Saturday, June 30, 2007

Gone Cold on PS 1's Warm Up

I'm such an old lady. I went to the Warm Up party today at PS 1 in Queens. I used to love this thing a few years back. It used to be a neighborhood-type-party thing. But them Manhattan got ahold of it. Now it is a hipster meat market. & what's up with those 1980's outfits. I swear Sex in the City killed fashion. Sure, everything looks good on Carrie, but boys and girls the 80's were ugly in the 80's!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Here Reb Livingston & Didi Menendez talk about whether a poem posted on a blog is "published."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Editing

I am finally putting together the new issue of SES. Our last issue was in Fall 2006.

SES tends to receive less submissions than other magazines. This is both good and bad. Less work, but less selection. When I consider that "Poetry" probably getting 300 submissions a week, the idea is staggering. But, then again, the editing of SES is a one person operation. Ths is why sometimes things don't move as smoothly as they should. I sometimes take awhile to get back to poets.

Also, rejecting poets for me is always difficult. I worry that I am dredging up bad karma when it's time to put my own work in the mail. It is actually easier to reject poets who have been published in choice magazines. I figure that if a poet can get his/her work into Poetry, Paris Review, and so on, that a rejection from SES will hurt only a little bit. However, some might see it the other way, how can I get into PR and not this tiny journal. I think that editors reasons for rejection are vast. The magazine could be full. The editor could be tired. The editor could have a narrow asthetic. S/he might only want to publish people they have heard of before. The poet's work might just be bad. University journals are particularly problematic as the first eyes on the poems tend to be those of graduate students whose ideas can be still forming. There are also the good ole' political reasons. A poet is kidding themselves if they think they don't exist.

The entire system though remains somewhat of a mystery due to the fact that the rejected poet receives a tiny slip printed paper or a form email. (I hope to shed some light on this in one moment.) But, rejection is tedious and soul-crushing, no matter where it comes from. And it is just part of the game. In the past year or so, I've been rejected from Paris Review, 3rd Bed, Harvard Review, Cue, Sentence, Drunken Boat, APR, Poetry, MiPoesis, Denver Quarterly, and countless others. I've had poems accepted by plenty of folks too.

Now, about those reasons. SES is slightly flawed because it reflects the taste of one person. The perfect magazine might be run by a group of people from all different schools/asthetics who had to "fight it out" and make something comprehensive. This was the orginal idea behind SES. I was more influenced by Language Poets and lyricism -- sort of like the Mei Mei Berssenbrugge hybrid. While my husband was from the Slam tradition. With these two backgrounds we thought we could make something expansive. Alas, the editing fell to me, the web stuff to Jim.

I try to be a diplomatic regarding style as one person can be. One can only expand the mind so much because that thing -- taste -- always gets in the way. I tend to like poems that are somewhat lyrical. I like prose poems. I like poems that have startling images. I like poems that challenge form (such a Mary Higgins). I rarely connect with political poems. Poems that have lines that sound like prose don't usually work for me. I don't like poems about sex. There are a number of words in poems that drive me nuts. (Yes, I can reject a poem based on a word!) The major problem I have with poetry is that I don't like work that is oblique without reason. This seems to be the trend right now. We can thank the language poets for that one!
But, life is contradictory. And I might break all these rules, as quick as I set them.

It's so hard to pin down, that thing that is poetry.

PS: Send poems!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pride Parade

Mayor Bloomberg was in the gay pride parade! I wish he'd run for president! We viewed the parade in front of the library. I think Jeff was pretty bored. It was hard to see, and just looked like people marching by. He did enjoy his little rainbow flag though. Despite my explaination, I don't think Jeff could really attribute any real meaning to the parade. I think it is because we have taught him not to be prejudice, and he doesn't consider these distinctions at this point. Still, it was so cute to see him waving around his rainbow flag saying the pledge of alliance!

For the most part, the parade was fairly sedate. We primarily saw the church groups. I was wondering if the parade has calmed down in recent years. I think that as more and more people come out of the closet, there is more diversity, and slightly less wildness. This sort of sucks, but it's good too.

Coney

The Mermaid Parade was a little too hetro for me. Royal & Jim loved it! If I want to see boobs, I can take off my shirt and look in the mirror. Jeff & I are off to the P:ride Parade. I will report back shortly.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

Projects in the works



Rufus's projects in the works are an opera commissioned by the Met, a tour, and a Judy Garland show at the Hollywood Bowl. We will see him in Portland.

We beat Rufus out for the number of pending projects which include an interview with Charles Bernstein, Issues 6 & 7 of SES, interviews with librarians (that should be fun!), a fall reading series, and continued writings on Rukeyser, Olson, and Eigner. No wonder we are tired!

In the meanwhile read this stuff:

Didi Menedez's really mean reviews
Davidson's amazing review of Notley
Interview with the fabulous Eleni and her sidekick Eva Grace

No Berg

I was supposed to spend the day at the Berg, but alas, it's closed! In the meanwhile, I have located Eigner's archive. Luckily, it's close, Storrs CT, and I may be able to go later in the summer.

Eigner's work explifies the opposite of what I was critizing in the so-tendy poetics of identity. Eigner never, to my knowledge, wrote narrative poems about his disability. Writing such poems may have drawn a different group of readers in, and perhaps, had him published in the New Yorker. Eigner decided, rather, to stay true to his "voice." And yet, his disability is all over the poems, he doesn't need to tell it. Eigner's decision to take the path on an innovator, I am sure, endeared him to the aformentioned poets. One wonders, did he consider the fact that his immense talent could have been used as a method to pull him into the mainstream?

Reading Olson and Eigner has made me realize something; there was language poetry BEFORE language poetry. I know the "big" girls and guys attest to this; Silliman dedicated "In the America Tree" to Eigner. But, I think, as history gets further away from the post-war era, this recognition gets too watered down. Young poets are fixed on the concept of what they call "experimental." I have heard, from here and there, that the words lyrical and narrative are ugly dirty words. This is all and fine. But, I think "experimental poets" writing now have to realize that they are perhaps a fifth generation; after Stein/Pound, Olson/Eigner, The Language Poets, Claudia Rankine, Harriet Mullin and poets slightly younger than the LP, and finally poets currently in their twenties and thirties. I, myself, was always missing the Olson link.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

bad press is better than no press

Saint Elizabeth Street was lucky enough to be reviewed by Didi Menendez in her project to review online journals. I can' t do links, but her URL is http://didimenendez.blogspot.com/ I have to warn you, it's a pretty negative review! This isn't a problem. Some of the stuff Didi points out is right. But, I'm disappointed because she didn't critique the content, which is my area. This brings up a question. With regard to online journals, what is more important -- content or form?

In Lisa's class, we are studing old magazines. Arc2, Moby 1 (did I write it correctly) was McClure's magazine with one issue. It is simply blue cardboard-ish stapled togther thingy. But, who is in it: Levertov, Olsen, Creeley, Ginsberg, Duncan. Need I go on?

In other news, Lisa Jarnot's class is the highlight of my week. It reminds me of how far we can delve into poetry. The minute you finish reading something, you realize that you haven't read something else. It is so magical how diverse poetry is, how we all come at it from different angles, and we all have knowledge to share. I don't want to embarrass her, but I think Lisa is the third most knowledgable person I know personally. Well, or would it be second? Nathaniel and Dad are tied for first place.

Finally, I have piss-in-my-pants exciting news regarding my book. I'm too nervous to tell it here, but if you email me, I'll tell you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Last night I happened to run accross my copy of Tory Dent's What Silence Equals. I thought it was unfair for me to comment on her work without re-reading her, so I took a peek. I still had the same feeling that I had the first time I read the poems. My mentor at Vermont College, Bill Olsen, likes Dent's work, as do many others. I just can't get into it.

Dent's poems are too compact. There are few stanza breaks, there are no spaces between the lines, there is no room to breathe, there is no air. However, her lines and images are not cliche's. They struggle to be new. It is quite possible that Dent wants to do the very thing I wrote about previously: confront her topic (AIDS) and, simulatiously, transend it. I also noticed the date of the book, 1993. What Silence Equals was written relatively near the beginning of the AIDS crisis in the US. I think, although not sure, that it was one of the first poetry books on the subject. It is clearly a brave move.

But, the experiement doesn't quite work. I can't find the emotion in the poems. I can't feel what Dent is going through. She keeps the reader distanced. I was, in short, bored. I can't help comparing Dent's poems to What the Living Do by Marie Howe. Here is the poem:


WHAT THE LIVING DO

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living room windows because the heat;s on too high in here, and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping the bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss -- we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless.

I am living. I remember you.

Of course, the poems derive out of two vastly different situations. It must be so much easier to write about someone else's mortality rather than your own. However, Howe's poem delves into a emotion that I find so lacking in Dent's work. Howe examines the world much in the wacky way I though David Chase of the Sopranos did. She makes us stop and look at the world. She makes the ordinary magical. She reminds us of the tiny details, how wonderful and aweful.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A poet's translation of the Soprano's

I will not follow the masses. I quite enjoyed the final moments of the Sopranos. I look at it from a poet's point of view. Jim tipped me off with some of these ideas. This may all be a long shot, but I think the final scenes reflected ordinary life. How detailed life is. How it is viewed from many different perspectives. How, like in the show, we never know what will happen. Is there a Godfather reference in there? The creepy guy goes to the bathroom -- oh! the gun is hidden over the window!

Meadow crosses the street. Is she going to get hit by a car? Is she going to annouce her decision to go to med school? Her mother tells her father that she has gone to the doctor. A look of panic crosses his face. It turns out that Meadow is just changing her birth control pills! The parents have made a job for their son. They have tricked him into believing it's glamorous. but he ends up fetching coffee all day! Tony puts a quarter in the jukebox and nothing happens, except a song comes on. Tony rakes the yard, he looks at the sky, the mom announces the dinner plans, how close to real life can you get? How much further from TV can one stray? And certainly far, far from any mobster drama?

This is really TV reflecting life. We rake the leaves, we look at the sky, we order cokes, we all have a favorite stupid song from the 70's, 80's, or 90's. If it's not Journey, it's Boston or Blondie, or my favorite Supertramp.

David Chase has tricked us. He has slowed things down, made us look. Anyone in the family could die at any moment. But, couldn't any of us?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

We are on our way to the land of Massachuesetts to see old friends (including our favorite Peter bear) and pettle the book. My hand is worse! If anyone knows what a broken hand looks like -- please weigh in!

Friday, June 08, 2007

The World According to Felix






Felix Gonzales-Torres headlines the Times art section today. He has a number of works in the Venice Biennale. As the world will have it, these things are never timely. The seminal Cuban-American artist has been dead for eleven years.

To my mind, GT is an artist who has been long underrated. He is a forethinker in so many aspects of 80's-90's atr, conceptually and politically. I first saw his work in about 1995 at the Chicago Art Institute. The piece I saw was strings of light bulbs hung in varying arrays from the ceiling. The guard told me that the bulbs were left on all the time, and burnt out at random. Once they burn out of course, they are never replaced. Ironically, at the time, this very, short visit to Chicago, I was meeting a friend who was beginning to die from HIV, and experiencing dementia. I lost touch with this person.

Because I was a generation younger than Felix, I have had the blessing of never having lost a friend to AIDS, although HIV has become part of my daily vocabulary. And death, in other forms, certainly is. Perhaps that is why Felix's work is so dear to me. It's all about the vanishing, and the audience taking part in the vanishing. The audience is invited to take the candy and eat it. To take a piece of paper and keep it. To make the art disintergrate, and yet live elsewhere. Even Yoko Ono has borrowed these ideas.

But, GT is smart too. He wrote," The most sucessful of all political moves are the ones that don't appear 'political.'

Thursday, June 07, 2007



I had the most hilarious interaction at the MOMA yesterday. I went to the information desk to try to get an "artist pass." I asked the attendant if the museum gave artist passes to writers. First, he said that I had to prove that I wrote a book. So, I showed him the UNM catalog. He looked at the book suspiciously, then he asked me for identification! Then, he made a phone call. He ended up telling me that the museum only gives cards to people they represent -- of course, many of which are DEAD! But, this isn't true anyway because I have friends with cards.

It is so funny to try to discuss the larger meaning of the word "art" with visual artists. They're just not having it!

Anyway, I shelled out the 75$ to see the Richard Serra show. I only saw the pieces in the garden. I didn't want to experience the sculptures in the sterile enviroment of the museum after seeing the perfection of them in nature. More on this later.

The child has been watching TV for 3 hours! I have to attend to him.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

And right before my book arrives, this

And of Lunchwithmom.blogspot.com

Jeff's damaged finger.
Segregation in NYC
and
The grumpy man of the LIRR

Interview



Things at Saint Elizabeth Street have been slow to say the least! I am preparing to interview Charles Bernstein. I have begun the long and windy road with "A Poetics." I have been thinking about this great quote -- something to the effect of, poetry should be like television.

Meanwhile, tonight I start Lisa Jarnot's workshop!

I'm also (somewhat) enjoying the new Rufus Wainwright CD. The first few songs are weak, but "Not Ready to Love" blows me away.