Thursday, March 30, 2006

7Am no Sleepy time

I think its going to be a while until my next standard post, which is some sort of poetry related musing or general impression from a reading. I just got the new issue of Fence, and once I get twenty minutes to myself I plan to read the intro. Some day I'll read the stuff inside, just oo busy now. That, and I've been meaning to look at Marjorie Perloff's 21st Century Modernism for months now, but Roethke's On Poetry and Craft got in the way(so much so that I hint at it in the novel). The poet{ry/ics/ure} is the semi-prime focus, but I've gotten an inkle for blogging since I got out of work early(4AM) and can't fall asleep, and as it gives the run-away! run-away! from the vache-catapulting-frenchness of hurriedly and furiously writing a manuscript, so I wanted to post.

So here's what's new in novel land. There's more sex. I think I used to be emabarassed to write the sex, and only hinted at it off page. There's an old saying about dying in a book/comicbook, that a character dying between sentences/chapters/scenes/panels dies a thousand deaths. How does that apply to sex?

Anyway, still not sure if the incest(cousins) is going up on the page, but its definately getting more hinting. The non-incestuous cousin is hooking up with the Devil, and the incestuous one is becoming rather lustful of pretty much everyone. Strongly considering changing the ending, well the climax. The ending ending has to stay, since everything is a movement toward that, and thats the story. There are a few things I know, and the rest I am trying to figure out. But it's slow going, and I'm not sure I can do it under the stress. But he's to trying. Thinking about heading out to someplace with tables and coffee. Just polished 2 bowls of Grapenuts though, so maybe that will induce the sleep. Until then, scribble scribble scribble.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

One of these days I am actually going to write a letter I've been meaning to pen for some time. The intended recipient is a man named Nathan Myhrvold. He was one of the architects at Microsoft and he left to start a company called Intellectual Ventures. It's a company devoted to invention and innovation. That's all they do. They are a pack of Felix Hoenikker's.

My letter is going to ask My Myhrvold if I can come and hang out with the inventors for like a year and write about it. Now you might be asking why I would want to do this.

I formed the idea for this letter during my reading of The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, by Rainier Maria Rilke. It's a fabulous novel. Read it and everything else Rilke has written. You will be a better human for it. Anyway, the novel itself was not the inspiration for my unwritten letter, the creation of the novel is. You see, Rilke was contracted in 1910 to write the biography of Rodin, the artist and uber-famous sculptor, and it was during this time that Rilke created Brigge. Naturally you would assume this to be a sensible; two artists spending some amicable and not so amicable time together and both benefiting from the experience.

So why do I, as a writer seeking to follow in the footsteps of an idol, want to hang out with scientists. Actually I think most of you who've found your way here know why. You're pretty bright after all. Scientists in a lot of ways are artists. We follow much the same method in our deliberations on the work we do. We sit, ponder, examine, reassess, rework, yell at, and finally eek our way up the long hill to what we hope is a successful product, something which appeals to and benefits people.

And like artists, and numerous other free-thinking peoples, scientists have taken their share of sh!t from the administration currently running the US government. Everyone from environmental scientists to medical researchers have seen cuts or freezes on funding, with one obvious exception, WAR-scientists, whose budget is now 3/4 of total scientific research spending(according to the May 13th issue of the New Yorker:good for news, bad for poetry). But I want to take a moment to fault scientists.


Because they need to start saying no. The New Yorker article speaks to the controversal stem-cell area of research, and how scientists have to essence severely limit their focus to work on stem-cells, or they can go after everything but stem-cells, but never the twain will meet if Bushy and friends have their way. Now I understand and empathize with the frustration of that kind of situation. But that is exactly why the scientific community needs to grow a pair and say no. Say no to the restrictions. Say no the lesser arguments of weak minds.

And if they try to stop you, fight back. Otherwise, how far is this going to go? How far are we going to let it go? By all accounts, especially on the environmental end, we are running out of time. Can we really wait to see if they are going to keep pushing us all down?

I say, it's Fight Club, idea style.

Hire PR people. Hire someone to yell from the roof when they try to lock you out of the labs. The only reason they are able to get anything done is they have good PR people and they say things simply. You, and the rest of us, the writers and artists, the teachers and the editors, the parts of the country that aren't easy-mannered, need to say things better.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Newsletter Sublime

Newsletters, for lack of better words, usually suck. We have them where I work. It tells me about various plants, awards for safety, and the equivalent of the elementary school attendence award, the "Ten Years of Service Commendations".

To be honest, its actually rather depressing to read. It's scope is provincial, and with the exception of health tips for losing weight, which as a feature of nearly every damn thing coming into print these days due to the quaintly expanded waistlines of America is quickly losing its consciousness value, it offers no real stimulation. This is a loss. This undercuts our culture and the future of out society. Every time ink hits paper it consumes funds and causes environmental concern (for more on that read Michael Boyko's article on Ec0-Publishing from a past issue of Tarpaulin Sky), so if there is no attempt to illustrate and enrich meaningful topics or issues, or to tie the short articles newsletter are made from into larger concerns, then the whole thing becomes a frivolous, wasteful exercise.

Now seeing as I have held this view for some time I didn't start jumping up and down when I got a free subscription to their newsletter after becoming a member of the Poetry Project.

The thing is, it's really great.

Listen to this bit on how poetry opposes the neo-conservative, economy-driven government from the most recent newsletter's Editor's column,

"The creation of poetry, by vitually all industrial models, contributes less to an economy than
any other activity... but beyond simply not contributing, poetry, regardless of its form and
content, actually weakens the economy. It relies on the willful idleness and free time of its
operatives, using resources designed to control people in ways counter to their design."

Isn't that wonderful. Damn, we're taking it the streets when we're sitting around scratching our foreheads with the pen cap. We're cool, no really, we're getting street cred (check out how cool here and here).
Brenden Lorber is the editor of the newsletter by the way.
He's the dude behind lungfull!(see column link).

For my part, being a denizen of the publication hell that is magazines, not only can I appreciate Lorber's comments, I go running and screaming to embrace them. Most magazines today are glorified catalogues. It's the few Vanity Fair's and Harper's, and occasionally the New Yorker(although if you read my last post you know I'm sorta pissed on them) which keeps the industry from tumbling completely into Fight Club's 'porn-replacing Ikea-nesting instinct' realm (although they are looking over the edge).

It's great because it's tying together in a mobius strip of product and idea everything that poetry needs to be about. It's idea feeding craft, craft feeding product, product feeding community, community feeding idea. My favorite part of the newsletter is the World News section, which features reports on the goings on of poetry from various points. It's a great way to see who is where and doing their part to reject the economy; to feel the culture and hopefully see it growing.

The newsletter is available for subscription if you're not NYC local, just check the projects website (also in links column).

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Present and the New Yorker: Not Quite

I was in a bathroom recently, and there were a couple of New Yorker's (the magazine) on the back of the toilet, so at least I knew that I was in friendly territory, and if the loud-mouth soup came out I was fairly sure I wouldn't be shot when I started spouting (something I wouldn't have been sure of if say, Shot Business, was sitting there instead).

I started leafing through it, then jumped straight up front to the contents, and looked up the poetry. Now I'm working hard, and have been, to make a go at being a professional writer. And part of that is getting published, and mostly getting paid, and so I'd tried many times before to get some work in print at the TNY, as their email comes back, but nothing doing. And a big reason I wanted to be in print there was the rumored $1,500.00 an accepted piece would bring.

A young writer would feel pretty pleased with such a tidy sum, especially when looking at the total owed in student loans which haven't even started to be paid.

Elizabeth Bishop. This was one of the two poets who the NY-er published.
Elizabeth Bishop?

Que? I mean, I used an anthology last time I taught a class which featured Elizabeth Bishop. National Book Award. Nation Book Critics Award. Neustadt Prize. She visited Pound while he was confined. She used to write for the NY-er, and friends publish friends, which is one of the great elements of literature, but come on, it is not like she doesn't have a fair bit of reknown.

Anyway, I sat there, reading why she was being re-published, to promote a new book examining her work (which is amazing) and life(which I know only details of), because she is, sadly, dead.

Now the NYer does a good job on a lot of stuff, but the poetry just holds me back. Shouldn't they be clue-ing us in, giving us directions to the edge so we can stare over, instead of leaving us wrapped in a blanket back by the fire so our toesies don't get cold. I can't fall into the majority of the poetry in there, and for a while now I have been questioning why.

Well, after I saw Bishop's name, I went to find a quote I read not so long ago from Dale Smith (who I saw read last week at The Poetry Project with Hoa Nguyen, his wife. They were great). He wrote, "
Poetry should be present, and in the present, providing recursive paths through current situations. The cult of the person doesn't interest me so much as the range of the person's work."

Right on. If you've never heard Dale read, I choose to describe, and not label him, as a fast reader of angry and acquiescent prose and verse. That's my sound-bite. I'm a fan.

Hoa is sublime, and her readings can transform you. Again, fan.

Moving on from the pleasant, they are both present. They are both present in the discourse of their work, channeling the personal present, the sensory present, the public present, the ethereal present. They have put Skanky Possum, the journal they edited, on hiatus, moving instead into individual artist's books, because that is where strength of the present can be built for poetry. There are journals out there, lots of them, and many great ones(click on the links to the left) which need to be subscribed to and need to continue being published because it is in these amazing compliations by those who are exquisitely engaged in the work of poetry, rather than the cult of poetry, that we are finding what the NY-er just doesn't bather to give us: a way to kick ass.

That's what art, great and small and difficult and challenging art, does, it kicks ass. It kicks societies ass. Artists are on the fringes, are on the forefront, delving into the earth to pull out the bits and fragments of where we are now in order to re-create our understanding of where we are now, and most people feel like they've just had their ass kicked when that happens. But you know what happens when you get your ass kicked?

You end up breathing a little deeper, and that makes you humble, which makes you wise.

The hiatus of Skanky Possum is important to the small press culture because from the small journals must spring larger works, longer, more complex examinations, and deeper investigations into the slices of cultural perspective of those authors. Jonathan Skinner's Ecopoetics has been a fabulous way to move poetry away from the 'art for art's sake' world, but his book Political Cactus Poems provides a cornerstone around which to build a school of the Ecopoetic. And just in time too, because when he publishes his Katrina poem, as he is the person most uniquely qualified to write that response, having crafted a piece capturing the weight of the event soundly, and devastatingly, it WILL solidify the birth of that school. That piece is going to humble people. Guess what else it is going to do?

Let's put down our mirrors and take up our hammers.

Friday, March 17, 2006

When it's right, sometimes you have accept gravity.

I try not make gravity a habit, but its law, you can't run from it forever.

My gravity started with trying to write a silly blog. It was the Year of the Hug, which is what 2006 has been hugged as. Go hug. I mean it. But I can't say enough about that.

I don't have the gravity for silliness. Stupid gravity, harsh mistress!

SO that's why I am going to try something else. I'm investing in the present of poetry, so I thought I would try and present some. Here goes.