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Thursday, February 12, 2004


Received: The Hat #5.

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The L Word and Anne Carson. Some poems by Anne Carson here and here.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Seguity-segue. Segue last Saturday featured Christopher Stackhouse and Eleni Sikelianos. I don't have too much to say because for once I didn't try to take notes, or write. I just listened, which was good, because both poets melded music with their poetry. Christopher first played a recording of himself reading a poem, backed up with music written by a former guitarist for Tom-Tom Club, among other things. Eleni's brother dragged his bass guitar on stage and put a low, rhythmic pulse under her poems.

A fantastic thing to do if you have the opportunity...read while someone plays music. I did it once; if you have stage fright, it's a really good way to get over it. You feel like a rock star, because, oh yes, you have your own band.

Wrote a little bit yesterday. Took my title from a recent spam -- "Condition: Paleozoic." Thought I was going to pump out some short little tongue-in-cheek piece, but it shows signs of trying to balloon into something important, something grand. Now I just have to figure out what that is. I learned a lot about rocks though, yesterday, while writing it. When I was a kid I was something of a rock hound; I even had one of those horrid rock tumblers (what a disappointment...it actually takes months on end to turn your palm-sized backyard boulder into something smooth and round, and even then, you realize that a smooth backyard rock is not really all that cool. You can dig the same thing out of a riverbed for free).

Other titles awaiting lines: "The Night Watchman," and "Dentation Over Diamonds."

Reading, reading. A good thing and an exasperating one. Each new thing you read introduces you to new words, new combinations of words, new ways of communicating. It also emphasizes the limitations of your own communications thus far. Seeing the heights and depths to which other people take their work makes me wonder if my own has a somewhat impoverished register. Not much one can do about that except keep stretching, trying new things...

Does anyone else have inspiration in waves? I'll go along like gangbusters for about a month, and then thhhhhhp. The well is dry. Time to revise.

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Monday, February 09, 2004


Wow. I sort of checked out for a while, didn't I? I haven't been writing that much...I'm now in revisionary mode.

But I have a couple of readings to report on.

First, the Boog City/Chax Press/ACA Galleries reading last Thursday. 10 poets and one incredibly loud band, accompanied by goldfish crackers and white wine, slung about by Jen Coleman, who read at Segue a month ago or so, and who I recognized because she has curly, curly hair.

So, people got their goldfish crackers and wine, and ended up sitting cross-legged on the floor of the gallery. A band...the Drew Gardner Flash Orchestra, which involved a sitar, a coronet, a flute, a violin, and several other instruments, chugged out some unearthly type of free jazz.

After that, we went on to the poetry. Everything that evening was dedicated to the memory of Gil Ott, who had died only that morning and had been published by Chax Press. As the poets read, I concentrated mainly on taking down lines that appealed to me. Here goes.

Hank Lazar: lyric, semi-confessional.

"the museum of intensive reading"

"a Sousa music of our time"

"the remote control antedates the development of individual psychology"

"friends stop by to say "I love you," which is nice, but which means there must now be some pressure to say so."

"a shroud--freedom's mantle."

Second, Jackson Mac Low: being himself, very old, halting at first, and contending with the bad acoustics (or the good acoustics--every sound in that place was magnified ten-fold, so that people shuffling, chewing, etc, sounded like they were being played through megaphones).

He read from a series called "HSCH," which stood for "Some philosopher whose name I didn't catch but which began with H," Gertrude Stein, Lewis Carroll, and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

"the thought of dependence that extreme makes most of us cover our eyes."

"our interest in an elm is exceptional, when nights are incompatible."

"how could an object object to materialism?"

"fortunately, the experience was fundamentally round. Whose experience was it?"

"This could no more be explained than the invention of paper oysters."

"He left us more with the impression of looking at his breath than feeling the security of ours."

Next came Heather (Helen?) Thomas, reading from Resurrection Papers, and here I suffer an unaccountable lapse in my notes. Listening too hard, I expect.

Fourth, Tim Peterson, reading a poem called "The Age of Advertising":

"there are so many wars you can attest to outside the range of hearing"

"unless greed bend the soda pop"

"the funky decor at the end of time"

Fifth, Nick Piombino, who had been sitting next to me on the floor the whole time, and who I hadn't recognized because, well, I've never seen him before. He read a series of haiku, many of which I was able to jot down, they being haiku, and therefore, short enough to be stuck in my short-term memory until I had them on the page.

(didn't catch the title)
"Watching the birds fly south again, my SkyMiles are no consolation."

"If you get bored with that zen stuff --forget it, and go to a movie."

Hegelian Honeymoon
"Never leave me! I need more space. Why didn't you call? I have to go."

George W. Bush
"Knows all the facts. Has all the answers. Numerous followers. Still wrong."

(didn't catch the title)
"Warmed over thoughts are like fast food. Easy to swallow, hard to digest."

(didn't catch the title)
"Poets are expendable, but so eminently collectable."

(didn't catch the title)
"So many thoughts. So many feelings. So many flowers. No bouquet."

Final Soliloquy of the Obsolete Robot
"I'm not a machine. I'm not a machine. I'm not a machine. I'm not."

Break! We got more goldfish crackers, and then settled in for another, thankfully brief appearance by the musicians. And then, our final five.

Allison Cobb read from poems created from cut-ups of morality tales used to teach immigrant Spanish-speakers English.

Mark Weiss read from "Figures -- 32 poems," and I caught one line: "The fat man bestrides the world."

Bob Perelman started with reminisces of Gil Ott, and read some of his poems, and those of Ott's friend, Eli Goldblatt. His own poem involved the following lines:

"the cordially hated present"

"Proust dipped his Krispy Kreme into Kafka's coffee"

"better hold tight to your donut, or you'll be fed to the equal signs."

Charles Bernstein was ninth, and had another extemporanous reminisce of Gil Ott, and read a poem for him, entitled "The Bricklayer's Arms," which sounds like a bar, but was actually about the bricklayer's arms, to wit:

"they dissolve into the formaldehyde of the heart's longing"

"the bounded continent of the bricklayer's arms"

"they signify nothing but never cease to mean"

"helplessness's velour paradise."

Finally, Charles Alexander, head of Chax Press, read from "Near or Random Acts," including the following lines:

"Do days have autobiographies?"

"come down from time when what's heard is what happens."

And then, with much rustling of coats and gnawing of goldfish crackers, the herd began its lumbering flight away from the warehouse district of extreme west chelsea and towards their respective homes.

A little bit on the Segue reading later. Didn't make it to Frequency on Sunday because I was having post-Capitalist funk. In the meantime:


Down Spooky, by Shanna Compton
Cumulus, by Tim Peterson.

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