Monday, December 31, 2007

what is poetry, and how does it define itself from other writing? oh, like I can answer that. I am not consumed by the reading of poetry as I used to be. much of that was a dutiful consumption, as I scouted out the territory and possibility of this manner of writing. it may be that I've always looked at poetry as and all else. poetry is what other writing is not. I fell to poetry because of this indefinition. I'm reading a book on the Gettysburg campaign (not just the battle but what led up to and followed), and it seems a correct energy for me at this time. I think defining poetry's world as different from that one we live in is a poor dalliance. there's a social construct of poetry, which is fine as a social construct, just as church is fine as a social construct. social construct is not the essence, tho. my modest peregrinations and musings, as reported on this blog, strike me as essential in some way that I feel obliged to defend. that the poetry life is not just reading poetry and attending readings. but I shall defend no further. saturday, Beth and I went to Barnes and Noble. almost didn't go in, it was tremendously crowded. we followed a family just leaving the store, in hopes of snaring their parking space. it was like we would rob them once we got to the back of the building. this B&N is a stand alone castle, and next door, essentially the same parking lot, is Chili's, also buzzing. across the street, the mall was more congested than we saw before Christmas. I know there are sales and gift cards to get people out on a surprisingly foggy afternoon. furthermore, the Patriots were to play the Giants, going for 16-0 for the season. the game surely kept a few people home saturday night. among them, me. much as I like watching football, this was only the 2nd game that I watched this season. I watched the 1st half of a blow out earlier. saturday's game was fought in high dudgeon, with the Pats going for a record. I like that Brady and Moss set NFL records on the same pass. and they came up with a Solomonic solution: Moss said cut the ball in two, Brady said keep it. funny, the year my father died, both the Sox and Pats won championships. this (past) year my dog died, which somehow in my mind tied to my father's death. my previous dog died 8 years after my mother died. I looked into the dog's eyes as she passed, could see the light go out, but also, I saw/sensed my mother. one doesn't realize how much one grieves, that the loss burns on. my father's last years were difficult as he grew more distant, ans as his care became more demanding. so that it was a relief that he died. similarly with Brownie. that would be the selfish part of me talking, I guess. when the Red Sox won in 04, it felt like some rare confluence. car horns sounded and church bells rang. my father showed only mild interest, which itself was a pain for me, for him to be that distant, finally. what I write of here is deep pool stuff, twined to the idea of writing that I carry. writing is not just about making these things that people may read. it is a participation and examination. the production of poetry as a manufacturing of things becomes a distraction from the real task. those written events and the living effort that go into them announce a process that exceeds ambition. none of us are beyond ambition, of course, but spiritual implication exists in the process, which strains and gathers thru life. Ron Silliman's grim tally of poet death's for 2007, complete with death head atop the blog post, tastes obnoxious to me. these people that did something then stopped. I don't want to collect that kind of stuff, statistics. the poet's life is written in words not numbers. quantification is a dismal exercise. so we had a quiet New Year's Eve at home. the church across the street rang, more than 12 strokes. hail the new year, lads and lasses.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Walden, again

, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

unusual Christmasiness this year: we watched a lot of movies. okay, 1st, the solstice, Beth and I celebrated our 7th anniversary. we ate at the Colonial Inn, which belonged to the Thoreau family back in the day. a festive 19th century New England atmosphere to the dining room. afterwards we sought out the solstice drum circle by the river. it was too cold, dressed (nicely) as we were, so we passed on. saturday following, our Christmas party. Beth loves to cook for crowds. I help but Beth does the heavy lifting. essentially every dish in the house gets used, and that's what I did sunday, cleaning them, that is. on the 24th, we did a little food shopping, then visited a nearby gallery that we like. and so on, Christmas. a roast with Yorkshire pudding. I've had 3 versions of Yorkshire pudding: my mother's mine, and Beth's, all derived from Fannie Farmer, whatever edition current when my parents married in 1944. eggs, flour, water, and salt. usually throw it in the pan with the roast and potatoes. this time, more like a popover, baked in a cast iron pan. our nucular Christmas tradition. so anyway, the things we watched:

Hogsfather, presumably a BBC production, of one of Terry Pratchett's books. I read the 1st 20 Disc World novels pretty much as they came out, now I'm way behind. I turned Beth onto them, and she has read every one, most of them multiple times. now Erin has begun reading them. the production had the usual low rent special effects typical of British tv, but also the solid acting. Death, who has temporarily replaced Hogsfather (read Santa Claus), is a wonderful character. most adjustments from the book made sense, like the absence of the Death of Mice, a little rodent Reaper. surely the cgi for that would have killed the budget, as would making Death's jaws move.

Pirates of the Caribbean--seen it maybe 4 times and still love it. Depp and Rush have great fun with their roles, scenery is great, special effects, swordplay, etc. all lost in the ensuing crap. the 3rd one both put me to sleep and angered me. surely a 4th is due, whether they can scrouge up Depp for it or not. it can be the Keira Knightly show.

Fellowship of the Ring/The Two Towers. lots of issues with this but it still holds up okay. the stalwartly heroic Aragorn was a linchpin in the books and Viggo (who I want to be, someday) does the same for the movies. when he sends Frodo off, so that he can meet the oncoming orcs, you think, poor orcs. it's not that I have anything against Liv Tyler but any scene with her in it was bereft of energy. absolutely useless plot addition. Cate Blanchett was ridiculous, too, as the hey look at me Elf. so went all the Elves, really, except Orlando Hottie and, perhaps, Mr Smith. Jackson just didn't have a way to deal with these timeless creatures. Merry and Pippin were too Bowery Boys for my taste. the homoerotic theme certainly filled the book but it becomes oppressive in the movie, all that male weeping and hugging. it's funny to think that this movie may be what people know of LOTR. not that it aint being read (when the new Harry Potter is finished), but that Elijah Woods IS Frodo, etc. New Zealand looks like home to me.

Monday, December 24, 2007

several recent additions to Antic View here. the conversation that Jeff Harrison and I have here is Poet Work.

strange emanations from the paranormal world continue to be documented at Amazement Stuff. my approach to the paranormal is, of course, rigorously scientific, but don't think my discoveries cannot scare the bejesus out of you.
we've gone to the mall numerous times this Christmas season. we go without the shopping imperative, for the most part. instead, we go and look. I'm very fond of this. I don't know what sort of business season it is but it seems more lively than last year. one time, we went to the Apple Store because Erin's new iPod had a problem. they were fine with replacing it, but tried to make him wait 3 days for a new one to ship in. I gather the point of that was to prevent merchandise leaving the premise at this special time of the year for free when a crazed holiday shopper could be carting away the selfsame. after some dialogue Erin got his Pod. which just shows to go you, but while awaiting the final judgment I noted 20, that's TWENTY, people working at Apple. and a Motley Crue, too, older humans as well as young ones. and pretty darn busy. I love my 4 gig Nano dearly, with a love that's true, but it is all I can do not to yearn for... but I'll cut it off there. I notice that Sony has a store that looks to be modeled similarly. less well lit, but offered as a spacious meeting place between people and their potential new electronic toys. a more refined experience than the noisy intensity of Best Buy and Circuit City. for ambience, J Crew took the cake. the store is new to the mall. whoever designed its look deserves a gold star. the rich colours were beautiful and eye catching, the place was open and inviting. both Abercrombie & Ef and Hollister opt for dark stores and barriers to prevent anyone seeing in/out. obviously a segregation, filtering out parental units and other duds. plus the imperative dance beat to set the hormonal climate. we had a couple of pretty wonky episodes with disinterested store help. given current economic trends, you'd think stores would labour to brighten up the help. we were at the local package store where we noticed a giftie item labeled Abacus. it was in the display of specialty bottlings, in a fancy box, your basic winery sucker punch. I knew it had to be a wine but there was no telling further. Beth remarked on the box and the cashier enthusiastically said, oh yes!. I inferred she knew something about it so I asked for details. she didn't really know, but she enquired of someone of apparent greater responsibility. he said it was a wine, and that was all he was willing to divulge. earlier, at Whole Foods, I happened to notice that one of the items at the prepared foods counter listed trisodium phosphate as an ingredient. my guess was that it was a preservative, which I didn't see the need for. and I didn't see how well it might fit the all natural spectrum that Whole Foods boasts. I asked of the person at the counter, who said she didn't know. I found that perplexing. when we got home, I applied my questions to Google. Abacus is a lardy dardy bottling from ZD Wines. I always detested the fake clamour of such bottlings (in my days working in a wine store, that is). a fancy, uesless box to dazzle thee, and the wine is what? that a winery reserves certain lots of wine for their special bottlings means, literally, that their other wine is 2nd rate. it's a bullshit marketing scam that shouldn't be acceptable. but you know, iPhones and Wiis with their instrumental rarity, playing you and me to a fare-thee-well. oh well. regarding trisodium phosphate, it is indeed a preservative. it also has the feature of softening acidity. I still don't get it in terms of Whole Foods, all natural, and what not. NOR do I get that horrid song, "Santa Baby". I gather that Marilyn Monroe 1st sang it. I've heard it several times in stores. this must stop. it is a stupid song. and speaking of stupid: those inflatable outdoor decorations. they creep me out. Santa on a Harley, hahaha.

Monday, December 17, 2007

let me engulf you with my new blog, The River's View. I will endeavour to write serious, formal reviews and whatnot on this blog. introductory remarks are here.

a review of Shanna Compton's book For Girls & Others is here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

watched Anaconda 2, the sequel to the award-winning documentary starring J-Lo, Ice Cube and Jon Voight. I am a veteran of the original, from which I learned so much about the athletic and distinctly mean-spirited ways of the anaconda, and yet I still needed to learn more about this gigantic reptile that leaps thru the trees like a lumberjack. the movie begins in a conference room, where the CEO of a pharmaceutical threatens to deep six a non-moneymaking project. the project's team manages to convince him, using a Powerpoint graph (no greater argument can be made than a Powerpoint graph), that the project is a winner. and so it obviously is. as you well know, there is a flower called the blood orchid (which name appears in the movie's subtitle, which I forget). it only blooms, you know, once every 7 years. the flower has a component that prolongs life. well, that's what Big Pharma is looking for, you bet. the team is forthwith sent to Borneo, to fetch the flower, which reportedly is in bloom. why didn't the person who reported this bring a bouquet home? only a few weeks of bloom remain. okay, switch to the wilds of Borneo. I should mention that the previous movie was set in the Amazon, I'm pretty sure. I should also note that I recognize the names of none of the actors but they all were chosen for reminding the audience of... somebody... at one point, a character tells another that he read a news report about an expedition that had anaconda trouble, namely the original movie, a nice way to make it seem there was some narrative consistency going on. because of flooding, no captain wants to go upriver. none, that is, except a certain rough-hewn, unshaven someone. and they start upriver, and the viewer can start guessing which character buys it. I'll tell you right now: the J-Lo-ish big business type, the blonde research assistant, the tech guy who screamed all the time (he could've been replaced by the actor/comedian, can't recall his name, who was in the 5th Element, had the movie the budget for such spendiness), and of course Captain Heroical, were the only survivours. the captain's monkey also survives. the movie put a lot, I would even say undue, pressure on the little guy. several times we are led to believe that the little guy, Kong, is mouldering in the belly of an anaconda. okay, well, not one but two roguish sciency types on the team, who were overly interested in the females, get et quickly by anaconda. the 1st mate of the boat gets lunched. the screaming guy inexplicably misses out, much as relief from his yelling would have been nice. oh, the leader of the team decided to call the mission off after numerous misadventures, so the greedy guy on the team paralyzes him with a spider and the poor guy gets to watch as an anaconda slowly slithers into position for a gulp. I think the anaconda ate a village but I may have been repairing my brain cells with a modest doze during this sequence. I am concerned about my own home town, I don't think we are prepared for anaconda onslaught. I'll bet today's snow would just piss them off further. after much to do, the greedy guy gets his, as do all extant anaconda, except I think the one called Darth Vader. the remaining 4 characters, not counting Kong, pair up on the raft heading for home. the snakes were somewhere between 40 and 800 feet long, heads the size of T-Rex. they weren't above barfing up victims so that they could get more. tho they could constrict in a pinch, so to speak, they were more apt to lunge lightning quick and swallow their victim in a gulp. malevolent? for sure! I love hard science.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sunday, December 09, 2007

watched Transformers yestreen. I'd seen the trailers and was sure that it would lack gumption, but then it just cried out to me. the trailer had it right. the movie consisted of constant robotic transformation and explosions. the stuff in between the transformations owed to Gremlins and Short Circuit. the movie at least brought the viewpoint down to a mildly likable character, the boy meets girl guy. boy meets robot, as well. the plot spun around autistically while the special effects confused the show. the transformations consisted of flashing movement that never clarified into anything the brain could hold steadily. and the action was a blur. I found myself checking my email and adding content to my new paranormal blog. I believe the door is open for a remake.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I watched the Fantastic Four movie, 2nd one is it? with Silver Surfer. when I say watched, that admittedly means that I missed a certain amount (most) due to sleep. still, I did see some of it. how much does one need to see, anyway? I saw the 1st one, and this one had the quality of being the 2nd one. it begins with the dopey premise of the FF being fab NY celebs. this seems unlikely because Reed's a nerd, Ben's a grump, and Sue's too well-grounded. only Johnny seems likely for such a trip. frankly, the dark night of the soul stuff that Marvel hit the jackpot with is exactly what turned me from comix. I never cottoned to the FF anyway. I'm not sure why except I will declare that Reed's stretchy super power is ridiculous. the computer-aided effects in the movie didn't help: he had cartoons for arms. it is funny to think how much silliness you can take, then there's a bit more and you just can't accept it. I can't wait to read the book, the physics of human torches. I had pretty well permanently stepped away from comics by the time Silver Surfer appeared. I got the impression that he was just another cosmic Hamlet moping thru the clouds. I hardly saw him in the movie last night. so anyway, Reed's stretching power is stupid. I am reminded of a Justice League of America comic from my fulsome youth. the story concerned a cadre of rejects who weren't up to Justice League snuff. JLA consisted of such youthful, lauded crimefighters as Super Boy, Super Girl, Ultra Boy, and Brainiac 5, in the year 3000 (SB and SG had to fly faster than light into the future to make the monthly JLA meetings and otherwise serve the organization). B5 was the 5th generation nephew of Brainiac, Superman's Nemesis. this fact could prove puzzling because Brainiac was an android, but there you go. anyhoo, the losers decided to form their own crimefighting unit, the Substitute Justice League of America. members all had super powers that were found wanting by the esteemed JLA. Chlorophyll Kid could make plants grow at an alarming rate. Polar Kid could freeze things with a beam from his hands. Night Girl had an array of super powers that, er, only worked at night. my favourite was Stone Boy who could turn to stone. unlike Ben Grimm, Stone Boy couldn't move in the lithic state. good defense, zero offense. in the comic, the JLA got into a 1st class pickle and whaddya think: the Substitutes form a rescue mission. everyone parachutes into the fray except Night Girl who, I believe, went to the night side of the planet and dug her way to the battle scene. impressive, but then, I recall Super Boy cut a planet in half, discarded the part that was engulfed in flames, took half of another planet, fused the two together. honestly, I read this, in 8 pages of stirring action. anyway, as they float down, Polar Boy barks out directions for everyone, including the immortal cry: and Stone Boy, you turn to stone!!!. even as a 10 year old, I thought as how Stone Boy in his lithic state might be more dense, thus heavy, thus too burdensome for his parachute. as in: why the heck doesn't he plummet like a stone? it was just that one bit of implausibility too much. not to leave you fretting, the Subbies saved the day and were awarded some recognition as 2nd rate super heroes. I am not aware that they ever appeared again in JLA activities.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I have allowed you to think, Tributarians (or the Multitude, as I like to call you), that I am keenly interested in poetry, shopping and the like. I am, certainly, but I am also committed to paranormal research!!!
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I concur with Jack Kimball that Stephen Ellis's poetry should be read. Stephen's work possesses a momentum that requires repeated reading to make sense of. Stephen writes in what often seems like a run-on sentence, tho it's a run-on sentence with a driving spiral that grows clearer by its own insistence. the spiral grows clearer? the poem does, the energy does. happily, Stephen has, so far, embraced the blog space, is posting regularly. please attend.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I saw three poets read over the weekend. I was struck by the potential, or inspiration (I know that's a hefty word), that these poets offered. both Geoff Young and Nick Montfort presented the working idea of constraint, constraint as a creative possibility. Geoff utilizing the sonnet as a form to obey and disobey illustrated a canny opportunity available in the conscious attention to process. I take it that he squeezed existing poems into the sonnet constraint. his sonnets don't behave as sonnets, as he himself said, and yet they do, as he also said. his sonnets adhere to sonnet form only in being 3 1/2 quatrains in length. yet they possess sonnet grace, let us say. let me state that the idea of free verse, somewhere along the way, transmogrified into lazy verse, where poems merely consist of adjectives busying about a few nouns, in celebration of hyped up emotion. rote poem. constraints demand more effort, and not rote effort, but creative problem solving, which is what Beth says art is. rhyme and metre got tired as poets mechanically obeyed the timeworn rules. metre and thyme are exquisite when the poet actually feels involved with these elements, with the constraint that these elements offer. going thru the motions, however, adds nothing vital to a work. Whitman, when he deigned to rhyme, shows the weakness of this duty: the music of a tin ear. Dickinson, or later, Creeley, take metre and rhyme, stare them down, and wriggle free. there is a wonderful value displayed here, a historical view pushed against a futuristic one. the wrench of wondering. Whitman had no time for metre and rhyme, except that they made him Tennysonian, so he just wasted his time pretending toward such poesy. these are lessons, friends. as to Mairead, her work spoke of vantage, or persona. the Flann O'Brien wisdom of absurdity that I heard in her work is a conscious stance (I don't mean to imply that it is from O'Brien, only that it reminds me of his work), a working program. I thought, how can I stand thus. well, I cannot, really, that's Mairead, not me. but a learning possibility exists, placing questions where I hadn't thought to put them. she read ripplingly well, so that the humour and skew made imperial sense. I really liked the sense of input and influence that came from these readings.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I'm like to wore out with a 2nd reading in 2 days: Nick Montfort and Mairead Byrne reading at Demolicious. Nick Montfort does digital whatsis at MIT. digital whatsis is a way of acknowledging the uncorralled nature of the art. his reading was lecture-like. he discussed each piece and the context was rather illustrative. he began with a vision piece, a video. Nick wrote the words and someone else did the filming. the aesthetic of the vid was Youtube. it consisted of disjointed, fuzzily rendered imagery. the voiceover favoured its own disconnection. the result was a calmly trippy sensation. after the vid, Nick read an array of pieces. all worked within declared limits. one, quite funny, was written entirely on the 2nd row of a keyboard. the last line: "you putter out rote poop." I don't mean to be brief but time is burning. Nick has a site with much on it, here.

Mairead gave a terrific reading as well. many of her poems, all from the same chapbook, were urgent sounding soliloquies. they were built on a goofy logic. "do you happen to know your height? boy, did I". I thought of Flann O'Brien because the absurdity she offered was so reasonable. I wish I had better notes but I opted to listen. I wish more had attended, it was a fine reading.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

saw Geoff Young read in Lowell yesterday afternoon. Lowell was rather chilly, the wind really quite frore. the venue was the Lowell visitor centre, part of the national park in downtown Lowell. nice place for a reading, a small theatre where, presumably, presentations about Lowell's textile history happen. Bootstrap Press presented the reading to announce the publication of Geoff Young's latest book, The Riot Act. I was going to link to Bootstrap's site but Geoff's book has yet to appear there. well, go anyway to Bootstrap's site here, check out the catalogue. I did the reading alone, Beth taking the opportunity to visit with her cousin who lives down the street. in the visitor's centre I saw a likely character standing at the door and inquired if he was Derek. of course he wasn't, he was Ryan, the other proprietor of Bootstrap. that's Derek Fenner and Ryan Gallagher, just to be clear. Ryan came from Lowell and both went to Naropa, but I guess I get ahead of myself. Ryan pointed to a pile of books on a table and said take one, a copy of Geoff's book. eventually my friend Michael showed up. he's a friend of Geoff's. so I got to meet Geoff before the reading. a pretty good crowd attended. I could name names but that tends to sound icky, it's like counting coup. suffice to say they were there. before Geoff stood to read, Derek gave a brief history of the press. I was surprised to learn that it began in 1998, out in Colorado. I think they've been gaining momenmtum lately. its bestseller is, unsurprisingly, the recent Wieners book that Michael Carr edited. I await my copy from Amazon. I also have Derek's book, which is red. Ryan's introduction included the line, not sure if original to him: there's a fine line between attending a poetry, and not. Geoff read terrifically. he's an engaging person, charming. he reads with a patient measure. his poems often have a sort of dope slap humour. he began by reading a series of short works from, I think ,Pockets of Wheat, little nibbles of poetic insight, I guess you'd say. occasional poems might be the right term. I note this line, from some poem he read: "sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge". he read from all 3 sections of The Riot Act. the 1st section offered what he called sonnets. they're all 14 lines long, but aren't otherwise too restrictive as to sonnet form. he said that he retrofitted material into these sonnets. he hunted out work that he'd written and redid them. that's an interesting approach, to rewrite like that. reframing the poem allows one to concentrate the poem's energy. wrangling what you've written into a new form gives a different angle to what you wrote. a thoughtful exercise that worked well for Geoff. as usual, I didn't take great notes, just doodles, but there was this line, with its quiet logical mayhem: "poetry's the coconut that under the drowned sailor's head finally sprouts". why yes! I should mention that the book has a cover by Eric Fischl, who also did the one for Tottering State. in both cases a spooky detached image. Geoff's book looked like one from The Figures because of the Fischl cover. and gosh, it was neat getting a copy, to read along with the poet. as Geoff said, all readings should have free books. it was a very nice event. a group of about 12 retired to a restaurant for a beer. I told Geoff, honestly, that it was an honour to meet him finally. it was like with Tom Beckett, receiving books from them for 20 plus years, now finally to meet the person. in both cases, I 1st knew them as editors, later as consummate poets. Tom Beckett notes in a comment below that Tom Fink interviewed Geoff Young for Exchange Values. I don't think the 2nd series of collected interviews, in which this Young interview appears, is out yet from Otoliths (Geoff had a copy, tho), but that's something to look forward to. I wanted to get back to Beth and her cousin so I scooted before the others went in to dinner. I will state publicly, with embarrassment, that in my rush I didn't pay for my Guinness. peccavi, and I will make good to whoever picked up the tab.

Friday, November 30, 2007

some good readings locally this weekend, which I hope to attend. Erin got scary sick earlier this week, scary because of the terrible pneumonia he had in January. scary enough to visit the emergency room at midnight, but he's okay. but if I don't get to the readings, it's because this team sticks together. but anyway, being hopeful:

as mentioned previously, Geoff Young in Lowell tomorrow, Bootstrap Press production. Bootstrap has some vigour going, nice to see the effort. and Geoff Young, as I wrote earlier, supplied me, thru his press The Figures, with many classics. Tottering States by Tom Raworth: is that an awesome book or what? and his own poetry is liovely (lively and lovely: not a typo).

on sunday Nick Montfort and Mairead Byrne read at Demolicious. I think Mairead's poetry might be called gnomic. I write that without knowing really what gnomic means, but I imagine a tightly made curving statement, where statement means anything but direct articulation (which is for Republicans, when they're drunk and mean), i. e. the space between words. it says in Montfort's bio that he wrote a 500 page poem in one day. well, okay, that's impressive. I love ridiculous projects, tho I don't mean ridiculous, unless it means gnomic, and if gnomic means some sort of twisting wrangling intention with a mist of fulfillment... so I dunno if I will make either event, but feel dutybound to mark them on the map.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

runic message at Walden

runic message at Walden, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

mysteries of the universe

potential jigsaw puzzle

potential jigsaw puzzle, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

found things

found things, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.


me, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I was given a copy of Space, by Clark Coolidge. 1st edition, even. it was published in 1970, by Harper Row. imagine a world in which big publishers publish someone like Coolidge. the cover is by Jasper Johns. I can't recall if I owned this book or not. a number of books I got when at Franconia College have, thru the attrition of years, I guess, went gone. but it is familiar to me. Stein, specifically Tender Buttons, was an important disrupting influence on me. and Coolidge... my 1st year at Franconia, there were no poetry classes. the creative writing class was taught by a fiction writer who, in fact, was a pretty good poetry critic but was natheless uncomfortable at it. so Franconia got a poetry teacher, namely Robert Grenier. it was my 2nd year at Franconia, then, that my reading of poetry got focused. the particularly meddlesome writers for me were Stein and Ashbery (Tennis Court Oath), and then Coolidge. the poems in Space look typewriterly. with a typewriter, you could readily move the carriage to where you want it. of course you can do that with computers, but there's a rectilinear mind controlling computers, which can be an encumbrance, and you don't have the physical connection of placing the word where you want. I was surprised, when Coolidge came to the college to read, that he gave such a zesty reading. it put what he did with his disjunctive, curtailed work into a living context rather than just theoretical. from the music of his words you caught the meaning, if meaning exists in the word meaning. the front and back flaps favour the reader with some surprisingly useful salient map points for reading Coolidge. when it states that syntax has been removed, however, that's got to be examined. the syntax of good English has been devastated, no doubt, but syntax remains. even a narrative, if you want to look. I would hazard the guess that Coolidge utilized overheard, and decontextualized, conversation, just as Grenier did so often. the current age may be a bit fuddy duddy in its landscape. I mean a NY stream and a LANGUAGE stream have combined into the normative nowadays. this book suggests a giddy experimentation that takes of the past more than the networked present. a relique such as this is a vital reminder of the urgent process. I actually got into Coolidge more when he shifted to the high-density prose that typifies so many of those great books that The Figures published in the 80s and 90s. it really is a waste of time to keep bonking on bogus anthologies like Best American Poetry. a more thorough study of foundation work seems much more appropriate. Coolidge, it stuns me to realize, is one of our older poets now, age 68. he has an enormous amount of work published, which I'm sure has yet to be well-traced critically. as with Stein, his contribution seeped into me. my earliest confrontations with both writers was uncomfortable and dismaying. yet I see their lessons in my work, or at least, I see the meaning of their lessons.
check out this piece by Stephen Ellis. it has some of the burnt off visionary quality of Olson's very late poems, when O had spiraled from theoretical command and was staring, instead, at death and life. note Stephen's lines, and the beautiful anticipation of his enjambments. admirable.
I am advised that copies of RIOT ACT by Geoffrey Young will be given away at his reading, noted below, next saturday in Lowell. and it is a Bootstrap Press production. very exciting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

a few pictures below, and at my Flickr page, of Walden in fog. we went there yestermorn (id est Thanksgiving). the water was smooth and clear, surprisingly few people were around. less than a mile away Concord/Carlisle fought Bedford on the field of football. whoever won, God smiled on the winner. today, at my urging, we went to the mall. with no urge to buy anything, just look around. it was only slightly challenging to park. things were busy, that is, people were buying stuff. we did a tour last year and saw less purchases occur. the Apple Store was a-buzz. and there was a swarm of people working there. woohoo, buy Apple stock. Aeropostale appeared to be stuffed with eager young shoppers. Abercombrie and Fitch, however, looked like try to hard. are you taking notes here? at the entrance of A&F stood 2 models, I guess they were. one a gogo dancer and/or cheerleader in short skirt. the other a standard issue slouchy, skinny, hip male model type, with shirt unbuttoned and pants low, body hair removed. such a show is a swipe towards edginess for a suburban mall, but I think it means A&F has lost altitude. it was busy, and the thumping trance of music had its message, but it's like Starbucks, you can see the need for effort now. the poetry has turned to doggerel. Crate & Barrel scooted to its own separate building recently, so its space was filled with a Christmas Ornament shop. the same space held a Halloween shop up till a month ago. will it shift to something else in January? we have zero need for ornaments, in fact, the lower ceiling here means we have a superfluity of decorations, but there were some beauts calling to us, all glitter, shine, jolting colour and what. such are m 1st notes on this most telling of American whatever.
Geoff Young reads in Lowell,
to wit:

Geoffrey Young’s THE RIOT ACT: book release and reading
Saturday December 1st, 2007
3:00 p.m.
National Park Visitor Center
246 Market Street
Lowell, MA 01852

Geoff Young ran the terrific press The Figures for many years, whence came a raft of important books. he is also a wonderful poet and, as I understand, a deft reader. I am certain that this will be an awesome event (I think Bootstrap Press is involved).

, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

DSCN9165, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

DSCN9160, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

John Latta's blog is crackling. his reading and views fit wonderfully into blog format. his doubtfulness is always well backed up. he isn't merely acerbic, tho he has a Dahlbergian whip. I guess I'm too tired to rattle on. I'm glad he's "out there". shamefully, I haven't read a book of his...

must... remedy... this...
a review, by Jeff Harrison, in Galatea Resurrects, of Days Poem.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I got For Girls & Others by Shanna Compton (Bloof Books 2007). hey hey, I'm others, I think. this is her 2nd collection, which is saying something, because the first, Down Spooky, is a pretty mature work. I'm guessing that Girls began with a plan whereas Spooky was collected, for whatever that observation is worth. Girls delivers of advice to/for girls, which being the actual words of advice (from cranky old books) and, more crunchingly, the cultural enclosures meted out. there's the theme of the book, for you English teachers. well, I don't read like that. that's the normative part of the tale. Shanna recontextualizes some 19th century advice to girls with a flarfian beat. I actually hear the persistent trawling of Robert Fitterman here, that method, I mean, not stylistic residue. I haven't read enough to provide a detailed map but there's a sense of sudden rescue to a number of her poems. for instance, "Awful White Wine", great title, wraps around an O'Hara-like flightiness. the last stanza then performs a shift, arabesque, what you will:

All night the cervix of Our Lord
glistens & slurps with an enlarged pink
fiddling sound. We're ready to ascend.

I mean, heigh ho, that's quite a turn, a coaxial collision of intentions. it's funny stuff, with a flarfy jolt and an undazed commitment. I was reading without pen in hand, so I haven't collected many quotations but I assure you that I bounced on numerous felicities. I mean to write further of this book, which I have only just met. my idea is to make a blog where I write more formally and at greater length than what you see here. in lieu of that project, let these few notes tempt you to read and even to own Shanna's latest. it's a handsome ton of energy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I shot you, Elk, and then I said,
"I feel better now, because you're dead."

file under: Doggerel Will Save Us

extreme Walden

extreme Walden, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

fish 2

fish 2, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

mysterious crop circle

mysterious crop circle, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

if you seek more work by AHB to delight in, be bored or displeased by, or simply ignore, I have a new blog for some of my recent works, yclept Simple Theories. tra la.
I have three poems in Eoagh 4, here. the whole issue is replete, check it out. I don't know if e-journals give a greater sense than print of the ratiocinations and bifurcations but... well I will declare that they do. these many offerings gathered under the aegis, each writer with a direction and plan, explored by Reader. I know some of the people in the masthead by name, by work, by rep, or by nothing at all. whatever I know of them, I understand that they all consider their work important, carrying resonance. and Reader will be delighted by some work, bored or displeased by other, ignore still other. each writer performs this dedication to writing, then flips the work into a stream, where the competition begins. I guess one can worry about that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

my friend Michael wants us to meet up at this reading. we have friends coming over saturday, however, so it is no go. I remain interested.


that picture.

of the dead elk.

bugs me.

is the guy with knife and gun Buck Downs? I realize, writing this, that I assume a lot as I wriggle with the inferences of the picture. no, I do not like the idea of hunting but, yes, I eat meat. file my judgments, which I shan't even enumerate here, under whatever. it is the poetry not the poet that is of interest, as is proven by all our faded heroes. still, killing an elk seems wasteful. I mean, the rare opportunity to see a elk, and then to plug it. I could be sadly unprepared to face the irony of this picture. it seems creepy as a promo picture, tho, doesn't it? I would still want to hear Downs read, and of course Eileen Myles, but a part of me would think of the elk.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I have a 4 gig iPod Nano now. I could expatiate on the technical wonder but instead will mention my nephew's great grandfather, who died some years back at the age of 101. he used to be so astonished at modern cars. his little car could barely make it up the hills of New Hampshire but that was quite the improvement over whatever 1st car he remembered. one day he extolled the raw power of his vehicle to my nephew, who was about 4. my nephew said with exasperation, face it, Grampie, it's a Vega. not really, it's a paradigm shift. so anyway, I have a day's worth of music on the pod, isn't that lovely. and then I started listening to podcasts, and this is quite a wonder. one more step onto the egalitarian slope. I have mostly just scoured iTunes for science or history podcasts but the potential exists for grander, personal usage. indeed, I'm thinking of reading Days Poem as a podcast. I'd be doing it even now but I'm working out the kinks of recording. the built in microphone of this laptop isn't getting my quiet voice well, and the other microphone I have seems to cause a hum. but I will get it out there. the poetry scene commitment to imprimatur is, frankly, just stones in the passway. we can publish ourselves in all manner of expression without waiting on editorial acceptance. let's not squawk about how self-serving this is. if you're going to write, you might as well air it out. the podcast, the blog, these are furtherances, as brilliant as you choose to make them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

I am excited, pleased and furthermore that Stephen Ellis now has A BLOG. Stephen is a terrific poet for whom politics and poetics are eternally, let us say grandly, entwined. I hope, as one does with every new blogger, that he sustains the project. his writing genuinely illuminates me.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I see that Norman Mailer has died. I've never read a novel by him, don't think I've read any of his non-fiction work tho I know that in high school I read a collection of his poetry (sic). so I guess I'm in a perfect position to comment on his writing. and my comment boils down to: why did/do people read his work? talk about thingness, the thingly aspect of Mailer's work is what? being a celeb, he has this high impact presence, and that seems to be the igniting agent to people's imagination. I, personally, don't hear talk about the particular shimmer of his work, the vague lines of artistic extent that map into the plush dimensions, or whatever art does. what I hear is the Time Magazine jazziness of notoriety, in other words the prefab meaning that flies with this particular bird. just to repeat, I have read close to none of Mailer's work. what I am reading here, then, is the public imagination, or lack thereof. how reputations are onslaughts, and that sort of thing. in the sense that Allen Ginsberg can be replaced by or Madonna (or whoever you want to list), it's that stuff about the person before anything else. I think matters of criticism plunge often into Behlresques of thoughtfulness, punchy provocations instead of internal challenges. so a Norman Mailer becomes a battlefield, he and his work. like we will always need a dickweed to fuss over. maybe I've missed something in not reading his work. I never made a proud stand against his work, only selected other avenues to explore, as one must practically make such choices.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Geof Huth, not Jeff Booth, gives a clear appraisal of the Shively/Beckett reading truth (rhymes with Huth), I cannot absorb the words in a reading, as Geof so obviously does, so I involve myself with the mechanics and surroundings. I sense the poet's work but not in a readerly way. Geof, I saw, took copious notes (I took random intersections), and he must have a better auditory memory than do I. perhaps the note-taking, or his particular responsiveness, caused Shively seemingly to direct his reading towards Geof. not that Shively didn't scan everyone, make eye contact. but his professor instincts perhaps were drawn to the one most obviously connecting. anyway, I did apologize, twice, for my numbness in introduction to Geof. I guess I don't even think of the power of the blog (any blog, I mean) because I am always surprised that people recognize my name. selah. I look forward to Jack Kimball's promised account.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pats won, Sox still are champs, and a nifty reading at Demolicious today, featuring Charley Shively and Tom Beckett. nice weather too. I'll speak of the reading. Beth in NYC with her mother so I trained in. killing time I walked from Porter Square to Central, then rambled some more. finally, in front of the gallery, I saw a familiar, from photos, figure, and the clincher that he's tall: Tom Beckett. I introduced myself. I've 'known' Tom for more than 20 years, I imagine. his journal, The Difficulties, however I came to it, was integral to my development as a poem making type writer. I think Tom's contribution to poetry as an editor is worthy of whatever Hall of Fame that exists for poetry (none, I realize, but pretend one does), just as Babe Ruth's pitching stats could put him in Cooperstown, forget about the 714. Tom's poetry, as I discovered in the spare publications of his own works that I got, is a strong, definite statement. we have the further category of blogger, tho he's seen fit to shutter his latest blog. Tom was accompanied by his daughter and son in law, who live in Brookline, home town of Theo Epstein. as he and I were conversing, I'm an awesome converser, he told me that a friend of his was behind me. this friend, I heard his name as Jeff Booth. from NY, near Albany, I think. it wasn't till Tom read a poem dedicated to this Jeff Booth that I gleaned that Jeff Booth was in fact Geof Huth. Geof Huth is a wonderful, I'll even say cruciual, poet and, dare I say, scholar. his work is really avant in the visual context. I hope he can be persuaded to read locally. the reading, as usual, began with the local poet, Charley Shively. I only knew him by name. he was a friend of Wieners. he was also, and I'm sure still is, a legendary gay rights activist. he's a retired history professor. none of which did I know before he read. his reading was quirky and charming. think absentminded, if not dazed, professor. by dazed I am trying to describe an ephemeral quality. a very present and unencumbered attention. I mean, he wore unmatched shoes, and he said whatever sluiced into the main channel first. I can imagine he was a popular professor but drove a cetrtain few students crazy. such students would not just wonder what his last remark had to do with the Peloponnesian War but what the Peloponnisian War had to do with anything today. his observations and tangents were integral to his reading. given his general driftiness, which I do not present as a negative quality, his muscular sense of syllable was maybe a surprise. his poems appeareed to be short-lined affairs, and he read them with a careful syllable by syllablpe rhythm. he didn't exert much vocal dynamics, but the words came thru with a strong metric. he read for quite a while, timelessly, you might say. no way that I can replicate his performance. his 1st poem, which was to Wieners, and in fact was edited by him, included an aside about a dream he had in which Wieners was blowing Bob Dylan. I don't know what I can add to that. happily Jack Kimball attended and his reportage will no doubt supply a richer impression of the event than I can supply. from the small sampling I am willing to suggest that Shively is a great poet. Wieners class, that is. that was a hard act to follow but Tom gave a terrific reading too. he read entirely from Unprotecxted texts. which is a wonderful book, highly recommended. he read the entire Zombies series, which is funny, quirky and inviting. the lengthy, self-revelatory piece that followed, argh what's the title, was a tour de force, and solicited deserved applause even as he was starting his next set of poems. Tom read in a dry but involved way. his last reading was 7 years ago. you'd think the powers of NYC would be enlightened enough to invite someone of Tom's credentials to read. special thanks to John and Andrew for bringing Tom to town. let's get it straight: Tom isn't just sputum from an mfa program, he isn't just the newest vanilla to write a poem, he isn't just that friend of the friend of the friend, he isn't the latest advertising approach, he isn't the glory of sneer factor. no, Tom Beckett is a writer and editor of poetry, a poet living not on the cushy pulse but in the rugged definitions of the hinterland. do you see that the colostomy of networking is a failed sizzle, New York New York? the heroes aren't the ones who tell you they are heroes, okay? Beckett and Shively are clearly under-regarded. and Geof Huth, unexpected guest, should be given David Ortiz level praise as an innovator. as per, extra innings occurred at a pleasant Irish bar down the block (food's pretty good, tho I didn't partake today). where I sat didn't allow me to enter the conversation of Tom, Geof, Charley and Jack, but I had a good conversation with John Mercuri Dooley, who helped bring the event to fruition. I didn't start writing till I was 16, which is later than a number of writers I know. John didn't start till he was in his 40s. it is curious how we come to our expressions, how the necessities declare themselves. John and Andrew deserve commendation for the variety of readers that they've chosen for their series. that inclusion extends to the friendly nature of their events. the gatherings after the readings are as important as the readings themselves. alas that I had a train to catch. I scooted while things were still bubbling. great event, even so.
watched Blades of Glory yestreen. Will Farrell now identified as a go to guy. neither of the WF star vehicles that I've seen are perfect but they have a consistent artistic demeanour, let us say. I don't think that Farrell is a one trick pony. it seems like he has a vision of his work. but my experience of his work is slight so I wouldn't want to press this opinion too far. this one is about competitive skating, which is as likely as a subject, because of its local weirdness, as NASCAR. Farrell is paired with ugh I can't recall the actor's name, as rival skaters. the other skater, Jimmy, is fey (1st time I ever used that word) and sensitive, stereotypical skater type. Farrell's Chazz is bumptiously macho, rowdy rock star. our 1st encounter with the adult Jimmy, he wears peacock feathers on his rump and is a study of ridiculous skaterly grace. the movie captures the obsequious patter of skating announcers, and the crowd as suckers for the show. near the end, famous Jim Lampley gets to tell his announcing partner (Scott Hamilton, in fact) that he just wet his pants. Chazz comes on like a pro wrestler, strutting and emblazoned sex. it's such a toot to see. naturally the 2 get into a fight during the awards ceremony, naturally they are banned for life from competition. after a quick 3 years of dark night of the soul for them, they are brought together as a pair, since it isn't specified in the rules that they can't. that's all de rigueur stuff. fire and ice. I'm not capturing the good parts of the movie with this recount. the two actors work well together. Farrell, the star, looks comfortable sharing the screen. his characters need something to bounce against, anyway. his swagger arrives from the moon or somewhere, just as in Talledega Nights. Jon Heder, who must be someone but he's new to me, looks properly whippet-like to suggest a skater but Farrell looks like sitting on the front porch with a beer. the movie sneaks past campiness, just barely I think. for all the grace and athleticism of the sport, it has a high density of schlockiness. the whole play to the crowd aspect is what undermines it as a sport. so the target is rich. the skating routines are great, combining piss ant drama and physical impossibility. the movie tails off when the plot becomes needy. I know plot and denouement are integral to such a spoofy approach but plot really becomes dead air so often, a linear express to the next set piece. it's time, friends, that we review our need for plot. the resolutions seem mostly sham or incomplete. the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have been criticized for their confusing plot. I think the confusion comes from a need to make plot sense. if Johnny Depp et al weren't bound by that necessity, the play could be more adventurous. poetry is far from cured of that narrative need, that sort of storytelling completion, but at least the issue is on the table. we're totally inured to the auto pilot in artworks, it's hard to break thru to the mechanics. in the finale of Lord of the Rings, movie version, there's a smirky grand depletion of plot points amongst the survivours. Tolkien did the work at a respectful pace. in the movie, clock running, it's a nod to all. which particularly gives the scene with Viggo at marrying point with Liv an odd scantness. the movie's so homoerotic, another word I've never used before, that this ceremonious inclusion of a female jostles the mind. where'd she come from, basically. from a need to tie loose ends. a satisfaction exists in that, but girls are so rare in the movie that we really aren't prepared for this normative streak. it almost happens in Blades. you can see the bond between the guys, similar drives and interests. when the girl comes along, the attraction is mostly that she's kinda pretty. well gee whiz, if you want to make plots work, you have to cut out a lot of interesting stuff. if you want Viggo and Liv to look right together, you'll have to cut out monsters and sword play. in Blades, if you really need to tie Jimmy to the sweetheart, you'd have to sacrifice the good stuff on the ice. ah well. it was a fun movie, anyway. I'll take Farrell over Jack Black, who seems like a 2nd rate Lou Costello or even Curly Howard.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

U Cal Press sent this link: Mark Twain. I like Twain, judiciously (H Finn). more wowzer is just the idea of a chugging press offering what do they call it content fer free. I haven't run the metrics to say that the thing works (sells hard copy books) but I'm thinking as how it does. anyway, when he aint all a-gloom, morbid, self-pitying, and that, Mark Twain is the berries.
poetry, haw! I don't write it. I write sentences, and I sometimes jiggle them. and that satisfies my writin' urge. I've done my study of poetry, learned to like some of it. for the 1st time in my life, I'm writing rarely. this isn't a bad thing, just different. my writing rhythm has been jostled, no biggie. and the dog that is not here describes a space that I haven't figured how to fill. ANYWAY, I'll be tuning in Tom Beckett and Charley Shively at Demolicious on sunday. I only know of Shively, local writer, so this will swell my local awareness (a likable tactic for the series: one local, one foreigner in each reading). Tom Beckett is one of the undersung heroes of the poetry landscape. most definitely wrangling with his journal The Difficulties greatly changed my writing arc, as did having Grenier as a teacher for a year. elsewise I'd be lyricking some false motive or another, romantic view of the poet as confessional claptrap and heroic bum out. I like Tom's spareness, antipodal to my wordy way. and just to finish this ramble, a house didst I see hereabouts, decorated for Halloween, with ghosts and Jack o' lanterns all a-glow. plus a sign: We Support Our Troops. so the ectoplasmic crowd support the reaper man, quel surprise!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

not sure why but Erin brought home a tape of Phantom of the Opera, and he watched it last night. I didn't intend to watch but got sucked in. I think Erin wanted the musical, at any rate, he didn't mean to watch the silent version. which, in a better world, would be b&w, not colourized. yet it was intriguing, me talking. it starred Lon Chaney, pere. I have a feeling that Lon Chaney jr was only a junior in the sense of playing on name rep, that his 1st name was probably Carlton or Clell or whatever. I also get the feeling that Jr wasn't a fully willing Hollywood entity, that dad's occupation kinda became his in that relentless family business way. thus Junior as Larry Talbot/Wolfman, tragic. anyhoo, I'd seen the Herbert Lom version of P of the O years ago (Lon, Lom, hmmm...), which was pretty good in a crisp 60s way. I heard somewhere, can't give reference, that Lon Chaney was pretty intense about his makeup, that he, for intense, used fish hooks to make his face look as it did in Phantom. owie! I believe, as well, that he did something drastic to twist his body for Quasimodo. I do not know why I retain such info (if it is info): I'm not that cinematically tuned. the Phantom is downright crazy in this film, rather than a bit toasted as he seems in the Lom vehicle. the movie was not all that cinematic, yet this staginess gave an otherworldliness to the proceedings. and there were some lovely, theatrical tableaux involved. the acting was of a grand dimension, full of extended gestures and statuary poses, you know, back of the hand to the forehead while the other arm extends in fainting weakness. both Christine and her noble salty dog managed that one several times each. Phantom was more like a mage or televangelist in his sweeping gestures. I wasn't paying full attention when the Phantom swam in the sewer, sneaking into the opera house, I think. steps out of the water wearing his cape, puts his hat on. kinda weird. you see the actors as loci for strange forces. they hadn't gotten the intimacy possible with movie cameras back then. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. I wasn't following the plot at all, just looking up now and then to witness some inscrutable strangeness. at one point Christine's lover and a friend tried to raid the Phantom's lair. he catches on to their sneak attack and implements a sudden heating of the chamber where they are. no explanation how this heating works, or why he'd be so prepared. suddenly the room is deathly hot and our hopeful heroes are in extremis. they get the idea eventually to remove their waistcoats and ties--mon dieu!!!-- but even that wouldn't save them. suddenly, tho, they discover a trap door, and they escape into a tunnel or sewer. but further suddenly, the Phantom unleashes a flood and it looks like they're a goner. luckily, or tragically, Christine agrees to do whatever the Phantom says if he will save they. he proceeds to throw the carpet aside and open the trapdoor in that room, and there the sad victims are, this close to death's grim maw. well okay, that's about all I saw. I reiterate that the Phantom was quite the loony. to the degree, I mean, that he proves unsettling. I don't know what any of this has to do with Martin Heidegger. er, I really am reading Heidegger, on poetry. I am certain that the thingliness of Chaney

Saturday, October 27, 2007

we might've headed east this evening, to Somerville, where the book party for the Wieners book Prophecies was held. I like the excitement of this, and Wieners being honoured. there's a part of me, however, that hesitates at the Wieners adulation. only in the sense that he is not 'our' only poet. the identification here with Wieners seems a little desperate, I sometimes think. I mean the need to have a Wieners as a Boston poet. it's part of what makes Boston so small. but I digress. we went west instead, to a party that would likely be Erin's and our last among the homeschool/Shakespeare crowd. it was rainy today, grey, but as we headed to the party, the sun started to find a way thru the clouds. this gave a captivating golden tinge to the sky, and electrified the autumnal colour of the trees. the wind was swift, driving clouds east. then we saw a rainbow. a very strongly coloured one, the spectral segments were clearly defined. and the arc was a full 180 degrees. on top of that, there was a 2nd one, paler but still vibrant. this was enough to get us to pull over. Erin, luckily, had his phone i. e. camera, and I hope the pictures he took come out okay. a compelling necessity exists in writers to describe. this can manifest as the crummy novelistic descriptions that occur in stories and poems, where adjectives are plastered on the thing in vividly pointless excess. I aint talking that kind of description. I mean the internal interplay of feeling and thing. a nod, serious nod to the thingness of the thing, if I may gingerly bring Heidegger to the fire [I meant to type to the fore but I like my accidental image]. description in an active and processual sense. be not afraid to picture the thing and bring it to mind with a colloquy of wondering words. the excitement of any poetry is the excitement of thingness. the dynamic visual experience and excitement of the rainbow is not fulfilled in the adjectival delineation that I wrote above. I hint at the experience. a poem is the experience. not of the rainbow or whatever thing, but of the language of thingness, or the thingness of language. today's rainbows would make a lot of people look, remark. they are a stirring phenomenon, hard to believe. any phenomenon is thus, but our blighted eyes refuse to stir, most times. this fabulous sight awakens a primordial need to wonder, feel awe. and there is a language that wants to accommodate that wonder...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Richard Lopez comments below on Signs. he's more knowledgeable about movies, more thougtfully prepared to discuss them. still, I have a keyboard and fingers, and an urge to process publicly. I don't really disagree with his view of the movie, except that I liked the thing a lot. saying that uncovers the limitations of my movie aesthetic. I almost never accept a movie's serious face value. I dislike the practiced resolutions of fiction in general and specific. I'm really taken by the interplay of the 4 main characters in Signs. the boy is mopey, the girl eccentric, the brother goofy, and all 3 are charming. the father, the minister who has lost his faith--Mel Gibson, that is (and it won't be easy to ignore Mel the anti-semitic drunk, just as I'll never watch Seinfeld again without thinking of Kramer drowning in flop sweat)--maintains a dry humour, especially with his kids. Shyamalian plays them together superbly. I'll go to the mat on that point. at several places the plot seems rushed, which it probably is. Shyamalian spent quite a bit of time letting the family develope before our eyes, thus he had to shorthand the story. I'll accept that. I find the implicative rush of plot the downfall of movies and novels. the pale, frail imitation of life that plot entails so often distracts from the characters and the words they speak. and the gravy train lessons that one must take from the plot's purposeful striding is often malarkey. when you watch a movie again, or reread a novel, you no longer have the surprise of plot to pull you. the way the characters present themselves, and how the narration stands on the structure: these are what attracts the imagination. so I'm fine with the holes in plot and the nervy necessity of a fine resolution in Signs. my interest is elsewhere.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


mosaic, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.


sidewalk, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

poet in mud

poet in mud, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

saw the movie Signs last night. saw it before but I think on commercial tv, not that much if anything would have been cut. we bought the thing because we knew we liked it. the store offered Saw II for 5 bucks with a regular-priced purchase but I politely said no thanks. the movie begins with plenty of tension, tho it isn't readily explicable. 1st, there's something slightly exalted about the colour of the movie, a trifle surreal. 2nd, a note of desperation rings out without clear explanation. Mel Gibson wakes suddenly and rushes from bed. Joachim Phoenix does likewise and they rush out to find the children, who are yelling, and the dogs are barking. they find Gibson's children in the cornfield and the reason for the ruckus: a crop circle. okay, so it's about an alien invasion, part Independence Day, part War of the Worlds and part Childhood's End. M Night Shyamalian wrote and directed. there's a terrific rapport amongst the 4 leads. the children (one's a Culkin, the other was in Little Miss Sunshine) were sparkling, the boy glum and dour, the girl cutely eccentric. Gibson bears the dramatic weight. he plays a former minister who gave up the cloth when his wife was killed in a car accident. that's a bit heavy-handed but it works in context. and tho Gibson has to pull out the stops at times, the role is still played with lightness. Phoenix is hilarious as the supportive, slightly goofy younger brother. in real life he must be more than 20 years younger than Gibson. ominous signs become a real invasion, which we hear about only thru news reports that the family hears. at one point, the man who hit Gibson's wife (fell asleep at the wheel) meets with Gibson to apologize. Shaymalian himself plays the role. Gibson gets to emote big time and Shyamalian rather clumsily slips a key plot point in. his character says that he's going to the lake because it appears the aliens don't like water. he took this assumption from the fact that the crop circles weren't near water. a leap. his last line to Gibson is, don't open the door to my cupboard, I caught one of the aliens and put it in there. then he drove off. nice surprise line. Gibson tries to get a peek at the creature by using a large knife to reflect under the door. the alien grabs at him so Gibson wields the knife and slices off fingers. then the big scene in which the 4 hole up in the farmhouse, windows boarded, and await the aliens. so there's a nod to of the Living Dead. the aliens don't quite get into the basement where the family made their final stand. the boy, however, has an asthmatic attack, and his meds are upstairs. in the morning the news, rather too precipitously for my taste, reveals that the aliens left because water was found to be anathema to them. that's a little like War of the Worlds, but it also smacked of a director who looked at his watch. anyway, they go upstairs looking for the meds and, yow, an alien gets hold of the boy. we've already learned that they have poisonous breath. and we see that the alien is missing some digits: a vindictive alien!!! the boy gets a whiff of the poison, the alien drops him when the girl screams. Phoenix wields the baseball bat that he used to hit a ball 507' in the minors to battle the alien while Gibson tries to resuscitate his son. water gets on the alien and we can think of the wicked witch of the west. and guess what, asthma closed the boy's lungs to the poison. and Gibson returns to the cloth. the humour and the tension of the movie pair nicely. I think it is the onloy Shyamalian movie that I've seen but I'd watch more willingly.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

below are a couple of shots I took at Fairyland Pond in Concord. it's a short distance from Walden, on the other side of rt 2. autumn is right about at its acme of colour and thrill. yestreen was possibly frosty and we'll be rolling now to the spareness of late fall here.

, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.

noticed haply and happily that Alli Warren has a new e-chapbook from Duration Press called No Can Do. tho she certainly can, and does. I notice that she eschews punctuation somewhat, which gives a fluid reading, or maybe I mean a more wobbly, less entrenched, sense of syntax. her poetry asserts positions then undermines these positions with a booming albeit underlying political impression. doing so illustrates an essential quality of poetry, of the political impact of our language. this is superficially belied by her playfulness, which allows her work to dance in corners. I should shut up and just leave this post as a recommendation for you to download the pdf. find out for yourself, that is.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I've been pokily reading the wild piece by Ted Berrigan and Harris Schiff, a transcription of the 2 of them at a Yankees/Red Sox game, 1977. it's a hilarious performance, tho gruesome to think of these guys hyped on pills, which they pop thru out the game. I like it as a historical document, with names like Reggie Jackson, Yaz, Bernie Carbo, Billy Martin. I also have a similar piece done by Bernadette Mayer and Anne Waldman, a basketball game. in each, that New Yorkish sense of now, that must be transcribed. of course there is nothing more self-conscious than such performances, just like reality tv, so they must be read in that light. the drug use brings to mind some issues. we know the physical harm of that, but that's outside my concern. disordering the senses: there is a truth to that, I mean a functional one. one may discover, however, that that disordering becomes an attempt to repeat earlier experiences. that is, I think the trick works only for a while. at least, I think one should be wary of a mechanical method, in any sense, in the creation of work. there have been several times in my life when the very last thing I would do before sleep was to write. the idea being that my defenses might be down. one can seek out distractions, whether it be drugs or alcohol, or writing in busy circs, like on a bus. et cetera. whatever one does, one needs enough self-awareness to acknowledge the workings of the methodology. if you use writing procedures, you have to observe if they become rote. Whitman so often pronounced grandly, but sometimes it was just imitation of earlier work. when people rail against NY poetry or LANGUAGE, they probably (when the critic is being fair) detect a rote quality, that the writer isn't being surprised by the work. the Berrigan/Schiff thing consists of them in babbling improv, boozy shenanigans. The Sonnets sticks out in Berrigan's work, his only extended use of cut ups (so far as I know). I know he lifts from here and transposes there elsewhere, but only in The Sonnets did he take that as the route itself. which is a wisdom. the life and liveliness of his work depends, I think, on his own sense of surprise. Jonathan Mayhew speaks of "O'Hara's negotations [sic] between gregariousness and introspection", a nifty encapsulation. it's that negotiation (sic does not mean 'wake up, stupid', no matter how full of oneself the user of the term may feel) that keeps the poetry (and the poet) interested. O'Hara caught between sharing and self-revelation. which is where the low wattage NY stuff trails off, where the imbalance between gregariousness and introspection produces a stiff, self-conscious construct of 'ideas'. so, in sum, let's get rid of crappy NY School poetry, tip our hats to those who lift the surprise, and let's move on.

Monday, October 08, 2007

lazily, I point you to the bio notes for Daniel Bouchard and Cathy Hong Park, which informatively lists their publications. it's okay to buy poetry books, even mine.
Demolicious reading yesterday, featuring Daniel Bouchard as the local poet and Cathy Hong Park from Brooklyn. DB read 1st, thanking those who chose poetry over Red Sox playoff (and Patriots juggernaut). as he typically does, he read someone else's work 1st: After Apple Picking by Frost. I saw him read WCW once and it was terrifically powerful; he clearly connected with the work. seemed less so with Frost. the highlight was perhaps the 2nd poem he read, "Rackline" from his 1st book. which is (still) in a box around here somewhere. the poem twines memories of a friend's funeral, depiction of his job collecting trash on Cape Cod, and observance of local birds. Silliman has claimed that he feels close to Bouchard's poetics, which I can only guess means the notation of dry, unembellished detail. dry is the word, as Bouchard read without much inflection or speaking to the audience. a more recent and more pointedly political poem also rang well. he read extensively. Cathy Hong Park read from a single book and... here I should mench the work that Jack Kimball does at readings. he takes notes, he asks for copies of poems read and otherwise performs a solid reportage effort. Jack being absent, I can only offer that which sticks in my brain 15 hours later. Hong said that in some mention of her, she was referred to as a South Korean dissident. I guess dissident just naturally attaches to South Korean. anyway, her book is a tour of an imaginary city. I just flashed on St John Perse and the kind of evocation he produced. Hong Park didn't use description so much as soliloquy to render this city, but still, there's a similar homage to the imagination. in style the work recalled Stacy Doris for me. a dashing, lively chatter of voices. her language, that of her characters, was a transformation of English, or pidgin, tho she never used that word. familiar phrases were shifted or punned upon, in a swelter of hilarity and speed. she read extremely well, channeling easily. it was a good reading, and the after-reading as always was fun. next month Tom Beckett and Chris Tonelli, to which I look forward.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

When the Invitation Arrives

the poets in the minefields of Pennsylvania labour day and night to produce the fairest examples of their craft. in California the entire population is in love, dreamy love, love without bounds or off track betting. in the wee country of Liechtenstein comrades walk straight to the shoe factory every morning to receive their free sneakers. in Rwanda the lions share their bread with the dead. and while this joy more than subsists, the moon looks down. the moon has pretensions to understanding, just like us, for the moon rolls thru the heavens tied to earth’s mesmerizing gaze. most people don’t care about that. in every inch of the land once known as Russia people open boxes with hope in their hearts. in Japan, the brilliant bullet trains add zest to understanding, such suddenness, such noise. and on it goes. a puddle called Walden Pond extrudes facts daily, and when people drown there, they drown deeply. no mention yet has been made of the delightful fund of lyres that the Grecian model government stockpiles for times of need, an agreeable figurative uncommon hug for one and all. France has learned to emulate the finest mountains of Peru, and even Parisians (formerly, a pox on them) are newly cheerful and inclined to greet Incas without ponderous escapade. Honduras cannot hide its cheeky aurora, Canada has half a mind to shout with glee, Tonga and Madagascar have learned frantic hand-holding tricks, Poland grips the ball with new surety, everything Chinese adds the lift of oneness, trees sprout in the rocks of Thailand, chirping Floridians remove their masks, and everyone, everywhere, dances this glow. all this, friends, can be shipped right to your doormat.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Jean Vengua muses on Paul Metcalf, the reminder of whom (and his writing) is lovely to this child. I don't remember how I came upon Metcalf's work, probably via those Olsonian journals that were a-plenty in the 70s and 80s. he drew particularly from Melville's practical side (as Olson drew from Melville's impractical). the harvested facts and opinions that formed the basis of much of his work developed a lyrical content as he chockablocked them. in some ways, he was like a sensible Pound. and there was a novelist aspect to his work, indeed. this sense of viewpoint and aspect conditioned what he wrote, tho in form he tore from the novel pattern (his early work, the largely standard novel Will West, is awkward in the way it holds itself back). I shall have to dig out my Metcalf trove. thinking on Metcalf distills thoughts about reputations. it seems, tho I'm not the best judge, that he has faded already. death don't have no mercy, as I hear. th flush of newness seems commanding nowadays. I think much can be learned from Metcalf. if nothing else, he always excites me to read, to look for the poetic in other venues than poetry books.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More on FISHER Cats

fisher cats, or more properly, fishers, belong to the marten family. they have pointy teeth and sharp claws. fishers generally weigh about 25 pounds, on earth. one fisher can tear down a house in 15 minutes. they have a rapacious appetite and a roisterous sense of humour. they just love to eat Republicans and frolic in diatomaceous earth. when domesticated, they prove to be able accountants because they are very good with figures and they don't care who they hurt. if you run over a fisher, its pack will find you and tear you to shreds. they will then drag your remains to their secret hideout and poop on them. they have infiltrated New England and their armies are spreading across the country.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

listening to Olson at Goddard College (from Penn Sound, dummy pants), heck why do people read poems, just? promise: next reading I give, and I will read again (exclaim Days Poem publicly, why don't I?), I shall moremore than poetry. that process, as it occurs, is important. the made thing already happened, so the moment of the reading had ought to include the moment of the reading. which could, indeed, include a poem that I might have forethoughtedly brought. think of that Vancouver reading, thronged with excitement. and one infers that the entertainment of poetry wasn't the only thrill, but the educating force of thinking minds also riled the audience. are readings like that nowadays? I don't mean to imply that my jibber jab would be such, I mean only it would be a shift of emphasis from a showoffy push of the poem here that visited me. if I wrapped myself around the moment, where the audience and the poems I thought to bring and whatever leaves of grass in my grey matter all could gather a momentum of expression, wouldn't that hold a candle? do you see what I am painting, and where? unguard yourself, that's the message, me and you alike.
nice succinctitude from Rodney Koeneke. and it is not a matter of originality, a bogus concept really, but the poet's connection to the active making of the work. drive your own bus, that is, because it is the process not the production that means anything.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

in lieu of reading hip dreadnaught BAP bashing again, you tickle the eyeball and the brain behind it with the further poetic ruminations of Jeff Harrison and Yours Truly at Antic View, the full service poetry blog.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

saw Wild Hogs, an uneven comedy that should have starred Steve Nothing and Shirley Null but instead boasted a million dollar cast. it had its moments but I am astonished by how bad Travolta was. and that's coming from someone who sees no reason why he's employed in showbiz. considered yourself warned.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jean Vengua recounts a mime attack--it can all be explained by the words, Berkeley, California--giving me the opportunity to speak of my Easter Bunny moment. to wit: running thru lovely Concord centre of an Easter morn I bespied The Easter Bunny. seeing me she, the voice was female, called out "Mike, get the runner". EB was across the street--okay, maybe it was someone in a costume--but this "Mike" was on my side of the street. Mike dutifully ran up alongside me and stuck out his hand. I understood the gesture and stuck out mine. Mike handed me jelly beans. I said thanks, running on, and Mike went back to receive more orders from The Easter BUNNY (sound dramatic music). it is a funny ole world.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Last Word

The green field
is a given
tho it takes away

light spills
across his path

he loves to
blink and stop
run and recede

the day darkens
in his exceptional run

we live in the names
and the positions of love

a heaven exists
of running on

we still hold something
in the fog
of our morning

2) Less the bolts of lightning
and less the fields
of lazy grass and
less the dog's
own mooring. Loss ejects the
pleasant sound of lost river,
tributary. Scour the landscape,
which the dog
now roams
full and light. Trees poke high
and dive deep. All union fixes
the sky. Our drama recedes
in the quickness of the dog's
run. Focus is our plan.

3) Only so much
room, only so much
love, the candidate
of love and moving on
comes to know
the green field
of perfect light feet.

The way is clear.

Love mentions us
in passing.

4) These days
are filled with night
and poems need
stars to bring
the words to
warm embrace.

The race is to
the end of this day
and the mortal start
of another.

Love connects the two.

5) It was a beautiful sunset.
The moment of touch
prosecuted an homage,
a peace, tender
information of
long green field.
Is it my job
to remember you? It is
my job to hold the space
we held together.
It remains your job
as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

my dog passed away today... passed away, I eupheme, except a generous clarity enters the term. he slipped into death, sweetly, tho Beth and I cried. and I told him he'd be running, running ahead. he was part husky, part German shepherd, that sort of thing. I nicknamed him Next County Brownie because (typical of huskies, I am told (by Beth, who had purebreds)) given the opportunity to roam free, he'd take it. if he managed to get away, he was prepared to cover the map. it's the husky nature to find the way home, but that's after sufficient time to explore. under previous ownership he got away, and was found in a restaurant dumpster, living the good life. 4 days before 9/11, I trotted off to the nearby farmstand for dinner fixins. there by the side of the road was Brownie. I was surprised to see him there, 1st. 2nd, that he didn't trot gleefully away when I saw him said something bad. I went over to him and saw a gash in his shoulder. which looked like what another dog might've done (Brownie himself was anything but aggressive). and then I noticed that his foot, which he held off the ground, wobbled. I pieced together that he'd been hit by a car. so he had a broken leg, which was really traumatic for us, worry and expense. in fixing the break, the vets only worry about the main weight bearing bones, so tho he healed, his leg splayed and he wasn't quite as devastatingly fast as before. he wore a cast for a while. I'd be up early in the basement, writing and would hear the dog pace. thump thump thump, it sounded nothing but like Ahab on the deck. and the 1st chance that he saw an unattended open door, out he dashed, luckily Beth was in position to catch the boy. memories now attended as the life that was lived. our home now feels empty. the cat, a nervous fellow, is disturbed. he really, I mean truly, idolized Brownie. and Brownie, who was cool as a yankee, never really seemed to reciprocate. he bullied the cat tho it often seemed in a protective way. when people visited us, the dog would shove the cat, who did not readily cotton to visitors, away. all these specifics define nothing, of course. I so strongly see Brownie in the green light of some endless field, running without time as a burden. loss is a saturation. death demands that we look. tomorrow I will not walk the dog. it has been a retelling of my father's death.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


snake, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.


perspective, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.


web, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.


chairs, originally uploaded by allen_bramhall.