Saturday, December 18, 2004

Curtis Faville wonders what kind of comment he can make about a mystery writer........
been reading Sappho's Immortal Daughters by Margaret Williamson, published by Harvard University Press. I don't know how much of that information is actually correct, not having the book at hand, but I think I've ballparked it. it's about the perplexing variety of attitudes and understandings of Sappho over the many years. every era has its own Sappho. which is true of any writer that lasts the ages but piquantly so in Sappho's case. no wonder Stephen Vincent has been producing his Sapphic transitions. how Sappho's poems got to us is fascinating.
Black Spring Online. I bleeve I wrote a bit about this mag (print version) last summer. hte lineup:

Stephen Ellis (featured poet)

kari edwards

Jim McCrary

Steve Tills

Brent Bechtel.

Catherine Daly

Chris Murray

Layne Rusell

a good selection of writers. I want to particularly note Stephen Ellis's work. he's a friend, but I don't hear much from him lately. check out the poem "Hymn". this came to me as a printed postcard sometime ago. it shows the Ellis Method. I'm sure there's a Greek term for the rhetorical device that begins the poem; I love the effect. a looping and/or spiralling. I think of his work as inhabiting sentences tho if you could parse what he's done here, god love you. it's a tense running machine that he makes. oh, Chris Murray uses the word fricative in the poem "Baker's Dozen @ Lovin",confirming my sense that it is a dirty word: "in personal fricative".

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I've done some writing/art classes at the homeschool cooperative to which we belong. this is how I met Isaac, who was 8 when we met and now is 10. a very serious writer. his writing does a lot of processing of events in his life. his father left home for another woman, Isaac's recently suffered seizures. in his grand oeuvre (so far), there's a character called Lillist, who murders the protagonist's father, and the son strives to avenge the death. she's a witch. she gets killed but keeps coming back. ouch. later stories have been more diffuse, and include many murders and deaths. neither Beth or I have been able to do a class with him this fall. the person teaching him now is worried about his plagiarism, which is a terrible thing to do to him. he's always been honest about his source matrial. Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sherlock Holmes are all obvious sources. his usage is no different from Tolkien's usage of material. Isaac takes elements and makes them his own. he shouldn't be made guilty about the influence these works have on him. especially if you take the matter of Art out of consideration. he writes from a tremendous necessity. anything that might forestall that can only be detrimental. but as I say, he's original, no matter if he commandeers elemenst from other books and movies. I read a piece yesterday, more clearly a poem than most of his work. you get the residue of some painful story amidst a language of dire need. he said it came from the movie House of Mirth. which I recognized as am Edith Wharton novel, tho I haven't read it. you cannot glean the plot of the novel/movie from his poem, but the poem bears an incredible sense of love and loss. I wish I could make a copy of the poem. it's not the work of a child but a poet. his spelling is creative (think Lt William Clark), often hard to make out. I'd worry more about that than his originality, but I wouldn't even worry about that.

Buddha call

"When I took the ether my consciousness amounted to this: I put my finger on myself in order to keep the place, otherwise I should never have returned to this world"
--H D Thoreau, 1/26/1856
"If an ignoramus, or an empty fool, pretend to criticize this thing or the other, you may properly confute him; but name him rarely, for fear of soiling your writings. If you are attacked on your style, never answer, your work alone should reply"--Voltaire

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Carla Harryman comments herself a distance from Ron Silliman's grand crayon marks. it is patently unfair to pit her against Brian Kim Stefans, good cop/bad cop. there's a Dylan Thomas quip about comparitive literature, to wit: compared to what? which is nicer, this unicycle or that box of matches? today Ron tells us that Devin Johnston "may just be the poet most deeply committed to the idea of repose, stillness & subtlety in American poetry since Tom Meyer." and his balloons are made of fir trees. superlative can be pretty stupid. who is 2nd best at all that? who is third? what league is this where these stats make sense? Silliman use cement in his criticism, to hold firmly, unbeatable, forever and a day. regarding his comments about BKS, Silliman did not go gingerly into that good criticism but leapt with a flunking splash. you call that a system? holy cow!!!
Jack Kimball was whimsical enough to mention my exurbian locale on his blog. a sort of confirmation occurred just minutes ago when Erin called Beth and me to the window, to see out back five (5) hulking wild turkeys. Beth had thrown a supply of sunflower seed around out there, on the theory that the squirrels were gonna get it anyway. the turkeys were feasting. I've seen a few turkeys around about but nothing this big. I figure 25 pound at the very least. they had some modest disputes over who got the choicest tidbits. they were unconcerned about the 4 of us goggling out the window. eventually I went outside and watched them. they knew they could take me so they paid little attention. they insouciantly marched into the next yard with a swagger that said if there aint food out they'll be banging on the door. I've seen deer often enough around here, hear coyote regularly and see their scat. a moose recently strode thru town, and a bear has been photographed, tho I didn't get to see these last 2. cheap thrills.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

further use of the Stefan needle. I think Silliman went a little too boolean on this one.
Ron Silliman twice uses the phrase "went to publish" today. since he did so twice, I'll assume that this isn't a typo for "went on to", tho I know I can be pretty steadfast about making the same errors again (teh teh teh, etc). its a curious verb choice. destination publish. well, it's not curious, a lot of people see Fiddler's Green in the very essence of publication, but Ron doesn't seem of that anxiety. by the way, me no mess with BK Stefan: hilarious response.

Monday, December 13, 2004

I don't write metric poetry but Mike Snider's discussion of enjambment has been useful. there are skills involved in poetry, not juts lucky inspiration. I think in terms of enjambment when I write in lines, how the syntactial event slides over the end line. I got that from Creeley, not to blame him or anything for my failings. of course, Pound told me to read Robert Browning like prose. that was a help, kept me from galloping past the meaning.
Brian Kim Stefan in the Blue corner and Ron Silliman in the Red. Ron started it. then Brian made return of the blow with right good will. Ron sounds a little out of his water. I am not comfortable outside the book and page, a lot to do with my ignorance but I think we can allow for taste. it's good to look at one's own resistance. the presentation of Harryman's poem didn't really add much to it, as I see it. there's not enough evidence given by Ron to make his point. anyhoo, interesting to see lances crossed. there's new stuff going on out there.
bedad, David Hess sends us somewhere different. I read this book lo these many many, under the spell of Steeleye Span and some of the weird ass elf-laden folk songs they rendered. wow, tho, we're talking the scholar Evans-Wentz, who was possibly the 1st to translate prime Tibetan buddhist texts into English. some of the accounts in this are spooky. there's an Irish tune called Port na bPucai (don't trust me on getting the Gaelic right) which comes with the story that a fellow fell asleep on a elvish mound, a sort of portal to their world. when he woke he had this tune in his head. another tune, a well known one called "The Gold Ring", supposedly was given to a man by the elves when he returned a gold ring to them. I find this stuff fascinating tho it's been a while since I gave it any study. I am reminded of the picture book by Terry Jones (of Monty Python), which purports to be the journal of a woman who collects specimen of the wee folk. squashed between the pages are some of her prize acquisition. quite bizarre.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

nice list of titles at xpressed, including just released ones. I've been reading Lives of the Eminent Assyrians by Jeff Harrison. a number of these poems showed up on the Wryting list but I am stunned to see how many there really are. yet another busy writer. much of his writing is narrative-infused, but these poems invoke an experimentation with statement. I think what that blurby-sounding phrase means is a jamming together of phrases to find something out of that. these poems have short lines, and the only punctuation Jeff uses is the virgule. the virgule incites a sense of balancing in my mind. not quite equation, but separating 2 elements of a whole. I recently mentioned Stephen Vincent's canny use of the half bracket. of course I, like you, have lately been giving Jackson Mac Low a read, and he uses some interesting punctuation. I really like these various usages. Jeff and I have been writing a long thing together in fits-like-a-glove mode for nearing 2 years. this work forces me to try different ways of proceeding. Assyrians challenges me now, in the sense of exciting me, to try a less narrative approach. those virgules perform, as I said, a balancing of elements (like either/or). the slash also firmly demarcates a phrase, yet at the same time, allows for serial reading. you can thus read severally: one-line poems, poems that fit between the slashes, poems that fit the page (each poem is a page long-- they all seem about the same length, so I wonder if a procedure is involved), and a 164 page poem. I'll have to print the lot out to get a better look. in august I ended Digital, and just recently capped off Rockets & Sentries. I've been happy to go without long project for a bit but now want to start again. and I want to step out of my usual. my reading time has been squeezed lately but I jumped to look at Jeff's work (among many attractions) because of a kinship I feel. I hope i can write uintelligently of other titles later. plumb tired now.