Tuesday, January 29, 2008

AWP, Part Two

New York feels like the calm before the storm. Tomorrow, floods of poets will take the streets of Manhattan, and the cooler sister borough of Brooklyn, specifically the Greater Greenpoint-Williamsburg Area. Poets visiting GPT for the first time, watch for dog poop, and be sure to visit Claank Design on Franklin and Huron AND Word bookstore on Franklin and Milton. Bring money.

I did not get a pass for the AWP. Now, I wish I had. I went back and forth. It is REALLY expensive and $200 seemed a lot to go spend $200 more on books. The only panel that sounds interesting is Paul Guest panel on disability. I am going to try to sneak into the panel on Thursday morning (my vacation day from Montclair). I was telling Andrea that the GOOD thing about being disabled is that people feel sorry for you, or are dismissive of you. If you look dishelved and cute, which is pretty much my constant state, you can get away with a lot. I can't tell you how many times I've ridden the city bus for free. Is this fair? No, of course not. But, a good friend of mine who was a full-blooded Navajo once told me, "They took all of our land and culture, but we get free dental care."
Last night I was reading a book on Martin Luther King with Jeffrey.

I am so conflicted over who to vote for. I don't like Clinton, at all, But, Jim points out that she will be tough and stand up to the Reps. when they give her hell, and they will. But, he's not voting for her either. I am scared that Obama isn't quite sure what to do, but when I look at what black people in this country have been through, it appears that there must be a black president. It is time. It might help reverse the racial horrors that this country has committed and is still committing.
Happy 80th Birthday to Dear Gene Frumkin

Sunday, January 27, 2008

AWP = Experimental Poetry?

In Jacket 12, in an article called "The Story of Fence," Rebecca Wolff writes about turning away from the workshop style of writing (she has an MFA from Iowa) toward an more open, experimental form of writing. Wolff writes of feeling of the publication of her early poems a "confused pleasure of seeing my poem printed in an obscure, unattractive journal alongside a brand of poem that I had come to realize was the dominant paradigm of the day: the mediocre narrative lyric." She saw the current market of poetry journals as "on the one hand you had the thoroughly unremarkable brand of poetry as seen in the scores of undistinguished journals limping their way out of universities around the country (Southwest Review, Missouri Review, etc.)"

In forming Fence Wolff claimed, "I’m starting a magazine for idiosyncratic writing, poetry and fiction that is not easily categorizable in terms of camps of schools of thought and which therefore is unappealing to the current market place."

For me, Fence, which has published many fine poets and some great ones, could be catagorized as an "experimental" magazine, one which tried the exceed the boundaries of a workshop poem. Although Wolff can come off as hugely too self-confident at times, she does have very good taste.

One wonders though, what Wolff's and many other's intentions are as the AWP falls upon us. Fence is one of the major players in the AWP. Wait, a minute. Doesn't Fence go against the grain of the workshop system? Has Fence given in? Can you reject the system and then vie to be part of it? Or, perhaps, I have it all wrong. Perhaps Wolff intends to change the system from within.

These questions are old, of course. Ten years ago, two famous poets sat in a restaurant and had the very same discussion. Friendships have nearly been lost because of it. But, what interests me is that the SAME thing is happening now.

The AWP is a great thing on the one hand. Lots of my friends are coming to town and there are many great off site readings. Many poets with a lot of integrity are ambivalent about AWP or dismissive of it all together.

Can you reject the system and be part of it? I don't see Ron Silliman packing his bags for New York.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Five years ago, I was obsessing over how to get students to stay in their seats, not steal my purse, and stop calling me white, crippled bitch. Today, I'm obsessing over how to make my students understand James Joyce. Life is wierd.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Review of my book!

The Santa Fe New Mexican has reviewed "Derivative of the Moving Image" here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Other Rooms

I'm really starting to like poetry readings. You go, you read, you get free drinks, you hear others read, and if you're really lucky, someone buys a book. The Other Rooms reading last week was particularly fun in that it was 2 blocks from my house and Other Rooms gave me a pile of chapbooks.

I fully intended to write about all the chapbooks, but the semester is encroaching, I do want to mention the work of Chip Livingston. Ironically, Chip was the only reader who didn't show up. The other poets read his work, and it caught me. Livingston's chapbook is called Alarum. The poems are at turns lyrical, funny, narrative, and experimental. Livingston is a poet not trying to follow any form or trend. My favorite poem in the book is poem to my boyfriend's human immunodeficiency virus. The poem is lyrical without making any abstract moves. Livingston is able to 'live' and write 'in' his topic. The intensity is there. He does not have to divorce himself through language for the sake of the academic or to spare his own emotions. Some lines:

you are not a small bird very near the beach

you are not a boat

you are forgotten, sterile

you are not the cinematic equivalent

As one reads through Livingston's book, they can see that he has what it takes to be a fine poet. They can also see that he is just beginning the journey. Many of Livingston's poems are on their way to a mature voice, a many are already there. I look forward to a book.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Poetry Update

Even though my mothering is a mess, the poetry is moving right along.

If you live in the greater GreenPoint/Williamsburg area, I'm giving a short reading tonight for Other Rooms.
Van Gogh's Ear Lounge
Franklin and Java streets --On Franklin

The new West Wind arrived in the mail yesterday --it looks great. It may be hard to find on the East Coast, though.

How2 is nearly done.

A review of Derivative of the Moving Image will be out next Sunday in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Look Mom -- Glasses!

Friday, January 11, 2008

My recipe for the New York City Utopia

1. There would be no private schools. People would be forced to put their money and time in public schools.
2. The top salary would be say 3 million a year. No one would be able to make more than that. People who made over 1 million a year would be required to donate 5 percent of their salary.
3. Most streets would have bike lanes.
4. The medium rent would be $1000 -- in Manhattan.
5. Central Park would be closed to cars, permanently.
6. Let's get rid of some laws and make new ones. Alternate side of the street parking would occur twice a week. Parking tickets would be greatly reduced. Let's give $100 tickets for littering, hogging subways seats, not giving handicapped, elderly, or pregnant people a seat on the bus, driving in the bike lane. Let's fine kids for ditching school.
Let's get rid of the stupid laws that you can't dance in bars or sell booze before 12 on Sunday. The worst law is the 'no cats' in bodegas law.
7. People who molester children or kill bike riders get life in prison, no exeptions.
8. Let's house all the homeless people. We can do it.
9. Public bathrooms.
10. $15 tolls to bring a car into Manhattan.
11. All museums should be free.
12. The subway should be $1.
13. The opera should one night with all seats $5.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I'm about two minutes away from being done with my guest editing of the March How2. It is on mentorship and includes essays/interviews with/by Zucker, Greenberg, Fry, Furhman, Benka, Myles, Firestone, and others.

Next stop, syllabus.

My ideas for teaching poetry this semester are taking two paths, I've decided to have my students study political poetry largely pertaining to government and war. This might include Baraka, Benka, Ahkmatova, Rukeyser,Forche, and Levertov. It is also tempting to throw feminism and disability in there, but I don't want to confuse them. I am also considering the 'ethics' of having people write about poems in translation.

The second idea is even wackier. I'm thinking of the body as seen through nature. This would include Oliver, Larkin, my own work, Tarn, Niedecker, etc. But, some of these are heavy hitters and my kids are afraid of poetry.

Jeff's awake now. He says I want to call dad because I have a miracle for him. Jeff says the dementors are helping Valdimort. I say, what else? He says, nothing, just that.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Thank you SC

I want to thank Shanna Compton for the mention of my poetry in the LemonHound interview.

Shanna you rock!
I'm tired of being judged, I'm tired of judging. Lately, I've gotten a lot of flack for my son's behavior which is less than perfect, but he hasn't killed anyone yet! This judgement gets me down, and then, I think, perhaps I deserve it. I too have sky-high expectations, they are just different. A mother who I barely know asked some else the other day about how Jeff deals with having a disabled mother. The part of me that wants to fit in thinks this is a totally inappropriate question. I mean would some one ask the same of a black mother, a queer mother, a Mormon mother, any mother that doesn't fit in the norm?

But, the other part of me thinks: okay this is valid.

I think Jeff's difficulties with having a disabled are not unlike difficulties and nerosis that any other child goes through. Some mothers work too much, some are very religious, some do drugs. Part of the child's path is to deal with the parents. I do think Jeff has taken on (without being asked) the role of my protector from other's criticisms. We have to watch this, it's a hard boat to row. But, it's also good, because he has an real empathy that is sometimes lacking in small children (or anyone).

Part of my resolution this year is to move away from anger and turn into something productive. To stop being judgemental.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


I'm looking for places to read at the AWP. It's hard to connect with people, now that I'm list-free. If anyone has an idea, ring me up! saintlizstreet@hotmail.com Thanks!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I love Ron Silliman's blog post today. He writes:

"My goal in blogging, back in the dark dinosaur days of 2002, was to get other poets going in the process of thinking out loud in public, creating a public discourse. On that point, I’ve been successful beyond my imagination. A secondary goal was to talk about the books that mattered to me – if I haven’t had any success with that, I have only myself to blame. A third was to share my sense of where we were & are in the history of poetry, particularly in the United States. A fourth and not unrelated goal was to raise awareness of the School that Dare Not Speak Its Name and its institutional role in American poetry. A fifth was to have fun. In all, I can’t complain – but I’ve got a comments stream for that."

For me, the internet has become a way to argue with people. I have a knack for finding people who don't agree with or realize my life choices and getting into arguments with them. One of my new resolutions is to approach the poetry world in a new way. I think we can all thrust aside our disagreements and be more accepting of each other in this small land called poetry. I hope we can all learn in the coming year not to be 'exclusive.' Because this exclusiveness is not anything real in the world. Some people (talent aside) have the where-with-all to convince other people that they are special when they are actually just like everyone else. I think it is good to look up to people like Silliman and others, and not make a hierarchy within your own generation.

I probably have it all wrong. It's a bit over my head, but today I finally think I see what Silliman means by the "School of Q." It seems to come from a desire to 'save' poetry from academia and the endless 'reward' system. As Martha Stewart says: It's a good thing.