Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Lost Suitcase & A Game

a: Hello dear,

I wanted to share with you this poem (attached) I read in the New Yorker. It's been a while I got so worked up and excited about a poem, but this one is lovely! Solidly constructed, but utterly lovely. I hope you like it! I think I will check out one of her books from the library; I've been on a library spree! Yiiii!!!!

Alright dear, I hope you have a good end of the week. And don't worry about writing; I still remember how insanely busy grad school was.

k: I have been having a great weekend so far. Before I get into that though… yes, I did enjoy that poem you sent from the New Yorker. I enjoyed it for its narrative, though the language didn't do anything for me; similar to most New Yorker poetry.

This weekend included a sort of birthday book swap. I ended up giving Dina my copy of Leonard Cohen's Book or Longing for her birthday next week then Bunny gave me this book by an Italian author called If on a winter's night a traveler as a birthday present for my birthday next month. Bunny and I went to a bookstore together this morning with ryan, adam and reed and ended up each buying another copy of the books we'd passed on as gifts ^_^ it was fun. So I still have Leonard Cohen's new poems.

As for poetry… aside from the book swap, I haven't really been rolling in it, you know? I'd like to put a post up on poetship some time this week and I'll bring up more poetry topics shortly. Perhaps tomorrow in fact. I actually have a poetry kind of question… this might spur some thought and musing…

Imagine you were going to teach a college level course on poetry… what genre would you teach and which poets would you chose to have your imaginary students read? This is just for fun of course, but I think I know what I'd teach, at least the genre, though I'm not sure of the poets exactly… and say you can probably select about 5 or 6 poets to teach. Make a reading list for your pretend course ^_^

Ryan wants to watch one of the films he bought… so I'm going to end this here. I'll start thinking about which poets I would teach and I'll send you my answers once I get yours.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006



a: You know what, and this might be more suited for a prolonged e-mail discussion, or something on Poetship, but I've been in such a rut, feeling completely uninspired, not knowing what to write about. So now, not only do I find this utterly beatiful, but almost miraculous in its subject matter. (((katyssima)))

k: about your drought... i have been reading some of craig perez's poetry and am still reading leonard's new stuff (slowly, savouring him) and so, i have been feeling inspired by the poets i'm currently engaged with (as well as italo's novel, which i love so much, i just wish i had a bit more time to sit and read... have had to take it a few pages at a time, which is frustrating, i think friday i will indulge myself and finish the book). also, well, this season. i actually saw some people, this weekend as we were driving home from the horror convention, holding dried flowers over a dead deer and one woman was crossing herself just as we passed. this made me cringe. i know the people thought they were being holy and good natured and sympathetic, but really, they were being ignorant--that might sound harsh, does it? but really they were. it was a pagan act, first of all, so why bring the cross into it? second of all, the deer doesn't need to be blessed and flowered. the deer most likely didn't even believe in heaven. it was a pathetic, black scene. i suppose they did something though, those people; they got me to think about the deer.

then only a mile down the highway were rows and rows of hunters' trucks all parked at the edge of the woods at the side of the highway. the circle of life or something absurd. as for the truck driver at the end... i just saw a truck pulled over, i didn't see any one crying... and i actually had a better line for the ending of the poem, but i decided that the reader should assume that, maybe, a deer had killed his father in a car crash or hunting accident or something similar... the line i had first written was

crying in the window of his rig
for every girl he ever fucked

i guess i didn't really want to publish the f word either, but once i wrote it, no other word would do. you get the secret, rated pg-13 version of the poem ^_^

aaah, what was my point? oh yes. your dry spell... i feel so stale over the summer. it's as if i simply don't see all the poetry around me, or don't have the vocabulary for it. once the leave start to turn though, and the word is a little less two-toned (green and blue), i begin to see the detail again. in the summer i don't pay attention to the side of the road, i look away from the car accidents and the hitchhikers. in the fall, there are funerals and hunters and turkeys between the parked tires of broken down verizon vans. there's so much.

i honestly don't think, having thought about it a lot lately, that the academic setting has anything to do with my productivity. at least not as far as the way my mind composes poetry. i have less time to type it up and post it, but i've been writing a lot in my little journal. it might well be ready for your birthday at this rate!

you on the other hand dear, don't seem to have a season... at least not that i can tell. although you play with clouds and colors and nature in your poems, i think, i feel, that your poems are motivated by the (in)humanity that surrounds you.

also, you're doing all these readings, and i'm not sure what kind of an effect that might have on your work. i've not done lots of readings before... although i've gone to lots of readings before (a few a week, if at least not one a week) and that certainly effected my poetry in a positive way (i was experimenting a lot, i guess). i imagine though, that if i were the one reading, i would have been writing less and perfecting more.

see our previous discussion on inspiration

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Now that's what I call Poetry!

k: first and foremost ((((ashraf))))
of course you didn't come across too strong, nor too anything. that's the first email you've sent me that had entirely to do with poetry in ages. i'm dancing right now.

i am starting to feel the season settle in on me. it's not that i dislike summer so much as i prefer all the other seasons so much more. especially the fall. the leaves are turning beautiful colors... the orange reminds me of that sweater you wore the sunday ryan and i went home, that first time we met.

poetry becomes more potent this time of year too... more... betterer. yep. more betterer.

down to pleasure and pains then... is it horrible that i'm glad you don't like lyn? i don't mean to dislike her so much... but... uhg.

as for hardy... the more i read, and i think i said this, the more i enjoy the little boy writes bad poetry nature of his work, particularly in this chapbook. i am easily susceptible, too, to boys who fawn over girls.

in regards to the language, to the punctuation, to the art. i'm with you, but i'm also opposed...

okay today in my "language and its use" class we talked in response to a chapter in a book about language and ebonics, about slang and dialects essentially. the chapter was called "leave your language alone" and he argues that certain prescriptive grammar rules are nonsensical, outdated and we should use the turns of phrase that come more naturally. example, he argues that we should drop "whom" and the notion of "split infinitives".
my question is basically "where does it end?" and this is a standpoint that i don't take alone. my twin, Kate, and i are both grammarians and sticklers. i even brought up the notion of labour=value (yay marxism) and waving around my new (*glee*) copy of Leonard Cohen's Book of Longing i asked, if we don't learn the rules before we start bending them... if we only write how we speak, then what gives this value? we would lose the art of writing. how depressing.

so on the one hand, yeah. people take language, especially written, for granted. poets do. we, and i mean that in a broad general scope, abuse our language. the "th" habit is in a way an abomination.

but i draw a very fine line.

and this is where the "confused" part comes in.
there is a place for experimenting with language and the way the words look on the page, the aesthetic.
but if it goes too far, as in lyn's case, it becomes unreadable.

so yeah, i'm all for a little tossing, but don't throw the rule book out the window. as much as i like gertrude stein, the woman should not have been allowed to write prose.

i know i could go into this further. but i want to take some time to share some undeniably good poetry with you...

kate and i went on a date today. we got panini's and went to barnes & noble. i ran into leonard cohen's newest collection of poems and ended up buying it and a collection of poems by billy corgan of smashing pumpkins and zwan fame (i haven't read any of it yet, except for the one poem that convinced me to give him a chance).

and so i spent an hour or so before my class reading some of his poems and wrote the poem that i just posted on my blog...
though, it's not anything particularly special... i like the way leonard gets me thinking about poetry. he's the closest i come to appreciating song-writing.

so a poem by leonard, my beloved 70 year old canadian gold...

i want to share a longer one with you... because so far i enjoyed it the most... so here it goes


better than darkness
is fake darkness
which swindles you
into necking with
someone's antique

better than banks
are false banks
where you change
all your
rough money
into legal tender

better than coffee
is blue coffee
which you drink
in your last bath
or something waiting
for your
to be dismantled

better than poetry
is my poetry
to everything
that is beautiful and
dignified, but is
neither of these itself

better than wild
is secretly wild
when I am in
the darkness of
a parking space
with a new snake

better than art
is repulsive art
which demonstrates
than scriptures
the tiny measure
of your improvement

better than
is darkless
which is inkier, vaster
more profound
eerily refrigerated
filled with caves
and blinding tunnels
in which
beckoning dead relatives
and other religions

better than love
is wuve
which is more refined
tiny serene people
with huge genitalia
but lighter than
comfortably installed
on an eyelash of mist
and living
ever after
cooking, gardening
and raising kids

than my mother
is your mother
who is still alive
while mine
not alive
but what am I saying!
forgive me mother

better than me
are you
kinder than me
are you
sweeter smarter faster
you you
prettier than me
stronger than me
lonelier than me

want to get
to know you
better and better.

-Mt Baldy,
i enjoy it for the ending, but also, for all the moments that collate into some sort of love throughout.
of course, too, with a collection... after a while the persona and the charater builds and capsizes and takes over until you're swimming in the spirit of that poet. it's a beautiful experience... it's been too long since i let myself fall into a poet's lap like that, and i love it.

ah the fall, and love and leonard.

and poetry. i'm just reveling right now.

thank you for this.

a: So, we just finished one of our monthly office lunches. I ingest way worse things here, at this office, than anything that Wojtek would ever let me get away with at home. The lunches they order are just horrendously bad for you, and for some reason they always tend to include pork, which I am not a big fan of (remnants of my upbringing). And to top it off, was this presentation about a church project at our other office that (d)evolved into a talk about what church each person goes to. So now, not only do I have a nasty heartburn brewing in my pits, but I also feel--not for the first time--like an alien. I tell you this so you can appreciate what a blessing I found your e-mail to be after all that. With its opening talk of the comforts of the fall, to the poetics discussion (that I also missed dearly), to the gorgeous Leonard poem... thank you!

I certainly understand what you mean by that part you called "confusing" (and which I don't find confusing at all). I am certainly not for a stickler attitude when it comes to grammar; by Arlene's standards, I take quite a bit of liberty with that. So yes, I am for some reform, or rule bending; and the question that you raise, "So where do we draw the line?" is a very good one. But the fact that it is a difficult question to articulate an answer for does not mean that we should forget about drawing the line, or not even consider moving it in the first place. And I think a similar situation exists in many other matters where "drawing the line" is difficult to articulate. Ethical matters are one great example, and that's why we have the law, and that's why the law is so complicated, and why there are people whose job it is to interpret that language drawing the line and who get paid obscenely for it. Yes, the law doesn't always overlap with ethics (the "line"), and that is why it is constantly revised. But the whole fuss doesn't mean that we don't need the law.

Similarly, I just think it is a better use of time and effort--to borrow your excellent reference to the Marxian idea of effort equals value--to have that go into the content of the poetry rather than its form. I am certainly not the first to articulate that argument, and I am sure there must be a name for this position somewhere where it is better articulated. In any case, I think the wonderful poem you sent me makes all these points more eloquently. (By the way, did I ever tell you I recently bought the soundtrack to that Cohen movie we saw from iTunes; it is much better to listen to than watch!) I think this poem has a much better example of a mature eroticism that I much prefer to Hardy's, and I love how for Cohen there is no affect to the dividing of the stanzas, how the stanzas follow the idea, they stop where you expect them to stop, without artifice, because they don't need it. They are perfectly capable to stand well on their own, in their simplicity, in the brazen symmetry of the ideas (because it does not fear coming so close to the cliche), and in their immediacy and accessibility. (I loved that part "better than my mother / is your mother / who is still alive / while mine is not alive / but what am I saying! / forgive me mother"!) By the way, what did you think of that Carolyne Forche poem I sent you?

the lyn and hardy story

(part 1)
k: i attached hardy f's chapbook to this email for you. i like hardy. i can't quite put my finger on why, but i do. just read the first poem (dear sigmund) and see what you think. i think it's horribly romantic and beautiful in a perverted man-boy sort of way. it brings us back to all that conversation about sex and poetry and straight men writing sexy poetry. honestly, i'm not sure if any of the 3 males on wet poems are straight, but i suspect at the very least c.s. is on account of the content of his poetry. without a doubt though, hardy is writing sexy testosterone driven poetry. it's refreshing i guess. and the more i read from this school of blogging canadians the more i enjoy the style and "th" instead of "the" sort of idiosyncratic moments.

(part 2)
k: i need to go on a bit of a rant... and you're the only person worthy/willing to hear it...

lyn hejinian.

her name is not only hard to spell, but i've given the woman so many chances that i frankly can't stand her. by "her" i mean her poetry and the persona, real or not, behind the poetry.


that's her my life blog. now, my life was a collection of poems she wrote when she was about 30 i think... there were 30 poems (prose poetry). each page was meant to represent a year of her life. an autobiography through prose poetry. it was an experiment.

unfortunately, lyn is one of those experimental poets who's far to concerned with the process to give any thought or care to the finished product.

i tried to enjoy some of her other writing. in fact, i really love the cover of the other book of hers that i bought... but my goodness, it's awful. unreadable. really.

so i just found her blog through various articles i've been reading. i started out at c.s.'s blog and let myself get side tracked all over the place until i ended up reading some of lyn's most recent work.

now, the blogging format lends itself rather well to her experiment. instead of a year now she writes something each day. and at least i don't have to pay to read it, but... ashraf... it's still awful!!!!!

she doesn't even use a question mark at the end of question... it's nearly infuriating that someone so, i guess, respected and established could be so rubbish.

this is just my opinion of course, and you're allowed to like her all you want. she just drives me mad!

breath. okay. thank you for listening ^_^ you're the bestest

a: Sorry for the delay; I decided I need to read what you were talking about (both hardy f's chapbook & Lyn Hejinian's Life) before I reply. So I did. Now, I can understand where your rant against Lyn's Life is coming from, but in the same light I cannot understand your fondness of hardy's chapbook. I thought they were both more or less equally obnoxious. Sure, hardy's stuff is much better formatted (and I think he is a much better photographer and designer than poet), so I had my hopes up from just skimming through it before I started reading. But he certainly has even more annoying ticks than Lyn (such as "th", the unclosed parenthesis, etc.), and I thought, even aside from that, his writing is worse. Perhaps the only poem that I kinda liked was "on campus (broken arms", but even that was almost cringey. See, Lyn's writing is at most irrelevant, bla, whatever (and I am judging only by the entries on the main page of that blog; I am not familiar with her other writing, and I am surprised that she has any kind of acclaim--though I really shouldn't be, given the state of poetry these days); but I found hardy's writing to be positively annoying, irksome, and not in a good way. It's like (untalented) teenage boy writing, and frankly dear, I didn't find it sexy at all. I think it takes much more than splashing "cunt" on one's title page and "stick it in my ass" to be sexy--those I like to keep to my porn, which does it much better. And all that formatting "inventiveness" just pisses the heck out of me! Since when is poetry about punctuation? I thought it was about words and what they mean. And what good is dropping the e in the? Why do we have to reinvent the formatting of the language? I think it's there to aid the meaning and emotional message of the words, not to be a presence in itself. Have we already exhausted language's capacities otherwise? I don't think so; I think people are just lazy and untalented and the bars have been set low, way too low now, that we have this hodge-podge of lots of crap being written and no one reading, for good reason. Honestly, if it weren't that I got hardy's PDF from you, I wouldn't have finished it. Sorry to be fuming at the mouth like that, but I get worked up because I care and I mourn the loss of "standards". Maybe that's a good thing in one way (we probably wouldn't have heard some of the best voices of the past century otherwise), but I think it would also be dishonest to not acknowledge the immense drawback of it. I frankly didn't know that there is such a thing as "process poetry", and I have to say I am not glad to have found out it exists. I can definitely see where it comes from, its heritage in the visual arts especially (though I think Jackson Pollock is one of the worst things to have happened to the arts), but I think it works better in the visual arts, which tend to be more emotive. One big difference, I think, is the dictionary: there are dictionaries for language that establish the meaning of words more or less consistently; but there aren't dictionaries for the arts--there are dictionaries for the languages of the arts, the words used to describe them. So, I think with writing one is playing with the finite, in the sense of using existing blocks, like Legos, to transcend the finiteness, to convey ideas. But part of the challenge is that limitation.

I don't know, maybe I am just old-fashioned when it comes to poetry and writing. And I'm certainly not very au-currant. Besides, I don't think my opinions are prevalent amongst those that matter. But I think that is part of the problem of the decline of "the arts", that by adopting such non-sense for the heck of it, they have engendered their own irrelevance. They lost the point of writing at all; it becomes an experiment for the heck of the experiment--which is irrelevant.

I'm sorry if I came on too strong; I hope I haven't offended you. We certainly don't have to agree, but I'd love to know what you think.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


k: So I was reading some older emails to put together a couple of posts for po’et’ship yesterday and that got me thinking about poetry critics and the you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours society that poetry lives in at the moment.

I don’t think this is the way poetry has always functioned in the media and in criticism. I think that there are plenty of examples of poets dissecting and understanding and even denouncing fellow poets’ work. That isn’t happening today, or at least there isn’t enough of it happening today. There are a few people who bear all and tell people when they do or don’t like something. There are forums for poets where you’re invited to post something specifically for harsher review. So maybe the problem is more with blogging? Or with those uber gracious rejection letters that say “hey, you’re stuffs really great, but it’s not *exactly* what we’re looking for”.

The main issue lies in the lap of blogger though. i think that there’s an all-to-easy to see reason for it as well; we only read the blogs of poets we really like. Why would we go about reading and criticizing someone’s poetry that we dislike? We wouldn’t. Simple. I gave out plenty of reviews of poems I didn’t like on the critical poet forums, but I only ever tell a poet of one of the many blogs I read that I dislike something if I feel it undermines or ruins the poem (and typically, I’ll only get into it if there is an easy fix that I can see, other time I will just leave the poem un commented on [[[disclaimer: this doesn’t mean that every poem I don’t leave a comment for is one that I dislike]]])

I don’t know that there’s any solution to the overwhelming niceties of blogger, but I thought I’d bring it up for discussion.

a: I think you bring up several good points. I agree that criticism hasn't always functioned as such, although I am sure there was always the risk of getting personally acquainted with the artist and consequently jeopardizing the "objectivity" of the criticism--hence the power of "networking". And I think that is precisely what is happening today with blogging, the formation of personal networks that limit criticism. As anonymous as blogging can be, I think most people don't use it as such: we end up knowing each other as individuals. But I hasten to point out that that is especially the case in our kind of "amateur" blogging. And within this model, I think you bring up another very observant point, that when we don't like something we tend not to comment rather than comment negatively. And that is a very prevalent, though more difficult-to-read, form of "criticism". Yes, that doesn't mean that every post we don't comment on we don't like, but I would argue that it is more likely than not the case. Again, as you pointed out, there are different sorts of "don't like": there's the "fixable" don't-like and the "I can't relate to" don't-like, and everything in between. And within the limits of our amateur status are the privileges of not having to read or comment if we don't care to. Which is why we end up reading what we like, because we are doing it for our own enjoyment ultimately, rather than out of duty for a magazine, say, or "the good of poetry" in general. I would hope that that isn't the way things operate in poetry programs, for example (though I wouldn't know; but I don't think so); or journals (even though it seems there is such a scarcity of poetry criticism compared to the abundance of its production). And it might be that amateur blogs simply aren't the most appropriate forum for critiquing poetry, that they are more of format where the critique is by "voting with the feet" (or rather the finger, in this case)--even though, first, I don't think such a populist system of valuation is very valuable (I do tend to be an elitist when it comes to the arts); and second, I think that a highly "influentiable" method. What do you think?

k: To the topic at hand then: (this is good, while we always have other things to talk about, I like to get my brain in gear and think critically about my pastime—I guess it justifies why I do some much of it).

No wait, an aside first. I have put up a poll on my blog (right below my profile, can’t miss it). What do you think? I said I was going to do it. As soon as poetisphere and poets101 are up and running again, then I’m starting my campaign for Billy as Mayor. I feel like, he does so much to bring blogging poets together that we all ought to do something for him. I think I’ll make a banner for people to put on their blogs and websites like a badge of support, or is that too tacky? I am going to have fun with it. It’s not serious, so why not take it a little bit over the edge? Hehe.

Okay, to blogging poets and criticism then… yes. Agree with you completely. That’s pretty much the end of the conversation, isn’t it? I mean, unless you invite people to criticize a poem of yours, people probably won’t. We read who we like, and we don’t speak out against poems of those people as an act of some sort of social obligation (aka politeness).

You also bring up the matter of blogging as being anonymous/not anonymous. We’re friends, we text message each other. That’s anonymity completely broken down and ground to an electronic pulp. I hardly knew Yasmin a day before she started telling me about her love life (which, somehow, was in no way awkward). Not that I think I’d recognize her if I saw her on the street, not right away, but I know where she is, why she is, what she’s doing (am starting to sound creepy, hehe) because the barriers were instantly knocked away. I get the feeling that this is happening all over. Scott Glassman, another example for me… he’s opened up completely in emails without any prompting and now I feel as though I know every motivation behind every line of every poem of his. I can’t criticize that; how could I? It would be as if I were criticizing my own work—for which I didn’t have to do any of the work.

Am going to go make that banner/button now… or watch doctor who… or both.

a: So, we're back to our former momentum? :) See, with these e-mails, when I'm trying to respond to more than one e-mail in one, I never know where to start or how to go about it: earliest to latest? other way round? (I tend to dwell on the insignificant.) But what really amazes me is, how do you keep up with everyone?

First, Billy's campaign. I have actually already voted for him on your new poll thingy. (I was vote #2). I don't think it's over the top at all. I think it is quite gracious of you, and I am sure it'll mean a lot to him. He does, after all, put a lot of effort into this whole poetry blogging thing. And people have a choice to put the buttons up on their sites or not. I don't think you can be tacky even if you tried!

Regarding that anonymity thing, I have a question for you: do you find that lifting that veil of anonymity ruins the experience of reading that person's poetry for you? Or heightens it? Or not affect it at all? (You know, that whole question of magic and autobiography that we approached before.)

... ... ... ... ... ...

for further reading please see

they shot poets - don't they?
zen moon

more to come on the matter of audience and critique later. stay tuned!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

on ringing

k: I field everything through you, this is no different. Especially if my intent, in the end, is for this to grace the sails of the po’et’ship. I want your input too. In order to make this all make sense (and to keep myself from rambling on and on and on and on about the bagel sitting in my back yard, yes, the bagel) I am going to put it in titled segments. I like titles, you like titles, everyone likes titles.

Without further ado and muckery…

Signing up

Or more like, why I signed up to host the carnival. There are a couple of reasons. The first being the fact that I feel I owe Billy these sorts of favors. You link me and I link you sort of favors. What he calls “paying it forward”, which I think is from a film. The other reason is down to the reason (as I discovered through a little reading) for the blog-carnival having been formed in the first place—to gain readers. It’s essentially just a link fest. Links everywhere. I do a lot of linking. But this is super duper linkage. There are other smaller reasons (sub-reasons) why I decided to host. I didn’t want to see the carnival finish before it’d started, so I took the first week (more to do with my replying the favor to Billy). I had the silly idea of giving all the poets roles as if in an actual circus or carnival, and wanted to follow through with it. Lastly, I wanted to learn what a blog-carnival is, why it is, and most importantly how it is.

As far as actually signing up, alls it took, as you know, was that email to Billy.

How it is (how it should be)

Am still not so sure I’m doing any of this right. I’m bending the rules a bit, doing things a bit backwards. What’s meant to happen is everyone magically finds out where to send their submissions to (this is no act of magic, but it does rely on people reading and running into the announcement every week). Other carnivals have a specific email address for all submissions and the hosts are given the password by the lord over-seer the week before they host in order to accumulate submissions and compile a carnival post. This is a nice idea; I think the hosts should be the ones doing more of the work. If there’s a designated email address then it doesn’t matter so much when anyone submits a poem, if it’s too late for one week, it might get picked up for the following. Also, if someone has a few too many submissions, that person can leave them to the next host. Perhaps the person prior to me didn’t like a poem, or it didn’t fit into his scheme, I could then use that poem in mine. Better for all, I’d say.

Regardless of the email addresses, though, basically, people are meant to submit links to recent (within 2 weeks of carnival date) to the host. I think the reason for the 2 weeks or younger thing is to make sure that the people getting linked to are people who still update their blogs. There are many many blogs out there that are not getting updated regularly. Also, I think, it encourages people to write specifically for the carnival; this is the case, I’m sure, when a carnival has a specific theme.

The host then puts these links up onto their blog. Billy introduced all the poems in turn as he does with his highlights for the lists of 100 bloggers at a time. This is the only carnival I’ve been involved in, and I’m going to do things similarly to Billy (though adding a few small elements). What I think could be interesting is if someone wrote a poem with the titles of all the other poets in and hyperlinked them within the poem. A really straight forward carnival might have short segments of each poem with a link below and the name of the poet. I like the idea of this, a teaser, then go to the blog for the rest.

Reverse Submissions

It all started with you, dear. Instead of sitting around waiting for poets to email me with links, I actually reached out to some of my favorite poets and asked them to send me a poem or, if they’d prefer, I’d take the reigns and chose a poem myself. You, Brian, and Hardy complied to my request to chose a poem for myself. Cecilia requested I use an older poem, and Yasmin sent me a poem from wet poems, which I am more than pleased to support as I am a member of the poetesses of the wet. I am waiting to hear from Travis, from Glenn, Denielle, Shirley, and Geek Poet (who I just ran into last night, not sure of his real name yet) oh and I asked Russell of Yuckelbel’s Canon to submit something too. I am hoping to get some surprise submissions, and am really hoping to hear from all the people I asked to submit. [addition: glenn just emailed me after reading this thinking that i'd not heard from him yet; this was written a few days ago, though. today, i have indeed heard from everyone i was hoping to, and a few lovely surprises fell into my email box too!]

Yeah, so I went out, I asked people outright to send me something, there’s nothing wrong with that, right? ^_^ pro-active carnival fun!

POETRY carnival, katy, not a PICTURE carnival

Erm, yeah. I asked my friend Michelle if I could use a picture as part of my carnival. Also, I just emailed the Blackpool Circus School if I could use a picture on their site for my blog carnival too. I have been doing a lot of writing to pictures lately. It’s my tool against block, I guess. Those exploding dog drawings inspire me to at least write something. The last post I did with them in went over quiet well, and a few others wrote poems to them too. Can I say, I love what I did with that sleeping woman picture. Miss Sam Duffy liked them too. I am really proud of what happened there. I think that, more and more, photos are impressive companions to words. There’s an added element. Something about human nature draws us to visuals. Therefore, I wanted to include a few photos to the festival.


Yes, my carnival has sponsors. They aren’t real sponsors, I’m not getting anything out of this (except maybe a free ice cream?). I am tying these sponsorships into the photos. Michelle is letting me us a photo, so I’m calling her a sponsor. The photo was taken at the polar cave, so I’m calling them a sponsor. The same will go for the Blackpool Circus School if they agree to let me use their picture.

Obviously, will be included in this list.

Carnival Theme

I’m not doing a theme with the poems I’m featuring, instead, I am framing my highlights with a carnival/circus theme. You get to be the Ring Master—especially now that you’ll be hosting next week, hey, can I put your email up for people to send stuff to?—Cecilia I have made into the cotton candy stand poetess. Yasmin is a siren, Shirley wants to be a face painter. I think I will make Brian the Chicken Geek. I haven’t got something for everyone yet, I want to wait to see how many poets I hear from before I decide just how far I can go. I need a lion tamer, a clown, a tight-row walker, and the world’s strongest man or something to that effect.

The bagel in my back yard

I threw it out for the birds. It’s right outside the window that I look out of to my right. The birds haven’t touched it. It’s a nice bagel, whole wheat. I had to through it out because there was mold on it. Maybe birds don’t like mold. Or maybe they know I’m watching.

There is probably more to this, any thoughts? Maybe you can prompt me with questions about how I’ve done things or how I’m planning on doing things?

a: Wow! Somebody's all excited about the Carnival and has been thinking about it quite a bit! I can't say that I have any questions that you didn't cover (though you did cover many that I didn't even know I had; thanks).

So, I guess I'm going to need my top hat after all! I think I have a picture for that; I hope I can find it.

And please feel free to use my Yahoo e-mail address; you're a pioneer, going first! I'm afraid my carnival will pale in comparison to yours ;)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

short walk back to inspiration

k: maybe more like take 2 instead of part 2, as this is going to right back to the word inspiration and … well, i want to talk more about love.

the reason i think “love” poems and “heart” poems have such a hard time in today’s poetic market and is rarely touched by poets themselves is because… answer me dear, what is love?

is it love for a brother living half-way around the world, love for a little grey cat, a tall dancing polish boy, a diva, a specific scent of hand-cream? all these loves are soooooo different. we feel something for each of them, but the love one has for a well-bound book is different to the love someone might have of a particular taste or of a person. love of a person is so complex that one, as a poet, needs to choke it down into the details.

i think poetry is the art of specification, the art of making your reader feel the same thing as you in that moment. on the other hand

this is a little bit back to inspiration.

i would go on about what is love, ah, but dinner is ready ^_^

a: Aha, dear! Right on! I won't even attempt to answer, What is love? But I can't agree more that poetry is the art of specification (even though I can certainly think of example of poetry as the art of generalization, those insights about life)...

a (again, later): I think you covered an important point about inspiration: motivation. And I think we are making value judgment here, saying that we value emotional motivation to material ones. But I think the important thing to realize is that inspiration is a form of motivation in and of itself: to earn the love of someone, the admiration of someone, the acceptance of someone... Even if that someone is absent (no longer there, or is imaginary). And that is not to reduce creativity by reducing it to its emotional/psychological motivators; rather it is an acknowledgement of its roots. One (valuable) thing I learnt from therapy is how little we grow up, how more fragile we (or the child in us) become as we grow older, how base even our haughtiest motivations are... And similarly, that is not to say that humans are base, but it is too love the human for being so imperfect and fragile. So, I might write for you, or the idea of you, or Roland, or Obeida, or Ahmad, or some imaginary editor in an imaginary journal, or me (and that isn't any more noble). I guess that brings us back to the question of audience you raised in that great Whitman quote, and my Existentialism professor... I think we write not because we love, but because we want to be loved. Isn't that why we do everything that we do after all? Even love? I think even the most evil acts are born out of the need for love, in its one form or another. (That is not to ignore other forms of motivation, though: anger, power, lust, revenge... From the list I guess you can see that I don't think of humanity that highly...).

And for some reason, I cannot separate your prism metaphor from that iconic image of the prism on the cover of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon"? Is it related in any way? (Pink Floyd have some kick-ass poems in their songs!)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

heart interlude

k: heart heart heart hearts! love heart heart loveheart poetry!

do you like my heart-poem? okay, i'm just playing around, but i suppose i am also making a point.

like any art form, poetry is not worth a dime unless it's hard to do. if every mama and papa on every block around the world could write it, we wouldn't have blogs about it. okay, one wiseass would, but that's a topic on blogs, not poetry.
almost everyone can walk. we don't give out awards to people for their ability to walk (though some people do it better than others).

batman's hallmark brand of love poems wouldn't fly in the hey-days of poetry, just like they don't now. but he's so popular, you think? maybe he is, but not for his poetry. he is a great self-publisizer; a bull who kicks doors down instead of knocking.

the story about that poet whose poem was rejected on the bias of one man against one word. that's extreme i think, but also sounds completely plausible. that's the way modern publishers play. they must get hit with so much poetry that they employee a monkey to read them and throw out the ones with specific words in them.

the new yorker's selection of poems has always and will always bug me. while i love martin espada and peter gizzi (partially due to them both teaching at umass and having encountered them as people, not poets) but the poems are so predictable and so ... straight.

we're slowly stepping away from inspiration/uninspired towards expectations and qualifications and talent etc etc... but they are all so closely tucked into one another, it's sometimes impossible to distinguish. at least i think so.

i'm sure that there are poets who aspire (inspire, aspire, inspire, aspire) to get published in particular journals, who then write in that style and hope to appeal to the board.

a: Ah, the problem of "difficulty"... In all honesty, and even though my mother and some friends think my poetry difficult, I have never been a fan of difficulty as a standard. I know you probably mean standard or measure, but I always thought ease is in a sense more difficult to achieve (how many paradoxes can you pack into one sentence). I do not find anything redeeming about a means of communication that makes it difficult to communicate. Now, I am certainly now advising that we all go talking in bullet points, but I do think difficulty is overrated. The origin of that might be that rebellious child in me who hated difficult texts and was arrogant enough to dismiss the text as failed rather than himself, and then realized that their is a very rigorous logic and substance to that egotistical laziness of his. Now, art standards have become infinitely more problematic I think in modern times. The necessity for skill versus self-promotion is certainly debatable post-Duchamp. But yes, even so, one can't deny the existence of standards (though I would constantly argue that other complicating factors such as connections have perhaps become more obvious due to the opening up of standards).

And I hope I didn't come across as being too antagonistic in my earlier e-mail, but I guess that I always hope that when I err I err on the side of "heart", whatever that means. I hope I never become so jaded as I forget what I cared about in the first place. Another one of those silly restrictions placed on contemporary poetry I read in that Poets Market (granted, it is not exactly academic material). It was an interview with one of the jurors on the T.S.Eliot prize (which I think by most standards is considered reputable). And one of his "rules of thumb" for judging a manuscript was to count the number of poems of the first ten, say, that have I or me or any form of first person in the first few lines of a poem; and if it's above a certain number, he dismisses the manuscript... Now I understand that this is simply the futile exercise of making objective rules for the very subjective aesthetics, but the first poem that came to my mind is Neruda's "Everybody", that great one that starts with "I, Perhaps I never will be"... Now these may seems like cosmetic problems, but I think they are fundamental: the elimination of the heart (or passion or whatever) and that of ego. I just can't imagine a poetry deprived of these, and in many ways poetry has been deprived of them. I don't know if that's what you mean by poetry being "too straight".

But back to inspiration, right? I am not really sure, dear, where to go with this topic. I am certainly not versed enough or read enough in any of these topics to conduct a well-maintained debate. But I can at least consider myself a well-educated audience member, and as such I feel entitled to my knee-jerk opinions. Maybe I'll revisit this later.