Thursday, November 30, 2006

I found this quote on google

All things are tragic when a mother watches!
Frank O'Hara

And Frank.

Happy Birthday Emma.

From A Paris Hotel Room

It was the spring after my sister died that I began to notice the moths. They would follow me from room to room beating against the window shades or show themselves in the one tiny patch of light as I dressed for the day. Some days, some hours, I would count as many as twenty and still they held no significance for me. I saw them as many see the trees which line the highway, just passing objects.

One afternoon when the rains came I let the girls take off all their clothes and run naked in the yard while I danced around them in my blue nanny dress. I don’t know why I did that. That night the moths were so large that they woke me like a burglar might. I put bowls of sugar around the house to keep them from the books.

Occasionally, the elder of the two girls will touch my arm and speak of my sister as if she remembers her. She tells me that my sister is dead.

Then the moths. They like to linger in hot places like the roof of the car. The smaller ones cling to my hands as I water the garden in the morning. When I ask others if they notice the creatures with the same consistency most deny it or act as though it is ordinary. The few that show an interest describe them as hideous monsters. I argue them to be more beautiful than butterflies.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thank a Teacher!

A few days ago there was an article in the NY Times about home schooling children (that which has come to be called un-schooling). Today, people reacted in the letters section. One woman said that she homeschooled her kids early on - but they CHOSE to go to school. Our society has become a complete parody of itself if a woman can say in an international newspaper (with a straight face) that her kid CHOSE to go to school! Did she let him choose to eat pizza everyday too. Nevermind, that is a whole other topic.

Homeschooling intregues me, and as a highly education person who has less and less motivation to go back to work as the days pass, I have thought of homeschooling my own tiny boy.

But, lately the "unschooling" thing has really gotten on my nerves. Today, I figured out why. It is a complete slap in the face to teachers. Teachers (even the bad ones) give up money, respect, prestige, and "having a life" so that every day we can take our kids to a place where we know (or hope) they will be protected, educated, and have fun -- for free. Yet, somehow, I rarely hear anything good about these teachers.
I only hear a)complaints, b)I could do it better (even though I have no training in education) or c). a pin drop.

In the (E)mail Today

Hi,

It's Isabella from Hollywood North - Acting & Modeling.

We think your website is great and would like to work closer with you.

Perhaps we could start with exchanging links.

Can we get a website link on your site on this page.

http://www.saintelizabethstreet.com/

Thanks,

Isabella

Hollywood North - Acting & Modeling
http://www.hollywoodnorth.com

Conversations Typical in My Marriage

Conversation 1

Jen: What did you do to the white mixing bowl? It's all black inside.
Jim: I told you already - do you really want to know?
Jen: Yes.
Jim: I told you. This black stuff got on the fondue pot and
Jen: Oh, nevermind.
Jim: You're probably going to ask me that again tommorrow.

_______________________________________
#2

Jen: Can you put my name on your cell phone answering machine?
Jim: Why?
Jen: Because I applied for jobs and gave them your number.
Jim: Why didn't you give them YOUR number?
Jen: I told you - I DON'T KNOW MY PHONE NUMBER!

________________________________________________________

#3

Jeff: I'm scared mommy.
Jen: Jeff there's nothing to be afr....Jim did you lock the front door.
Jim rolls his eyes.

Monday, November 27, 2006

1984 Volvo

If anyone wants to buy a quirky Volvo for $500 or less, email me!

Land of The Nutty Blogger

My good poet friend just told me that I need to approve my comments before they are posted. What a concept! I had no idea. Now, all comments are happily posted. I will be responding in the days ahead....enjoy!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Even the Met Museum is Low Class- Sometimes

Yesterday, we went to the Met Museum, which is probably my fourth favorite place on earth. (1. bed, 2. Fire Island, 3. Hood River, Oregon)

The Met currently has a show called Glitter and Doom: German Portraits from the 1920s. A brief description of the show from the Museum's website states,

"Political, economic, and social turmoil shaped Germany’s short-lived Weimar Republic (1919–1933). These pivotal years also witnessed an incredibly creative period in German literature, art, music, film, theater, and architecture. In painting, a trend of matter-of-fact realism took hold. Disillusioned by the cataclysm of World War I, the most vital German artists moved towards what became known as a Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), in particular, a branch known as Verism. Looking soberly, cynically, and even ferociously at their fellow citizens, these artists found their true m├ętier in portraiture, as seen in the 40 paintings and 60 works on paper featured in “Glitter and Doom.”

The exhibition features gripping portraits by ten renowned artists: Max Beckmann, Heinrich Maria Davringhausen, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Karl Hubbuch, Ludwig Meidner, Christian Schad, Rudolf Schlichter, Georg Scholz, and Gert H. Wollheim."

I love these artists who are so funky, wierd, and over the top.

But, something made me drop dead in my tracks. The sub-title in the first room is "Cripples, Prosititutes, and Profiteers."
Here, the word cripple is used throughout to describe the satirical redition of war veteran who have been made grosteque by the ravages of war. I GET it. These men, these paintings are meant to show the break-down, the crippleness, in an ugly society.

But, it still doesn't sit well. Does the ends justify the means? Was the use of the word in this context crucial and acceptable? I'm still not convinced. On the Met's more well-written website the show is descibed as "With harsh candor and biting humor, the portraits in the exhibition a Weimar demimonde of prostitutes and profiteers, war veterans and war widows, performers and poets" This seems more fair.

This brings into question when and if certain words should be used. I don't want to make such a big deal of it. But, again, I suspect if someone used the words fag, nigger or cunt to describe a museum show the lynch mob would be in there.

Words I Really Hate, In Alphabetical Order

Breeder
Cripple
Cunt
Fag
Nigga
Nigger
Retard

Friday, November 24, 2006

Me, as a Warhol

Today's Mail

The new issue of WSQ from CUNY! My poem "Nothing to be Gained" is in it! It's also a really thick journal with tons of poems and essays. And I'm in the company of Grace Paley!

Children, No Children, Abused Children

Dan Savage (who is and isn't my idol) writes of his opinion of gay ballroom dancing, "I full expext to get my ass roasted by my friends in the gay media, but what the hey; I think it looks silly when two men ballroom dance."

I bring this up because I'm sure to make enemies, but I hope people will bear with me: I think feminist energy at this moment is being greatly misplaced.

There are three articles that have come to my attention in the past few days: Ms. Magazine has put out a roster inviting women who have had abortions to weigh in, Bust has put out an article about the pride in being a childless women, and Bob Herbert has written an editiorial for the Times about forced child prosititution in Atlanta, GA. My thesis:

What's wrong with this picture?

The abortion piece in particular has trickled down to numerous websites/articles on both sides. The Ms. article points out that

"In its 1972 debut issue, Ms. Magazine ran a bold petition in which 53 well-known U.S. women declared that they had undergone abortions—despite state laws rendering the procedure illegal. " Ms. is currently encouraging women to sign a new petition to keep abortion unstigmatized, safe, and legal. Looking at the actual signers, they seem pretty level-headed and have some good points. Fair enough. But, on her blog Domestic Disturbances (NYT) Judith Warner (who IS my idol) makes an interesting case against the Ms. movement. Warner, who I would say is pretty egalitartian, if not liberal, argues,

"I think the editors of Ms. – among others on the far left of the pro-choice movement – are striking the wrong tone and doing the cause of reproductive freedom a real disservice."

And

"This isn’t 1972. Abortion isn’t illegal. The blanket desire to overturn Roe v. Wade that motivated the proponents of the South Dakota ban is not shared by a majority of Americans; polls have shown this time and time again."

Ms. Magazine uses the South Dakota as a partial reason for speaking up. But, they are ignoring a crucial point. The ban was TURNED DOWN...which should, as Warner points out, prove something. Warner goes on to say,

"Most Americans’ support for abortion rights is partial and conditional – a “yes, but” kind of feeling that is typical, says David Callahan, author of the recent book, “The Moral Center,” of the way most Americans view social freedoms generally: they’re a good thing, in principle, but they’ve perhaps gone too far."

Warner writes,

"I don’t think that writing in to a Web site like I’mNotSorry.net, which invites women to share “their positive experiences with abortion,” and includes testimonials like “The fetus I aborted was nothing more than a clump of cells,” is the best way to cement widespread support for a beleaguered movement."

Ironically, (am I the only one to notice?), the women on the website don't use their real names - which is the opposite of the entire Ms. movement.

I am in the yes, but camp. Should abortion be legal, nonstimgmatised, and safe? Hell, yes. Should it be a completely guilt-free, free-for-all, that women should be PROUD of? I'm not so sure.

But, even if you don't agree with me, I think women have bigger fish to fry. I think this topic is getting a little old. I have my own moments of paranoia that abortion will be criminalized, but many people just think it will never happen. I think - to some effect it is distracting everyone (the Republicans, feminists, and the Church) from more pressing issues like war and child abuse. The Rebublicans rutinely use abortion and gay marriage to detract from larger issues - and people fall for it!

Bust this month features
Infant Free
For women who remain childfree by choice, our kiddie-obsessed culture can stink worse than dirty diapers.

To me, this is even more offensive than the abortion thing. First of all, only single people think the country is "kiddie-obsessed." As a mother, I think the world is adult obsessed. There are no restrictions put on single people - and plenty on parents. On top of it, people are always bitching about kids. I want a kid, you don't. Who cares?

I find it ironic that what should be the headline feminist issue (awe, men having sex with 10 year olds!) was written in the Times by a man! What's up with that? I think that the problem largely is that the other two issues - in the case of Bust, a non-issue - largely are about personal choice and lead back to the self.

I think this society as a whole needs to start looking outside ourselves.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mini-Review - Plath's Ennui

Is it just me or has anyone noticed that the New Yorker often publishes the worst poetry by America's most *famous* poets?

As I described before (re: the Pollock movie), the cult on the *name brand* artist. Pollock was a great painter; Plath was a great poet. They both made a name for themselves and deserved it. But, is that enough? Does an artist who gets there just have to ride the wave? Don't they have to keep at least trying to make the best art they can (like Bob Dylan and the Stones)?

The Plath poem IS important historically. It gets people in the mind of a young artist. But, let's keep it at that. It's not a very good poem, and I bet the New York would reject it...well, unless it had Plath's signature.

Living in the land of awareness.

I live in the land of awareness - and it's driving me nuts. I read the Times everyday. I'm up on the situation in Darfar (as per Kristof) and child prosititution (as per Herbert). I'm up on politics (somewhat) via Media Needle, Amy Goodman, and my husband. But, one doesn't need to read, talk, or look at the internet to see the problem. The other day, I went to pick my son up from school and saw the janitor throw out an enormous amount of food.

The problem with all this is that I'm at a loss of what to do about any of it. There seems so much bad stuff in the world - one doesn't even know where to begin. I would guess though, that awareness is the first step.

When did America become the Land of Apathy? We complain so much, and yet we've got it so much better than everyone else. We all have clean drinking water and are not being chased by the janjaweed for starters.

I shouldn't be so bossy. But, join me. Look around.

Bedside Table: Bethany Spiers

Clock radio.
Reading glasses.
500 count bottle of Ibuprofen.
Yellow hoop earrings.
Voices of the Lady: Collected Poems of Stuart Z.
Perkoff
Rubber band.
White matchbook with nine matches.
One American penny (1982).
One Canadian penny (2002).
One empty bottle of Poland Springs water.
Porcelain sparrow figurine with the number 13
inscribed on the base.
Brass (?) business card holder shaped like a peacock.
Bottle of 600mg Gabapentin tablets.
Antique photograph of a young boy (about 8 yrs old?)
in a three piece suit and bow tie taken by Browning
studios, 167 1/2 First St. betw. Morrison & Yamhill,
Portland, OR. Year unknown.
Clear vase with six wilting red roses.
Large piece of rose quartz (approx. 3" x 4" x 2")
Green, wooden oval-shaped box with an illustration of
a tomato and the text "TOMATOES / WAYNE COUNTY
PRESERVING CO." on the lid, with the dried head of one
purple iris and a gray, porcelain elephant inside.
Wooden box filled with letters and photographs.
Cell phone charger cord.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Do you ever wish you were someone else?



I wish I were Rufus Wainwright or Erika Badu.

Maybe I could be Erika on weekdays and Rufus on weekends.

Atlanta's Problem, Everyone's Problem

Bob Herbert wrote an amazing editorial in today's NY Times. He talks about the "sex-tourism" trade in Atlanta, GA. This "industry" forces girls as young as 10 or 11 into prosititution.

Likewise, a Reuters article on April 4, 2006 reports, "In a sleazy hotel room, "Brittany," then aged 16 and drugged into oblivion, waited for the men to arrive. Her pimps sent as many as 17 clients an evening through the door.

A "john" could even pre-book the pretty young blonde for $1,000 a night, sometimes flying in and then flying out from a nearby airport.

None of this happened in Bangkok or Costa Rica, places that have become synonymous with sex tourism and underage sex.

It took place in Atlanta, the buckle of the U.S. Bible Belt, where the world's busiest passenger airport provides a cheaper, more convenient and safer underage sex destination for men seeking girls as young as 10."

And,

"Half of the street-level prostitutes in Atlanta are believed to be under 18, according to experts."

Herbert reports the mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin, is steadfastly working to reverse the problem. Funds are limited and there is always the question of what will happen to the children once they are off the street, most of which where probably abused even before life on the street. She needs help: although, as with most thing, I'm not sure how to provide it.

The most chilling thing is that Franklin says, "the pimp would have no interest in the children if there were no demand." She's right.

I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around a man (particularly one with a family) can have sex with a ten year old. As horrid as things like murder, war, srealing, and so on are, they OFTEN have 2 sides. Don't scream, murder is never justifiable, but I know how people can be led to flip their lid, particularly if you are a NYC Dept. of Ed. employee. But, I just can't see someone justifing this: "Men fly in, are met by pimps, have sex with a 14-year-old for lunch, and get home in time for dinner with the family." And in the Bible belt!

I don't know how to help, but here are some ideas:
1. Send money.
2. Know the details of your husband's sex and work life.
3. Men need to be more concious of themselves, and not let other men get a way with stuff.
4. Feminists in this country need to focus on REAL issues.
5. If all else fails, the AWP is in Atlanta next year. Perhaps the poets could band together and kill off some pimps.....or force them to listen to the entire of Pound's Cantos.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Review of case sensitive by Kate Greenstreet

A fine definition for Kate Greenstreets first collection, case sensitive, can be found within the text:

What is the appeal of a mystery? Someone is looking for something,/actively.

case sensitive uncovers the mystery of the ordinariness of life unfolding. In most parts of the book, Greenstreet shows a talent at balancing the best type of poetry -- just enough narrative to ground the reader, just enough strong, lyrical language to make the reader want to know this narrative.

Although I may be mistranslating, I feel as if I know exactly what Greenstreet means when she writes:

I believe we need light

inside the body:

And,

Taking turns
as the groaning, screaming woman.

And as the nurse
who brought the doll. It gets more like this.

What child has not played at the adult world? Then, grows up to find that the
complexities of this world are, as my father likes to say, endless. While Greenstreet probably doesn't mean these lines to refer to childrearing, they certainly could. I have not read such an accurate description of motherhood since Woolf's frustrated mother in To the Lighthouse. Interestingly, neither women have children. How can they be so right on the money?

case sensitive's testament to the magic of ordinariness is carried further in the second section of the book [Salt]. Greenstreet writes around a most common, boring household item. And one we couldn't live without! Each opening quote is taken from Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky.

I love the odd vastness of Greenstreet's influences. In other parts, Greenstreet quotes or mentions my three favorite artists: Basquiat, Lorine Niedecker and Agnes Martin: the latter two of which were/are two grossly underrated geniuses. Be honest, how many people do you know who've read Corman and Niedecker's letters? On can see traces of these womens work in Greenstreet's. Work that relies heavily, if not exclusively, on subtly.

I am largely disinterested in humor in poetry. Humor in poetry is often displaced. As trite as it might sound, I want poetry to tell the human condition, and/or to stretch the language to its full potential. Ironically, that is why I think the moments of humor in Greenstreets book work. Andrea Baker once said something to the effect that Frank O'Hara makes humor an element of his poetry, but it doesn't mess with integity of the poem. I think this applies to Greenstreet who uses humor in spots, but never slips into the easiness of making the poem a joke.

From Book of Love:

Then the aliens come

and take our planet
and eat our food
and talk the world time about the better food they had on other planets.

Barely two pages later, she flows easily back:

what connects us
to the Saints;
Desire.


The only issue I have about case sensitive is that it could be edited down a bit, and/or perhaps transformed into two books. Greenstreet has said that the book is comprised of five chapbooks. At 117 pages, case sensitive is quite a bit longer than the average introductory poetry book.

There seems to be a dichotomy in style here. Most of the poems rely on the strength of Greenstreet's talent for mixing lyricism and narrative. Greenstreet said she wanted to create the story of a woman's life, and she does this famously. However, some poems, particularly those in Book of Love and Diplomacy slip into a modern obliqueness than I can not connect with. The poem "informant" begins:

"If x = x,
y =x,
abc = x, etc."

Lines like these leave me empty-handed and wanting more. I confess to being alone in this opinion. Currently, many small journals are having a backlash against lyricism and narrative. Obliqueness is perferred. I do think that, in poetry, beauty has to be number one. And, for the most part, Greenstreet gives it.

In Great Women of Science and Salt the reader meets interesting characters.

I want to know more about the lover who sits around wondering

"when the Bronze Age was."

The person who drives away from their lover to stay under
"half a neon cowboy"

and

"ripped out everything: shelves, cabinets, wallboard."

Most of all, I'm smitten with the strange mother who, at turns, cries, sleeps, and
needs constant attention from her daughter - who gives it to her.

"I was icing this cake for her,
but it was crumbling
underneath.
(It wasn't a very good-looking cake.)"

While the last two "chapters" are not as interesting as the first two, Greenstreet does return to the characters a bit. She also ends with some moments of (as Nan Goldin mind say) "High Art." The one political poem in the book "If water covers the road" is sensitive and poinent. The final prose poems are lovely and engaging. Best of all are philosophical thoughts about memory on the last page (which you will have to buy the book to read).

Finally, if you have never heard Greenstreet read, I highly recommend it. Matthew Hendrickson wrote (on his blog) of her reading,

"Kate is about the best damn reader of poems I've heard......Greenstreets voice, like this poetry is steadfast and dead pane. It is, at turns, like case sensitive, lyrical, narrative, mysterious, and full of wit."

That about says it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?

Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? is a documentary about Teri Horton, a truck driver from California who buys a painting in a thrift store for $5 and quickly because convinced that the painting is an actual Pollock.

But this is only the short version.

Horton (who does not know the first thing about painting) ends up spending ten years trying to prove that the painting was created by Jackson Pollock.

I thought this would be the most fluffy film humanly possible. It ended up being like a train wreck that I couldn't look away from. Intentionally or not, director Harry Moses really puts egg on the face of the art world. The film shows the American myth that art is largely a luxury reserved for the (very) rich. It is clear that while we empathise with Horton, she is a poor (literally) fool in a less than savory hick town. Meanwhile, the New York art world, which is knowledgable and glamourous, comes off as snobby, riduculous, and self-important. I guess this isn't exactly news to anyone, but it's hilarous how readily willing they are to show how mean and demeaning they are. As Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, says: "She knows nothing. I am an expert. She's not." Ironically, Hoving dismisses completely the idea that forensics can prove Pollock did the work. He insists that a painting must have either a paper trail or a signature, but he accepts these are often faked. Huh?

Horton, herself, claims that she won't sell the painting for an offered 2 million dollars "on principal." She says she "knows the painting's worth," and clearly, she doesn't want to come off as a hick who is taken for a ride by the art world, which she (and the viewer, if they're sane) come to despise. This point of view seems so admirable.

However, a few scenes later when Horton tells her team of invester to "just sell it," you realize she's no better than any of the others. As the ex-con Horton hires to help sell the the painting say, "It's all about money."

Yep. You got that right!

As my Jim pointed out (though he didn't see the film, he's actually got, well....a JOB) Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? brings into question the entire idea of name brand art. What if Monet does a painting and Joe-Smoe does a painting? What is they are equally beautiful? What if Joe's is better? This is irrelevant...Monet's name isn't attached to it, so it's worthless.

How did art become, well, like Nikes and Phat Farm?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why don't women poets blog more?

I just wanted to throw out some ideas about why women poets don't blog more as per Shanna Compton's writings. I agree with Shanna. If Notely had a blog, I'd be an addict!

It seems that the whole idea of a "poetry blog" was pretty much developed by Ron Sillman. So, he happened to be a guy, he happened to be a language poet, but it could have been anyone. To my knowledge, blogs were developed so that families could share photos. Then, came along the political blogs (which I'm guessing are largely liberal). I would deduce that these blogs (the writing and reading of them grew like wild fire) caught on because there is such a minor media outlet for liberal thinkers in America. (Morse, help me out here!) I would guess that sites like Juan Cole and Media Needle get more hits per day than Silliman does weekly.

I highly respect Silliman as an innovator in many forms. I think he's really smart. Sometimes, though, I wondered if his poetry hasn't suffered for the sake of the blog. Many of the women Shanna mentioned are cranking out poems and books like there is no tommorrow (didn't Alice just release TWO books). I don't think it's time thing - most of the poets Shanna mentions do have kids - but they are grown. (Hell, Anselm doesn't even live in the same county as his mom!)

I think it has to do with a number of factors

1. Priority: Is your priority your poetry or blog? Do you have time for both?
2. Age: Again, many of the women Shanna mentions must be over 60. I know many people of this age that are barely interested in the computer.
3. Ability to write prose: I think it is a mistake to assume wonderful poets can write prose: some can't, some can. I worked as a writer/or editor for a time and wrote countless college papers. I have learned to whip out prose quickly, but I know some TOP poets who struggle with it.
4. Money and Attention: Well, it can't be the money. No one gets paid for poetry books. But, I do think there is something more satisfying about getting a book published.
5. Obsession with poetry: I take my blog very seriously. I would guess as much as Ron. But, I am just not obsessed enough with poetry to read every book, and zone in on every scandel and comment about it. I have decided to use my blog as a catch-all for serious writings about disability, politics, and life. This can be negative because I feel like I've lost some poet readers, but I've also had the luck of having many non-poet readers.

When I started "blogging" I was blown away at how much artistic potenial and power the genre has. I would encourage everyone to use it fully.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

And

Ezra Loomis Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho in 1885 but spent his formative years in Wyancote, Pennsylvania, where his father was an assayer to the United States Mint. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania for two years then transferred to Hamilton college, receiving a degree in 1905.
After teaching Romance Languages at Wabash College in Indiana for two years, he resigned and travelled to Spain, Italy and England, where, as the literary executor of the scholar Ernest Fenellosa, he became interested in the poetry of the Chinese and Japanese. Ezra Pound founded the Imagist movement in poetry, which encouraged experimenting with different verse forms, and opposed representational art in favor of abstract forms.

Ezra married the artist Dorothy Shakespear in 1914 and in 1922 began a life-long relationship with violinist Olga Rudge. In 1924 he moved to Italy and became involved in Fascist politics, and did not return to the United States until 1945, when he was arrested for broadcasting facsict propaganda via radio to the United States during WWII, on charges of treason.

In 1946, he was acquitted, deemed unfit for trial, and declared insane. He was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. After many letters and appeals from friends and writers, including Robert Frost, Ezra won his release from the hospital in 1958. He soon returned to Venice, where he died, a recluse, in 1972.

Saint Elizabeth

"Not much information is known about Elizabeth, but she has the distinction of being one of the first to know about Mary's great blessing as the Mother of God.

Zachary was a priest in Jerusalem whose wife, Elizabeth, Mary's cousin, was beyond child-bearing age. He was told by an angel in a vision that they would have a son and should name him John. When he doubted this, he was struck dumb. Elizabeth was visited by Mary, at which time Mary spoke the hymn of praise now known at the Magnificat, and after John's birth, Zachary's speech was restored. This is all that is known of Elizabeth and Zachary, and is found in the New Testament in Luke, Chapter 1. An unvarifiable tradition has Zachary murdered in the Temple when he refused to tell Herod where his son John was to be found. Their feast day is November 5th."

Ughhhh....

I thought I was being clever messing around with the blog background. I've really got too much time on my hands! Bear with me while I work out the particulars.

Ughhhh....

I thought I was being clever messing around with the blog background. I've really got too much time on my hands! Bear with me while I work out the particulars.
I'm still very unsure about these pokadots...I like them...but it's hard to write criticism of anti-gay people, war, and the Times against dots! I'm hard at work on my second book....here's one small poem from

The Field Guide to Domesticity.

It is the second to last day in October.

My son sits coldly on the outside
stair, his shoes and socks strewn
around him.

I have managed to get my coat on,
but my shirt is backward
and inside out.

This is not because I am handicapped,
just persistently inattentive.

We are Scorpios (my son and I).

Today is hid fourth birthday.

In eleven days, I will be 37.

According to my son’s small logic
he is more stubborn than me.

Boy, I have got news for him.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Today, Elton John is quoted in the NY Times as claiming that, "I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it."

Then,

"Religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people. It turns people into hateful lemmings and is not really compassionate....The reality is that organized religion doesn't seem to work."

John is a good musician, and although he has a point, I wouldn't exactly call him one of the world's great thinkers.

I admit it, okay. I'm a hypocrite. This weekend, I was partying with the guys on Saturday night, and in Church on Sunday afternoon. The Church and I diverge on 3 points. I am believe abortion should be legal, but not widely practiced. I believe in birth control - and if I could just get the Pope to agree, I'm sure #1 would be less of a problem. And I'm, as they say, "in with the gays." In fact, besides Cyndi Lauper, I'm probably more pro-gay than many gays. I completely understand where John is coming from, if the Pope said that all people with Cerebral Palsy were evil - I'd be pissed. (Although, The Pope actually doesn't say gay people are bad - he says gay sex is bad. Actually, the Bible says SODOMY is bad, so I hope all religious people haven't had hetro anal sex - or the be in BIG TROUBLE).

But, I think it's crazy to throw the baby out with the bath water. Religion has done MANY aweful things. But, it has also made people compassionate and genous. Religion has helped the poor and immigrants. Religion has helped people in uncountable ways. Religion isn't flawless, but nothing manmade is.

Bush claims he's pro-life. Yet they kill you in Texas for stealing candy. Yesterday, I loved the headline on the Catholic paper: Vatican Opposed to Killing Saddam. Now. that's pro-life!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bedside Table: Evie Shockley

onestly, what's lying on the other side of the bed (where, sadly, books
collect when my partner's not in town -- and which is only a partial and
slightly distorted reflection of what i'm reading) right now:

1. - 5. five tinyside books (## 16-20) from big game books by k.
lorraine graham, julia drescher, jen tynes, ada limon, and stacy
szymaszek, respectively.

6. *muse & drudge,* by harryette mullen

7. *i take thee, english, for my beloved,* by eileen tabios

8. an off-print of the poetry, prose, and an interview of brent hayes
edwards, published in *callaloo* 22.4

9. *traffic,* issue # 2

10. *remnants of hannah,* by dara wier

A Brief History of My Life in Poetry



For the life of me, I can't work the side bar of this thing!

Although I have greatly digressed, I am a poet. I just wanted to talk about my work for a second.

Born in Northern California and raised in New Mexico, Jennifer Bartlett now resides in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1994 with a B.A. in English, and Vermont College in 1998 with an M.F.A. She won the 1995 Bruce P. Rossley New Voices Award in poetry in Boston, Massachusetts. Her poems have appeared in First Intensity, The Boston Globe, Blue Mesa Review, Conceptions SouthWest, Bughouse, and Psalm 151. In 1997, she won the Laurel Moon Open Poetry Contest at Brandeis University. She has written book reviews and articles for Harvard Review, Jewish Book World, St. Mark's Poetry Project, 'Hale, and WeMedia Magazine, where she once was the culture editor. In 2000, she acted as a judge for the Jewish Book Council's annual short story contest, and has volunteered at St. Mark's Poetry Project and Poet's House. In 2005, she was a New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow.

In 2007, my first collection of poetry, Derivative of the Moving Image, is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press. The Press accepted this book quite awhile ago and has been a lot time in coming. Meanwhile, I am 50 pages into my second book (a) lullaby without any music.

Some web publications:

http://www.how2journal.com

http://www.nyfa.org/nyfa_artists_detail.asp?pid=5378

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A message from Jim

Inspired by the movie "The Corporation" and Everlast's "The Police Department is Like a Crew" on Prince Paul's "A Prince of Thieves" album.

Dirty language warning - but it's completely ironic!

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Life With 60 Minutes



As long as I can remember 60 Minutes has been part of my life. When I was young, I was convinced that the show was called 60 Seconds. I found it, as my son would say - boring, and kept thinking, "Well, if it's only sixty seconds, it MUST be over soon." As an adult, I came to love 60 Minutes and look forward toward its place on my Sundays. My family has always suffered from what my mother calls "Sunday Blues." When I started teaching high school, these Sunday Blues became much more pronounced and 60 Minutes was there. 60 Minutes was the first show we were able to watch after September 11th. I love Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, and particularly Morley Safer. Now Bradley has passed away. Wallace retired. I am stuck with Couric, who strikes me as fluffy, and Stahl who I think is a closet Republican. But, I'll keep watching, just the same.

Bedside Table: Stephen Vincent

Fires - the Robin Blazer essays from UC Press/
The Wedding Dress - Fanny Howe's essays, also from UC
7 Greek Poets - Translated by Guy Davenport, New Directions
For the Good of Liars, poems by Peter Manson (UK/Scots poet)

(Robin Blaser is so popular now!)

Bedside Table: Charles Alexander

Robin Blaser, THE FIRE (collected essays)
Robin Blaser, THE HOLY FOREST (collected poems)
both these are new from U-California Press
Cao Xueqin, THE STORY OF THE STONE
long-term reading project: 5 vols total, about to finish vol. 1
Alice Notley, DISOBEDIENCE
Virginia Woolf, TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
H.D., TRILOGY
does it count, since I am teaching those last two?
Gertrude Stein, GEOGRAPHY & PLAYS
Herman Melville, THE CONFIDENCE MAN
last two with a local reading group that meets a couple of times a month

A Love Letter to Jeff, Thomas, JC, Tara, Mom, Dad, Marie S., John S., Rachel, Julia, Deanna and others.

I can't even begin to tell how important friendship is to me.
Fortunately, Stephanie Coontz can.

In a NY Times editorial earlier this week (Too Close For Comfort) she wrotes about the risks of modern marriage.

Coontz pointed out,

"St. Paul complained that married men were more concerned with pleasing their wives than pleasing God. In John Adams’s view, a “passion for the public good” was “superior to all private passions.” In both England and America, moralists bewailed “excessive” married love, which encouraged “men and women to be always taken up with each other.”

From medieval days until the early 19th century, diaries and letters more often used the word love to refer to neighbors, cousins and fellow church members than to spouses. When honeymoons first gained favor in the 19th century, couples often took along relatives or friends for company. Victorian novels and diaries were as passionate about brother-sister relationships and same-sex friendships as about marital ties.

The Victorian refusal to acknowledge strong sexual desires among respectable men and women gave people a wider outlet for intense emotions, including physical touch, than we see today. Men wrote matter-of-factly about retiring to bed with a male roommate, “and in each other’s arms did friendship sink peacefully to sleep.” Upright Victorian matrons thought nothing of kicking their husbands out of bed when a female friend came to visit. They spent the night kissing, hugging and pouring out their innermost thoughts."

Then,

"The insistence that marriage and parenthood could satisfy all an individual’s needs reached a peak in the cult of “togetherness” among middle-class suburban Americans in the 1950s. Women were told that marriage and motherhood offered them complete fulfillment. Men were encouraged to let their wives take care of their social lives."

And,

"Instead, we should raise our expectations for, and commitment to, other relationships, especially since so many people now live so much of their lives outside marriage. Paradoxically, we can strengthen our marriages the most by not expecting them to be our sole refuge from the pressures of the modern work force. Instead we need to restructure both work and social life so we can reach out and build ties with others, including people who are single or divorced. That indeed would be a return to marital tradition — not the 1950s model, but the pre-20th-century model that has a much more enduring pedi- gree."

Does my agreement with these statements point to the fact that I am a bad wife, and a dismissive mother. Hardly. I can barely let my husband go out to a movie at night because the entire time I am curled in a ball praying for his safe return. I do know that putting all one's eggs in one basket works for some. Not for me. I was once in a relationship were I was so taken by the person that I lessened or severed other relationships. Untimately, it was bad for me and bad for the relationship. I'm just glad those same friends were there when I came out of my stupor - perhaps they shouldn't have been.

This same boyfriend also told me that a good relationship is not two people looking at each other, but out into the world. Well, that wasn't exactly right either. Lovers have to look at each other SOMETIMES. I would agree that spouses and children come first, but friends should be a very close second.

P.S. I got flowers today from one such friend. He sent them all the way from Africa.

The Retarded

The New York Times has done it again!

In today's art section, Manohla Dargis refers to people with developmental disabilites, people with mental retardation - or (at minimum) retarded people - as THE RETARDED in her review of Shainberg's new film about Dianns Arbus. Dargis, who from here on will be referred to as the white girl, gives the film a pretty fair review. The white girl and I agree - why is Nicole Kidman in this role? I find it beyond ludicrous when actresses such as Paltrow (as Plath) and Kidman (as Arbus) portray our artistic heros. As the white girl points out: "Ms. Kidman bears no physical development resemblance to Arbus, who was small and dark and seemed very much tethered to the earth." To my small mind, which unrightly worships artists, it is a scandel to make a film such a film about Arbus. The white girl seems to hint that Shainberg means to show Arbus' sexual awakening. Who cares? How about the fact that Arbus was a damn good photographer.

Bedside Table: Larissa Shmailo

Ahkmatova, Selected. Better in Russian, in a beautiful small but thick white book--a gift from the fine poet and "Feminist Who Changed the World" Susan Maurer

Larissa Shmailo

Happy 37th to Jen and Tomas!

Tommorrow is my 37th birthday. We will be @ the Mark Bar after 6 - everyone is welcome.

A pacifist born on Vet's Day! How's that for flarf?

More Enough

Juan Williams and Bill Cosby also complain of people who cannot speak “proper English. My first thought is to agree with them. It is annoying and strange when I hear African-Americans in very high positions of power (my ex-boss in particular) drop their s’s and conjegate their verbs incorrectly. I just wonder how this has become so intregrated into the culture that people who have Master's degrees have to consciously remind themselves to speak Standard English. The only reason I can come up with is to disagree with Williams and argue that slavery did have an impossibly lasting effect. It irreprably (Sp?) altered the English language.

What I always tell my students is that there is a time and place for most things (except George Bush). Street talk belongs with friends, standard English belongs in the school and work place. I try not to qualify it. I tell them that one is no better than the other, they just have different functions. But, am I right. As I said before, in accademia, many people with high positions do not speak SAE, so it's difficult to convince kids that it's necessary.

As a final note:

What confuses me is that a race, it seems that a race that has suffered such horrible prejudice would be more high sympathy toward other minority groups. Not so. Again, I can only speak from my own experience with inner-city teens. They hate Arabs (which they insist on calling A(long a) –rabs. They hate Jews (who they argue are dirty). They think guys are utterly disguisting (although they created the “down-low.”) And aren’t particularly admenable to people with disabilities either. Ironically, the group they show the lest hate toward (again, in my small experience) are WHITES!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More From Juan William's Enough

Juan Williams' new book Enough (written in reaction to the Cosby contraversy) covers various topics that he finds problematic in African-American culture today: inappropriate rap music, weak and/or corrupt leaders, putting consumerism above education, and the push for reparations for slavery.

For example, Williams calls the reparations movement "a flashy distraction from the real work black America needs to do to take advantage of a nation that has more opportunities for black people than ever." He argues that reparations are not appropriate in the way that they were for Japanese-American in US internment camps or Jewish people in Germany. Partially, his argument lies in the fact that all of the slaves (and their owners) have been dead for many gnerations. Also, reparations will keep African-Americans in a victim role.

Unlike Williams I am not entirely against reparations. Slavery is often underexplained. It was not a mere economic problem. I largely thought this until I read Fredrick Douglass. Slaves were not only removed from their countries unwillingly, but they were put on boats and forced to live without food or water for many days. Many people died, and those that survived lived in the worst conditions humanly possible. Once in the United States, families were separtated, women were constantly raped, and men brutally beaten. Small children were taken from their mothers. Slaveholders would ply their slaves with alcohol on Sunday to make fun and sport of their drunken stupidity. People who spoke the same language were removed from each other- thus, the development of a pidgeon, which has sense moved into Eubonics.

I think that poor people are bound by a new form of slavery in the United States: consumerism and materialism. Inner-city people are by no means the only group drawn into this system, but there is a seems as obsession with “things” that is particularly ironic and detrimental. People continue to live in the projects, and some argue that this is by choice. I have been told that rent in many "projects" exceeds $1000. This is still a cake-walk by New York standards. If people chose to live there, I think there is some gross mismanangement going. Why would people “chose” to live in areas in which drugs, rats, gunshot, pee-filled hallways, and non-working elevators are common. But, what I have not been able to understand is why people living under these conditions have numerous $100 pairs of tennis shoes, ipods, cell phones, and Gucci bags. I cannot tell you how many inner-city kids I taught in five years who had and have better electronics, shoes, clothes, and jewelry than me (I wear chuck T’s, no jewelry, have only had a cell for a year (which ONLY – believe it or not – CALLS people). I own no musical electronics and we have two computers (our family desk top and a lap-top that my husband’s job gave him). I’ll tell you what we do have – a condo in a nice neighborhood with friendly, good neighbors. We do have the occasional roach, but no rats, guns, or drug-dealers in sight. I don’t mean to brag. I know how lucky I am. However, I could CHOSE to live in Carnasie, and afford that $400 cell phone.

I have had students tell me that they will willingly steal cars (to have the car) or deal (to have the money). When I ask them if their freedom isn’t more important than a car, they shrug it off. Most, truly do not believe they can get caught. Others believe it is worth the risk. Williams blames hip-hop and rap largely for the disintergration of African-American values. Hmmmm….I’m still thinking about this…..But I do agree that modern day rap and it’s obsession with “bling” perpetuates this utterly ridiculous desire for “stuff.”

What worries me about reparations is where will the money go. It seems it would go to perpetuate this new slavery. The slavery of putting stuff before happiness.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

See Ya!

A New Low in Motherhood



Last night I was reading Tama Janowitz's Area Code 212, a collection of her essays on motherhood, New York, art, and (for some strange reason) animals. The book is dedicated to Paige Powell, my guy Basquiat's primary girlfriend.

I have always liked Janowitz more in theroy than in practice. I think her writing (as text) is fluffy and not that well-written. (Maybe I'm too critical though...as Ellison's Invisible Man was in my other hand. Gosh! I AM my father on EVERY level.) My feeling for Janowitz is kind of like my feeling for Hillary - I can't love her, but she's too pretty, smart, and charming to exactly hate. Slaves of New York was sort of our field guide to hipness in dorky ole' Albuquerque. Although, now that I am a New Yorker, I see the book should have been titled Slaves TO New York.

In any case, last night I was reading Tama's short essays on motherhood -which were really great. At one point she writes, "It occurred to me that I wasn't quite cut out for motherhood." This is the narrative of my existance.

Today, for the 56th time, in the 60 days of school that have occurred, my son refused to put his socks on. I had a total breakdown. I told him that I hated him and I was moving out. I told him that he was an f....brat and that I couldn't take it anymore. I feel horrible...even as I write this. But, I don't know what else to do, but write about it. We made up. He won - for today. No socks. Why is does parenting make kung fu or the army look like a cocktail party? How do our tiny ones make us show our impossibly best and our impossibly worst sides.

Ms. Janowitz writes, "Well, I made it though the day, and I only have another forty or fifty years to go."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Just When You Thought Humanity Could Not Go Any Lower

From an email today:

"An amendment to the Idaho Constitution to read "A marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state," thus going well beyond the usual homophobic attempts at legislation.

An initiative to reverse a Boise City Council decision to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from a city park. (The monument was removed when it was cited as a rationale for Kansas minister Fred Phelps ( http://www.godhatesfags.com) and his organization's putting up a monument celebrating the murder of Matthew Sheppard.)

Now, on election day, I'm going to check in with my best pals at Media Needle (and so should you!)

Bedside Table: Julia Hecomovich

Grey Catsby's List is:

PILE 1
Daniel Kehlmann "Ich and Kaminski"
Christina Griebel "Wenn es regnet, dann regnest es immer gleich auf den
Kopf"
Stefan Heym "Fuenf tage im Juni"
NASB Study Bible
E.R. Carmin "Das schwarze Reich"
"Teach Yourself Latin"
Analytical Lexicon Greek New Testament

PILE 2
O'Collins "Interpreting the Resurrection"
Freyne "The World of the New Testament"
5 Notebooks
King James Greek Interlinear New Testament
Teach Yourself Arabic

IN BETWEEN PILE 1 & PILE 2
Spiegel "Wer regiert Deutschland?"
Tix to GNR concert Friday in Madison Sq Garden

Bedside Table: Marcella Durand

Lamp
Glass of water
Burnt House to Paw Paw by Merrill Gilfillan
A Nomad Poetics by Pierre Joris
Reading the Illegible by Craig Dworkin
Ecopoetics no. 4/5
Poetry and the Fate of the Senses by Susan Stewart
A Tall, Serious Girl by George Stanley
Cape Cod Diary by Lydia Davis
A Geology by Clark Coolidge
Science and Steepleflower by Forrest Gander
stuffed in side of bed: Sierra magazine

Cruise and Holmes Call it splits



Now that I have your attention! Please remember to go vote! I voted today with my two charges (Arielle and Jeffrey) as school is out today. I tried to explain the process to the best of my ability which was a complete failure! I can't explain voting - but I could write a poem about it. Here's how I voted today in Brooklyn:

1. Eliot Spitzer (a all-around great guy)
2. Hevesi (he paid state money to drive his sick wife around, but I LOVE his commericial. No one in my house can even figure out what a comptroller is, so I'm not sure it matters.)
3. Senator( Some guy from the Green Party named Howie. I have very mixed feelings about Hillary. I think she's a weak politiciam who talks the talk, but doesn't really follow through. At least poor Howie will get 2 votes - I'll make Jim vote for him too.)
4. A bunch of Demo's I've never heard of for posts I'm not sure I grasp. Hey! As long as they're demo's.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Did anyone know why Bruce Andrews was on Bill O'Reilly? Did any one see it? Does anyone else find it strange and ironic?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bedside Table: Siobhan Ciminera

Books:
Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
The Best of American Poetry 2006
Long Day's Journey into Night, Eugene O'Neill
The Sonnets, Ted Berrigan
Schott's Almanac 2007, Ben Schott
Century: One Hundred Years of Human Progress, Regression, Suffering and
Hope, Bruce Bernard
Portraits, Steve McCurry
In the Night Room, Peter Straub

Other items:
Remote controls
Necklaces
Sleep mask
Pills
One random CD

Thanks so much!

Siobhan Ciminera
MFA Poetry student at The New School

My Family With Cats

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bedside Table: Susan Briante

Glass of water, 1/4 full
Coaster stolen from a hotel room, Marfa, TX
Chewable Melatonin 3mg (90 tablets)
Naproxin Sodium 220 mg (50 capsules)
A photograph of my 3-year-old self with fabulous plastic sun glasses
and strange garden tool
This Connection of Everyone With Lungs, Juliana Spahr
A Day Book, Robert Creeley
Disobedience, Alice Notley
Don't Let Me Be Lonely, Claudia Rankine
The Teaching of Buddha, stolen from a hotel room, Dallas, TX

Susan Briante is tired of playing nice.

My Family, Sans Cats

Bedside Table: My Sweet Husband: Jim Stewart

dirt
a lego catalog for Winter 2006
an alarm clock
View From Weaving Mountain - Nathaniel Tarn (my book)
Humpty Dumpty An Oval - Damon Knight
Spaceships (Jeff's Book)
The Marginalization of Poetry - Bob Perelman (my book, but Jim's read it & I haven't)
a light with no bulb (Jim only sleeps and has sex in bed...I live here)

Bedside Table: Mairead Byrne

li-lo
beach towel
beach umbrella
hamper
sandals

Mairead Byrne has a large bedside table.

Bedside Table: Tisa Bryant

Stalagmite-of-books-cum-nightstand:

The Magazine Novels of Pauline Hopkins (reading it for the slavery-era
gothic, Hagar's Daughter, within)
The Coming Community, Giorgio Agamben
Centering Woman: Gender Discourses in Caribbean Slave Society, Hilary
McD Beckles (he's a man)
Incubation: A Space for Monsters, Bhanu Kapil
New York City Subway Map (I read this like the dictionary)
Let It Be Told: Black Women Writers in Britain
Stigmata, Helene Cixous
Lady in a Boat, Merle Collins (she's a woman)
Seismosis, John Keene & Christopher Stackhouse
Splay Anthem, Nathaniel Mackey

Friday, November 03, 2006

One Day, I Woke Up and I Was (kind of) Conservative

For about two weeks, I have been reading Juan Williams' book Enough (The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America - and What We Can Do About It). I first heard of this book in the NY Times a number of months ago. I was immediately captivated. I didn't get the book until recently though when it came in at the library.

When I first began reading Williams arguements, which are a response to and an agreement with Bill Cosby's controversial speech at the anniversary of Brown V. The Board of Education, I was taken in quickly by everything he said. Then, I glanced at his bio. Williams (much to my horror) is a panelist on Fox News Sunday (i.e. a Republican). This made me read his agruments with a more leery eye. But, I still agree with much of what he says. Williams (and Cosby) argues that there is a sure-fire way, three step way to escape poverty. Stay in school, get a job (any job) and keep it, and do not have children until later in life.

I think though that "family values" have too long been hijacked by Conservatives. Hey, liberals have families too. I think that Republicans/conservatives have taken the ideas of "family values" and twisted in them into a life style that imprisons people. But, as I get older, I agree with some of the stuff that seemed wacky before.

1. Abortion should DEFINITELY be legal. The reasons for this are infanently, and, in my stupid mind, non-debatable. However, abortion should rarely, if ever, be used as birth control. There are many instances, too obvious to name here, were an abortion is appropriate or necessary. I'm sorry. Failure to use birth control because you are young, horny, irresponsibleness, out of money for condoms, lazy, or bored is just not one of them. Pro-choice (and pro-life) people both downplay the seriousness of abortion for women. Most women I know have had one. None of them are happy about it, and all of them were at least slightly traumatized by it. I was never that opinionated about abortion until I had my son. I don't care, something with a heartbeat at 7 months is a living thing. Unfortunately, people who oppose the morning after pill are REALLY on the wrong band wagon. To me, this pill is a God send. I would MUCH rather see someone abort one day after conception than 7 weeks, 10 weeks, six months. According to Catholic tradition, the being is a baby the minute sperm hits the egg, but this is philosophy, not science. A fetus of seven weeks has a heartbeat (I heard it!) so then practicality gets involved.

2. Teenagers should not have sex, PERIOD. This is not one of those life is complicated things...they just shouldn't do it. I taught teenagers for 5 years. They are just not mature enough to handle all the crap that goes with sex - and certainly not AIDS or parenthood. Someone on Silliman's blog said something about teenage sexual energy. I say masturbate! And put the rest of the energy into art, sports, or getting into Harvard (has anyone seen the Seifeld where George stops having sex and becomes a genius?)

3. Teenagers will have sex. So teach them to use birth control. My kids tell me, I can't talk to a guy about condoms. I tell them, if you can take off all your clothes and get in bed naked with them, you should be able to talk to them.

4. Single people can party all night. Married people can do what they want. But, if you decide to have a kid (or even if she's an accident) life should be oriented toward the family. People gripe about poor people not caring for their children, but I think it's worse sometimes in middle-class, upper-class families. The American system is so screwed up. Most people are slaves to consumerism. I hate it. Republicans tell us that we should be family oriented, and then that we should work, work, work, so we can shop, shop, shop. I'm sorry, I think money and family values are opposing forces. Both take time! A mother who lives in the South and has to be gone 12 hours a day to feed her kid is criticized and penalized. But, what about all the upper class New York mothers and fathers who work 70 hours a week (so they can be rich) and pay no attention to their kids. Why is this the norm? Why is this okay? I am certainly not saying mothers and fathers should not work. For a family to run, every unit must be happy, including the cats. The mother in particular (as we have been too long repressed) should work, no work, make art, or do whatever makes her happy. (Another conservative mistake, a mom FORCED to be a homemaker or do anything against her will is not a happy mom, is not a happy child). But, the mistake here is putting money and commerce above your family. Your family needs YOU not a classic six on Park Avenue.

This leads me to thinking about Williams point: Why DOES every in the Projects have really nice shoes? More tommorrow.


No writing this morning. I've got to go attend to Susie. What do you expect when you buy a 22 year old Volvo and name it after an intellectual?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Don't Boys Have Bedside Tables?

Come on, guys. Email me.

Bedside Table: Meghan Punschke

At any rate, I have a lot of junk on my two-tier nightstand: A lamp, a CD Clock Radio, a mound of sticky notes espousing random thoughts, a red leather cup that holds pencils, pens, highlighters and two remotes (one for the TV one for the DVD/VCR). I have also precariously proped a hand painted picture frame between the lamp and the wall. (The frame does not hold a picture, but rather a paper splashed with golden paint swirls). On the bottom shelf, there is a stack of publications I have yet to read, but intend to. Among them, new issues of "The New Yorker," "Poets and Writers" and Amy King's new chapbook.

Bedside Table: Anne Tardos

Marcel Proust: Swann's Way. Lydia Davis translation.
Henry James: What Maisie Knew
Jean Cocteau: Le Grand Ecart
Michio Kaku: Hyperspace
Conjunctions 45: Secret Lives of Children
Anne Tardos: The Dik-dik's Solitude
Patricia Stein: The Chakra, Mantra Cookbook
Aeschylus: Four Tragedies
Bernadette Mayer: Sonnets

The objects:

Radio/Alarm clock.
A sound machine (making natural sounds) to help me fall asleep, and which I never use.
Dozens of pens and color pencils, a sharpener, and an eraser.
A drawing/writing pad.
Some bookmarks.

Be My Guest!

I am looking for guest bloggers to write short essays. I'm most interested in poetry, disability, book reviews, reports from readings, visual arts, and reports of philothopy. If interested please send query with bio to www.saintlizstreet@hotmail.com

Mommy, Don't Dawdle

Yesterday, the inevitable happened. My son realized that I was handicapped.

We were walking to kung fu classed when he started telling me, "Mommy, you're dawdling." I thought this was hilarious and had no idea what he was talking about, which is often the case.

While Jeff's dad was reading to him before bed, I came in to reaccount the story. Jeff remembered that he had said this. He showed his dad the way I walk...it was actually frightenly accurate. Then, Jeff gave me some hints on how to walk the "right way." He told me that I just had to practice.

This morning he asked me if I had been practicing.

Needless to say, this has put me in a mood. (Not to mention the fact that I can't go ice skating because it's raining today.) But, I think I shouldn't take it so hard. I think there is that moment in life (or many of them) when children see that their parents are not perfect. They wake up one day and say "my parents are poor, or can't spell, or are selfish, or, well, can't walk straight."

Then, they might say, as Jeff did: "If anyone is mean to my mom, I'll ignore them. I won't be their friend." Or, if he's really pissed, "I'll make them smoke a cigarette."

Greetings from Maputo! Caitilin Shannon

(Caitilin Shannon is a good friend who has just completed law school. She was hired this summer by Doctors Without Borders to do an internship in Africa.)

I have arrived safely, well, and for the first time in a long time, well rested, if you can believe it. I was tempted to flee the apartment last night, as there was music pumping all night long from some club nearby, that and the night was gorgeous, breezy cool but not cold. The view of the city from my apartment is quite stunning – but then I guess that is what happens when you live 14 or so floors above the ground. Sigh. The primary disadvantage of high living is the fact that the elevators here are unpredictable at best. Last night was my introduction to walking 15 flights of stairs – makes the NYC walk-up seem like a warm-up.

So I have not been to the any of the clinics yet, but have had a chance to meet much of the teams. We had a planning meeting yesterday, to discuss goals for 2007. It was a great way to be introduced to the work and to see the various personalities of the two teams – Maputo and Lichinga. The work here is finally real, and from my briefing in Geneva and various discussion here so far, it seems that I will be plenty busy over the next months, which makes me happy. However, the work will be much easier once my Portuguese is more functional. The learning curve is steep though, and so far I have not fallen off. Thanks to my Spanish, I think that it won’t be so bad picking up the language.

As for my living situation – I am in an apartment which is HUGE and which I share with one other person, Natia. The street is called Avenida de Mao Tse Tung, not far from Marx and Lenin Boulevards. From the 14th floor there are views of the city from all sides, and I can see the ocean from my bedroom window, which is such a luxury. It is still a bit far to the water, but the view itself is nevertheless a form of catharsis. Natia is lovely: she is from Georgia and has about 5 years or so experience in administering MSF (Doctor's without Borders) projects. She has lots of stories to tell and is quite down to earth.

Natia has been giving me a tour of Maputo over the past two or so days. The city is nice… like many cities I have visited before – San Salvador, Mexico City, Tirana, Bombay – but then quite different. The climate is sort of Mediterranean – varied temperatures, with hot summers and mild winters, and somewhat dry. Ocean breezes abound. There are bougainvillea everywhere, as well as frangiapani, jacaranda, and flamboyan trees. Streets are wide and fairly clean, though many are quite in disrepair, not so unlike my hometown, NYC. Friday night I got a taste of the nightlife here – a bunch of us went to see a band, great music. Strangely in many ways being out was quite like being out in NYC (the NYC I like), in the vibe of the bars and music and the people, though not in the number of options.

The good news about communication in Maputo is that it’s pretty good. The office, where I will work some of the time, has 24-7 internet access, at home I have a landline, and I hope to get a cellular sometime this week or next weekend.

Well, that is all for now, more soon, especially reflections from my first week atwork.

Coming Attractions



The next issue of Saint Elizabeth Street will be out in December. We are currently not accepting submissions. The next issue will be interviews with Jen Benka, Bruce Covey, Adam Clay, Kate Greenstreet, and others.

Upcoming on the blog:

More Bedsides.

Reviews of:

Kate Greenstreet's case sensitive
Adam Clay's The Wash
Juan Williams' Enough

Guest Bloggers

The politics of the body: disability in American culture.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Bedside Table: Veronica Wong

i'm going to play this game, but i have to admit i
don't have a bedside table. such is the life of
living in manhattan - it doesn't quite fit my studio.
but, i'll use the equivalent, which is to say a hot
pink round tray on top of an ottoman. it currently
holds: the wind-up bird chronicle (by murakami), the
11/6 issue of the new yorker, a case of foam rollers,
half empty (as i'm currently wearing/using the other
half), my dvd player's remote control, a postcard from
lincoln center reminding me of performances i want to
but probably wont attend, a pen, a penny, an emergency
contraception petition from NARAL, and a birthday card
i'm about to send out.

Bedside Table: Amy King

Now I've got printed-out pussipo-posted poems on my bedside table, a stack started....

Bedside Table: Gwyn McVay

In the Company of Crows and Ravens, John Martzleff (natural history, not
poetry, although it would make a brilliant source for found texts)
Written Reactions, Eliot Weinberger
The Green Lake Is Awake, Joseph Ceravolo
The Cubist Poets in Paris, ed. L.C. Breunig

Bedside Table: Thomas Mitchell

Ugh how rude!!! I keep those things hidden away anyways....

Bedside Table: Elaine Equi

1. telephone
2. old phone book (black)
3. new phone book (pink)
4. peppermint oil
5. orange cinnamon oil
6. various shells
7. miniature Rosetta Stone (from British Museum)
8. Eye in the Sky by Philip K. Dick
9. Best-Selling Jewish Porn by Wayne Koestenbaum
10. The Best of Nancy Drew