No, Really … Lucky You, Carl

This is going to be a short and sweet entry. I am trying to figure out a title for my second collection of poetry with no luck … literally. The title I felt so married to — Lucky You — is already a title of a novel by Carl Haissen. Carl … if you read this … contact me. I respect your work very much … you are one of the most popular authors with my patrons at the Library where I work. You are the man … a man who beat me to the title Lucky You. I would be honored to chat with you … and by the way, do you know Christopher Moore personally? I would like to chat with him as well.

My inability to come up with a title prevented me from submitting the Ms. to the Motherwell Fence Books Competition. However, I am making myself feel a little better in the knowledge that their next competition is due Jan. 30. I will be so ready … like the boxer in training for all his days … and I have a good (however false) feeling about 2007. Ciao.

Published in: on December 30, 2006 at 7:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday Wandering

I had great success in distributing many flyers (15 or so … till I ran out) promoting my January 11th reading in Kalamazoo. And I love wandering the streets … it has been an oddly mild December in Michigan.

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts has a lot that evokes joy and inspiration in me. The most significant work in the museum is William Harnett’s trompe d’loeil, Colossal Luck. But now, and for a limited time only, are also dollhouses. Miniatures are so striking and I especially enjoy the houses that are unpeopled … and it looks as if they left in a hurry. Everything remains alive but alone. This was especially fascinating when I was viewing the blacksmith’s quarters. He and his family would live in the modest cottage above the shop. The seemingly “abandoned” shop and home were eerie and beautiful and fun to think about. The discarded anvil and tattered leather apron; the neatly made beds and set dinner table. Everything was ready for something that would never happen. The building waited on someones who would never appear. The loss that an empty home or room seems to feel is fascinating … the odd feeling of slow, deep sleep breaths and some tortured anticipation is very similar to feelings I can feel and we all can feel. Sometimes you want to be breathing for something waiting in the wings, you want to be anticipating something that will deliver itself to you like the first morning moment: You can still hear and see and feel … you are still here somehow.

I also went through my bookshelves today … there’s nothing like neat bookshelves to me. I also like piles. Once a week or so, those piles of books get higher and higher, they start to look sad, displaced and uncomfortable. That is when I do the old once-over with the books on the shelves, also replacing the ones that are not to their rightful spots. I came across a book by Elizabeth Smart, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. I first came across it as an undergraduate while perusing the stacks of the Library. I read it in the creepy, lonely, and nonsensically dimly lit room in the third floor stacks … I was captivated. I would go on to read this tiny treasure over half a dozen times between my sophomore and senior year of undergrad. It conveys the tale of Elizabeth Smart’s affair / relationship with poet, George Barker who was married to another woman; this is the prime rib of love triangles. Smart’s constant “fits” of sadness and joy spoke to me so deeply. I wasn’t going through anything distantly similar, but there was something familiar in the sentiments she conveyed, the emotion. I think I feel it a lot now … I am going to read this again … today … and then maybe again. This passage inspired a long poem in college …

“I am over-run, jungled in my bed, I am infested with a menagerie of desires: my heart us eaten by a dove, a cat scrambles in the cave of my sex, hounds in my head obey a whipmaster who cries nothing but havoc as the hours test my endurance with an accumulation of tortures. Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic orders” (Smart 26)? *

So with thoughts of miniature blacksmiths and menageries of desires, I bid you goodbye on this beautiful December Wednesday.

Bibliographical Info:

* Smart, Elizabeth. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. London: Panther Books, 1985 reprint.

Published in: on December 20, 2006 at 8:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

May 15, 1975

I kind of wear many hats in my capacity as a Librarian … but one of my favorite tiny surprises is receiving a box full of random (and usually historical) things — from photos to newspaper clippings.

Today was such a lucky day. I only made it through half of the dust-riddled box before I had to stop for the day. And always, always, always amid that dusty veneer is something twinkling in its own oddness … in its bizarre random existence. I do not know when horoscopes were made readliy available, made mainstream and published in newspapers, but I found what would have been my horoscope (had I existed in 1975) from May 15, 1975 that struck me. It struck me in its complete odd truth: You’ll be disappointed early in the day tomorrow when something you’ve been counting on falls through. Toward evening, things work out.

The tone is curt and very matter of fact, and this strikes me as odd. It is cynical not only in its predictions but in its sentiment. I think it will be a good exercise for me to first research when horoscopes were made so readily available, and second to use dated horoscopes as fodder for poems. “Toward evening, things work out” possesses poetic possibilities. It is also a horoscope that could belong to anyone at any given time in any given place in the world. I know this is true of a lot of horoscopes, but especially the vague ones. I have another pet project now …

Published in: on December 18, 2006 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

3 a.m. reading

So after reading Stephen King’s Desperation last night I had to read something nice, dense, and thought-provoking. It isn’t that this King novel isn’t thought-provoking, but the thoughts it provokes are ones I didn’t want to follow me to bed — the old good/evil dichotomy having its way with my mind. So … I tried Heidegger’s Poetry, Language, Thought … too dense. This book has great discussions of German poet, Rilke though so if you’re Rilke-obsessed (and I find no one just likes Rilke … they love Rilke), then check out this Heidegger masterpiece. And on the Rilke note, read Rilke’s wisdom in one collection called, The Poet’s Guide to Life. But I digress …

I looked in my “what to read in the night” reading log I keep and came across a quotation from Jean Cocteau: Poetry is a religion with no hope. This was a captivating observation however bleak and true it can be at times. I then decided to journal about this …

Not a day goes by … not one that I can think of at all … that poetry is not with me. It is like a shadow, a complex friend. If I am not reading it, I am writing it or revising it. It is akin to religion, and in its resemblance to religion … I am constantly mystified and often either joyous or saddened about what I find or cannot find there. But unlike religion, there really is no hope. A poem is static and in its inherent stasis one may find it increasingly hopeless. Or perhaps full of hope. I tend to lean toward the former knowing that as much as I love poetry and need it in my daily life, it keeps me often from working on my own baggage, my own inner chaos … the evident and irritating contradiction that I hate that I too often am.

Cocteau’s love poems in particular are painfully hopeless. But love, like poetry, like hope, is always something I am grasping for … I think everyone is.

Published in: on December 17, 2006 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

maybe this will help

Just got the Luis Bunuel film, Un Chien Andalou. This may help today seem better … bring in some joy, right? I thought Saturdays (especially when it’s a day off from work) were supposed to be nice …

Published in: on December 16, 2006 at 6:58 pm  Comments (5)  

This is my first foray into the blogging world. I …

This is my first foray into the blogging world. I am a little nervous. But I thought perhaps the best way to begin is to state my reasons for starting this blog.

I am a poet whose first book of poems was just released October 1st from New Issues Poetry and Prose. I have done some public readings in the Kalamazoo area and have sold a respectable number of books so far. I wanted journey into the blog world in the hopes of having a place to talk to other poets and writers and readers of poetry. I also want to have a place to discuss my poetry life — something that I have trouble explaining orally to anyone it seems, for whatever reason. There is a risk always in sharing what you feel is your lifeblood; poetry is mine. And it can be lonely … it is inherently lonely, but it can also be quite joyous.

I love the Confessional Poets … especially Robert Lowell and John Berryman. I have always thought Anne Sexton to be somewhat overrated, but Plath has had many moments of genius. Though I am not the fan of Plath that I am of Lowell and Berryman. I have also been reading a lot of Philip Larkin (I am a Librarian and oft lonely, so Larkin’s speaking my language a lot).

As far as contemporary poets go, I love: Mary Ruefle, Dean Young, Tony Hoagland, Charles Simic, Robert Hass, Matthea Harvey, Barbara Guest (may she rest in peace), and Kenneth Koch (may he rest in peace). There’s more, but I am drawing a weird blank.

I also appreciate art a great deal, especially the Surrealists (Hans Bellmer and Max Ernst in particular). The DADAists are also fascinating, especially Kurt Schwitters.

I guess that’s all for now … I anxiously await to see what will happen now … Adieu!

Published in: on December 16, 2006 at 6:31 pm  Comments (2)