Saturday, March 10, 2007

we saw Talladega Nights last night. saw the trailer before some movie, and thought it was funny, but didn't know if that were the extent of the movie. it was really pretty good. I don't think I've seen a Will Farrell movie. I've seen, and liked, him on SNL, and I think he's had small parts here and there. unlike other SNL alum, his presence is less categorized. he seems neither branded or constrained. one doesn't expect him to carry a movie but in fact, if this movie bears the truth, he can. his pairing with John Reilly was excellent. I take Reilly as an actor rather than a comedian. he provides a subtle strength. okay, that's a mushy thing to say. I guess I mean he takes on his role intelligently, thoughtfully, yet without losing freshness. the best scene was around the dinner table. everyone except the grandfather is saying outrageous things. it's such a bent reality. I lost interest a bit as the normative plot unveiled itself. perhaps it's necessary as something to hang the antics on, but it can't be relied on for tension, tho we are expected to fall for the plot turns. Sasha Baron-Cohen was scary as the French racer. SBC really inhabits roles. he carries a disturbing intensity. you saw it in Borat, but of course that whole movie meant to disturb and outrage. his character in Talladega was more on the order of Snidely Whiplash, yet SBC's intensity wants to burst thru such a limitation. anyway, what I thought would be a Will Ferrell vehicle proved to be a much fuller cinematic experience.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

just got My Angie Dickinson by Michael Magee (Zasterle 2006). pretty excited to get it. I'm not unfamiliar with it, as its material used to be available from the My Angie Dickinson blog. that right there is a nifty feature of the work: its initial appearance on the web. that highlights the nature of its provenance. Magee (as he explains in his intro) googled phrases from Emily Dickinson along with the name Angie Dickinson to produce the texts. that's a classic collision of pop and high culture. and perhaps classic flarf strategy. aw gee, I dunno from strategy, really, I want to see poems work in the space they've created. I don't want to hang up on method, tho I'm interested in means of production. the truly actualistical flarf books that I've read have been strong, stronger, really, than the flabby critical activity surrounding the work. I hate critical shorthand, the branding sort. again, that's why Silliman's boolean School o' Q versus Righteous bugs me. becasue he recognizes the School o' better than Q, and the Not Quite Righteous. I would as soon avoid the term flarf, it just tempts people, lazy ilk, to fill in blanks with assumptions. or the interesting irritation is covered with critical nacre... yuh well, up with metaphor. the point of any manifesto is as starting point. you make manifest some crucial point, then move on. that's why I like Virginia Woolf's novels: she chose a working method with each one and ran with the experiment. looking at the books that carry the flraf label, one sees a rangy spectrum of work, and that had ought to be how it goes. anywho, I think it's canny sending Emily thru the Angie prism (it's not strictly that, but that captures the colour). things I like here: it's nice to see Emily's dashes deployed by someone else; the design (credit Christian Palino), including the cover, is really effective; once again Magee provides useful, uncryptical talking points about the work. I find tenderness here and thoughtfulness, balanced against the goofy weirdness. I'm psyched to have this book.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I found on the ground a printout of someone's potential order from Toys "R: Us, to wit: Ruthless 3-Pack Series 4: Melian/Nitro/Mercury (our price: $19.99). Free Wrestlemania Action Figure $7.99 value when you buy $30 or more of eligible products. just to complete the temptation, as if that weren't enough, pictures of the 3 action figures. the pictures aren't much for details, but I can glean that Melian wears a red 2-piece suit reminiscent of Wonder Woman, except that she seems to be wearing preposterously large furry white boots (mukluks?); Nitro and Mercury wear matching pants, no shirt, all important wrist bands. you can imagine the fightin' fury of these 3. are they forces of good or evil? I don't know. how readily do they bring foreign objects into the ring? I can't guess, tho Melian's boots represent great hiding place (refs would never look there). do they hate Vince McMahon? of course they do. whew!!! I used to watch the cheesy old wrestling that McMahon's father used to produce. which used to seem sporty in its way. I haven't watched in a few years because the prescribed 'roid rage intensity enacts a dull blow to the senses. in the old days there was a sort of tasteful racism, homophobia and general xenophobia on display, as everpresent keynote to the proceedings. now, from what I glean (can I glean twice in the same post?) from the occasional ads that I see, it is just straightforward bludgeoning. the phobias aren't constrained to the murky depths but indiscriminately wielded as simple anger gone cunningly wild. more overt, that is, but less political. which is weird, I admit. outrage in the arts, I'm swerving to say, wants to be innocent, actually. the internets are wild with calculated spew, which really seem like part of some canny anger management program: say your outrageousness here in the safety of listserv, blog or chatroom, and be normal where it counts. when I've done googly poems, I've wanted to be tender towards the compliant voices that I find. I can't always do that, but I recognize that the satiric element of writing like flarf has limited possibilities. you think of the kid who might be salivating to get these action figures. something is uncomplicatedly genuine in the desire to attach to these characters and the whole wrestling world. I have no idea what one does with these action figures. pose them around your room I guess, or maybe enact (I've used that word twice now, too) desperate wrestling dramas. that would never have interested me long. McMahon's such a jugular-seeking capitalist that there's no sense of play whatsoever in his sports entertainment realm. the troubling blur that exists between real and fake in wrestling is used to thwack the paying customer. the public wants both, desperately. antic flarf doesn't dance far, it needs a soul. what's interesting is language filtered thru an innocent perspective, and the collective reach of empathy. the phobias of the olden days in wrestling were more defensible than the arch calculation of the present day. the scale now is barely human, graded steeply towards the greedy turbine. artistic outrage is an alarm clock set for not long.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Tom Beckett does what all bloggers ought to do: list why he links to the blogs that he does (here). his encapsulations are spot on. Tom's thoughtfulness, acuity and humour are all appreciated, especially amidst the usual rumours of backbiting and such in the precious poetry world. of course I invite you to run your eye down to my name, where he says that I'm a volcano about to explode. that's a sharp observation. I was wickedly slow to "get it" as a poet, and wickedly slow to present it to the world. yet I think I'm worth hearing, worth reading, on the plain of pure merit (if such exists). I think of my poem Days Poem, due out soon from Meritage Press, as being capable of knocking people down. and I don't mean because it tallies 2 volumes and nearly 1000 pages, but that it arises from 30+ years of maneuvering between earnest study, humble effort and fierce dedication. this I see in Tom's work, as poet, as editor, as interviewer, as blogger of positive influence. he doesn't get enough credit. with Unprotected Texts he adds further proof of his accomplishments. I believe Days Poems does likewise for me. it's about time, for both of us...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

just back from seeing Sean Cole and Susan Landers read. we got there on time but Susan, who took the train up from NYC, was late, so a search party dashed off to South Station to fetch her. meanwhile, back at the ranch, the reading started with open mike. mostly the same people who read every time. it's a pleasant homespun sort of feature to the Demolicious readings. I thought to bring a poem but finally didn't. after the 4 open mike readers, Sean read (at Demolicious, the local poet reads 1st). Sean's a very good and I'd say under-appreciated poet. he's at ease in front of a crowd but there's a nervous energy nonetheless. I think it takes him a bit to hear his voice and feel the rhythm of his work. his work comprises a general narrative. it is peopled, let us say. it seems to be "about" him and someone else, her, even. his poems are conversational and dialectical. they are also funny. odd but effective juxtapositions just wring laughs and earnest inquiry out of reader/listener. as he warmed up he became more physically tuned in, which translates into kinetic harmonies (id est, he moves his head and hands in harmony to the poem). I'm not picking on a tic but observing where he really syncs in to his work. one of the later poems that he read was a tour-de-force in which the humour and energy combined. Ive heard humour defined as a logical disaster, and that's how I regard his work. Susan arrived during Sean's reading so he didn't have to stretch. Susan read in a carefully enunciated way. conversationally, I noticed, she speaks quickly, so care is evident in her reading. the main work she read from is a translation (of sorts) of Dante's bestseller. by translation she means several things. she does literal translation (tho she professed not to know Italian), as well as the sort of translation the Zukofskys applied to Catullus. a further translation occurred by shifting the English into new terms. the massiveness of Dante's work is, of course, awesome, and her work had something of a feat about it. she brought some politically sharpened news into the work, and that was wickedly effective. she didn't want to simply people Hell with those she doesn't like, as Dante did. where she seemed closest to channeling Dante seemed the best. I felt that when I saw her read before, where she cleaved closest to Stein, she was strongest. I think, and I must emphasize the surmise factor here, that the agony of influence is still being worked out. it is a sign of maturity to turn from the influences. the next step, the most difficult, is integration. she spoke (afterwards) of discovering Dante as she wrote this work. I believe she said this was her 1st reading of Dante. I don't know if she planned to treat the entire Commedia, but she stopped whilst still in purgatory (she has a publisher for the work, tho I don't know who). she found herself too self-conscious in her treatment, or that's how I translate her explanation. I think she's on the edge of something, is what I'm rattling on about. and I must reiterate the surmiseyness of what I've just written. some of us (and it could have been any of us) convened for apres reading feed. and this is a nice part of the reading experience. conversation allowed Susan to expatiate on her work, and later, Sean read some of his poems again. Sean's one of Boston's poets who didn't toddle off to New York's hotbed of fame and connection. surely more of the non ex-pats hereabouts could've crammed the Out of the Blue Gallery t hear him read. another point would be to note Jack Kimball's contribution to the Boston scene. Jack attends a lot of readings locally. and he writes about them. he cadged copies of Sean's poems, the better to write about the reading, and I believe he worked out something similar with Susan. so his reportage includes academic study. this is utmostly valuable, a real angle on the work. so there's my report.
I twiddled a series of poems into a chapbook at yesterday. mostly just to see how the process goes. I ordered a copy to look at, and if it feels okay, I'll offer to readership. I own a number of books produced by Lulu, so I'm not concerned about print quality, I'm tuned more to the work itself. self-publish brings up several issues, some of which are bugaboos. the 1st is the matter of editorial judgment. we all know that our critical eye mayn't always see clearly when regarding our own work. Lulu (I haven't explored the other self-publish players) is free, insofar as you can set up all the books you want. tempting to stick everything into print. anyone wishing to see the printed product, however, including you, must place the nickel down. it's a bit spendy ordering a single book, so to scale the thing more comfortably, you may want to buy in quantity. Lulu and its pards are valid resources, tho. so I want to see if what I thunk was a book is so when I get it in my hands. the 2nd issue about diy is the need for imprimatur, that it somehow lacks coolness to publish your own work. especially in publish or die land. that attitude strikes me as loathsome. it seems like an artist had ought to control the means of production. working with Lulu is not the same as printing it out yourself, poking thru the cover stocks, sewing the cover and what not, but you do enter deeper into the process of production. Beth and I framed a few of our own pictures (that we did, I mean) last year. that's akin to publishing. the further step, requiring knowledge and wherewithal, would be to do the framing ourselves. those works have been placed into the world by the act of framing them. they're on the wall. you have work you think deserves being seen, and so do I. why wait for an editor to select what you have submitted? I like typesetting, using different fonts to make a good visual impression. because I knew a leedle (not a lot) about computers and word processors some years ago at work, someone asked me to help him with a project of his. he knew negative zero about computers but had all these arty ideas of how to format his work. much of what he wanted couldn't be accomplished within the strictures of the word processor's functionality then. I think something crucial sits within that disconnection he had from how things happened. I mean, I can hum a great bass line but I never learned the rather important skill of fingering the bass. the kid in the basement labouriously going blum blum blum has it all over me. Beth says art is creative problem solving. bringing forth work for others to see or hear is yet another problem to solve. a huge problem for me has been putting my work in front of people. only in the last few years have I efforted that aspect of the writer's drama. writing is more than just getting the words down. writing includes its presentation.