Saturday, September 16, 2006

much affected, but hard to set the words. someone we know lost her husband. part of the homeschool network of which we. husband died at 48 of a heart attack. man seemingly of good health, wholly unexpected. we stopped by yesterday just to bring food, not expecting to have condoling audience. met at the door by an aunt of the widow, who pulled us in, and a sister of the bereabved as well who insisted that we visit. the house was a-buzz with people, much of he homeschool network. they warn us that she will burst into tears, yet she does want company. we pass thru a room with her youngest, a boy of 10, playing a video game with another boy. enter the terrible room, and she does indeed burst into tears. Beth, who knows her (I don't), comforts her. I stand by like a sensitive rock. the woman wails in tremendous pain. wails, keens, that sort of complete compression into the hopelessly expressed. Beth comforted her. there was bustling in the house, a spread of food put out. others in the room went to help, with the woman's parents remaining. then the woman went off to be alone, and Beth and I condoled with the parents. there were a lot of youngsters about. beside the boy there's a girl of 16 and one of 13. the man came home the ngith before feeling ill, went to the emergency ward, after 4 hours died. the bereaved called her mother, staying with the kids. the grandmother screamed at the news. woke the oldest, girl of 16. so she knew that her father had died. the other 2 learned in the morning. the girl of 13 has a blog, to which she wrote, I woke up today, and my father was dead. a gothic sounding statement. but true. I was struck by the children. the girls, particularly. they had a lot of friends in the house. it was this normal girlie embrace, heightened by the cute boys in attendence. the 13 year old, she looked absolutely wired, like she was playing the part of a girl who was strictly involved in normal happy networking. and, weirdly, the homeschool network had a dance scheduled for that night, which the girls intended to attend. I would've recommended that the dance be cancelled. I wasn't worth much in any of this, mostly just agape and aghast at the pain and desperation. the family live in a big Victorian house with an enormous beech tree and these piercing autumnal notes all around. the fading hosta in the yard, leaves turning, death in the house. it was pretty intense.
felt compelled to read a bio of H P Lovecraft. I chose not to go with what I gather is the most scholarly, by S T Joshi, not willing to invest in the full seriousness, but went with one of those hacks on the back of Robert E Howard: L Sprague deCamp. I suppose it is largely competent. he is at least interested in his subject. too interested perhaps. he doesn't exactly defend HPL's racism and anti-semitism, but he tries to put that all in context. I get the point that it was a different world then, but that doesn't negate the virulence. it's such an unexamined virulance because HPL isn't even talking from experience. the Jews and Blacks he fustians about merge with those horrors and monsters he imagines in his stories. it's a keyed up intensity. that intensity is key to what is good about HPL, or Poe, or list of others. but not to ignore the loathesome shit. honestly, HPL's racism and anti-semitism are beyond the 'real world', they are an imagined conjuction of weirditudes. I think we have to accept that we all flop about in total confusion much of the time. so that even this egregiousness of HPL seems to bring light. I mean we feel enlightened now as compared to then, even the then of de Camp's book, 1975 (his disquisition on latent homosexuality seems like stone age flippy flop). that enlightenment we feel should be regarded as wispy. Lovecraft was a bit of a phlegm wad, but that was just an aspect of the complex human machine that wrote those strong desperate sories.
reading Naked Lunch, which surprises me in seeming dated. Burroughs went to the trouble of washing away a lot of niceties, the effect of which is now dulled somewhat by the freedoms that came after. still and all, to read him in the day must've been explosive, because it aint like his work is slack now. the datedness that particularly strikes me, tho, is one that seems common with much of the Beats: their slang. slang ties itself to a time, and can lose power over time (which phrase seems to wobble into other meanings than I started for). and I think much of that Beat slang is pulled from other cultures. once again, that is, ofay commandeered. well wait, slang is a code, a networking implement. when that code is broken, become common, its secret power diminishes. hmmm. I know I twiddle with inconsistencies here, because Shakespeare is rife with slang, and Rimbaud, Villon, and they still rock... I think the point is that the Beats understood their slang AS a code. as Beat writing became Literature, the slang became more of a prop or sign (rather than the signified?). I don't write off the Beats because of this, just note the weakness of that strategy. opening the floodgates seems most marvelous, tho most open to abuse. oddly, what gets called mainstream poetry suffers from a lack of slang. too cautious about seemliness to employ any but canonically approved dynamos, which consists too often of polysyllabic latin clumps, with overabundance of commas and, heaven forfend, semi-colons, the use of which is 99% of the time pretentious as well as plain misused. check out Amy Clampitt for proof.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

yet another great interview by Tom Beckett, this time with Jack Kimball (my dancing fingers were about to type of not with, but that didn't accurately portray Tom's paricipation). I liked hearing about the false start Jack made with Post~Twyla. a big idea, then the big idea changes into some other idea, etc: follow if you can. what particularly caught me, tho, were a few mentions of John Wieners. I am apparently the only Boston-area poet who never met or even saw John Wieners, but I have the picture of a sweet and devastated person, not t sound liek Hollywood meets poetry. I quote Jack for 2 sentences:

"At trench level I'll bitch-slap with the gangliest, I'm imagining, but a poetic model, John Wieners, keeps reminding me of self-restraint, to avoid haters -- there are only a few of those -- and maintain a comfortable distance from the hesitant or half-hangers-on. I watched John ratchet up his courtly dizziness when faced with awkward social choices, and although my strategies are different, his manners instruct me to prepare well for love and its absence. (I hate this.)"

stupidly, Wieners is a poet I came to late--the canon is an indefinite road dependent on chance-engendered opportunities--and more remains for me to read. anything, kudos to Tom and Jack.

footnote: were Hollywood on its toes, some nifty biopics could be made with the life elements of, it has occurred to me, Keats, Dickinson, Stein, John Clare, etc. Wieners for sure. but why do I even bring this up?????
I suppose this comment must be filed under Potshots at Silliman but likening Stephanie Young to Scarlett Johansson, and vice versa, wobbles from the get go (where'd get go come from, anyway?). I've never seen SJ in a movie but I've been in enough waiting rooms to know she's regularly crowded into People magazine. the core of Silliman's gist portends the idea that all the rosiness in Stephanie's still Young poetry career will threaten, finally, her Art. you know the grim story: sycophants fighting each other to get on the Stephanie train, clashes with the good, hardworking poets she knew on the way up, then uppers to help manage her hectic poet schedule, and downers as the only respite therefrom, then well-publicized dates with Harold Bloom orchestrated by her manager Puff Diddy Wah Diddy, then a fistfight with Star Jones outside Spago (which she loses), and when things couldn't get any worse, Poetry Magzine publishes Young's 5000 page tribute to Saul Bellow ("ye novelist of great repute, / hence not forsake me with your rebuke, / for your great works of intense review, / doth produce great sparky inklings for the sensitive few") and Knopf publishes her 270,000 pages linked haiku series I Really Love America, which bombs, and President Jeb Bush, told that there were innuendos in the work, of what nature it matters not, snubs Stephanie at the Inaugural Ball, and so with Domino Theory precision everything good in S Young's life goes catastrophic, Erato gets fed up with her, and in the end Stephanie Young becomes a real estate agent. sad, really.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

bashing BAP is pretty much polyester tie dye at this point, and bashing as a modus operandi turns to slumber without a little bolster towards the green, so I'll just repoint towards Shanna Compton's positive outflow of you-can-do-it and you-can-get-it (ycept and aka DIY). here, that is. satire as a constant isn't exactly truffles, COULD GO QUIET ANYTIME. it's a choice there.

Monday, September 11, 2006

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a crisp bright autumn day today and as I recall not unlike 5 years ago. I don't wish to dive into that brew again--and brew is a good word, the yeasty activity that still bubbles--but I looked up this morn whilst walking the dog to see a plane flying casually, as they are wont to do. we still live close to an airfield (formerly an Airforce base, now mainly commercial), and in the flight path of Logan flights, so planes in the sky are common to the point fo constant. but 5 years ago, snap, the sky was quiet. and the silence could really be felt. I couldn't, then, help obsessing on the claustrophic fear of anyone in those planes, the same fear I feel when watching the dismal scenes in Perfect Storm and Titanic. the night of the 11th or 12th was loud with the thunder of jet fighters mobilizing. which brought a more dismal claustrophobia: this means war. and then the talking heads.
I will be reading in Cambridge (Central Sq) on Sunday October 1, 2006, as part of the Demolicious Series. I don't know yet with whom but I look forward to the event. if you're Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise, David Ortiz or Rosa Parks, comp tickets will be at the will call window. if you're Tom Brady or Eileen Tabios, you can sit on my lap as I read!!!!