Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Long shadows on crystalline snow.  It's very cold.

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Just organized my mise en place for the stew I'm going to make.

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Can't seem to pick up the threads of Appearances at the moment.

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Susan Tedeschi's music keeping me company.  I hope she makes it back to that river.

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When I was organizing things in the kitchen I had a flashback to when David Bromige stayed with us.  We were drinking wine and he remarked that the three clocks in the kitchen (radio, stove and microwave) were all registering different times.  A small, but memorable moment.

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Eileen thinks the past is thick and the present is thin.  I take her point but am unsure about the relative density of either.  What I think is that the past intrudes into the present more often than one thinks or notices.

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 Long shadows on the crystalline snow.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

One of my big regrets is allowing my knowledge of Italian to fade away.  I took a lot of Italian language courses  at Kent State.  My three major accomplishments: reading Dante's Inferno, a Calvino novel and Pirandello's most famous play (Sei Personaggi...).  Which is probably why I've ordered the new bilingual edition of Pier Paolo Pasolini's poems.  I want to get some of that lovely language back into my head.

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The other day I wrote a new list poem for Eileen's Truck list poem project.

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I'm still not totally clear of fluishness.  And yet I lifted heavy snow for forty minutes today.  Didn't get it all. Still need to do the sidewalk. But the coughing fit seemed to mean STOP.

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Am nearing the end of I THINK YOU'RE TOTALLY WRONG: A QUARREL by David Shields and Caleb Powell.  Question driving the book: better to live an art-driven life or an experience-driven one?  It's worth checking out.  For what's it worth, it looks like it's going to be turned into a movie.

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Funny how when you're trying to learn music it gets harder and harder to listen to it for pleasure.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

2014

2014 was a momentous year in my life.

The overriding event, of course, was the death of my (only) sister Amy.  I'm the oldest of four siblings.  Amy was the next oldest (2 years younger than me).  It's rare for a day to go by without thinking of her.

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In publishing terms, it was a good year.  My Dipstick (Diptych) was published in April by Marsh Hawk Press and was the winner of the 2013 Marsh Hawk Press poetry prize.  That same month I read at the book launch at Poets House in New City. That was the first time I'd read in NYC for over 20 years.  I hope it's not the last time.  I'm not taking any bets on that though.

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The end of 2014 marked the 3rd year since I retired from the Health Department where I spent 34 and a half years as a generalist sanitarian doing an absurd amount of underappreciated work.

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In 2014 I continued working on Appearances: A Novel in Fragments, a project first conceived of in 2011.  No work on it was accomplished in this past week because I was down with the flu, but I'm within striking distance of finishing the rough draft--only 19 fragments to go!

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I'm grateful to all of the poetry friends who have lifted my spirits in various ways in the past year.  A big thank you, with cyberhugs all alround to these stellar folks, in particular: Thomas Fink, Eileen Tabios, Rebecca Loudon, Jean Vengua, Richard Lopez, Mark Young, Marton Koppany (sorry to leave off the accent marks), Alex Gildzen, Sheila E. Murphy (your annual poem is always a highlight of any year) and la bella Anny Ballardini.

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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Flu's had me on the mat for the last few days, but am slowly starting to feel better.  The arctic landscape outside my window isn't helping though.  I don't even want to say out loud how freaking cold it is.

Break for coughing fit.

Later, agitators.


JE SUIS CHARLIE

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Strat is 60!  I've had mine for a year and a half now.  I'm 61.

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B. passed her upper respiratory infection on to yours truly.  I'm pretty miserable.  Consoled myself with Classic Concerts by Muddy Waters on DVD.  Some very moving footage in the compilation (from the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival, the 1968 Copenhagen Jazz Festival,  and the Morde Jazz Festival --Norway-- in 1977). Plus there are bonus features--an extra song ("The Blues Had a Baby and they Named it Rock & Roll"), and two interviews.

Each gig featured different band configurations.  Very nice to see the great Otis Spann on piano.

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Friday, January 2, 2015

When David Bromige was assembling Desire, his selected poems, he made it his project to rewrite every poem.  This angered some of his longtime readers.  I admired the decision.  The previous versions still existed in other collections; but David reimagined them, telescoping past decisions into new ones. Sometimes one is not done with a poem.  Sometimes a poem is not done with you.

Something similar is going on in Sun Stigmata (Sculpture Poems) by Eileen R. Tabios.  These "stigmata" poems are carved from prose poems collected in her earlier (and best known book) Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole.

The roots of Sun Stigmata  are in Reproductions but there is something completely different happening--something spare and lyrical. This new book is as good or better than its predecessor.  I prefer it because it has  more concentrated energy.

I'm still reading Stigmata.  So I'll postpone commenting further until a later time. I'm going to close by quoting a poem in which the first and last lines of the piece were from a poem Eileen wrote for me in an email exchange:

The Controlling Agent

"The past is thick"

He was supposed to
carve innocence--
a boy with plump cheeks
squatting breathlessly
by a river lacking ripples
so as not to disturb
a bird perched on his shoulder.

But the artist affirmed
his avocation by
also carving a lifted wing
as if the bird is about
to fly for the illusion
known forever as "sky"

The observer controls
the subject unless
another observer understands
history.  For the present
is thin, and the past thick...

(86)


Now that's what I'm talking about!