to me) of letting in the totality of the world.... which means corpse-dom, like poetry can be, is about anything and everything....

ya realize I'ma making this all I write,

So, the operative thing in my response above is obviously that "I'ma making this all up."

kari is game, though. She sent in this fabulous poem -- thank you, kari! Among other things, I think this poem is great for showing how many ways exist for!

send back the stamp

whenever I find myself a and a and above.......................................when the modest sounds are especially comprehensive..................................fixed not when many are found alive...............................high time 9¢ distant..........................a 4th with a pistol...........................this philosophical present................................................this test pattern promise..............................................aims like a census data handgun..............................................or a lead balloon's claim to the last day..................................I intimate the possible.............................................with line and style................................................mayhem and mayhem descend................................a and a and the once fixed not printable.....................a pistol.................................................a philosophical fashion and native plastic normal.......................................navigate past.........................................balloon with canned attendance.................................................dawn the cause and a 10 cent plan contaminate............................................that sends half that and a sentence...........................especially that soft highly dynamic.........cause.........................then another a a possible cutback


It's so purrrr-fect!!! CorpsePoetics = SEND BACK THE STAMP!!!! I'M DEAD, DEAD, DEAD!!!!! Or, as kari would put it (lower case and all):

send back the stamp

i'm dead, dead, etcetera....

posted by EILEEN | 6:00 PM


Am supposed to be writing an essay on hay(na)ku for a literary journal. Am finding this theorizing after the art unbearably painful. At least it's better than theorizing before the art. Here, a digresssion from pain:


Weekend heat resonates. Windchime of French lilies sing lullabye. Lizards scamper on concrete cooled by looming shadows. Body in my bed. Bodies in my bed. Vulture pecks at library window in early a.m. Tongue explores charbono grape. Calistoga water flows continuous through veins. Blind kitten recognizes me. Clip toenails. Hawk surfs the wind's funnel. Water leaves ellipsis on peach marble. I hear from you. I don't hear from you. Resonating, resonating -- this heat with no end, no end, no end.

posted by EILEEN | 11:28 AM


dashes -
in the counterspace -
broken dishes

must have a lush roundness at the waist
--from "Steps" by Murat Nemet-Nejat

I meant to post on the fete for Barbara Guest yesterday, and so was going through the material I brought back from the Berkeley Art Museum where the affair was held. My hand paused over the latest issue of MIRAGE #4/PERIOD(ICAL) edited by Kevin Killian and Dodie Bellamy, a stack of which had been on a table by the podium. They'd once published some of my poems shortly after I moved from NYC -- which I'd always appreciated because it made me feel more welcome in the Bay Area. So, with a fond smile, I paused to pick up MIRAGE. Flipping through it, the page happened to fall right on the first page of "Steps," a poem by Murat Nemet-Nejat.

I began reading and the world fell away until I simply became a pair of eyes spotlighting a poem by someone I'd never read before.

Ten thousand minutes later, the Corpse raises her eyes -- glowing golden -- and tells her eight million peeps:

Forgive me for reverting momentarily to Valley-Speak but....


This nine-page poem absolutely transported me into super-blatherdom, which is to say: speechlessness.

Which is to say, Corpse-dom. Thank you, Murat Nemet-Nejat!!

Check out these lines -- just from the first page!

silence -
with a
face -


without the original sin
you are my natural world
..................................not a chin too sharp

And it moves on and on with finely-edged words, whose resonance is elongated by a mix of luminous lyricism and pop:

I am after
...................the door
...................collapsed the absence
...................of wall

It's a visual poem, too -- befitting its title of "Steps." The right profile of the words against the page often form steps, both fully formed and crumbling -- offering an effective way of layering the page's white space.

Textually, the crumbling also cast new meaning onto the words -- for a words is also the sum of letters, and when a word is deconstructed, it may spell the original meaning while yet creating a new layer of meaning:


Who is this poet? I absolutely love his poem! It exemplifies the best that a project like MIRAGE does so well -- offer more venues to poets one should know better.

Murat Nemet-Nejat -- I want more, please. More poems, please! (And if I should have known who you are long before, forgive me -- it's tough to keep up, you know?)

You write:

my co-author,
holds me by the hand
and teaches me death

Murat Nemet-Nejat -- I await more of your lessons. On "Steps," I died this morning and, yes, went to Heaven!

posted by EILEEN | 10:25 AM

Sunday, June 29, 2003  


Saw Anna Naruda and Garrett Caples, among others, during the reception after the celebration for Barbara Guest at the Berkeley Arts Museum this afternoon (report to follow). Kisses and hugs all around as Garrett is now Dr. Caples -- having successfully gotten his Ph.D.: I'ma so proud, Sweetie.

Then they introduce me to Chris Nealon -- another who deserves congratulations as his wonderful ECSTASY SHIELD looks to be republished by Black Square Editions.

Yammer, yammer...and we're having a convivial time and Dr. Garrett asks about my "olive harvest." I look at him fondly and say -- brace yourself, eight million peeps -- "Well, but with everything I say on the internet, I tend to exagerrate everything you know."

Chris smartly looks at me and says, "Well, you must really exagerrate as an olive grove takes, what, over a hundred years to develop?'

I look at him equally smartly over the glass of my chardonnay (didn't catch the name but know it costs $10 a bottle and it was delicious, having been smartly chosen by Penny Cooper, the partner of Rena Rosenwasser who organized the absolutely luminous event for Barbara Guest). And I tell Chris, "Well I only have one olive tree....but it is over a hundred years old."

Then I describe our "harvest" earlier this year. A classic city slickers-in-the-country tale. Tom and I had gotten our neighbors at Dutch Henry Vineyards to agree to take our olives and add it to theirs for making olive oil. In exchange, they would give us a few bottles from the results. So, that day of harvest, Tom and I duly got up early in the morning. We walked on over to our olive tree carrying these plastic buckets around our necks. And we proceeded to pluck the olives from the tree. After said plucking, each olive got dropped into the bucket around our neck; when the buckets were full, we'd empty them into larger plastic bins that would go into the trucks hauling olives to the local olive press. We plucked each olive conscientiously, fully being "in" the moment, given that it was our first time "harvesting" olives.

Now, our tree happens to be by the side of the road adjoining our property. So we were able to notice quite a few farm trucks slow down as the peeps watched our harvest. We thought nothing of it. Perhaps we should have thought something as I recall now that a few were laughing and pointing, but we were really into our "first olive harvest"!

So we spent the whole morning plucking olives, almost all one olive at a time. Our backs were sore but we're high on experiencing a ... new experience. Actually, Tom did once mutter under his breath, "I can't believe I'm going to get a few bottles of olive oil for an entire day of doing this -- do you know what my billable rate is?!" Back aching but spirit high, I cheerfully ignored his attempt to morose down the morning.

Lunchtime arrived. We've harvested perhaps one-twentieth of the olives on our big ol' tree. We started getting concerned as Dutch Henry was scheduled to send its truck around in a few hours. Then Scott Chafen, Dutch Henry's winemaker, arrived with ladders and began helping us. We were heartened. Still, we never got all of the olives from that one tree.

Well, a few weeks later (probably over dinner with some Napa Valley local too inebriated to be diplomatic) we learned that one olive at a time ain't the way to harvest olives. What you do: put tarpaulin under the tree and shake shake shake all the branches. And all the olives that warrant harvesting should be loose enough to drop. Then you empty the dropped olives from tarp to the plastic containers for hauling to the olive press. No wonder the farm workers passing by were holding on to their bellies guffawing as they saw us.

I shared all this during the reception as, what else do poets talk about during a ... reading reception anyway? Dr. Garrett, Chris and Ana look at me after I finish my story. Diplomatically, they remained silent. Then I said very brightly, "Gotta go!"

And off I went!

After all, an entire universe awaits my next ... caper.

posted by EILEEN | 7:21 PM


It was like listening to a tune that comes out of the air, note by note, and then transcribing it. Who knows who wrote the song? Who knows who's listening?
--from John Yau's "Afterword" to 100 More Jokes From The Book of the Dead

Kasey reproduced one of the etchings from the book with which I launched Meritage Press in 2001: 100 More Jokes From The Book of the Dead, a documentation of an etchings-based collaboration between Archie Rand and John Yau. That same image -- from the etching "Cold Water Flat" -- happens to be the one that I chose from the nearly 100 images in the book to produce a special limited edition etching. (Yes, the title says 100, though there are only 91 images, because of various reasons -- I could theorize by, say, going into "wabi sabi" but probably John's sense of humor also came into play as he chose the title).

Anyway, if you take a look at the image on Kasey's site (or at Meritage Press' site), you'll notice the words "Cold Water Flat. What You Say In An American Restaurant When The Waiter Brings The Wrong Bottle." I chose that etching because it relates to a wine theme and I anticipated that I could place that etching into the collection of several oenophiles (which I've since done, but a few more are available for anyone interested). The wine theme is ever-present at Meritage Press; I titled the press after the word "meritage" because it is a word concocted by California winemakers; the word describes a wine made like Bordeaux-style wines, but which Californians didn't want to identify with a French appellation because it uses California grapes (cabernet, cabernet franc and merlot). Indeed, the word "meritage" is not pronounced "mer-it-uhj", which is how many mis-pronounce it (akin to French), but "mer-it-ij."

Thus, I named my press after "meritage" to reflect how poets might make instead of inherit language.

Having said all that, I remember when I told John that I wanted this particular image (out of all the images in the book) to be highlighted through an edition of etchings, separate from the book. He looked at the picture (a hilarious image of a lady leaning her cleavage over a restaurant table), and said something about how he'd forgotten he and Archie had created that particular image. And that one of the great things about collaborating with Archie is how their relationship allows him to do things that he doesn't anticipate doing. (At the time of our conversation, John wasn't even drinking wine.)

John's comment reflects the special basis for his collaborations with Archie -- instantaneous creations. They've collaborated for over 20 years and they don't edit themselves; they sit at a table and just pass whatever they've done back and forth, reacting right then and there to whatever each receives from the other. In fact, the etching medium was deliberately chosen because it's supposed to be a form of refinement and John and Archie used that medium to push themselves on achieving something "refined" instantaneously. The medium further pushed themselves because whatever they inscribed on the plates had to be etched on backwards from how the images were to be printed. (Instantaneity is an approach John also uses with other artists like Max Gimblett, and that Archie has introduced to another poet, Robert Creeley.) In considering his collaborative process with Rand, Yau once quoted Frank O'Hara’s statement, "You have to go on your nerve alone."

Immersed as I currently am in an essay that explores the nature of ekphrasis, I've recently been appreciating John and Archie's collaborative approach because the instantaneous nature of their collaboration is one way of addressing "ekphrastic fear" -- the acknowledgment that one medium (words) can't be synonymous with another medium (visual arts). John and Archie *transcend* this debate by, yes, being inspired by each other's works, but also by creating an entirely new third creature that is its own entity instead of being simply based on something else.

And I suspect that John's example with instantaneous collaborations helped inspire my own love for a "first draft, last draft" attempt at poetry-writing. As John puts it in his essay within the book: "Mooch the pooch says, First scratch, best scratch."

But it's not just about instantaneity (if this isn't a word, I just made it -- get it?). It's about freedom -- it makes sense that John's instantaneity is synchronistic with his ever-consistent encouragement of poets and artists to go to places they hadn't previously entered -- even for results that might offend people. In the visual arts context, (noting that John is also an art critic), it's how he once observed -- was it in Rain Taxi or in a Poetry Project Newsletter -- how few poets display (both literally and metaphorically for courage) what O'Hara did in a Larry Rivers painting. In an Asian American (AA) context, it's why he once said AA literature must accept portrayals of renegades and not just those profiles fitting themes of achievement, struggle and decorum. In poetry, it's why he encourages the open mind and to Dare All.

With that kind of approach, "you" may end up writing as someone different from who you thought "you" are (I might end up writing as a corpse). But that's okay, isn't it? But that's marvelous, isn't it? Isn't Poetry larger than anything any individual poet can imagine? John says, "Who knows who wrote the song?" Indeed -- what's important is that the point is made: the "song."

So, to celebrate peeps who inspire other peeps, here's a publisher's special: the first five poets to e-mail me their snailmail addys can get a comp copy of 100 More Jokes From The Book of the Dead so that you can see what I and Kasey are talking about.

posted by EILEEN | 10:33 AM

Saturday, June 28, 2003  


The nine-day-old kitten fit within one palm -- one day away from opening its eyes. But this still unnamed, still blind one loved me. Dutch Henry winemaker Scott Chafen said the kitten usually cried around strangers. Around me, the kitten kept playing with my fingers, licking and biting with its teeeeny teeth. Or it rubbed its cheek barely the size of a quarter-fingerprint against my skin. Or it dug in its teeeeny claws as it tried to clamber up my arm. Its claws and teeth were too tiny to hurt me -- its gritty fragility just offered tactile bliss.

I fed it with a small baby bottle containing half a tablespoon of milk warmed by Sophie. Then -- proving that all that babies mostly do is eat, shit and sleep -- Scott had to facilitate its pooping. But newborn cats can't do it on their own. Apparently, mommy cats usually lick the kitties' asses so that they can poop. Scott played surrogate by wiping damp tissue against the kitty's teeeny butt. A yellowish fluid came out.

Black and white kitty. Its face had diamond-shaped white fur across its yet-to-be-opened eyes. Pale pink lines draw eyelids that have yet to open. BLOGGER ATE THE REST OF THE MESSAGE. IF I REMEMBER, I'LL RETYPE. BUT I BELIEVE ITS LAST PARAGRAPH WAS SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF:

What am I seeing when my eyes are not open? As a corpse, how and what do I see? How do I trust and love what is beyond my vision? How do I attain even the briefest spark of enlightenment?

posted by EILEEN | 10:55 PM


You may be interested in Matt Bourbon's recent review at New York Arts magazine on Guston's retrospective. At one point, Bourbon says:

"Guston's paintings feel as if he is concretely depicting something that falls a few steps short of being namable."

Regardless of your response to the overall review, I like the above sentence for a nifty way of saying that Guston is a *poet's painter.*


Philip Guston's Retrospective is currently at SFMoma until Sept. 27. It then travels to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY (Oct. 27, 2003 - Jan. 4, 2004) and then the Royal Academy of Arts, London (Jan. 24 - April 12, 2004). Check it out!

posted by EILEEN | 12:22 AM

Friday, June 27, 2003  


It just occurred to me: Gary said,

"Black Lightning is to anthologies what people are to statues."

Indeed, a corpse is not a statue.

Indeed, Indeedy: the definitive -- DEFINITIVE -- image of Ms. CorpsePoetics is over at Limetree on the linksbar! Definitely not a statue -- and love that mass o' hair and fan (it is hot today!)!. Thanks Kasey!

posted by EILEEN | 4:40 PM


"Don't call it love, but don't call it nothing else."
--from "Mission Impossible" by Nova Lee

My new friend Nova said there's something "better than sex, coffee and yoga combined." My finely-outlined, purty jaw dropped and nearly busted the floor. I hauled said jaw back up to my head and riposted,"What can that possibly be?"

It's RIOT - A - GO - GO!!!!!!!!

It's hot this morning. And I'ma hunched over a steaming Java. And Sandy is e-mailing me lines like "She was wet behind the stairs but, no one knew it." Last but not least, my computer's rockin' with Riot-A-Go-Go's "Radio Calisthenics" CD.

I'ma so proud. Nova does guitars and vocals and also writes the lyrics. Her music's melting my walls -- I'm all flushed and I'm not awake yet. Check out their site, please, with upcoming gigs. If you see an angel with black, tattered wings in the corner of the room, check out her lashes. If her lashes are long.....

Shout, shout baby, tell me what it's all about

So, having my ears lovingly hammered by punk is reminding me of my first job out of college. It was in one of those news clerk "grunt" positions at The New York Times. I started out grunting with three peeps who'd later win the Pulitzer Prize: Susan Faludi, Alix Freedman and ______ (can't recall the third, but suffice it to say I obviously was in a stellar group). I was jazzed to be in the Big Time. And everything seemed going my way; a few key editors were noticing me, et al. This was all of a high for someone like me who'd been a journalist beginning in the 7th grade -- I couldn't imagine doing anything else but working as a reporter.

But I had a boyfriend. Leather jacket and motorcycle. Attempting The Great American Novel while driving a cab. I was into him. Between the career and him, I chose him -- which is to say, I didn't do what was necessary to perform and excel in what also was a quite competitive boot camp. By the time I left the NYTimes, I'd ruined whatever momentum I had in the beginning by not paying attention to its demands (though that wasn't the reason I left). I also suffered through a year-long (or was it two-year-long) attempt to break-up with that boy.

I used to feel bad about that period, even after I'd lost interest in journalism as a career. I'd so wanted to be a journalist that I felt bad I never gave it my all when I was at the NYTimes -- I'd long felt I'll never really know what I could have done in that particular profession (it wasn't like banking which I felt I'd explored to its fullest potential for me, prior to leaving it for Poetry). Years later, I remembered this part of my life of ending my journalism career and shared it with a friend. She said, "Well, it just means you were a poet all along."

You see, to be a grunt at the NYTimes is like being a grunt anywhere, too. Most of us took the bad with the chance to be where we were; obviously it can work out, as it did with my three Pulitzer-Prize winning colleagues. But there was one guy -- skinny, always dressed in black, the son of a brilliant author (which is to say, in that landscape's own version of "cultural capital," he arrived with plenty), and also known to be quite brilliant himself. He opted out of that system. Later, I heard he was a punk rocker, too.

Punk -- I don't claim to know what it is. But I suspect it shares much with Poetry -- that goin' your own way....I'm thinking this morning -- as Nova whispers loudly in mah ear "Your mission, should you choose to accept it,/ Is to draw your own conclusions on my skin" -- I so loved journalism that I'd excelled at it in my own way, which had helped me land at the NYTimes in the first place. But I had to fail at the "Big Time" to clear the space for what would come to be Poetry.

I loved journalism. Had I excelled at the NYTimes, I suspect I might never have left that profession. I loved journalism. I loved journalism....and, perhaps sometimes, you also have to give up what you love ... to be a poet.


Thanks Gary for the "Shout Out" -- I think it fair to say that when I wrote Black Lightning, I was also attempting punk. From Nova and Riot A-Go-Go,

Class is out break the rules.

posted by EILEEN | 11:00 AM


I can write a three-part post (my Guston/Ekphrasis posts below) and still not be able to articulate the question I'm trying to answer. Then Jack writes 7 words that get right to the heart of both question and answer:

Choose to enter and still retain yours.

I think you've lived long and now I'm prospering. Not that I mean to imply your blog is about me....but: Thanks Jack.

posted by EILEEN | 10:54 AM


David "You Are Missed" Hess: "corpsepoetics" -- why the change?"
Eileen: "As a challenge. I thought, what would a dead person say on poetics because [after all] on poetry, I am ultimately....mute"

Well here's a rather avant garde hay(na)ku from Sandy McIntosh":

The Correct Way To Read My Hay(na)ku Aloud

His foot
in the doorway!

Annotated version (where the number replaces the preceding letter):

L1 o2 r3 c4 a5!

H6 i7 s8 f9 o10 o10 t11

i7 n12 t11 h6 e13 d14 o10 o10 r3 w15 a5 y!

Pronunciation Guide:
1="l" as second “l” in “Llewellyn”
2="o" as “o” in “amoeba”
3="r" as “r” in Southern US “cornpone”
4="c" as fourth “c” in “acciaccatura”
5="a" as “a” in “aesthetic”
6="h" as “h” in “catachresis”
7="i" as “i” in “poiesis”
8="s" as second “s” in “sans serif”
9="f" as first “f” in “afflatus”
10="o" as second “o” in alternate spelling “encyclopoedia”
11="t" as first “t” in “attorney”
12="n" as “n” in “limn”
13="e" as “e” in “eidetic”
14="d" as first “d” in “addiction”
15="w" as “w” in “wrist”

NOTE: “Y” is pronounced “the the”.


Thanks Sandy for this new perspective on the hay(na)ku. How synchronistic that you sent me this just after I scratched out this poem below for the cover letter to those receiving books from the hay(na)ku contest. Your unpronounceable poem reflects the impossibility of articulating Poetry (the "Loss" of sound), and yet the poem still exists!

Double Hay(na)ku

Writes Hay(na)ku
Is A Winner

Whoever Writes
Poetry Obviates Loss


Ah. Midnight. Her day begins.

Flutter of wings sends a few feathers floating down to land on the Long-Lashed One's shoulders. She pauses for her tiny nose to twitch appreciatively at the jasmine perfume of the poker-playing angels overhead. Then she continues typing her blog post to include another hay(na)ku she received today from Sweetie Barbara Jane:

angels inhabiting
this luminous space

posted by EILEEN | 12:15 AM

Thursday, June 26, 2003  


I'm tempted to delete the prior three posts but....won't. Corpse-dom accepts....flaws.

posted by EILEEN | 10:26 PM

(Part III)

I had said in Part I of this Guston/Ekphrasis discussion that

"The relationship between drawing and painting comes up again when I start looking at the abstractions by Andrea Higgins -- see below -- one of four young artists showing a floor below Guston in a group exhibition featuring the 2002 SECA Art Awardees."

But I failed to address it in Part II. So this is a(n unplanned) Part III post. I suspect I omitted addressing the above because it points to something I am finding difficult to articulate, hence, I shall blog about it -- and, hopefully, the risk of public humiliation shall force me to sharpen my thoughts (well, the track record ain't that good but, ya know, one must persevere...).

So...I'ma thinking along these lines:

All art is conceptual.

When Guston switched back to figuration in the 1960s, he had stories to tell. He told them.

Higgins's paintings also depend on a narrative -- the First Ladies.

But Guston did something visually that I consider more interesting than Higgins. He turned his colors into irradiated muds. Combined with the intensity of his lines, he created vivid paintings just bursting with his presence. His personality, his force, is ever-present....and yet because he did something visually interesting, the viewer is still very much invited *into the image.* Guston's works are very much about painting even as he doesn't erase himself.

For me, the result is like the way literature or poetry about something that may not be of interest to a reader still engages the reader because the language is so compelling that one is drawn into the story through how the writer manipulated the words.

I didn't see this layer in Higgins' work, in part because the gridded monochromatic paintings she's done seem more familiar than, say, Guston's cigar-smoking pink. (Higgins' work reminds me of other contemporary "pattern"-based painters as well as those who investigate the grid so that I didn't feel the wonderful sense of a surprise from seeing her works that I feel whenever I see Guston's pink.)

And you can see precedents in Guston's approach when one compares his "Drawing No. 2" of Ischia with the painting it could have inspired, "Painting No. 9." The drawing features line profiles of a Ischia's landscape, which seem reflected in the center pattern within the painting. But the painting doesn't rely on merely distilling the landscape of Ischa; it also investigates how to dilute reds, yellows, blue grays (scummed them up, if you will) without reducing their...vividness. Guston's colors play with the mind's eye; we see the muted colors and expect pallidity. But the colors don't pale at all.....not even his whites (I'm sure this result has to do with the intensity of his brushstrokes).

In conclusion -- I'ma writing "in conclusion" here coz I'm trying to force myself to a conclusion of sorts: Guston kept his eye on the ball that is his medium: he's painting.

Higgins is a good painter, and her conceptual treatise as regards the First Ladies is well-considered. But her results make me ache for less of a separation between the two, the separation here being a privileging of the latter over the former.

If, in painting, Guston is about "freedom" (as de Kooning put it), Higgins in these works is about restraint.


I've been citing ekphrasis here and, in Higgins' instance, it's the reverse of the practice usually associated with the term. Rather than an attempted verbalization of an image, Higgins' paintings attempt a visual representation of an assessment, a tale, as regards First Ladies. I made this association because I just read W.J.T. Mitchell's essay "Ekphrasis and the Other" which included this:

"...from the semantic point of view, from the standpoint of referring, expressing intentions and producing effects in a viewer/listener, there is no essential difference between texts and images and thus no gap between the media to be overcome by any special ekphrastic strategies. Language can stand in for depiction and depiction can stand in for language because communicative, expressive acts, narration, argument, description, exposition and other so-called 'speech acts' are not medium-specific, are not 'proper' to some medium or other. I can make a promise or threaten with a visual sign as eloquently as with an utterance. While it's true that Western painting isn't generally used to perform these sorts of speech acts, there is no warrant for concluding that they could never do so, or that pictures more generally cannot be used to say just about anything."


It's still not clear to me. Dangit -- the problem with painting is that it's like poetry: can't be articulated. Maybe I'll try again later. Maybe. Right now, I'm just gonna give up and become a corpse.

posted by EILEEN | 10:24 PM

(Part II)

"Me, I'm sweet on the unhinged locale, the sentence city whose borders are so vague they cannot predicate a center."
--from "Bad Cop, Good Cop" by Albert Mobilio

From Guston, I walked down to the next floor where John Bankston, Andrea Higgins, Chris Johanson, Will Rogan are providing an enjoyable show. I stress that I *enjoyed* this exhibit overall though I'm going to focus on Higgins' paintings. Higgins's work is a real crowd-pleaser (based on the crowd I was in). She made almost monochromatic paintings where the choice of color was dictated by Higgins' research into and opinion of former U.S. First Ladies. Research included addressing the palette of the wardrobe of the First Ladies. Perhaps my favorite was a diptych of a pink panel and blue panel entitled "Jackie." Naturally, "Nancy" was red. "Hilary" was black-ish.

The surface of Higgins' paintings also is interesting as the field of color is presented through stripes and then ellipses of paints of the same color. Not a boring surface at all.

But what I'm mulling over now is how much of my enjoyment of Higgins' exhibit related to the context of the paintings being presented as symbols for First Ladies. There is a bit of a flatness in her color -- a lack of resonance that I suspect may lead me to tire of these works if I ever had to live with them.* Yet, there is a pleasure to be found in knowing that these colors do aptly represent the First Ladies mentioned in their titles.

But I feel that the paintings should *also* (perhaps, *first*?) work on their own as visual works before they get the icing of the conceptual titular references. But am I looking at Higgins' paintings appropriately or too narrowly? At this moment, I don't honestly know.

I've blathered many times in the past about the significance of context....and authorial intention. But, just using my own poems as an example, I also firmly believe that for my poems to be effective, they should be able to engage even the reader(s) who is not cognizant of my decolonial Filipino politics/poetics.

Huh. Yet, ultimately, this is an old debate, isn't it?

Yes, it's an old issue but perhaps I'm also aware of it because I've now rewriting an earlier blog post on Sharon Dolin's wonderful collection Serious Pink for use as a book review elsewhere. I'm sure I'm not unusual in using this blog for "first drafts" of many things. What the blog allows me to do is "notes for" other things that, if I ever were to pursue them, would generally require more time, thought and care than I put into these blog posts.

And part of what I am expanding now in my earlier blog post on Dolin is the section on ekphrasis: writing based on visual images. This obviously goes into the paradoxical nature of ekphrasis -- whether one medium can ever mirror another medium -- as well as whether the ekphrasized object is really an entirely new entity.

What was interesting to me about Higgins' paintings is that I do think she brilliantly captured the personalities of First Ladies through color. But I suspect that her process is more rewarding for me to think about than in terms of looking at the color-ful results. And, now, I must consider the implications of that .... suspicion.


The 2002 SECA Art Award Show at SFMoma featuring John Bankston, Andrea Higgins, Chris Johanson and Will Rogan will be up through July 27.


(* I don't intend this as negative criticism; I consider that comment on color flatness to be a matter of personal preference versus aesthetics.)

posted by EILEEN | 5:59 PM

(Part I)

At times, I detest my best intentions. They always get in the way of my ever-strong desire to be lazy.

Like, so I thought I'd do this small press (Meritage Press) just to offer one more venue for poetry. Well, so why can't I just put together the books and distribute them? But oh no!!! The government has to get involved with its reams of paperwork. I spent the whole morning at the California State Board of Equalization getting my "Seller's Permit" to sell books. The form forced me to calculate my monthly gross sales and taxable sales. I don't want to embarass us all in the poetry community by revealing my estimates of revenues as a poetry press. Suffice it to say, the clerk looked at my figures and gave me the permit right away as my potential tax liability (reflecting my anticipated revenues) is so teeeeeeeeny it's likely to be not worth the papers it will require for the government to fill out in order to accept my payment.


Now, corpes have no business spitting at air.

So, to heal myself into the unconsciouness of the dead, I stopped by the hubby's office which also is in downtown San Francisco and allowed him to take me to a nice soothing Chinese lunch at a restaurant right next to SFMoma. The choice of the restaurant was deliberate as, to further heal myself from a morning of bureaucratic machinations (I'ma exagerrating all this but the local heat is making me all ma-drama naman!), I entered the museum all cheered by the prospect of seeing one of my favorite artists:

Philip Guston at SFMoma
Retrospective (June 28-September 28, 2003)

At museums, guards often approach me with ridiculously short pencils. Because, at some point of going through an exhibit whose works move me, I delve into my bag for pad and pen and start taking notes. Except, at museums (I don't think SFMoma is unusual in this), guard-peeps get nervous when they see you with anything but the pencil -- I assume coz ink is more dangerous than graphite if one wanted to graffiti the works, or something like that.

So, yes, there I was being approached by a lovely guard. Sigh. We smiled at each other, though, as we recognized each other and remembered we'd done this tango together before: she gives me a yellow pencil (half-pencil really) and I sheepishly drop my pen into my bag. Anyway, here are notes from an artist I've long admired:

--"Painting No. 9," 1952 oil on canvas. Lyrical white field rupturing into muted reds, yellows, glue grays and more whites. reminds me that I never tire of white-on-white variations. Guston turns colors into mud and yet it works.

-- In same room, a 1949 "Drawing No. 2, Ischia" which I take it is the underlying figurative reference (city of Ischia) of the abstract "Painting No. 9." (The relationship between drawing and painting comes up again when I start looking at the abstractions by Andrea Higgins -- see below -- one of four young artists showing a floor below Guston in a group exhibition featuring the 2002 SECA Art Awardees.)

-- The Guston exhibit features over 100 paintings and drawings from different stages of the artist's career. As I moved into the room of his 1950s abstraction, I felt his own way of painting "inside the image" (refer to prior post on "Ekphrasis" about *looking at* versus *being the* paint). As the wall placard aptly notes, whereas many abstract expressionists enlarged their scale to draw in the viewer "inside the image," Guston took another path by making more intimate his proximity to his work. He made small brushstrokes close up at the canvas without necessarily stepping back to look at the canvas. Consequently, the expressionist gesture was not "expansive" as in large works by his peers but nonetheless possessed an intensity due to concentration.

-- Guston's approach resulted partly in paintings (like in "Painting No. 9") where the bulk of brushstrokes and/or color are within an area of the canvas that's off-center and may seem imbalanced when you look at the painting as a whole. What's marvelous, though, is that despite the imbalance, the eye doesn't get turned off by the lack of harmony. In any event, the dissonance seems apt to me as doesn't a narrowed focus often result in a general imbalance even as one might come to know better the particular target of such focus?

-- The 1960s paintings show Guston's return to figuration (reflecting his desire to "tell stories" which, in turn, reflected his more social concerns as no doubt enhanced by Vietnam). It was a switch not popular during his time -- but which also made de Kooning tell him during his first show of these figurative works, "[Guston]'s real subject is freedom!"

-- I've always respected -- and with this retrospective came to love -- Guston's use of pink. A bubblegum pink. But it's a macho pink: a cigar-smoking pink. It doesn't, unfortunately, reproduce very well. For instance, Guston's 1968 painting "Paw" is reproduced on the cover of Albert Mobilio's wonderful book of poems, Me, With Animal Towering; you can see a small reproduction of the book at As is often the case, the painting far resonates in a way one would not necessarily expect from seeing a reproduction.

-- I'm looking at visual art but I'm responding to Guston's 1960s and 1970s work with this statement going through my mind: "What a fabulous voice!"

-- 1970s work made muscular by a heightened consciousness of his mortality.

-- Muscular, muscular paintings.

(To be continued)

posted by EILEEN | 5:58 PM

BIG POST ERROR, POST ID 105667084350523664

Dangit, Blogger! This means the next post will be in two portions....!

posted by EILEEN | 4:40 PM


Whilst patting at her *sleeeeeeeek new sheets* courtesy of Blogger (well put, Chris!), she pauses, looks at the screen and whispers a letter at You-Know-Who-You-Are:

Mysticism depends on what is experienced, not fictionalized. You can judge experience -- that is your right. But why attempt to judge it out of its existence?

The Radiant Corpse

posted by EILEEN | 9:05 AM


Henry Gould writes writes:
"Indian pipes for Eileen Tabios. I saw a pair of them in Parker Woodland last weekend. They're tiny."

The Long-Lashed Corpse Glows Gold from Pleasure: Oh, thank you Mr. Gould! I adore receiving flowers -- even cyberflowers! So the Beaming Corpse cheerfully clicks onto the link and sees:

Monotropa uniflora (Pyrolaceae) -- This member of the wintergreen family is saprophytic; it gets its nutrients from decaying plant matter rather than through photosynthesis. Because it has no chlorophyll and thus no green pigmentation, another name for it is "corpse plant". It was used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans. Indian pipes bloom in summer to early fall.

Sigh. A "corpse plant." How perfect.

And, Babaylans! it's used for "medicinal purposes"! Puuuuuurfectly synchronistic! ["Babaylan" = poet/healer/(good)witch from pre-colonial days of the Philippines]

All this, of course, reminds me of another installment I'ma bout to write now (why not? do you think I have a life? of course not: I'm a corpse!) on the misshapen, misbegotten, erratic series called "Adventures of a Wife." Sip. (Morning Coffee.)

So, after years of travail, we finish this house in Napa Valley. And, it was finished just in time for me to dutifully host a lunch for the summer interns at Tom's law firm (I blogged about this earlier; scroll down yourself as my rested mind is too rested to ... scroll).

Well, a few days before the luncheon, my neighbor J was visiting shortly after a rain. She points to a patch of cleared area in front of the house and says, "It's just a mud patch there."

I unfurl long lashes to look at the area. Judiciously, I nod up and down and agree, "Yep."

J offers, "If you want, I can plant some flowers there for you."

Now, I'd lived in a New York City apartment for about 20 years and have zero experience in gardening. I'd even forgotten almost all of the names of plants and flowers besides the rose (and possibly retained that just because it's my middle name -- so perfumed am I, you see).

So I gleefully accept J's offer and gleefully tell Tom. We gleefully make our way down to a nursery in St. Helena. Very non-gleefully, we look at the prices of plants. Why does a rose bush with 3 branches and one-and-a-half feet high cost $29.99 a bunch? But, not knowing any better, we assume that's "normal" pricing and get a few, along with some cheaper but pretty flower plants whose names I don't know but are in the colors of red, yellow, white and pink.

We then take that all back to the house and leave it at the yard for J to plant. Then we returned to San Francisco. A phone call a day later. J says, "I planted them." Hurray. A phone call the following day from J again. She says, "The deer ate your roses."

Deer. Deer?! I don't recall any deer on 94th Street and Broadway?!!

Sigh. So, yes, I agree that J can hire some local guy to plant a make-shift fence around the area. And I further agree that Tom and I will have to go buy more plants.

But, this time, Tom did some scoping and we knew to go to the nursery at Walmart in Santa Rosa -- rose bushes: $5.99 a bunch. Okay! So, gleefully, we lug back several bunches for J to plant .... all in time for the mud patch to be lookin' festive in time for the summer interns' lunch.

So, in between filching freshly-made Madeleines from the kitchen, I'ma feeling all perky during this lunch thing. Then, a drop-dead gorgeous tall blonde comes up to me. Wife of one of the up-and-coming partners. She says....but let me back up a bit to say as it's relevant to her statement: the house we built reflects the inspiration of homes in the Loire Valley. And I know this lady is a Francophile. Okay. So, where was I? Oh, yes: the blonde says, "Your garden...."

I interrupt her. "Yes, isn't it sweet?!" I say effusively and proudly. "It's brand new!"

She wrinkles her nose (oh, those wrinkling noses!). Said wrinkle makes me quickly add, "Oh, the fence is just temporary!" (The fence, here, is just three oak sticks stuck in the ground, around which wire fencing was wrapped -- but, still, the flowers look so pretty in the mud, uh, garden!)

But she's not wrinkling her elegant nose over the fence. She says, "Your flowers."

With originality, I repeat, "My flowers?"

She explains, "Your flowers are not French. You should replace them all with purple lavender....sprays of them."

I look up at her (she was so tall) and I .....

Hmmm. You know something? This tale isn't turning out as funny as I thought it would be. I'll stop now.

To practice Corpse-dom is to know when to cease and desist.

posted by EILEEN | 8:20 AM

Tuesday, June 24, 2003  


This poem is not a critique of you,
but a method of acceptance for me.
--from "Pledge" by Kenneth Gurney

Stephen Kirbach writes:

owe you
tons of thanks

for posting my haynakus along with so many others which are so wonderful, providing a link to my blog, keeping me informed about wines, the term "peeps," and generally providing so much excellent reading material.

Thanks too for offering to send me a book. This is exciting and nice as I just "lost" a book a couple of days ago to an unanticipated overhead oil spill from a refer unit on the truck I drove. It got drenched as did my lunch box when hot black oil dripped in the window on the passenger side of the truck where I always carry a library in a tomato box (just in case I get stuck someplace with too much time stretching into the beyond). Luckily, my notebook as well as some other books escaped major damage. This book, a collection of Puritan writings, was a nice old paperback I picked up for about $.50, but its damage distressed me considerably, at least until I got a good night's sleep. It had a lovely 3 color cover ink drawing of a snowy New England meadow under a pink sky. It is currently wrapped in paper towels and rubber bands and is seriously stained black, yuck, but maybe I can salvage it.


Thomas Fink writes about Michelle Bautista's earlier hay(na)ku which I shall reprint first (for obvious reasons):

I lean
Eileen, I lean

So Prof. Tom sez, "Michelle's hay(na)ku reminds me of a song by Keith Richards in one of his nineties solo albums: 'Eileen, won't you lean on me?' Keith Richards is one of the most amazingly good bad singers in rock 'n roll, as well as being one of the greatest rhythm guitarists, unsung wits, and tropes of survival beyond dissolution. His song lyrics are often bizarrely simple and simply bizarre, and they work well in context of the musical arrangements, as they would not on the page."


Leny Strobel writes, "I was browsing thru stuff and came upon this old square box that contained a 'multiply function pot' with the following instructions:

Method of usage:
1. Put the body into the lid and push it gently.
2. While you set the body first, put the head into it then push it lightly.
3. Push the base of body to separate then you can clean it.
4. Don't put over fire directly
5. Easy to fragile be attention
6. Hot tempture resisted:120C

I thought of corpses...which may or may not have anything to do with your version of the corpse, Eileen..."

Well, okay Dr. Leny -- that sure sounded morbid. So I queried the never-morbid scholar and, giggling (I can hear her!), she replied,"This is a teapot...the body(the pot itself) is inserted into a plastic cradle...head is the cover..."

Whew! A teapot!


Sandy McIntosh writes me and, yay, has posted a group photo of contemporary Filipino poets at Marsh Hawk Press's site. Go to it, Pin@ys in the 'Pinas -- do you miss us?


Last but not least, Kenneth Gurney writes me a poem that, what do you know, explores Corpse-dom!


Some days, we get frantic
on the mountain,
erupt into wild dance
for moments
that might as well be years.

I edge myself closer
to the skin you refuse to shed.
Your turquoise and silver appear
to be sunlight glinting off
a mountain lake.

Sometimes I am afraid
of the sound of your silence.

Vibrating, the grass emits
a endless hum, an Ulmm.

There is a music in the rocks,
a concert of trees -- the birds
bear witness to Mozart.

Pressing my ear to your chest
I seek your song, but you are silent.

This poem is not a critique of you,
but a method of acceptance for me.
I trust you know your part
and attentively read the scripted music
ready to sing at the right moment.

posted by EILEEN | 9:42 PM



For I don't need
you, "My Liege"
so I need you most

You are quicksilver
masked among scales
forming a new coast

as you anticipated this
consequence of tears
rusting the bowl you clasp

I release one year
of mortality to ask,
"Can we not finish? Why not?"

Still you will not close
your eyes to empty
the sky of sound, this music

The path of a vulture's
feather floating down
releases a new interval

the latest in a lineage
whose potential kneeled me
by your oft-locked door

More, my Liege. More

Lately, I've not been feeling that I've been writing poems particularly well. And if you read me -- well of course you read me -- you'll know that I've also been yammering a lot lately about Poetry not being words. Yep -- I've doubted that it was a coincidence.

That is, I really do believe Poetry is not words -- but it's a bit convenient, I thought, to be stuck on that concept if I also believed my words have not been sheen-ing as I wish.

Then, today, yoga. Sluggish poses. Such that I apologized afterwards to my teacher Liza. And, somehow, that conversation ended up transitioning to Liza telling me that, in yoga, the pauses between the physical poses are poses in themselves.

Lightbulb. O, golden light...

But of course!

Like the Poetry that exists between the words ... as I quickly likened the words to poses. Or, as Liza replied, how "negative space" in the visual arts is also an image.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Then we continued our session. At the end of the session, Liza said, "By the way, I know you feel your asanas (poses) were not good today, but as someone who's been watching you, they didn't look worse than your normal positions."

After some thought, we agreed that perhaps I had to feel they were "bad" to focus on something else that I -- a neophyte yogi -- had not considered before: that the pause is also a pose.

Liza: "It's all one big flow." A statement that evoked another Synchronicity: Ms. WinePoetics at Barbara Reyes' book launch this past Sunday (see June 23 post on "Bloom, You Young Poets") as she held up Barbara's book to the audience: "I don't believe in books of poetry. I think there is One Book of Poetry and all books are just part of that singular Book."

Then, just before she left, Liza said, "It is said that the space between the Inhale and the Exhale is where you find God."

Okay, if I address that now, I'ma gonna get a headache. So let me just pour a glass -- tonight, the 1996 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast, Coastlands Vineyard) -- and offer a poem by Leza Lowitz from her collection Yoga Poems (Stone Bridge Press, 2000). This is titled "Savasana," the "Corpse" pose that inspired CorpsePoetics:


Behold, The Dead
teacher of The Dreamer
whose lessons take a
lifetime to learn.
One third of our lives
spent in the night
yet we have trouble
embracing the darkness
in ourselves.
sheep sleep under the stars
worms sleep under the earth
mindless of
insomnias &
we sleep under
the illusion
of daybreak,
oblivious to
the light.

posted by EILEEN | 9:05 PM


...the more I see of your new poems, the easier I breathe .... the more you write, and write so wonderfully, you see .... the easier it'll be for when, someday, I end up wordless....

You're my gift back to the Poetry Dark Angels who gave me their blood for my veins....

posted by EILEEN | 5:49 PM






posted by EILEEN | 2:32 PM

(*pun intended)

A few weeks ago, I put that freebie links-tracker thingie on my blog that reveal which sites has referred readers over a preceding 24-hour period. I did so as a symbolic bow to community-making (via cyber-community), not because I want to count you peeps reading me (which is why I didn't put that peep-counter thingie on here). Besides, we already know that my readership is about eight million. So, anyway, last night, my link-tracking device was along the lines of the following. [195] [105]
the well nourished moon [84]
Google [80]
Mike Snider's Formal Blog [64]
MHP Blogs! [63]
Heathens in Heat [54]
The Messiah is My Sister [50]
Love's Last Gasps [45] [40] [33]
Elsewhere [33]
Welcome to My Yahoo! [32]
The Wily Filipino [31]
~~ululations~~ [26]
Yahoo! Search Results for [24]
Entre Révolte et Dérision, On a le Désir [22]
sidereality (ISSN 1543-0316) | links [20]
Cahiers de Corey - poetry, language, thought [19]
Site Meter - Counter and Statistics Tracker [18]
word placements [13]
Aimee Nezhukumatathil's gila monster [11]
Marsh Hawk Press Homepage [11]
Technorati: Link Cosmos [9]
Million Poems [8]
Yahoo! Mail [3]
The Wily Filipino: Hey, I Got Published! [2]
hatstuck snarl [2]
Babaylan Speaks [2]

This morning (and you can see it at the right column unless and until Blogger corrects itself as I assume this is a mistake), my links are:

Google [2280]
The Comics Journal: ¡Journalista! [982]
Franklin's Findings [428]
Yahoo! Search Results for [310]
Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog [303]
Bookmarks [301]
Mad World/80's Revival [296]
Pop Culture Gadabout [261]
MSN Search -- More Useful Everyday [148]
Escrito en las estrellas [145]
Flat Earth [140]
Ask Jeeves Answer [110]
AltaVista [88]
Weblogs.Com: Recently Changed Weblogs [83]
BLOGGER [81] [68]
Comic Book Galaxy Links [61]
Fluxblog: A Return To Form [52]
AOL Search: Home [38]
Unqualified Offerings [37]
Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat [28] [25]
eddynewell @ [9]
moniblog [7]
Franklin's Findings [5]
Love's Last Gasps [2]
Mike Snider's Formal Blog [2]

Gary Sullivan -- thanks for mentioning my blog (along with Sweetie Nick Piombino) as a "personal web log" whose content never gets anemic. But I am speculating that given your blog's recent coverage of the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Arts fair, Blogger somehow has conflated the links so that the above link record from this morning more reflects someone interested in comics versus poetry. Hence, on the above links you see references to such peeps as Comic Book Galaxy Links or Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog. Gee, I guess Gary's observation about crowds for comics versus poetry is accurate. But I wish Blogger would heal itself. Much as I got a kick out of a cumulative 2,280 references from Google in this mis-applied link-tracks.....I very much miss my modest but more sweet references, e.g. "hatstuck snarl [2]."

posted by EILEEN | 12:40 PM


The Alumnae Office at Barnard College is good with keeping in contact. Yesterday, I got an e-mail from one of their lovely staffers alerting me, as the Subject Header Line proclaimed, to "Exciting Poetry News." To wit, they directed me to As I always do what I'm told (just throwing in that phrase for comic effect, peeps -- don't get a heart attack now), I go to said link and see said exciting news:

-- Barnard has started a new poetry prize for a woman poet's second collection; and

-- the first recipient is Rebecca Wolff for her manuscript, Figment.

I immediately applauded the first bit of news (notwithstanding the recent hay(na)ku contest, I don't care for poetry "prizes" and "competitions" but, heck, am always happy for a new venue for publishing poetry). But I wrinkled my nose at the second bit of news.

My spirit separated from my body and witnessed said wrinkle on my nose. Ach. And said spirit started chastising me, as I should be chastised for that petty response [right hand duly slaps left hand on keyboard]. I've never met Rebecca Wolff and am mostly indifferent to the FENCE affair, but I wrinkled my nose partly because they owe me $0.32. Yah: that's thirty-two cents -- once the cost of a first-class stamp (today, it's $0.37 but I'm sure you peeps know that).

Anyway, what happened is that when FENCE first began, they were among the journals I spammed, uh, to whom I sent submissions. I didn't know anything about them and didn't really care. I was just papering the continent back then with submissions (don't worry Dear Trees -- I don't do that anymore; nowadays, I spam, uh, grace mostly cyberspace with my gems of wisdom and beauty). The thing is, FENCE never replied. Not a rejection. Not an acceptance. Just silence -- and I had included an SASE, after all.

Intellectually, I'm okay with that in the sense that I can only imagine that in the beginnings of a literary journal, things must get pretty hectic and things can fall through the crack, e.g. my submission or my SASE envelope with its $0.32 stamp. Actually, as a former editor of a literary journal myself, I know that things continue to fall through the cracks despite an editorial staff's best intentions. But, for whatever reason, I took this personally in the sense that.....I am very offended by....discourtesy. (Yah, ironic, I know -- given how I've often explored the Impolite as an Art Form.) I thought it quite rude that they never responded. A "rejection" would be okay. But no response when I dutifully followed their guidelines? I detest rudeness, even as I feel I have mastered it. I guess rudeness is one of my "hot buttons" -- to the extent that I wasn't able to rationalize away FENCE's silence by imagining how hectic it was in its early days to run a brand new journal out of one's living room.

Anyway, this all is a memory from years back since it's not as if I lose sleep over the matter. In fact, I haven't thought of this in a while. But because I wrinkled my nose at this recent news, I shall empty my mind of this matter by publicly abasing myself to reveal it for your reading pleasure. Secondly, I offer a public "Congratulations" to Rebecca Wolff. Thirdly, I shall reprint in full Barnard College's press release -- see below. Because, dear Peeps, Pettiness gets in the way of Corpse-dom.


Barnard College Poetry Prize Goes One More Step: W.W. Norton To Publish 2003 Barnard Women Poets Prize, Rebecca Wolff’s Figment

New York, NY— Barnard College, in collaboration with W. W. Norton & Company, has established a new annual award to publish a woman poet’s second collection and has chosen Rebecca Wolff’s book Figment to receive the 2003 Barnard Women Poets Prize.

"Wolff’s poetry has a vivacity and edge which gives it immediate presence," the judges said in a citation. "Her poems make the sound of dark, witty talk… They are full of the cadences of a sort of fearless knowing – determined to confront loss, contradiction, absurdity with language itself. Combining a sheer faith in words with a true doubt about ready-made meanings, these poems sparkle and challenge the reader."

Wolff’s book will be published by Norton in the spring of 2004 and Barnard will host a reading to celebrate the book.

Saskia Hamilton, director of the Women Poets at Barnard program and a contest judge, explained the rationale behind awarding a prize for a writer’s second book. "Because there are so many opportunities for young poets to find publishers for their first books, we thought we would address a real need in the literary community by making this a second-book prize. Poets with second books have far fewer places to turn. We believe this is the first time a college and a major publishing house have collaborated to publish a second book by an emerging female poet," she said. Other judges included poets Claudia Rankine and Eavan Boland, and Vice President and Senior Editor at W.W. Norton Jill Bialosky.

Bialosky, the Norton Senior Editor, said: "We are delighted to be the publisher for Barnard’s second-book poetry competition. Women Poets at Barnard has had a distinguished presence in American poetry, and we are pleased to be continuing with that tradition. We feel that there is a particular challenge for poets publishing their second book, and we want the prize to reflect these challenges—an author’s second book frames the voice and presence more solidly."

"The fact that Norton's poetry editor is one of the judges of the contest together with the poetry faculty judges of Barnard, makes this a truly collaborative project with a mutually satisfying result. I can feel certain that Norton will support my book and put as much effort into promoting it as any other on their list," said Wolff.

Barnard had worked for 15 years with Beacon Press, establishing a noted award for an author’s first book of poems. Barnard’s original poetry award was acclaimed as "the best series currently introducing new writers to the public" by Booklist, and poet Mona Van Duyn remarked that it was "this series that has most consistently convinced us that, in the rich and multi-directional advances of American poetry, young women are in the forefront." This tradition of excellence is being continued through the new award presented to Wolff.

Wolff’s first book, Manderley, was selected for the 2000 National Poetry Series by Robert Pinsky, and received critical acclaim. Publisher’s Weekly wrote that it "tears mosses off the old manse of Du Maurier's haunted classic Rebecca, tosses them with a heady late ’90s bravura."

Wolff earned a MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop in 1993 and founded the literary journal Fence in 1997. Her poems have appeared in Paris Review, Grand Street, Exquisite Corpse, and other journals. She lives in New York City where she edits Fence and works as a freelance copyeditor.

The Barnard Women Poets Prize was first awarded in 1986 to Patricia Storace for Heredity, chosen by judge Louise Bernikow. Other past winners include Donna Masini (That Kind of Danger chosen by Mona Van Duyn), Ruth Forman (We Are the Young Magicians chosen by Cherrie Moraga), Jena Osman (The Character chosen by Lyn Hejinian), Larissa Szporluk (Dark Sky chosen by Brenda Hillman), Christine Hume (Musca Domestica chosen by Heather McHugh) and Reetika Vazirani (White Elephants chosen by Marilyn Hacker).

Known for the strength of its writing program, Barnard includes among its faculty and novelists Mary Gordon ’71 and Caryl Phillips, and poets Claudia Rankine and Saskia Hamilton. Each year, literary scholars from around the world join the staff. This year’s guest lecturers include poet Marie Ponsot, British author Bernadine Evaristo, and fiction writer Sheri Holman.

Barnard’s notable literary alumnae also include Zora Neale Hurston ’28, Francine du Plessix Gray ’52, June Jordan ’57, Erica Jong ’63, Ntozake Shange ’70, Jhumpa Lahiri ’89, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2000 for her book of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, and Edwidge Danticuat ’90. In addition to Lahiri, six of Barnard’s alumnae in journalism have won or shared the Pulitzer Prize, including novelist and Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen ’74, who is currently chair of the Barnard Trustees; Natalie Angier ’78, author and science writer for The New York Times; Rose Marie Arce ’86 and Suzanne Bilello ’77, members of a Newsday team which shared the Pulitzer for spot news reporting in 1992; and Eileen McNamara ’74, who won the Pulitzer in 1997 for commentary in The Boston Globe; and Katherine Boo ’88 who was recognized for her work at The Washington Post for a series on abuse in District of Columbia group homes.

W.W. Norton & Company is the nation’s largest independent, employee-owned book publishing firm. Founded in 1923, the firm now publishes 450 books annually in its combined divisions. Its poetry program presents works by National Book Award winners including Adrienne Rich, Gerald Stern, A.R. Ammons, Marilyn Hacker, and Ai, as well as former U.S. Poet Laureates Rita Dove, Stanley Kunitz, and Robert Pinsky. Norton continues to adhere to its original motto, "Books that Live," striving to works of enduring distinction in the realm of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and textbooks.

posted by EILEEN | 8:42 AM


The fantasy is so ... Real

posted by EILEEN | 12:13 AM

Monday, June 23, 2003  


I've written tons of prose poems. I love that form. When I emptied my mind and helped facilitate the birth of hay(na)ku, it's ironic to me that I ended up facilitating a highly compressed form -- metaphorically (for me) the opposite of the type of prose poems I've been writing for years (that a reviewer once called "baroque"). Kewl. Whatever. It's all purrrrr-fectly pitched.

Cat Hay(na)ku
--for Gary

-fect pitch
is is hissssssss

posted by EILEEN | 2:48 PM


"Ram" means "God" and my blog, Love's Last Gasps (LLG), features two poems from my "Ram Series." The underlying concept behind the series reflects my June 22, 2003 post (scroll below). I wrote the first "Ram Poem" -- entitled "Ideal Coping" -- on LLG where the text of the poem was the word "Ram" repeated over and over. Shortly after I wrote it, I realized that you could use the same body of the text for a lot of poems and just change the title of the poem, as I did with the second poem on LLG entitled "Is This Thy Will?"

The result -- a marvelous result, in my view -- are books that need not be written: say, extremely THICK volume of poems where all the text is "Ram, Ram, Ram....." and where each poem is differentiated simply by the titles. But I'll stick with the Conceptual Idea without needing to write or publish such books. Or I could envision publishing the books with the explanation of the body of the text and just publish the different titles (helps minimize cutting down the trees that way). This all seems appropriate if one is to believe that (i) God and Poetry encompasses all (or, for the latter, that Poetry can encompass all); and (ii) that Poetry is not just words.

The Rested Mind. CorpsePoetics. Last but not least, to repeat the word "Ram" over and over -- that is, if one were to read a poem from the "Ram Series" -- is perhaps to engender a similar experience as one feels in repeating the word "Om."

posted by EILEEN | 12:39 PM


The poetics of a "Rested Mind." I had an idea that it may be impossible, or certainly very difficult, for me to write from the perspective of a "Corpse" -- from a "Rested Mind." So I finished a bottle of wine and decided to go for it. Well, I find my mind rests -- at least momentarily -- when I am witnessing young poets. There is a different type of energy at the beginning of a process -- before experience exerts influence.

It's a joy to see a bud begin to bloom. And though the process -- for flowers and poets -- may be not be easy, there's a certain calmness in knowing that what is going on is a blooming, a necessary and vivid and beautiful growing.

I find blooming very evocative. It's like how I've always treasured the metaphor of the Blue Event Horizon. As my memory is a sieve, I may get this wrong now (I should google this topic or something before bothering to write on it but, ya know, I wanna rest my mind). As I remember it -- or have transformed it within my memory -- the "Blue Event Horizon" is a line surrounding a black hole. Black holes contain immense gravity so that, theoretically, they pull things traveling in space (chunks of meteors, etc) into their void; there's always a rush of energy surrounding them. And if it were possible for someone to witness the fall of matter into a black hole, you would see, however, that within the Blue Event Horizon, things become suspended. You can never see the fall complete itself. You see the fall-ing, never the fall.

There's an ecstasy in falling; I'm not that interested in the end of that fall. (This is not to say I privilege the falling over the fall -- a topic for another day.)

Huh. I just conflated blooming with falling. Interesting what happens when the mind "rests."

Anyway, my mind finds a certain calm in witnessing the blooming. And I was blessed to have my mind so eased last night during the book launch for Barbara Jane Reyes' first book, Gravities of Center.

Barbara asked me to say a few words during the celebration, partly to reflect my role as her editor of the manuscript. Having just downed a glass of pale ale, I babbled something about how -- though I write and edit books -- I have a conflicted relationship with the "book" of poetry as I feel a book (like the page, like words) never quite capture the totality of the poetic experience. For instance, Barbara's poems are formed partly by her engagement with her "community," some of whom showed up last night for the celebration. They included Tony Robles whose work I've enjoyed for quite some time now, as well as these two young poets whose performance I saw for the first time:

Jason Bayani (with whom I'd traded a few e-mails in the past but met for the first time), the freshly-crowned San Francisco Grand Slam Performance Champion, Berkeley Chapter! I probably mangled that title but -- you go, Sweetie! I was so happy to be wearing a black blazer (of course, notwithstanding the blog name changes, this is still all about me!) when he delivered the lines:

You look so good in black i can only imagine you with one less article of clothing off....

Line after penetrating line from Jason! Here's another one:

I'm afraid of you the way I'm afraid of Christian Fellowship meetings.

Ooooomph! And I got the same .... uh, oooomph from his cohort Josh Wheeler more known as "Messej1" Messej1 also messaged out (I know, that was a horrid pun but I'm sober as I write this) this powerful poem about bike messengers, with such lines as:

....unscientific physics of the streets.... simply look for Murphy's Law -- what can go wrong, will go wrong....

....I stop to call my girlfriend. "Hey. Nothin'. I just want to hear your voice...."

These peeps have, as Messej1 said in another poem, "bullets [that] move through mouths, not guns." Jason and Messej1, along with Rupert Estanislao, Leonard Shek, Mush and Jaglee will be delivering their poetry this Thursday, June 26 (8-10 p.m.) at Locus 1640 Post (betw. Webster and Buchanan) San Francisco.

Also helping to celebrate Barbara's book was Teri Untalan, composer of "songs and other stuff" -- said "stuff" definitely including poetry -- who sang and played the guitar. The San Francisco Bay Times' Tom Kelly sure got it right (I first typed "write") when he said about Teri, "magnificent voice completely at her imaginative control...combines crystalline clarity with formidable...evocative power, providing sensual surprises with every note."

Check out Teri -- along with Barbara and Gennifer Hirano, the Asian Princess-Performance Artist-- at "Passion: 3 Women, 3 Voices" on June 29, 7:30 p.m., Romeo 5 Asian Art Cafe & Bar, Kinokuniya Bldg., Japan Center, 1581 Webster, 2nd Floor, San Francisco.

And, by the way, what a pleasure to spend some time with poet, editor and simply nice guy Del Ray Cross whose Shampoo has been supportive of Barbara's poems, some of which are featured in her book. We spoke partly on blogging (of course) and his thoughts about how he may (may, not will) get involved in this form. I spoke about the challenge of WinePoetics in trying to deliver a fictitious persona, an effort that often collapsed since the author is still known to be me and I do incorporate elements of my own life....well, enough about me and here's a poem by Barbara to celebrate her first poetry book!


After Kenneth Tanemura’s poem of the same name

We awaken in Banaue, as the fog lifts itself marvelously, revealing terraced rice paddies through the open bedroom window of our temporary home. I scribble poem after poem here, ceaselessly capturing every moment of another vagabond summer. With his smooth arms wrapped around my shoulders and my face tucked beneath his unshaven chin, with the plain white sheets of our tiny bed bunched at our feet, shrouded by mosquito netting draping the narra wood floor, we wonder if there are still quiet corners in my ancestors’ archipelago where we may spend next season.

Cradled between his knees in a galvanized metal tub barely large enough to fit the both of us, I light my cigarette and he methodically washes every inch of my rapidly growing hair. In the afternoon, he settles at his ancient mahogany desk, fountain pen poised between thumb and forefinger. Scratching its well-worn gold plated nib upon coarse cream colored paper, he insists upon writing the most tormented of memoirs, but I have the habit of casually plopping myself down in his lap, straddling his torso, my bare feet dangling just a couple of inches above the floor. I insist instead, we have a lifetime to which we can look forward. He rolls his eyes at me, mutters tantrum, privately reveling in my intrusion.

posted by EILEEN | 10:29 AM

Sunday, June 22, 2003  



Ram Ram
Ram Ram Ram
Ram Ram Ram Ram
Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram
Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram
Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram
Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram Ram

Thank you, Jean Gier, for calling me a "Radiant Corpse" -- naturally, I preened and will be sure to inflict that phrase many a time in the future upon my eight million peeps. And thank you, Tom Beckett, for your "impromptu Hay(na)ku in celebration of "CorpsePoetics":

down, nothing
is clear, love

In renaming my blog CorpsePoetics, I didn't erase the reference to WinePoetics (and the blog address remains the same at "" despite the change in name). Change is not synonymous with departure, and I believe history is significant, that the past is part of Identity, and that part of my lineage of pain involves erased histories and the need to recover what has been erased. Undoubtedly, as CorpsePoetics unfolds, these themes will be expanded, though they were addressed earlier, too, through WinePoetics*.

I suppose I feel that one need not grow by leaving others (whether people or matters). My past, however, is replete with such departures. Perhaps some were unavoidable or for the best, but I now realize that I probably didn't need to end my engagements with many of these former friends and, moving forward, I'd like not to make the same mistakes. Beauty -- and Poetry -- is fashioned in so many ways and I hope my eyes are not as easily dismissive as they have been.

Fortunately, for you oenophile-readers who are worriedly-querying (please, peeps, rest your mind -- be a Radiant Corpse like me! -- don't worry, be happy!), the idea that change is not the same as departure also means that I still will share wine recommendations (though have released myself from the requirement that I must post such a recommendation every day). From this weekend's wine tastings, I enjoyed and recommend the 2001 Pride Viognier, 2000 Behrens & Hitchcock "King of the Gypsies" cabernet, and the R. Buller & Sons Fine Muscat. The latter is the Australian gem I mentioned in my June 19 post, and features no year as it was blended "Solera" style -- which is to say, blended from wine from a variety of years, ranging from harvests of 10 to 80 years ago.

And, now, I'd like to share a *found* prose poem -- a caption to an image in the new publication Namarupa. The image it captions can be found at the magazine's site as a black-and-white photograph by Martin Brading of a man writing in a notebook, Asutos Baba:


Asutos Baba is one of the more extreme renunciates, or one who follows severe ascetic practices. We found him lying on the side of the road, writing the name of God (in this case Ram**) in his notebook, as he does for three to five hours every day. This practice, called Likhita Japa, was given to him by his guru, Jaya Gurudev, back in September 2000. Thus far, he has copied the name 2.5 lakh (250,000) times and has taken a vow to continue on to 84 lakh. He will then offer all this to the sacred River Ganga. His guru also told him to have all his teeth removed (which he did and was happy to show us), as he had too much of a liking for solid food. He lives in remote jungles and cooks on people's funeral pyres whenever possible. He was wearing a homemade sackcloth outfit (another act of penance, or "tapas,' as it is known in India). He wouldn't accept any money (though he did take a new pen after much persuasion), nor would he look at the camera, but kept his attention focussed on his notebook and its endless Ram, Ram.


This weekend, I told a poet how much his poems moved me. Perhaps my enthusiastically-delivered praise embarassed him or *something* as he said, "Let's not exagerrate." As gently as I could -- and as firmly as I could -- I replied, "I NEVER exagerrate when it comes to Poetry. NEVER."

Split Ziggurat Hay(na)ku
--for Liza

Ram, Ram,
Ram, Ram, Ram

* For example, these factors helped affect my exploration of the prose poem, a form that I had adopted partly to set up long lines that reflected my former ability to hold breath for a long time. When my breathing changed and I felt compelled to shorten the long line, I used periods to shorten lines, in the same way one could use line-breaks to accomplish the same thing. But I still retained the paragraph form, not wishing to replace it with, say, free-verse stanzas. I didn't wish to depart from the prose poem paragraph just because the nature of my breathing had changed and could no longer accommodate breath-based long lines -- I wanted to keep showing my respect for that form, a form that fully reciprocated my love. Yes, "reciprocated my love" -- didn't I tell you, Peeps, that poems are living, breathing critters?

** There is a brief dash-line over the "a" in "Ram" which I can't reproduce in blog-format.

posted by EILEEN | 10:46 PM