Saturday, December 20, 2003


{names of lenders w/held}

James Joyce (biography), Edna O'Brien
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (a film), Sam Jones

Beautiful Shirt (poems), Donald Revell
Midwinter Day (poems), Bernadette Meyer
As in T As in Tether (poems), David Bromige
One Block Over (poems), Tenny Nathanson
The Miseries Of Poetry (poems), {ahem} Alexandra Papaditsas and Kent Johnson
Vertical Elegies 5: The Section (sonnets), Sam Truitt
Antennae (poems & scores), ed. Jesse Seldess
{Am I forgetting anything?}

The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland (lit./hist. essays), R.F. Foster

Escape from Evil (social theory), Ernest Becker

Teaching to Transgress (ed. essays), bell hooks

Unending Design (poetics), Joseph M. Conte
{Thought I'd returned this... Need my own copy...}

The Decline of the West, Oswald Spengler

Amphigorey, Edward Gorey

Hope I'm not forgetting anything.

{glancing about the room & out the window}

the Annisquam River

shirt from Odd in Portsmouth, NH


the guitar on which things-as-they-are are changed

"the bluejay’s double-blue device" (R. Francis)

"Sirius is a winterbluegreen star" (R. Francis)
Songs for a Blue Guitar

{sort of}
Ghosts of the Great Highway

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Chris Rizzo at "In Place of Chairs" comments on lines, especially it seems the relationship between syntax and rhythm.
Sound and sense that old high school poetry text book.
Mike County has broken his blog's mold. I will break mine.

Aaron Tieger at fishblog linked to a mixed tape site.
There I found this:
"Songs (that if all were fair, even and right with the world would be) in the top 40"

1) luna - california (all the way)
2) zombies - care of cell 44 **
3) belle and sebastian - boy with the arab strap
4) andrew bird - lull
5) the shins - new slang
6) fiona apple - paper bag
7) love - you set the scene
8) jayhawks - waiting for the sun
9) built to spill - the weather
10) wilco - kamera
11) the cure - just like heaven **
12) postal service - such great heights
13) super furry animals - it's not the end of the world
14) talking heads - this must be the place (naive melody) - (stop making sense version)
15) grandpaboy - silent film star
16) the slickers - johnny too bad
17) pavement - major leagues
18) xtc - earn enough for us
19) new pornographers - miss teen wordpower

** due to laziness and indifference, i never actually looked these two up, so if they DID actually make it into the top 40 --and i am fairly certain they didn't-- then great. just don't be a know-it-all-music-asshole and email me about it.

The compiler of the tape, cru jones, added this caveat "This is NOT a list of songs i think DESERVE to be top 40, nor are they the best songs each band or artist has to offer. Those lists would look much different, and would be far too long... this is a small mix of songs I think would ACTUALLY HAVE A CHANCE to be top 40, (in their respective years) if they had simply been given the opportunity."

{Three of the songs--Luna's "California (All the Way)", the Shins' "New Slang," and Wilco's "Kamera"--are songs about which I've said the same thing. The songs are hits, damn it! Maybe not great songs but hits! Interesting two of the three--"California (all the way) and "New Slang"-- have been used in commercials (for CKOne perfume and McDonald's fries respectively).}
A few years back a GHS colleague, Don Orth, and I exchanged miniature poetry anthologies (consisting of 20 or more pages of poetry, I think). It was not unlike exchanging mixed tapes.

His anthology included many poets from what Silliman has called, dismissively and uncritically, "The School of Quietude"--which is to say that I knew many of the names but hadn't read previously read the poems. I wish I could say that I encountered inspiring or strong work that I wouldn't've otherwise, but I didn't. I did, however, deepen my understanding of what's out there in contemporary poetry.

Don did include a poem, "Walking Around," by Neruda which I quite like. It begins (in one translation at least), "It so happens I am sick of being a man." He also reminded me of Yeats' "Adam's Curse" which I'd read years before but had neglected since.

I remember Pavese and Montale translations too. Don spoke Italian very well and was interested in Italian poetry though I don't recall if he'd read much in the original language.

Does anyone want to exchange short anthologies (10 or so poems)? You or I could name a topic. (Mike County are there "lifestyles" poems? Poems that handle the line differently? Poems to read instead of listening at meetings? {The Hotel Wentley Poems?) Poems to read aloud at meetings? {Why do I immediately think of Mayakovsky's "My University")


Thursday, December 04, 2003

Greg Cook (no relation) on line breaks in his comics:

"I had always read through lines of poetry until I heard you folks reading in your halting manner.
What struck me is how this might be used to accent or change the meaning of lines. How you break the lines, I find, can also be used to emphasize multiple meanings in words. I've since adopted something of this in my comics, much to the consternation of many of my readers (including my publisher). I think the breaks tend to be more emphatic (perhaps jarring is a better word) in comics -- or my comics at least -- because the physical space (and often drawings) between lines makes it much more difficult to "read through."

I may be using line breaks in a clumsy way, but I think if you look at part of my comic "The Weight" ( -- which I should note that I didn't actually write -- the break between "Years/Afterwards while on a fishing voyage..." as well as the physical space and the change in setting, greatly emphasizes the passing of time. And I think the transition between the final two panels of the comic is also quite effective. The words are "a millstone to his neck and jumped/overboard." In that line break, though the actual jump is not depicted, the man (if it works as I hope) seems to hang there in the air with his final, fatal choice.

For a different example, maybe look at my "All the Goodbyes" piece ( and The line break between the man's dialogue at the end of the first page "Look, you're" and continuing on the next "You're doing the best you can" I think emphasizes the hesitant way in which he speaks (or at least I intend him to speak) in this awkward situation.

This brings up what might be called the "turning the page" phenomenon that I think can be used in comics to great effect, though I'm not sure it's much use in poetry. The turning of the page can be used as a sort of grand line break to help accent transitions or unveil surprizes, etc, because each time you turn the page something new is instantly revealed by the art.

Warmest regards,


Monday, December 01, 2003

S. A. T. U. R. D. A. Y Night

Today Ron Silliman & Dale Smith weigh in on the problem of the line. Some poets from the Northampton-metroBoston-Gloucester triangle had a related chat at the Commander in Cambridge, MA after terrific readings by David Perry, Mike County, and Nick Piombino at Wordsworth Saturday night.

At the Commander, I recounted a discussion a friend & I had some years back about the linebreak pause made by Creeley (& many other Boston area poets, perhaps elsewhere too).* My friend & I were in agreement that it is usually dreadful--sing-song sickly--to hear regular, metrical verse read this way.** However, he feels this is true of irregular metrical verse ("free" verse, projective verse, etc.) as well. He offered Olson's reading as a defense. Olson, despite the rhethoric about breath, did not pause (or breathe) at the end of his lines. (I also knew--during our discussion--that WCW also did not pause at his linebreaks when reading.)

Now what? O.K.
I think bebop jazz--important to Creeley & Bill Corbett but not to WCW or Olson--has something to do w/ the linebreak pause. It creates syncopation--often causing a normally unstressed syllable/word to be stressed. This sycopation can affect the rhythm & the meaning (or possible meanings) of the syntactical units, which is why I feel it is important to read poets like Creeley & Corbett with linebreak pauses. {I'm not the first to say this.}

Such an approach is important {or at least useful}, that is, if one, as a reader, wants to have the experience of a poem that the poet *intends* {uh oh}, that is if one wants to hear it as the poet hears it/reads it. {Of course the poet may hear & read quite differently, no?} If I stand by the assertion that it is at least useful to hear linebreak pauses if the poet intends them, how then can we know if the poet intends them?

The poem can be scored by dots a la Duncan or WCW's _Paterson_ {if I remember correctly}. But what if the poem is not scored? Must one hear the poet read? How does one read a line?

& then, as a poet, why does one break the line where one does?

Noah sd that he does not naturally write in lines, that his poetry begins unlineated & so any shaping of lines wld be an imposition of a sort, especially given that no theory of linebreaks seems satisfying at the momen (Conversely, Silliman sez this *apparent* lack of a viable, convincing argument for why these lines & why not those is fuel for New Formalism.)

Mick/Michael & Yuri sd the ends of their lines often contain the beginnings of the next thought (or, dare I link it to Olson by writing, the next perception?). This then is related more to thought than to sound (though these are interwoven in poetry: "the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE/the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE".

I have never sufficiently understood the specifics of these lines from "Projective Verse" though I've grasped the importance of the body-in-the-world to writing poetry. But I've been tempted to argue that Olson's lines are shaped more by a BREATH perhaps of the HEART (is the heart intuition?) than by a BREATH of the body (i.e. physical breath, actual breathing). His readings might be evidence of this.

{I hope this is sufficiently tentative to elicit responses instead of denouncements.})

Where do you break a line & why?
& do you sound linebreaks when you read your own work? the work of others? who? why?
*Full disclosure: In 1995, I read "Projective Verse" quite literally & quite enthusiastically. I immediately began to write what I thought were projective poems & I read them as I thought such poems should be read. Each line was a breath & so I would pause as if for a breath at the end of each line. Through Ralph Ellison, Sam Cornish (& his reading style), & a desire to impress my future wife, I was also listening to lots of jazz & trying to use it musically in my poems. Linebreak pauses were a way of approximating syncopation. (See {again}: Ellison (esp. Preface to Invisible Man) & the poetry of Sam Cornish.) Many of you will recognize much of the preceding as a common post-Beat, post-New American Poetry rite of passage.

**(As most of you know, I'm a high school English teacher. Too many of my students insist--even after discussing the issue--that a linebreak pause (which emphasizes the rhyme--if there is one--in a sing song manner) is proper. I suppose after 11 or 12 years of hearing teachers read regular, metrical poetry w/ a linebreak pause the students are to be forgiven.)


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Oh & about that *new seed* comment yesterday. Amanda thought a *grafting* metaphor might be more appropriate. I argued that it is the latency of *seed* that I was trying to evoke; nevertheless she might be right about *grafting* being a more apt metaphor.
This correction from Michael Carr:

"I write for myself and strangers. The strangers, dear reader, are an afterthought."

Thanks. I agree Mick. The strangers *do* indeed make it even better.

The last two books I've taught include significant strangers. In Frankenstein, Victor is first introduced as a "stranger" in Walton's letters to his sister. The Beowulf-character is called a "stranger"--and, indirectly, "the fish"--in John Gardner's Grendel.

Since I often blog about not blogging (due to time constraints), I'm apparently **in**.

Back to those recommendations.


Monday, November 24, 2003

Missed Nathaniel Mackey Thursday night. {Since M. County outed me as a soccer coach last week, I should publicly embrace that avocation: Last Thursday I was presenting awards at a soccer banquet. Despite my love for futbol, I'd rather've been at the reading.}

from "Song of the Andoumboulou: 20":
" I was the what-sayer./Whatever he said I would/ say so what./ Boated whether/ we came by train or by/ bus, green light/loomed on the horizon./ Where we were might've/ been the moon. . ."

{"/" indicates linebreaks; spacings are more or less accurate; I don't quite know how to format poems properly. I will learn when I have more time--fewer papers to grade and recommendations to write.}

Found Whatsaid Serif some years back at Mercer Books in Manhattan. A joy to reread. Shocking how poor a reader I was the first time around. I think Mackey's poetics must've been just enough post-The-New-American-Poetry-1945-1960-Book-I that I was baffled. But rereading now I wonder if it was just a lack of an adequate searchlight of the mind or ... or... . So much can get in the way of poetry that one later is knocked out by. {Ron Silliman had some words about this recently.} Whatever the reason--& perhaps it was that I came home w/ another bk that stole my mind; did I buy Spicer's Collected Books on that trip to Mercer?--I've only just been as turned on by Mackey's poetry as I'd been by his prose. (There was no lack of motivation to experience the poems. Based on Gerrit's word, a few essays, & Mackey's {thinly?} veiled appearance in bell hooks' Wounds of Passion , I wanted to read & grasp the poems as best I cld.)

Perhaps more on the old New American Poetry later. {Spicer from Bk II for what it's worth. {Nothing?}} More on Allen, {& then} Rothenberg, Quasha, and Joris as anthologists too might be necessary. But I say that--"more later"--a lot. More is seldom forthcoming. Where does the time go?

And so it goes.

"I write for myself and for others. The others, dear reader, are an afterthought."

These words are a close paraphrase of words written by Gertrude Stein. G.S.'s words appeared in the Boston Globe during my youth.
And how much has reading made any of us who we are? How much does reading change us? Guess that's the central question that binds the work of earlier this evening--recommendation writing--with that of later this evening--reading Whatsaid Serif? This weekend a good friend said that reading is more important than writing. Guess that's in my mind too.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Went to the Cambridge Y last night to hear a panel discussion on subversive theater. Cutting to the quick: it was mostly disappointing in all the usual ways. The right was uselessly caricatured. Critiques led quickly to self-congratulation. Important & interesting distinctions were avoided in the name of solidarity. Panelists talked across and through each other most of evening.

I'm glad I went neverthessless. If only for this from Brecht: Is the policeman a worker?
W/ a brother in the military this has been an important question for me over the last few years.

Another good outcome: I will reread Fanny Howe's essay in the new Poker w/ other notions of poetry & politics & lives lived in mind.
More on the event: (I've said nothing yet about the four panelists. As you'll notice two of 'em are well known. Maybe I'll get to that later.)
Monday, November 17, 7 pm
with Peter Schumann (Director, Bread and Puppet Theater), Howard Zinn (Historian and Playwright), Robbie McCauley (Performance Artist, Director, and Emerson College professor), Xander Marra (Movie Maker, Puppeteer and member of Dirt Palace, a feminist art collective in Providence, RI); moderated by Dr. John Bell (Puppet Historian, Emerson College professor and author of Puppets, Masks and Performing Objects) suggested donation $5

From the soft city:
walking w/ friends after parking the car, I realized I spend far more time walking in Medford, Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston than I do here in Gloucester.
(This has many implications. But they'll have to wait until after teaching & meeting.)

Monday, November 17, 2003

from the observation tower of the ghost city {w/ reports from the flesh}:
* I am a ghost-ghost. I am not even here.
* ...whereas you are there. Aren't you?
* There is a children's program on PBS set in "cyperspace". I learned about civics and logic w/ my nephews. Except for its setting, the show is a conventional public television cartoon.
* When I stand up and turn around I can see my nephews' house from this room. Do you believe me?
* I am still reading Poker 3. Want to talk to Aaron Kunin 'bout his piece 'cause tho' I think I grasp his point, I don't grasp the import of the point. Aaron are you there? Could anyone send him my (e)way?
* I have also been thinking about Richard Demming's introduction to the Williams talk/essay/fragment/notes in Poker 3. That bit about the Eliotic & Williamsesque responses to tradition is, I think, quite relevent to our moment. (Unfortunately, I don't have the text in front of me.)
*Saturday I read and enjoyed James Thomas Stevens' Tonkinish. Cover reminded me of Fanny Howe's Amerinidan Coastline Poem.
* It's about time I started to acknowledge Throwing Muses & especially Ms. Hersh as a significant influence on the "Arguments" I've been writing of late.
* Joel Sloman's transformations of Trakl must find a way into the wider world. "I'm attracted to you because you [create? attract?] violence." "Tiny black larvae like em dashes..."
* More Joel: "Patchwork": "the modern patchwork" "speech clarified" "if one was listening/one was tired/tired of speech" "one was modern/one was composite"
* From Xtina: "we must suffer them all again patterns..." "grieving reaches out and pistol whips your name here..." "if we had remember[ed?] a gesture of locations"
* My argument w/ poetry is as yet unsettled.
* Who among you has read Lovecraft's "The Outsider"?


Friday, November 14, 2003

Have finally made it back. After the Days of the Dead.
Were once holy days. Am now wholly dazed. 24 hour grading fest has come to an end.
Many books to be read. With a somewhat freer mind.
One class to teach before the week's end.
I hope to see you soon.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

If one picks the scab that is blogging does one bleed?
Up what body does the scab of blogging cover what wound?
I hope Karl stops by.
Today All Saint's Day.
Tomorrow All Soul's Day.
I know which one's for me.

It was a day to be someone else. Just one day. I envy Karl. The grass is always more interesting on the other side of the fence. Over there it's softer. A good place to sleep. Down the street sharper. Keeps them up nights working on their moon-howling. Here it's brown & patchy. Guess that's not altogether uninteresting. But I'm always tempted to use the green spraypaint.
Amanda & Xtina sat next to me at the outdoor mass. We sat in chairs on the street but no cars came & we may not have been in their way had they come. I think we were on a deadend in the South End. The priest ignored us. Mark was bored. Looked over at the episcopalians who were walking into their small, elegant church a half-block down the street. I, too, turned & watched them process into their church. The Catholic priest gave up & left while we weren't looking. Joel read the whole time. At least I think it was Joel. When we realized the priest had left we picked up our chairs & headed inside. This, as you've guessed, was a dream. A dream I'm glad I remembered. I thank the power that decided to go out Thursday night.
Many of you are w/in walking distance. But I'll have to be satisfied w/ this typing. Hope to see you tomorrow. Yes, you.


Thursday, October 30, 2003

Close your eyes. I'm changing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Two weeks since last post. That long?

Three strong readings last week: thank you George Stanley, Jack Kimball, and Tim Peterson.

Heartbreak cliche last Thursday night.

These fall days in which I am tired and continually forgetting things I often imagine poetry as an escape. What draws me to certain poetry is the freedom of thought I find therein. Play of the imagination too. & invention. All that is denied a bureaucrat (which is what a public school teacher often is). To claim freedom, imagination, invention is a political act. & *is* different from other escapes. Passive ones, especially. Not that I don't indulge in these but I want to make special claims for poetry.

We've heard this all before. But today these comments are a way of thanking George, Jack, and Tim. None of whom may read this.

Now I will try to remember all that I am currently forgetting.


Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Amanda returns tonight. Touches down in East Boston at 8:56.
Read & discussed Jordan Davis' poem "W" in a Brit Lit class today. "Brit Lit?," you ask. "Yes," I answer. "W" deals (humorously & seriously, I think) w/ many theories about monsters. & in the Brit Lit curriculum here at GHS we teach _Beowulf_, _Grendel_, _Lord of the Flies_, _Frankenstein_ as well "Tyger" & "The Second Coming" (though most teachers only dabble in the poetry).

(Ach! the poem is back in my classroom; I'm typing in the copier room during my prep block. {Since this is the last block of the day there's no more prep to be done, though plenty of grading.}) In any case the poem is polyvocal (no single narrator it seems or no single occasion for narration perhaps) & so offers the students a bit of a challenge, but no one they were unwilling to take up. The discussion was heartening. They were willing to talk about the different tones of the different narrators. (Or perhaps one narrator w/ many tones. As a romantic, I'm tempted to read J.D.'s poems this way.) This possibility was in fact enormously helpful to them in understanding/experiencing the poem. (Understanding implies a kind of *answer* that I'm not sure the poem gives.) Maybe I'll have a chance to talk more specifically about the poem later but I thought I'd jot down a few things about a specific poem I like (& teach) so maybe others could do the same.

Also if non-bloggers want to write a little informal response to a particular poem, I could post said responses here.

Off to a school newspaper meeting, my next teacherly task.


Monday, October 06, 2003

At GHS late grading papers.
Would like to hear more about the Friday & Saturday readings at Waterstones from those who were there. New poems from Mr. Bouchard? Was tired & disturbed by the world Saturday. A good day to stay in Gloucester. Sad to miss the poems. In better spirits on Sunday & am glad not to have stayed home. Many thanks to all who made the day. Many thanks to the weather too. Thanks to my students for not lynching me when I came in without all their essays graded. When I return home I'll finish rereading Midwinter Day lent to me by Tim Peterson. Many thanks to Tim. Many thanks to yesterdays Wordsworth readers.
Finally got around to checking out the Boston Comment stuff. (Yup I know I'm behind. Look at the date of my last post.) The Post-Post Dementia essay gets downright silly when discussing Christina Mengert's poem in Slope.
Here's the poem

Is an axle's excavation
an axiom's inversion
that muzzles
the ventriloquist breath

of a nipple. The revolving door
of its throat.

Though Houlihan says words don't matter in Mengert to my eye & ear they seem chosen quite purposefully. Houlihan says "revolving" might just as well be "sliding," etc. But what then about the "axel"? (& its suggestion also of "axle")? She says "throat" might just as well be "scalp"; what then of the "breath"? I'm not going to argue that it's a great poem but to say that the word choices are random & meaningless is just plain silly.

So I propose, bloggers of the ghost city, that we--I guess me too--take a bit of time to talk about some poems we like, love, find pleasure in, find x in, etc. What is it that we see there? Dementia?
I've only recently been able to listen to The Smiths again. For many years the music too painfully reminded me of adolescence & young adulthood--all my shortcomings, cowardice, failures, awkwardness, loneliness, misunderstandings, delusions, etc. But now I can hear the music again & I hear it half remembering but half uncomprehending what it was I once heard, since now the pleasures in the music are quite different than they were then.
To Shin Yu & Aaron: I would like to nominate as anthems of a sort, "Ask" & "Stretch Out & Wait". I should also say that due to my age my first Smiths tape was Strangeways, Here We Come. Because I had it w/ me in England & Scotland at age 16 the music has a particularly lurid sonic glow.


Friday, September 12, 2003

I realize no one will read this. I realize many have stopped checking this site because of the infrequency of posts. I realize I have bored you one time too many.
Don't go to the Independent Christian Church (Unitarian-Universalist) on Saturday September 13 to hear me read poems. Do not walk through the doors at seven for the soundcheck or at seven thirty for the opening act or at eight for the poetry or at eight thirty for the featured performer. Don't.
Please email me ideas for potentially objectionable passages from well known works (the Nausikaa chapter of Ulysses for example). I may read the passages you suggest to the UU crowd on Saturday.
I am tired & sad. How are you?
I will have a shot of whiskey for Johnny Cash. I hope to get drunk soon. I'm tired & sad. How are you?
My principal informed us that the people killed in the World Trade Center towers two years ago were killed "just because they were [U.S.] American." What about the ones who weren't citizens of the United States of America? What were they killed for? I was also informed that we are attacked because of our democracy & freedoms. Curious that the terrorists neglected Canada. I wonder if they know about Canada. Where I am right now I can't have a shot, though I thought of bringing a flask today. A bad sign? More than a bit indulgent & melodramatic? Guilty as charged.
Thanks to Mark & Christina & all who have written recently.
My Marine brother arrived back in the U.S. Wednesday. I will be happy to see him.
Back to school.

slainte & paz,

Friday, August 29, 2003

La Fiesta

Mars obscured. Lucy swinging. Pool playing for Columbine. Seamus drumming. Mars is the Milky Way. Jim toca la guitara. Consuming red globes. Didn't greet Mark w/ "Huya" sign. The Milky Way is Mars. Zac sleepy. Salvation Army filled with striped shirts. Freces y chocolate de Ariane. Seven Nation Army is the White Stripes. Is trash dip. 2:30.


Friday, August 22, 2003

After visiting Aaron's Fishblog I decided to check out Emerson College's rankings. Here's what I found:

Emerson College's
Best 351 Colleges Rankings

Click on the list name to see all the schools on that list or
click the category name to see all the lists in the category.
Rank List Category
#19 Gay Community Accepted
#7 Students Ignore God on a Regular Basis
#1 Great College Radio Station
#1 Great College Theater
#5 Intercollegiate Sports Unpopular or Nonexistent Extracurriculars
#1 Nobody Plays Intramural Sports
#1 Dodge Ball Targets

Hmm. As an 'ERS d.j., Lions soccer player, & former Catholic, what should I think?
Haircut. Met knew teacher. No beer. School bike. Fish taco. Car at Linsky's. Pool: Amanda in, Zac & I play. Brother's birthday. Flava ice. Flava Flav. Cold lampin'. Hot & humid. Griff news Ball Square. Nearly four o'clock. SLEEPING on the Wing. The DELUXE TRANSITIVE VAMPIRE. Dred of ride home. Reactions to haircut. New keyboard. New hard drive. At school. Past four. Time to go. Miss you.


Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Pack. Drive. Stop. Percolator. Portsmouth. Drive. Chinese buffet. Augusta. Drive. Answer. St. Croix, New Brunswick. Drive. Break. Young moose. Drive. Stop. Fredricton. Sleep. Dream. Wake. Drive. Sackville. Talk. Drive. Buy. Essays & Poems. Sackville history. Maps. Paper. Walk. Vegetables. Cheese. Wrap. Coffee. Walk. Library closed. Walk. Book. Drive. Buy. Sackville history. Drive. Amherst Shores, Nova Scotia. Camp. Walk. Swim. Walk. Percolate. Coffee. Sardines. Salad. Wash. Read. Write. Fire. Water. Sleep. Wake. Sleep. Wake. Sleep. Wake. Percolate. Coffee. Cook. Eggs. Bacon. Drive. Moncton, N.B. Walk. Coffee. Boston Cream. Walk. Buy. Canadian folkways. Bowering. Koch. Intimate History of New Brunswick. Notes. Walk. No albums. Walk. Consume. Stout. Poutine Rapees. Mussels. Walk. Coffee. Drive. Stop. Maritime folksongs. Fundy National Park. Tent. Walk out. Red squirrel. Red spruce. Mine residue. Red spruce. Red squirrels. Walk back. Cook. Garlic. Olive Oil. Onions. Black beans. Salad. Wash. Fire. Water. Sleep. Dream. Wake. Percolate. Coffee. Eggs. Bacon. Wash. Walk. Wash. Drive. Lake. Walk. Black spruce. Stream. Wade. Talk. Walk. Drive. Stop. Onion rings. Chowder. Burger. Shake. Past Sussex. Drive. Saint John. Check in. Drive. Carleton Martello Tower. Drive. Walk. Buy. The the. Sugar. Walk. Saint John Market. Acadia flag. New Brunswick flag. Nova Scotia flag. Strawberry shake. Sparkling water. Smell. Fish. Meat. Fruit. Vegetables. See. Trinkets. Drive. Read. Walk. Consume. Haddock w/ Mexican spices & mint. Margaritas. Walk. Sleep. Dream. Wake. Read. Eat. Pancakes. Fruit. Coffee. Drive. Walk. Talk. Maritime history. Loyalists. Book business. Buy. Irish in Canada. Walk. Drive. Stop. Machias, ME. Eat. Tuna melt. Fried clams. Drive. Stop. Belfast, ME. Walk. Drink. Iced Mocha. Eat. Lavender vanilla ice cream. Walk. Co-op. Pickled fiddleheads. Walk. Drive. Stop. Portsmouth. Friendly toast. Eat. Matt #2. Drink. PBR. Moxie. Drive. A. Piatt Andrew Bridge. Grant Circle. Washington Street. Stop. Annisquam, Gloucester, MA. Smell. Cooler. Clean. Sleep. Dream. Wake. Unpack. Drive. GHS. Talk. Principal. Email. Blogs. Type.

Pack. Drive. Stop. Percolator. Portsmouth. Drive. Chinese buffet. Augusta. Drive. Answer. St. Croix, New Brunswick. Drive. Break. Young moose. Drive. Stop. Fredricton. Sleep. Dream. Wake. Drive. Sackville. Talk. Drive. Buy. Essays & Poems. Sackville history. Maps. Paper. Walk. Vegetables. Cheese. Wrap. Coffee. Walk. Library closed. Walk. Book. Drive. Buy. Sackville history. Drive. Amherst Shores, Nova Scotia. Camp. Walk. Swim. Walk. Percolate. Coffee. Sardines. Salad. Wash. Read. Write. Fire. Water. Sleep. Wake. Sleep. Wake. Sleep. Wake. Percolate. Coffee. Cook. Eggs. Bacon. Drive. Moncton, N.B. Walk. Coffee. Boston Cream. Walk. Buy. Canadian folkways. Bowering. Koch. Intimate History of New Brunswick. Notes. Walk. No albums. Walk. Consume. Stout. Poutine Rapees. Mussels. Walk. Coffee. Drive. Stop. Maritime folksongs. Fundy National Park. Tent. Walk out. Red squirrel. Red spruce. Mine residue. Red spruce. Red squirrels. Walk back. Cook. Garlic. Olive Oil. Onions. Black beans. Salad. Wash. Fire. Water. Sleep. Dream. Wake. Percolate. Coffee. Eggs. Bacon. Wash. Walk. Wash. Drive. Lake. Walk. Stream. Wade. Talk. Walk. Drive. Stop. Onion rings. Chowder. Burger. Shake. Past Sussex. Drive. Saint John. Check in. Drive. Carleton Martello Tower. Drive. Walk. Buy. The the. Sugar. Walk. Saint John Market. Acadian flag. New Brunswick flag. Nova Scotia flag. Strawberry shake. Sparkling water. Smell. Fish. Meat. Fruit. Vegetables. See. Trinkets. Drive. Read. Walk. Consume. Haddock w/ Mexican spices & mint. Margaritas. Walk. Sleep. Dream. Wake. Read. Eat. Pancakes. Fruit. Coffee. Drive. Walk. Talk. Maritime history. Loyalists. Book business. Buy. Irish in Canada. Walk. Drive. Stop. Machias, ME. Eat. Tuna melt. Fried clams. Drive. Stop. Belfast, ME. Walk. Drink. Iced Mocha. Eat. Lavender vanilla ice cream. Walk. Co-op. Pickled fiddleheads. Walk. Drive. Stop. Portsmouth. Friendly toast. Eat. Matt #2. Drink. PBR. Moxie. Drive. Stop. Annisquam, Gloucester, MA. Smell. Cooler. Clean. Sleep. Dream. Wake. Unpack. Drive. GHS. Talk. Principal. Email. Blogs. Type.


Friday, August 15, 2003

This from Christina Strong:
Due to a major screw up on the east coast, I can't
check my email on my regular account. Please send all
love letters, controversies, real and imagined to
Dreams. Coffee. Granola. Scan Globe. Search for tent. The Who Sell Out. Look at map. Pack for four day Maine & Canadian Maratime trip. Windshield wiper fluid. Imagine {side two}. John Wesley Harding. Email. Blog.


Thursday, August 14, 2003

No Blogging:

Some Lists {since last Wednesday}:

Gloucester {Annisquam, West Gloucester, Lanesville, East Gloucester, Downtown, Magnolia, points between}, Boston {Allston}, Danvers, Topsfield, Somerville, Salem, Peabody, Mansfield, points between; Amanda, Zac, Gerrit, Simon, Kari, Greg, Mike, Xtina, Mark, Chris, Joel, Dan, Tim, Ariane, Patrick, Tad, Tom, Susan, Susan's mother, Dana, Dino, John, Alec, Alex, others; The Jicks, Radiohead; Lost in La Mancha; The Hidden Injuries of Class, The Death & Life of Great American Cities, The Corrections, Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone; Budweiser, Pabst, Guinness, Heineken; Famous Grouse Scotch; misc. red wine; The Kinvara, The Blackburn Tavern, The Rigger, McT’s, The Rhumbline, Pratty’s, The Crow’s Nest; 140, 95, 93, 1, 128/95, 128, 133, 114, others; Angels, Orioles, Athletics; Galaxie 500 {Today, misc.}, Leadbelly {misc}, Wilco/Tweedy {selection by Mike County}, Kinks {Kronicles}, Radiohead {Hail to the Thief, Kid A, Amnesiac, misc. Thom Yorke live}, R.E.M. {Fables of the Reconstruction/Reconstruction of the Fables}, Sonic Youth {Evol, Sister}, Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians {Respect}, Billy Bragg {Back to Basics, Don’t Try This at Home}, Belle & Sebastian {3.. 6.. 9.. Seconds of Light, Dog on Wheels}, Elvis Costello {My Aim is True}, The Sundays {Reading, Writing & Arithmetic}, Tchaikovsky {Symphony No. 6 [Pathetique]}, My Bloody Valentine {Loveless}, others; breast stroke, crawl, doggy paddle, side stroke, back stroke, treading water; mussels, scallops, cod, shrimp, tuna; yes, no, others.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

I have a few moments before taking the commuter rail to Boston (to see Celtic play Kaunas of Lithuanian in a preliminary European Cup match). As Mike County noted at the Blackburn Tavern(?) on Sunday, riding the rails (& spending the afternoon in a bar) is also a good way to get some reading done. I'm taking...
* The Death and Life of Great American Cities (picked up in a book sale that Gerrit Lansing took me to at the Beverly Farms Episcopal Church {Thanks Gerrit.})
* & The Hidden Injuries of Class (a gift from Gerrit {Thanks again.})
* & (in case I feel too *closed in upon* by all that prose) Fanny Howe: Selected Poems.

I hope to finish those first two today & reread a section or two in the last. I'd love to hear what other's think about any of the books.

After reading the excerpts of my comments about Denis Johnson onAaron's blog, I feel compelled to note that Gerrit & a local writer Peter Anastas put me on to Johnson's work. (Some of you will know Peter's work from the book of Olson's letters to the Gloucester Daily Times that he edited.) Why mention this?
When I first moved to Gloucester & before I knew any of young(er) Boston area poets (except for fellow Emerson College alum Chris Rizzo!) whom I now see/read/hear/talk w/ regularly, Peter & Gerrit were lights in a dark forest.
Gerrit & I recently had a conversation about the evolution--even over the last eight years--of the *scene* that has been much discussed this week. I reminded Gerrit that our involvement w/ Boston-area poets began when he invited Amanda & I to one of the last Word of Mouth readings. (It was held in late '95 in the World Wide Building in Waltham.) Bill Corbett read an Isaac Babel short story. (Later, Peter Anastas put me on to more of Babel's work & a memoir about him & his disappearance written by a longtime companion.) In four years of attending readings at Emerson & in the Adams Room at Harvard, I'd never heard anyone read someone else's work. Gerrit read. Ange Mlinko read. Many others. Later or at about the same time, Gerrit put me on to Jim Behrle's reading series at Waterstones. It was there I heard & saw John Wieners for the first time. Also heard & met Diane DiPrima! & Eileen Myles! That lead us to Aaron Kiely's series at the Bookcellar. At about this time Patrick & Ariane (soon-to-be Doud) moved to Gloucester. Met them through Gerrit--as I've also met Ken Irby, Simon Pettet, & many, many, many others... There has also been the generosity of all who have opened their homes for readings & post-reading gatherings: Dan & Kate, Michael & Isabel, Joe & Molly, Bill & Beverly, etc.

Why go on about this? Chris reminds us that it is often not easy to find a community of like-minded but sufficiently diverse people w/ whom to read/discuss/eat/drink/etc. Sure many people cultivate isolation but many others want connections they can't find. In discussions such about community I want to avoid taking for granted the one I have now (but which continues to change). I also like to credit those who have made these connections possible. W/o them I'd be much more isolated & wld almost certainly find it much more difficult to continue w/ an active engagement w/ poetry amid the other pulls of life. Not that I wldn't. I can't imagine not reading & writing. But because of this community of friends who write & think, talk & drink, eat & listen, poetry is not (always) a separate life.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Bill Corbett's LeSueur review reminded me of this from Ginsberg's "City Midnight Junk Strains//for Frank O'Hara"...

"appreciated more and more/a common ear/for our deep gossip."

& this from Bill's review in the Phoenix...

"{O'Hara's} poems hold you attention the way gossip--meaty, juicy vitamin G--does."

& then

"Deep gossip is what Joe LeSueur, O'Hara's friend, roommate, and sometime sex partner gives uis in this memoir."


Monday, August 04, 2003

My posts are cloning themselves.
Congratulations to Amanda for winning the Dante's Ass prize for this week. As always the selection came down to a coin flip.
Aaron asked Mark about the lack of women in our small MetroBoPo scene.
Except for linking to Amanda, Christina, and Shin Yu, I'll leave further speculation to others.
Poetry discussed on Sunday at the Grand (Union Square Somerville), Descent of Alette (Notley), "The Quietist" & "Introduction to the World" (F. Howe), and Loba (DiPrima). Also discussed: surf poetry, wiffle ball, kale recipes, Bill Corbett's Boston Phoenix review of LeSueur's O'Hara book, chapbook design, & many other things.
Optional homework assignment: read Alice Notley's talk about "voice" in poetry. (I'll bring copies Sunday too.)


Sunday, August 03, 2003

I reread "The Quietist" & "Introduction to the World" before sleep last night.
Had painful dreams. Then had lovely dreams.
I'm know leaving the panopticon of the ghost city for the couch at the Grand in Somerville...a soft part of the hard city.

slan leat,

Friday, August 01, 2003

From the Boston Globe, Tuesday August 29, 2003

Poetry red in tooth and claw

Poems are duking it out in a Darwinian sense on David Rea's website. He's designed a computer program that allows poems to evolve. Starting with 1,000 random words culled fro "Hamlet," "Beowulf," and the "Iliad," among others, his program randomly assembles them to create a short verse. If you visit his website (, you are given two of these verses and you choose the one you like best. The unpopular ones are killed off, but the poems with the most votes get to "breed" with each other, exchanging words like genes. Rea has also programmed in a mutation, where every new poem has a one-in-a-thousand chance of having a dropped or added word, or a word shifting its place. The resulting off-spring poems are once again put up and voted on, and so on and so forth. After enough generations, Rea says on his site, "we should eventually start to see interesting poems emerge." One recent survivor of this (un)natural selection was "Hellhound the beds though to/Puppeteer shout ho recesses now/For in the sphere it is cricket curfews/With therein of stolen." Charmingly incoherent as it is, it looks like poetry requires a creator.

Also, visit the message board which in some ways is as interesting as the poems.
Back to work.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

I'm having trouble w/ spaces.
Poem for Friends
has been revised.
It may reappear
under a new title.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Gata has come home!
She told me--in Spanish--that she had spent two days and one night expanding her "ciudad muelle."

Gata f she-cat; low-hanging cloud; Madrid woman; (Mex) maid, servant girl; a gatas on all fours, on hands and knees

Thought you might like to know. Also...

blando adj bland, soft; indulgent; flabby; sensual; cowardly; (ojos {eyes}) tender

muelle adj soft, voluptuous

There is also "mullido adj soft, fluffy".
In honor of Mark's post about translation, and in honor of the la luna in Lorca's Bodas de Sangre, and in honor of the tides {see Saturday's post} here's a translation from Lorca's La suite de los espejos:


Lady Moon.
(Has someone broken the quicksilver?)
What child has lit
the lantern?
A mere butterfly’s enough
to put you out.
Quiet … but is it possible!
That firefly is the moon!
That glowworm!
Back to work.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Amanda has arrived in port.
I've gotten rid of only one of the Red Devil adverts above.
Solace for a poet after reading Plato's Republic X

"We must bear in mind that the arts do not simply imitate the visible but go back to the reasons from which nature comes..."
"There's something unwholesome about flying a kite at night."
Marge Simpson
Visit the kids to read new poems.
I've been reading Hidden Injuries of Class which has inspired new thoughts about those questions I posed some weeks back.
For anyone interested in swimming in the Annisquam River this week. High tide can be found here. A time table for trains to Gloucester can be found here. I can be found by clicking above.
Swimming has also been known to occur at Half Moon Beach (see also: the cover of Butterick's Guide the Maximus Poems), Pavillion Beach, pools, & quarries.
"When it comes to quarries I'm known to swim."
Good luck to Jim & others playing Wiffleball{TM} in NYC tomorrow.
Good night!
Amanda is home!


Thursday, July 24, 2003

{This post has been redacted...}

Unfortunate Sport Content {sorry}:

The Celtic Football Club.

End of Sport Content.

I had forgotten about my weblog for a few days. (My last post--as you can probably see--was :42:54 into Tuesday, nearly 60 hours ago.) In that time I have talked about the ghost city more than I have visited it. Perhaps there's a danger in that too. Thank you Gerrit, Mike, & Mark for returning me to thoughts of the soft city, as I look out of the school window & am mindful of topography & friendships just across the cut. The soft city is, perhaps, a form in my mind--one that takes on new contours in dreams--but it's marks are found in the buildings, on the land, in the people I encounter in the hard city. This is why I agree w/ Mark that the soft city does not die w/ us--at least not immediately, but perhaps not ever. Our marks remain along the paths we've traced. Poems are, of course, a mark we leave. One w/ special properties.

Talking w/ an other poet after John Wieners passed away, I declared, as if it needed stating, that I thought John's poetry would last, that it would be read for years. I based this on the fact that I've had great success teaching his poems to high schoolers. More success w/ his poems than w/ anyone else except perhaps Blake or Yeats. Why these poets? I'm not sure. Many poets & poems I love {or tho't kids wld like or have work'd for other teachers} haven't yet yielded powerful experiences in the classroom. But back the conversation w/ the poet, I was almost immediately embarrassed at what I'd said. **Of course** John will be remembered, read, etc. That's how I interpreted the look I received. It was not a harsh look. It was in fact quite sympathetic but suprised that such a thing even needed to be sd. Or perhaps I was projecting something, or merely misinterpreting the look & stance.

Whatever the case, I know that I see Boston & other locales differently--my soft city has been affected--by John's poems {how can I not think of "Billie" when I see a sign for Revere Beach!?!} & the stories Jim Dunn has told me about John. John in his life traced paths around the city that we too sometimes have traced, are tracing, and will trace. Sometimes a few steps. Sometimes we follow him--separated only by time {only?}--for entire city blocks, perhaps matching him turn for turn. & his is but one soft city though one many of us care about deeply--even if we never knew him well.

Thinking about John's Boston has not only sent my mind into speculation about the Boston of others--Gerrit, my grandparents, Amanda before I knew her & while I've know her, many of you including friends now elsewhere--but I'm also mindful of Ulysses. Is it a form of false consciousness for me to be moved by walking along Gardiner Street, retracing the path of Leopold & Stephen? Or to visit the land upon which Joyce set the nighttown episode {though what is on that land has been greatly changed? What I am *remembering* is a fiction? Or are Joyce's own tracings of this land first w/ his feet & eyes & then w/ his remembering mind *enough*? I don't want to dismiss this question by saying it doesn't matter, what I felt I felt & can not change, etc. I {like Mike C. in a different way} want to grapple w/ this. I'm not explaining myself well & must get around to eating sometime soon but I could perhaps put it this way:

I'm somewhat haunted at the moment by Mike County's question: "Why should the closing of a supermarket make the eyes water?" When the supermarket goes part of our physical connection--standing in that supermarket picking out foods for dinner as John may have done--is gone. The ground remains & we may recall the paths he traced while standing on the ground but the connection is less vivid; what we physically experience through our immediate senses is now less like what John may have sensed while on the spot.

{Such erasures often, however, give us imaginative space though. We can--as poets--imagine a link between what was & what is or respond to the change in some other imaginative manner. Yesterday Gerrit confirmed for me that the Gloucester "Green" so important to the early settlement is now the main rotatry in town--Grant Circle--& part of the state highway system making it in someway not quite Gloucester anymore {or at least not exclusively *Gloucester* since the land belongs to the state too}. Obviously the implications are quite interesting. One could construct a response (a poem, etc.?) on those grounds, so to speak.}

So back to the Joyce question {I need to eat so I won't even get into the interwoven tracings of the Wandering Rocks section of Ulysses!}: marks of Joyce's soft city--born from the hard city: the topography, buildings, etc.--can be found in _Ulysses_. Or to put it another way: Ulysses_ is constructed upon a soft city which is itself based upon the hard city {Dublin} that any of us might visit. There are remnants still of Joyce's soft city & *all* of Joyce's soft city was founded upon the *ground*, though buildings may be gone. We feel closer--is this false?--by waking upon that ground & better still visiting places which might bear a more physical resemblance to his hard city. Thereby we hope to reconstruct {& even experience ourselves!}--as best we can--Joyce's soft city. Out of the intersection--the meeting--of the created city/the creator's soft city/& our own encounter w/ the hard city perhaps a new soft city is born.

This is a form of intimacy, no? A connection we might make w/ someone we've never known. Perhaps this is a non-electronic ghost intimacy? but not entirely spectral because there is an aspect of the experience that is physical... {Also, Is the intimacy false because it is not quite physically true & somewhat *imagined*--an act of creation? I don't **at all** think so but I do want to avoid self-delusion.} To return to Mike's question: we are saddened--we feel a loss--when the possible {or actual} site of an experience of intimacy--a supermarket, say--is destroyed.

I could go on about how I have been overwhelmed w/ sadness while visiting certain places--churches, say--because of a sudden feeling of loss {not necessarily loss of a person--as in a cemetery--but loss of a former version of oneself/someone else {though this might be seen as a form of losing a person} or loss of hope, belief, beauty, etc.

Again, thank you--Gerrit, Mark, and Mike--for starting these thoughts.)

I started this long ago. Now I will eat.


Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Speech at the intersection of soft cities--in my kitchen {& around the pool table} in Gloucester on Saturday at the Grand Cafe in Somerville on Sunday--has sated my desire to write more {for the time being} about Bodas de Sangre. The gossip/arts section of the ghost city's near daily newspaper got scooped by scuttlebutt in the soft city. In other words, the play was brilliant but I'm all talked out.

{Warning: sports content.}
More brilliance: Pedro (the other San Pietro) & co. beat the Jays 9-4 yesterday. Friend Ben got tix off ebay so I was able to be there to watch the boys in red hose finally give Sr. Martinez a bit of run support.

Tomorrow Glasgow Celtic plays Manchester United in Seattle. There are now **four** Celtic supporter clubs in the Boston area. {At last check only Ontario has more & now w/ a new club in Salem maybe we've equalled the northern bhoys too.} Why didn't they play here? {Or in Ontario.} Guess they're expanding their supporter base... Regardless, I'm excited football is back. The first match that counts {a Champions League qualifier against a Lithuanian team} is next week. Start singing...
well it's a grand ole team to play for/& it's a grand ole team to cheer/& if/you know/you're 'istory/it's enough to make a heart go/fuck-the-Rangers/we don't care what the animals say/what the hell do we care/for we always know/that there's gonna be a show/& the Glasgow Cel'ic will be there/will be there/will be here/there/& every fuckin' where/for the Glasgow Cel'ic will be there.

After the Red Sox game yesterday,
{Sports content ended...}

picked up books at the Book Annex:
*The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn
*Sweeney Astray, Seamus Heaney
*The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson {Have three different selected poems but no collected; I'd been looking for a used copy in good shape for nearly a year}
*Mexican Poetry: An Anthology, ed. Paz, trans. Beckett {Yes, that Beckett! I found a copy in Northampton earlier this year but didn't buy it. Then later in the winter I wanted to read it. Ach!}
*Poems and Antipoems, Nicanor Parra
*The Complete Poems of Hugh MacDiarmid (Vol 1 & 2)

& there was more I wanted to buy but didn't. Fiscal restraint? Hardly.

I was very happy to read the poems Mark posted on his weblog. {See sidebar for link. Some time soon I'll have to memorize how many hyphens are on either side of the 0. Is it ten?} I was a bit depressed, for various reasons, & Mark's poems provided surprising beauty in the movement of the human mind. A kind of dance, no? What poetry does that few other things can. Thanks Mark.
Mike County is moving to Gloucester.
Excellent conversation at Patrick & Ariane Doud's house Saturday night between Patrick, Ariane, Mitch Highfill, Zac {no "h"} Martin, Gerrit Lansing, and this reporter. {Gowan Doud made a few good points too.} The wide ranging conversation had two tethers: the (a)morality of humor & forgotten/overlooked/underappreciated poets/writers of the 20th century. Comments?

I'm off to meet a friend at the train station...


Friday, July 18, 2003

Went to see Bodas de Sangre {Blood Wedding} in Chelsea last night. Amazing. The play was held in Mary O'Malley Park which is on the Mystic River. In the park I watched three futbol matches. Teams played on large boundry-less fields, each trying to hit the truck of a tree (marked by clothes hanging on the boughs. A few players were skilled & fit. Most were one or the other. Few if any fouls were called. The game was mostly about flow, though once the ball got near the marked tree the defenses (often seven or so backs) fell into a tight zone formation, making it very difficult for the attackers to squeeze the ball through. The players w/ the ball came up w/ some pretty inventive--if not always successful--solutions. Oh, & I forgot to mention that the trees were not necessarily in a line. They were just at opposite ends of the three large naturally shaped fields.

From the park I also saw various large freight carrying vessels. I could also see the Back Bay skyline.

But the play! The play!

The production of Bodas de Sangre (performed in Spanish, tonight it was to be performed in English but because of the rain earlier today they decided to hold it inside & by the time I got to the theatre there were no more seats--alas) took place in three locations w/in the park: on an outdoor stage (not raised), under some trees down toward the dock, & on the dock (w/ the Tobin Bridge looming ominously above us not a quarter mile off).

More comments still to come.

{For those interested--& I highly recommend the experience even for those w/o much Spanish since the plot is quite simple--the last show is tomorrow night at 730. Check out this link.}

Thursday, July 17, 2003

New on the blurb blog...

This Creeley blurb (of sorts) was sent in by Jim Dunn. Creeley wrote it in response to a war poem by Jim.

Thinking of your thoughtful poem, I loved the classic line from Blake -- "Fire delights in its form..." -- which years later a friend told me came from Blake's French Revolution and referred to the gathering mob. But fires are lovely in that dancing as you say. Energy doesn't know what it's doing -- but it is, as Blake again says, "eternal delight." I guess it's up to us to keep the occasions specific. Onward!
Long conversation w/ Patrick Doud, Ken Irby, Gerrit Lansing & Chuck Stein last night about weblogs (& the internet more generally). Sparked by Mark Lamoureux's comments about the ghost city and ghost intimacy which interested both Gerrit & me. At the end of the post (Saturday 7/12), Mark asks the key question: "As the ghost city grows, does the soft city {one's experience of the city} shrink? Anyone?"

For me, not yet. My "soft city" continues to expand here in Gloucester & even more so in the Boston-area {though that hasn't been *my* city for eight years}. I've been talking to my grandmother, who grew up in Somerville, about her soft Somerville & comparing it to mine. {Again I'm a visitor--though a frequent one--& she lived there.} Perkins Street is my next Somerville destination. I also plan to walk from my greatgrandparents' first house in West Somerville (shared by relatives) to the next house in East Somerville (shared by even more relatives after layoffs). Here's to soft cities! I want to hear (either in the ghost city or the hard city) about yours!

My ghost city has expanded too. I read weblogs & visit websites created by people whom I will never meet anywhere but in text. This ghost city, however, serves a specific function in my life. When I'm working at home or at school, it provides a quick escape up into the friendly observation tower of a ghost city. The computer screen is a window out from my classroom box or study box onto the ghost polis. I peer over the shoulder of friends typing on their keyboards at home & work. I read the *underground newspaper* of the *ghost city* over the shoulder of commuters, profs, hipsters, grandmothers, immigrants, tourists, etc. in the ghost subway. (Jim's recent astral projection review of the Silliman/Berger reading was not entirely unlike something from the dream newspaper in Ben Katchor's Julius Knipel comics.) But then I set this world aside & return to grading papers or reading Italo Calvino's _Invisible Cities_ or driving/walking through the hard city. There are other escapes from the boxes. Opening a window onto the ghost city is one.

If given the choice I'd still much rather talk--eat, drink, walk, throw a frisbee on the Cambridge Commons, watch kids play with a box of toys at Gerrit Lansing's house, marching w/ tens of thousands through the Back Bay, etc.--in the hard city, while contemplating my (& guessing or asking about your) soft city than peer into the ghost city from my window in the observation tower. But there is a risk of spending more time w/ the later than w/ the former.

The risk of ghost intimacy is less real to me. My soft city (cities) is (are) filled w/ people w/ whom I am intimate in one way or another. Growing & changing intimacies keep this port city interesting--but I am also lucky to have a measure of stability too. I'm very thankful for this. I wonder what others think about all this. Mark's question is a very important one; it cuts to the heart of the polis.
O.K. off to the library: {an integral part of my soft city.}
Oh before I forget...I plan to return to the class thread at some point but I first want to read _The Hidden Injuries of Class_ which I've just borrowed.
Lorca's Blood Wedding/Bodas de Sangre Free!!!
I plan to go tonight (for the original Spanish) & tomorrow night (for the English translation). I'm very excited! {Many thanks to Aaron Tieger for mentioning Macbeth on the commons--which reminded me of Bodas de Sangre on the Chelsea Waterfront--otherwise I'd've forgotten.

Here's the information:
These free performances of Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca are July 11-19, at 7:30pm. The production is staged environmentally in three locations in Mary O'Malley Park, Commandant's Way, on the Chelsea Waterfront (Admiral's Hill). English performances are Fri. July 11, Wed. July 16, and Fri. July 18. Spanish performances are Sat. July 12, Thurs. July 17, and Sat. July 19. In case of rain performances will be moved indoors to the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea Square. For more information email us or call 617-887-2336.
from Blood Wedding
“This character does not appear in the cast.”


Tuesday, July 15, 2003

This from Mike County in response to my Creeley blurb blog request.

Creeley on Bill Berkon's Serenade:

"Serenade manages to make a track of immaculate clarity through all the too familiar fogs of habit and human illusion. With generous affection and unflagging wit Bill Berkson never misses a step-or the words that, again, say it all"

On Joe Lease's Human Rights:

" a remarkable accomplishment, telling a complex story of human rites and their often painful authority with a range of resources any poet would be blessed to command. This singular book marks the beginning of what promise to be in all senses a brilliant career."

On Blackburn's Selected:

"...was the city poet par excellence....the range and authority of his own gifts, both as poet and translator, claim a company with Olson's, Duncan's, Levertov's....the power of his heart yields to none."

On Whitman's Leaves of Grass:

"Some really fucking long lines here. I enjoyed it, but liked the film better. Very human."

Would that it were so--that blurbs were like this last one...even sometimes.
I read in the Globe yesterday that most Americans want unbiased reporting.
The Globe article also said that most Americans want patriotic reporting.
More from Gloucester History:

Fear of the French (1692-style)
or "Spectral Marauders"

Ebenezer Babson & his family reported hearing strange noises. People seemed to be running through their house. No one was there.

Later, Babson saw two strange men leave his house and disappear into a cornfield. He heard the men say, "the man of the house is come now else we might have taken the house."

Later still, Babson (who, Pringle--a Gloucester historian--writes, "seems to have experienced a monopoly of these occurences in the town") saw two strangers who looked like Frenchmen. Then, he saw six. He caught up to two of them & tried to shoot them down. Mysteriously his weapon misfired. Then he saw three. Successfully one was surrounded {by whom???} but as B. approached the body disappeared.

Soon Babson was to hear frenchmen walking about the garrison & talking loudly in the swamp. He was also shot at.

Ipswich sent sixty men to Gloucester to help subdue the "spectral marauders." Six women were imprisoned.

When the hubbub died down in Gloucester (& elsewhere), the women were released. None had been killed.

Reverend John Emerson issued this statement; seems everyone could save face:

"All rational persons will be satisfied that Gloucester was not harmed for a fortnight altogether by real French and Indians, but that the devil and his angels were the cause of all that befel the town."

& now, 2003, the French are boogeymen again.
{Whereas the role of indigenous peoples as boogeymen in the euro-imagination as proceeded unceasingly since first contact.}

Source: Pringle's History of Gloucester

Friday, July 11, 2003

Brian Kim Stefans bringing up the point--a class one?--that time is precious & therefore "reading (not to mention writing) should not be a matter of indifference."

Amanda made a similar point in an essay she wrote some years back.

Creeley: "I write when no other act is possible." (which is often for some & seldom for others)
ac, acr

Bitter. Bitter. Bitter.

Sour. Sour. Sour.

I forgot to save a note I just wrote explaining my take on the five exerpts from the Stephen Dunn article. I'll try to recreate them quickly. {Why am I doing this? I realized {after a friend pointed it out to me} that the stats & quotations seemed sour & bitter w/o careful tho't or close reading. I was simply copying & pasting bits of info like a journalist. But like a bad op/ed writer I was structuring the stats & quotes to imply certain critiques w/o actually creating arguments to support those critiques.}

It seems to me that many of my favorite writers working in the 60s used "fable or parable" (& myth) in their work. And writers quite different from Dunn created "ingenious" responses to the limits of language. In other words I'm not sure poetry in the 60s was lacking in fable, parable, & ingenuity (unless perhaps he is referring to straight--single meaning--fable & parable as opposed to using motifs & language from fables & parables). Who is he talking about anyway?

As for surrealism & realism, I go w/ Ecclesiastes & the birds: "there is a time..." But what most upsets me about the second passage is Dunn mocking "the belief that rationality was the smoke screen of the powerful." We are living in a time in which "rationality" is defined by a few very powerful people. So, w/in the terms & conditions of debate created by the Bush administration & complicit media, arguments for war were seen as "rational" though when those same arguments were viewed outside the terms & conditions established by Bush, et al, they were clearly suspect. The fact that Dunn gave this talk a few months ago & made no mention of the state of language in our nation's politics is disturbing. Bush has after all been the prince of mannerless & graceless (i.e. bullying) language. But instead of taking that on Dunn wld rather take a swing at straw horses: the out-of-control 60s & the irrational 70s.

Dunn connects "grace" with "decorum" emphasizing connotations of "refinement" and "propriety". I prefer to connect "grace" with:
Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill.
Mercy; clemency.
A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.

The grace I find in John Wiener's poems has nothing to w/ decorum, refinement, or propriety but everything to do w/ a seemingly effortless beauty and charm of utterance.

"An artist is a god of very small universes." Why very small? Why not very big? The sentence smacks of mediocrity.
Sleep in your house. Go to work. Come home. Occasionally go on vacation. Make observations along the way. (Wednesday at an awards ceremony for young poets at the Sawyer Free Library, a local poet (author of a number of books & winner of a National Endowment of the Arts grand) said that "observation, description, and classification" are the keys to good poetry. Hmm. I thought composition of language as sound, image, and idea had something to do w/ poetry.) & above all don't bother the powerful. They're doing important work.

As for the final quotation, I'm going to leave that alone except to say that I too like vigorous poetry & don't care for "sloppy" poetry. Though, judging by his own poems, I'd bet our assessments of what is limp & sloppy would be quite different. His poems are certainly careful. They are clear. They observe, describe, and classify. These are the virtues of a particular poetics. He won the Pulitzer after all.

I should say that I don't begrudge his success or stature. It's entirely predictable given social and cultural conditions. I do crave the opportunity to question him on missing specifics (what poets are you obliquely criticizing?) and his definition of various terms (grace, vigor, sloppiness, etc.).

Maybe he'll search for his name & find this site. Maybe he'll email. Please do! In the meantime, I'm interested in other responses.

While I'm at it, thanks Mick Carr for your response which for better or worse spurred this missive.


Thursday, July 10, 2003

I liked this from Jordan Davis, especially: "This whole conversation {and poetry criticism and/or critique in general--added by j.c.} would be much improved if we all concentrated a little more on what qualities we share with those we admire/attack, and whether we admire or loathe these qualities in ourselves."
"Amazon Sales Ranks" for some of the books I am reading or have read recently:

The Amerindian Coastline Poem, Fanny Howe N/A {But available for $134.88, though a note on the dealer, Book People, says their books tend to be overpriced.}
Hermetic Definition, H.D. 474,052
End to Torment, H.D. 287,495
The New American Poetry, ed. Allen 284,373
Selected Poems, Fanny Howe 279,000
Descent of Alette , Alice Notley 225,578
Dreamtigers, Jorge Luis Borges 80,724
Justine, Lawrence Durrell 64,176
Collected Stories, Isaac Babel 52,421
Collected Poems, Federico Garcia Lorca 32,101
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , James Joyce (Penguin) 6,378 (Modern Library) 91,167 (Dover) 94,937
Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino 3,056

Amazon Sales Rank of Billy Collins' Salling Around the Room:
920 (up from 1,210)

While doing research for a letter I dug this up:

"Pulitzer Prize-winning poet discusses poetry, manners and grace" (UDaily {University of Delaware} March 7, 2003)

Some of the best moments from the article on Stephen Dunn's talk:
"In the ‘60s repression was a dirty word," he said, "but repression as we know it can be good for language. It makes us resort to fable or parable. We might have to be ingenious under its hold."

The 1970s could be summed up as a decade of "surrealism without vision and right-mindedness without reality," Dunn said. Poetry was affected by the belief that rationality was the smoke screen of the powerful, he said.

"We live in a graceless age, as well as an age without decorum," Dunn said. "The word is nearly unbearable, nearly dead. Its common day uses rarely compel us to honor its meaning. Our daily encounters and shows like Jerry Springer crave grace.

"An artist is a god of very small universes. True grace often comes from pen, brush, camera and body."

"We need to correct the lack of vigor in free verse," he said. "We do see a great deal of sloppy poetry which exists in a sloppy world. And this world gets crazier as the days go on."
Funny thing to say for a poet whose idea of formal rigor seems to be maintaining the same number of lines per stanza. To see for yourself go here. Why do I bother with such things?

Better get back to writing.


Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The link to Yoo Doo Right didn't work in my last post.
Try the one in the left column.
I've tried to clarify a few things {and fix a few errors} in the post on culture & class that I finished in the wee hours of Sunday morning but was only able to post yesterday.

I look forwarded to responses.
See "Robin (can't sleep poem)" on Yoo Doo Right. That's how to end a poem!
After discovering that each of three books I was reading Saturday were blurbed by Creeley I decided to make polisiseyes a blurb blog, perhaps for a day. So please send your Creeley blurbs {& others of particular interest} here.
File Under: Homeland Security
"The selectment and two commissioned officers nearest the beacons [atop Governor's Hill] were to have charge of them, and, when an enemy's fleet was discovered, to fire thier alarm-guns, set the bells ringing, and cause the beacon to be fired with all expedition." Babson, _History of Gloucestser_

Monday, July 07, 2003

Thanks to Jim Behrle's encouragement I'm attempting to repost my latest notes on class. Here's to the end of the big post error! {Interesting that the posts are considered big--as in amount of memory used{is memory the right word?}; the posts are not called "long" {the word traditionally {schmaditionally} used to describe a lot of writing}.
Culture & Class
{Yes, I've created a new topic before addressing the old ones.}
Why discuss class at all? Christina's email on class {see below} reminded me to consider class & the conditions for the production of {& engagement w/} poetry {having a room of one's own, time to write/read, etc.}. But for the moment I’ll postpone my $.02 re: poetry & class, & instead slide poetry & class into culture & class.

Culture--as a contributor to a high standard-of-living to use --needn't of course be high culture {Botticelli, modernist poetry, jazz, etc.} but merely a living one {including for example folk arts, cooking, etc.} Unfortunately, throughout the U.S., mass culture--which is essentially passive in nature--has for many, many years been a weed overrunning varied *local* cultural ecologies.

It is, of course, now a cliche to say that as a participant in U.S. mass culture, one consumes a lot & produces little {culturally}. {For this very reason kids forming bands & playing in U.U. basements continues to be a subversive act. Literally the underground!? This reminds me also of The Bookcellar readings of a few years ago. Grendel's too? The literal underground. Also, Descent of Alette} Since participating in culture {U.S. style} means consuming culture {films, CDs, Olive Garden cuisine, vacations in Rome, etc.} is one then culturally invisible {or perhaps drowning under the surface of the mainstream} if one cannot afford participation {i.e. consumption}? I guess what I'm saying is that if one buys {nyuk, nyuk} the notion that culture=consumption {of mass-cultural-good-&-services} then one's ability to participate in the culture is limited {or controlled/dictated} by one's income, and more generally, by the access one has to mass cultural products.

{Where cultural production is valued folk arts thrive. One then needs time & whatever raw materials--musical instruments, recipe ingredients, wool, etc.—are available to participate in/produce a living culture. Improvisation & hybridity often result. But that’s another post…}

Of course there are readymade cultural products for nearly all income & education (class?) levels & through them one can always {in a reasonably "well" functioning capitalist society*} participate {i.e. consume}, but this does not preclude cultural striving as a form of social class striving; meaning tho' there are cultural products made for all social classes in the U.S. {ah, capitalism!} our characteristic class striving--our belief that social ascension gives life direction & meaning {which impedes class consciousness but that's another topic, eh?}--leads, in some cases, to cultural striving as well. When cultural products are valued primarily as indicators of social class {often but not exclusively as masks covering one's actual social class w/ the trappings of a higher one}, cultural products that do not support striving may have no value all {since it is the cultural-consumption-as-mask not cultural-consumption-as-experience (i.e. art) that seems to matter}.

[*"'well' functioning" meaning only that someone/something (corporations {corpse} are things often have more rights than someones; here's to etymology!) wants to take money from every strata of society: thus the scare-quotes around "well."
{Straying from class but then returning…}
For USAmericans even when not particularly concerned w/ striving {some psychographic groups, advertisers tell us, are not concerned w/ striving} cultural consumption is still used as a sign/mask to indicated one’s desired identity: class identity, ethnic identity, sexual identity, religious identity, regional identity, etc. and/or the erasure/masking of any of these. {Christina mentioned poor chic in a recent email.} Again, the one implication is that culture-as-experience {art?} is less important than culture-as-sign/mask.

None of this is particularly new but I’d like to propose some implications for poetry.
Though it’s true that the consumption of avant art, like the consumption of any other product cultural or other, creates a mask/identity--{“Have you read the right poets?” “Robert Lowell’s not one of them,” to paraphrase the Silliman silliness}—poetry-as-experience must trump poetry-as-identity-mask {or social gesture, or …} or else poets are simply brand names like any other. Consumption of x brand names=x cultural identity. {Another post about poets-as-brand-names & one about the virtues of hybridity is coming on but those must wait.}

Reading--experiencing words on the page {or aloud} & making something of the experience—is encouraged by work that is not easily reduced. Work that is easily reduced {or which readers-as-non-experiencers have reduced despite the work’s complexity {see also: high school English teachers, my colleagues} more easily becomes a cultural product that can be worn as a mask. Inventive, imaginative work read by readers keen on experience creates a dynamic in which the cultural participant is no longer merely a consumer but has become a maker/producer {producing a meaning or reading}.

There are of course other ways of circumventing the culture=consumption equation. Folk arts are one. To return to the class issue, folk arts often have the additional benefit of practical use. Wear the clothes. Eat the cooking & baking. Sleep under the quilts. Put your O.E.D. inside the bookstand. {The commodification of folk arts must have something to do w/ a desire to escape culture-as-consumption by paradoxically buying & fetishizing an object produced w/in a culture-as-production/creation. {I’d like to go into distinctions between production & creation, but no time. It’s already 2:10. Ach. I’ve been writing this for days/daze…}}

This, of course, has class implications but not binding ones. In other words, it is often assumed {in, for examples, arguments on the poetics list} that working class poetry tends to be more narrative. Working folk don’t have time for that avant-crap is how the argument goes. But then someone else chimes in listing the many experimental/avant-garde poets who come from working class backgrounds.

In my case, culture-as-experience was not highly valued. My father had a favorite poem or two—usual ones like “The Raven” & later “Prufrock”—but he was not keen to find new ones or experience poetry. A book of Eliot’s poetry that I gave him after discovering his interest in “Prufrock”—discovered in a community college class he was taking—went unread. Culture-as-experience was more valued w/r/t rock music. He would often play us albums—most often the Beatles but sometimes Zepplin or Jethro Tull--& would call it cultural enrichment. We would be relatively quiet & still while taking ‘em in. I remember my father explaining satire to me before he played us “Happiness is a War Gun”. This sort of excitement about cultural experience was rare though. TV was ubiquitous & deadening. The ultimate vehicle for culture-as-{passive}-consumption. {Even movies were more exciting; though I saw few movies {no VCR} until I began sneaking into the theater at the mall.}

As for the culture of creation/production, my father sold his guitar in the middle of my childhood. Before I was born he’d been in bands; after I was born he usually just played around Christmas. Folk arts like cooking were mostly neglected in favor of Shake N Bake, pasta w/ sauce from a jar, etc.

My mother did crochet—culture-as-production—quite a bit. She also sewed us pants, shorts, etc. in the manner of the latest fashions. {Culture-as-production forced to mimic culture-as-consumption.} My paternal grandmother knit us sweaters that I was embarrassed to wear. After she died I wore them often. I remember making things—w/ shrink-a-dinks & other such mass marketed Do It {but not all of it} Yrself cultural products—while spending a few weeks with my maternal grandparents in the summer. We also picked berries & made things with them.

Making things always meant conforming to patterns, directions, and recipes. This was not fun although using my hands & then using/experiencing the product was far better than passive consumption.

Much of this is memorable because anomalous. The radio & TV beat the equation culture=consumption into my head. One or the other was nearly always on. I could go into how thoroughly I bought this equation {memories of pouring over the Sears Catalogue Wish Book w/ my younger brothers} but I’ll spare us. In h.s. the equation became clear & so as part of my burgeoning class consciousness, I became proud of, for example, the clothes my mother & grandmother had produced. I also started to write.

Some of the most vital U.S.American cultural-products have come out of working class cultures. The culture=consumption equation has often created vibrant underground responses. One needn’t passively accept the dogma of passive consumption (see: the origins of hip hop & its blossoming in the late 80s & its survival as expression in misc. underground scenes today; see also punk music; see misc. imaginative uses of folk materials in rock music {Cat Power, etc.}) People struggle against the equation but such struggles are certainly marginalized by the dominant notion that one's culture is what one consumes & more importantly what one is fed & most importantly what one can afford to buy. Occasionally something vital {hip hop, for example} bubbles to the surface & is commodified. Thus, the girl in one of my classes who this year designed a utopia called “Punk Land” in which only “hot” boys would be allowed & they would be forced to conform to particular fashion rules {the details of which escape me}. I think they missed the point. I can think of no better illustration of how culture-as-experience becomes culture-as-consumption here in the U.S.


Posted this on the Buffalo Poetics List today in response to a question and statement from Kirby Olson:

"Does Gloucester have a poet laureate?"

Vincent Ferrini is the poet laureate of Gloucester.

"Perhaps it should be on the balloting -- and rival poems published in the
papers, so that citizens can choose!"

A local bookstore (The Bookstore) campaigned the city council and the mayor
to create the position and install Vincent. However, friends have thought we
should walk in the July 3 Horribles Parade, passing out the candidates'
poems and ballots w/ their names. (In the Horribles Parade, people dress up
in costumes, etc. though now many of the floats are sponsored by businesses
and religious groups.) A second group of walkers could collect the ballots.
An interesting experiment, no?

Perhaps even better would be for the laureate candidates to read their poems
on the back of a flatbed truck. A good spot for the poets' float would be
right behind the fundamentalist Christian float & its cloying,
kid-friendly(?) music.

But I also like the idea of using the _Gloucester Daily Times_, the local
paper in which Charles O. himself was published, as a means of determining
the poet of the polis. (See: _Maximus to Gloucester; The Letter and Poems of
Charles Olson to the Gloucester Times, 1962 - 1969_, edited by Peter
Anastas, foreword by Gerrit Lansing, 1992.)

As for Vincent, his letters and poems frequently appear on the GDT's Op-Ed

I had trouble w/ blogger while trying to post a long note about culture & class on Sunday. I saved the text so will try again when I get home from GHS.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Fixed Xtina's email on class that I posted yesterday. Should now be a bit easier to read.


*Descent of Alette, Notley
*Selected Poems, Fanny Howe {Click for words on the essay Fanny read Sunday; the proverbial buck has now been passed from Aaron Tieger to me to Chris.}

Ordering from The Bookstore {Gloucester, MA}
*The American Poetry Wax Museum, Rasula

Currently out of the Sawyer Free Library {not overdue}
*Invisible Cities, Calvino {will begin today.}
*Justine, Durrell {finished}

Currently out of the Sawyer Free Library {overdue}
*White Blood Cells, The White Stripes

Missed in yuppified Gloucester for 3rd of July gathering {known locally for the Horribles Parade}
*Christopher Brandon Rizzo
*Jim Behrle
*Greg Cook & Kari Percival
*the Dunns
*the butterflyman
* you {unless you were there}

Beverages {in order of consumption}
*Eight O'clock Coffee (original)
*Ballantine Ale
*Twinings Irish Breakfast (Decaffeinated) {water is boiling now}


Thursday, July 03, 2003

Ach! I've been unable to get on blogger all day. {Problems w/ my local connection.} Then when I finally get on I lose a post.

It's late! Here a note from Christina Strong ( in response to the questions I posed concerning class. My mind is not working well enough to reconstruct what I wrote earlier. But I will say that I'm glad xtina tied the question of class to poetry in a few places, especially addressing the issue of leisure. More later {or earlier}.

{education & money (esp. issues of having one but not the other)}

My old college's tuition is now $29,000 plus. If I were going to school at all, I never would be able to, either a private or public, I would never be able to afford it. Education is for the rich, and so will libraries, soon, a la a discussion over dinner at Grendel's sunday evening. Debt is for the poor. Yet is education only colleges and universities, what about those that are self ­ taught? Motivation, a quest for knowledge, isn't money driven.

{education as learning & education as job training (this is perhaps one corollary of the first)}

tech and two year community colleges are for "job training", is learning valued in the family or community, depends on how wealthy the community is ­ compare towns of familiarity ­ south Boston vs. Newton (don't know anything about either town, but I'm guessing Newton has more money), expectations of the family, being the first one on my mother's side of the family to go to college at all, I was given a hard time, as in "why are you going to school when you should just find a job" yet everyone in the family recognized me as being smarter, creative, the "black sheep" phrase tossed around one too many times, spoken about in the third person as I am standing there, my father and mother and aunts and cousins, I was also told "you're so smart you should go to college but ha ha, don't know how you're getting there bc we don't have the money" like a like not even a carrot being dangled in front of me, more like straw reported to be a damaged melon.

I personally never had a career plan, all I knew was that I wanted to read and write.

{class & neighborhoods}

obvious less money in neighborhoods, more garbage, libraries close, businesses go under, economic depression, everyone¹s too busy finding a job don't have an time for LEISURE which is book reading and poetry writing to a large segment of the population, poetry in rap lyrics instead, easy immediate, preaching, "easy to understand" jumping ahead to cities, we can look at whole cities with different neighborhoods, Boston, Hartford, nyc, san Francisco, Cambridge, Somerville, Brooklyn, urban planning either conducive, is there a starbucks in your neighborhood, oh not yet oh why not, no sir all I have is this abandoned building?

my neighborhood was in a suburb of Hartford, Old Wethersfield actually. One of the oldest towns in CT, also snobbish, not money snobbish, but historical snobbish. We did not live in low-income housing, but my family did live in a not so great house, we did not own it. It was a duplex and as I think about it now, too small to house mom, my father, myself, my brother, a dog and two cats. I knew that bc we did not own our own house, we were "poor," my father's car was beat up, I got the reduced lunch program at school,
which backyard had a pool, which had toys, neighborhood as community, there's more here? but this for starters.

{class & whole cities/towns (i.e. when it is assumed you are of a class because of the neighborhood/street/ city/town/etc. in which you live)}

Rivalry, like sports games, football games bt high school teams on thanksgiving, also regional, generalizations and presumptions, the south vs. the north, what poets can we think of who are from Miami? Think race, think north end of Hartford vs. asylum hill Farmington ave more likely prospect ave towards and in west hartford, the latter which has much more money than Hartford in it's entirety, make assumptions about the other, speak in
accents, make fun of the boston accent, make fun of a queens accent, assume bc they talk funny to someone, less educated

{artists & experiences w/ class &/or money}

artists in the broad, general sense? Add artists, musicians, theatre folk, who is earning money from their "art?" selling out, instead of "language poet" how about "working class poet" how to and how not to feel ashamed of, less than, reactionary towards against, ask in some certain circles and not others, am I the only one without a master's degree? Don't
have the time to read enough books too busy working?

{class & class consciousness}

a matter of how you gain it, bc the question begs "what are you lacking?" and the answer is: "money" or "capital" these days. But how or when does one become aware of this? Early childhood, adolescense, never at all? Then afterwards, with this knowledge, what do you do about it, everything a measure of degree after ­ rebel or embrace.

I rebelled, I questioned, lacking, all verbs, to know, one of the first verbs taught when one is learning a foreign language?

{blurry lines of class}

done by statistics, or hierarchy, who's got more darker skin, who's got more lighter, when a black or these days, African-American moved in my neighborhood, when I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I was told that her father was a doctor. I didn't doubt that, they looked like they had more money than we did. All I noticed was during recess when every girl would want to touch her hair to feel the texture. Isn't that rude? I mean, I'd never go up to anyone and start touching their hair, especially without asking?

Stupid people. That's what I grew up around, prejudice and stupidity.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Questions of Class
education & money (esp. issues of having one but not the other), education as learning & education as job training (this is perhaps one corollary of the first), class & neighborhoods, class & whole cities/towns (i.e. when it is assumed you are of a class because of the neighborhood/street/ city/town/etc. in which you live), artists & experiences w/ class &/or money, class & class consciousness, blurry lines of class, telling the story of one's class/economic situation, listening to stories about another's class/economic situation, what-has-monitary-value & class...

education & money {The tag for bold is now "strong"; hello Xtina}

Some Boston-area university did a sociological study a few years ago looking at families & individuals who lived below the poverty line but had different education levels & circumstances. They found {& this should surprise no one} that those w/ a college education & **access** to the middle class (i.e. through college ties, family members, etc.) lived more comfortably than did those w/ the same money but w/o such advantages.

Many recent college graduates live below the poverty line. Most people reading this post could tell stories of a time when s/he made 10K/year or less {depending upon the time--70s, 80s, 90s, etc.--of one's post-college poverty} & paid $6K/year or so on rent. {I focus on employment wages/rent because that particular statistic best illustrates the economic absurdity of my first two to three years up here in Gloucester; the absurdity of others' situations could perhaps best be illustrated by other statistics.} But despite {literally} most of my money going to rent, I worked w/ interesting people in a {mostly} respectful environment {though many of us made a quarter or half-dollar above minimum wage}, was able to navigate the bureaucracy of postponing the payment of student loans {in a way that I would not have been had I not had previous experience navigating bureaucracies}, had family members {my lovely, lovely grandmother} who paid for me to see a doctor the one time I really needed to. When I lived in a particulary heroine riddled house, Amanda's grandmother found us another place. Although the rent was higher, we were able to pay it {having no kids} & we were much, much safer. {At the new place I even had a study in which to write.} No more middle of the night smashed windows.

Why am I writing about all this? Just to show that though I lived for years below the poverty line, because of my access to middle class family members & a middle class education I was able to live fairly comfortably or at least w/o disaster. This gives people like me (but not me) a skewed perspective of what it means to be *working class* or, perhaps more accurately, the working poor. Such experiences of temporary ersatz poverty allow many of us to construct for ourselves a rags-to-riches story that while fitting the American archetype is essentially a lie. Such peronal narratives are the lifeblood of the particularly vampiric Republican party.

education & money part 2

The first day I visited Gloucester I came up on the train {it would be another five years before I'd have a driver's license} & except for catching a ride to Lanesville {the neighborhood in which Amanda grew up} walked all around, w/ Amanda as Virgil. I don't remember all that I saw that day; most of the places have long since become part of my mental furniture, the muebles that are shifted around nightly in dreams.

But I do remember walking into Amanda's house in Lanesville. The place was a bit dusty, or rather tiny bits of fabric hung in the air. Her mother and stepfather worked in the house making ties, scarves, etc. from her mother's beautifully rhythmic fabric art. Artistic & economic making. Art as necessity w/o the compromise of the Rockport art gallaries I'd later walk past too often.

Amanda's stepfather--a restaraunteur by training, though then {as now} out of the business-- had painted Amanda & others in the style of Picasso's synthetic cubism. These paintings were on the wall. The bookshelf, in front of me as I walked in, was packed & sagging. Folk art of New England next to _Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein_. Neither Amanda's mother nor stepfather had graduated from college. {And w/r/t the Stein & the many WCW books around the corner in the bookshelf by the stairs, neither Carrie nor Ralph were poets.} At the time this was all very comforting. Others outside the university were making a go of the kind of life I wanted to live; & even more comforting, Amanda was used to (& even expected) such a life.

What does any of this have to w/ class & education? There was very little money in Amanda's Lanesville household. A car w/ a hole in the bottom more or less shared w/ the family across the street. Etc. Is social class more than income level? Is social class also more than income level + level of formal education? Income too-low-to-pay-taxes + high school education would certainly do little to explain the social class of Amanda's Lanesville household. Or would it? Does cultcha factor into social class? One's parents may not have been able to send one to Big Time University, but WCW, fractals, sundried tomatoes, Ella Fitzgerald, & Botticelli may have been part of one's everyday life. How do we describe such a household in terms of social class? (Need we?)

There is no easy relationship between income & education (formal or otherwise) & certainly(!) no easy relationship between income & robust cultural practice. But as the lower middle class or working class parents (& grandparents before them, etc.) strive to make the lives of their children better--as mine did--it seems to me that income (& material possessions of various sorts) & formal education (especially--often exclusively--as a way of attaining income & material possessions) eclipsed participation in a living, active culture as an indicator of something that has been called one's standard-of-living. In other words when striving to make the lives of their children better culture was often ignored (necessarily so? excusably so?) along the way.
Does class--as a complex construct--indicate something about one's standard-of-living? {What the hell is social class if it's not some combination of income (& assets), education, & culture?} {I've neglected the type of work one does as an indicator of social class. Damn. I'll have to address that. Does social class also have to do w/ one's values? Or are values something that a social class often shares but doesn't necessarily share?}
More to come...

slan leat,