Saturday, February 04, 2006

Miss Hoover Will Say "The Children Are Right to Laugh at You"

a small volunteer team started methodically counting all poets reported killed in thinly settled Kentucky alone by Dan Hoy, who laughs, then spouts off a litany of self-aggrandizing rhetorical questions demanding a return to a tortured life with outrageous problems: “This is my sandbox, I'm not allowed to go in the deep end”

when Dan Hoy had the poets killed, how did he do it?

by baptism
by an Israeli helicopter
by his junk diet
by bears
by a booby-trapped mobile telephone
by a CIA spy plane
by falling trees
by Death
by legal abortions
by an avalanche on the crête de Lachat in the Lauzière range close to the ski resort of Valmorel
by drought
By Hammer
by One of the latest Palestinian children
by Americans
by a falling banana
by Palestinians and 707 Palestinian children
By Suicide Attack In Iraq
by rebels backed by Uganda
by prejudice
by contempt
By Hype
by security forces
by police at his middle school

poets, friends, remember the time you said Snagglepuss was outside?

NB: the name Joan Houlihan can be substituted for Dan Hoy depending on bete noir preference
Beth and I visited not one but 2 furniture stores yesterday, roughly 2 more than I really need. I don't mind furniture stores per se, but they represent big sensory overload for me. well 1st we hit Panera, where the soft pseudo-jazz stylings lull you into your coffee and bagel. it pleased me to see a Panera in West Virginia last year, there seems so few little pleasures in WV. I mean, we were in Spencer WV once. the big place to go to for a special time was McDonald's, which had 3 televisions for your viewing enjoyment/transfixation/narcotizing. at Panera you can at least expect to get something more robust than brown water when you ask for coffee, WV being a bleak outpost for coffee aficionados. after Panera was a visit to Ethan Allen, and soft rock sounds piped over the sound system. too much to look at, and we have no immediate needs. hard to figure old portraits that you figure should be hanging on castle walls. in one rather frumpy livingroom arrangement, the display books were the Hardy Boys. a nice touch at Ikea is that the prop books are in Swedish. to get me to enter Thomasville down the road, beth suggested that we hit Barnes and Noble after. Thomasville store was better lit than EA but not much different otherwise (to these critical eyes). bowls of hard candy were my main points of interest and--score!!!--a bowl of Hershey Kisses(tm). a crappy rock station sounded merely obnoxious, not the music but the dopey patter of the djs. tho I must admit that that old song by Melissa Etheridge gets on my nerves. it's almost inexplicable why she starts yelling in the song. I can explic, however: it's a show of passion and sincerity, but it sounds like phony shit. I was glad to leave. B&N was its same old self. trying not to spend heedlessly, I avoid a lot of areas of consideration. in fact, I spent little time downstairs at all. Beth, on the other hand, can stand there and read, which I can't do. she found a book that had postcards from anonymous people who detailed secrets they've never told. unnerving to say the least. someone pees in her husband's coffee when she's mad at him. others carry tremendous guilt for some little acts or failings. a little is funny, a lot disturbing. I looked at books by Jung, but I must admit that I got a lot to go thru as it is. the poetry section looked bleary. the highlight table seemed better than what was displayed at Christmas. Berrigan, for one. I get the feeling, tho, that someone thinks they ordered too many of that. I saw Legitimate Dangers (misnomer alert), which looks like smell. author photos and CVs accommpany the poetry, which suggests to me sleight of hand: look at this not the poetry. I can't remember where I read it, but apparently Dante Rossetti and Algernon Swinburne lived together for a time. and one of them had the idea--alas, never fulfilled--of getting an elephant to clean the windows. that's the sort of thing I want to read in one's bio, not where you went to school or what forgetable magazine you've been published in. please, tell me about your window cleaning elephant. in my absolutely hurried scan of the anthology I detected no aesthetic, which is to say, no compelling idea to make me want to buy it. it was just a bunch of poems, hey hey hey. I don't know why people buy anthologies except for teaching purposes. few rise up to more than targets for potshots like this. I glanced briefly at the philosophy section. B&N has put out affordable editions of a lot of philosophy classics in the public domain. I wasn't hankering to buy anything however. nothing new from Terry Pratchett, Beth's passion (I've read the 1st 20 or so Disc Worlds but nothing since). it seems Gertrude Stein wrote only 2 books, Alice B Toklas's autobiography and Three Lives. there were at least 3 editions of On the Road, makes no sense to me. nor the 23,000 editions of Lord of the Rings. I'll leave the thinking to the folks in marketing. Beth almost got a Tony Hillerman and a Robert Ludlum but threw them back when she saw a history of the French and Indian Wars, which is my cup of tea as well. that book represented our swag for the day.
I invoked John Ashbery in previous post, which I'm sure if Sean Finney saw, would exasperate, as if he were a subdivision of JA. I do such likening all the time, it's a manner of handhold for me, but I know it could be read as a confinement. I don't mean Finney is channelling, nor am I even suggesting that Finney might feel that connection. I've managed to package him in Ashberian wrapper nonetheless, which is not my intent. misuse of such likening can be egregious, as Dan Hoy helpfully illustrates in Jacket 28. he lumps flarfists together, he lumps Googlers together, all within the sofa soft confines of Boolean critique. I worked for a company that was bought by Harvard MBAs, who decision-treed the company to its least functionability, and Hoy proceeds similarly. how he glommed onto such a moral tone in the circs is beyond me, but I wasn't really going to go clout on him here. still, when he directs his inquest to the point of phrases like "dick-waving", I think animus took his scooter. returning to Finney, I had a slow entrance to his work just as I had a slow entrance to Brandon Downing's. I don't need to bring up any wattage concerns I may have about myself, I actually do not mind my tentativeness towards poetry. the untentative, the utterly definite, like Hoy, are the ones who do the damage. part of my difficulty to enter the work of Downing and Finney stems from a whirling few months, having moved and made big changes. my concentration level is piss poor. and I'm still burying my father. so I'm having trouble making the leaps that both Finney and Downing do so well. I just want to wave my wand (ce n'est pas mon dick) to function up a welcoming glow for you around these two writers, as the pleasures that have gotten thru my fog are genuine and tough.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I've been reading The Obedient Door by Sean Finney (Meritage 2005) for a while now. pathetically, really, but my reading focus has perforce been elsewhere, so I'm just reading mere morsels at a time. I like the work and think Ashbery's blurb "cheerfully slipshod" says something accurate and appealing about Finney's work. I don't want to prove further how critically lame-o I am, so nothing in depth here, but i want to note 2 things. 1st just to mench at least a hint (and this is not to suggest teammates or that sort of lazy critical round up) of Ashbery to the work, specifically a voice rising from what? the clutter and confusion? works for me. the 2nd thing is simply to quote a line, from the poem "Row Out": "Pupil-tired she was of my guts for ambition." it reads like 2 separate sentences deciding to merge and get along. it seems like a wistful declaration but that awkward (slipshod) word order brings a screwy poetic delight. to me, anyway. it's not exactly like folksy locutions that you might hear like throw me down the stairs my hat or throw me over the pencil, but it does bring a disaster that unsettles, but pleases too, in a humourous yet unnerving way. enough for the present. now it's back to more hommages a Joan Houlihan...

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

some lovely visual works by John M Bennett. there's something fascinating about letters, which we usually miss because we are too busy looking at the word. the rest of Dan Waber's site, Logolalia, offers a rich and fascinating variety of works. I officially recommend his site.
I enjoyed this interview with Ron Padgett. the historicity bubbles up, his connection to long dead artists like Berrigan and Brainard, not that he isn't vital now. LANGUAGE poets carry a sort of apres le deluge feeling, not speaking of the work but the now firmly formed reputations of its actual members. even flarf and younger groups are developing this Aspern Papers aura. Olson died less than a year before I 1st heard of him. what does this add up to? the boundaries of time and age are pretty permeable, I guess. at least, they ought to be. Kyger seems pretty vital now, tho her generation is dying off. I liked hearing Padgett declare that he recently went back and read all of Marvell (not the comix) and plans on revisiting Herbert. there is no such thing as today's poetry. not to say there are no fat Elvis's out there, sliding.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Patrick Herron worries it. it is always surprising how deaf we all are to our own defensiveness. does, and can, Patrick's post prove something? he lays too much emphasis on the originality of his procedure. procedure is just a road to the place. I could go on, but won't.