Thursday, May 01, 2003

Happy May Day!
Happy Beltane!
Ride your besom 'round the fields.
Cleanse yourself in spring dew.
Give thanks to the workers.
Support a living wage.

I’ve made quite a few errors with homophones, punctuation, and the like since starting this weblog. It usually happens when I type directly into the blogger page instead of using a word processing program first and then pasting the text onto the weblog page. I’m wondering how other bloggers compose their posts?

Also, my wife ( – the name inspired by a Jim Behrle painting; thanks Jim) knows a bit of HTML and so I hope to have links to other blogs and sites perhaps this weekend. I read quite a few. Some consistently. Others sporadically. But generally I have found reading blogs to be generative and nourishing so long as I get off-line before I try to cram too many arguments and/or poems or too much whimsy and/or high-mindedness into my post-teaching afternoon. I still prefer talking with poets in person. (Many thanks to the poets I know up here in Gloucester and down in the Boston-area.) But if it came down to poetics blogs or poetics lists. I’d side with the former, though at first I was quite skeptical. In fact, I was a non-card-carrying member—but a member nonetheless—of the Blogs Are Highly Solipsistic {BlaHS}—a.k.a. “jism and self-splatter”—school of blogcrit. In practice, though, weblogs are actually often quite *open* with bloggers publishing emails, poems, announcements, etc. from other people and *talking* to and about each other & the world beyond. Also there are quite a few different approaches blogging—and healthy arguments about the politics inherent in these approaches. I expected reading and writing weblogs to be like commuting by car, but it's more like commuting by bus or train.
I’m not ready—as others might be—to announce the death of the listserv. {The death of heavy metal was recently announced to my wife by a boy she babysits for.} But (perhaps this is a question for bloggers or a conference on blogging) what do you see as the possibilities and limitations of blogs and lists?
The old gods are gone. What lives on
in my heart

is their flesh
like a wound,
a tomb, a bomb.

from John Wieners’ “Billie
S . A . T . U . R . D . A . Y NIGHT at MIT
& Sunday morning (& afternoon) coming down at MIT
soon to come

Monday, April 28, 2003

Would anyone else like to contribute comments or notes on the readings at MIT this past weekend?
60 at MIT
It's Friday people

“It was the most
honest sound in our ears”

This from Jim Dunn. A man on the move. A man spending a last night in Cambridge, his city of many years. Before heading up 95/128 & the Rockport/Newburyport Line into Behrle Country.

I was happy to hear Jim read again so soon after hearing him at WordsWorth. It's quite pleasurable and useful to hear the same work more than once especially if the work has not been seen—or, especially, read carefully—on the page. One, of course, hears the poems quite differently the second time. New words & phrases catch in the mind. New words & phrases connect up with others. One’s heard-readings of the poem are separate but linked. Serial hearing? The second (or third?) hearing also leaps across the intervening time interval, often making the past present in the mind’s ear.

“The ship docked slowly,
time was slow and sweet”

Yes it was Jim!
My wife and her sister often exchange spontaneous poems in the local (Gloucester) dialect, often about gossip. It’s a folk art, I’d say. The poems begin the same way each time: [insert title here: “Joey Sanfilippo” or “The Riggah” are two examples], “a poem by Liz Grammas, fawmahly known as Liz Pawtah” or [insert title], “a poem by Amanda Cook, fawmahly known as Amanda Pawtah.” Characteristically, these folk poem end with “the end,” usually followed by finger-snapping by those in attendance (often gathered around a dinner table). Like Alan Lomax attempting a folk song of his own, I will attempt a poem in this tradition.

“Airin* Kiley” [*an acceptable internet variant of “Aaron”]
a poem by James Cook,
fawmahyly known as Jamie Cook:
“smahmy men wi’ boats”
ah aw-ways in Glo’sta
HAHbah drinkin’ beah
‘n pissin’ me off. I too

hope to be released
from thee’ah law.
Let fuckin’ AC/DC
& red paint reign!

Sunday, April 27, 2003

{Note to friends: This blog has been outed. Please don’t be offended that you didn’t know about its existence, dear friends. For days even Amanda didn't suspect. (See her ironstonewhirlygig weblog for confirmation.)
I spent a few weeks trying to work out a sort of “columnist” approach. I wanted to see what style(s) of writing would work in this format, how often I would be able to post, etc. I’m still working those things out. As of now I plan to post two columns a week. One by Wednesday and one by Sunday morning. Please send comments to my ombudsman-self at}
Notes on 60 at MIT
Opening {Friday Night}: Part Two

I was not a reader so I may thank Jim Behrle with impunity. Also, I am permitted to spell Jim’s name correctly. Yesterday, I joined the illustrious company of a good (here unnamed) friend who misspelled Jim’s name publicly. Upon rereading my first attempt at a first night post, I switched the “r” and “h” back to where they belong.

Here are some observations on the rest of the first night of 60 {what was the final tally?} at MIT.

David Perry was the first poet to take up Jim’s offer to write the best poem using the words and/or diagrams on the MIT blackboards. “Bad for turbine.” Later these lines seemed to indicate various techniques on display in David’s work (more of which can be found in Poker 2. “I’m serious asshole.” “under the gun” “trigger is squeezed.” “Art of War starring the Hardy Boys” “I can relate I’m a woodpecker and I have one on my head” Seek out the poems. Make your own gloss.

Mark Lamoureux read next. He opened his set with “Elegy (Spring) for Rachel Corrie” which will in appear in a forthcoming spring anthology edited by my wife, Amanda Cook. {Do not look for a May Day release of the anthology. Look instead for it to appear on a day in May.} Here are words from the poem’s volta:

“& now you are the spring; the plants that bow to the sun
will put the sun in a lovely box & lay it below fecund trees for you,
your name is a flock of magpies bigger than the earth,
poxed by lies and murder, let your murder murder the bastards
who murder the truth & who would murder the spring,
but the spring cannot be murdered as it does not die
& you are the spring now & will not die again.”

“No repetition only insistence” as Mytili Jagannathan, I believe, pointed out on day three, though in a different context.

Based on the reading list, Caroline Crumpacker read next. {I enjoyed often not knowing the reader’s name until later. No judgments could be made. I couldn’t even confuse the person with someone else. (More on that in the Day Three Round-up.) Here’s what I wrote about Caroline’s work which began the second “superset” of the first night: “imaginative: analogies: sliding metonymically (?)” “uses analytical tropes” “ironic + sincere use of analytic tropes” …

Miles Champion read very fast. This was effective as performance. “duets soloing” “English not to know what to do with oneself. French not to know what to do with one’s skin.” Made reference to “our sponsors” and held up his ginger ale. Canada Dry was it? {I recently had my students at GHS make poems made chiefly of brand names: Joy, Gap, Tide, etc. Some very good poems came of it. Some students—tenth graders taking a short break from MCAS prep—experienced a “hidden” or “secret” language when reading their friends’ and peers’ poems.}

Cole Heinowitz read a “word poem” [built on words without clear place in a sentence] as if a speech act. I wrote, “narrative is hidden by formal lang[uage] +/or fractured” … She read “nothing every happened again in the gripping weight of expectance” … and “began to crave pizza at an inopportune time” These “sentence poems” [built on “sentences” without a certain relationship with the surrounding sentences] of course need context—as would the “word poem” I did not quote from. Then vis-à-vis “Showdown: A Melodrama” I have written “characters”. “Character poems”? {Without a clear relationship to a narrative in which they figure.}

Brandon Downing was or was not “caught” while taking text. “I vibrate my revenge into a wing.” That should settle all rumors. The text in question was from a Victorian novel. Actually to be fair the issue of ratting on thieves did not come up until day three, as far as I know. But in my narrative it first arises here.

Jim Dunn & Aaron Kiely capped off the evening. More tomorrow: FridayNight. Day 2 [the evening only]. Day 3.

slainte & paz.