Friday, June 12, 2015

My new book, Appearances: A Novel In Fragments, has been out for a couple of weeks now.  Go here (and scroll to the bottom of the page) where you can either purchase a hard copy or download it for free as an e-book.  I worked on the thing for over three years.  It is dear to my heart.

Oh, and did I mention that you can even download it as an e-book for free!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Watched an interesting documentary this afternoon: Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter.


Have been revisiting Emerson.  I don't care for his poems but find incredible poetry in his essays and lectures.


Listening to Jeff Beck's new CD Live+ (14 live tracks from various concerts, 2 studio tracks).


At the Austin City Limits website there's a link up to a show B.B. King did.  I watched it yesterday and was particularly fascinated whenever the camera lingered on his fingers.

King didn't play a lot of chords. He played a lot of single note rhythms with a very distinctive vibrato and a lot of bends.

You bend strings by pushing them.  It takes strength and finesse to bend strings.  Eric Clapton once remarked in an interview that, while he no longer practiced scales and patterns, he did still practice bends.


Since I finished Appearances I've been at something of a loss about what to do with myself.  I have no ideas for writing at the moment.  So I've been filling my time in other ways:  housework, yard work, errands, guitar,reading, etc.  Oh, and have I mentioned I watched this great documentary about Abraham Lincoln?


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

I'm feeling kind of emptied out.

Over the last ten years I've published five books of my own writing, plus 3 volumes of interviews I curated.  There have also been some assorted chapbooks, uncollected poems, interviews, etc.  It's been a very productive time.


Still...I have no ideas at the moment.


Thought can't be forced with good results.  This I know.  I've tried.


So, while I wait for any kind of response to Appearances, I'm thinking to try and focus on what I can do...namely my inept exploration of the guitar.

Today I spent an inordinant amount of time grooving with a jam track to no one's advantage.  It felt pretty good.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015


A lot of dogwood blossoms littering the backyard.  And thousands of maple tree helicopters raining in the front yard.


I'm a bit between things at the moment.  Being done with the writing of Appearances is at once an accomplishment and a loss. I'm not sure what to do now and that bugs me.


Listening to Keith Jarrett's new CD, Creation.  I've been attending to his music for 40 years.  It continues to enrich my life.


Contemplating two very dead and much mourned azalea bushes.  Sigh.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A couple of days ago it was in the 80's.  Today it's been in the 40-50 range. Coldish.  Flowers don't look amused.


Listening to Junior Wells.


It feels great to have Appearances starting to make its way in the world.  Funny thing, though, after working on it for a few years, I'm left with a funny void.

I've exorcised a whole bunch of allegorical figures.  The Hypnotist, the Ventriloquist, and the Projectionist, for example   Even the Virtual and the Real.

So, I'm very self-consciously confronting the need to start over again.

Last year I published Dipstick  Diptych with Marsh Hawk Press.  And this week, Appearances with Moria.  Two major (to me) events/efforts.

Writing has rarely come easily for me.  But I've learned a few things over the last 40 years.  The primary thing: one can't force the good stuff.  Not to say I haven't tried.

Sometimes things need to steep.  Right now I'm in steeping time.


OK,  Junior.  I wanna hear that again.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fresh Galatea

The new issue of Galatea Resurrects is up:
My conversation with Marton Koppany is included in its pages.  Happy reading!


My new book, Appearances: A Novel In Fragments, is out.  Go here (and scroll to the bottom of the page) where you can either purchase a hard copy or download it for free as an e-book.

My thanks:

to editor-publisher William Allegrezza for some stellar work;

to Márton Koppány for a brilliant cover image;

to Thomas Fink for moral support and critical insights while I struggled with this project over the last few years.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Things are moving rather quickly now with my book. The cover's pretty much set and I just emailed the corrected text to Moria editor, William Allegrezza.  This time around I didn't ask anyone for blurbs.  Instead I wrote this little paragraph for the back cover:

Appearances: A Novel In Fragments is a genre bending philosophical jam session peopled by the performance art power trio Vaudeville without Organs, Desire, the Subject, an (occasional) Other, Science, Art, Politics, Love, History, It, the Author, the Virtual and the Real ,not to mention Chalk Outlines and two shadows (both of whom are AWOL from their respective bodies and wielding sharp instruments).  Much of the book’s action takes place in a subterranean dive bar called The Cave. Plato might not be rolling in his grave, but he’s probably thinking “WTF?”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I'm almost as excited about the hard shell case for the guitar I purchased this morning as I am the guitar itself. It has a soft green liner which makes me want to crawl inside and snuggle.  Of course, I'm kind of the wrong size to do that.  It makes me happy that Marty will have a nice place to rest.

If you'd asked me a couple weeks ago if I was going to buy a new guitar anytime soon, I'd have said no.  And I certainly wouldn't have thought I'd be spending this amount of money on a used guitar.  But I did.  I can't say I regret doing so.  B doesn't know yet.  She might not be happy about it, it goes. We've been married since October 1976.  I suspect she'll forgive me.

The guitar's a Martin D-1.  It's well made.  It sounds good and has a nice tone.  Even with being under a thousand dollars it still cost more than some cars I've owned.  But it's a keeper, unlike those cars.



I'm happy to report that my manuscript Appearances: A Novel in Fragments has been accepted for publication.  More details will be forthcoming soon!


I'm probably going to take that guitar for a test drive today.  Assuming it's still there.  My teacher has stressed on several occasions either Gibson or Martin as the way to go for an acoustic.  He famously traded a car to get his cherished Gibson.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Last night was the first night in a very long time that I was able to leave windows open while I slept.


Earlier today I took my Strat to Woodsy's Music for restringing.  Then I went downstairs and looked at the acoustic guitars.  There's a used Martin that is calling to me.  I don't think B was too happy when I started rhapsodizing about it.  "It costs how much?"

Anywho, I don't know...but I might be willing to go into deeper debt for it, even if I'm not worthy of the instrument.  Maybe I should start playing the lottery.


Am almost finished reading Philip Glass' memoir Words Without Music.  What a book of riches.


Also have just started reading I'm Very Into You: Correspondence 1995-1996 by Kathy Acker and McKenzie Wark.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Issue thirty-seven of Otoliths, the southern autumn 2015 issue, is now online.

Monday, April 27, 2015

I finished an interview this afternoon with a poet I'm very fond of.  It will be appearing, barring a disaster, in the soon  forthcoming issue of Galatea Resurrects. I should probably make a smiley face here but it goes against my Protestant background.  Ha!


I'm listening to Howlin' Wolf playing acoustic guitar and moaning in a way that entirely moves me.


Writing is a funny life path.  Agonies and ecstasies for sure.  I struggle to think.


Musically I  think too much. Which has probably derailed my nascent guitar career.  Not that I'm not still trying, but...


Monday, April 20, 2015

This random memory from high school days.  I played a tough guy in a play.  My character's name was Moose.  During a rehearsal the drama teacher told me that I was the most genteel thug he'd ever seen!


Poetic thought
is fundamentally erotic.

One can't
unhear the dick
in dictation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Last year I was at a concert (Robert Cray) and signed up to receive periodic emails from the Northeast Ohio Blues Association (NEOBA). This morning I received one of those emails and it led to a great discovery: The Sound of Blue.

The Sound of Blue is a shop devoted to the Blues.  It sells CDs, records, tapes, videos, etc. It's been in business for 18 years, but I only learned of its existence today.  The store's mailing address is Kent, Ohio but it's actually located in the neighboring town of Brimfield.

I know Kent very well but know Brimfield very little.  It's mostly a place I drive through.  I'll be returning often now.  The Sound of Blue is a gem.

I spent over an hour this morning talking to the proprietor, Joe Vassel.  I also spent all the cash in my wallet on 2 CDs ( a Robert Lockwood, Jr. live recording and a Junior Wells compilation which features Muddy Waters, Elmore James and Otis Spann on it).*

It was enjoyable talking with Mr. Vassel.  I can't wait to repeat the experience.  He tickled me when he said that the building we stood talking in was originally a parsonage.  I laughed and he said "Yeah, the devil's music in God's house."

*Only cash and checks are accepted.  No credit cards.  When I return it will be with checkbook in hand.


Their voices
and bodies
become confused.

Is that
a "you fill
in the blank"
or is it
a penis?

Is that
a vagina
or a whatnot?

Who said
my ass?

Who whispered
your breasts?

Whose words
were expelled
from whose mouth?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Earlier today I placed the solar powered hula dancer my brother John sent me on the sill of the kitchen window.  It took in some rays and started to sway.  I studied it and realized--I know that face.  It kind of resembles photos I've seen of the young Eileen Tabios!  And it's shaking its money maker in my house.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jill Alexander Essbaum's debut novel, Hausfrau (Random House, 2015), is getting a lot of buzz.  And it deserves it.  The book's sort of an Anna Karenina/Madame Bovary hybrid set in the present time.  It's beautifully written and very affecting.  Recommended.

 My contention is that this is  a book which could only have been written by a poet.  And JAE is a fine one.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I was sorry to learn that visual poet Bob Grumman died recently.  Here's a link to an interview Geof Huth did with Bob at my E-X-C-H-A-N-G-E-V-A-L-U-E-S site in 2006.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

One of the books I've been reading lately is Anne Carson's The Albertine Workout (New Directions, 2014), a brilliant essay in numbered segments on Proust's Albertine.  This little nugget has been reverberating in my brain pan all day:

"Adjectives are the handles of Being.  Nouns name the world, adjectives let you get hold of the name and keep it from flying all over your mind like a pre-Socratic explanation of the cosmos."
                                                                ( appendix 15)


Tomorrow it will be two weeks since I sent Appearances out for consideration.  Am anxious for feedback.  Will not be at ease until I get a sense of whether or not the thing will find a home.


Have started collaborating on a play with Thomas Fink.  It's early days but we seem off to a good beginning.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

After working on Appearances for such a long time I'm unsure what's on deck next.  It's important, I think, not to force anything--to try and let ideas emerge in an organic way.

Monday, March 23, 2015

This is an interesting post from Ron Silliman. 
I stuck a fork in Appearances earlier today and declared it done! What a journey it has been. Three and a half years in the making.   Have started putting out feelers.  I hope I can find a good home for this book.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Been working crazy hard on Appearances.  Feel like it's starting to approach where it needs to be.


Listening to Junior Kimbrough's great "Most Things Haven't Worked Out."  I'm obsessed with it right now.


The poetics of a few things versus the poetics of a lot of things.  There's no right or wrong here.  There's preference, personal aesthetics. For me, even in a long poem, it's an aesthetic of less not more. And that's what I love about the blues.  Kimbrough's really eloquent that way.  The intervals, the space between and around the notes are what makes things happen.  It's as true in poetry as it is in music.

As Cid Corman once insisted to me: leave space on the page for the words to breathe.


Words aren't just content.  They can be plenty discontent.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

My  "Twenty Scenarios: A Poem for Mark Young" is up now at the List Poem Issue of Truck which Eileen Tabios curated. Thanks Eileen!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Today I completed a second pass through Appearances.  I'm getting a clearer idea of what remains to be done--without, that is, being entirely sure.  This is the only single text I've written that's over a hundred pages long.


Dinner tonight is going to be a simple affair, cheap but good--chicken livers roasted with potatoes, carrots and onions, olive oil and tarragon.


One byproduct of working so long on Appearances is that I'm really getting anxious to think poetry again.

I was wrong in thinking that I could produce a first draft of Appearances in a year. It took over three. And my poetry took a backseat during that time.  Which made for some anxiety (which I'm anxious to resolve).

I don't regret the Appearances project.  It's a struggle I chose.  And I chose it because I wanted to see if I could make a big piece out of my limited means.  And that, in the course of editing, is exactly what I continue to try to see.


Damn, that roasting tarragon smells good.



Sunday, March 8, 2015

Today is the warmest day we've had in a couple of months-- it's  42 degrees Farenheit!  This a couple of days after I hacked a couple hundred pounds of ice out of the driveway.  My back still hurts and I ruined one of our shovels.  But it's very nice to have a break from subzero temps.


The thing I'm thinking as I'm reworking Appearances (my novel) is that everything is more or less fictional." I mean that to apply to EVERYTHING, indeed, not just what's going on in the novel.  But the most important part is the "more or less."


At one point in Appearances I wrote something like:  "So much ontological melodrama, so little time."  Maybe that's the book in a nut shell.  I don't know.  I have read and reread the manuscript so many times I'm having difficulty seeing it.  My eyes hurt all of the time.

A friend has said he'll read the manuscript and give me his input.  I really need that outside perspective.


My guitar hero Robert Cray will be playing in town later this week at the Kent Stage.  I've got tickets, and barring catastrophe, will get to see him play live for the third time.  He's the total package: a great guitar player with a clear, beautiful voice.  "Touch, tone and phrasing," he's got it all.


Working on Appearances for so long  has kept me from exploring poetry writing to the degree that  I want to.  I'm anxious to resolve this crazy project and to get back to what I can do with the time that is left to me.


Later, amigos y amigas.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Listening to Townes Van Zandt Live at the Old Quarter.  He just finished singing "Loretta", a ridiculously beautiful song.  Love his plaintive voice and minimalist guitar.


Speaking of guitar, lately I'm working with playing the minor blues scale through the Circle of 4ths.


On another front, I'm in the midst of a first editorial pass through Appearances--cutting, tweaking, making lineation and format changes.


Now Townes is singing Bo Diddly's great "Who Do You Love?"  A great song and a really important question.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rebecca Loudon mentioned in a recent post that she had learned a new word.  She and I were born in the same month of the same year, scant days apart, and I sometimes feel like our lives rhyme.  But I digress...  Just before reading Rebecca's post I had, myself, learned a new word: "chirality."  It's the title of the first poem in Rae Armantrout's latest collection, Itself.

Here's the Wikipedia definition of chirality:

Chirality /kˈrælɪt/ is a property of asymmetry important in several branches of science. The word chirality is derived from the Greekχειρ(kheir), "hand", a familiar chiral object.
An object or a system is chiral if it is distinguishable from its mirror image; that is, it cannot be superposed onto it. Conversely, a mirror image of an achiral object, such as a sphere, cannot be distinguished from the object. A chiral object and its mirror image are calledenantiomorphs (Greek opposite forms) or, when referring to molecules, enantiomers. A non-chiral object is called achiral (sometimes alsoamphichiral) and can be superposed on its mirror image.
The term was first used by Lord Kelvin in 1893 in the second Robert Boyle Lecture at the Oxford University Junior Scientific Club which was published in 1894:
I call any geometrical figure, or group of points, 'chiral', and say that it has chirality if its image in a plane mirror, ideally realized, cannot be brought to coincide with itself.[1]
Human hands are perhaps the most universally recognized example of chirality: The left hand is a non-superimposable mirror image of the right hand; no matter how the two hands are oriented, it is impossible for all the major features of both hands to coincide.[2] This difference in symmetry becomes obvious if someone attempts to shake the right hand of a person using his left hand, or if a left-handed glove is placed on a right hand. In mathematics chirality is the property of a figure that is not identical to its mirror image.

Interestingly enough, while I did not know this word, the concept of "nonsuperimposable mirror images" is something that figures importantly in Appearances, that beast of a book I've been working on for the last few years.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

I recently found this entry in a notebook:

"__Appearances: A
    Novel In
  ?365? Fragments__

Begun 8/7/11"

Today I wrote fragments 363-365.

So...the first draft is complete.  I'm happy to have achieved this milestone but am not happy with the manuscript as it stands.  I need to find fresh eyes and begin to  carve the thing into its final form.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Pops Staples: Don't Lose This 

What a fantastic CD.  Minimalist guitar with a deft tremolo.  Emotionally acute singing.  A masterpiece, really.  I've been listening to it over and over again today as I hammer away at Appearances.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The subzero weather of recent days is getting old.  It was minus six this morning.


I'm slow stepping toward finishing the draft of Appearances.  I wrote fragments 356 and 357 over the weekend.  Eight fragments to go.  Unsure how it's all going to end.  I keep thinking possibilities and rejecting them.  Important not to force a conclusion.


This afternoon watched Ian Hugo's Bells of Atlantis, here.  Hugo was Anais Nin's husband.  Apparently she was also married to someone else at the same time. Nin does the voicing in the film and acts in it as well.  It's a short film and flawed in some ways, but worth watching nonetheless.


In the course of trying to figure out what is happening as Appearances lurches toward its end, I have experimented with some story boarding.  So, in addition to staring at the computer screen until my eyes bleed, I also stare at small drawings of stick figures arrayed in different constellations.


Listening to the late great JJ Cale's music and admiring its elegance.


Friday, February 13, 2015

A favorite guitar
 thing of mine
 is that pivot
 from one finger
 to another that
 allows a glissando
to happen on
 the way to
playing the box.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Thank you, Alex

This morning there was a large package on our front porch which apparently had been delivered unnoticed yesterevening via UPS.  It was from Alex Gildzen.  Alex has been downsizing lately and surprising friends with things he has acquired over the years.

Alex gifted me with a lovely  Romertopf clay baking vessel, a copy of Jumping Over the Moon ( a new chapbook of erotic poems by Alex from Green Panda Press), and a matchbook cover from "The Stinking Rose," a restaurant with locations in San Francisco and Beverly Hills.

"The Stinking Rose."  I really like that name.

I'm looking forward to cooking something in the Romertopf which Alex wrote in a handwritten note was originally a gift from Paul and Nancy Metcalf.  A nice association there, for sure.

And I'm enjoying Alex's chapbook of short, vivid, sexy poems.  Find a copy if you can, it's a lovely read.

Thank you, Alex.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Breaking News From Mark Young

In this, the southern summer, 2015,  issue of Otoliths you’ll find exciting new work by:

Volodymyr Bilyk, George McKim, Lakey Comess, Stephen Bett, Greg McLaren, Philip Byron Oakes, Demosthenes Agrafiotis, Robert Lietz, Stephen C. Middleton, Nick Ravo, Chase  Gagnon, Owen Bullock, Caleb Puckett, Kyle Hemmings, Despo Magoni, Craig Cotter, J. Crouse, Michael Martrich, Bryan Young, Halvard Johnson, dan raphael, Jeff Dahlgren, Jeff Dahlgren & John Lowther, John Lowther, Pete Spence, Howie Good, A. J. Huffman, John M. Bennett, Jim Leftwich & John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett & Vittore Baroni, Thomas M. Cassidy & John M. Bennett, Thomas M. Cassidy & Cheryl Penn & John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett, j4, Felino A. Soriano, Andrew Topel, Jürgen O. Olbrich & Andrew Topel, Jack Galmitz & Fotis Begetis, Joel Chace, Mark Melnicove, Sally Evans, James Sanders, Joe Balaz,  John Martone, Raymond Farr, Carol Shillibeer, Carol Stetser, Natsuko Hirata, Cecelia Chapman & Jeff Crouch, Stuart Barnes, Michael Caylo-Baradi, Ric Carfagna, Nurul Wahidah, Anne Elvey, Jeff Harrison, Robert Sheppard, Stephen Nelson, Cyriaco Lopes & Terri Witek, Daniel John Pilkington, Eryk Wenziak, SS Prasad, sean burn, Jonel Abellanosa, Michael O’Brien, Mark Pirie, Márton Koppány, Willie Smith, Kit Kennedy, Toby Finch, Naomi Buck Palagi, Marcello Diotallevi, Stu Hatton, Brendan Tang, John Pursch, Charles Freeland, Paul Pfleuger, Jr., Luc Fierens, Angad Arora, PT Davidson, Steven Alvarez, George J. Farrah, bruno neiva, Bob Heman, Richard Kostelanetz, Bogdan Puslenghea, hiromi suzuki, Tony Beyer, nick-e melville, Marilyn Stablein, Ria Masae, Susan Gangel, Michael Brandonisio, Katrinka Moore, Gian Luigi Braggio, Texas Fontanella, Aditya Bahl, Tom Snarsky, & Trijita Mukherjee.

&, taking advantage of the emailout, Meritage Press have just released my new book, HOTUS POTUS.  Full details are avaliable here.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sometime during the night last Sunday our old upright freezer in the basement failed.  So we lost it and a couple hundred dollars worth of food.  Sigh.  That was a depressing clean-up.


My immune system must be shaky.  I've been sick again (with a cold this time) for the last week.


Listening to Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop CD.  Brilliant in so many ways.


Haven't been getting much writing done of late, but have been making notes and feel like I'm on the verge of something which I can't yet articulate.  Not an uncommon feeling for me, I must say.


My hands feel questionable.  I haven't moisturized them at all this winter because I want them rough for the guitar which I so inadequately attempt to play.


For the last few years I've had a skin tag on my face.  I just accepted the blemish.  But when one of my grandsons pointed to it and asked about that "mushroom" on my face I decided I should have it removed.  I did earlier this week.


Am reading the second volume of Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach Trilogy.  Really smart fiction.  I recommend it.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

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


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


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


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


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.


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.


 Long shadows on the crystalline snow.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


Saturday, January 10, 2015


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.  Amy was the next oldest (2 years younger than me).  It's rare for a day to go by without thinking of her.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

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


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.


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...


Now that's what I'm talking about!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Art Terrorism in Ohio is an interesting catalog of small press titles from the '70s and '80s mostly.  Check out item 38--it's a broken run of Viscerally,  the little magazine I published in mimeo format prior to starting The Difficulties.  On the cover of the pictured issue is a collage by moi. The whole catalog is worth a serious perusal.  It gives a good sense of the Cleveland/Kent scene back in the day.  Devo connections abound!
Recently MÁRTON KOPPÁNY sent me an unexpected but much appreciated gift of Modulations, his book of visual poetry published by Otoliths in 2010.  It's a charmer.  Every page a stunner. For example:

Ellipsis No. 16

Whether the images are of winged punctuation marks or of sky-swimming, thought-bubbling fishes, they exude wit and an attention to nuance which is unique and often surprisingly moving.