July 26, 2007


I've been tinkering with my website, trying to get images smoothed out. Check out the new navigation bar here. My learning curve for HTML and digital imagery has been slow, but it IS a joy to realize I have, in fact, acquired a few skills over the past two years. Having Adobe Photoshop makes imaged editing a lot easier. Also, the availability of free, vivid, unique, photographs and clipart--such as the little image at left, which it took me only about 5 seconds to make--is completely mindboggling to those of us who remember life before the internet. Am I the only one with fond memories of the "King Tut" bitmap, available only by running Paint Shop Pro X on my Amiga 500?

Nervously awaiting August, the month o'poems. Ten brave souls will mount a quest for daily drafts. It's not too late to join--just email me.

July 20, 2007

You. Yes, You.

Thanks to Fred Sasaki for pointing out the "You Are Beautiful" Project in his Harriet Blog. The official YAB website is here.

No witty, cynical commentary. Just...enjoy.

After all, it is Friday.

And if you're in the DC area, come out on Sunday and support a (formerly) local poet, as Van Jordan, author of Rise and M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, returns to town to read from his new book, Quantum Lyrics:

Sunday, July 22, 4:00 pm
Karibu Books - The Mall at Prince George's
3500 East-West Hwy., Hyattsville, MD
#(301) 559-1140 (Free)

July 18, 2007

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

I am pondering a massive amount of writing in August, an unofficial NaPoWriMo; if you'd be interested in being part of a group committed to posting (or otherwise sharing) daily drafts, backchannel me.

For inspiration, I've been thinking about Dean Young's work:

Poem Without Forgiveness

The husband wants to be taken back
into the family after behaving terribly,
but nothing can be taken back,
not the leaves by the trees, the rain
by the clouds. You want to take back
the ugly thing you said, but some shrapnel
remains in the wound, some mud.
Night after night Tybalt’s stabbed
so the lovers are ground in mechanical
aftermath. Think of the gunk that never
comes off the roasting pan, the goofs
of a diamond cutter. But wasn’t it
electricity’s blunder into inert clay
that started this whole mess, the I-
echo in the head, a marriage begun
with a fender bender, a sneeze,
a mutation, a raid, an irrevocable
fuckup. So in the meantime: epoxy,
the dog barking at who knows what,
signals mixed up like a dumped-out tray
of printer’s type. Some piece of you
stays in me and I’ll never give it back.
The heart hoards its thorns
just as the rose profligates.
Just because you’ve had enough
doesn’t mean you wanted too much.

--Dean Young

(Originally published in The Paris Review; thanks to Don for pointing it out.)

This is the bio note Young used in last year's July/August issue of POETRY:

"Dean Young is the pseudonym of a consortium of rhinos and giraffes intent upon destroying the educational system as we know it. He "teaches" at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, source of the debasement of all culture. If only William Logan could come to the rescue!"

Somehow, I think Bill Logan would be only too happy to comply.

July 09, 2007

Hello, Gorgeous

Meet The Mangosteen, the newest literary inhabitant of Long Island. The Spring issue (Volume 1, Number 1), features lovely interviews with Joshua Mehigan and...um...me.

You can find the full interview text on my website (click on the front page link).

Thanks to the editor, Danielle Apfelbaum (aka "The Art of Poetry"), for her fun and interesting questions.

July 08, 2007

"The Scranton Steamer"

An obscure sexual practice that can be accomplished only in the closet of a grandmother. Your partner is bound from head to toe with her discarded girdles. You pour a can of Schlitz over your partner's face.

This post is in honor of a wonderrific poet on the occasion of her hallowed not-marriage.

It's a long story.

July 06, 2007

Magazine Roundup

I tried to read the Summer 2007 Virginia Quarterly Review over lunch today. Big mistake: the issue is devoted to "Framing the War: Carolyn Cole, Ashley Gilbertson, and Chris Hondros on Photographing Iraq." Incredible photographs and moving testimonials--gory, unsentimental, and a lousy match for BBQ ribs. Sit down with VQR after dinner, with a strong drink and nothing else to do that evening. There's also a good essay by Matthew Power on the life and death of Brad Will, an activist and photographer who inadvertently filmed his own assassination during a political protest in Oaxaca--footage that eventually appeared, hauntingly, on YouTube.

And you know what? I find the July/August issue of Poetry to be satisfying. Especially the prose (yes, really), which includes a series of vignettes/character studies of famous poets contributed by, among others, Sven Birkerts, Christopher Hitchens, Phyllis Rose, and Joseph Epstein. Much like the February "Valentine's" essays, they are compact and affecting. Funny poems by Tony Hoagland, too.

Finally, in the Summer BOMB, Matthea Harvey interviews the artist Kara Walker. I've been engaged by shows of Walker's work in Minnesota and New York: she uses racially- and sexually-charged antebellum images, usually in stark silhouettes applied directly to white museum walls. She took flack when she became one of the youngest ever MacArthur "Genius" grant recipients--some fellow African American artists charged she was exploiting their history, depicting her people as "savages." But you can't deny the power of ther work, or the value of the conversations it provokes. The fact that she produces such detailed shapes in cut paper is a tribute to her craft.

In October, the Whitney Museum of American Art will host Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love.

July 02, 2007

Good Mail

I just opened a suspiciously thin and self-addressed envelope and found...a handwritten note from Sven Birkerts asking if he could have three of my poems for Agni Online. Woohoo! This makes eight NaPoWriMo poems that have since been accepted for publication.

In other good news, I'll be moderating a panel at the 2008 AWP in New York, "Breaking Lines on the Battlefield: Poetry of Wartime." Featured poets include Doug Anderson (author of The Moon Reflected Fire) and Brian Turner (author of Here, Bullet). If we're scheduled for a Thursday or Saturday morning--which, given my newcomer status, seems likely--ours will be the panel serving mimosas and bagels. I'm not above bribing my audience.

I enjoyed Michael Dumanis's "Travel Advisory," on Poetry Daily today:

Travel Advisory

Do not endeavor
to snapshot the locals.

Do not trust anything
that could snap shut.

Try to pass quickly
through slipshod locales.

Do not give alms.
Make no eye contact.

Do not confuse
yourself with your reflection,

this span of ruins with a system,
this inn with a place to come back to.

Rein in the impulse to build
a new city from these scattered twigs.

Do not poke around in the abandoned
houses of the damaged village.

Do not get curious
about shiny metal in the grass.

Do not plant kisses
on the blind accordionist.

Leave the mermaid alone,
it is not meant to be...

[Click here to continue reading.]

The poem is from his new book, which won the 2006 Juniper Prize and will be published by the University of Massachusetts Press. Lovely cover, too.