Thursday, December 1, 2011

WE MUST, AS A SOCIETY REËXAMINE.

In a perfect world, it would dispense STOUT.


We must, as a society, reëxamine “Prophecy” if it should prefigure, No. 1, chronic wandering, and if, No. 2, to alleviate chronic wandering, the wanderer must arrive to the interior of a land where no man salts his meat, for there is such a land, and that land is Hypertension, but instead, what if the wanderer, owing to Prophecy, must drift about, oar slung across the sinew, and knot, and leather of his dorsum, until he discovers a land where no man beats his meat? Now that would be a journey. Should a street tough assault you with a dark red legume then he would be giving you “the beet down.” Did Beethoven compose “Fur Elise” during a confusing period of rental instability, and really meant to entitle his movement “Fur Lease”—or maybe he meant to offer pelts and foxpieces on layaway or through other creative financing? Whale = Whale, agreed, whereas Whales = Welsh, am I right? What the hell is the state jackrabbit, again? In the fourth book of the bible, Numbers, god administers to the Israelites a series of mathematics examinations, and it’s no wonder they dwelt in the house of the desert for forty years; you didn’t fail, exactly, but were smitten (with dyspepsia) (with Pepsi) (with Pepcid) (with pep rallies). I will dress for All Hollows Eve as a Hollows. I will dress for All Hollows Eve as a Guile Bladder or a Blind Boulder Test. The Eskimos, on the other hand, have 100 names for the Federal Debt, and for Obesity, and for Little Debbie Snack Cakes, as well. We may begin to suffer double dip influenza on account of double dip recession. One man, one half of a murderous duo, opted to don tights in prison, and so the esteemed duo were later known as Leotard & Loeb, even Neotard & Loeb after one in the duo adhered to progressive politics. Different haircuts will nowadays necessitate different shampoos; we will require pumice and petroleum shale to cleanse a mohawk. If we are serious about reducing the size of government, then we should send it, at long last, to a shrink.

Friday, November 18, 2011

THEY DON'T LET YOU LIVE (ALT. TAKE)

video
Rare footage has been discovered in the basement of my iPhone


Previously unreleased rendition, in which Pops holds forth on many of the same issues that squander his peace of mind. Rated PG (Parents Strongly Cautioned.) He would probably like to occupy the going concerns & people who don't let you live.

Monday, November 14, 2011

FULLER & ROBINSON @ MICA WRITING STUDIO, WEDS., NOVEMBER 16TH, 5:00 p.m., in BALTIMORE


Join us Wednesday, November 16th, at 5:00 p.m., for LitLive at Maryland Institute College of Art, featuring poetry readings by Heather Fuller and Adam Robinson.

Heather Fuller is the author of perhaps this is a rescue fantasy, Dovecote, Startle Response, and other collections. Click here for more on Heather.

Adam Robinson is the author of Adam Robison and Other Poems, founder of Publishing Genius Press, and a member of one or more bands. Click here for more on Adam.

LitLive is a new literary reading series at MICA, with events held in the Writing Studio, Bunting Center, 1401 Mt. Royal Avenue, 4th Floor, Room 452. The series spotlights Baltimore & Washington, D.C. writers and is hosted by Dan Gutstein. All readings are free and open to the public.

Basic Directions / Parking: The Bunting Center can be found at the corner of West Lafayette Avenue and West Mt. Royal Avenue in Baltimore, and is one of three buildings at the center of MICA's campus. Exits 5, 6, or 7A from I-83. Light Rail to University of Baltimore/Mt. Royal (walk north on Mt. Royal). MARC Rail to Penn Station (Take W. Oliver St. to Mt. Royal, turn right). Garage parking at The Fitzgerald on Oliver Street between Maryland and Mt. Royal. Street parking on or around Mt. Royal.

We hope to see you at the Writing Studio.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

KIMBALL & SIROIS @ MICA WRITING STUDIO, OCT. 13TH, 5:00 p.m., in BALTIMORE



Join us Thursday, October 13th, at 5:00 p.m., for LitLive at Maryland Institute College of Art, featuring fiction readings by Michael Kimball and Justin Sirois.

Michael Kimball is the author of four books, including Dear Everybody and Us. His work has been on NPR’s All Things Considered, and has appeared in The Guardian, Bomb, and New York Tyrant. He is also responsible for Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard), a couple of documentaries, and the 510 Readings. His novel Big Ray will be published in Fall 2012.

Justin Sirois is the author of Secondary Sound and MLKNG SCKLS; Falcons on the Floor (written with Haneen Alshujairy) is forthcoming in 2012. He also runs the Understanding Campaign with Haneen and co-directs Narrow House. Justin received individual Maryland State Art Council grants in 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2011 and a Baker "b" grant in 2010.

LitLive is a new literary reading series at MICA, with events held in the Writing Studio, Bunting Center, 1401 Mt. Royal Avenue, 4th Floor, Room 452. The series spotlights Baltimore & Washington, D.C. writers and is hosted by Dan Gutstein. All readings are free and open to the public.

Basic Directions / Parking: The Bunting Center can be found at the corner of West Lafayette Avenue and West Mt. Royal Avenue in Baltimore, and is one of three buildings at the center of MICA's campus. Exits 5, 6, or 7A from I-83. Light Rail to University of Baltimore/Mt. Royal (walk north on Mt. Royal). MARC Rail to Penn Station (Take W. Oliver St. to Mt. Royal, turn right). Garage parking at The Fitzgerald on Oliver Street between Maryland and Mt. Royal. Street parking on or around Mt. Royal.

We hope to see you at the Writing Studio. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

THEY DON'T LET YOU LIVE.

video
A little Q & A with my Pop.


As my dad is recovering once again from surgery (and doing well) I thought it might be fitting to post this short clip of him responding (pre-operation) to a typical list of stressors. His refrain works out to be the "cri de coeur" of the retiree, as all the man seeks is a little peace and quiet. But no -- that's not possible -- and I'll let my pop explain why.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

ADVENTURES IN PERSONAL PURITY SCORE.

Not even Ivory Soap is pure.


I was eating lunch with a couple friends recently when the topic of coffee drinks came up, and one person said, "Well, I went to Starbucks the other day -- I don't usually go there, but someone gave me a gift card, you see," and doo da dippity, she went on to describe a brewed beverage, but along the way, attempted to address what I'll call her "Personal Purity Score" by disavowing any particular affection for Starbucks, a going concern that is also synonymous with "big impersonal national chain that has helped kick the little guy (who must've had character) to the curb." She said, in effect, that someone else created the circumstances under which she actually patronized the joint, and as such, attempted to safeguard our opinion of her. Some people will stick up for Starbucks, noting that the coffee's not bad, and the company isn't either, and besides, there are worse examples of corporate misbehavior in this world (see: Walmart, BP, Haliburton, etc.) This raises a question that many of us consider -- subconsciously, perhaps -- every day: How pure is our behavior as consumers, for starters, but also in other arenas as well: In relationships, with political choices, as regards to the arts (bands, literature, etc.) we prefer, and with respect to the very food we eat, the very drink we imbibe? Would one increase his Personal Purity Score by averring his preference for working-class suds like Budweiser, as opposed to some pricey, fruity Belgian import? Would one increase his PPS by listening to jazz on vinyl as opposed to compact disc or MP3? You may not like the Tea Party movement, but the central plank in its platform -- nay, its only plank -- concerns the various facets of fiscal stewardship, making the movement, arguably, more understandable or accessible, for example, than the Democrats; thus, the Tea Party crowd, in its own way, may be more pure, since it may be more obvious (regardless of political bend) in its focus, as opposed to the bloated, muddled, flip-floppy major parties. Or take the social construct of marriages, half of which in this country seem to fail. Groom and bride make a bunch of promises that may otherwise contradict the essential character of the human animal whereas if they had never married, they may never have contradicted themselves in the first place. What is your carbon footprint? Is vegetarianism better for the world than being a carnivore? Do you -- really -- recycle? Ah, the list could go on and on. Raising another question: Can Personal Purity be attained? Is anyone pure? And if you or I cannot attain a high PPS, i.e., we may be beholden to circumstances that we cannot control, then what's the use of trying? Many years ago, I came across some kind of PETA catalogue and I swear they were advertising a really little ladder that one would install in his bathroom -- to help -- a spider -- climb out -- of the -- bathtub. If you don't own this ladder, and are not helping a spider to escape from your tub, then is your PPS slipping? After all, the average American will swallow, in her sleep, a certain number of aimless, wandering spiders every year, and if she isn't installing a little ladder in her mouth, to help the critters survive, is she taking the purest steps she could take?  A chunk of this is relative to the individual, obviously, but nevertheless, if you don't condemn conservative politics, if you gab on a cell phone as opposed to a land line, if you masquerade as an avant garde poet and/or a "Marxist", if you purchase products from Pfizer, if you waste toilet paper on casual spills, if you are "fashionable" -- Ladies and Gents -- the Big Question looms: Are You Pure? (Do you lose PPS for declaring your relative purity?) You may have a big heart, but when the time comes to meet your Maker, he or she may point out that you didn't exactly stick to the tenets of your faith. Or is religious devotion versus, say, cultural devotion, an impurity? Your conclusion may be that, like Ivory Soap, 100 percent purity cannot be attained, but we should all be striving, nevertheless. What's a good threshhold, then:  75 percent? 60 percent? 45 percent or less? I may be wrong, but the bar seems rather low, these days. Are there certain basic purities that we should all be demonstrating in our daily lives? Have we forgotten? Have we lost our way? Surely, in the grand scheme of Our Modern World, and the way we suffer Our Various Indignities, it hardly costs my friend very much PPS to have taken her gift card to Starbucks, am I right? I ask you.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

THE GREATEST POET, PAUL CELAN



Before Paul Antschel adopted the name Paul Celan, he lost his parents to Nazi deportations and was, himself, a captive laborer in the Old Kingdom (of Romania) until 1944, when the Red Army, self-sprung from Wehrmacht encirclements, pressed into the region. He spoke Romanian and German as a child, acquired Russian during two Soviet occupations, and later mastered French, after settling in France, and marrying an artist. His earliest poems, to my knowledge, were published in Romanian, but the bulk of his works, including his most famous poems, appeared in German: the piece “Todesfuge”, or “Death Fugue”, for example, published in 1948, may be most-cited, and is a stark reminder that Jews, under the Nazi regime, suffered a series of well-orchestrated reductions until the tattered remnants, in the poem, are whistled out as a pack of dogs, by a camp commander who forces them to dig a grave “in den Lüften”, in the wind. Later poems grew clipped and cryptic, perhaps as the poet attempted to corrupt or reinvent the German tongue; he also succumbed to mania and despair. A few years before his death, Celan wrote “Todtnauberg”, a piece that commemorated his meeting with the philosopher (and former Nazi) Martin Heidegger, on the German’s rural property. In this poem, he hoped “for a thinker’s / word / to come, / in the heart,” (of his host, Heidegger) but the twin evils of Nazi genocide and postwar indifference must have been costly to Celan’s wellbeing. Heidegger was said to remark upon the man’s erratic behavior a couple years later, “Celan ist Krank—heillos,” sick with an incurable disease. The poet threw himself into the Seine in 1970, drowning, leaving behind his wife and child. Maybe this deterioration, resulting in suicide, can be traced through Celan’s verse. Small, introspective weights such as “De voi depinde” (it’s up to you), from the Romanian poems, build into greater acknowledgments of darkness and burden. An excerpt, “Die Welt ist fort, ich muß dich tragen” (the world is lost, I must carry you), from a 1967 collection, Atemwende, may additionally refer to the biblical dilemma faced by Abraham, when called upon to sacrifice his son, Isaac, even as the reader may conjure the poet’s mother, instead, lost to a bullet from an Einsatzgruppen rifle. Later, Celan would write, “Vertag dich nicht, du,” or “Don’t adjourn yourself, you.” Paul Celan’s titles, in the collections that followed Atemwende, include Fadensonen, for Thread-suns; Lichtzwang, for Light-strength; and Schneepart, for Snow-part. The titles, in translation, approximate spectra, sensory fusion, meters that compute natural units. The word, Atemwende, itself, which translates to “Breath-turn”, nourishes many Celan aficionados, who cherish the sense of exhilaration that accompanies the genesis of poetry. Call it exhilaration or corporeal necessity, but the “bloodblack” edges throughout Schneepart, for instance, are tempered by a “magnolia-houred halfclock” that keeps unorthodox time as the speaker promises, “I’m wintering over to you.” Perhaps my reverence for Celan’s writings (poetry, prose, translations, letters) springs, in some small way, from my own (inept) Jewish militancy, misplaced angers over the loss of mother’s-side family members to the Shoah, Holocaust, or what Celan termed, “that which happened.” Celan concluded a poem, written to his wife in French, on the occasion of her birthday, by reflecting upon his hand, how it drew “l’un, l’unique / cercle”, the one, the only circle. They were, apparently, living apart, but very much in love, and yet, a short while later, Celan would take his own life, rounding-out an anguished, solitary circumference. Reading and re-reading is a circle of its own, and in so doing, fulfills a poignant request: “Trink aus meinem Mund”, the poet wrote, drink from my mouth——this wisdom——and I do.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

TWENTY WORKS OF AMERICAN POETRY (+ 5) THAT YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU CAN HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH ME ABOUT POETRY (written between 1820 - 1980).

One of the cornerstones.


A friend and I constructed a first draft of this list as a means of passing time, when returning from the MLA Conference in Los Angeles, more than a month ago. We originally called it "The Twenty Most Important Works of American Poetry (+5)" and I posted it as a 'note' on Facebook, in order to elicit some (heated) criticism. It was also (hotly) debated at DC Poetry Happy Hours (at The Reef) and via several (volcanic) email exchanges with people who reside without the District. Good points were made about (1) some of the works (i.e., we had foolishly listed the wrong collection for T.S. Eliot) and about (2) the title -- that, in the end, we could not necessarily be arbiters of "most important", since "importance" means different things to different people, but instead could put forward the list as a set of "relevant guideposts" for anyone who might wish to comment on the broad sweep of American poetry. Perhaps we were thinking as teachers; perhaps, we reasoned, these works should be read by students of ours who aspire to study American poetry or enter the "po' bidness" themselves. The list is not perfect, and I welcome a continuation of commentary and (broasted) debate. Please remember that we chose "works" as opposed to poets, but that said, the major poets do, more or less, seem to be here, on this list. Without further ado, and in A-B-C order, the relevant 'Mericans is:

John Ashbery // SELF PORTRAIT IN A CONVEX MIRROR (1975)
Amiri Baraka // PREFACE TO A TWENTY VOLUME SUICIDE NOTE (1961)
Ted Berrigan // THE SONNETS (1964)
Robert Creeley // FOR LOVE (1962)
Emily Dickinson // COLLECTED POEMS (written ca. 1858 until ca. 1886?; first collected 1955)
T.S. Eliot // THE WASTE LAND (1922)
Robert Frost // NORTH OF BOSTON (1914)
Allen Ginsberg // HOWL AND OTHER POEMS (1956)
Lyn Hejinian // MY LIFE (1980)
Langston Hughes // MONTAGE OF A DREAM DEFERRED (1951)
The Last Poets // THE LAST POETS (recording, 1970)
Frank O'Hara // LUNCH POEMS (1964)
George Oppen // OF BEING NUMEROUS (1968)
Sylvia Plath // ARIEL (1965)
Edgar Allen Poe // COMPLETE POEMS (written between 1827 and his death? 1849?)
Ezra Pound // THE CANTOS (1917-1969, unfinished)
Gertrude Stein // TENDER BUTTONS (1914)
Wallace Stevens // IDEAS OF ORDER (1936)
Walt Whitman // LEAVES OF GRASS (1855)
William Carlos Williams // SPRING AND ALL (1923)

(+ 5)

H.D. // TRILOGY (1946)
Jack Kerouac // MEXICO CITY BLUES (1959)
Lorine Niedecker // LORINE NIEDECKER: COLLECTED WORKS (Written before 1970; published 2002)
Charles Olson // THE MAXIMUS POEMS (written 1940s to 1970; unfinished; first published 1983.)
Jack Spicer // THE COLLECTED POETRY OF JACK SPICER (Published 2008.)