Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rock & Roll poet M.L. Liebler

M.L. Liebler, a man who makes poetry happen -- and matter -- in Detroit, is on the cover of this week's Metro Times: "At his core, Liebler's all about devotion and honesty, and the unending search for the poetry in everyday life. He has a million yarns born of experiences ... but his story is embedded in Detroit, rooted in his route to find religion. The connective tissue that ties it all together? Poetry and rock 'n' roll, which, for M.L. Liebler, are two legs attached to the same vagabond body."

Or, as M.L. himself puts it, "I see poetry as a way of life, an essential nutrient to everyday life for every person — not just for intellectuals, people who went to college or those who just read a lot. I think poetry is something that people need and can use, but they have to be exposed to it in an accessible way. Some poets don't see their mission that way, and that's fine, not all poets need to see things that way, but, for me, that's the only way to do it — get out there and bring it to the people."

When asked if the early '70s poetry scene then "puts to shame what we have today," M.L. replies, "Are you kidding? I think that's all romanticized. We were struggling to get seven people in a room back then. We just did a big poetry walk in Chelsea — different readings at different venues with a ton of different poets that concluded with me and beat legend Michael McClure back at the library. There were probably 500 people that participated. The next day we were at the Scarab Club with McClure, a Republican writer, three women from the suburbs and a lesbian from the city. People were standing, sitting, leaning, crouching, just squeezing in together."

Hey, guess who that "lesbian from the city" was? Though, in truth, I live in Ferndale. But I am really close to 8 Mile...

Poet missing in Japan

Via Slog, a poet named Craig Arnold is missing in Japan after exploring a volcano. The Poetry Foundation is carrying the same news on their blog as is the New York Times. I hope that he is found and that he is safe.

Of many reasons I love you here is one

the way you write me from the gate at the airport
so I can tell you everything will be alright

so you can tell me there is a bird
trapped in the terminal all the people
ignoring it because they do not know
what do with it except to leave it alone
until it scares itself to death

it makes you terribly terribly sad

You wish you could take the bird outside
and set it free or (failing that)
call a bird-understander
to come help the bird

All you can do is notice the bird
and feel for the bird and write
to tell me how language feels
impossibly useless

but you are wrong

You are a bird-understander
better than I could ever be
who make so many noises
and call them song

These are your own words
your way of noticing
and saying plainly
of not turning away
from hurt

you have offered them
to me I am only
giving them back

if only I could show you
how very useless
they are not

(Craig Arnold, 2009)

You can read more of his poems at the Poetry Foundation Web site.

To paraphrase Peter Gabriel: "[Seize] the Monkey"

Bad monkey smugglers. Bad. (via Slog)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Mother Dance" by Samara

This is my wife, dancing at a recent hafla in Utica. She is, as you'll notice, quite pregnant. She's been belly dancing for years and, though I love her so, I must admit that the whole hafla/belly dancing/Ren Fest scene is so not my thing. But this particular dance is an exception to the rule. I could watch it over and over again. And have.

Of course, the "super powers" of most pregnant women are a little more, well, mundane. But no less super.
Superhero Pregnant Woman

Her sense of smell is ten times stronger.
And so her husband smells funny;
she rolls away from him in the bed.
She even smells funny to herself,
but cannot roll away from that.

Why couldn’t she get a more useful superpower?
Like the ability to turn invisible, or fly?

The refrigerator laughs at her from its dark corner,
knowing she will have to open it some time
and surrender to its villainous odors.

(Jessy Randall, from A Day in Boyland, Ghost Road Press, 2007)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Grief" by Matthew Dickman

I can't remember exactly, but I am pretty sure it was Karyna McGlynn via her review of Dickman's book on, who turned me on to Matthew Dickman's poetry. I'd heard his name here and there but decided to Google him and see if I could find some of his stuff to read online. Sure enough, I found two poems on, which is the Web site of the NPR show hosted by Dick Gordon. Matthew was the subject of a February 29, 2008 episode of The Story titled "The Manny" about his time working as a nanny for the Nakayama family (you can listen to the episode and even download it on the Web site). He looked after the Nakayama's young son, Gilbert, and also helped look after Isamu, Gilbert's father, who was dying of brain cancer. It is an incredible, touching story. And now I want Matthew to be my nanny, because this is the kind of man I want my son to be around.

Not only that, but I also now love the poems I've read so far and can't wait to get his book All American Poem which won The American Poetry Review First Book Prize in Poetry last year.

When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla

you must count yourself lucky.

You must offer her what's left

of your dinner, the book you were trying to finish

you must put aside

and make her a place to sit at the foot of your bed,

her eyes moving from the clock

to the television and back again.

I am not afraid. She has been here before

and now I can recognize her gait

as she approaches the house.

Some nights, when I know she's coming,

I unlock the door, lie down on my back,

and count her steps

from the street to the porch.

Tonight she brings a pencil and a ream of paper,

tells me to write down

everyone I have ever known

and we separate them between the living and the dead

so she can pick each name at random.

I play her favorite Willie Nelson album

because she misses Texas

but I don't ask why.

She hums a little,

the way my brother does when he gardens.

We sit for an hour

while she tells me how unreasonable I've been,

taking down the pictures of my family,

not writing, refusing to shower,

staring too hard at girls younger than my sister.

Eventually she puts one of her heavy

purple arms around me, leans

her head against mine,

and all of a sudden things are feeling romantic.

So I tell her,

things are feeling romantic.

She pulls another name, this time

from the dead

and turns to me in that way that parents do

so you feel embarrassed or ashamed of something.

Romantic? She says,

reading the name out loud, slowly

so I am aware of each syllable,

each consonant resembling a swollen arm, the collapsed ear,

a mouth full of teeth, each vowel

wrapping around the bones like new muscle,

the sound of that person's body

and how reckless it is,

how careless that his name is in one pile and not the other.

(Matthew Dickman)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poetry from the brain trauma center

Poetry is a weird kind of writing. I don't know what makes a person want to write it, but I do think there is something in a poet's brain that facilitates unusual connections between ideas and words and sounds.

I recently read A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas. In it she recalls her life with her dogs and with her husband who suffers a brain injury after being struck by a car. It is a sad and humbling account of loss and the comfort people take in animals. What is most fascinating, however, is that after her husband's accident, he often says things that are strange and beautiful and, well, poetic.
"In the first weeks after his accident, Rich spoke in mysteries. It was as if he were now connected to some vast reservoir of wisdom, available only to those whose brains have been altered, a reservoir unencumbered by personality, quirks, history, habits. 'It is interesting to think that one could run farther and longer and perhaps find the answer,' he said one evening, drifting in and out of delirious talk. 'What would you get to?' I asked, eager for the answer. 'The allure of distance' was what he said, a dreamy phrase" (p. 17).

When his youngest daugter, Catherine, visits him in the hospital: "'Do you eat field mice?' he asked, a strange question we thought, until I realized that the first three letters of her name spell 'cat'" (p. 18).

Upon going down a hospital hallway for a CAT scan: "You always know you're in for it when you're going down a long hall with nobody else in it" (p. 22).

After the author tells Rich she loves him he says, "That's worth twenty hats and all the signatures in the world" (p. 33).

On living in a facility: "'I'm alone,' he says waving his arm down the hall. 'Hundreds of single beds,' he says, 'hundreds of single beds with old men lying in them with their boots on'" (p. 51).

"'You squeezed all those colors from fruit,' Rich observed the other day. I was knitting a scarf out of red and purple wool" (p. 62).

Believing his foot is going to be amputated, Rich asks his wife as she strokes his foot, "How much sensation makes a toe?" (p. 136).

"I feel like a tent that wants to be a kite, tugging at my stakes" (p. 162).

The book, like many I've read lately, also mentions monkeys. "Through this tube, which resembles a monkey's tail as it curls out from under the covers to the IV pole, they give him nourishment and medicine. The shape of the tube may be what gives rise to Rich's belief that there is literally a monkey in the bed. 'There's no monkey,' I tell him. 'Don't be so sure,' he says, lifting the sheet to peer beneath it" (p. 22).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Inaugural Poem Remix

Granted this is a day late and a dollar short, but while searching for songs with the word "movie" in the title on the Hype Machine I stumbled upon a song called "Sparklesharp: The Movie" by Pflaphpschoen. I clicked to listen to it and it was this weird ambient violin music with a lady talking and saying random things. I saw it was from WFMU's Beware of the Blog, which often posts extremely weird stuff. So I checked it out. And what do you know? WFMU apparently asked for folks to submit remixes of “Praise Song for the Day,” Elizabeth Alexander's inaugural poem. The best ones use Alexander's own voice and are kind of cool (PLU + RIAA's "A Golden Induction" and Sick To The Back Teeth's "Take Out Your Boom" for example), while the worst ones skip using her voice entirely, opting instead for a supposedly "funny" but more often stupid voice. Many are unlistenable (spare yourself any of the Fatty Jubbo remixes). But it's a cool idea regardless of the resulting execution (and I definitely mean that in every possible way).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tickle Me Slow-Lo

Aww, super cute, right? But before you rush off to get a slow loris of your own, you should know they're endangered -- threatened by habitat loss, the illegal pet trade, and domestic trade in Cambodia where "carcasses are dried and smoked for use in ... traditional remedies."

They're also, well, gross. From "As cute as the slow loris is, it is considered an endangered species and not really suitable as a pet. Not only are they illegal to own, but they have sharp teeth and wild-like behaviors. For example, the loris marks its territory with urine... constantly... for the span of its entire life. This is not a habit that can be changed like house training a cat or dog."

And if that doesn't keep you from smuggling a loris home in your suitcase, perhaps their poisonous elbows will.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Not to be confused with Malibu Barbie

Malibu Monkey is a brand of lemonade. Or, more aptly, a lemonade made by a guy who hates Hollywood, but desperately wants to be a part of it. So, really, it is so much more.
"Dale Carnegie famously said: 'If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.' I say: 'If life gives you hackneyed cliches and homespun parables, you are an unimaginative, slope-browed troglodyte, most likely working as a sitcom show runner or writing romantic comedies. If that is the case, then you are wealthy enough to buy my amazing Balsamic Lemonade or Basil-Infused Limeade by the truckload."
And what, really, are you waiting for? Unless, of course, you'd rather "hang yourself from one of 'O's' in the Hollywood sign with a noose made from your Kabbalah strings and rubber cancer-awareness bracelets." That suggestion comes right on the bottle, but unless you're a Hollywood agent, entertainment lawyer, or manager, don't worry. It doesn't apply to you.

Drink up, indeed.

Thanks, Videogum, for bringing this into my life. Or something.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Airport by Emily Kendal Frey

You don't need a lot of words to say something big. Big as a jumbo jet, even. Airport by Emily Kendal Frey is a collection of short poems (because that's the way she rolls) all about the so-called friendly skies and the places we endure while waiting to be airborne. Airport was digitally published by Blue Hour Press, which means you can read the whole thing online for free. And you should. And not just because Emily is someone I know and happen to like (we've never met, but we're totally Facebook friends).

Here's one of my favorites from the book.


How do we live
much less

in this place

of potential

I don't mean
burning clouds

but the people
on the ground

ready to
forget us

before we
come down

(Emily Kendal Frey, from Airport, 2009 Blue Hour Press)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy by Tao Lin

Oh, how I wanted to like Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy by Tao Lin. I wanted it to be the hip, acerbic, witty poetry I aspire to write. But it was not to be.

Ray McDaniel reviewed the book last year and talks about it far more intelligently -- and generously -- than I could.

Still, the first poem in the book, "I will learn how to love a person and then I will teach you and then we will know," is promising and, as a result, a bit misleading.

I will learn how to love a person and then I will teach you and then we will know

seen from a great enough distance i cannot be seen
i feel this as an extremely distinct sensation
of feeling like shit; the effect of small children
is that they use declarative sentences and then look at your face
with an expression that says, 'you will never do enough
for the people you love'; i can feel the universe expanding
and it feels like no one is trying hard enough
the effect of this is an extremely shitty sensation
of being the only person alive; i have been alone for a very long time
it will take an extreme person to make me feel less alone
the effect of being alone for a very long time
is that i have been thinking very hard and learning about existence, morality
loneliness, people, society, and love; i am afraid
that i am not learning fast enough; i can feel the universe expanding
and it feels like no one has ever tried hard enough ; when I cried in your room
it was the effect of an extremely distinct sensation that 'i am the only person
alive,' 'i have not learned enough,' and 'i can feel the universe
expanding and making things be further apart
and it feels like a declarative sentence
whose message is that we must try harder'

(Tao Lin, Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy, Melville House, 2008)

Love in an elevator...

Okay, truthfully this has nothing to do with the Aerosmith song, but I can't help but get the song stuck in my head wherever elevators are concerned. And this post concerns elevators.

A student of mine alerted me to this video of a guy stuck in an elevator in a New York office building for 41 hours. It was a Friday night, he was working late. He went out for a smoke and when he tried to go back to work, the elevator stopped somewhere around floor 13. He had no watch or cell phone, no way to tell the time and no connection to the outside world.

You can read more about his experience in Nick Paumgarten's brilliant article "Up and Then Down: The lives of elevators," which was published last year in the New Yorker.

In the article, Paumgarten writes, "While anthems have been written to jet travel, locomotives, and the lure of the open road, the poetry of vertical transportation is scant."

While probably true, I offer you a poem featuring an elevator regardless.
Self-Inquiry Before the Job Interview

Did you sneeze?
Yes, I rid myself of the imposter inside me.

Did you iron your shirt?
Yes, I used the steam of mother's hate.

Did you wash your hands?
Yes, I learned my hygiene from a raccoon.

I prayed on my knees, and my knees answered with pain.
I gargled. I polished my shoes until I saw who I was.
I inflated my résumé by employing my middle name.

I walked to my interview, early,
The sun like a ring on an electric stove.
I patted my hair when I entered the wind of a revolving door.
The guard said, For a guy like you, it's the 19th floor.

The economy was up. Flags whipped in every city plaza
In America. This I saw for myself as I rode the elevator,
Empty because everyone had a job but me.

Did you clean your ears?
Yes, I heard my fate in the drinking fountain's idiotic drivel.

Did you slice a banana into your daily mush?
I added a pinch of salt, two raisins to sweeten my breath.

Did you remember your pen?
I remembered my fingers when the elevator opened.

I shook hands that dripped like a dirty sea.
I found a chair and desk. My name tag said my name.
Through the glass ceiling, I saw the heavy rumps of CEOs.
Outside my window, the sun was a burning stove,
All of us pushing papers
To keep it going.

(Gary Soto, from Poetry July 2001)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Operation April 19th Reading is complete

If you missed the poetry reading at the Scarab Club today, well, sad for you. There was a really good turn out (there were people who didn't even have anywhere to sit). The audience was moved to tears of joy and everyone got a free iPhone.* It was like being on Oprah but, you know, with poetry.

I was one of the readers (really, I was. Even if I am not listed on the Metro Detroit Writers Web site) and I was very happy to be reading alongside some friends and some folks I've never met before. Reading today were Sophia Rivkin, Liz Volpe, Rebecca Rank, George Dila (who read short fiction), Brett Lott (who also read short fiction) and Michael McClure (that's a picture of him on the right).

Seeing/hearing Michael McClure read was an interesting experience. I had never heard of him before today, which probably has a lot to do with my age and the fact that I've never been into the beat poets. But McClure used to hang with Dylan and Ginsberg and Janis Joplin and other people who are dead now.** So, you know, McClure is walking, talking, poetry reciting history.

He reads his stuff in a really growly, breathy way (reminded me of that radio host of Pillow Talk that used to be on Lite FM or something at night when I was a kid. I could never understand why the ladies would call in and say how much they loved his voice) with his mouth really close to the mic. I am glad I didn't have to read after him since I would have wanted to swab the mic with an anti-bacterial wipe. Nothing personal, I just fear germs.

In any case, McClure wasn't really my thing, though he's good at what he does -- not very many people can recite Chaucer in Old English on a whim, for example. At least, that's what he was purportedly doing. For all I know he was just making it up as he went along. In fact, he did make up his own language and he read one of the 99 poems he told us he's written using "beast language." A good lot of it was in English, but then there was plenty of guttural growls and grunts (which, again, could have been Chaucer for all I know), which sounded like noises a male gorilla might make when trying to woo lady apes. As much as I love primates, I have come to the conclusion that poems containing grunts are creepy to me.

The grunting poem made me think of Robert Bly who McClure took a shot at (in good fun, I'm assuming) before reading his last two poems, both haikus. "Now I could be like Robert Bly and read these four times until you got it," McClure said. The audience chuckled because, ha ha, silly drum beating Robert Bly. But then McClure DID read the poems more than once which was, just as when Bly does it, unnecessary, and, because McClure had just made fun of Bly for doing it, annoying. However, his two haikus were quite good and the best thing he read.

The reading was put on by Springfed Arts Metro Detroit Writers. They do a lot of good for writing in the Detroit area, so support them and stuff.

*Not true.

**I know Dylan is not dead.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm reading on Sunday

If you don't have any plans on Sunday (or if you do, cancel 'em!), come to the Scarab Club in Detroit to hear me read. It's apparently a super secret reading since it isn't on the Metro Detroit Writer's Web site, but it is happening none the less. I will be reading with a bunch of other poets, some of whom I am sure are fabulous, but I can't remember who any of them are since this reading was confirmed so long ago and, as I said, things are pretty hush hush. But then, I can understand since over crowding at poetry readings is a very common occurrence. The ladies in the audience get pretty wild, too, throwing bras and whatnot. A lot of times I don't even tell people I'm a poet because I get tired of being mobbed and just want to live a normal life.

The details:
WHAT: Metro Detroit Writers Poetry Reading featuring D'Anne Witkowski and other poets
WHEN: Sunday, April 19, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Scarab Club 217 Farnsworth Street; Detroit, MI; 48202

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sweet Juniper!

My sister just made me aware of Sweet Juniper, a blog about Detroit. Or, rather, a blog by a guy who lives in and writes about Detroit:
"Detroit is the first place I lived after quitting a soulless job to stay home and take care of my kids. This scarred landscape will forever be the backdrop to the most wonderful time of my life. I can't help but think that general state of mind has improved my impression of the city. I don't write about Detroit because I expect everyone out there to care, but I do hope anyone reading this site will feel how important the idea of 'place' is in all our lives."

He also has Sweet Juniper Inspiration, which is more about his family life and things that inspire him or, in the case of Al Perkins and Eric Gurney's Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb (one of those Dr. Seuss books that really isn't by Dr. Seuss), frighten him a bit.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I take issue with William Carlos Williams

I just finished reading William Carlos Williams Selected Poems, Enlarged Edition (1912-1962) published by New Directions Paperback in 1969 with a cover price of $1.75. My wife bought it for me at a used bookstore several years ago (for $4.50, in fact). I don't remember why. Anyway, it took me a long time to read it. Almost a year, in fact, though partly due to the fact that it fell between the bed and the wall and was MIA for a few months, and partly because it was boring. Not all of it, mind you. Just most of it. In fact, as I neared the end (wow, that sounds so... terminal. But it also felt that way), I had pretty much come to the conclusion that WCW is way overrated. More than once while reading poem after poem about sparrows and springtime I thought, "So much depends on a red wheelbarrow, my ass" (a reference, of course, to WCW's most famous and widely anthologized poem "The Red Wheelbarrow," for which forest after forest of trees have been sacrificed to create the reams of white copy paper on which high school and college students have ruminated about wet chickens).

But then I read Book One of "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower," which is plugged on the back of the book with a quote by W. H. Auden as "one of the most beautiful love poems in the language."

Yeah, right, I thought. And considering that "Asphodel" doesn't come until page 142 and I was reading the book sequentially, I had little hope that Auden's favorite WCW poem was going to pull my opinion back from the brink.

And it didn't. Not about "The Red Wheelbarrow," at least. But I have to say, Auden was/is right. "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower" is a really beautiful poem (or at least Book One and Coda, which is all that's in this anthology because it was apparently a priority for the majority of the poems in this volume to be utterly forgettable). It's an address from one lover to another after the two have been loving each other a very long time. It and expresses the kind of love that most couples at the beginning of their marriage envision their relationship will grow into, but seems to rarely happen. It's the kind of poem I can imagine reading to my wife on our 50th wedding anniversary.

Here are some of my favorite lines:
"I cannot say / that I have gone to hell / for your love / but often / found myself there / in your pursuit."

"When I speak / of flowers / it is to recall / that at one time / we were young."

On flowers pressed in a book: "They were sweet / when I pressed them / and retained / something of their sweetness / a long time. / It is a curious odor, / a moral odor / that brings me / near to you. / The color / was the first to go."

And then there are these lines, often quoted by poets: "It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably ever day / for lack / of what is found there."

Monday, April 13, 2009


Here's a photo of me showing off my new Patchoulius shirt that I got for my birthday. Lisa sent it to me by way of California, along with Julius slippers because I am that kind of girl. As for the shorts or pants or whatever the mannequin, er, I'm wearing in this picture, I have no comment. Okay, I do have a comment: I would never wear those. In public.

Confidential to Lisa: You are awesome and I love you.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Colin Meloy: too literate for his own good?

Jody Rosen's hilarious "literary analysis" of Colin Meloy's lyrics for the new Decemberists album: "The reams of verse seem designed mostly to demonstrate book-learning and to flatter an audience of current and former English majors."

Read the whole thing ("When Rock Stars Read Edmund Spenser: The eight most pretentious lyrics from the new Decemberists album") on

Thursday, April 9, 2009

O Fortuna, for Peace Monkey's sake

For this I thank my little sister Amanda, who isn't so little since she's old enough to be sent to real jail, not juvie.

Happy Birthday to me

My friend Meghan, who is a librarian and so has a wealth of access to creepy things, posted this video to my Facebook page today. And so I am sharing it with you. She said it made her dog go nuts. So if you have a dog, play it for them. Maybe there is a secret message for animals that human ears cannot hear.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A picture is worth a line of verse

Did you know that it is National Poetry Month? Well, it is, whether you're participating or not. Over the years, The Academy of American Poets, bless their hearts, has come up with some cool ways to observe poetry's high holy month. This year's way to make poetry fun is to take a picture of it. Inspired by their NPM 2009 poster image by Paul Sahre, NPM is sponsoring the Free Verse Photo Competition. Basically, write a line or two of verse on something and take a picture of it. While some of the entries look an awful lot like vandalism, there are a lot of really cool photos. And even the really uncool photos are forgivable since their very existence means that someone out there was engaged with poetry for as long as it took to get the shot right.

While this one isn't exactly beautiful, it does use verse from David Berman, who I am a big fan of. Plus, I am totally writing this on the next birthday cake I make, with no explanation.

This one uses lines from Amy Gerstler's "Dog World." I like Amy Gerstler and I love dogs. So, obviously a winner in my book.

And since I just posted about donuts two days ago, I thought this one was especially fitting. The verse is from "Green Squall" Jay Hopler.

Paul Frank stroller!

If anyone out there has an extra $1,000 or so lying around and wants to get this for me, go ahead.

Actually, even if I had an extra $1,000 I still couldn't justify spending this much on a stroller. Though I am sure my son would look exceptionally cute in it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

You make me flarf

Today I learned about flarf. I can't tell you what it is, exactly, but I can tell you that it has something to do with using Google search results to create a sort of found poetry. It is brilliant. It is stupid. Perhaps these things cancel each other out. There is a blog devoted to flarf. And then there is The Flarf Files, which is your best bet in learning about flarf. Of course, there is also Wikipedia, which is a good start (it's where I started).

Needless to say, I have no idea how to do flarf poetry. But since there don't seem to be any rules, I decided to compose a poem using search results for the term "jelly donut." A lot of the results had to do with Chanukah, so I thought it only fitting that I should post my poem (term used very loosely here) and dedicate it to all of my Jewish friends celebrating Passover (and yes, I realize that Chanukah and Passover aren't the same, but I'm not in charge of the calendar and this jelly donut flarf thing is happening now).
Jelly Doughnuts Especially for Chanukah

Israelis eat jelly donuts
a jelly donut and for god's sake!
Still very much a member of the donut family,
jelly donuts look absolutely gorgeous.

Pretend you are just starting to eat a jelly donut.
A jelly donut and cup of tea. Looking at photo albums.
Take on the taste and nutrition of bite size jelly donuts.
Begin a serious consultation with a jelly donut,
exceptionally fragrant and unusual,
the one your admirers will wish they had thought of first,
like sleeping on a sugary bed of sweetness.

The guy in the Jelly Donut costume
has his opponent bite the dust-like confectioner's sugar.
Now there's some sound political advice.

I bet you didn’t know a real live person puts the jelly in the jelly donuts.
I made these for Kirsten’s birthday.
WWJD? Who wants jelly donuts?
So that's what we ate for dinner.

FYI: If you're going to bother eating a jelly donut, you really should go all the way and eat a Paczki and if you're going to eat a Paczki you really need to get one from a real Polish bakery. If you're in the Detroit area, head to Hamtramck.

UPDATE: It has been pointed out to me that my Jewish friends must abstain from the jelly donut during Passover. I cannot be held responsible for any jelly donut-related cravings that may occur as a result of this poem. Blame the flarf. Or think of it as me helping you to keep the faith (to quote Bon Jovi).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Erasure poetry

At my reading on April 1, I read a poem that came out of one of those erasure exercises the kids are all doing these days. An astute audience member (the lovely Kristie Kachler) asked me what the source text was and I could not remember at the time. I said I would look it up when I got home, and so I have. It was "Pointed Roofs" by Dorthy Miller Richardson. I got it from the Wave poetry site, which offers 20 different texts for slicing and dicing. Or, really, erasing, on a computer. It is perhaps more authentic, and more fun, to instead do this in a really old book that doesn't belong to you.

You can see the erasure poem I did as it existed on the screen Jan. 25, 2009 and, also, once I strong armed it into some lines on March 31, 2009.

The bright sweep of faces—
girls scattered here
collectors of nervous music.
The first: a duet running in
swollen lines. Subsequent pieces
left fingers weak, wrists
dreadful and resented,
nothing but touch and blue tiles.
Two to three forgotten girls
almost unrecognizable.
Limbs and eyes
slurred soundlessly musical
by winter, so easily rid of her
and her and her.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

"Spritle" by Deastro

The Five Three Dial Tone record release show for Deastro's "Spritle" 7" was tonight at the Crofoot. Sadly I could not stay for the show, but I drove up to Pontiac anyway to get my hands on the goods. "Spritle" is perhaps the best song ever and I love it so. Jay, Mr. Five Three Dial Tone himself, has been a champion of Deastro and "Spritle" ever since the song was born and it's exciting to see it out in the world sounding so good (props to the folks who recorded and mixed it). Listen to it yourself at 53Dt's MySpace page.

Oh, and not only is "Spritle" an amazing song, the lyrics make reference to an ape. Here's the chorus:
"Oh my brother
tell me which way to go.
I've got ape like eyes
and preacher thighs
a mouth and a stereo."

The 7" is only $7 (that's a buck an inch! Fair!) from 53Dt's Web site. Deastro is an artist worth supporting with actual dollars. Keep yer eyes peeled for Moondagger due out in June on Ghostly International.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Poems in your brain

There's an interesting essay by Jim Holt in The New York Times Sunday Book Review about memorizing poetry. Holt makes a case for memorization, preferring to recite from memory than read from a page ("It’s the difference between sight-reading a Beethoven piano sonata and playing it from memory — doing the latter, you somehow feel you come closer to channeling the composer’s emotions. And with poetry you don’t need a piano").

I wish I had a head full of poems. Laura Kasischke made us all memorize and recite a poem for her poetry workshop when I was getting my MFA. I am glad she did that, even if I did flub a bit of mine (Anne Sexton's "I Remember").

Dorianne Laux, one of my favorite poets, has lots of poems memorized, including her own. She's one of the best readers I've ever heard, and by read I guess I mean "recite" since I don't remember her reading anything. If you ever get the chance to see her read/recite work, do it.
I Remember

By the first of August
the invisible beetles began
to snore and the grass was
as tough as hemp and was
no color--no more than
the sand was a color and
we had worn our bare feet
bare since the twentieth
of June and there were times
we forgot to wind up your
alarm clock and some nights
we took our gin warm and neat
from old jelly glasses while
the sun blew out of sight
like a red picture hat and
one day I tied my hair back
with a ribbon and you said
that I looked almost like
a puritan lady and what
I remember best is that
the door to your room was
the door to mine.

(Anne Sexton, from The Selected Poems of Anne Sexton, edited by Diane Wood Middlebrook, 2000 Mariner Books)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Itty bitty monkey will fill whatever cuteness void exists in you

No wonder so many people want to keep them as pets. (Still a bad idea.)

From YouTube: "Elke, the four-day-old hand raised Francois Leaf-Monkey is shown for the first time at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. The Leaf-Monkeys native habitat is Northeast Vietnam and Southeast China." Posted March 23, 2009.

Glenn Beck's third and final poetry round shares the gift of Glenn Beck's tender verse for the third and final time. Make sure to read them all.

My favorite: the one where Jesus gives all of your money to the Octomom. But this one is also nice (and short):
To A Lover

I want to, I want to say
I want to say to you
That you have been
Unbelievably gracious to me;
And you have no reason to be.

(Glenn Beck, Fox News, March 12, 2009)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More Glenn Beck poetry courtesy of keeps the Glenn Beck verse coming in honor of National Poetry Month. Or something.

My favorite of the day:
The Border

You stand up for the border,
You're a racist.
Are you really a racist?
I'm not a racist.

("The Glenn Beck Program," Premiere Radio Networks, Nov. 27, 2007)

God bless America.

No joke: You can kick off National Poetry Month with me

Happy National Poetry Month! As if that's something people say. Still, April is the offical month of poetry and to kick things off, if you so desire, you can come see/hear me read poetry of my very own at Crazy Wisdom in Ann Arbor tonight at 7 p.m.

If you're all, "That's not enough notice!" Or, "Ann Arbor is so far away," or whatever your excuse, I have another reading on the 19th in Detroit at the Scarab Club. More on that later.