Thursday, July 31, 2003
AUGUST 21, 2003: HISTORIC, NO LESS!
posted by EILEEN |
Bay Area Peeps -- do mark your calendars! A party to welcome David Hess, Donna de la Perriere and Joseph Lease will be held at my San Francisco abode on Thursday, August 21, 7 p.m. David is visiting the area for just a few days while Joseph will be teaching at CCAC this fall (haven't yet had a chance, but look forward, to meet/chat with Donna). Poems will be read, and any poet-peep attending also is invited to bring a poem to share. Stephanie Young also will help welcome all with her poems. E-mail me for more details on mah venue which shall include a guest bathroom decorated by a wallpaper installation of Ron Silliman poems.
In addition to wine and eats (I promise to limit my cooking inflictions and will rely on other less culinary-challenged sources) a special party favor will be available to attendees -- not the broadside mentioned in the announcement below, but a special version just for the party and to mark this LONG-AWAITED OCCASION (well, long-awaited by me who'll even descend gracefully, wings and all, from the mountain):
You've seen them meet and flirt on poetry blogland! Now come witness the in-person historic meeting of Mr. HeatheninHeat and Ms. WinePoetics! I promise .... not to behave.
MERITAGE PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT:
--from "Veins" by David Hess
Meritage Press is pleased to release its first poetry broadside, a signed and numbered limited edition featuring:
"Veins" -- a poem by David Hess
Designed by Eileen Tabios, incorporating drawings from her 2003 series "Enso/And So" (utilizing dregs from the 1988 Chateau Lafite, 1982 Monfortino and/or the 1985 Graham's)
For ordering information, e-mail MeritagePress@aol.com
David Hess lives in his hometown of St. Louis. He attended Brown University. A chapbook, Cage Dances, was published by Skanky Possum in 2001. Poems, essays and reviews have appeared in Jacket, Skanky Possum, Mungo vs. Ranger, Readme, Quid, VeRT and Shampoo. Http://heathensinheat.blogspot.com is where he currently likes to hold court.
Meritage Press seeks to expand fresh ways of featuring literary and other art forms. Reflecting how poets make instead of inherit language, the press is named after "meritage," a word created to describe the Bordeaux-style of wine-making that uses California-grown grapes. Meritage style combines the grapes of cabernet, cabernet franc and merlot to create a wine characterized by robustness in flavor, bouquet, color and body -- symbolizing the passion underlying the vision of Meritage’s artists. Meritage's other artists include John Yau, Archie Rand, Garrett Caples, Hu Xin, Luis H. Francia, and Nick Carbo.
Meritage Press will be the featured press at Boog City's September 11, 2003 Celebration for non-New York presses, curated by David Kirschenbaum, at ACA Galleries, New York City (await more details)!
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
posted by EILEEN |
For the past few days, there have been a couple of guys working about the house installing various electronic gizmos, 99% of which I understand as much as I comprehend the oven.
So for the past few days, I'd go about tip-toeing around them, trying to stay out of their way because all the flashy silver components they were handling made me nervous (it's only a slight exagerration to say that it took me 6 months to master the On/Off switch when computers first arrived in my life). Anyway, today was their last day and one of them -- a sweet, earnest type -- tried to tell me what they've been doing. And I go every so often, Uh huh. Et al with a scrunched brow.
Finally, he looked at me and said -- this absolute stranger who knew nothing about me except what he may have gleaned through sideway glances over the past few days said -- "You know: you're psychologically fragile."
Moreover -- what does it say about me that I thought his comment was absolutely hilarious.....?
Alas, there's probably some truth to his observation: from the mouth of babes and all that (by the way, he was a babe though I naturally barely noticed such). That is, I suspect that it's partly because of what he called "psychological fragility" that I decided to hole up here on this mountain.
Sigh -- fragility: lookit what I wrote today:
not fighting into darkness
once lies arrive
as non-existent vocabulary
ever-blathering about hair
what darkens wingtips
Classrooms burned long ago
into black ash impotence
Now braid intangible
words into a lasso
Yank the damn sky
When red stilettos
pierce a suddenly-blue floor
hold on to the tango
for maximum exposure
to strangers and animals
baring glistening teeth
Sky bleeds. "So what?"
Drink its melted moons
Why do I know
what I do and do not know
I know the why
You don't say
Cobalt shall stain
after you empty
We have discovered
their urgent, amoral necessity
posted by EILEEN |
Well now. So I woke my purty head up this morning to this:
I have now reached the apex of my blogging career. How, you ask? Eileen, aka Grand Mistress Supa'Flash of the CorpsePoetics JimJam, has quoted me and linked to this site. // Stand in awe.
Better than a jolt of coffee -- being called GRAND MISTRESS SUPA'FLASH OF THE CORPSEPOETICS JIMJAM. Dang -- where's that mirror: I wanna PREEEEN again!
And to wake up to so many of you peeps reading me and clamoring with your lovely backchannels. I love it, of course. It's one reason I'll not put a site meter on this blog -- wouldn't want to make Ron and Jim bow their handsome forelocks (wink) in shame.
Sip. Morning coffee. Hills Brothers from a can. (As regards the choice, I'ma lazy, what can I say? But for the record, I do have a coffee grinder in the kitchen -- makes for another lovely tabletop sculpture, just like the rest of my Domestic Goddess accoutrements. Sip....)
Johanna's blog is still truncated this morning, and as it turns out [switch to wheedling tone] dear dreamy Stephen, I don't understand how to do that view thingie....But, anyway, Johanna -- I suspect that "novelist-turned-poet" you're referring to is the same person I bashed in a brilliant post, which I subsequently deleted from my blog because said bashing created negative energy. Sip.
Still, with that JIMJAM of a beginning, I'ma rousted!!!
Okay, she pushes up the invisible glasses on her tiny enchanting nose. What else here?
Well, on this topic close to poets' hearts, Sandy McIntosh speaks (in sensibility) for others when he writes about my prior post:
Re: calling oneself a poet. I went straight from six years of military school (in which literature, and especially poetry was marginalized, even in the honors curriculum) into Southampton College on Long Island, which at the time had local artists (such as, Willem deKooning) teaching basic arts classes. Though I'd begun writing poetry in high school, at Southampton I walked straight into the poetry community so smoothly that I considered it the natural thing, available to anybody. I was surrounded by writers, such as David Ignatow, H.R. Hays, Joseph Heller and Lanford Wilson in a community of writers. After the literary drought of military school this odd and engulfing community seemed the most natural thing. In fact, (and this is the point I want to make) it wasn't until I was working on my doctorate, attending a seminar taught by the sociologist, Michael Quinn Patton, that I woke up to the fact that not everyone lived in the same world as I did. At our first meeting we went around the table introducing ourselves and saying what we did for a living. Naturally, I introduced myself as a poet, which seemed to quiet the room. Months later, when Michael and I had become friends, he mentioned that when I'd introduced myself as a poet he'd thought I was making a joke. "No one is a 'poet'," he told me. "I mean, how do you get paid?"
Now, after years in a starker, less thrilling adult world of salaries and mortgages, I reluctantly manage to introduce myself as a writer, when people demand to know what I do. And to those I trust, I confide that I sometimes write poetry.
Interesting -- I'm sure there are others with opinions on this. One would think this would get to be a tired topic but it does so relate to poets' everydayness lifestyle....
Oh! JIM! Jim Behrle! Check out his drawing of CUPID POETICS!!!! Me, me, me with bow and arrow! Enchanting me. I should do a Neruda to write "An Ode To Myself."
And the best part of the drawing, Jim-Peep, was that I hadda keep biting my delectable tongue to suggest: Pleeeeeeze draw a wine glass in that angelic wingtip. Because I bet a big poker stake that, being a true sky-blue poet, you'd be able to figger that out without my help. And you did!!!
Aimee-sweetie: how can you possibly resist? Do you see how sweetly he draws you gila you?
(Just lissen to Momma, Aimee -- I picked you way before Billy Whats-His-Face evuh did a blurb -- wink.)
Okay. Back to my everydayness! Unpacking...and sending out more review copies for Barry Schwabsky's OPERA that, let me tell you, is already generating a buzz buzz buzzzzzzzzz!
Next up! My next Meritage Press project! Long-awaited information on The David Hess RocknRoll 2003 Broadside!
Bzzzzzzzz: JIMJAM! I am yours truly:
THE GRAND MISTRESS SUPA'FLASH OF THE CORPSEPOETICS JIMJAM!
As Johanna quite aptly puts it: "Stand in awe"!
And as the post ends, eight million peeps hear a resounding CRASH as the Corpse falls off her chair, right on her non-flesh-padded butt.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
POLEAXED BY POLEMICS
posted by EILEEN |
Ergo, I gnaw.
--from Johanna's Rutabaga
Because my Blogger or server or whatever relevant Internet element was causing Johanna's Rutabaga blog to come up truncated on my screen for a few days, I only just saw this paragraph from her July 26 post:
Kasey wrote that some people on his links list don't publicly identify themselves as poets. I felt a pang of recognition there, mostly because I'm not as accomplished as probably all of the people I link to (those links should all be up in a few days) and because the name "poet" -- the title, the Word -- is one I'm gradually beginning to own. And that's a frightening prospect. Like the fabulous Eileen, I spent many years gathering the silence. Learning to identify myself as a poet is like an arranged marriage with the Elephant Man/Woman: "gross distortion masks the sun." Or its opposite, the truly ugly revealed by a bee.
I'm quoting it here because she called me "fabulous" -- yep: the boldface above is mine. Preeen. But now that I've quoted it, I suppose I should pay the price for preening by delivering some gems of wisdom on her thoughts. [Pause. Pregnant pause even.] Okay, that didn't work. So, let me just say:
I, too, used to avoid calling myself a "poet." When I began deliberately using the term, it was because I started sensing that if I called myself that word, it would enhance my poetry-writing. I suspect it did -- that ye olde writing one's reality thing. Which is to say, the psychological effects of *naming* can be significant.
But the logistics continue to be tortuous, of course, in a culture that marginalizes poetry. When I introduce myself as a poet, there are the usual variations to the question of my publication credentials as peeps seek to validate my claim that I'm a poet because, as one actually told me, "Anyone can be a poet; but what do you actually do?" But my favorite question to receive from the uninitiated is, "Have I read you?" To which I'm always tempted to respond, "I don't know -- can you read?"
Occasionally, when I take pity on a person clearly struggling to come up with something to say when faced by my revelation that I'm a poet, I mention my banking background. Whew -- banking: they can talk about it! Hey, how 'bout those, uh, ATM problems....
Yawn, indeed. And, this also is reminding me now of when I used to say that I'm a banker-turned-poet "just like T.S. Eliot." I used to cite that a lot, but no longer -- not since an incident that occurred the last time I lectured on poetry: I discussed my (at the time) postcolonial poetics and one of the students so detested what I said that in the student feedback form, he wrote, "You're no T.S. Eliot."
Well, I laugh now, but have to admit it stung a little when I first got that crit. At the time, I was just trying to joke that to be a poet, I thought one had to be a British banker, too, like T.S. Eliot. The joke fell flat because it seemed I got too "polemical" for some of the students. Another student wrote, "I had been enjoying reading the poems in your book; then I heard you talk about them and I don't enjoy them as much anymore."
Ick. Can you imagine?!! Well lick my wounds and live and learn.
Actually, Johanna, speaking of synchronicity (your July 28 post), I believe my favorite poetics essay is one related to how I feel poetry works like quantum physics (what is observed affects the result and that the world of a poem is a series of parallel universes) that was first published in the now-defunct literary journal Pen & Ink, before being reprinted in my most obscure book, Ecstatic Mutations. Sigh -- this is my fate: my best works shall collapse into obscurity. But as long as the articulation was fun while the wine flowed....right?
Well, speaking of polemical poetics versus poems, my last (probably my last) Asian American (AA) anthology project is coming out any day (well, any week) now: Screaming Monkeys -- for which I served as poetry editor (Managing Editor Evelina M. Galang). Fabulous AA poets in there: Arthur Sze, Timothy Liu, John Yau, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Bino A. Realuyo, Nick Carbo, Marilyn Chin, Xue Di (as translated by Forrest Gander), Purvi Shah, Maiana Minahal, Vince Gotera, Maya Khosla, Pat Rosal, Luis Cabalquinto, Luba Halicki-Hoffman, Jon Pineda, Johnson Cheu, Lawson Fusao Inada, as well as non AA poets like Denise Duhamel and Molly McQuade. I know I've forgotten other poets' names -- don't shoot me! I'm in Napa unpacking my studio and my files (as well as my memory) are camouflaged in bubble-wrap within cardboard boxes!
Anyway, what interested me recently about Screaming Monkeys was my response to a brief essay I'd written to introduce the poems. As is often the case with anthologies, it took over 2 -- or is it over 3 -- years for the anthology to come out. A lot of things change over 2-3 years. During the recent "proofing" stages, I was compelled to delete my poetry editor's essay -- I did find it too polemical and I suppose I've become tired of *introducing* or talking *about* poems. Just let the damn poems speak for themselves! was my reaction to what I wrote. Granted, this may be a comment on how I did a lousy job with that first essay. But I also didn't feel like writing another essay.
Instead, I chose a poem to introduce the others' poems. Years of circling the poem, before finally falling on the lap of the poem. How far I've come to where I had begun....even as writing the next poem gets harder and harder....
But it's not a bad result. Some poet peeps keep ever-circling the poem, ignoring how the poem waits there with open arms. Meanwhile, I can personally attest: the poem's embrace is warm and loving.
Monday, July 28, 2003
HAIR AS INK
posted by EILEEN |
(--after recalling an artist who "draws" by using strands of her hair that she glues against paper)
At about 6 p.m. each day, I often walk up and down the mountain. But the house is located about one-third up the mountain and I usually head down. Not having gone far in the other direction which is quite steep terrain, I've never walked up to the top of the mountain so I don't know what's there. That is, I didn't know until today's walk: Rapunzel lives atop the mountain.
You see, the mountain is covered right now with grass the cover of "spun gold." Rapunzel's hair, loosened and fallen.
Whatdya know. I'ma living on a blonde mountain.
Whatever. Sip. 2001 Penfold chardonnay.
I've written two Rapunzel poems (they're in my book). The first sets Rapunzel atop her turret. The second relates to Rapunzel having cut her hair, braided it into a rope, then used the rope to escape from her turret.
At 6:10 p.m. today, the mountain shifted in agreement: it must and will protect me.
And during my walk, I also saw a bird with a red head. A redhead.
I guess I'm technically a brunette even though, in my dreams, my hair is consistently blue.
Sky as hair.
I believe I am blathering because I am missing a poem I have yet to write.
I discarded three pens today.
When the ink is dry, I am ever teary-eyed.
DEAR AIMEE -- AS REGARDS JIM,
posted by EILEEN |
So my new stapler is not just encased in a lovely purplish/dark blue color that evokes both a lapis lazuli sky and the depths of an ocean, but it comes with staples of the same color!!!! So if I staple something and send such to someone, I'd be sending them a piece of the sky as well as the ocean!! Nifty, eh?
It's a blue as lovely as Aimee's blog-blouse which, come to think of it, she donned because she loves the ocean! Synchronicity -- such a lovely thing. Speaking of Aimee -- Sweetie, that Jim-peep fella. He seems ever so sweet and nice. I think it's wunnerful that he's quite smitten with you. Oh, who cares that he couldn't whiffle or wiffle or whaffle or whatever that ball in NYC? It's just a sports thingie. Now, do please give Jim more time than you would to any paltry novelist. After all: Jim is a POET!!!! [Imagine my wingtips beating my chest here a la Tarzan!] Sweetie -- Jim has my approval, and he didn't even have to bribe me to say something nice about him to you.
Jim? Ball's in your court. I'ma waiting for my bri...uh, my angelic drawing.
posted by EILEEN |
Then I just opened the package to a brand new stapler. It was one of those teeny stapler thingies. It broke as soon as I deconstructed its packaging. I guess its covering was made from some sort of fragile plastic. I confess I bought it because it was colored a pretty translucent peach shade. This is what I deserve for forgetting that (at times) form needs to mirror content.
SUDDEN NON SEQUITUR
posted by EILEEN |
While unpacking more books, I suddenly missed my red camaro, souped up courtesy of the big brothers, trawling my teen streets. So many peeps had tried to steal that car's engine -- I kept returning to it with the hood half-way up and the robbery interrupted. Sweeeeet car. Probably boiled down now to a Richard Chamberlain table-top sculpture. Sweeeeet car -- my first car. Twenty-five years later and I am missing you.
What is making me sad here, today, now?
posted by EILEEN |
So, where was I before I was rudely interrupted and had to bash some tired paternalism?
Oh, yes! Riot A Go Go won the battle of the bands last Friday at Yerba Buena! Ye-ahhhhh!! The "Prizes," according to the comedic emcee were oral sex, for which said emcee claimed to have taken out all his teeth. However, the compassionate emcee added, the losing band members also may receive "conciliatory blowjobs" -- which sorta makes me think: what is a "conciliatory" blowjob versus....a non-conciliatory blowjob? Anyway....
The event occurred during opening night festivities for this show which I highly recommend! So, check it out! (Nick and ye wonderful Brutalists, sorry to miss your events as I'm busily broiling here in Napa, but this is worth visiting!) Also, Clare Rojas apparently is being checked out by Whitney Biennial curators -- finally. I can honestly say her work rules over many others I've seen at the Whitney. So someone at the Whitney -- please: wise up!
Now at Yerba Buena:
To Protect and Serve: the LAPD Archives, out of bounds (from near and afar): Yunhee Min and Pocket Atlas: Nick Ackerman, Dean Byington, Clare E. Rojas
posted by EILEEN |
Recently, I got an e-mail from a poet based in the Philippines criticizing me for being a "cultural activist" instead of (in the context of his thoughts) being "just a poet." (Obviously, this poet doesn't read my blog but I know some of you pinoys peeps do!)
In response to his very presumptous words, many things went through my mind (those of you know me can just imagine some of them.) But let me just focus on one thing: note that this e-mail came from someone living in the Philippines. This country obviously is having its share of problems; for some elucidating thoughts on this, check out Sunny's The Wily Filipino blog.
Now, as I think about this poet's work, I realize that his poems don't address much of what's going on in the Philippines -- that they rarely relate to the country's ongoing problems (though back in the Marcos years perhaps he was as vocal as others). This is not something I challenge -- both because a poet should write whatever the poet wants to write and because I don't presume to second-guess the effect of living in an environment like the Philippines when I don't, in fact, live there. (This, obviously, is not a perspective that he, in turn, knows to respect since he can feel free to pontificate about my position as a poet and as a "Filipino-American.")
I suspect that this poet is using poetry to *escape* from the travails of his immediate environment. Before he questions why a Filipino poet (any Filipino artist) in the United States feels compelled to work as a cultural activist, he should open his eyes to what is going on minute by minute, second by second, immediately about him.
I know some who easily would conclude that for someone not to be a cultural activist when one is a Filipino living in the Philippines is a greater crime than a Filipino artist not being a cultural activist when one is living in the United States. I don't happen to believe as such. But, still...
Last but not least, Mr. Aesthete: if and when I want, I can write the pants off you anyway....so just back off.
Sunday, July 27, 2003
FOR THE BIRDS: ULTIMATELY, FOR THE LOVERS
posted by EILEEN |
This weekend, Corpse tasted and recommends:
1998, 1999, 2000 Jones Family cabernet
1998 CNP Vieux Telegraph
More importantly, on Saturday, I discovered a tiny bird right outside my studio here in St. Helena. I thought it was dead, but it was only playing dead because it noticed me approach -- oh, that teeny quivering breast! Obviously, something was wrong as it couldn't fly away. I bent down and crooned at it, asking how I might help. I lightly stroked its fur to show I wouldn't hurt it. But then I realized that I was probably scaring this bird which was small enough to sit within my palm -- from a scale standpoint, I must have been like a mountain looming over it.
So I left it to enter my studio where I found a little container, filled it with water, went back out and put it in front of the bird, then walked away back into my studio. I peered at it from my studio window and was sad to see that it wouldn't drink -- it's over 100 degrees in the afternoons here. I called Tom and we opened an umbrella so that it would always be in the shade; the bird was small enough to be fried if it just stayed there on the concrete under the Napa sun.
I was relieved some hours later that the bird was gone -- that whatever had prevented it from flying away was no longer an impediment. And I was also glad because, hopefully, the bird then would tell the other birds that I would never harm them -- so that they can come play with me. I can see my future: growing my hair long enough to blanket this mountain where I shall frolic with its creatures as I sing poems to their twitchy ears....
....I must persuade the animals I won't hurt them. Today, as I drove along the road, three deer saw me and swiftly ran away. But to get away from me, they had to run through a neighbor's barbed wire fence -- I hope the wires didn't scratch them.
Dear Bird: Please spread the word --
in Rene Char's words
J'appelle les amours qui roues et suivis par la faulx de l'ete, au soir embaument l'air de leur blanche inaction.
Il n'y a plus de cauchemar, douce insomnie perpetuelle. Il n'y a plus d'aversion. Que la pause d'un bal dont l'entree est partout dans les nuees du ciel.
Je viens avant la rumeur des fontaines, au final du tailleur de pierre.
Sur ma lyre mille ans pesent moins qu'un mort.
J'appelle les amants.
from "ADVENTURES OF A WIFE"
posted by EILEEN |
This weekend, Tom surprised me by giving me an unexpected gift. I looked at the very lovely gift. In shock, I said, "You're not having an affair, right? Cause I'd heard that some men become very generous to their wives when they're having an affair."
He looked at me. Sighed (albeit with fondness). Then said, "No, I'm not having an affair. But if this gives me a pass, let me know."
I don't know what stymied him more. My initial response, or that I laughed long and hard at his reply.
Friday, July 25, 2003
DRAWING INSTEAD OF WRITING WORDS
posted by EILEEN |
Today, I picked up a drawing I'd had framed. It's a diptych, comprised of two pieces of white butcher paper that originally had layered the tables at All Season's Cafe in Calistoga. The drawing was done in collaboration with Max Gimblett ; we began it over lunch and finished it back at my studio with Tom and local artist Nami also contributing. Max did some of his motifs like the quatrefoil as well as calligraphic gestures. I did text -- and part of the challenge was writing text that looks like its meaning. So, on the upper left corner is the phrase "Hawks flutter...." and I tried to draw those words to evoke ... fluttering hawks. You can see it over my bed if you come over for the Poets' Party I'm having on August 21 and judge for yourself. It's also for sale, by the way. The price: $2.5 million.
(Oh, stop: the price is a metaphor for art's pricelessness...)
Anyway, I'm interested in doing more projects like this, where one draws instead of writes words. It's been done before but, for me, my interest in this approach reflects my sense that poems bear bodies.
Creature-poems -- like the ones swinging now from my hairtips. I keep thinking I should cut my hair -- they're getting really straggly at the ends. But the poems -- they love to swing on them. And the poems -- I don't say "No" to them now.
I give up fighting the poems. Have at me, poems: my hands desire to be your mirrors.
Of course: may the glass melt...
TODAY, OVER LUNCH
posted by EILEEN |
while waiting for my yummy wonton soup to cool, a revelation crept up on me. I started thinking about where I am at this point in my life....and suddenly felt the unexpectedness of being where I am today. Where I am, who I am, what matters create my immediate environ -- all are totally a SURPRISE.
...sudden upsurge through veins...
I am glad my life has surprised me.
...sudden upsurge of wings flickering briefly at, before just as briefly disappearing from, corner of vision...
And this surprise is all due to Poetry.
Revelation, then a *quickening* -- my hair thickened into velvet. Soon, the price Poetry has exacted shall cease to be a cost. Soon, soon, soon....
And Thou -- who are you waiting for me now?
TIP FOR STARVING POETRY PUBLISHERS AND STARVING WRITERS
posted by EILEEN |
"Poetry economics" -- what an oxymoron. Anyway:
So, like, when you buy that bubble-wrap encased envelope for sending out books, your local Staples (or other office supply stores) might sell them for something like $8.99 per pack of twelve. But what works equally well are those same bubble-wrap encased envelopes for sending out videos; at my Staples, that's $2.99 for a six-pack. So, on a twelve-pack basis, that's a savings of $3.10 per twelve mailers.
The peeps who'll appreciate this very worthwhile tip will....appreciate. I adored discovering this because I just sent out over a hundred review and comp copies of Barry Schwabsky's book, OPERA (soon to be distributed by Small Press Distribution!). (Such a lovely, lovely book, she croons.) You see, Barry is vacationing on some beach while I am slaving away on his behalf as his publisher.
Do you see how I suffer for Poetry?
Sip. Morning coffee.
Okay, enough angst: back to more books begging to be cradled in my warm and loving arms....
Oh, but -- flutter lashes -- because I so adore you all, here's one last tip du jour: as my yoga teacher said last night when my hand reached to poke at the darkening sky whilst bending sideways for the Triangle Pose:
"POINT WITH INTENTION!"
Thursday, July 24, 2003
BASEBALL AND SEX (AKA, POST DURING UNPACKING BREAK)
posted by EILEEN |
Grump. Of all things, for some reason the emerald-eyed hubby decided to read my blog today (slow day at the office, Hon? Tsk. Tsk. Go make that rain!* We got a mortgage, you know!). So, Tom reads my blog and alerts me: apparently my token baseball post (of July 17) is, he sez, "riddled with errors."
Groan, I think. I gotta think about sports again? But he won't tell me what my mistakes are because, he sez, if I'ma being read by "eight million peeps," I should receive word from one of youse, sooner or later. Well, speaking of synchronicity (Yes! Li, Auster's Red Notebook is fabuloso!), Mets fan David Kirschenbaum pipes up this evening to e-mail:
you were talking about the Red Sox and you said:
"and then we get to the World Series against the Yankees. YaY, YaY, YaY!!"
Nope. They're both in the american league this couldn't, and didn't, happen. It was the Mets.
us mets fans want our team to get its due lady.
Oh, whatever. So I got the teams wrong. Ooops; I shouldn't say that as I'm running for President (per Clayton Couch's editorial "Summer of Discontent"). Harrumph. Lady says, Thanks David! Now I can go back to the hubby and proclaim: "My peeps took care of me, thank you very much!" This, of course, doesn't mean you baseball fans shouldn't vote me into the White House, okay?
Sip. Penfolds (a different variety; still doing research for my upcoming Aug. 21 soiree for Heathen, Joseph Lease, Donna de la Perriere, Stephanie Young et al).
Anyway, I also wanted to say that something totally unexpected -- but so wonderful I just must share it with you all -- occurred while having to unpack and then reorganize books. With hindsight, my mind also must have been going through my "library" of poems and, today, mentally organized from such *inventory* a new poetry collection. I'm very excited over it and its title (and I'm sorry I don't know how to do accents on blog) is:
Menage A Trois
Corpse bares already bared teeth at eight million peeps, then shyly asks, batting lashes (not balls): "Do you like my title?"
The dark-winged angels pause their poker play and look down at the long-lashed Corpse. "Pathetic," one says. "Yep," says another. "An obvious tactic: distract from one's mistake by bringing up sex."
Corpse looks up. "How dare you!" she exclaims in high dudgeon (did I spell dudgeon right here?). "I really do have a new poetry collection called Menage A Trois!"
Angels sniff and ignore her.
Corpse starts jumping up and down. "But I do, I do! If you want to see some of the poems in it, you can even check it out over at my Enheduanna e-chap series!"
Up and down. Up and down. Corpse jumps up and down. But the angels only keep playing poker, though, as this blog post thankfully fades into oblivion, one of them could be heard to say, "Huh. So that's the sound of a skeleton rattling...."
*"rainmaker" is sometimes used in the business world to mean one who brings in new clients
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
"THE BRIDGE" -- A BOOK AND ALSO AN ARS POETICA AS REGARDS THIS "ILLICIT LOVE"
posted by EILEEN |
Murat Nemet-Nejat sent me a copy of his first book, THE BRIDGE, which was published in 1977 by Martin Brian & O'Keefe (London). In the midst of an unpacking break, I thought I'd read Part One, only to end up reading the whole book -- 71 pages - at one sitting. There goes the unpacking schedule.
The thing is, I assume this book is no longer widely available, and a quick check on Amazon does say that it's out of print. It makes me sad a little: for a poet to get a book out -- which we all know is difficult enough -- and then the book ends up not receiving the attention it deserves (by the way, I didn't speak with Murat before writing this post so I am assuming that that's what happened to the book, rather than end up reprinted in some BEST OF WORLD LIT ANTHOLOGY type of collection where it deserves to be). Anyway, I am only "sad a little" because I know fame isn't the point. Plus, Murat once told me that his "problem" (which actually is something I share) is that he's "lazy" about getting his work out there, much preferring to spend the time writing new work. Which is not to say his work is not available online; Peeps -- it's worth doing a Google search on this guy for some fabulous poems and critical essays.
But I do wish for THE BRIDGE to be more well known, if only perhaps to have prevented so much of the same ol, same ol type of "immigrant poems" that have been written (and of which I inevitably became aware when I was more active in the Asian American literary movement). While Murat addressed the immigrant theme, his focus remained on poetry: he created a fresh way of using narrative and the lyric to create, really, a novel in verse form. It's not an approach that's done often relative to compilations of stand-alone verses -- here, I marvel specifically over how he uses (quoted) dialogue while still maintaining what makes this work a poem: a sense of writing *space.*
That space contains, for me, partly a dank emptiness -- as if I'm alone in a gravel courtyard right after a rain and dusk has just fallen. Which is to say, it's an evocative space -- aptly fitting THE BRIDGE's subject matter, described by the book jacket as "the author...himself experienced the personal battle between memory, family consciousness and present-day experience in the U.S." Murat was born in Istanbul but is of Persian origin; he has lived in New York and New England since leaving Turkey.
There's a sense of distance as Murat explores how to bridge back towards his childhood -- a distance that makes me think of tears dammed, their shedding refused for the more difficult task of simply forging backward, hence forward, from what once was and can never be fully lived again. From Part One:
Dostoevski knew no more of the gray color of cobblestones
Than I know of the gray sinew of the river,
Charmed by its snaky yearning, I cherish its residence in my soul,
Nourished by its schemes.
I walk musing,
A stranger had offered me--one murky night--
The Brooklyn Birdge
Whose arches spin inward as a mad calendar
A stranger stumbled on nothing, on the flat street;
Then the earth swallowed him;
Now the sidewalks, pregnant with loneliness, pout
As a repugnant friend,
Concern themselves with nothing, but themselves;
I had thought them more lasting in their crowded moments.
The years go on
As the stone lasts
As a sad marigold
In my mind sits.
When I later would read that the Brooklyn Bridge's salesman was the protagonist's/poetic persona's father, I felt an absolute sense of devastation (that space of betrayal by one's parent?) that is impossible for me to articulate. So much is implied in that juxtaposition -- and probably there in what is not explicitly stated also lies the source of muscularity (of steel) that forbids the entry of the tiniest bit of sentimentality. (It's an admirable effect given how the immigrant theme does so often lend itself to sentimentality). This excerpt from Part III exemplifies this, as well as hints at the novelistic type of layers within the work:
The husband and his wife finally showed.
He had just left his first wife
To marry his student, an eager archaeologist,
Who had fallen in love with his style across the desk,
His intellectual charm.
It was like having a student in the kitchen,
Caught off key.
With all his politeness,
All his careful nudging of her through doors,
He always thought she was a silly girl from Long Island.
An awful party.
Disgusted with shyness, he released
His coat from under the pile,
Ginger not to drop his wallet.
Late at night only philosophers remained:
"Beethoven's penis created music.
He put his music where his heart is
And his penis in his mouth."
Murat adeptly captures the complications of parenting and being parented -- easily eliciting the reader's empathy because so much of our humanity plays out through and from the parent-child roles. From Part Five, here's an excerpt that touches on a brother's sudden fear as regards the father:
"i was playing with my friend, spent the
afternoon on a boat, swimming,
just past midnight we were going
then my brother came
it was the right moonlight where the big fish are caught
When I said to him "you have to come back home"
he did not dare ask why
The above excerpt, and others, serve to make more powerful the subsequent discovery of a couplet like this as the protagonist refers to the same father:
once--dozing off--he even let me hold his hand.
the sun burst in my eyes.
Murat's "Bridge," however, is also a poem because it doesn't remain a path back to Murat's specific history. It is a poem because it also bridges towards the reader to evoke empathy based on the reader's particular experiences. In my case, I was also moved by this excerpt from Part II, for evoking something that I know is (an unreconciled) part of my own immigrant (hi)story:
"I am ready for dinner now."
The grandfather had come from seeing his friends.
"Juliana, I shall be away for two or three days."
"Do you think you should. For
A piece of land. Let them have it. They are
"Daughter, you do not know what owning something means.
I'll wash myself before dinner is ready."
My grandparents in the Philippines had worked very hard to acquire what little land they owned (they did not inherit land; they worked for the money required to acquire that land). My parents inherited some of that land. They still own that land. But I (and my brothers) who long ago came to this country, the U.S., are indifferent to that land which remains primarily theoretical to us, I think -- that land is not something we anticipate as some sort of inheritance. In fact, I suspect my mother is not focused either on owning the land -- it's just that she feels she must address the ownership issue (as a matter of psychological legacy) because she did witness how hard her parents worked in order to "own" that land.
The mountain where I now reside has taught me that land cannot be "owned." We are as temporary on it as poets are temporary presences within this space that we have called Poetry.
Nonetheless, I am here now. And I am grateful Murat wrote these words that now sing me back to the presence of more books agitating to come out of their boxy cells and be cradled in my arms....on their way to my bookshelves where their titled spines shall perpetually hover over my hair as my head shall age bent over yet another pad or the keyboard in a, for me, fully-"illicit" love affair attempting to make more of their brothers and sisters: more books:
I write this poem to you, my friend, the river,
Undaunted by the perfect bridge over you
Flowing, bearing yachts in your cool bed.
We had soft moments together, evenings,
When, silent, I walked along your steps, home,
Unseeing even your lights; yet knowing.
My wife is little to me after twelve years,
Only look to my coffee, ready, without bread,
Placed on the glossy kitchen table.
So, soft river, as one of your boats,
Know your silent admirer,
I confess my half-illicit love.
ADVANCE MEA CULPA TO THOSE WHO SHALL NOT BE ABLE TO CARESS MY SOFT, LOVELY SKIN
posted by EILEEN |
And where my writing studio is, there do I reside.
And the reason I moved my studio from San Francisco to this mountain in Napa is because I'm transitioning to the next phase required by Missie "Bust My Ass Why Dontcha" Poetry. Peeps, you are looking at a future hermit....
Poetry Practice as the Art of Silence....
Someday, I shall be pure cyberspace song....all words....black text punching through the whiteness of your eyes, the whiteness of your computer screens....
Picture me a long-haired woman trawling her hems up and down a mountain crooning at the hawks who appear even at dawn for her....
My hair shall whiten on this mountain. When I loosen one to fall off the mountain, the peeps in the valley shall look up and see the tail of a falling star....
Oh, it's not happening anytime soon....I just felt like being melodramatic this morning.
Sip. Morning coffee. Okay! Back to the boxes of books!!!!
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
CONTENT ON THE FLY
posted by EILEEN |
I adore my eight million peeps for reading me and I don't want to ignore you all when I'm actually in the midst of major unpacking of books, books, books....which is slow going because I keep having to pause and read something in my hand. Like, I keep ignoring the boxes of books to return repeatedly to Paul Auster's essay collection The Art of Hunger -- it was one of those books on my to-read stack and as the stack kept rising I must have just forgotten about it. But after having to pack and now unpack said stack, some of those books remind me of their presence and, Peeps: I am just inhaling Auster. Beyond the narrative, just incredibly beautiful diction!
Why did I leave it uncracked for so long?! I really wanted to just hang plaigarism laws and type out Auster's entire essay on Sir Walter Raleigh -- something that actually provided succor in the aftermath of the deaths of Reetika Vazirani and her son Jehan. Then Auster on Celan. Then Auster on Bronk. Then Auster on Laura Riding....stacks of books await my hands to lift them up onto bookshelves. I whisper, "Wait: I am reading Paul Auster...."
Then the BLOG, ever-greedy and ever-capacious....
More content. Like Michelle Bautista taking a break from preparing for an upcoming martial arts demonstration next weekend at Sonoma State University to write:
"Read your latest post. Your olive tree is a grumpy old coot, but the trimming will do it some good. It helps even out the weight of the fruit and helps concentrate on producing more fruit instead of giving resources to old dead unproductive branches. But I've known men you have to drag kicking and screaming to the barber shop. you would think it would kill them!"
Thanks for chiming in, Gura. Speaking of killing (but not really, of course), I'ma gonna be reading poems on August 2 while ducking my pretty head every so often to avoid Michelle's long sword and/or stick as she does Kali! Michelle -- post some info on your blog, please, on venue and details.
More content. Thomas Fink also writes in -- such a kind sweetie you are, Tom -- to say:
"I've just finished reading the poetry of BABAYLAN: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FILIPINA AMERICAN WRITERS, and the work that you and Nick (Carbo) selected that I was most excited to be introduced to was poetry by Shirley Ancheta, Fatima Lim-Wilson, Farah Montes, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and especially Catalina Cariaga. While I wasn't in the mood to read the fiction on this go-round, I saw that you included Jessica Hagedorn's marvelous "Tenement Lover," which I taught in a lit class several years ago. Congrats to you and Nick for putting together such a terrific anthology."
Yep, there certainly are plenty of undiscovered Pinay poets out there, Tom! Thanks for writing; I'll pass the word on to the Babaylans.
Last but not least for today, here's where I'm gonna be this Friday evening -- punk rocking with Nova et al of Riot A Go Go and then checking out Peggy Honeywell!!! Not to mention the art show involving deservedly up-and-coming artist Clare Rojas, among others! Here's info for this recommended event:
To Protect and Serve: the LAPD Archives, out of bounds (from near and afar): Yunhee Min and Pocket Atlas: Nick Ackerman, Dean Byington, Clare E. Rojas
Fri, Jul 25, 8–11 pm • Grand Lobby & Galleries (Yerba Buena Arts Center)
$10 in advance, $12 at the door*
FREE for Members and a guest
Celebrate the Opening of exhibitions featuring LA and SF–based artwork with a NorCal-SoCal rock showcase and 80s glitz. Get a "Totally LA" Glama-Rama makeover and then get ready to shake it as LA's The Sharp Ease and SF's Riot A-Go-Go rock off in a "Battle of the Bands", followed by a sonic fusion of folk acoustic rock by local Peggy Honeywell (a.k.a. Clare E. Rojas).
Monday, July 21, 2003
"MR. CIGAR" -- MY OLIVE TREE
posted by EILEEN |
It's a staring match. Been that way for days since I wrote my last post. So far, no one's blinking. Me against those Poetry Angels. We've all had our wingtips on our waists and been staring bleakly at each other.
We're all mad. We're mad with each other.
"Write more poems!' they hector.
I'ma like -- "Shove off, you black-winged greedy blood-suckers of mah blood! I'm in mourning here!"
"Commitment costs -- you damn well know that!," they say to me" -- these fallen angels. If I could, I'da ripped their wings off with mah teeth.
Anyway, today, I sniffed at them all and ignored them. I just traipsed down the mountain with a huge goblet of Penfold chardonnay in one hand (no lie: I'm tasting...uh, researching, wine for my upcoming soiree/reading/party for David "My Younger Man" Hess -- who's going to be joined by Bay Area newcomers Joseph Lease and Donna de la Perriere, as well as our lovely local Stephanie Young, y'all!) and went on over to croon at my Olive Tree.
You see, I just had the farmer-neighbor prune said olive tree. It hadn't been pruned in nearly 100 years! Imagine that!
But the Olive Tree -- it had its own thoughts. It looked at me cooing over one of its newly stubby branches and snorted: "Yo, Shorty! Did I ask for a bloody haircut?!!!!"
At first, I thought it was the wine (Oh, ye winepoetics, indeed, Henry!). But, no, it really was the Olive Tree. Dang -- it was grumpy!!!
"Uh," I wittily replied.
"Woman, if I'da wanted a haircut, I'da banged on your door and said so, ya hear?!!!" Olive Tree said.
"Oooooooh, I'm so soooooo....ry!" I replied with full abjectness! (And, by the way, I loathe anything abject so, this is to say, I really was sorry that I trimmed Mr. Olive Tree -- whom I quickly realized was a proverbial old coot or geezer -- against its wishes!)
"But, Dude -- you are a man, right? -- the farmer next door said I should trim you and you'd give me better olives next year!!" I tried to explain.
Olive Tree looked at me. Harrrumphed.
I tried to soothe the Olive Tree by changing the subject: "Well, now, should we name you? What would you like to be named?"
Olive Tree just kept staring at me. Its bark is wrinkled so I knew it was furrowing its brow at me (metaphorically, that is). "Oh yeah," Olive Tree grumped. "I heard about that."
"Heard about what?" I said.
"That you like to name trees -- what an idiotic idea!"
I dithered a bit, then mustered, "Well, Sapphire doesn't seem to mind."
Olive Tree looked at me, then sez what I already know: "Sapphire is a young oak tree you saved from a banal nursery over in Los Angeles. You coulda named her 'Ass' or 'Kumquat' and it'd still be grateful that you plucked her out of that petri dish called BOREDOM NURSERY and plunked her down on a mountain where all trees should be!"
Once more, I wittily mustered, "Uh."
Olive Tree snorted.
Hung my head. Whispered, "I'm sorry. I'ma just a New Yorker -- I don't know what to do with all this nature stuff, you know...."
"Oh, for crying out loud....!" Olive Tree was exasperated. "Don't cry, goddamit! I can't stand fallen angels who cry!"
I looked at Olive Tree through the silver shimmer of my tears. My long lashes must have been quite fetching with said silver glimmer shimmering forth their sheen....
"You think I'm an angel?" I needily ask.
Olive Tree snorted again. I started crying again. And the soft-hearted Olive Tree pleaded again for me to stop crying.
And that's how I got to name my Olive Tree...because Olive Tree said I can name him if I just stopped shedding my tears.
Sip. Penfold (research for David!). My Olive Tree's name is "Mr. Cigar."
Friday, July 18, 2003
posted by EILEEN |
--after Reetika, for all poets
when angels weep
their eyes leak
blind white salamanders
as they scamper about
or stumbling into holes
When they reach
they climb up
stigmata on palms
to enter my fingers
form = content
and its opposite
Prize-Winning Poet, Infant Son Found Dead
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 9:51 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Police are investigating an apparent murder-suicide involving a prize-winning poet who is thought to have slit her young son's wrist and then her own.
Reetika Vazirani, 40, and her 2-year-old son, Jehan, were found lying next to each other in a pool of blood in the dining room of a house where Vazirani was house-sitting, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Investigators found a note with references to the boy's father, Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, the newspaper said.
Neighbors and friends said there had been signs that Vazirani was distraught. She had sought out a meeting with a priest and borrowed a Bible.
Neighbors said the woman and the child were house-sitting for University of Maryland professor Howard Norman, who is vacationing with his wife at their summer home in Vermont.
Officials said one of the woman's co-workers went to the home and discovered the bodies. Police on Thursday called the deaths an apparent murder-suicide, although an official ruling had not yet been made.Denise King-Miller, a friend, said Vazirani had spoken to her about personal problems, some involving her relationship with Komunyakaa, a Princeton University professor.
"Her conversation with me was really about how she was going to move forward,'' King-Miller told the Post.Before 8 a.m. Wednesday, King-Miller said, Vazirani left her a voice mail saying, ``I think I'm going to hurt myself.''
King-Miller said she got the message later and tried to call Vazirani every hour, but got no answer.
Another friend visited the house before 4:30 p.m. and found the bodies lying next to one another on the floor with two large kitchen knives nearby.
Vazirani was a poet who used verse to describe her experience as a child and as an Indian immigrant. Her works were published in several poetry journals in addition to her books. She won the 2003 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for her second book, ``World Hotel,'' and a Barnard New Women Poets Prize for her first, ``White Elephants.'' Komunyakaa won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his book ``Neon Vernacular.''
Thursday, July 17, 2003
THE SPORTING LIFE (AKA: VOTE FOR ME, BASEBALL FANS!!!!)
posted by EILEEN |
Well, so: should I stop blogging?
BWAHAHAHAHAHA....Ooops. Sorry, just amusing myself. Gary, please stay....I love jogging by your blog. In fact, I often pause behind the bush (oh, you didn't know there's a bush by your blog-house? Angel nods head up and down, Uh huh, uh huh), peek through your window and whenever you got that Bollywood movie thing going on, interrupt my jog to watch surreptitiously through the glass. Boy ("whew, not child"), those costumes!
Sigh. What I do with myself. Corpse scrunches her cheek, then realizes she has no flesh on said cheek. Sigh again.
Corpse perks up. Oh, but I still have my lovely long lashes!!!! Flutters lashes at screen. Eight million peeps are charmed!
Anyway, this is what I did with myself recently. But, first, let me tell you whose fault it was: Thomas Fink. Yep, Corpse nods fleshless but still enchanting chin up and down at the screen: You see, Tom read my post about the hubby giving me a gym membership and wrote in response:
Congrats on gym membership. But treadmill running can be stultifying, di ba*? Other activities in the gym, like weight training on the universal, may be more salubrious and less obviating. Real running can be more fun than treadmilitarism. Before injuring my hamstring yesterday, I did several sessions of time trials with a stop watch at several distances. Some were pathetic but showing improvement in current conditioning; example: at 49 (2003) I ran 7:36.88 for 1500 meters (almost a mile), whereas at 20 (1974), I ran 5:16.6. In1976 I triple jumped 48' 7", whereas now I merely hope to get in shape to beat my 13rd yr old child and jump 31' or 32'. Since you probably never posted times in your Barnard years, anything you run would be a personal record.
[*"di ba" is a Tagalog phrase that can be translated in this context as "is that not right?" don't even ask me what a white boy is doing going around spouting "di ba" -- oh! it must be my influence!!!]
Well, so I got Tom's e-mail, and, yah, thought I'd time myself the next time I got on the treadmill so I can have a "personal record" that doesn't threaten to land me in jail. So there I was on my second membership visit to the gym. Peeked in. This time, the guy who was about to get on a treadmill next to the one I favor looked about a quarter of the age of the guy I went up against the last time, which is to say he was about two-thirds my age.
Nonetheless, I perkily entered and perkily got on the treadmill. He and I began jogging together within 30 seconds of each other. And we go. Jog, jog....and I began pushing the miles-per-hour button up and up, mindful that I'm after a personal record. I'ma also, I suppose, feeling confident because of my prior experience on the treadmill when I knew I outran the geezer.
The thing with being a corpse is that you have a skull as a head, which is to say the brain has long leaked out. I don't know what I was thinking. The guy -- unlike the first one -- was young and in decent shape. Why'd I go up against him? We made like two sportscars who ended up next to each other in front of a red light. As soon as it turned green, we moved.....
...and moved. Jog, jog. Thirty (okay, 15) minutes later, I was gasping as I'd obviously began running too fast. But I was still just a half-pace behind, it seemed, whatever speed he chose. So, forgetting that corpse-dom requires the release of pride, I stepped up my pace even more. I kept up that increased pace for 15 seconds (I counted) and then hit the "cool down" button. I was wiped. Two minutes later, the last minute spent in a slow walk while he judiciously kept his eyes fixated ahead even as a large grin revealed itself on his ugly lips (actually, he was probably handsome but my begrudging eyes were quite....begrudging at the moment), I stepped off the treadmill and slunk away.....
....towards the water cooler which I swiftly emptied through 100 refills of a teeny paper cup (why are those cups so dang tiny anyway?!).
I believe I had ambitions for weights et al....but, fughetabout it, I hit the ladies' locker room, showered, tinkled out half the water cooler, then picked up the paper and went to have lunch. Hamburger and, yah, slap on some extra cheese, for chrissakes!
Now, all this is reminding me now of my other sport memories: all one of them. It just occured to me that I should share that, too, since I am running for President of the United States and I believe beisbol, uh, baseball is the national sport....So gather round for my baseball story! Don't ever let anyone call me un-American!!
So, Tom the hubby is a Massachusetts lad. Grew up in Lexington. Yadda. This is to say that he is a life-long fan of the Boston Red Sox. Well, one day, Tom meets a Filipino -- that's me -- who's ever been apathetic (not antipathetic, apathetic (wink)) to the sport.
He drags me kicking and screaming into following baseball that season, oh so deliberately dim in my memory, of 1986. Ah, 1986. Anyway, I began dutifully watching and games with him -- and lo and behold, as the 1986 season unfolded it began to seem as if the Sox (actually, do you say "Sox" or "Red Sox" or Socks or ....) might actually throw off the dreaded Curse of the Bambino!!!! Sox win, Sox win....yadda.....and then we get to the World Series against the Yankees. YaY, YaY, YaY!!
Bill Buckner. No need to say anymore: minimalism is best here....
But suffice it to say that that 1986 experience -- the climax like being thrown off an extremely high cliff so that you'll have enough time to realize and anticipate the pain when your body finally lands on the sharply-edged boulders awaiting the end of your fall below -- totally soured me off baseball. I vowed never to follow it again.
Flash forward to sometime in the early 1990s. Now, I am an exceedingly good-natured Corpse but, sometimes, nothing grates my hipbones more than being forced into the role of "Corporate Spouse" (AS I TOO OFTEN AM NOWADAYS!!!! oh, oooops; forgot the hubby doesn't read my blog). As a "Corporate Spouse," I often must accompany my husband to these events where he socializes with clients, other attorneys, etc. And, sometime in the early 1990s, the hubby proclaims I gotta go with him to a baseball game.
I threaten divorce. He doesn't blink (indeed, the cad mutters, "I wish..." then grins, just joking. Funny, ain't he.) Yeah, yeah, he sez, but he sez I had to go coz this client, Mike, was from some big deal investment bank and said client was being accompanied by his fiancee Roseanne whom I had to help entertain. I spout off a string of obscenities. I even threaten to read poetry. Nothing doing, I am dragged to the game (albeit with a new pair of shoes).
So there I was on a bright sunny day watching the Red Sox vs. the Yankees. Now, this also happened to be my FIRST ever LIVE baseball game. I gotta tell you: it's different from watching it on TV!!! (The majority of 8 million peeps think, No shit, Sherlock.) The weather was fine, the crowd was in a rare mood -- both teams, as I understand it, were actually playing quite awfully .... but in that so bad way that it got to be really funny. And I'm amidst Yankee fans who are spouting off the infamous New York edgy humor left, right and center with non-discriminatory insults.
The insults were the key. I started joining in with the crowd with letting off one zinger after another. But here's the thing. (Unlike today when I am a baseball expert because I am a candidate for President of the United States), I knew absolutely nothing about baseball. But I wanted to hurl out insults, too! So Roseanne would whisper some detail or another in my ear, and I'd swiftly alchemize that into a bon mot, and slug out said bon mot over the crowd -- quite often amusing my neighbors, which only encouraged me more, of course.
Roseanne and I go along in that fashion for a while: she'd say something about the next player going to bat, I'd hurl out the insult...yadda. Then, WADE BOGGS strolls up towards home plate swinging a bat. Roseanne whispers in my ear that PEOPLE magazine just had an article about Mr. Boggs -- some difficulty with his wife, or ex-wife. File info in my brain. So I forget which pitch it was on, bug Boggs connects and hits a high one up into center outfield area.
The ball goes high so it'll take a while to land. A Yankee outfielder has already ran to where he anticipates the ball will fall and is waiting there with his mitt to catch it. But, of course, just in case he doesn't catch the ball, Boggs is rounding the bases, too. The crowd is on its feet awaiting the outcome. Well, just as Boggs reaches second base, the outfielder catches the ball and Boggs is OUT!
Boggs now starts to jog back to the dugout, which is to say, he starts jogging towards our direction as we were seated right behind third base. Meanwhile, the standing crowd simultaneously deflates and everyone sits back down. That anticlimactic moment momentarily generates a silence across the stadium. That silence must have lasted all of 2-3 seconds, but that hiatus was enough for me to yell out to EVERYONE's ears as Boggs approached my seat:
THAT'S WHAT YOU GET FOR CHEATING ON YOUR WIFE!!!!!!
Another second of astonished silence, then the ENTIRE STADIUM erupted into laughter. Boggs actually stopped mid-field, then started looking over towards my direction with an extremely angry "Who said that?" look on his suddenly very scarey, large and getting-ever-larger face.
And that rolling camera? You know that rolling camera that often goes over the crowd and shows images on a huge screen for everyone else on the stadium to see? It suddenly started peering over our area. By the way, when I came up with my zinger, I also momentarily confused baseball with football so that when I uttered my bon mot I raised both hands up to the sky in that ye old "Touchdown!" sign. And there I was, naked for all to see while Boggs and the camera looked for me.
All pleased with myself, I look over to my companions, only to see that Tom, Mike and Roseanne are literally on their knees hiding their faces. Uh, oh. That's when I realized I'd better duck, too. I ducked....and the rest of our Yankee fan neighbors repaid me for the entertainment I inadvertently provided by not pointing me out.
Sip. Morning coffee. Well, the good thing about that event, though, is that Tom has never ever again dragged me to a baseball game. Sip.
But, lookit: if you vote me into the White House, I promise I shall assiduously follow the game, even volunteer to sing the National Anthem at the appropriate time.
Did I tell you of my singing voice?
But, look, until then, I'm perfectly willing to play outfield for the Bay Area Team -- I got wings, ya know, which is to say: no one is better positioned to go soaring up after those would-be homeruns. Do I need to add that I am particularly ravishing when I fly?
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
THE SUBSTANCE OF FORM: ONE VERSION
posted by EILEEN |
A reader might grapple with the more elliptical writings--their mixtures of prose and poetry, fragmented sentence structure, and disjunctive imagery--and ask, "Why not just say it in plain English?" One brief answer is that such discontinuous forms of prose get at the discontinuity of human experience in a very necessary way, just as an abstract painting may call up impressions associatively and make completely different kinds of demands on the viewer from those made by realistic representations, bringing up new ways of seeing and thinking.
--from Introduction to The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood
Thanks for the feedback, Peeps, on my prior post. One of you speak for others when you wrote:
hi eileen, i just read yr blog post abt yr parents/family. it's been making me think more and more abt distances and intimacies, public and private personae as writers, and the battles against our upbringing we choose to take on. i'd be very interested in reading what you write when, as you say, when (rather than "if") you get around to writing about your family. // my parents had previously hoped i'd outgrow this [poetry] past-time and marry R. of the house and white picket fence.
If my post makes just one of you feel less alone, well, that was part of my intent -- notwithstanding the nervousness I admit to having done such a personal post because....this blog thing -- there's an illusion I'm speaking to intimates. Huh, come to think of it, maybe you are now since I've sucked you all into my charm. Hmmmm: does 8 million suffice to get me into the White House? (I have been quite surprised at how this blog thing evolved for me when, originally, I had intended it as a one-month fundraising tool.) Anyways....
But just to correlate this topic (no, not the White House, this family thing) to some other topics recently addressed by Brian Kim Stefans and Timothy Yu, undoubtedly my background is one reason why my writings fairly quickly ceased to fit an "Asian American" paradigm that revolves around stories about family. That, though, is not such a bad thing -- not just on the individual level of not yet having the capacity to address well my particular family but also because, gads, I'da sure hate for my work to become "recognizeable" Asian American literature.
And this part of my personal history affects my poetic FORM. On one level, if I wasn't able to obey my parents, why would I pay obeisance to anyone else -- including those positing the "rules" of Poetry (and that includes what the publicly dominant canon posits Poetry to be).
Poetic form is on my mind at the moment because, last night, I attended a book launch/reading for The Grand Permission: New Writings on Poetics and Motherhood co-edited by Patricia Dienstfrey and Brenda Hillman (Wesleyan University Press, 2003). Readers from the book's 32 poets were the co-editors as well as Frances Phillips, Kathleen Fraser, Camille Roy and Norma Cole. Here's a bit of background as regards my enthusiasm for this book.
Last year, I gave a visiting lecture at a local university which sourced a frustrating but unsurprising experience for me. In discussing my work, I had spoken about how I was moved to use the prose poem's long lines to reflect the inspiration of paintings -- specifically gesture-laden brushstrokes that would seem to continue past the physical edges of a painting. Morever, I spoke about how my poems were ekphrasis exercises because the visual art inspiration was a means for me to rely less on my personality; in turn, such desire to separate myself from the language of those poems reflected my unease with English as it had been used long ago to solidify colonialism in the Philippines. (I've gone past these poetics, by the way, but that's a story for another post.)
A few students challenged my conclusion that my poems -- by not containing (overtly) political narrative references -- were "political." It's not the first time I've met that reaction (I even get it from other Filipinos). It reflects the old story of how people judge poems based on (narrative) content only, disregarding form. Okay, this assumes a separation between form and content -- which may not be the case but that's a story for another post; I think you all get my drift here. (Gee: are each of my subsequent paragraphs going to contain the aside, "That's a story for another post"? So many stories underlie -- lie -- any one story, eh?)
Anyway, as someone who's faced skepticism as regards something that I actually feel is quite basic to (because it's just such a core concern of) poetry -- FORM -- I welcome The Grand Permission. Though I am not a parent, I know I'm going to find reading this book worthwhile because the vision underlying this collection of essays includes a deliberate focus on motherhood's effect on poetic FORM (which may or may not be immediately discernible, and even as such poetics may or may not require identification by a reader in order to enjoy the subject poems).
I haven't read all of the anthology's essays as I write this, but enough examples were given at last night's reading at Clean Well Lighted Books. Patricia Dienstfrey, for one, said (and I'll quote the same thoughts more from her Introduction for clarity):
In approaching this project, we could have asked writers to consider how motherhood serves as subject matter for their writing, thus carrying on a conversation that began three decades ago. But because of our own interests in the writing process and because of the richness of the materials on this subject that came out of the conference, we chose instead to ask authors to reflect on the relationship between the life of mothering and the development of poetic form, inviting them to examine the cross-influences of these two subjects.....
The word "form" appears frequently in these pages. As we use it here, we refer to the features of style and structure in a piece of writing, and to an ineffable quality of mental life that shapes a work of art. Some of these shaping aspects might be technical: the measure of lines and stanzas, the choice of whether or not to use conventional sentences or asyntactical disjunctions, blips, lurchings, fragments. Form in a poem alludes to nearly everything that makes the poem unique: sound, space, meter, streess, choice of genre, diction, and revisionary puntuation. It might include aspects of lineation and imagery."
Patricia then shared her specific experience as to how a book that suited her mornings of children playing nearby was Jean Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers (gads: I love this juxtaposition) which was written while Genet was a prisoner. The relationship was not just because of the constraints posed by being an inmate or by being a mother (albeit the latter by choice). Patricia quoted Genet's statement that reflects living in a prison inhabited exclusively by males, "I lived in the midst of an infinity of holes in the form of men." As Patricia explained, "His image of men as holes formed a compression, a radiance, a postmodern desire that destroyes its object, a presence-in-absence. There was much in Genet's writing that, given the hold that linearity still had on my mind, I found liberating."
Part of that liberation relates to how children playing facilitated "a sense of overlapping times" as Patricia also remembered a childhood incident. When she was two years old, she came to "know a word before [she] could talk." Through a window, she witnessed a boy and girl playing with each other. And in witnessing them, the word she "breathed out in excitement, was 'romance,' on the glass an 'O' suspended over the scene." That "O" -- symbolic for a circular rather than linear time -- moves from imagery to sound. Thus, in her book The Woman Without Experiences, an excerpt is:
... ... ... Sound. ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ..Wound ...
... ... Round ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ... Found...
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
... ... ... Bound ... ... ... ...
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
I could go on and on about Patricia's talk and approach to this issue (I love the way her brain works) but I obviously can't get into it here at length; but more information on her "O" is here.
Brenda Hillman shared motherhood's effect on her form (as related to metaphor), as also influenced by a divorce which meant sharing custody of her daughter. As she puts it:
Realizing that a mysterious quadrant of my daughter's week would take place apart from me, I began to perceive phenomena differently. During this time, we all sufered in ways specific to our own lives. I cannot represent my child's experience of this time, only my own. One coping mechanism was to study each perception as it formed at the site of her disappearance and the moment of her return. This led to a new epistemology. It seemed crucial to pay attention to the micromovements of the thought-language-space-shape continuum so that such a reality might become bearable. A new set of betweenesses happened in language as her body came and went through time and distance. Individual words fell apart. Colors became letters. Yellow was plural, was daughters of yellow. Red was too much. Words like "see" "you" "soon" grated themselves into the air. A poetic method, which had heretofore been based on waiting for insight, suddenly had to accommodate process, an indeterminate physics, a philosophy that combined spiritual searching with detached looking. In this procedure of baffled decenteredness, my daughter and I shared a method of across.
To love metaphor is to exist in a state of becoming, and also paradoxically, to render the heart lucky and indistinct. To live in metaphor is to be eternally hopeful in relation to a missing term. It is to acknowledge that the element is missing because of the world's need, and the mind's, because one has entered into a permanent contract with the unknown. The acceptance of incompleteness is energy.
Another example was offered by Frances Phillips who shared how a baby's rhythm -- the "rhythm of rocking, walking, burping" -- affected her lines:
She is busy. She moves in a quick, rocking, intent manner, leaning into her movements. She is the mistress of little stuff -- pennies, ribbons, jacks -- and they are everywhere. I compose short, stocky sentences:
Here we go.
Up we go.
Round and round.
Frances' example allows me to return to the story of my lecture that I'd found frustrating. If you look at Frances' poem (or excerpt of poem), you need not know of motherhood's influence to appreciate this pithy poem. Yet, presumably, she would not have come to write that way had she not translated a toddler's rhythm into poetic form. Similarly, to experience my poems I don't think a reader needs to know of my love for abstract expressionism -- those gestural brushstrokes that I translated into long lines -- or how I viewed ekphrasis as a postcolonial method; but without these "poetics," I may not have written in the prose poem form.
The discussions on form make this book far more interesting than had it been what some people might expect from such an anthology: the difficulties of the writing life when one also is a mother. Sure, it includes that -- how can it not? But the emphasis on form makes this book ultimately about poetry, making it of interest to an audience beyond those interested in motherhood even as it does not dismiss motherhood.
I know some of you peeps are also on the Suny Buffalo Poetics List and so you might recall a little discussion about this book by Stephen Vincent, Arielle Greenberg, among others. In response to some of their questions, the title of the book is actually inspired by a man: Henri Michaux who once said that, as a poet, he's not a surrealist but surrealism gave him "the grand permission." And, I haven't read the book thoroughly yet but the mothers here include the divorced, lesbian, adoptive, single parents and dual parents.
In any event, whatever you think generally about the topic of "poetry and mothering" -- and I think there's at least one poet in the book itself who questions such an implied causal effect between mothering and language -- I would be surprised if your criticism, if any, would include that this project (which took 7 years to make) was not worthwhile.
PARENTING ONE'S SELF
posted by EILEEN |
can mean partly to parent one's parents.
Just finished Joelle Fraser's memoir The Teritory of Men. Reading it was like tip-toeing through glass shards. Heart-wrenching book that made me think, Perhaps one's relationship with one's parent(s) is the most difficult challenge in relationships (at least for me). A romance or love affair presents an immediacy that compels attention. Once one is past childhood, one's relationship with one's parents -- if it was difficult enough (of course it's "difficult" like many other relationships, but if it goes past a threshold of difficulty?) -- need not be addressed. It can be relegated to memory.
(Sadly observing: I keep using "one" rather than "I" here in this post....)
There are two types of parents, Fraser notes aptly. The parent of the past (usually childhood) and the parent the adult child now has. Very different.
I'm 42 years old. I have yet to address the parents of my past.
I suddenly recall one source of frustration -- extreme frustration -- for me as a child. That I must always obey whatever they said because whatever decisions they decided for me were made out of a clear wish to do what's good for me. And when mistakes are made, it's okay because their motivation was always positive -- how can one challenge the *intent* to do well, after all?
My parents' primary "mistake" was that of tentativeness -- they were extremely risk averse.
It's one reason that I am dubious about their happiness for whatever I have achieved as a writer. Because they never would have supported my decision to be a writer. At age 35, when I became a writer, they could afford however to profess total support because they considered my husband a "safety net" against all that the writing life might expose me to (poverty, etc).
I resent them.
I believe in the sincerity of their joy whenever they receive one of my books. In fact, my mother agitates that I don't tell her enough of my work -- that she is interested in a copy of anything that I write.
But I rarely give her copies of anything I write except my actual books. I don't think she should be a participant in my process that, for me, is extremely hard and which I know she would not have wanted for me were it not for the fact that I am married to someone who she feels can protect me. I resent her lack of faith (though she undoubtedly would not characterize it that way -- and perhaps I shouldn't be characterizing it that way).
My father is passive in this dialogue.
Perhaps someday I'll write about all this. Right now, I'd rather deal with the parents of the present: the ones who have forgotten that the primary lesson they taught their children was to avoid risks. To be any sort of artist is to take risks.
One of my brothers was a genius, smarter than the rest of the kids put together. My parents, first generation immigrants (which certainly can excuse some of their ignorance as to how to deal with logistics of this country), dissuaded him from attending college because they didn't understand the "student loan" concept and didn't want to put their child in debt. I watched my extremely smart brother slowly die of boredom (the light ever-receding from his eyes) as, after high school, he started working as a clerk at a local bank. For distraction: pick-up basketball games on weekends, when I knew he wasn't even really into that game. He died in a car accident after one of those games. I was in college where (no thanks to my parents) I'd gone to escape from my parents. When I received the phone call, I remember thinking at one point, "I'm glad because this life wasn't the one he wanted or deserved. Perhaps he'll get another chance elsewhere."
Perhaps someday I'll write about my parents: about how much I loathe who they were while they were parenting me.
My parents -- on those rare occasions that I write a poem I immediately like and want to show somebody, they are on the the bottom of the list with whom I'd think to share that poem. In fact, they're not even on that list.
But I don't know if I will -- I am not sure I'd survive the necessary fragility I must allow for myself in order to do that.
That's why I appreciate memoirs like Fraser's The Territory of Men. She called the writing process a "healing" for her. Good for her.
P.S. Who am I kidding? Of course I'm going to write about my parents someday. It's going to kill me ten thousand times. But I'll have to do it. Because I also already know -- and goddamit it, I do know -- to do so would make me a better poet.
posted by EILEEN |
I move my studio this weekend from San Francisco to Napa. The turmoil of packing books into boxes has been very difficult on my angels. We like being surrounded by books. Now, the shelves are empty and I'm all covered with fallen black feathers. Let me tell you, bald spots on wings are not pretty. What's interesting -- having seen this before -- is that when the feathers grow back on angelic wings they sometimes grow out white. The first time I noticed the white feathers, my eyes also latched onto their dark neighbors. I realized then that what I had thought to be all-black feathers actually contained undersides of dark blue. Color of storm-racked sky revealed because white clarifies black. But though contrast can clarify vision, rupture is often the source of contrast. To move a library is to lose at least one book. How has evolution arrived to this "pained living"? Lingering on my lips: zinfandel over-fortified into port: o, strained milk of prunes sheathed over my tongue. Which comes first: wisdom or its loss?
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
THE WORLD'S OLDEST PROFESSION
posted by EILEEN |
So I just got my first letter as regards my Presidential campaign. From a poet:
"i will vote for you. can u mandate america to find me a husband? that's all i need. thank you."
Corpse perks up. Oh, but you know, I should start giving reasons for why I should be President of the United States, right? Okay, here's one: Because I'm a poet, I would be better at calling a whore a "whore" -- cough, I mean, a spade a "spade." I certainly can do it better than these two who clearly have no idea which metaphor they are manifesting here:
"Madam President, for all you have done to make our world safer, America thanks you."
--President George W. Bush, to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the White House during her state visit in May.
"I appreciate the help of President Bush in our work to alleviate poverty and other socio-economic ills from which terrorism draws its strength."
--President Arroyo, who received more than $4 billion in U.S. "aid."
CORPSEPOETICS: A POETICS
posted by EILEEN |
Once, I experienced dawn over Benares. I was seated on a small boat trawling the banks of the Ganges as a multitude engaged with the river. I took at least a roll's worth of photographs. When I returned to the U.S., I discovered that none of the photographs came through.
I was about 26 or 27 years old when I visited India. I've long mourned those "lost" photographs.
It wasn't until this year (about 15 years later) that I understood why my photographs didn't develop -- couldn't have developed -- into images. None of the pictures could capture what made the Ganges special to me: a feeling then of immersion in some type of warmth -- like floating within a sunlit void.
I am compelled to share this because I have just heard yet another poet attempt to define Poetry.
I also share that though I struggle to articulate that "warmth" I first felt by the Ganges, I sense it was a foretelling of my future that is now present.
And I also sense that warmth -- its quickening -- to be...ancient.
How can words ever articulate this blank image that is, yet, pure warmth....and pure joy?
First, one doesn't try.
Monday, July 14, 2003
RECIPE FOR A BLOG POST (#2):
posted by EILEEN |
BEGIN WITH CLEAVAGE AND END WITH THE PRESIDENCY
Timothy reminds me of my wise-crack that bloggers compete for Best Blog Report on Ron Silliman. I don't know -- right now, my vote goes to Jim Behrle's "Astral Projection" report. But, Jim-peep, that wasn't my blouse or non-blouse you wuz lookin' at. Hon, it's called "CLEAVAGE." Now, I know and sympathize that it's....been a while....but, just to remind you: CLEAVAGE. Granted, it wasn't that, uh, deep....but, still: CLEAVAGE.
Speaking of young poets after my cleavage, David Hess will be touring the Bay Area and he claims his juice is that it's "Poetry this time." (Ah, Chris -- dontcha just love these young uns!! YaY! Cough: that is, it's such a responsibility being an "older woman"....it'da almost drive me to drink were I not already, uh, drinkin'). So, check out the HeathensinHeat blog for David's schedule (and I'm sure more specific venue details are forthcoming), but, yah, I'ma gonna host a party for him that Thursday, August 21. Wine will be served a-plenty. Bring your own beer or water if you're not into wine. What David didn't mention on his post, though, is that, cough: there's a price for attending the party. Towit:
I'ma thinking of cooking. Consequently (and if you read my blog, there may be a consequence or two), you need to plan to eat whatever I cook as well.
But, hey, like I said. There'll be wine a-plenty.
And don't forget to bring a poem or 2 to read: OPEN MIKE with DAVID HESS in my COFFIN!!!!
Okay, that's 'nuff for now, Kids. I gotta go back to my Presidential campaign. The grassroots support began in South Carolina, swiftly spread to North Carolina, and of course gathered immediate support as well in California. Here's my grassroots' ... uh....roots:
The war in Iraq, which was about oil and wasn't about WMDs (straight from the elephant's -- Paul Wolfowitz's -- mouth), has supposedly come to an end, despite the ever-increasing violence; George Tenet is in the process of poking out his eyes for the good of his vacuous, fundo-redneck leader's reputation; said airhead leader has just completed a trip -- thank you, U.S. taxpayers -- to the continent of Africa, for the express purpose of convincing us all that he indeed has compassion for Charles Taylor and the diamond cartels; astronomers have just discovered a 12.7-billion-year-old gas giant orbiting a neutron star, explicitly raising the prospect that Earth-like worlds -- and perhaps, organic intelligence -- developed far earlier in the universe's history than had been theorized previously; Britney Spears is not -- imagine that -- a virgin; and Ron Silliman argues that "there really is no third way" in poetry.
In response to these events, I'm reading Wole Soyinka and dreaming of waging a write-in campaign for the '04 U.S. Presidential election. Who would I write in? Why, a poet of course! For if a poet can run the NEA, then why not the whole country? Now, how to determine a good write-in candidate is the tricky part. I like the way Amiri Baraka isn't afraid to shoot his mouth off (as on Bill O'Reilly's show some months back) on national TV, but perhaps his views are a tad bit extreme. Charles Bernstein seems to be a good builder of coalitions -- we need those -- and networks, but I don't know if Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court would appreciate his sense of humor. Dana Gioia...ah, he just needs to stay with the NEA. John Ashbery? Extremely interesting domestic views, but I'm not sold on his foreign policy agenda. Jorie Graham has the capacity to be one of the more intelligent Presidents the U.S. has ever seen, but you've got to wonder if she'll appeal to the people -- will they feel her pain?
Frankly, I'm leaning towards writing in one of sidereality's own...Eileen Tabios. Here's why: 1) she's a wine connoisseur and would help to wean U.S. Americans off of light beer, thereby creating a more civilized society; 2) she's in touch with her inner corpse, possessing a point-of-view which could lead to exciting changes in the healthcare system; 3) she's a very generous person, and yet doesn't overspend her cultural capital (we USers need some fiscal discipline); 4) she might poll well with Hispanic and Asian-American voters; 5) she runs her own publishing house, and knows when to delegate authority; and 6) like most good poets, she'd be able to write excellent, well-phrased speeches (no more haphazard, off-the-cuff "Axis-of-Evil" lines).
--from "Summer of Discontent," an editorial by Sidereality Editor & Publisher Clayton A. Couch
THE ABORTED FASHION REPORT
posted by EILEEN |
Someone said, Let there be light. Instead, there was Us
The expansion of genre much faster than the expansion of readers.....green goose poop
I didn't wear the blouse -- the one I mentioned earlier that I had bought for the Mary Burger/Ron Silliman reading last night in Oakland. It was silk and it was hot and silk in heat is only good for being ripped off before....ya know....Sip (morning coffee)....
But what's interesting is that Ron's shirt was of a very very very similar black-and-white print. And I kept thinking, Geez, had I worn that blouse ..... peeps might start hazarding thoughts on my poetic "lineage"....
Still, Ron wore black pants while I wore a black top so we shared the same black-and-white motif. This would come to have utmost relevance later when, during the car drive home from the reading, the Tom the hubby would turn to Eileen and say, "You know -- Ron Silliman writes poems like you do."
Do note the phrasing, peeps: Mr. From-The-Mouth-of-Babes says Ron writes like I do, not the other way around. Now, Tom knows even less about poetry than I do so I'm sure Tom had no idea that the notion that Ron Silliman writes like Eileen Tabios -- rather than the other way around -- just might set some tweed-basted critics hopping from one foot to another. In any event, since you write like I do, Ron Sweetie, anytime you need a "blurb," just throw a holler over here and I'll be sure to try to clear up the calendar....
Sip. Anyway, to continue. Of course, much as I adore black, in that pleasantly tropical atmosphere of 21 Grand, I'da much rather have worn something the color of Kevin Killian's shirt: a blazingly lovely shade of pink that brought sunset into the room. And that material that looked quite cooler than the cotton draped over my enchanting self -- what was that, Kevin? Linen of sorts?
Timothy Yu sported quite a fetching hairstyle, hair mussed up just so a la Ryan Seacrest, the host of "American Idol." (Yea, I've seen that show -- your point is?!) Of course, the hair-raising mighta been the heat.....Heat: causes so many things to rise, dontcha think, Fellow Meat-Eater?....Sip.
It was very moving to see Ron acknowledge a guy in the audience for having been the first to publish him! I didn't catch the name but this perspicacious fella wore an attractive straw hat with a band (would that be fedora?)
Apparently, Catherine Meng was there but since she is shy (I purrrfectly understand that, Catherine; I, myself, am quite shy -- shift glare at the 8 million peeps who choke back their laughs), we didn't meet. But Catherine had socks "blown off." (Well, but I really am shy which is why I'm now miffed, reading Kasey's report, that I didn't get a chance to meet all the poet-peeps that apparently were in the audience because I didn't circulate....with the problem, too, being that I still don't know the faces of the names I admire....)
So, lookit -- I could post a report on the reading instead of posting a fashion commentary but I've got a speech to write. Apparently, I am officially Sidereality's write-in candidate for President of the United States.
Corpse rubs her bony head and glares at the angel who threw a poker chip at her. Oh, okay, okay! I'll post a report on the reading. Geeeez, Corpse mutters, One would think this blog is not about me! And I was about to write a fantabulous Call for Candidates for my Attorney General.....
Her bony knuckles begin to type:
Well, I wore black satin summer sandals which, whenever I looked down, offered a pleasing sheen that helped obviate the lackluster image of my unpainted toenails. Across the room, I noticed Kasey growing a quite debonair field of stubble that nicely met his closely-cropped hair. Stephanie's sleeveless shirt nicely emphasized her yoga-hewn upper arms, and, yes, her new hairstyle of which I'd heard much of is ravishing ravishing ravishing....BONK AGAIN!!
What? Corpse yells up at the angel with mother-of-pearl eyes. Okay, okay....here's a report on a poetry reading....here, you content-hungry peeps:
She wore loose pants in some sort of wine-colored....okay. Some ravishing work from this lady as she continues her path of ever investigating narrativity. In fact, looking now at my notes, I notice that I wrote a hay(na)ku in response to her first poem mentioning she whom I mention below:
"state of mind"
Here's a "word-cloud" (love that phrase which I'm stealing from Garrett Hongo) of my favorite clouds from Mary's reading (with the caveat that anything I quote from Mary or Ron may not be accurate verbatim):
Judgments on superficiality....eliminating choices just to make things more concise....
This rage is not a belief....to rage is to eliminate belief...a fetish....a shiny fetish
Even something as unregulated as a curve throws it off.....white telephone
If the thing you are measuring is not the thing you intended to measure you may never figure that out
Their knowing knowing is part of living...
And last but not least from the "Semiotics of the Rubber Duck":
There were two of them because it felt more companionable to have a pair.
So, speaking of the second half of the pair: RON SILLIMAN
By the way, peeps, I was the one who got the last available copy there of his Tjanting, along with R. There was a threat of a tussle at the back of the room as another fellow clearly had his eye on Tjanting, but I ignored him with Tjanting in my quivering hands, making sure to seemingly ignore his presence (he who wanted my -- MY! -- Tjanting) by schmoooozing arduously with Stephen Vincent as we appreciated Mary Burger's photo chapbook on the Sierras....
Then, with my copy of The New Sentence that I'd brought to the reading, I took the three books up front to Ron Silliman where I finally met the guy for the first time. Nervously -- but naturally looking quite perky from all visible manifestations of myself -- I go up to him and introduce myself:
Eileen: I'm Eileen Tabios [a brilliant first statement to the guy, don't you peeps think?]
Ron: I guessed that's who you are [thereby flustering me]
Eileen: Oh, would you sign my books? [causing a nearby youngster to giggle, "Oh you're going to sign books?" Actually, I found that moving -- the idea of a poet's child looking up at his/her parent in a new light as said child witnesses how that parent so affected someone that his/her parent's autograph is being requested.....It should happen to all poet-parents!]
Ron: I don't have a pen [Eileen, ever-prepared for such a momentous occasion as this, swiftly zips out a pen.]
Ron: You know, I have a question for you about the photograph of your book [whilst signing my books]
Eileen [so flustered that she asked, and now is hoping it didn't come off as obnoxious]: Which book? [Yah, like, I have a million books out there, ya know....]
Ron: The photograph of your book. It looks like a rose hip on a thorn....[See said book cover here.....]
But seriously, I was also moved that Ron remembered my book and so, at this point, I degenerate into babbling at Ron over a multitude of topics for the few minutes left before his reading was due to start and never again let him had another word in....Well, you all know how that goes, right -- like when you want a conversation to go well and so you end up talking more than is prudent? I started with talking about the photographer of my book's cover to, at one point, reciting to him the entirety of Homer's Odyssey (or so it now feels like that in my shamed memory)....oh, I do recall something about how he managed to interject in that he used to live in the Bay Area -- which I had not known or forgotten about, which made me think, Oh, shit. Should I have known that -- thereby leading me to tell him, "Oh. Well, you know, I'm still catching up on things that I probably should know about peeps in the poetry world" because, you know, I didn't want him to think that if I didn't know that salient point about him, it was not because he was not famous enough but simply because I was too ignorant....
Pause. Inhale/Exhale....while eight million peeps look at her with much profound pity and astonishment.
Corpse hangs her head. Yes, I know. Some words that are written should never actually be said out loud. But I was so nervous I said it -- I actually uttered "peeps" to Ron Silliman.
But THANK GOD THANK GOD I did not at all mention Robert Lowell during my totally incapacitated bladder, uh, blather!!!
Inhale/Exhale. Well, so my notes from the evening say that Ron began with a poem in which, two seconds into it, he SANG!!!! The guy who's come off like the Darth Vader of Poetry Blogland to some irrepressible young poet-peeps bloody well sang the line
"limbo limbo limbo"
This image of Ron singing "limbo limbo limbo" shall never fall through the sieves of my memory, particularly since (cough) it is somewhat (but not totally) true that, as he put it in another line that was aptly a crowd-pleaser:
"he looks just like his website"
I won't repeat all the wonderful lines I took down from his reading into my notebook as that would make this post's length shut down our already fragile BLOGGER. But I will say that his expanse made me respond in many different ways, as in, from my scribbles throughout the evening:
--such, such ENERGY!!!
-- this guy's an abstract expressionist -- at the line along the lines of "green yellow pus sores on an old man's leg: a linoleum pattern" (though, in car ride, Tom would say more like a pop artist a la Warhol....truth to both, I think)
-- the jump from abstract to physical, reminds me of Mei-mei Berssenbrugge....
Oh, okay, okay: I must at least post these wonderful lines from his VOG (used to be Voice Over Guy and is now Voice of God):
Even though the text is floating, the page will not float
As regards "Compliant Engineering," our life is a blurb
An aftertaste of honey-flavored pretzel lingers in my beard
A Kentucky Beauty Queen is like a tornado: both will end up in a trailer park
A world in which Strom Thurmond outlives Kathy Acker....the next story shall surely bring snow
These and so many other lines explain why, at one point, I looked over at the crowd and notice the row where seated was Del Ray Cross, Kasey, Timothy, Stephanie -- they all shared the same look on their faces: UTTER ENTHRALLMENT. It was nice to see.
Okay, now shit. Ron is all fine and good and generous and, in person, is much better looking than his blog. But I can't remain in this mode -- it's a matter of politics that I should ever only be permanently enthralled with myself. So, let me recuperate MY -- that's MY -- blog from Sillimania. It's about me, peeps, not Ron. So let me end with this:
Notwithstanding my rather understated wardrobe of last night (black top and jeans), I hope Ron has the taste to conclude that I am just as gorgeous as I say I am. After all, I put on red lipstick. What more can you ask from a corpse?
Now, if you'll all excuse me: I've got a presidential campaign to begin. Ah, dear United States -- I promise to wear fabulous clothes as I seek to colonize you.