Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm at AWP

I'm at AWP in New York this weekend. I saw Yusef Komunyakaa and Sharon Olds read today and it was quite good. Olds read a couple of my favorite poems as well as some new stuff which I wasn't as crazy about (though it might have been the subject matter: tampons and poo, though not in the same poem, thankfully).

I had a lovely discussion about Jesus and butts with the poetry editor of Hayden's Ferry Review. Unfortunately I didn't get her name and there is more than one editor on the journal's masthead. So it was either Meghan Brinson or Iliana Rocha, though I am fairly certain it was Iliana Rocha since I used my Nancy Drew skills and found a picture of Brinson online and it doesn't look like the woman I spoke with. Way to network!

I won't be posting much since this is the only time I'll have computer access. I will have lots to post afterwards though, so stay tuned.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Patty Griffin's Screaming Monkey Chorus

Stacy and I went to the Ann Arbor Folk Festival last night. It was a good show. The best part of the evening was Patty Griffin's performance of "Mad Mission" complete with a screaming monkey chorus provided by Shawn Colvin and Emmylou Harris with the help of these guys.
I own a screaming flying monkey myself. In fact, I have two. One is mine, one belongs to my dog, Henri, who reacts to the thing much as the little guy in the video here does.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The future's so bright...

This comic made me laugh as it manages to meld the fact that I am getting my MFA with the fact that my Master's Degree Holding Wife is a ren fest nerd/belly dancer.
Married To The Sea

Friday, January 25, 2008

No fumar

So I had dinner with a friend of mine tonight and he mentioned that he hasn't smoked in over a year. He no longer considers himself someone who quit smoking, he considers himself a non-smoker. I'm proud of him. So I thought in his honor I would post a couple poems about smoking -- not to glorify or promote it, of course, but to illustrate what a tenacious and compelling habit it is.

by W. S. Di Piero

We loiter in the cobblestone alley,
Beans, Clams, Yom-Yom and me,
smoking punk. Snip the wiry stem,
trim the nubby end, scratch fire
from a zipper then pass the stink around.
William Penn designed these blocks
squared off, brick, crosshatched by alleys
to prevent the spread of fire. So fire
runs down my throat, reed
turning to iron inside my lungs.

Yom-Yom has an uncle in Bucks County.
Country boys sneak behind barns and puff
on cedar bark. Smoke’s the only thing
we have in common. Smoke when our breath
meets cold moist air, though no smoke rings
in winter, while sullen cars drag gray on gray
down city streets or country roads.
Someday I’ll smoke Camels, my father’s brand,
then Gauloises to prove I’m stronger than him
in burning whatever’s inside that won’t sleep.

(From Chinese Apples: New and Selected Poems, 2007 Knopf)

Hans Reading, Hans Smoking
by Liam Rector

My mother, poised around behavior, would say

You are sitting there reading and smoking, Hans,

And this would describe for her, to her utter

Satisfaction, what it is you are doing.

Knowing you I guess you are stationed there

In grief, reverie, worry--your car broken

Down, the mechanic wanting money, and you without,

For the moment, what it takes--and you thinking

Of love lost as you read that impossible book

Your father last gave you....I see you smoking

And as an addict myself I know this is something

You are barely doing....The habit smokes itself

And you, you are turning the page where the woman

From New Orleans, like your woman, goes to Manhattan.

I suppose my mother, in her mania, could never afford

To think there was anything hovering around, anything

Behind behavior. Unable to sit, to go into that sorrow

Where what failed to happen presses against what did,

She would get up, go out looking for "Something

Different," do anything to keep moving, behaving...

Going. But you, Hans, you are a sitter, and I know

You will not be getting up until you have put this time

Behind you. And so your friends pass by waiting,

Wanting to know what you will come up with when you rise

From your stationary chair, our Hans reading and smoking.

(From American Prodigal, 1994 Story Line Press)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ramond McDaniel first book interview

Raymond McDaniel, a candidate for hire here at UofM in the MFA program, gave an excellent reading yesterday. I came across this interview with him about his first book, Murder, A Violet, and found it very interesting, especially since I am in the process of putting my own collection of poetry together for my thesis. There are a few poems from Murder at the end of the interview.

McDaniell's new book, Saltwater Empire, comes out in April.

Ray also has criticism he's written at The Constant Critic.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Court says monkeys, chimps can't sue

Court says monkeys, chimps can't sue
AP - A Texas appeals court has affirmed a lower court decision that nine chimpanzees and monkeys that were brought to the Primarily Primates sanctuary in 2006 don't have a legal right to sue.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had sought to gain legal standing for the primates transferred from Ohio State University to the sanctuary after they were retired. PETA alleged that the sanctuary conditions were substandard and that it would be best for the seven chimps and two monkeys to be moved to another sanctuary.

The animals were later moved to the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana after the Texas attorney general placed Primarily Primates in receivership for six months. Primarily Primates, which has since restructured its board, is suing to have the animals returned.

The 4th Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed the lower court decision dismissing the case in September 2006.

PETA said it was considering whether to appeal.

"The receiver's report of the substandard facilities at Primarily Primates, Inc. (PPI), described horrific conditions for the animals there, from which some of the animals were saved as a result of litigation," PETA said in a statement.

Priscilla Feral, chairwoman of a restructured Primarily Primates board, applauded the ruling.

"We are glad that this wrong-headed lawsuit which PETA filed against a sanctuary is finally over and we can get on with bettering the lives of each and every animal under our care," she said.

Amanda Carver is awesome

So last night I did the introduction for my friend Amanda Carver who is an awesome poet and person. She's in the MFA program at UofM with me. I adore her. Her reading was all things a good reading should be: entertaining, moving, thought-provoking. Though I sadly don't have anything of hers to post here (there is nothing online and I would hate to post a poem of hers here and have someone somewhere consider it "published" and thus screw her out of an actual future publication or something). So instead I am posting a couple of poems by poets I know she likes. Barbara Hamby and David Kirby are married. To each other. And they're both really good poets. Amanda and her husband are also both poets. Coincidence? I think not.

Betrothal in B minor
By Barbara Hamby

All women bewail the betrothal of any woman,
beamy-eyed, bedazzled, throwing a fourth finger

about like a marionette. Worse than marriage
in many ways, an engagement, be it moments or millenia,

is a morbid exercise in hope, a mirage, a romance
befuddled by magazine photographs of lips, eyebrows,

brassieres, B-cups, bromides, bimbos bedaubed
with kohl, rouged, bespangled, beaded, beheaded

really, because a woman loses the brain
she was born with if she believes for a moment

she of all women will escape enslavement of mind,
milk, mooring, the machinations of centuries,

to arrive in a blissful, benign, borderless
Brook Farm where men are uxorious, mooning,

bewitched, besotted, bereft of all beastly,
beer-guzzling qualities. Oh, no, my dear

mademoiselle, marriage is no déjeuner sur l'herbe,
no bebop with Little Richard for eternity,

no bedazzled buying spree at Bergdorf or Bendel,
no clinch on the beach with Burt Lancaster.

Although it is sometimes all these things, it is
more often, to quote la Marquise de Merteuil, "War,"

but war against the beastliness within that makes
us want to behave, eat bees, buy beef at the market,

was with Fab, betray our beautiful minds
tending to the personal hygiene of midgets.

My God, Beelzebub himself could not have manufactured
a more Machiavellian maneuver to bedevil an entire

species than this benighted impulse to replicate
ourselves ad nauseum in the confines of a prison

so perfect, bars are redundant. Even in the Bible
all that begetting and begatting only led to misery,

morbidity, Moses, and murder. I beseech you,
my sisters, let's cease, desist, refrain,

take a breather, but no one can because we are
driven by tiny electrical sparks that bewilder,

befog, beguile, becloud our angelic intellect.
Besieged by hormones, we are stalked by a disease

unnamed, a romantic glaucoma. We are doomed to die,
bespattered and besmirched beneath the dirt,

under the pinks and pansies of domestic domination.
Oh, how I loathe you--perfect curtains, exquisite chairs,

crème brûlée of my dreams. Great gods of pyromania,
begrudge not your handmaiden, your fool, the flames

that fall from your fiery sky, for my dress is tattered
and my shoes are different colors, blue and red.

(From Delirium, 1995 University of North Texas Press)

Broken Promises
By David Kirby

I have met them in dark alleys, limping and one-armed;
I have seem them playing cards under a single light-bulb
and tried to join in, but they refused me rudely,
knowing I would only let them win.
I have seen them in the foyers of theaters,
coming back late from the interval

long after the others have taken their seats,
and in deserted shopping malls late at night,
peering at things they can never buy,
and I have found them wandering
in a wood where I too have wandered.

This morning I caught one;
small and stupid, too slow to get away,
it was only a promise I had made to myself once
and then forgot, but it screamed and kicked at me
and ran to join the others, who looked at me with reproach
in their long, sad faces.
When I drew near them, they scurried away,
even though they will sleep in my yard tonight.
I hate them for their ingratitude,
I who have kept countless promises,
as dead now as Shakespeare’s children.
“You bastards,” I scream,
“you have to love me—I gave you life!”

(From Big-Leg Music, 1995 Orchises Press)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Acts of Love" by Pam Rehm

So, I'm looking for a short poem to do a line break exercise tomorrow with my creative writing class and ended up at Poetry's online "poetry tool" and on a whim decided to look up the most popular poems on the site. This little poem by Pam Rehm came up first and I was quite pleased to discover it and not only because it is a nice example of what line breaks can do.

Acts of Love

If endear is earned
and is meant to identify
two halves

then it composes
one meaning

which means
a token

a knot
a note

a noting in the head
of how it feels

to have your heart
be the dear one

(Pam Rehm, from Small Works, 2005 Flood Editions)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

David Rivard

So, David Rivard is coming to UofM as a potential new hire (same as Joel Brouwer). I'm attending his reading on Monday. So far his poems don't blow my skirt up (the few I've read online at least). But there's an interesting interview with Rivard in AGNI from 2006.

"No one can convince me that even the most obscure, impenetrable poetic language doesn’t say something about someone’s life, either tonally or syntactically."

"Grace Paley says that a writing problem is always a life problem. I’m not sure if there’s any other reason to write except to discover what you are and what the world is."

"I don’t know, I’m finished with worrying about whether I’m doing the right thing or not—you have to get to a point where you realize there is no correct thing—there is no right way to do this. It’s freeing in a way. I’m just going to go on writing my poems; they will be recognized or not recognized. And more than likely, most, if not all, will be forgotten. That’s not modesty talking; I’ve just never had immortality as a goal. It seems pretty obvious that it’s best to live as if the future doesn’t exist. We’re all just scratching our marks, leaving our prints, putting our thumbprints down—and maybe someone will see them once in a while. But the point is to make use of your thumb while you have it."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Don't tell the "Intelligent Design" crowd

University of Michigan researchers scope out primates to figure out human behavior. If only human males had a Hyper-Color chest patch...

"Unique among primates, gelada males have a patch of bare skin on their chest that changes in color according to status. Beehner believes that this relationship (between color and status) might be linked by testosterone. As testosterone levels rise, male chests change from pale pink to bright red. Simply put, this chest patch could be a signal to other males, a way for males to decide whether they want to pick a fight with a high-testosterone rival or not."

Read all about it here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Joel Brouwer

Joel Brouwer is coming to UofM this week. If all goes well I'll get a chance to meet with him and maybe work with him. I did some digging around online to learn more about him. Here's a list of Joel Brouwer's Top Seven Love Poems from Poetry's Online Journal. Judging from this list, the man has good taste. He includes one of my favorite Tony Hoagland poems ("Windchime").

Brouwer also had a poem in the December 2006 issue of Poetry that I really like. You can read more of his poems at Poetry's web site. Here is one from Post Road and a couple more from The Blue Moon Review.

A Report to an Academy

And so among the starry refineries
and cattail ditches of New Jersey
his bus dips from egg-white sky into shadow.
When he next looks up from Kafka a blur
of green sanatorium tile flows by
then presto, Port Authority, full daylight.
He has been cheated of the river, dawn,
a considered fingering of his long
and polished rosary of second thoughts.
Is it any wonder children are born
weeping? Out to Eighth Avenue to walk
twenty blocks home to her sleeping curve
beneath a sheet. He cracks three eggs into
a bowl and says to each, Oh you got trouble?
The yellow yolk is his, the orange is hers,
the third simply glistens, noncommittal.
Except to mention Kafka's restlessness
before his death, his trips from spa to spa
to country house to sanatorium,
and that she's awake now, sweet with sleep sweat,
patting her belly's taut carapace and yes
hungry as an ape but first a kiss mister
how was your trip and what have you brought us,
and that the knowledge that dooms a marriage
is the knowledge prerequisite to marriage,
the poem has nothing further to report.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Monkey to other monkey: You do me, I'll do your hair

Study: Monkeys 'pay' for sex by grooming

The world's oldest profession, indeed.

Bob Hicok interview: greatest hits

Okay, so this interview with Bob Hicok is from the Sept. 2007 issue of The Writer's Chronicle. I'm a little behind in my reading. The whole interview is worth checking out, but here are the highlights - the things I found worth saving, if you will.

"There is also something particularly damning about being considered a funny poet. The most common notion is that poetry is and should be serious, that it's not the place for humor. And it's easy for poets who write with humor to give in to it, to let the laugh take over and steer the work."

"You want a chicken in the poem? Add one. There's so much latitude to jump, to go in one direction for a while and then another. The connection between threads may be logical or felt; it may not even exist. Poetry allows, and on some level, demands, this kind of movement."

"In a sense, lists work like figurative language: they bring things or ideas, words, into proximity, things which when linked, suggest patterns and relationships. 'Shoes' is not nearly as evocative as 'loafers and saddle shoes, wingtips and sneakers.' The elements of a list create a kind of nexus, a locus of words and images that, while specific, can open up in different ways in different minds. And rhythmically, they're quite elastic, can be used to augment the overall rhythm of lines and ideas or divert it, change it."

"What tends to happen is that poems that need revision will pile up. I really try to finish a poem the first time through. ... I do discard a lot, and it's not difficult. For me, it was harder when I was younger. I've been doing this long enough that I understand what my rhythm is. I trust that I will come up with more ideas. I've also become better at letting go of what's going to be a dead end. I can often tell I struck off in the wrong direction after three or four lines."

"Poets talk about musicality in poetry, and I think it's one of the most exaggerated things. If I have a choice of listening to someone read poetry or someone play the clarinet, I'm going to listen to the clarinet. There are certainly attributes of music in poetry, but it is at best a bastard child."

"Each of us is at the center of an ever-changing mix of thoughts and stimuli. The more I write, the more likely I am to capture the essence of these different moments."

Friday, January 4, 2008

"Monroeville, PA" by Ed Ochester

Monroeville, PA

One day a kid yelled
"Hey Asshole!"
and everybody on the street
turned around

(Ed Ochester, from Snow White Horses, 2000 Autumn House Press)