Thursday, May 31, 2007

Bhutan, Not Such A Happy Place After All

Bhutan is a country known for it's happiness, Buddhism, and beauty. But today I found out the king of Bhutan exiled 100,000 people from the country for not being Bhutanese (sp?) or Buddhist. What's next? Sweden?

Books and Culture

Yesterday, I snuck off to the 11AM movie to see Fay Grim. I REALLY have the hots for Parker Posey, but that's a whole other story.

In this film there is this great line: "Who cares if the writing is horrible -- if it sells, it's publishable." I can't believe that Hal Hartley was able to tap so famously into a compele metaphor for our society. I was reading an article (I think it was via Ron Silliman) about blogs being made into books. Of course, many of these are about sex. Can you say editor at Knofp + very bad poetry = enormous poetry success?

And yet, we are lucky to still have the small publishing world. I have been keeping tabs on Poetry Magazine's bestseller list. It's interesting, for weeks the two best sellers for "major" presses have been written by Mary Oliver and Billy Collins. This does not change. However, the "little" presses flow and change constantly, they include many poets, many forms. Perhaps there is hope.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


The official iist of 2007 NYFA Poets was released today. Two of my good friends and fine poets won the award: Anselm Berrigan and Kristin Prevallet. Yeah! Here is the complete list.

Betsy Andrews
Anselm Berrigan
Jen Bervin
DeWayne Dickerson
Brandon Downing
Sarah Gambito
Linda Jackson
Cate Marvin (Gregory Millard Fellow)
Ted Mathys
Rachel McKibbens
Sharon Mesmer
Kathleen Ossip
Julie Patton
Kristin Prevallet
Aaron Smith
Leah Souffrant
Karen Weyant

New Blog

I've decided to start a new blog. I am going to divide the two . From now on, poetry and political news will remain here. Parenting and disability news will be at Meet me there! We're having grilled cheese for lunch.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Memorial Day

This morning a neighbor called to me "Happy Memorial Day!" Ahhhh what a holiday, pools open, the beach crowd arrives, the barbeques get dusted off. I have always loved this weekend as it marks the beginning of my favorite season. But, two years ago, I really began to think about what Memorial Day is and it certainly is not happy.

My grandfather died on the Wed. before Memorial Day weekend 2005 (I think). My grandfather was one of my favorite people of all time. He had been a soldier during World War II in Guam. My grandpa's life was kind of a mystery to begin with. Supposedly he was an orphan. Supposedly he was part Indian. Supposedly, he lied about his age to join the army. Actually, no one really knew his age. As his Alzeimers increased, the picture got even murkier. Dad asked him if he'd killed anyone in the war and grandpa said, "yeah, probably." Anyway, losing my grandpa at this time made me think of the holiday in a deeper way.

In the last month about 100 American soldiers have died in Iraq. The war is NOT improving. Now about 3 people die a day, not to mention Iraqis. In his MD speech Bush said, "I don't know how to easy your pain." Well George, I can tell you what would ease MY pain -- stop letting men and women whose medium age is 20 get killed for nothing.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

THE NYC DOE -- and some good news

I'm making the leap. I am signing up for library school at Queens College this Fall. This is not a foolproof plan, but it's the best I can come up with at the moment. I found out that I can take 2 years off from the DOE for leave to study, which gives me the luxery of not having to resign. I am still hoping to get an adjunct job at the last moment...I haven't given up hope. But, I have to find a way to protect myself from the silliness of people who believe I can't do a good job. I have to say...I applied for a 8th grade ELA position last year at a certain school ....they hired someone else, I'm not sure why. I heard that the kids chased the teacher out. Now the school is hiring again this year for the same position. Am I egotistical to think -- why didn't they give me a chance! I have nothing if not persistance. As I said before, everyone wants the Bank Street 20 year teave cher/ S/he works for a year, leaves, and the game goes on....

But, I'm also pissy about the NY school system on a deeper level. Problems with my son's school and others in Williamsburg persist. Now, it turns out that as parents leave our school to go to the "better school" the parents at the "better school" are leaving their school to come to our school! Get it? Good because I don't. I would love to hear your ideas on this. Why are parents so damn fixated on their kids elementary education. Why isn't a school where the kids are safe and happy and learn something good enough? I judge people too much...but here's some gossip...a single mom who gets loans to send her kid to private school that is $20,000 a year! That's $200, 000 of debt BEFORE college!

A few months ago I read an article by Peter Singer in the Times. He pops up occasionally. I have REALLY mixed feelings about this philosopher due to his less than savory ideas about PWD. However, he put forth an interesting idea that sort of blew my head off. Why is one's own child more important than all the other children in the world? He posed the idea that if your child had to die in order to save 1,000 other children, would you be capable of doing it? Of course, I wouldn't. Very few people would. (And I know..I'm a judge!) But it would be interesting to apply this to children's education. What can be done with $200,000? Well, that could keep Anami House (the orphanage house in Tansania) in business for 15 years it's an interesting question: one kid or many?

Second, in my stupid opinion, a child's MORALS are vastly more important than her education. I mean George Bush went to fucking YALE.

There is a school that all the parents in Williamsburger are twisting their panties to get into. It's called NEST. The think about NEST, which is a public school, is that it is educationally one of the best. However, a year or so ago, the parents and principal made a huge stink about sharing "their" buidling with a new school that I believed, if I'm right, included minority kids at a lower level. Can you say elitism? The pricipal was fired, the PTA quit. I know a mother who supposedly said she HOPES people are turned off by the scandel because her kid will get a spot!!!

If I sent my kid there, what message am I giving him? It's okay not to share? It's okay to be prejudice? His education comes before others? Hmmmm
No takers on the books?

On Fire

What is it about Fire Island that makes me such a lunatic? Yesterday, I took the boys on the 2 hour each way trip to get to the Sunken Forest. We had to take the ferry to Cherry Grove and walk to the Forest. What can I say about such a place...a poet, left speechless. Fire Island is truely the most beautiful relaxing place on the earth. Going there brings me immense excitement and happiness. I also have to say that as a disabled person, I feel so comfortable there. People don't stare at me. People don't question my body. When everyone is an outsider, no one is.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I am re-doing the library at my son's school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We have a ton of old, funky books that we need to move out that artists/poet/teachers might love. They are not really kids books: Some examples--

Adventure with a Cardboard Tube
Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science
Chemistry in the Kitchen...

There are myth books, old history books, some picture books, riddle books.

If you live in the neighborhood you can come get them. If you live elsewhere - I will mail them for a SMALL fee/postage.

I'm at

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Friday, May 18, 2007

If you are in the greater Williamsburg Area Tommorow

I can't say enough good things about these two poets. I had the luck of reading with both of them last week. I really love Monica's book. And, as a person who has survived countless deaths of close ones, many to suicide, Kristin's book is particularly important to me. Prevallet does the impossible task of capturing grief perfectly. Grief has this strange circular obsessiveness where the remaining walk through the events again and again. They try to alter the events that led to the death again and again. This is particularly profound in the case of suicide. Kristin's poems capture this so perfectly. They bring heartbreak. They bring relief. Nathaniel Tarn (my mentor) wrote of my work -- "a life saved by poetry." I wish the same for Kristin -- and her audience.

Mónica de la Torre and Kristin Prevallet
invite you to a cocktail reception
to celebrate the publication of two new books
from two new presses:

Talk Shows by Mónica de la Torre (Switchback Books)

I, Afterlife by Kristin Prevallet (Essay Press)

Saturday May 19, 6-8pm

PIEROGI Brooklyn
177 North 9th Street (between Bedford and Driggs in Williamsburg)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
T. 718.599.2144

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Absence of Self Reflection

Jim and I haved both been put into a strange kind of mourning over the past 2 weeks. Jim had a friendship end and he is very sad. I had to quit my son's PTA where I was Vice President, and I am heart-broken. I can say more about my (perhaps misguided) decision to join the PTA later. It has to do with my own need to help, to keep busy, to be productive. My own inability to completely avoid difficult situations and my impotence of being able to devote myself 100 to poetry -- despite my luck at having, finally, "A sum and A room of one's own." But, I digress.

I quit the PTA because the President of the PTA expressed her disatifation with the hours I was working for the school (which by the way bordered on 30 hrs hours a week). She refused to discuss this rationally. Instead screamed at me in front of students in the computer lab and later in front of the school, where security had to break it up.

My point is that the Pres. is under enormous pressure from all aspects of her life, and I have great sympathy. HOWEVER, why can't SHE see this? Why can't she say "Hey, I was a monster. Jen makes mistakes but my frustration isn't entirely her fault." I wish Jim's friend could do the same. I wish we all could more.

When we were very young all my friends seemed much more self-reflective (ironically, for teenagers). I think this is because we were all trying to place ourselves in the world. Now that we are adults -- we don't sit around and THINK any more -- what did I do wrong, what did I do right, am I humble enough, am I a show off, am I taking my angst out on the wrong person.

Too bad for Jeff's school, Momma's in the hole, but she's going to MOMA to visit the spirit of Frank -- now there's a boy who is ALWAYS on my side.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mothers and War

Jim was reading somewhere a rumor that mothers day was orginally invented as a peace day. Whether or not this is true, I encourage everyone to make it into this. As per NPR this morning, there are 10,000 mothers in Iraq currently. That means there are 10,000 potential orphans walking around. I heard one lady interviewed who is a mother of three. Both her and the children's father are deployed. (Isn't that illegal?) She has hardly seen her two year old daughter. Are these our so-called family values?

Happy Mother's Day


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Dog story

Today I received the most horrible story from my "twin brother," Tomas. Here it is in his own words.

what i had hoped would be a nice easter sunday turned tragic about 1pm when i heard a dog screaming in obvious pain. my boyfriend and i looked out the window and saw a neighbor behind us three houses down beating the dog with an object of some kind, kicking it and punching it.
when my boyfriend yelled out "why don't you just kill the dog?" he replied without missing a beat, "that's what i'm trying to do", and then started beating and choking the dog again.
we dialed 911, but since we didn't know the address of the house, she said she couldn't send a car. i ran around the block to get the address, and came back to my street, where there was a patrol car in front of my building. i immediately thought that he had given them our address to save time, so i flagged the car down. three cops inside, the one in the back seat reading the post, the passenger eating and the driver, who didn't look like he was going to stop. i asked them if they were there for my call. he said "oh, yeah, we heard that on the radio, but we're working on something else right now" rolled up the window and drove off at about 5 mph, obviously in a hurry to get to whatever they were working on.
we called the 79th later that night, only to be told that no car was ever sent.
i understand that yes, there are "greater" crimes going on and that police have to use their resources as effectively as possible. i've only lived in the neighborhood under a year and keep hearing from all my neighbors about how the new police presence is so great. but not only did they not respond to my call, the officer who i flagged down to tell about a crime still in progress ignored me and drove off.
luckily the aspca officers have been much more responsive to this. unfortunately, they weren't able to respond until monday and a crime that could have been prevented wasn't.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Readings and Children

I kind of was put in a spot last night. I feel really bad. I read with a number of amazing poets. I decided to take my son and husband because I didn't want to go alone. Another poet had her daughter there. The kids were REALLY, REALLY good. I mean they were great. But, if they made even the slightest peep -- I got glared at. I just realize that (in New York) people are nice, but get frustrated with kids pretty easily. And people without kids don't have any reference point. So, people without kids might think the kids are being 'bad' when we think they are being 'perfect.' My friend once read and a baby stared fussing in the background. She said, quoting famous poet, something to the effect of -- don't take that baby out -- that's life and she went right on and did a great reading. Last night, I did hear my son shifting around and it was distracting -- slightly -- but I went on (and did well!) From my momma point of view I'm like ugggh, why can't people just accept the little people? From my professional point of view I'm parnoid that people will think "Oh, don't invite that Jennifer Bartlett to read -- she'll bring her KID!" I learned my lesson -- tonight I'm reading again (at the Lucky Cat in Williamsburg -- please come) and we got a babysitter! But, please note...not every mom has that luxery -- please be patient with us.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Where Bliss Is.

Revised List 5.6.07

Things to be done by Friday:

1. Prepare for 2 readings
3. Finish new poem
4. At least 20 hrs. childcare
5. Laundry
6. Light Housekeeping
7. Talk to Dad re: final edits for proof
8. Type corrections to 2nd manuscript
9. Send off second manuscript
10. 15 hrs in school library
11. Numerous emails
12. Send out new poems
13. Work on current poem
15. Follow up on adjunct job
16. Follow up on readings
17. Trim hair
18. Finish Paul Hoover Review
19. Work on SES.
20. Edit pages 70-150 of Jim's novel
Note to self: do not wear crocs and dirty clother to readings

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Best Cafe Award

In my neighborhood, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, we have had a surge of new cafes -- including a fucking Starbucks -- and a surge of new hipsters to go with them. Second place goes to Champion coffee. I feel a little guilty saying this because I know the owners of 3 other cafes, but I have to say, the best kept secret in North Brooklyn in Cafecito. These people are super nice. The decor is absolutely beautiful and comfortable. I went in at 9:30 AM and they were playing NPR!

Ahhhh. Bliss.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Now that I've caught up with myself...I'll give you an idea of what need to be done before a short vacation on Friday!

Finish new poem
prep for 2 readings
Clean bathroom (&house)
Email Jeff Hoover
an interview on Friday morning
work on issue 5 & 6 of SES
finish review of Paul Hoover's new book
work in school library 7 hours
Email Julia
call IRS
Follow up re: adjunct job.
no less than 15 hours of comprehensive child care
edit (part) of Jim's 700 page novel
begin prepping my second book to send
Clean office
Drop off books to the cafe
Arrange school trip for grades pre-k, k, 1, 2, 3
Pay bills
Seed the lawn

If anyone wants to stop by and help...