Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bollingen to Bidart

I haven't seen this posted too many places yet, but Frank Bidart has been awarded this year's Bollingen Prize. $100,000 ... not too shabby.

Here's the press release from Yale.

And here's another article about it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscars, linkage, and a poem

I enjoyed watching the Oscars even though I don't think I've seen any of the movies this year. I absolutely love that everyone is going on about Helen Mirren being sexy, because a) she IS and b) it's just nice to hear that about a woman who actually isn't trying to look like she is still twenty-four. Loved Jada Pinkett Smith's dress. Totally agree with whichever online article I read this morning that said Cameron Diaz looked like she was wearing a giant business envelope. SASE, anyone? Ellen: Great hair, but something around the eye makeup looked weird. Got a kick out of seeing Melissa Etheridge winning herself a little gold dude (I heard that backstage she said Oscar would be the only naked man allowed in her bedroom!) and how much Tammy was beaming from her seat as Melissa made her thank-yous. I'd put the DVR on pause while I went downstairs to futz with laundry, so when Celine Dion came on I was able to fast-forward right on past her. DVRs rule.

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Meetings make us dumber, study shows (I knew it!)

An Estimate of the Number of Shakespeare's Atoms in a Living Human Being (I don't understand any of this math, but it's awesome anyway)

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I ordered this book, and when it came I opened directly to this poem. I keep coming back to it and reading it again instead of starting in on the rest of the book (though I'll do that soon). Enjoy:

The Story Attaches Itself to Us

like the seed of some plant. Its small hooks catch
the cuff of our thought as it walks across
a field. We may not see it or notice
that we are telling some part of it
in telling another story. The story
of Jonah is never about the whale,
who must have been startled one day
to find a two-legged fish in its belly.
So it is, Anangagjuak, you told how
you came upon the body of your wife
lying with her arms reached out, whether
toward you or the life that, though it slowed down,
could no longer wait for her, is not known.
She died looking for you in a storm
as you were hunting, and the snow
buried and preserved her for the day
when you and the others would again
be hunting, when like a dying walrus,
a noise would rise out of your body
at the sight of her on the ground, a noise
you did not know could live there. So I tell
the story of what lives secretly inside us
or comes to be there for no known reason,
and waits only for the day when we
open our mouths in its presence,
and out it comes, alive and chastened,
returned miraculously to the world,
while we turn flukes upward and dive.

--Roger Mitchell
from Half/Mask (University of Akron Press, 2007)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Say This of Horses

Coming in April from the University of Iowa Press-- Say This of Horses: A Selection of Poems, edited by C.E. Greer and Jenny Kander. (Click the book cover for UIowa's catalog listing.) (whoops, sorry ... link should be fixed now)

The editors are both here in Bloomington, and they're also working on an anthology of Indiana poets which includes a little something of my own (I guess that counts as "bias disclosure"). This anthology features an introduction by Maxine Kumin, and includes poems by Merwin, Komunyakaa, Stevens, Kenyon, Ferlinghetti, Harjo, Rilke, Williams, Larkin, and others. It looks pretty interesting, and I look forward to getting a copy for myself.

In fact, tonight I attended a reading by the Bloomington Free Verse Poets, a group which includes both Charles and Jenny (aforementioned editors). It was sparsely attended, mainly because the sky was busy dumping buckets of freezing slush on Bloomington -- it was really pretty disgusting out there, and I almost decided to stay home myself -- but a nice, low-key reading, with good conversation and delicious goodies afterwards.

It looks like there's disgusting weather all over the country tonight. We've had rain, snow, sleet, slush, thunder, ice, and wind -- but we've had it better than a whole lot of places. Hope everyone reading this is warm and dry!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Things to look forward to

Today I made it official -- I am taking three days of vacation time during our spring break, which starts in two weeks. No plans for it other than to hang out at home, annoy the cats, read books, go sit in a coffeehouse or two and overcaffeinate & write, etc.

Also, I got my printed summer-workshop catalog from the Fine Arts Work Center in the mail the other day. Lots of nice pictures that make me say "ahhhhh, Provincetown." Summer isn't really that far away, right?

Also, on March 23rd I will be one of the featured readers at the monthly Runcible Spoon Poetry Series. I think I already mentioned that here, but it's on my mind because this evening I went to the February reading. It was pretty low-key, and a nice evening; plus I got dinner there, a delicious chicken/pasta/vegetable dish that thoroughly filled the plate, and then thoroughly filled me. Lots of times I feel too tired and couch-potatoey to go out on a Friday evening after a long work week, but I'm glad I managed it tonight.

Tomorrow I'll have lunch with a couple of non-poety friends, and then in the evening the Bloomington Free Verse Poets, a group which includes some friends of mine, are doing their annual reading at Boxcar Books (the first time they've used that venue). So that should be fun.

Got a couple of books in the mail today, and a phone message that another one I special ordered is available to be picked up at Howard's Bookstore downtown. I really need to make an effort to set aside more time for reading. There are so many wonderful books in the world. And I want to read all of them, you hear me? Every last one.

I'll just have to become immortal or something.

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Also: We love you, George Takei.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The thaw

Yesterday, five days after the storm, there was still ice in the trees. It looked like tinsel in the sun.

Today the temperature soared to 47 and there's slush everywhere. Runoff from the melt is dripping into my basement and setting off the sump pump. Oh, the joys of homeownership.

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There is a decided absence of poetry in my life these days. I need to muster up some determination and stop farting around. If nothing else I could at least send out some stuff -- I only have poems out two places now, and chapbook manuscripts out to three contests. Submitting stuff isn't the same as mucking around with poetry, but at least it's a little closer to the right ballpark. If writing poetry is the ballpark, sending stuff out is the concession stand at the ballpark.

No hot dog jokes please. (Yes, I'm talking to you.)

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Fresh: Blood Orange Review.

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IU's MFA program finally posted the spring semester reading schedule on their website. Still to come this semester: Quincy Troupe, David Lehman, and Sherman Alexie. I am beyond excited to hear Sherman Alexie. I like his work a whole heck of a lot.

Lehman is reading one night, then doing some sort of a "Tour of American Poetry" a couple nights later. Unfortunately I will have to miss that, as I'm on the roster to read at the Runcible Spoon for their monthly reading series that same night. That's the end of March, so hopefully it will kick me into gear a bit to tackle NaPoWriMo again in April. Yep, I'm going to do that again this year: a poem a day. It was good for me last year, for sure.

Hard to envision, from this bleak and slushy landscape, enough creative fertility to come up with a poem (even a sucky poem) every day. But I will make it happen. Dammit.

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Drip, drip, drip. Drip.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Originally uploaded by vitreous_fish.
This is what ALL the trees here look like now. The world has never been quite so sparkly!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Glamor shots

Attention Rebecca Loudon, Charles Jensen, and Ivy Alvarez: y'all are reviewed (by yours truly) in the new issue of Galatea Resurrects. (Yes, it sounds familiar -- it's a revision of a post from this blog. My thanks to Eileen Tabios for suggesting that I send it in!)

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So we had a bit of an ice storm here yesterday. I wimped out and left work early, before the streets got bad; some 6000 households locally were without power thanks to ice on power lines, ice on branches making them fall onto power lines, etc. but fortunately I wasn't among them. Woke up this morning to hear on the radio that campus was closed until noon, which was pretty astonishing; snow days are all but unheard-of here. (Okay, it wasn't really a snow day -- we only got about two inches of that -- more of an ice day.) It was beyond lovely to look outside at the sun rising over a frozen world, and to turn right around and go back to my nice warm cozy bed for a couple hours.

Also beyond lovely: the frozen world today. Driving near campus, the brilliant sun made diamonds of ice -- made the trees into crystal sculptures, into ghosts. The power lines encased in ice looked like blue laser beams. Just breathlessly, frighteningly beautiful.

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Hooray for James, the English Springer Spaniel who won Best in Show at Westminster! Even though I had to work till 9 pm on Monday, I recorded the first night's competition and started watching when I got home. So, yes, I watched all six hours that were televised. Riveted to the TV, I was. Westminster is my Super Bowl, my Oscar Night, and my American Idol all rolled into one. I have to say I was rooting for the PBGV -- that's Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen (and you wonder why they call it "a Peeb" for short!) -- for BiS, cute little critter that she was, but all along I did think the Springer had an awfully good chance. He was just showing beautifully, and what a gorgeous dog.

Lots of gorgeous dogs, really. The cats always get just a little nervous when I watch Westminster because I go into total "wanna doggie!" mode. I do want a dog, but as it stands right now the poor thing would be crated from 7:45 am until, most days, close to 6 pm. And that just wouldn't be right. Someday, though, someday.

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Today I left work early and went to a photo shoot. The April issue of Bloom: Celebrating Life in Bloomington (not to be confused with the other Bloom) features an article on the history of the poetry scene here in Bloomington, and yours truly is one of the featured poets, along with Cathy Bowman, Roger Mitchell (who has a new book out), Tony Brewer, Jenny Kander, and Patricia Coleman. The issue will include interviews with each of us and a selection of our poems, in addition to the (glamorous, I'm sure) photos. For the group shot we had to stand OUTSIDE. And since it's for an April magazine we couldn't bundle up in our heavy winter coats. The horror! (Actually, it was bright and sunny and not really that cold, though certainly below freezing.)

Those of you who know Bloomington will appreciate the complete and total appropriateness of the fact that the photo shoot took place at the Runcible Spoon. *grin*

It was a pleasant couple of hours, and it's fun to be in such stellar company -- two of the poets (Roger and Cathy) have been my teachers, and the others (including Shana Ritter, who wrote the article) are friends of mine. I'll try to snag some extra copies of the magazine when it comes out, in case anyone might be interested in getting one.

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No AWP for me this year, unfortunately, unless someone drops some unexpected cash in my lap. Maybe next year. All y'all who are going, have a drink (or not) for me!

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Happy Half-Price Valentine Candy Day, tomorrow. Now that's a holiday I can get behind. And if I eat a lot of the stuff, I'll have even more behind to get.

Thankyew, I'll be here all night. Be sure and tip your waitress.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Riches, embarrassment of

Lots of great new music coming out this spring. Aaron gives a heads-up about a new one from Mary Chapin Carpenter to be released soon; I got a coupon in my email from a certain mega-book-and-music-chain reminding me that I want to go buy Patty Griffin's new one; and also in my email today, pre-order information for Joyful Sign, coming soon from Girlyman. And when I went to a certain other mega-chain's website to check on the release date for some of the above, it helpfully informed me that the documentary about the Dixie Chicks, Shut Up and Sing, is coming out on DVD in a couple of weeks -- which is great news for me because I don't think it ever played here in town. Heck, I wasn't even tired of the last new CD I bought (Amy Ray and the Volunteers: Live in Knoxville -- great, raw, rockin', very live folkish-punkish stuff) yet.

I don't know how I'm going to find time to listen to, watch, and read all the stuff I want to listen to, watch, and read. Dang. On the good side, should I ever accidentally win the lottery or something and retire to a life of leisure, I don't have to worry about ever getting bored.

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Ginger has a nice offer of blog space for poet-bloggers who don't like the new version of Blogger.

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Today at work I was in a meeting of one committee in which we were discussing a document that had been written by a subteam of that committee. One of the questions afoot (at hand? well, it was somewhere anatomical, anyway) was whether the document was clear and conveyed what we wanted it to convey to our intended audience. My contribution to the discussion was to point out that maybe those who had written the document & had had our noses buried in it for a few weeks probably shouldn't steer the discussion by explaining what we meant in it -- that we should listen and find out what our readers understood from what was on the page, since we knew what we meant but who knows if what we meant made it to the page. You know ... your basic Creative Writing Workshop 101. Nice to think I learned something from poetry that can be put to use in a more, er, financially remunerative environment.

* * * * *

Can winter be over, already? Enough! I'm tired of being cold.

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So I had m-w.com open in one browser tab to make sure I was spelling "remunerative" correctly, and I had Aaron's blog open in the next browser tab to grab the link to his Mary Chapin Carpenter post. When I went back to that browser, I realized that the page titles in those two tabs were, uh, the story of my life:

| Definition of remunerative || anything but poetry |


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lambda nominees

Lambda Literary Award nominations are out. Here are the nominees in poetry:

Nominees for LESBIAN POETRY (16)
  • Inch Aeons by Nuala Archer (Les Figues Press)
  • Collected Poems by Djuna Barnes (University of Wisconsin)
  • Domain of Perfect Affection by Robin Becker (University of Pittsburgh)
  • Days of Good Looks by Cheryl Clarke (Carroll & Graf)
  • Like All We Love by Kate Evans (The Q Press)
  • The Butterfly Effect by Susan Hawthorne (Spinifex Press)
  • Sleeping Upside Down by Kate Lynn Hibbard (Silverfish Review Press
  • Thirst by Mary Oliver (Beacon)
  • The Truant Lover by Juliet Patterson (Nightboat Books)
  • Lemon Hound by Sina Queyras (Coach House Books)
  • First Person by Red Summer (Two Fingers Press)
  • Not Just a Personal Ad by Vittoria Repetto (Guernica Editons)
  • Hopeless Insomniac by Laura Riehman (Laura Riehman)
  • Touch to Affliction by Nathalie Stephens (Coach House Books)
  • What I Want From You edited by Linda Zeiser & Trena Machado (Raw Art Press)
  • Emergency Contact by Tara-Michele Ziniuk (McGillian Books)
Nominees for GAY POETRY (14)
  • But So Did Her Brother! by Brian Kevin Beck (Wonderside Productions)
  • Gutted by Justin Chin (Manic D Press)
  • Deviant Propulsion by CA Conrad (Soft Skull Press)
  • The Album That Changed My Life by Jeffrey Conway (Cold Calm Press)
  • A History of My Tattoo by Jim Elledge (Stonewall)
  • The Burning of Troy by Richard Foerster (BOA)
  • Other Fugitives & Other Strangers by Rigoberto Gonzalez (Tupelo Press)
  • Sweet Son of Pan by Trebor Healey (Suspect Thoughts)
  • The Eros Conspiracy by Greg Hewett (Coffee House Press)
  • The Damaged Good by G. Winston James (Vintage Entity Press)
  • On the Tongue by Jeff Mann (Gival Press)
  • Riding Westward by Carl Philips (FSG)
  • When the Eye Forms by Dwaine Rieves (Tupelo)
  • Mirrors for Gold by Roberto Tejada (Krupskaya)
For nominations in the other categories, see the Lambda Foundation website.

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Word of the week: Whalefall.

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6 inches of snow and 19 degrees outside (considerably warmer than it was last night). I've managed to come down with a cold or flu or something, so I'll just be here shivering in my blankets for a while...

Monday, February 05, 2007


Back from a whirlwind trip for my great-aunt's burial. I spent time with family members I had not seen in literally 20-30 years. All in all, it was good and I'm very glad I went.

Also realized there are poems in Kansas that I may need to go back and find at some point. The hawks in the trees, that bleak brown landscape. Have you ever traveled someplace just to look for poems?

Funny how a place can be all about the past, and memories, for me -- and yet there are people who live there now & have been living there all along. How time loops back on itself, sometimes.

Looking around at relatives I haven't seen forever -- how there is still such kinship. The context of it all. Oh, that's who I am. I'd forgotten.

Also: Topeka is larger than I remembered; Osage City, on the other hand, even smaller than I remembered.

Sometime, I'll go back again just to look for poems.