Friday, August 24, 2007
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I’m going to be heading down to the Outer Banks for a few days, and, as always when I’m trying to take a vacation, I’m leaving the laptop tethered to its docking station. I may post while I’m gone, should I wander into a library or similar web-connected facility, but I’m making no promises.
A vacation from my QWERTY keyboard seems appropriate for this blog’s fifth anniversary, which comes up next week. I thought up this little venture on the porch to a two-room cabin on
This blog had its 1.25 millionth visit yesterday, which means that there have been 250,000 additional visits since it passed the million mark just last February. That seems amazing to me, also humbling, but as I’ve noted before, the real news this year has been the number of page views, which shot up dramatically last September as several classes added the blog to their reading lists. Still, the blog set a new mark for the most visits on a single day just last Thursday. And last weekend I got a lovely thank you note from a poet in
There’s a certain irony in being added to syllabi, given my existence well beyond the periphery of the academy. The days when I could easily say yes to a short-term visiting writer’s gig pretty much vanished with the birth of my kids – my stint last year at Naropa was made possible only by a sabbatical on my day job, and there’s no guarantee that will happen again in this lifetime. Over the past twenty years, I’ve turned down a couple of permanent, even tenure-track teaching jobs that paid a fraction of what I make in the computer industry, as well as a number of invitations for one-class or one-semester adjunct spots. If anyone offered a serious position, I’d seriously consider it. But it would appear that the chances of that happening are about the same as the Democrats ending the war in Iraq.
So I think what I’m going to do for the next week is just to put my feet up, slowly read my way through this stack of books here that have been calling my name now for some time, and then maybe go down to the beach & stick my feet in the water. See you in September.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
This I Believe
C. Dale Young
A review of
Di Brandt & Robyn Sarah
in Amish country
to becoming laureate
a reading with
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma
Hey, Mrs. Shakespeare,
Mrs. Shakespeare, please,
Hey, Mrs. Shakespeare,
Mrs. Shakespeare, please,
I’m down on my knees
book club of one
you may already be a whiner
Remembering a Brahmin
of her role
“poetry’s epicenter” –
must have some
suddenly an expert
in your subject
The ongoing saga
of the Barnes
a theory of the coffee house
The politics of opera,
a rightwing perspective
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Amy England, Victory and Her Opposites: A Guide,
David Giannini, Others’ Lines (Series I and II) * Tricollage, Peter Ganick’s small chapbook project,
Noah Eli Gordon & Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Figures for a Darkroom Voice, Tarpaulin Sky,
Nancy Krygowski, Velocity,
Bobbi Lurie, Letter from the Lawn, Custom Words,
Dan Machlin, Dear Body:, Ugly Duckling Presse,
Sheila E. Murphy, Skinny Buddha, dusi/e chaps, dusie.org, 2007
Simon Perchik, Rafts, Parsifal Editions,
Christopher William Purdom, Shades of Grey, Volume III, self-published, 2007
Karin Randolph, Natural Selection, Green Zone,
Emma Rossi, Becoming, Green Zone,
Hugh Steinberg, Our Virginities, dusi/e chaps, dusie.org, 2007
Carol Szamatowicz, Le réchauffé, Green Zone,
Labels: Recently Received
Monday, August 20, 2007
Not that long ago I received a mailing envelope from England in which there was a small matchbox, the top of which reads, black boldface against a yellow background, one word per line, Scott / Thurston / Internal / Rhyme. Inside, postal authorities will be relieved to learn, were no matches, but rather many little slips of paper, plus, near the bottom, the negative of a single frame of film inside of some protective plastic. The “largest” sheet of paper (roughly three inches wide, one & one-eighth inches high) describes the project:
Originally seven poems of four stanzas each, arranged two by two, and readable both horizontally and vertically. In this presentation each stanzas is to be read individually and/or as part of a 28 stanza sequence, in new two by two patterns (recommended) or in entirely new combinations. See www.matchbox.org.uk for more.
A sample stanza (each is a quatrain) reads:
I can feel your
of relief at the end of
The website is particularly useful in its demonstration of possible combinations, which can be found through the link under Scott’s photo on the “Boxers” page of the site.
The result is a particularly simpatico example of poetry as ludic language. The implicit argument – that there is no “wrong” way to read these lines – is itself a claim about the truth value of poetry itself, that it lies beyond (or at the very least beside) any question of reference. My reaction on delving through the box, trying out different possibilities, is one of great pleasure.
The image on the negative appears to be an automobile photographed with a “fish-eye” lens, giving it that Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror look. There is an explanatory sheet for this as well, which reads
INTERNAL RHYME photographic responses by Simon Taylor
A single negative from a set of 150 responses by Simon Taylor to Scott Thurston’s Internal Rhyme. For details of how to develop your original print visit Simon’s page on the Matchbox site: www.matchbox.org.uk/simon.html
This in turn recommends
HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR
For pristine results you'll need a prolab, not a high street photo-shop. Acrom in
Some prolabs say they can't print from a single negative. Don't believe them. An A3 image will cost you about £20.
And suggests that you write to Simon to discuss your image.
Nor does the fun stop here. The bottom of the box contains a wee photo of Scott Thurston, along with two modes of poetry trivia, one a “Did you know” question & answer, the other a puzzle –
According to Frank Kuppner, how many Second Best Moments in Chinese History are there?
The answer to which can be found on the website.
In all, this is the 9th in the series – it’s the eighth one I’ve got (missing only number 6, Tim Atkins) – out of what appears to be a projected 12. Other authors include Ray DiPalma, Bill Griffiths, Lisa Jarnot, P. Inman, Allen Fisher & Craig Dworkin, definitely a first-rate roster of poets.
Matchbox, which is the brainchild of James Davies in
Arthur Winfield Knight
Henry David Thoreau
Ralph Waldo Emmerson
W. H. Auden
Diane di Prima
George W. Bush (APRIL FOOL)
In general, Matchbox focuses on post-avant writers from the past 30 years whereas Poems-for-All tends more toward a Beat & New American focus from the historical period immediately prior to that, which makes them generally poetic cousins. Perhaps their greatest area of divergence is their distribution strategy. Matchbox lists a total of five known distribution points other than subscription as a means of getting these boxed delights – three are in
scattered around town – on buses, trains, cabs, in restrooms, bars, left along with the tip; stuffed into a stranger's back pocket.
Both of these projects are in the tradition of Joyce Holland’s legendary Matchbook, published in
if you should see
walking down a crowded street
in the opposite direction
but run toward him
for he is a POET!
you have NOTHING to fear
from the poet
but the TRUTH
There was a time when I had a fairly good collection of issues of Matchbook, but that was 30 years ago & today I couldn’t tell you where a single copy was. I feel/fear that this may be the fate of these delightful little projects that I now have in hand, as it has been also for more than a few broadsides of mine over the years.¹ These literal ephemera make something like the Hanuman Press books, four by two & three-quarter inches & thick enough to warrant perfect binding, feel like Maximus or The Cantos in comparison, and they seem almost to flaunt their fragility. In so doing, they make the case for the presentness of poetry itself (this may be why these projects always pop up on the post-avant side of the continuum) as well as for the temporary nature of poetry, so like words melting into air.
¹ The worst situation being my copy of Robert Grenier’s Cambridge M’ass, a booklength epic on a huge single sheet, that was “liberated” from my office at San Francisco State back in 1982. I’ve never been able to obtain another and a search of the web’s rare books’ engines turns up not a single available copy.