Friday, December 31, 2004
WHAT THE $^)(*&_)(&_)(&)(+#@!!!!
It's a sign of the times -- my own paranoia. So, something happened and this was my first response:
Whooooooahhhhhh! A bird tells me my mail is being opened before being delivered to recipients -- specifically mail that sends out copies of Pinoy Poetics.
What the fuck. Homeland security, anyone?
I'm posting this because (i) making it public is prudent in case anything else happens; and (ii) to proclaim IN-YOUR-FACE: I am not someone to be fucked with, People. You wanna go anti-free speech on me? I will go ballistic on you.
After all, if you look at the cover of Pinoy Poetics, there is a certain visual element that one could consider risky given the politics of the times...
Then, Moi thought -- this can't be real. So I asked someone legal about it. Said someone sighed and said, "Did you send it 'Media Mail'?"
"Media Mail" is the postal category for sending out books, cds and certain other items -- cheaper than normal postal rates and typically used by starving poetry presses such as mine.
I said, "Yes, I sent it Media Mail."
Legal said, "The post office has the right to open any items marked Media Mail to make sure the products you're sending are in compliance."
Moi said, "Oh."
Then I walked away all irritated. The conspiracy theory just seemed so much more ma-dramatic.
Crap. I hate mundane crap when Moi lives for drama.
As I once wrote in a poem (and it's always nice quoting moiself), "But all this is not what I meant to say. What I meant to say is:"
Almost every day now that the post office is open, I'm in there mailing various poetry books somewhere. It's no longer just a source of pleasure but also of consolation.
Moi insists to my droopy self: At the darkest of days, Poetry is always a source of light.
HAPPY NEW YEAR.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
My latest link is Roger Pao's take on "Asian American" poetry, among other things. Best of luck in your blogging, Roger. Welcome.
I note the discussions on the need and/or appropriateness of the term "Asian American poetry". It's useful to be reminded that in most parts of the U.S., they still need to be introduced to "Asian America" and that the term is curatorially convenient for including that within schools' curriculum.
But I believe it's possible to move the approach forward from the last century's approach. Although it takes a long time for the message to spread, we're not, after all, in the same period as the younger days of David Mura, Garrett Hongo, Li Young Lee, John Yau, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Marilyn Chin and others. I suggest something that's the approach taken by Professor-Poet Leny M. Strobel as she includes Asian American texts in her classes.
My impression from visiting her classes (tho correct Moi please if I'm wrong) is that Leny introduces the Asian American "category" but then also *ends* the classes by allowing for the questioning of said category. So that during the course of a semester, students are introduced to this field, but then leave with a notion of the field's artificiality -- if not arbitrariness. That already is an improvement from courses that, historically when teaching the category, don't question the validity of said category. (Yo teacher-peeps: it is relevant, you know!)
Leny came to her approach simply because she is a good teacher, not necessarily because she specializes in Asian American history or poetry. Here is where good teaching matters.
Good teaching does not reduce and simplify, but works to present the complexities of life ... and certainly of something like poetry.
Having said all that, I don't want to be naive here. I suspect that whether one specializes in "Asian American" literature makes a difference in approach. If one is specializing in -- and thus de facto promoting the reality of -- the category of Asian American literature, it's not (cough) necessarily conducive to one's career to challenge that specialty. That's a question, not a thought -- I may be a genius but am nonetheless a farmer and don't know how academia works. So, let me leave on that, uh, open-endedness....wink.
"...audience participants were asked to pin actual money as well as poems onto the dresses of the two brides; all monies raised then were donated to BWF in order to aid its activities that include cleaning up the environment. This aspect enabled an extension of the Six Directions concept that Poetry feeds the world by, indeed, bringing very tangible benefits (money) back to the "world" as physically manifested by planet earth itself."
-- from "Poems Form/From The Six Directions"
As soon as I posted notice about the Fundraising for tsunami victims using advance copies of my Fall 2005 book(see prior post), I received an order for two books. And the person ordering it was someone who'd already donated to Oxfam. I sorta anticipated this result -- that is, I'd wondered whether the people who wouldn't or can't donate would be interested anyway in the fundraising related to my book. Because, of course, one can donate to relief efforts in other ways -- please check kari edwards' blog for said ways. But I also hoped that the fundraising related to my book might incentivize others to give again (if not anew) at the book's retail price of $24.95. Every bit helps.
Anyway, as soon as I received the first two orders, I sent the monies over to the Sri Lanka Relief Fund, as it is the organization mentioned by Marlon Esguerra whose idea of artists doing fundraising benefits spurred me and my publisher to do something via my book (although proceeds from future book orders may be funneled through other organizations).
It means a lot to me to use my poetry book in this manner. I've said before that the world feeds our poetry but we should use our poetry to feed the world as well. Here again is the Marsh Hawk Press notice on my book and, following that, information on a Jan. 15, 2005 New York benefit as well as the Sri Lankan Relief Fund:
FUNDRAISER FOR TSUNAMI VICTIMS
Marsh Hawk Press announces a Fundraiser through January 31, 2005 to benefit the victims of the recent tsunami and earthquake on the coastlines from Indonesia to Somalia. We are making available advance copies of Eileen Tabios' Fall 2005 book, I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED. All sales proceeds will be donated to the benefit of the victims of the recent disasters.
If interested, please send checks for $24.95 made out to Eileen Tabios, who also will coordinate the fundraising effort. Send checks to
256 North Fork Crystal Springs Road
St. Helena, CA 94574
For more information on Eileen Tabios' book, please go to the Marsh Hawk Press website's author page at: http://marshhawkpress.org/tabios2.htm
NYC SAVE the DATE!: January 15th
BENEFIT for progressive Sri Lankan relief efforts
EMBORA Movement and Wellness Studio
900 Fulton St., Brooklyn
Mango Tribe's Varuni Tiruchelvam and Marian Yalini Thambynayagam
or Varuni@world.oberlin.edu for more details, or to contribute to the efforts!
Of the 80,000 people who have died as a result of the tsunamis over 26,000 were from Sri Lanka. The death toll [now at 117,000] is still rising along with threat of deadly diseases associated with the aftermath. Due to the immense devastation, Sri Lanka is in great need of financial support to purchase medical supplies to aid the survivors.
We urgently appeal to you to come together as a community and raise money to help the victims of this great tradegy. We are in a poition of great power and privilege and with that privilege comes the responsibility to aid people who have been left injured and homeless.
Diaspora Flow, a Sri Lankan run 501(c) 3 nonprofit arts organization, has started a fund called The Sri Lanka Relief Fund. A benefit show will be held in the coming month in Minneapolis in conjunction with the Los Angeles Sri Lankan community to raise money for the surviving victims. We'll send more info on that in the coming week. All proceeds and donations will go to orphanages and hospital clinics that have been devastated (north, east and south) and to Direct Relief International to provide anti-biotics, painkillers, and water purification tablets, which Sri Lanka states, are the most essential items at this moment. To save as many lives as possible, immediate donations are welcome in order to provide emergency healthcare for victims.
Direct Relief is a non-profit, non-political and non-sectarian organization that provides assistance without regard to race, ethnicity, political or religious affliation their support goes to administrative and fundraising expenses.
All donations are tax-deductible and can be mailed to
the following address:
The Sri Lanka Relief Fund
12134 Jonquil St. NW
Coon Rapids MN 55433
Please make checks payable to: The Sri Lanka Relief Fund
We are in the middle of setting up an electronic payment system, but until then, please mail checks so we can send urgently needed money for medical supplies. Thank you for your support in this time of tragedy.
If you would like a receipt of donation for tax purposes please include a self-addressed stamped envelope so that one can be mailed to you. If you work for a company, please find out what their matching donation policy is.
We are in the middle of setting up a webpage with more information; in a few days please visit www.diasporaflow.org/srilanka-relief.html. If you have questions about the fund, please feel free to contact us by email at email@example.com or call us at the numbers below. Thank you for your time.
Pradeepa- (co-director of D'Flow) 612-237-7670
Chamindika- (co-director of D'Flow) 651-489-8393
Vinothini (Vino) -Board Member 763-443-1320
Amirthini (Amu) -Board Member 763-639-6833
Sri Lanka Relief Fund
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
What else can one do? Well, poet, spoken word artist and activist Marlon Esguerra suggested on a Listserve we share that artists "collaborate to host a benefit or shift proceeds from existing gigs and shows towards relief efforts." Excellent idea, and he passes on the word that Chicago's HotHouse/CIPEX is organizing an all day benefit on Sunday, January 9, from 2-10pm+, as well as donating all proceeds from an already scheduled Funkadesi show at the HotHouse on January 28th. More info via HotHouse/CIPEX, 31 E Balbo, Chicago IL 60605, via www.hothouse.net, and via Program Director Timothy Bisig at p 312.362.9707 x205.
I don't have a forthcoming reading where the above may be applicable. But what I do have are books. So, I am grateful that my publisher Marsh Hawk Press is cooperating to allow Moi to fundraise via advance copies of my 2005 book. Here are the details:
FUNDRAISER FOR TSUNAMI VICTIMS
Marsh Hawk Press announces a Fundraiser through January 31, 2005 to benefit the victims of the recent tsunami and earthquake on the coastlines from Indonesia to Somalia. We are making available advance copies of Eileen Tabios' Fall 2005 book, I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED. All sales proceeds will be donated to the benefit of the victims of the recent disasters.
If interested, please send checks for $24.95 made out to Eileen Tabios, who also will coordinate the fundraising effort. Send checks to
256 North Fork Crystal Springs Road
St. Helena, CA 94574
For more information on Eileen Tabios' book, please go to the Marsh Hawk Press website's author page at: http://marshhawkpress.org/tabios2.htm
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
There are many worthy organizations for donating to the victims of the tsunami and earthquake -- click on Bino's link here for such, including the CNN article that lists such organizations. More information also is posted on kari's blog. I do recommend Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres. The organization has the global scope and ability to deliver to the victims the immediate on the ground assistance they need by providing medicine, shelter, clean drinking water and, of course, on location medical care.
I spent most of the day at a meeting with teachers, cultural activists, poets, scholars (even a blogger) to discuss setting up a curriculum involving grades Kindergarten to 12th grade. I was there in part to explore how The Hay(na)ku Anthology, coedited by Mark Young and Jean Vengua, which Meritage Press plans to publish in 2005, might be used as a poetry or creative writing or Filipino American studies textbook in the pre-college grades.
I think the hay(na)ku form (three lines of first line-one word, second-line-two words, third line-three words) is perfect for young adults, or as I wrote in "The Official History of the Hay(na)ku":
Maya Mason Fink, the 11-year-old daughter of poet Thomas Fink, also concocted a variation whereby the first line has one word of one letter, the second line two words of two letters each, the third line three words of three letters each, and so on-as far as the poet wishes to take it. Maya and Tom offers an example of "The Mayan Hay(na)ku" as follows:
old, fat dog
[with many blue fleas].
Belatedly, and hilariously, Tom realized that "fleas" has one too many letters (which is also to highlight the challenge of this constraint) but … the drift is gotten. (Tom later would suggest replacing "fleas" with "furs".) Maya's enthusiasm also points to one of the hay(na)ku's possibilities as an attractive tool for introducing poems to youngsters.
Well, so, isn't this the perfect time to remind that the submission deadline to The Hay(na)ku Anthology is the end of this month, this year -- or 3 days away? We await your poems!
Monday, December 27, 2004
A wet and shitty morning. I took Achilles to the vet for a check-up. They needed a stool sample to do more tests. Mulish dog wouldn't cooperate and shit on command. So I was sent home with rubber gloves and a plastic container. Thus, did my morning vigil commence.
Finally, all impatient, I took him out into the rain and rained out from 'neath moi umbrella, "Go Potty!" for half an hour as he stood there miserable beneath the denuded oak. Then he finally squatted and Poop! Yadda. But then Moi had to clump on over the wet grass and mud to pick up portions of his stool.
I am still quivering from the experience.
Inclement weather also had delayed the arrival of the advance copy of moi 2005 book regardez ENGLISH until this morning, courtesy of late but still hard-working Federal Express. So, following my too-intimate experience with Achilles (why do I think he's getting back at me for snipping off his balls?), I huddled inside fondling my book. Having gone nearly blind proofing it, I couldn't actually stand to read the dang thing (perhaps in the next century...). But today, I just wanted to touch it. It's very physical. It's a brick.
Or, as my publisher emailed upon receipt of his own advance copy, he took it to the local supermarket to borrow the produce scales. He weighed it. Clearly, Marsh Hawk Press Managing Editor Sandy McIntosh has no life. In any event, No-Life McIntosh reports:
Just returned from the grocery. Brick weighs in at 2 3/4 lbs.--enough to kill or severely injure a man at ten paces.
So. When it comes out officially, I hope you'll be interested in my ENGLISH. Here are its attributes, which will explain why it's cheap at $24.95:
10 X 7
If you consider it expensive for a poetry book, let me put it this way: it's competitive as regards prices for doorstops. And then, per Sandy's input, if there's someone who done you wrong, well: Let Poetry Do The Talking!
Sunday, December 26, 2004
Wings flare. Hawk soars
as if the sky is Ifugao red
and her wrists shake
with seven silver bracelets, each
dangling a stone etched with
memories formed as feathers,
--from "Ifugao Red" by Nick Carbo & Eileen Tabios
So Moi unexpectedly found (Yay!) a copy of the poem by said Moi and Nick that's going to be part of Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, edited by Denise Duhamel, Maureen Seaton, and David Trinidad (Soft Skull Press, Winter 2005/2006). Soft Skull also asked contributors for a "process note" about the collaboration -- a great idea for their goal of having the anthology be utilized as a textbook. Nick and I scratched some would-be dandruff offa our lovely ebony strands, and came up with:
PROCESS NOTE FOR "IFUGAO RED"
Filipino and Filipino-American poets have been the bastard children of American poetry for more than a hundred years, spawned by the U.S.' invasion of the Philippines in 1898. Although often overlooked, marginalized, disinherited, alienated, or forgotten, this rich tradition of poetry is worthy of inclusion in the main fabric of American and English literature.
Thus, Nick Carbo and Eileen Tabios collaborate on poems which include references to Filipino culture. It is their hope that non-Filipino readers read the poems and be moved to research the Filipino references (in the same way that readers are asked to research Greek, French and other Eurocentric or Western references frequently inserted in poems that make up the literary canon), thereby learning about Filipino culture.
The collaborative nature of authorship also relates to their consciousness that English was a colonizing tool in the Philippines. Following the U.S.' military invasion in 1898, English spread across the archipelago to solidify their imperialist rule to become the preferred language for commerce, education and politics. When Carbo and Tabios collaborate together to write poems, they do so partly to shield their autobiographical "I"s as forming the authors of these poems. For these poems are written in English.
On "Ifugao Red," the poets collaborated through email. Carbo recollects: "One line you. One line me. One comma here. One ellipsis there. Is that my vergule dangling from your page? Ah, the ampersand has spoken and! You spun your tilde on the table."
Yadda. Here's another excerpt from "Ifugao Red":
... Does the witch paint
heavy verbs on your thighs? Boulders
like "ravage," "pillage," "ransack"
or "despoiled"? Peel off their signs
for sweetness: her damp eyes walking
to the front mahogany door
to answer your wing beats
discerned through the breeze.
To arrive home is to release your
armor, dropping it on ancient terrazzo.
Saturday, December 25, 2004
My parents are here for the Holiday weekend -- and it is special that Dad even can still travel after brain surgery and ongoing chemotherapy. For last night's Xmas Eve dinner, I served them appetizers of steamed artichokes in olive oil, sea salt and garlic, and then a main course of veal cutlets with Meyer lemons, green beans and squash. They had noticed moi flurry and bustle over the stove (actually, the microwave) and were really pleased I "cooked" for them.
I didn't have the heart to tell them that their daughter, at age 44, still hasn't learned how to cook (except turkey for Moi Achilles) and that I was just reheating some previously-ordered dishes from Bryant's, a favored deli in San Francisco.
I did serve them Buche de Noel for dessert. That, even they figured out, I must have "bought vs. baked."
And Holiday Wines to date (short list as moi parents don't really drink):
1995 Finca Villa Creces Ribera Del Duero
1982 Ch. Branaire Ducru
1996 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz
1999 Kistler Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
For Christmas Day dinner tonight, I serve turkey with all the fixin's from the ever-reliable Bryants, as well as the 1996 Terreus Pago De Cuevo Baja. I am looking forward to tasting this wine. Moi heard that Mauro, the winemaker, did this wine on the sly while he was the winemaker for Vega Sicilia, arguably the best wine in Spain, and then got fired from Vega Sicilia for doing said wine on the said sly. Yadda Mauro-- a winemaker after moi own heart! Like -- one is supposed to let one's "day job" get in the way of a dream?! Moi don't think so!
I hear scampering paws. The animals want their gifts, particularly the cats who know there's a burlap mouse for them somewhere among the ribbons and pretty wrapping paper. But most of the presents are for Achilles -- I see his dogsitter gave him a hoop. And so it goes...
Friday, December 24, 2004
"I am only just now realizing how inorganic, unnatural, my work is. Like the straight lines on the desert, what is clearest in me bears no relation to what I see around me. This is paradoxical, since everything I make in the studio is a distillation of direct experience, sometimes even specific visual experience.....The fifteen years that David Smith thought it took to become an artist are spent partly in learning how to move ahead sure-footedly as if you did actually know where you are going."
-- from Anne Truitt's DAYBOOK THE JOURNAL OF AN ARTIST
Thank you Crag. Yes, Anne Truitt's sculptures are worth checking out. Her colors are resonant, lyrical -- and I think her choice of the three-dimensional sculpture (vs painting) facilitates her exploration of the purity of color (a la form = content). I am lucky, too, to live with one of her sculptures -- a blue horizontal block of wood that resonates past the perimeters of the sculpture and reminds of that Whitman line of a room the expanse of an ocean...
And Anne Truitt's DAYBOOK THE JOURNAL OF AN ARTIST is (I think) read by many visual artists during art school .... but I also think it a poet's book -- and highly recommend it....especially perhaps for those artists/poets whose energies occasionally flag (who doesn't) from the choice of living as poets/artists. In fact, here's an excerpt, whose echo I'd been helpless against not letting resound through my prose poem "Beginning Lucidity":
"The pain of poets seems to me unmitigated. They are denied the physical activity of studio work, which in itself make a supportive context for thought and feeling. In my twenties, when I was writing poetry steadily, I heard words at a high pitch. On the deep, full notes of three-dimensional form, demanding for its realization the physical commitment of my whole body, I floated into spaciousness. Using all my faculties, I could plumb deeper, without sinking forever.
"Poetry was drawn out of my life, pulled out into lines. Sculpture is not. The works stand as I stand; they keep me company. I realize this clearly here because I miss them. I brought only table sculptures with me. In making my work, I make what comforts me and is home for me.
"I expanded into love with the discipline of sculpture. Although my intellectual reason for abandoning writing for sculpture in 1948 was that I found myself uninterested in the sequence of events in time, I think now that it was this love that tipped the balance. Artists have no choice but to express their lives. They have only, and that not always, a choice of process. This process does not change the essential content of their work in art, which can only be their life. But in my own case the fact that I have to use my whole body in making my work seems to disperse my intensity in a way that suits me."
Anne Truitt says she has "to use [her] whole body in making [her] work." I, too, feel that way. But that I stuck with the form of poetry frequently led me to dangerous paths. To read Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole is to glean hints from that ... particular history of mine that I am ... so relieved to have survived and put behind. But in Reproductions, somewhere the line: "Commitment costs."
A highlight of recent days was when I was wrapping up Pinoy Poetics in cheerful Xmas wrapping paper to send to a few of Bino A. Realuyo's lucky friend-recipients! What Bino may not have realized is that in asking me to send Pinoy Poetics out as presents, Bino was also giving me a gift.
From Moi All
Thursday, December 23, 2004
Anne Truitt, 83, Washington Color School sculptor known for smooth Minimalist forms that carried intensely saturated color into three dimensions, died from complications following gall bladder surgery on Dec. 23 in Washington, D.C.
Mother of poet Sam Truitt, Anne Truitt was very inspirational to me -- such that the last section of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole are three prose poems all written after each of her journals. Here's the first one:
-- after DAYBOOK THE JOURNAL OF AN ARTIST by Anne Truitt
Is the most difficult lesson one of submission: a spine bent willingly for a stranger's whip? How to reach something when we wake to find ourselves clutching the wet manes of panicked horses? And the only certainty about what lies beyond the drop of a path riddled with dangerous gravel is that there, too, "unanimous night" remains? I am trying this ride one can only make alone--that choking run towards a moment of light within the cloak of ragged breathing.
Sometimes, only erasures capture the threshold of consciousness. Why am I always drawn to the imperceptible? Why is there precedent for this curiosity by women marking time from the first farewell of a man? Noli me tangere--and still one feels it all, though the drain of emotion is persistently inevitable. One must pay the price of living on the spine to be a vessel for enlightenment. Is there consolation in this potential even as one begins to pace on the edges of knives? Do I really want to know why a permanent wound can be cut by a certain look from a child?
What kind of existence do we force on our days when we wish pain to remain unmitigated? Is that like poets laying pen against paper to approximate worlds without physicality? Is that like one more artist painting white on white on white? Perhaps I am forgetting that "faith" is religion without words, without buildings whose roofs block the sky. Indeed, sages welcome honey for its texture: a stubborn clinging fashioned from the sheen of precious metals. And I have heard angels from the Milky Way whisper through the fall of stars: "Jasmine is the scent of gold."
We teach our children that conversation can be a thin blanket for pain. But even a boor pauses before a Rembrandt self-portrait. I love a man who praises Rembrandt for painting his humanity beyond reprieve. But this man also repelled my child and now he thinks of thresholds solely for capturing shadows caused by a son's return. I love a man who looks at the world through a glass of heartbreaking resignation. What does this say about me?
Perhaps I am attempting to use color to prevent encounters from degenerating into lies? Afterthoughts always muster the musk of long-locked rooms--the musk of grey. I would like to believe I prefer what are held in common by rainbows and sapphires. I would rather continue down the path towards larger definitions. This, too, is why I believe criticizing artists is a waste of time, even if critics have glossy paper at their disposal. Character underwrites us all.
And what joy to recognize the curved line as both convex and concave--a moment close to my backbone. We should praise Greek poets for not bothering to alleviate heartbreak, but in addressing it only for fueling aspiration. Yet Plato shows me how I long to follow Prometheus--how deeply I feel the need to dance with vultures under a menopausal sun. I want, I want . . . to be wrung, to be rung!
Yes, I am intrigued by how we take the straight line for granted. Unless we have felt money diminish like the draining of marrow. Once, I saw a purple orchid with a pink stamen. I was shopping for a used car, but noticed through peripheral vision the flower on a crumbling windowsill. Now I appreciate rust. From this same process, I have chosen to become more feminine in behavior. I believe this means I am now a bat who operates through radar.
How to be as plain as bread chewed by oenophiles to clear their palates? I want to live in those moments when energy starts to become visible through physical effect. Like a poor girl from my childhood who wore a dress I outgrew. Everyday for three months, silk lace fondled a neck that increasingly thinned until I could count the ropes stretched along her throat. They evoked the sounds of hot days: ice rattling in pitchers of spent lemons as sugar fails against insistent sourness.
Apparently, the back of my hair is marked by a stranger's crimson paint. As it is January, I must have brushed against a building's attempt to greet a new year. I was trying to overcome the holidays by meandering down Main Street. I always compliment January for leaving light as plain as it could be. I like the courage of women who refuse to paint their lips. They are not like me, who love to stain whatever I kiss. I like to kiss because, too often, murder can occur simply through the seamless pass by an eye. I like to kiss because all of life is precious and "fragile." All of life is fragile.
Oh, how often I ask myself: "What did I know? What do I know?" Is it enough to find joy in a sunray slipping past the shutters to allow dust motes their tango? What suffices when I have seen bliss deep within the eyes of an ascetic who wanders the world with a beggar's bowl? What can I truly hope for when, sometimes, all decisions are made by color? Once, I drove through a forest in New Hampshire and saw a painting by Cezanne as I made a left turn. But, so quickly did I leave it behind--this eye's inadvertent slip that forever marks me like a heart tattoo against an inner thigh.
Some wounds never heal. With age, she has learned to avoid pricking at them. But, occasionally, her foot slips and, once more--and I become tired as I note this to you--once more, she plunges. When all of my hair turned white, my reflection noted, "Down is faster than up." Matter is so stubborn that even Art can become about coping with the physical. Even your refusal to bear progeny fails to silence my pleas for shackled wrists. Or, how I long for your blindfold so I can beg, "Please: bare my breasts. Please: I want to feed your pleasure." Then once more: "Please."
I don't believe death is the final tenderness for death confirms the wisdom of choices that seek to exalt solitude. I overheard an old lady tell her companion: "One of the unexpected delights of parenthood is the reversal of being put to bed by a child." I have asked many among you whether I am naive to believe love need not be solipsistic. The man I love replied, No. So I have come this far to discover the beauty within a cloud chamber: the traces of intersecting trajectories. For the man I love quoted Emerson as he held me tight: "The health of the eye always demands a horizon. We are never tired so long as we can see far enough." I believe the man I love was telling me: "Do not fear the distance between physical objects. Learn how detachment includes."
Of late, I've been thinking about versus writing poems. This holiday, this is the best I can do.
Soft Skull Press e-mails me a Xmas present, viz:
"We’d like to reprint your poem "Ifugao Red" in an anthology called Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, edited by Denise Duhamel, Maureen Seaton, and David Trinidad, forthcoming from Soft Skull Press in Winter 2005/2006. This collection presents, for the very first time, an historical overview of collaborative poetry in America, and includes work by over 150 poets, including Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, Ted Berrigan, Anne Waldman, Robert Creeley, Alice Notley, Olga Broumas, Robert Bly, Stephen Dunn, David Lehman, Susan Wheeler, Lyn Hejinian, Timothy Liu, Matthew Rohrer, Lynn Emanuel, and Harryette Mullen."
Yadda. An anthology with a worthwhile concept!
Interestingly (to moi anyway), "Ifugao Red," which I wrote with Nick Carbo, is my second poem accepted by someone for publishing for which I don't have a copy (now that's a tortured sentence!). I mean, when the tombston-ing of poems is not the point (I first typed "poem"), it's quite easy to do that Frank O'Hara thing of writing gems on slips of paper that may or may not survive the viccisitudes of a writer not wired to straighten out files when there's so much other living to do (and that's a second tortured sentence!).
But Yadda! Moi looks forward to seeing the poem in published glory, thus refreshing moi memory of it! Thank you, Soft Skull Press!
P.S. It occurs to Moi, if I did a collection of MOI LOST POEMS, I might create the greatest poetry collection I'd ever write. Well, and she dust of her wingtips, so much for the career....! Obscurity: You simply do not scare Moi!
"Failure brings great rewards -- in the life of an artist."
I've been trying to write a certain novel for several years, written nearly 3,000 pages in this failed attempt. Well, two days ago, at my favorite cafe with a community-oriented shelf of used books ("Leave One, Take Many") on Main Street, Calistoga, I stumbled across a paperback. An airport reading type of novel, it looked like. I picked it up with a shrug under the "You never know" category (which, after all, has become familiar from writing poems).
Later, I opened it to flick desultorily through its beginning pages, only to end up reading it avidly page to page. A real page turner. And when, hours later, thoroughly satisfied with the experience, I looked back up into the world, it ALSO felt like I'd just read the book I've been trying to write for years!!
Well, so how does it feel to end up discovering that the book you want to write already has been written? And how does it feel to end up discovering that the book you want to write is "low" vs "high" art? (Not that I actually differentiate among low or high art but I use these terms, mind you, coz I'm often lazy on this blog -- "curatorial convenience" as Moi lazily calls it.) I mean, all this time there I was intellectualizing about this theory and that (as I attempted to write the book) and someone else writes it with seemingly (seemingly, I stress) less pain and stress than I've put myself through for all these years for this book....
Gads. And no wonder I couldn't write the damn thing -- I didn't realize all this time (through moi own obfuscatory mind-natterings) that what I was attempting to do was more, uh, pulp fiction versus the Russian _____Fill-In-The-Blank.
Well, so how do I feel about all this? Irritated, and then amused. And I begin to feel the beginning of relief, too. Maybe I don't have to write that book after all, I think hopefully.
Hope dies. Perverse creature that I am, the last thought on this matter that rises is: Of course you gotta write that book. You just gotta write it better. Did we actually think the story was original?
Write it, she harangues moiself. Write it better. Nerve it up! Quentin Tarantino needs something new to do -- and it may as well be your own version of the script!
Sigh. So...I'm reading the latest issue of Artforum (whose "blog" is moi latest link) and it occurs to me: Possibly the primary reason I can stomach reading said Artforum (notwithstanding their occasional insights) is that I don't consider myself a practitioner of the visual arts.
On the other hand, I am less dispassionate reading some major poetry journals ("major" according to others, frequently the same others interested in looking at Poetry as a "best of ___" thingie). I can't stomach these journals' insidedness, their predictability -- being a poet, a practitioner, I am much more irritated at their myopia over something I practice....versus Artforum's insidedness which I read at a distance, the layer being called "anthropology."
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
The welcome e-mail noted in moi prior post came from poet-chef and Marsh Hawk Press Managing Editor Sandy McIntosh....who also shares the recipe to one of the dishes with which he feted me when Moi last was in New York City. (Jean, there's even a "Flip" reference for you!) A perfect dish for the holidays! So: HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
FINNAN HADDIE CHOWDER WITH LOBSTER
3-4 lbs. Smoked haddock, or smoked fish like Pollack, herring, etc.
2 tbs. whole black peppercorns
2 sprigs thyme
4 springs parsley
1 small onion
¼ cup celery leaves
2 cups heavy cream, plus 2 cups
½ cup milk
6 1 lb lobsters
1 medium onion, large dice
4 tbs butter, plus 5 tbs
4 red bliss potatoes
salt and ground black pepper
chopped parsley, for garnish
Place the smoked fish in a pan a little larger than the fish itself. Sprinkle with peppercorns, thyme, parsley, the small onion, and celery leaves. Pour in the stock. Add 1 cup heavy cream and milk. Cover pan with aluminum foil and place in a 350 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until the fish is barely heated through, turning opaque. Remove from oven. Let cool.
Flake the fish into big pieces, making sure there are no bones or whole peppercorns lucking in the crevices.
Prepare and cook lobster. (I bought pre-cooked lobster meat from our fish store, since I hate the idea of boiling living things to death, although I don't mind if someone else does this for me.)
Add the stock, cream . Strain. This should yield approximately 3 to 3 ½ cups of soup base.
To finish: sauté 1 medium onion in 4 tbs butter. Add 4 red bliss potatoes cut into chunks leaving skins on. Pour over the soup base and simmer until the potatoes are just done-not overcooked and mushy. Season with salt and fresh black pepper.
Add lobster to the soup base with the finnan haddie. Taste for additional seasonings. Adjust amount of liquid by adding milk or cream. Bring just to a boil, heating lobster through.
Prepare to perfection, or don't blame me.
Make anchovy butter:
4 tbs butter
Cut six (or more) slices of good French or Italian bread on the diagonal.
Butter one side of each with the anchovy butter.
In a pan wide enough to hold all the bread, add the rest of the anchovy butter. Toast bread on the unbuttered side. Flip (not you, the bread).
Serve on the side of the Finnan Haddie.
It occurs to me the prior post is a rare one for me -- in general, I've tried (not always succeeded, but have tried) not to use my blogs as receptacles for life's negative energies. But one of my loving Peeps once observed I'd probably even double my already high Peep count if I ever allowed myself to share more of my angst.
Okay. So, I'll ask the Iron Gate not to eliminate that prior post. Let's see what happens.
And just as I was about to publish this entry, I get emailed: the printer is fedexing me an Advance Copy of my new book. It will get here tomorrow.
Geezus. The synchronicity of this well-timed reminder? Maybe I shouldn't wallow in the angst. I am fortunate.
And I know what that means -- activate the activism! It's rare that Blessings don't ... cost. But, at times, they should.
So I was emailing recently with someone who's packing it in as a cultural activist. I think she's writing her memoir (which is partly why she began a dialogue with Moi). And of course her experience (as with mine) is bitter sweet. But her in-hindsight thoughts resonate with me given my own experiences in literary activism.
This person said something that's also true in my experience: certain people will play angles like the ethnic literature card not cause they care that much about "the community" but for offering a(nother) marketing angle for their own work and reputation.
Interesting how people who do this are often more transparent than they realize. In something like this, the motivation usually shows, no matter what is vociferously articulated by said peeps.
It's not always so black and white, of course -- more often than not, many people care somewhat about "community" but care more about how they can benefit from their own involvement (whether or not they choose to concede that motivation to the face reflected in their bathroom mirrors).
One paradox -- as affirmed, too, by my conversationalist's experience -- is that people get away (seemingly) with their (ab)use of community because there's never really enough people who have an interest in doing something to push said causes. As another acquaintance of mine once said, "Yeah -- so they're doing it to market themselves ... but meanwhile, an event happens that exposes someone(s) else who may not otherwise get exposure."
More and more, though, that compromise(d) perspective fails to offer me consolation. And I have to remind myself again: why the hell I do what I do despite the inevitable betrayals.
And even when I come out of those funk-inducing conversations with myself, I know the betrayals take a toll. I look ahead at 2005, for instance, and see that I've avoided doing certain events that I could have helped produce for others.
It's always a loss to lose ... innocence. But it's inevitable. And how now for one to continue in that particular forum? Theoretically, one can proceed all the smarter. (And thank the Muses when that is the result, as has happened with many activists I admire -- bless you all.) But what one never anticipates is the toll on the psyche so that the question becomes not how one continues but whether one will.
Sometimes, I wish the author really is dead.
John had seen photographs of [Agnes] Martin's apartment and noticed that she hadn't decorated it with any of her own paintings, so he asked her about it. // "Do you have any of your own paintings in the apartment?" he asked her. // Martin looked at him like he was stupid. "Well, no" she said. "They all sell."
--from Tyler Green's "ArtsJournal" Blog
Reading Tyler Green this morning and recalled: I, too, once thought of calling Agnes Martin out of the blue and inviting her for a meal or something. This was while I was doing a residency at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. Now I'm sorry I didn't, since she apparently didn't mind if stranger-fans called up cold.
She painted until her last days. How inspirational is that.
Rest in peace, Agnes Martin.
It is 12:55 a.m. and I am up grumpily because the cats and dog woke me up with all their skittering. The long-suffering Moi gets out of a very warm and cozy bed and walks over to the 2nd story landing. From top of stairs, I look down at the animals. The two cats, Artemis and Scarlet, are trying to stave off Achilles' nosy snout while they hunt a mouse. Small and black...
...wait a minute, I mentally SCREAM at moiself:
THERE'S A MOUSE IN THE HOUSE!
Moi yells back at I, CALM DOWN. So, I sit my flannel nightgowned self down to watch my two resourceful cats. More skittering. Finally, they back the mouse into a corner. The mouse ducks behind fireplace accouterments where the cats can't quite get at it, but where it still remains trapped.
Aw, crap. I think to moiself. Time to intervene.
I go get a trash can, empty except for a plastic bag within it.
Grumpily, I walk over to the drama with said trash can. I put it down sideways and take the fireplace broom with right hand. With left hand, I pick up the fireplace thingie where the mouse had been hiding. Mouse runs right into trash can.
I quickly take the plastic bag out where we can see the outline of black mouse. I hold it up to the three fascinated animals.
MOMMY TO THE RESCUE! I yell at the top of my lungs. It is 1 a.m. and we're atop a mountain. The only neighbor who can hear me scream is the wind. So I yell again:
MOMMY TO THE RESCUE!
Then, with much ceremony and three pairs of animal eyes all agog, I walk over to the side door, open it, place the plastic bag on the gravel, and open said plastic bag to release the mouse into the night.
I close the door, yell victoriously once more at the animals, the wind my backdrop, and walk up the stairs to return to my cozy bed.
But I make this brief left turn so that, feeling smug and rightly so, I can blog about the experience.
Because, about this, I never would have thought whilst I was in New York City for two decades that I'd be hoo-haaing at animals/ gowned in flannel/ atop a mountain/ wind screaming behind me/ the night black as eternity ... and the Angels drag her off the computer before she proceeds on what looks to be a really egregious poem...
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
October grapes hung like the fists of a girl
gassed in her prayer. Memory,
I whisper, stay awake.
--from "A Toast" by Ilya Kaminsky
Recently read and relished over the last couple of days:
DANCING IN ODESSA, Ilya Kaminsky (Tupelo Press)
MUSICA HUMANA, Ilya Kaminsky (Chapiteau Press)
AFTER A LOST ORIGINAL, David Shapiro (The Overlook Press)
INSTRUMENTALITY, Ravi Shankar (Cherry Grove Collections)
INVISIBLE ARIA, Tom Beckett (Burning Press)
as well as the multi-authored BLACK SPRING, Winter 2004 with Brent Bechtel, Catherine Daly, kari edwards, Stephen Ellis, Jim McCrary, Chris Murray, Layne Russell and Steve Tills (theenk Books)
I bought or traded for some of these books -- but I do also thank those who sent gifts to moi eyes...
Moi thought to remind you:
Small Press Traffic
is pleased to invite you to our
Tenth Annual Soiree
AN EVENING WITH SUSAN HOWE
Saturday, February 5, 2005, 6-9 p.m.
Reading & discussion begin at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $40; please call 415 551-9278 to order.
The bonus? It'll be at my apartment in San Francisco. As guys used to ask me before I put on my librarian's eyeglasses, Don't you wanna come up and see my etchings?
Monday, December 20, 2004
HOW MOI DECIDES WHAT WON'T BE FONDLING MOI TITS AND ASS
Today, out of the blue, which is to say I wasn't expecting it, I got a check from someone who donated the proceeds of a garage sale to helping fund Pinoy Poetics. $76.00. And every single cent is appreciated, Peep! Thank you.
Is it synchronicity that, as I write this, I am in the middle of an e-mail exchange with someone who wanted to know of my experience with "community" support. Well, here's an example I gave:
Back when I was still grassrooting for AAWW in New York, AAWW came to publish the anthology FLIPPIN': Filipinos on America. So, given the groundbreakingness of that project, some of us thought several Filipino community leaders would be interested in supporting that project and put a call out to the identifiable wealthy community...including a certain Filipino-owned company whose major lines include lingerie. That company sent over a box of underwear.
After trading glances of stupefied "What are we going to do with these?", the female writers divvied up the bras and panties -- I believe I got two panties, two bras and one tank top. AND those were the last items from that company I have ever worn....
Am Moi talking out of school (not that hard perhaps to figure out the subject multimillion dollar company)? So serves you right, Big Company. When a nonprofit asks for support, don't give castoffs from your unsold inventory. Try cash instead of trying to force that nonprofit to be a retailer.
Like my garage sale donor. He didn't give me his toaster, toys or shirts when I put a call out for help with a printer's bill. Moi Peep gave cash.
The significance of this, of course, is not just money. It's called RESPECT.
Which is why, Big Company, you'll never get near moi tits and ass again. The irony is that you do give to the arts, but it seems only to the ones with social cachet. Poetry, as we discerning ones know, can have cultural capital -- but that don't necessarily translate to cachet or cash, capisch? (Say the last three c-words as fast as you can to get loopy.)
(Dang -- I am just amusing moiself tonight!)
On the other hand, this $76 check -- and a conversation with future volunteer copyeditor for Meritage Press (how's about future The Hay(na)ku Anthology?!) Veronica Montes does show that community is possible. And, yes, that is heartening....
is Ron Silliman on Jackson Pollock:
"That may be why so many poets responded, say, to the work of Jackson Pollock when it first became widely known in the 1950s – his drip & splash method is so close to that very act of riding time in the painting that you can see it & feel it even in the static residue of a canvas a half century later. There’s that “snail’s trace in the moonlight,” it’s in every stroke."
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Thanks to Gayle, Tom, Sharon & Chris for this weekend's holiday tipples:
1983 Mouton (preferred '83 over '75)
2001 Condrieu Gonon
1995 Chave Ermitage Domaine Jean Louis Cuvee Caithelin
1995 Corton Charlemagne J.F. Coche-Drury
Well, some poets anyway....and specifically David Shapiro. I've never met Mr. Shapiro though have heard of him, of course. He came to my attention recently when the fabuloso artist Maureen Mcquillan sent me the catalogue of a group exhibit in which she was featured: "ESPACIO NEGATIVO/TERRENO NYORQUINO" curated by Pamela Lawton and which recently closed at the Galeria Nacional/Museo de Los Ninos in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Reading Shapiro's essay in the catalogue made me regret (again) a recent decision to pass (due to my tight schedule) on writing about the links between Shapiro's art essays and poetry. Shapiro's essay was lyrical and also addressed the works of the exhibiting artists in a form I'd not seen before in an exhibition catalogue: the e-mail. He ends his letter with a postscript -- to wit:
Este arte, el arte salvaje de Adams, las perspectivas eclecticas de Butter, las tramas de Westfall y tus vistas de fracturas, las vibraciones de McQuillan y los no-ensamblajes de Crow, no son un pretexto, perso si son lo que estoy tratando de re-presentar. No como en algunas criticas positivistas, en las cuales Don Judd me hable heroicamente de las pulgadas y del material, aunque esa persuasion me encanta. No como sguidillas de guirnaldas de filosofia o poesia alrededor de tus terrenos y tus faenas. He tratado de ser un partidario de la atencion y la persona, del remitente y del destinatario, y del giro rotatorio dinamico entre todo lo que Jacobson considero como los ejes de la estetica. Por supuesto que omiti muchas cosas. Ninguna carta es definitiva. El correo electronico requiere un estilo de espacio negativo....
Okay, okay ... I'll switch to the English translation -- it's just that Espanol is such a boootiful lingo. Here, to wit again:
This art, the wild art of [Pat] Adams, the eclectic perspectives of [Tom] Butter, [Stephen] Westfall's grids and your [Pamela Lawton's] vistas of fracture, [Maureen] McQuillan's vibrations, and [William] Crow's non-assemblages, are not a pretext, but what I am trying to re-present. Not as in some positivist criticism, where Don Judd heroically tells me the inches and the material, though I love that persuasion. Not as by trailing wreaths of philosophy or poetry around your grounds and grinds. I have tried to be a partisan of attention and the person, of the addreseer and the addressee, and the dynamic rotating spin between all of what Jacobson regarded as the axes of the aesthetic. Of course, I leave out too much. No letter is final. E-mail demands a style of negative space.
One editor once told me I might have confused criticism with a valentine. I told her Baudelaire did think of criticism as passionate and an act of devotion. Is it wrong to end with xo. D
Such, dear Peeps, is 21st century critical writing. Here, the medium by which most writers probably communicate nowadays is acknowledged without getting in the way of what is the archetype of aesthetic engagement: a criticism borne out of Love.
And an "XO" to you all this evening!
P.S. For another sample of David Shapiro's art critical writing style, check out today's post at Galatea's Insurance Requirements Blog where, in part, we can learn about Binswanger's notion of falling upward.
WHY MOI ACCOUNTANT DON'T CARE FOR MOI POETRY BIDNEESS
I once volunteered for a poetry press; one of my acts was keeping track of unpaid invoices. Usually, the press had no recourse but to keep sending dunning notices, then give up. In part, it's because the amounts owed are relatively miniscule, though still important to a poetry press. So a tab of a few dollars, while meaningful to a poetry publisher, can't warrant any costs (e.g. legal) except a series of First Class stamps before finally, one just puts it into an Unpaid File.
Well, looking over moi Meritage Press' Unpaid Invoices File for the year (doing end-of-year administrative b.s. clean-ups here), I see that I am still owed a $15 tab by Volume Gallery of New York City -- unpaid since June 22, 2004. Altogether now, emphathetic poet-peeps:
SHAME, SHAME, SHAME
Volume Gallery, 530 W. 24th Street, NYC 10011
Fortunately, my Meritage Press is also represented by this blog. I forthwith announce the SHAMEFUL case of a $15 unpaid invoice for the brilliant 100 MORE JOKES FROM THE BOOK OF THE DEAD by John Yau and Archie Rand. I don't do this lightly, given the humongous readership of this blog. I post this SHAMEFUL PUBLIC NOTICE after three follow-up attempts over the past several months to get this invoice paid.
So, Volume Gallery -- google yourselves and come across this PUBLIC TARRING of your reputation. You deserve it -- steal from Poetry and that's exponentially BAD karma.
And if any of you poetry lovers happen to be in the neighborhood, do alert Volume Gallery staff to the fact that people are aware they are not paying their bill to a poetry press. I mean, how low can you, go, People?
Feel free to quote Moi:
"HOW LOW CAN YOU GO, PEOPLE?"
(Nonetheless, Accountant-Peep: Moi Poetry ain't a bidness so get over your rolling eyes, already...)
Saturday, December 18, 2004
Actually, Michael, my peep count had risen to 20,000,021, with the last addition being this anonymous dude behind baseball and real estate. I didn't announce it immediately since I'd been so enjoying the harmony of twos and zeros. Well, I can announce moi new peepcount now since it sticks with said harmony:
with the latest new Peep being someone from Iran, undoubtedly a friend or relative of talented-and-should-be-encouraged (ekphrastic) artist Noushin Farrokhnia.
Ick, I get a hangover reading that last post, a feeling induced into many of you at any time of day, I'm sure, as you read Moi. Moi sure loves to party on this blog -- But Jean and Bino: Moi curses so enchantingly, dontcha think?!
Today, I go get a Christmas tree for Achilles (woof), Scarlet (meow) and Artemis (buzz purrrrs). Yadda. Veronica should replicate her demented reindeers as tree ornaments....make the tree go boinkers, but in the holiday spirit, natch.
Friday, December 17, 2004
I've been reading Pinoy Poetics which is a fabulous and wonderfully edited collection of work with statements from the authors on their creative process and their feelings/experiences of cultural identity. I expect to blog more about the many new and talented authors in this collection that I am only just discovering.
--Shin Yu Pai
Thanks, Shin Yu, for your lovely advance words for the article on Asian American anthologies you'll be writing for HYPHEN. I'm sorta misty over the fact that when choices get narrowed, the final four books to be covered involve two books in which I was editorially involved. Sniffle. Well, actually, I wanted to volunteer to help on SON OF DRAGON but though Nick likely would acknowledge my balls, I don't think he'd allow that I have the more prehensile instrument. (Ach, Nico -- do not a wingtip count...?)
Sip. A Von Strasser cabernet in moi glass for you nosy ones who want to know. Anyway...
Pinoy Poetics took a number of years to develop and it wasn't easy though I'ma not complaining. Suffice it to say that, cough, even one (or two) of the people now happily part of Pinoy Poetics first criticized my premise for it. Then the other stories....Ah, babies -- the stories I can tell, but why dwell on negative energy? I long reconciled moiself to how it ain't gonna be easy bearing the brunt of my visionary genius.
Fuck. I just wish I'd get that MacArthur Genius Grant already -- I got projects to do and money is time and time is a wastin' -- do you know what Moi means?!!!
What I will say, though, is that I just got the new catalogue for Small Press Distribution. Now, Meritage Press had gone over budget to publish Pinoy Poetics....which forced me to dip into the flour jar in the kitchen (well, you didn't actually think I kept flour in there, did you?). Then, I cracked the cookie jar to spring for this INSIDE COVER advertisement in the SPD catalogue to help further spread the word on Pinoy Poetics. (There's a three-publisher-collective ad there, and Meritage Press is one of them.)
Let me tell you about my one-and-a-half-person press (half = Jade, the part time volunteer): as with many small poetry presses, there is ZERO budget for advertising. But I sprung for advertising Pinoy Poetics...and even took the more pricey inside cover space.
So here I am fondling the gloss on the reproduced lovely cover...and what do I realize? FUCK FUCK FUCK! (Jean -- you paying attention?!!!!). What I see on the ad's one paragraph text are two typos.
Have I mentioned that 2004 was the year Moi had to switch from contact lenses (my mode for 27 years) to glasses, given the particular deterioration of my eye sight? And that being the primary in a one-and-a-half-person press, with no budget either for copy editors, means I hadda be the one a few months back checking for typos in that damn brick, while fitting in checking ad copy?
Now, heck -- c'est la vie with a glass of wine. Normally, I'd be all copacetic over these typos. The problema here is that we are talking partly about Pinoys coopting English and there Moi am misspelling the damn English words. FICK FICK FICK.
Fortunately, we can just keep those "typos" as a secret between us, right Peeps? So that if any ever brings up that critique, then I can just insouciantly claim, ... claim, ....gimme a minute .... OH YEAH!!! Moi can just claim pure POETIC LICENSE!!!
Sip. Reach for nearly empty bottle...
A PUBLIC FLOGGING FOR THE EGO
Okay. So, this might be old hat to some of youse -- i.e., youse visual artists -- but attending the reception for "POETRY and its ARTS: Bay Area interactions 1954-2004" on Thursday evening also gave me this new experience. To wit.
Being mostly a writer vs visual artist, I have more experience with books and journals vs gallery-type shows for making moi work public. So, last night, going through the California Historical Museum and looking at all the marvels in the exhibit, I suddenly noticed that I kept my body consistently facing one direction. That is, no matter what I was looking at, my stance was such that I could always do a quick look over to my own contribution to the exhibit: the train to my original wedding gown pinned with poems and dollar bills and draped to hang below V.C. Igarta's "Portrait of Eileen Tabios, 1997".
The first time I realized consciously what I was doing, I was like -- GET OVER YOURSELF!
I couldn't. I kept strolling through the gallery and kept positioning my body in ways so that, shoot out a quick sideway glance and I could see my own installation.
Part of it, I now realize with morning's lucidity, had to do with (i) making sure that people were going over to look at my work, and (ii) trying to garner their reactions. Like, Oooooh, oooooh: that guy is bending down to peer at something!! YaY! My work is fascinating him!!!!
Pathetic, ain't it? So, several times during the evening, I kept chastising Moi: JUST GET OVER YOURSELF ALREADY!
But as Moi said, I couldn't. I was all fascinated with moiself.
Well, I suppose I could offer the excuse that I just really wanted to be sure no one was taking down the $20 bill I had pinned onto my installation -- I need that for cab ride when I de-install, you know what I mean?
But, nah. I just couldn't get over myself.
And so the Chatelaine yells out, "Ego: GET OVER HERE!"
Ego comes over, all a-whimpering. Chatelaine pulls Ego over her lap and proceeds to spank.
But, unexpectedly, the angels cease their poker game and glare at Chatty. Said Chatelaine feels their glare, pauses her palm, looks up and asks, "What?"
The poker players sigh, and their winged representative tosses out with much irritation: YOU'RE A FALLEN ANGEL, PEEP. ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE HUMAN.
Now: Get Over Yourself.
So how lovely last night, seeing many of the artists and poets in person who participated in the "POETRY and its ARTS: Bay Area interactions 1954-2004". (Steve -- got one of Norma Cole's posters for you! Will send when we do the trade). Again, do your eyes and heart a favor and visit when you have a chance -- and if you like what you see, do donate to the jar at the front desk. Curator Steve Dickison freely acknowledged that despite humongous volunteer efforts and donations, "they broke the bank" in putting together this long-overdue exhibition.
There were many fabulous and intriguing items (e.g. the Philip Guston cover to a Bill Berkson chap). But, for me, the exhibit is most effective when viewed as an overall installation. From works intended as stand-alone art works to "ephemera", all are necessary for contributing to the spirit of the times -- reflecting varied contexts of collaboration where ideas are held in high esteem whether or not an object will ever come to manifest fully those thought processes and whether or not the participants were motivated by making "art."
Of course, there are quite a number of works that are lovely as stand-alone gems (Kenneth Rexroth's watercolors, for instance). On this level, and notwithstanding my obvious bias, I don't mind saying that V.C. Igarta's paintings are among the most effective pieces (lissen to Moi the art critic, pleez!). One reason I belabor my touting of Igarta, by the way, is that he is not highlighted in the official press release of the exhibition -- now please don't take this as a criticism of the press release or curatorial vision; I'ma just making a practical adjustment to the marketing of an exhibit revolved primarily around other facets besides recovering from invisibility this talented artist from the Manong generation. As this exhibit gets talked about, I expect that most of the talk will focus on other poet/artists. The exhibit, after all, is dedicated to Jess and Donald Allen and features about 80 artists.
(Although the Carlos Villa mixed-media work is partly embossed by the "Manong" word, too, and aren't you glad you read Moi so that you non-Pinoy peeps now know a little about what this Manong stuff is about?! Stick with Moi through the blather and the sticky lashes and I promise you'll always learn something!).
Anyway, I'ma just saying: be sure to note Igarta's three paintings there, two of which are being exhibited for only the second time. Of more historic significance is the painting on top (the three paintings are hung vertically) which is being exhibited publicly for the first time (the placard text is not quite accurate on this) and was the FIRST geometric/abstract painting made by Igarta.
These abstractions are important as they feature Igarta's strength as a colorist. It's why, when Igarta took a hiatus from painting and went to work for Color Aid, a manufacturer of silk-screened art paper, Igarta there came to create the paper works that became used in arts schools for exploring color. Igarta could mix colors without the aid of a spectograph and his skill once helped cause two of Color Aid's competitors to go out of business.
ANYWAY, YOU GO!
Bino is right to praise Sarah Gambito's first poetry collection MATADORA, and specifically to focus on the book's first poem "Paloma Loves." Among other things, for me this particular poem extends (perhaps makes old?) the discussion-as-binary over italics or not, footnotes or not, in poems mixing up text from different languages.
Always nice to see a poet offer up something fresh.
(I am also pleasantly surprised by the judges of that particular Alice James Books competition who looked at that poem on the first page of the manuscript and continued reading.)
*Reminder: Sarah Gambito is judging this year's Meritage Press' annual "Babaylan Speaks" Holiday Poetry Contest for Filipino poets. Check details here; contest deadline: Dec. 31, 2004.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Lookit. First, you gotta go on over to Ver's to take a look at her demented reindeer.
Next, in deconstructing her kitchen habits ("the dementia provides the special touch," Moi, the art critic, sez), I asked: "And, uh, how are you on turkeys?"
Lookit what the woman replied:
"It's been awhile, but I will freely admit to being a fine roaster of turkeys. I like that Martha Stewart (free Martha!) technique of slipping the sage leaves under the skin of the tukey to create a mosaic."
An effin' mosaic, no less!
Who are these people who don't need maps to navigate through kitchens?!!! And now I think I'm getting a headache.
Okay, okay. Actually, I'm impressed.
And, it occurs to Moi that I hadn't actually provided a follow-up report to Moi enforced turkey cooking incident. I get the shivers just recalling that dark, bleak night.
Still, notwithstanding said shivers, Peeps, check it out:
Moi turkey came out juicy and succulent. That's JUICY AND SUCCULENT!
MOI AM JUST SO SO SO BAAAAAAAD!
And off the Chatelaine goes flying off through the night, to downtown San Francisco to shed her very SPECIAL light.
Such is the expanse of moi talents I'm even an energizer-Bunny. Preen.
Thank you for the shamble, Michael. And as regards your query on how to increase one's "cultural capital"? The key, Sweetie, is always to give it away.
Poetry is quite transparently karmic that way.
And I do mean give it away -- not give it away hoping for something in return.
Okay: one more tip. Sweetie -- wink all you want, but never blink. Lucidity poetics, and all that.
Hmmm. Well, of course, there's another alternative interpretation to my vast Peepdom. I may have many Peeps for the same reason that cars slow down on the highway to look at a humongous, fire-blazing crash. Moi blather can burn so prettily, moithinks.
But what is the "it" -- this it one gives away, pipes up another peep listening into this fascinating conversation. Ah, the Chatelaine thinks, Is that you, Peep #403, the one always so concerned about your poetic career? She lifts a wing and from her armpit shoots out the arrow of compassion. Then the Chatelaine turns her lovely head to look straight into Peep #403's beady eyes, and with loving detachment snorts forth her very helpful reply: You want me to define the IT of Poetry? Peep -- do Moi get paid financial capital to do this blog?
And another reason I'm happy to spread the word on V.C. Igarta's paintings is that the impact of the Manong generation encompasses my family -- and provides possibly the only reason I am here today in the United States.
Because my grandfather was a Manong (early 20th century immigrants from the Philippines to the U.S.), my father was partly educated in the U.S., was later able to come to the U.S., and subsequently brought over the rest of his family (including his only daughter, Moi to you).
What I do for Igarta, in a way, reflects what I was never able to do -- showing gratitude -- for my grandfather since I never knew him.
When my grandfather came to the U.S., it began an approximate 50-year-separation from family and his wife, my grandmother. He stayed in the U.S. and just sent money back to the Philippines to help support the family.
Later, after the rest of the family, including my grandmother, joined him in this country, we only knew him for a few years before he died.
I've always wondered what happens to a relationship where the couple communicates by letters across oceans for about 50 years. He must have been lonely. He certainly never shirked from his obligations to his family, or took on another relationship here in the U.S. Nor did my grandmother take on another relationship back in the Philippines.
While my grandfather had lived in the U.S. separated from his family, he got to know a man who became his best friend.
After my grandfather died, my grandmother came to become a couple with this best friend and subsequently married him. I've never forgotten the frisson I felt when I first overheard my grandmother call someone "Darling". As a little girl -- and undoubtedly influenced by relatives' views of my grandmother as a dry old woman -- I was used to viewing my grandmother as ... a dry old woman, and what shock it was to hear that word leave her lips. I remember looking at her lips then and realizing: hey, those aren't, uh, dry lips. Anyway, she uttered that word, and breathed it out to the man who became her second husband.
Now, all their graves are in Southern California. And here's yet another tale. After my grandfather died, he was buried in a double-grave. I think these double-graves (my term as I don't know what they're called) are meant to help out poor people in that people can be buried one atop each other. So, my grandfather was buried in a grave in which, later, my grandmother was supposed to join him atop.
But my grandmother married his best friend and, when my grandmother died, her second husband buried her in a site right next to my grandfather's, instead of in the same grave atop my grandfather. It was also a double-grave so that, when the second husband died, he then would be buried atop my grandmother.
The plot thickens.
Due to his 50-year-absence from the family, my grandfather never met his youngest daughter; when he left the Philippines, my grandmother was still pregnant. And my aunt arrived in the U.S. only after my grandfather died.
Years later, my aunt died unexpectedly. My father, her brother, was the one who chose her burial site: atop the father she never met.
I remember the eulogy at my aunt's funeral. My father tried to explain all of the above to the attendees. But he didn't get the relationships correctly so that the audience remained confused as to what he was trying to say.
I wrote an early prose poem about the above and didn't succeed in capturing the complexity of what remains unknown. But I did conclude in that poem, as I do conclude now: "My father was simply incoherent that day."
This is all we know, said the manongs,
To harvest grapes, you must destroy the vines.
--from "visiting the manongs in a convalescent home in delano" by Joseph Legaspi
So, lookit. This (Thursday) evening, I'll be at a 6-9 p.m."Artists' Reception" for the "POETRY and its ARTS: Bay Area interactions 1954-2004" exhibit.
Now, I don't think the Reception is officially open to the public. But curator Steve Dickison said I can invite "a few friends." So, if you wanna go see this historic exhibit tonight, go on over and if anyone questions, just say you're a "Friend of Eileen Tabios."
Don't tell Steve, though, okay, about this blog offer? After all, Moi's got 10,000,020 Peeps and Moi don't want to be charged with depletion of the bottles due to said Peeps.
And if any of you are Pin@y, then be sure to meet me in front of the paintings by Venancio Igarta. He the Man, moi babies, and we can always do an on-the-spot altar-like homage to one of our own Manongs.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
So ekphrastic artist Bryan sez about the prior post featuring his wire sculpture take on one of moi poems (scroll below):
"... thank you for posting up my wire sculpture! Im glad that you like it considering I took like 5 minutes to make it. If I knew people were going to actually see it, I might have made a more appealing one! But as you said, your words are simply for manifesting emotion, and it was a piece that I did in the moment!"
To which Moi had replied: "In the moment is good, brYan! It'sa like that 'first draft, last draft' approach of mine....!"
And Moi shares this with you coz the Young 'Un also said, jokingly I know, "thanks again and ummm...keep writing about me."
I'ma easy. It's one of moi many charms.
Actually, Moi version of when other bloggers say something like
[This post deleted for reconsideration]
[This post disallowed by the Iron Gate which prevents negative energy from entering Galatea]
which is what happened to the original text of this post.
Being AWAKE now, I must remember that when others try to scratch me, there is a reason why Moi have wings: to rise above such clawing.
Well, the glass nearby of the 1999 Behrens & Hitchcock Las Amigas Merlot Beckstoffer Vineyards Napa Valley is helpful fuel, too. Cheers!
Not to be outdone by his classmate Noushin Farrokhnia, the one with the glorious biceps Bryan Kieffer also created a special piece of artwork -- his is a wire sculpture inspired by my poem entitled, logically enough, "The Wire Sculpture"!
It's a short poem (inspired by one of Richard Tuttle's art works) so I'll post the one-paragraph prose poem below Bryan's image. THANKS BRYAN! Your "older woman" friend is grateful for this:
And from Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole, here's moi poem:
THE WIRE SCULPTURE
-- after Richard Tuttle’s sculptures of pencil, wall, wire, shadows, nail, space
The shadow is thin but what slices air is thinner. The press of approximation is confidently approximate. It does not matter to the naked eye. What is solid is what is not visible. Once more, you look back at the sculpture. But the light has changed with the progress of the hour. You leave and dwell instead on the simmer deep within your belly. How a shadow's imperfection humbles you. How a shadow recalls a life you once wanted to possess versus the life that folds itself around your awkward steps.
AH -- THE REACH OF THE INTERNET!
Of all things, Moi was contacted this morning by someone who wanted my advice on blogging. As if I'm an expert! Moi explained my ludditeness -- but nonetheless mentioned Blogger since it is, after all, free. Well, check out this blog if you're interested in baseball or real estate:
I'm actually interested in neither, but Moi am always heartened to see the extent of moi reach. Now....how to have poetry infiltrate that site!
Someone just lovingly emailed about how it helped her not to feel bad about certain recent literary events by being "awake." So, in that Buddhist sense, slapped my cheeks and woke up. And saw that Moi had to delete the earlier contents of this post for ... their negative energy. This is my version of other bloggers putting this up:
[Post deleted for future consideration]
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Apparently, Moi am exquisite. Which is why Moi shouldn't have missed out on the Opposite Sex -- the poetry contest, that is. But I did, so:
Another Apology For Tom
--after "an apology" by Mark Young
NOT do it
he barks for
potatos, pills, tofu
Other-ing our sex:
nowhere to go
Latest issue of Moria, edited by Bill Allegrezza, is out and features FABULOUS POEMS and Bruna Mori's review of [WAYS] by Barry Schwabsky and Hong Seung-Hye!
I'ma telling ya! [WAYS] is one special poem -- check it out!
ON THE DIFFICULTIES OF FUNDRAISING FOR POETRY
"Reports of a turkey coming from your oven are -- I'm sure -- grossly exaggerated"
--An O-Peep Peeping At Moi
So to refresh your memory, Moi originally began a blog as a fundraising tool (wherein I mixed up poetry with wine so as to attract some wine-y donors). Well, one of my O-Peeps (oenophile-peeps) just e-mailed, per below. I allow him his blasphemies as regards Moi character because, in any event, I picked his wallet for one of my Poetry projects. Look forward to seeing the donation confirmed, Mr. O-Peep. And now, Moi shall print your letter because (1) this blog has no standards, and (2) I'll feature anyone who actually gives cash for Poetry:
FROM AN O-PEEP:
I just looked through your latest "blogging". Wow....And here I thought all along that the only things I need fear about the 'net were (i) random spamming from people claiming to have the cure for baldness, erectile dysfunction, and keeping creditors far away, and (ii) communications from various cells of Al Quaeda. I now realize that -- for a mere $10 / month -- any raving madman (or woman) can find an uncensored outlet for blabbing on aimlessly and find a loyal audience of like-"minded" (and I use that word with some trepidation) sorts to satisfy that urge to be heard.
One question -- is St Helena anywhere near Jonestown? I sense a potion brewing at Galatea - and it ain't d'Yquem from Tom's wine cellar...
One more question -- Do you not have any standards of journalistic integrity on your blog? Reports of a turkey coming from your oven are -- I'm sure -- grossly exaggerated.
Final comment -- I have a SMALL amount of contributions to make before year-end. Give me your favorite choice for a place that needs it and I'll do my best.
Last and final comment -- It is obvious that you've never been to finishing school. Had you done so, it would have occured to you that if you want to be successful at raising money, (i) it helps that you actually target your activities to people that actually have money and (ii) you try not to emasculate them on the same blog entry that asks for the donation. Look what happened to the Democrats this fall.....
*****[the end (thankfully) of O-Peep's Letter*****
I don't, actually, get that bit about the Democrats but ... The angels are laughing so hard that, once again: they are pissing on me. Thankfully, the scent of angel's piss is ... jasmine. (Why do you think Moi smells like jasmine whenever any of youse are fortunate enough to be in same room as Moi? You didn't think I haunted those perfume counters, did you?) But for the record, O-Peep -- this blog don't cost $10 a month -- it's free. That's what poets excel in doing -- taking advantage of the free(doms)!
Monday, December 13, 2004
The Marsh Hawk Press Blog is featuring the paintings of Noushin Farrokhnia who uses painting, collage and mixed-media to interpret twelve of my poems in Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole. Here are two below, but do check the Marsh Hawk Blog for an impressive dozen reflecting Noushin's wonderful talent. It takes a lot to humble Moi -- but Noushin did with her blessings. Dios Ti Agngina -- Thank you very much. And thanks to Noushin's professor, Leny, for facilitating this project.
Beneath the two sample images below are the titles of my poems. I have to say I appreciate the Persian influence on Noushin's take on my poems as I wouldn't have known such (that poetic expanse!):
"To Be Seen by Iamos,Calchas and Teiresias"
Brian Kim Stefans posts the Afro-Smiley on Ron Silliman's comment box. Grin.
"I am compelled to nod when I see the marble 'Kritios Boy' break the tradition of the kouros stance. By shifting away from a rigid, full frontal position, the right leg slightly bent, the statue seems immortalized in hesitation."
--from "The Kritios Boy," a poem in Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole
Michelle posts more about yesterday's event, which reminds me: it's difficult (for me, a farmer with no links to academic infrastructures) to keep track of how books are assigned as classroom texts. But I know that Pinoy Poetics has been picked up for the Spring 2005 semester at University of Miami, U.C. Berkeley and Sonoma State University. One of the attendees at yesterday's launch also is an instructor at Skyline College who bought a copy for her department and so, hopefully, something can happen there in the future.
And this further reminds Moi to recall something from Jean's presentation yesterday that discussed her experience teaching Pinoy Poetics, and to a group of students who may have had no particular prior interest in Filipino literature. Jean said her students enjoyed the book partly because they found it "accessible." Interesting (and deliberate?) choice of words and, here, Jean explained that accessibility has nothing to do with the (presumed) ease or difficulty of reading a text but that the book's authors "don't stand as canonical objects -- they don't stand aloof from the readers." In this, Jean said, Pinoy Poetics is not a "conventional anthology based (just) on a list of recommended authors but in sharing a community, or various communities."
So thanks to those teachers and I hope other teachers from my peeping audience may be encouraged to check out this book -- Pinoy Poetics is not just about Pinoys or poetry -- it is about culture, history, art, love, family, the gay movement -- I consider it a fabulous manifestation of how Poetry can be about everything!
All this leads me also to say thanks again to Prof. Leny for using Reproductions in her classes this past semester. I attended her second-to-last class sessions a few days ago and it was heartening to see how Poetry really worked to expand the vistas of the students' minds. It's worth noting that Leny's Ethnic Literature courses are required courses so that many of the students possibly would not have been interested in taking the course and the majority majored in math, science, business and other non-literary endeavors. And here the students were working on journals during the semester where they responded to poems in my book -- and they replied with their own poems, art work ranging from sculptures to drawings to collages, and other creative forms which they may not have tried on their own. I looked at three shopping bags' worth of journals in Leny's office during my visit.
My favorite reaction was from students who said the journal exercise made them start to write their own poems again. One student said she once wrote poems -- in the fifth grade -- but stopped after courses which took away the joy of poetry (many of us know that story, don't we, as regards how poetry is taught in such a dry manner it can dessicate the soul?).
And while visiting Leny's class, I also heard first-hand from students who presented reactions to poems. Here's an example of how Poetry's aftermath can have an infinite expanse if the reader is "open." I wrote a poem "The Kritios Boy", a Greek sculpture significant for manifesting the transition between the Archaic and Classical eras. The student read the poem, including the line "Children should never become symbols for the mysteries their parents can never solve." The student interpreted this line to mean (in words to the effect of):
"Youth should not be victims in conflicts that doesn't involve them. In our history, we see this a number of times, for instance Vietnam, where we fought in wars the youth didn't understand."
A timely comment, isn't it. Poetry can be ever timely, if a teacher remembers to teach it not (just) didactically but ... joyfully.